Andrew Parsons: The rise and fall of the Rifle Mk.1

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Interruption of the routine – This should not work – An unexpected result – A satisfactory test

I have thought on the matter, and have completed the blueprints of
Rifle, Mark 1. It will be able to transport bullets of 0.22 inch
in diameter (0.5588cm), over a distance of 2000m, with a precision
of 5cm, assuming that we shoot in still air. Shooting in natural
surroundings will necessarily increase the margin of error.

The Rifle Mk. 1 will use the standard cartridges provided by Miss
Tennant. I have obtained samples of the cartridges for fitting
inside the cylinder. They are ignited by a percussive primer
which in turn ignites the gunpowder. I will fit an optical scope
like the one on Miss Tennant’s Mauser SR-220, to aid in aiming.

The purpose of this type of device is still not clear to me, but
often, in the course of engineering, we find uses for solutions
that are basically useless in the situation in which they were
conceived.

— Andrew Parsons, Rifle Mk 1, AP-2061-01, design notes.


7:45 – I woke up to find that Miss Felicia was not there. Instead, Miss Tennant was. She asked me to get dressed, but did not specify which clothes would be appropriate for today. I thought on the matter, and since today I would continue work on the Rifle Mk.1, I dressed in my dungarees with a black shirt that does not show any markings of lubricants. I put on my protective goggles, but Miss Tennant told me those would not be needed at this time.

Miss Tennant told me that Miss Felicia had been hurt last night, and was in the infirmary recovering. She then told me that she would be all right, but simply needed some time. After breakfast, I was to go to the infirmary and visit Miss Felicia, because that would aid in recovery. Since I am not a physician, I do not understand why this would be so, but I will try to find out.

8:30 – I took breakfast with Miss Tennant. She told me again that Miss Felicia would be all right. I told her I knew, because she had already told me. I asked in what way Miss Felicia had been hurt. Miss Tennant said that she had received a knife wound to the arm last night. This was unusual because Miss Felicia does not normally use knives at that time of night, and also has the required knowledge of handling knives in a safe manner. I mentioned this to Miss Tennant, but she did not answer. I finished my breakfast, and Miss Tennant wanted to leave. I pointed out that there was still an amount of egg and baked beans on her plate, and she said she was not hungry. I explained to her that according to Miss Felicia, one should take as much as one needs, but then eat what one takes. Thus, food that might benefit someone else is not wasted. Miss Tennant asked me how I could think of such things at this time. I explained that at times other than mealtimes, it is unnecessary to think of these things. After thinking on this, she got up and asked me to follow her. Miss Felicia often says that it is not necessary for me to understand everyone’s actions or words. Perhaps this is one of such occasions.

9:00 – I visited Miss Felicia, who was in a hospital bed. There was a bandage on her arm, and she was not using it, which was consistent with Miss Tennant’s account. It is permitted for people to be in bed after 7:45 if they are recovering from serious injuries. She asked me who had sent me, and I told her it was Miss Tennant. I observed Miss Felicia carefully, and told her that I wished her a speedy recovery, like Miss Tennant asked me. As far as I could see, it did improve Miss Felicia’s mood, as she was laughing. I do not understand why this should be so.

She asked me what I was doing today, and I told her that I would be working on the Rifle Mk.1. I have had to modify the Nr.2 lathe to produce the rifling inside the barrel, and I am starting today on constructing the firing mechanism. I have designed a firing and loading mechanism that uses part of the pressure from the exploding gunpowder to eject the cartridge and load the next one. Miss Felicia smiled again, and told me that was good. Then, she fell asleep. After waiting thirty minutes to see if she would wake up again, I left, and Miss Tennant took me to my workroom.

10:30 – I set to work machining the firing mechanism for the Rifle Mk.1. Miss Tennant was still there. People sometimes visit to watch me work, but Miss Tennant was not looking at what I was doing, instead she was looking at the doors to the hangar of the Tracked Vehicle Mk.1 even though they are closed. I tried to explain the mechanism to her, and she answered that it was all her fault. She did not mean the firing mechanism, but Miss Felicia’s injuries. I gave Miss Tennant one of the mimeographs I use when I have to apologise for something. I explained to her where to fill out what she had done, and where to sign. Miss Tennant told me that it had not been her who hurt Miss Felicia, but someone else. I advised Miss Tennant to give the mimeograph to the person who hurt Miss Felicia, and Miss Tennant agreed that would be more appropriate. She then put her hand on my arm and thanked me. I do not like it when people touch me, but Miss Felicia says that this is sometimes necessary. Miss Tennant left, and I continued with the assembly of the firing mechanism.

