The next month, the first man found yet another way to improve his company's cell, this time from 39% to 39.5% efficiency. This did not have the same effect that it did the first time; the first time it was luck, here was an up and comer that might oust them someday! - But it was someday, and no one cheered for someday. Someday is a time no one believes in, so it feels safe to put monsters there instead of letting them stay under our beds. 'Well, we'll see if he can break 40%.' Again no one saw anything of the second man, and the company took notice only to say that he now had a lot to live up to, and better do it quickly.
Two months passed, and the first man came to work disheveled, with bloodshot eyes and an endlessly puzzled look, and was welcomed with great sympathy. He had, after all, been pushing himself too hard; trying too hard to be some 'genius'. He wasn't the monster under the bed, the impetus of irresistible progress - he was as helpless as they were against it! And if that didn't help you forget about a monster, what could? He shrugged them off and shambled to the project manager's office. The second man popped his head out, looking almost as worse for wear as the first and startling many who had barely seen him at all in his time there, and asked 'What's going on with him?'
'Tough week, tough week.'
'Lots of pressure, really too much for a kid like that.'
'I hope he doesn't quit, you can't expect yourself to reinvent the wheel right away.'
The second man smiled and retreated back into his den.
And then the e-mail went out.
'That little son-of-a-bitch!'
Someone finally broke, as if cementing the reality for everyone by vocal confirmation.
The next day the second man walked confidently, though somewhat faintly, into the office with a small package tucked under one arm. It was well after the time that he was usually in hermitage; he did not notice that the first man had recently become as reclusive as he, nor did he realize that hushed-but-sharp personal conversations were still taking place around the office - much to the detriment of workplace productivity. He strode into the manager's office and closed the door, setting the package on the table.
'This,' he said, 'is what I've been working on.'
Out of the package rolled a lensing system hooked up to a voltometer that looked nothing like a solar cell.
'Go ahead, hold it up to the skylight.'
The manager did as he was instructed, observed the voltometer, and said 'So you won't be staying with us for long, will you.'
The fourth month the first man worked at his internship, after the second had taken an entry level opening with NASA, he increased the company's new solar cell's efficiency from 78.5% to 79%.