"Please, everyone come on in!" the young woman stood at the front of the lecture hall, waving in the people entering from the rear. She was thin and small, barely five feet tall, with milk chocolate skin and a sizeable afro. She also had a youthful face. "Yes, please, come forward and fill the seats in the front."
A couple of dozen people, mostly Caucasian men, filed into the lecture hall, taking up seats in the first few rows, gaping at the very attractive hostess and the bizarre-looking equipment behind her. Although they had been invited to the demonstration to solicit their help and support, most of them just wanted to see if this damned thing really worked.
"Good afternoon and thank you so much for coming," the woman said with a smile. "I'm Sandy, and it is my pleasure to welcome you to the University. I know that you are all very anxious to see—"
"Pardon, me, young lady," a professorial looking man spoke from the audience. His hair, moustache and short beard were salt and pepper grey and he wore a brown tweed jacket with a red bow tie. "We would like to meet this Dr. Sorenson, please. The one with the four advanced degrees," he said mockingly. "He is the one who developed this device, is that correct?"
Sandy's smile faded, but not completely, "Three degrees. Still working on the fourth."
"Yes, whatever," he waved a hand dismissively. "We'd like to meet Dr. Sorensen, please."
"I am Dr. Sorensen," she smiled politely. "Dr. Alexandra Sorensen."
"You were expecting a man?"
"Well, not necessarily—"
"I see," Dr. Sorensen smiled again. "You thought I was—taller."
There was a little nervous laughter in the audience.
"Quite frankly," the man said, "I thought you were Swedish."
Sorensen chuckled. "I am, on my father's side. I was named after his grandmother."
The man's face reddened. "Forgive me, Dr. Sorensen. I am Dr. James Foster. It is a pleasure to meet you."
"And you, sir," she said pleasantly, "however, if you don't mind, we have reserved time after the demonstration for introductions and socializing. In fact," she grinned, "I can show you my diplomas then. But first I'd like to take a moment to introduce our special guest," she turned to her left where a door opened and a small, pale, white-haired, elderly man in a wheelchair with an IV bag attached was pushed into the room by a youthful blonde female nurse. He had a blanket on his lap where he carried a small black book.
"May I introduce our generous benefactor," Sorensen said, "Mr. Ernest Simmons."
Simmons smiled weakly and nodded to the audience as they applauded politely. Sorenson handed him a microphone. He had difficulty grasping it, so the nurse held it to his mouth.
"Thank you," Simmons said softly. His black suit was a couple of sizes too large. "I am sure you have read much about me, but, please, know that I am a changed man. Twenty years in federal prison will do that. My reputation is one of a very hard-nosed businessman. One who would do anything for money. And I did some terrible things. Terrible things." He paused and leaned forward as if to give his words added gravity. "But I am a changed man. And I have now dedicated what is left of my life and my fortune to helping others. I know I don't have very long, and I want to leave this world a new man." He began coughing. The nurse cupped an oxygen mask to his face and handed the mic back to Sorenson.
"Will he be alright?" Sorenson asked.
The nurse nodded as she listened to his chest with a stethoscope.
"When I met Mr. Simmons," Sorensen continued," I was hoping to convince him to contribute something to our project. The more I told him about what we were doing, the more interested he became until, finally, he offered underwrite the entire project to the tune of fifteen million dollars."
There were "oohs" and "ahs" from the audience followed by a standing ovation.
Simmons waved, the fogged up oxygen mask still on his face.
With a sincere smile Dr. Sorenson said, "Yes, thank you so much, Mr. Simmons." After a moment, she turned back to the crowd and motioned them to take their seats then waved towards the equipment on the stage. "Now, let's get on with the demonstration, if you please."
Standing behind her were two large Plexiglas boxes, ten-feet square, set twenty feet apart with metallic panels covered with lights and switches attached to each one. She walked over to the box on her left while Simmons watched her with intense interest.
"I'm sure you have seen the articles and the YouTube videos," Sorenson gestured toward the box, "Well, this is an atomizer chamber. Along the top on the wall above the door is the plasma emitter that produces a beam ten feet wide and one micron thick. On the opposite wall is the receptor matrix. Anything that the beam comes in contact with is stripped away at the molecular level and collected by the matrix."