11:50 – It was time for lunch, and Miss Felicia was not there. I assumed that she had not finished recovering yet. I find that small injuries heal themselves between ten and fifteen minutes, so Miss Felicia’s injury must have been more severe. Miss Tennant came and took me to lunch in the dining hall. I reminded her to take the exact right amount of food for her current requirements, and she said that she had been exercising and could eat a horse. Miss Tennant was mistaken. A horse weighs on average 500kg, and Miss Tennant weighs an estimated 65kg. Even allowing for discarding the bones, it would be impossible for Miss Tennant to eat seven times her own weight in meat at a single sitting. She did in fact take a bowl of soup (500g), six slices of bread (400g total), Four slices of ham (50g), a container of strawberry jam (between 20 and 40g), a packet of butter (45g), and a cup of tea (568g, mostly water), making for a total of between 1583 and 1603g, well below 500kg. I pointed this out to her, and she told me she had meant a metaphorical horse. Metaphorical horses weigh only two kilograms on average, but she was trying to lose weight, so she took a little less. This was a reasonable explanation.

12:30 – Miss Tennant took me to the gymnasium, to watch Mr. Philip Tennant use his prosthetic leg. He told me that the work was mostly satisfactory, but that someone had tried to hurt his little girl, and he required a setting suitable for kicking. This was not in the original specifications, which only included walking and perhaps running over short distances. I told him I would have to think on the matter, and he told me to do that. I observed Mr. Philip Tennant using the prosthetic, and was able to improve his gait using a few minor adjustments to the knee resistance and ankle-to-knee length. I asked him if the prosthetic was satisfactory, and he told me his foot itched. He suggested I lend him a steel brush to remedy this.

Since I have not implemented any technology to produce itching in the prosthetic, I do not understand how Mr. Philip Tennant’s foot could be itching. I do not know how to implement itching in prosthetic limbs, and consequently do not know how to remove itching if I have implemented it by mistake. I will visit Dr. Bernhardt and consult him on the matter. In the mean time, I will supply Mr. Phillip Tennant with a steel brush as he requested.

13:15 – I have resumed construction of the Rifle Mk.1. Based on usage observed on the firing range, people rarely fire only one round. Therefore, I have decided to arrange the firing mechanism so that when the actuator is depressed, the rifle will keep firing until the actuator is released.

14:00 – Miss Tennant came into the workroom and asked me if I wanted any tea. I explained that Miss Felicia’s instructions are to keep myself hydrated at the water fountain in the hallway, and that tea was not necessary. I confirmed to Miss Tennant that I was English, and she left. I continued work on the Rifle Mk.1.

17:00 – I have conducted the first test firing of the Rifle Mk.1 at the firing range. With the rifle fixed in a vise on the booth, it consistently hit a target four hundred meters distant. I have extended the magazine to hold one hundred rounds, as the five-round magazine emptied itself in less than a second. Results were satisfactory. Miss Tennant came and asked me what I was doing. I explained that I was test-firing, and upon further questions, confirmed that the Rifle had put one hundred bullets in the same place (within a two-centimeter margin), in eight seconds. From reading the Bible Father Nathaniel gave to me, I could neither confirm nor deny that there was blood in Hell, and I suggested she consult Parson Brown on the matter.

18:00 – I have concluded my tests, and have placed the Rifle Mk.1 in the vault. Miss Tennant came into the workroom, with Miss Felicia. The bandage was still on her arm. I asked her if she had recovered, and she said yes. I asked if my wishes had been helpful, and she said yes. She then put her arms round me. She has told me that this is sometimes necessary, so I waited for her to finish. She then asked me what I had done today. I started to explain, but Miss Felicia asked me to write it down instead.

20:00 – I have now filed the blueprint and the design notes for the Rifle Mk.1 under AP-2061-01. I cannot see a use for a device that puts bullets into the same place at a rate of seven hundred rounds per minute. I have also typed a report of my day to Miss Felicia, as requested. I will give it to her tomorrow.

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