Disclaimer: I do not own the Simpsons, Matt Groaning does. As such I will not derive any profit from this work of fiction, nor do I give permission for anyone else to use it for commercial purposes. I give permission for this story to be archived anywhere, with or without my knowlege, so long as Matt and I are credited.
Second Disclaimer: Contrary to popular belief, reading this chapter does not qualify you as a nuclear technician. As such the information contained therein, while based in fact may not be entirely accurate, and should not be used to run/construct an actual reactor.
Third disclaimer: The google cache trick will work with most filtering systems, but I take no responsibility for what you may or may not use it for. Keep the internet free!
Homer Simpson sat behind his control panel at the nuclear plant. Laid out before him was a mind-boggling array of switches, dials, buttons and indicator lights, which Homer had likened to the ugliest Christmas tree he had ever seen. It had worried him for the first few weeks, but 10 years on he had it all worked out. All you had to do was wait for one of the lights to go green, then press the button below it. It was child's play. That was until today, for now one of the lights was flashing red.
At first he tried to ignore it, but after about five minutes another light started flashing and a faint beeping noise could be heard. Tentatively he reached out and flicked the switch next to the red light. Immediately more lights started to pop on one after another, spreading like fire until the board was a sea of red.
"Do'h" Screamed Homer
More and more alarms started to trigger, each one distinct and signifying a specific malfunction, but now blended into a cacophony of deadly sound. Homer had no idea what they meant; it was the spoken alarm in the background that worried him most.
"Coolant flow interrupted," said an emotionless British woman "Core meltdown in 30 minutes"
"Super Nanny?" Homer asked the voice "Is that you?"
The voice paused before repeating the message again.
"What do I do?" Homer wailed
Just then Homer spotted the big red button marked 'HELP'. Well he needed help right now so he slammed his meaty fist into the button. He heard a clicking sound as his door locked and then a grinding as the blast door slid down under gravity hitting the concrete floor with a clang. The same voice as before came out from the intercom this time.
"Attention all personnel" said the voice "a lockdown is in effect and blast doors have been sealed for your protection. Please remain clam."
"Ohh" wined Homer "That didn't help at all!"
Now trapped in his office homer really began to panic. Why hadn't he paid attention in all of that training? Training… That was it! The training manual. All he had to do was look this up. After some rummaging he managed to find it. He opened up the first page, only to find that the pages had been hollowed out. Inside was a slip of paper that read 'IOU one emergency donut, signed Homer'.
"Do'h" He screamed
He needed to think. But thinking wasn't his strong suit. So he picked up the phone and called the smartest person he knew.
Several miles away Lisa was in class staring out the window. She could see the enormous cooling towers of the nuclear plant off in the distance. She knew precisely how the plant worked, the Uranium-235 being struck by a neutron, splitting and ejecting three more neutrons, which were slowed by the moderator and then struck other atoms causing them to split. The cadmium control rods absorbed excess neutrons controlling the reactions. Which was more than she could say for Ms Hoover's knowledge of the revolutionary war.
Just then a broadcast came over he PA system, breaking her from her reverie.
"Lisa Simpson report to the office, you have a phonecall."
Lisa was a bit perturbed by this. It was quite unusual for a student to be called out of class for a phonecall, so it must be something big, and years of life as a Simpson had taught her that big news was seldom good. Still, it was no use sitting there wondering. She got up and left the class.
In the office she picked up the phone and held it to her ear.
"Ah Lisa honey," Homer's voice came over the phone "Ah I kinda have a problem…"
Lisa could hear the alarms in the background so she was fairly sure what the problem was.
"Uh Dad," Lisa exclaimed in shock "It's great that you have faith in me and all, but I'm not really qualified to operate a class III Liquid Metal Fission reactor."
"Liquid whatnow?" asked Homer "Look, the plant is on lockdown, all internal communications are cut. You gotta help me!"
"Alright I'll see what I can do." Lisa mock sighed
Lisa actually smiled. Sure the whole town's lives depended on her, but this is what she lived for, a mental challenge. It sure beat history class.
"Ok" instructed Lisa "Just hold the phone up to the panel so I can hear the alarms."
"…coolant flow interrupted, core meltdown in 15 minutes" said the British voice.
Lisa heard Homer put the phone back to his ear.
"Right." Said Lisa "that's bad, very bad. The core is overheating, and the coolant system is offline."
"What do I do?" asked Homer frantically
"You need to lower the control rods and shutdown the reactor. Then you can worry about getting the coolant flowing again," commanded Lisa "This shouldn't happen, fail-safes should have already taken effect. Mr Burns must have been cutting corners again."
"Um," said Homer "How do I lower the control rods?"
Lisa rolled her eyes in frustration. Of course he wouldn't know, it had all been too easy. Just then she saw the receptionist on her computer, and had an idea.
"Move" yelled Lisa, commandeering the keyboard "I need to use this computer, or everyone dies!"
Lisa opened the web browser and started typing into the search box. She had the telephone handset balanced on her shoulder.
"Ok dad" said Lisa "what model number is your console."
He told her and she entered the search string. She clicked on the first link, and to her dismay was met with an all too familiar page.
"This site has been blocked by the Springfield Board of Education under the following categories: Terrorism, Hacking"
Figures that censorship would be the death of the town, though Lisa. Or at least it would have been, if the filtering system had been implemented halfway competently. As it was Lisa simply clicked the back button and looked at the Google cache instead.
Back at the power plant Homer listened carefully to Lisa's instructions. First lowering the control rods, then restarting the liquid metal cooling system (it's real look it up) and ending the lockdown.
Homer slumped back in his chair, ears ringing in the silence now that the alarms were gone. Thank God, he thought, it was all over.
"Simpson!" snapped Mr Smithers
"Ahh" Homer screamed, but it was just the intercom
"Report to my office at once" Smithers continued
Palms sweating homer poked his head into Mr Burn's office.
"Uh…" he muttered "you wanted to see me sir?"
"You!" yelled Mr Burns " Ah…"
"Smithers" he whispered to his assistant "what is the name of this anencephalic encephalopod"
"That's Homer Simpson sir" replied Smithers "One of your radiation sponges from sector 7G."
"Right," said Burns, turning back to Homer "who do you think you are shutting down my power plant? You've cost me millions, give me one good reason I shouldn't fire you where you stand."
Homer was really nervous now. He gave a stuttering explanation of what had happened.
"So not only did you shut it down, you also nearly blew it up!" yelled Mr Burns "And that's supposed to make it somehow seem better? That's it you're –"
"I'm not sure if that's such a good idea sir" Smithers interrupted, dragging Burns to the side and whispering "He's president of the union, and he could revel the, er… cost-cutting measures which allowed this to happen. No, I think I have just the thing. Do you remember when the National Academy of Science asked us for a nuclear physicist?"
"Those good for nothing eggheads?" Replied Mr Burns
"Yes well, it just so happens that there's another opening," Smithers hinted conspiratorially "One that would put our 'scientist' about as far away as you can get on this planet."
Mr Burns grinned.
That evening Homer came home to greet his family.
"How has work today Homie?" Asked Marge
Lisa winked at him conspiratorially. Homer paused for a moment, looking them all in the eyes.
"Pack your bags everyone," He said finally "The Simpsons are going to Antarctica!"