Sonic Ex Machina

By Adrian Tullberg.

He didn't know why he pulled over, leaned down, his leg protesting all the while, and picked up the device lying in the gutter, before driving on his way.

It was only while examining it in his office that House started to become interested.

Seven inches long, metal, with a blue light mounted at the end. A central button made the light glow and a strange buzzing sound emit. Several dials mounted around the shaft rotated around, and a slider control made the buzzing sound increase in intensity.

However, he couldn't figure out what this gimmick did.

It was a solid piece of metal; no place to put the batteries. The weight and mass of the device betrayed some purpose, even if he couldn't figure out what it did. Most importantly, the resonation he felt in his fingers when he triggered the device betrayed power.

House had to discover this thing's purpose.

It was distracting him from valuable PSP time.

He gave one of the dials another twist and triggered the device again.

The sound of one of his filing cabinets opening made him look up to see who had invaded his sanctum sanctorum.

He was alone, the middle draw extended out all the way.

House looked at the device again, and hit the button, this time pointing it at the top draw. The cabinet smoothly opened out to it's maximum extension.

He got up, and spent ten minutes examining within, behind and around the cabinet for any kind of remote mechanism or alteration.

Finding none, he altered the setting on another dial, then pointed it at the visitor's chair.

The chair nudged forward a foot, pushed away by some unseen force.

Dr. House regarded the gimmick closely. This device was providing him with more questions than answers, and to be honest …


He turned, to see Dr. Lisa Cuddy standing at his door.


"You read my …"

Her words trailed off as House lumbered past, and towards the general direction of the clinic. Something was occupying him, and there was no suitably intriguing patient in the hospital.

House kept on examining the device, turning it over and over in his hand while heading on autopilot to the clinic.

Of course, the thought of the tedium that awaited him within Exam Room Two was beginning to overwhelm his preoccupation.

House had written (more accurately, dictated to Dr. Cameron) a proposal of installing a conveyor belt so that patients could be diagnosed with the same spirit of speed and efficiency espoused by one Henry Ford. Strangely enough, this was not heralded as a triumph of original thinking, but instead earned him an hour-long diatribe by Cuddy.

The familiar restless feelings and increased pains in his leg had fully asserted himself when he signed into the Clinic. He looked around the waiting room – snivels, snufflers, whiners, one middle-aged man who judging by his two young clothes was wanting a Viagra fix, and two young girls who were probably giving each other moral support for requesting birth control pills.

House's hand felt for the gimmick, twisting around some of the controls.

The idea arrived just as quickly as the impulse. House took out the device, hiding it behind a patient folder. He aimed it at an electrical junction box, and pressed the control.

The arcing sparks and every light popping was more dramatic than House had envisioned. The screams and people rushing around (honestly, it was the middle of the day, a few lights going out?) made a smirk rise on his face as he pressed his back to the nurse's station in order to avoid being trampled.

The other doctors came out, demanding to know what the hell was going on, and how they couldn't work in these conditions, were they supposed to use candlelight and leeches? (House's suggestion that might be an interesting mode of treatment was met with derision) It took Cuddy coming down and declaring the Clinic closed for the next two days for repairs to smooth over the ruffled feathers.

House waited until he was alone before taking out the gimmick and kissing it.

He had a few hours of freedom, and a new toy to enjoy them properly.

Dr. Chase was washing his hands with meticulous care (patients noticed if you had the slightest speck of dirt on your hands) when it happened.

Namely, the tap exploding from it's mounting, and water spraying everywhere.

Chase yelled (a manly scream, as he'd later assert with protracted empathis) as the water splattered all over his shirt front and his pants. Along with the accompanying large spreading blotch directly in his crotch.

Then to make his day, the person who he wanted to see least at this very moment opened a stall door.

House looked at the water damage, and patted Chase on the shoulder.

"Bladder control. Once you get the hang of it, it's a blast."

Dr. Ayersman sat down in the cafeteria for his usual ten minute break with a Diet Coke and a sandwich.

However, his contemplative mood was disturbed when his Coke can exploded in his hand.

As he frantically tried to mop the drink from his suit, he noticed House watching, and smiling.

Detective Michael Tritter buckled up, his newspaper, gum and other purchases on the passenger seat.

He pulled out into the lane – and the car shuddered, leaning to the left.

Then his car dropped, shuddering, blocking the lane of traffic.

He opened the door, intent on seeing what the problem was – and the door fell away from it's mountings.

A heavy thud from under the hood along with a symphony of lighter tinklings made him get out with galvanised movements.

His car was falling apart – literally. The wheels had fallen off, every nut, bolt, fitting and rivet had loosened and fallen out.

Despite his explanations, and exhausting every favour he had with the forensic guys, they could find no evidence of how it was done. And due to the reports they submitted, he could never convince the insurance company of any other reason for this other than his own sabotage.

Tritter never would figure out the how, but he had an idea concerning the who, when a familiar limping man waved hello before swinging his leg onto a motorbike and driving into the unblocked lane.

House walked back into the office, trying to contain his mirth. Half-formulated ideas for future experimentation floated in his head.

He took out the gimmick, wondering if it had a strip-administrators-naked setting.

A knock on the glass door behind him made him turn.

A man, brown hair and sideburns, slightly older than Chase, in a ratty brown pinstripe suit was in the doorway.

The hand that had knocked on the door was still resting there. The other was extended, making a 'give-it-here' gesture.


"You know."

Spirits sinking, House produced the device.

The man's face lit up as he took the device, handling it with innate familiarity. "Thought I lost it." He looked back up at House. "When you kept on using it, made it easy to track."

"It's kind of fun."

"Oh yeah." This guy had a cheerful energetic nature that House immediately distrusted.

A thought struck House. "Where did you get …"

"Made it."

"You wouldn't be interested in …"

"Sorry, not for sale."

"You could make another." House turned, reaching for his coat and producing his checkbook. "If you'll throw in some kind of manual …"

The guy was already walking down the corridor.

Just as Tritter was stalking right towards his office, and from that expression on his face, he wasn't selling insurance.

Later that evening, House reflected that the guy taking the gadget back wasn't such a bad thing. Especially now that his prescriptions were legal, and his lawyer had enjoyed explaining the mockery the cops would make of themselves; trying to prove to a jury that a man with a disability could sabotage a car so comprehensively in thirty seconds flat.

Okay, maybe handing Tritter a bus schedule was rubbing it in just a little, but it was little things like that that made life worthwhile.

And on further reflection, a magic wand like that would take the challenge out of recreational pranking, wouldn't it?

After all, he had a few days Clinic free to think of something really fun…