The Fischer Tape

Partial transcript from FBI surveillance tape labeled “Gwen Fischer’s office, General Etheric building, 24th floor, August 8-9, 1953”. Ms. Fischer's official title at GE was "Assistant", but she was involved in the approval and development of many secret research projects for the company in 1948-53. Working on a weekend wasn't unusual for her.

Soft music plays. Papers rustling, becoming more agitated.

FISCHER: Nigel, step in please. Stop music.

Music stops playing. Door opens and closes.

FISCHER: Has R&D gone insane and nobody bothered to tell me? What the hell is this?

Nigel Cotes was Ms. Fischer’s secretary. Flagged as Communist sympathizer, but vigorously defended by Fischer and GE Legal. Interviewed but not indicted; refer to Congressional Inquiry Proceedings dated September 5, 1951.

COTES: It’s the latest recommendation from R&D.

FISCHER: I can read, you braying ass. They know the rules, right?

COTES: I can’t speak to their state of mind-

FISCHER: Just because Legal pulled your ass out of the fire with Congress, you don’t owe them anything. Stop talking like a lawyer. Stephen is a bad influence on you.

COTES: Yes, ma’am.

FISCHER: R&D knows the rules.

COTES: Yes, ma’am.

FISCHER: Go make them see reason, Nigel. Start today if anyone's downstairs.

COTES: What’s wrong with letting this report out and getting ahead of it?

FISCHER: What’s wrong? What’s WRONG? Russia doesn't need to bomb us back to the Stone Age, we’ll just rip ourselves apart instead.

COTES: But this is just one insignificant report in-

FISCHER: Stop talking, Nigel.

Burst of static.

FISCHER: -entire energy grid. If we release these findings, GE crumbles and America loses its edge in the world. Our country will be a has-been, but we won’t live long enough to see that happen.

COTES: You mean they'll kill us?

FISCHER: You don’t screw with the underpinnings of modern society and get to walk away. No, we need to keep this secret.

COTES: Who would kill-

FISCHER: The FBI. The Pentagon. Anyone on Wall Street. The President, after the country falls apart. Heck, maybe before the country falls apart. Foreign governments. Other power companies. Any rabid "Free Spirit" leftist who thinks we didn't act quickly enough to release this information. I've heard Whispers can be pretty brutal, especially when they’re channeling a bound spirit.

Burst of static. Audio enhancement uncovered two words embedded in the static: “She knows.”

FISCHER: -them see reason, Nigel. If you can’t get them to bury this report, then you bury it with them. Whatever it takes.

COTES: I... I understand.

FISCHER: Thank you, Nigel. How’s Stephen?

COTES: He’s doing well, considering. Laying low isn't a strong suit for either of us.

FISCHER: I know, I know. Hopefully this witch hunt will blow over soon and we can all get back to a more normal life.

COTES: I’ll do what I can with R&D, ma’am.

FISCHER: I know you will. Thanks for coming in on a Sunday.

COTES: Of course.

Door opens and closes. Clinking glass and pouring liquid.

FISCHER: Play music.


The unknown voice sounds distant and scratchy, like it's being received via radio.

Glass clatters.

FISCHER: You know I can’t. Music please.

Dreary music plays.

FISCHER: Something more upbeat. Please.

Music stops.


Recording ends.

On August 10, 1953 General Etheric reorganized the Research & Development division, resulting in dozens of layoffs and early retirement packages. Some of these former researchers disappeared by moving out of the country, sometimes with their whole families.

On August 12, 1953 Nigel Cotes was found dead of an apparent suicide. Stephen Germain found the body. He became an outspoken advocate for civil rights, passing the New York Bar Exam in 1955. He practiced law in Manhattan for most of his life.

On August 21, 1953 Gwen Fischer reported an accident in her office. All powered machinery was found permanently non-functional. Rumors circulated that she could no longer use any technological device for fear of personal injury.

On September 30, 1953 Gwendolyn Fischer retired from General Etheric, citing personal issues. Other than the announcement of her retirement, no further mention of her can be found in any records. GE has no forwarding address.

Unrelated: A solar eclipse occurred in the Southern Hemisphere on August 9, 1953.

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