Beyond Time Chapter 4
“Hello,” Jimmy responds as he brings the phone to his ear.
After a short pause, Jimmy says, “I can’t talk right now. I need to call you back later.”
After another pause, Jimmy responds, “No, I can’t. I’m with a friend. I might not be back until tomorrow.”
Pause. “It went OK. I’ll have to tell you about it later, Marlee. I really need to go.” Short pause. “I’ll talk to you later. Bye.”
Jimmy hangs up the phone and looks at Peter. “I forgot to tell you, Doc. Marlee, the young woman from Vermont…well, Doc, I kind of like her. She is very honest and kind-hearted. There’s no way she could be involved in trying to steal what I've learned. Besides, she doesn’t know anything about last night and this morning,” Jimmy assures Peter. “Her parents came to visit her from Vermont and she’s been with them. I haven’t told her a thing since Friday afternoon.”
“That makes things a little stickier,” replies Peter. “I’ve got almost twenty years on you and you need to believe me when I say, we men don’t always think clearly when our hearts are involved. You need to keep what happened last night and this morning between you and me for now. It doesn’t matter how innocent she seems or how pretty. Do you understand why, Jimmy?”
“I think so,” replies Jimmy. “Someone is very interested in my experiments with this meteorite. And they have stooped to underhanded means to spy on me.”
“That’s exactly right. Just think of yourself as Jimmy Bond for a while.” Peter smiles, surprised he can muster any sense of humor at all. “We need to be extremely careful. It’s 5:00 now. You nap for a couple of hours while I work on an idea I have brewing. Then I’ll wake you up and we’ll go get some seafood at Sara J’s. I just might have a practical application for this new particle.” He hesitates. “Well, it might not really be practical, but it could be very exciting. I need some time alone to think.”
“Sounds good. But you expect me to go to sleep after saying that?” Jimmy grins as he shuts the door to one of the bedrooms.
Jimmy turns on the fan in the bedroom and goes into the bathroom. He turns on the shower, the sink faucet, and the exhaust fan. Then he calls Marlee back.
“Marlee!” Jimmy whispers. “Don’t call me for a while. There are some crazy things going on down here, and I don’t want Doc to think you have anything to do with any of it.” Pause. “It’s nothing too important, and I can’t really talk about it now. Just don’t call me for a while.” Short pause. “I love you too. Have a good time with your parents. Bye.”
June 15-16, 1968
Peter was awakened in the tree house by a bright light and a deep voice. “Hey kid, what are you doing up there?”
Immediately Sarah screamed. Peter threw his hand over her mouth.
A policeman shone a flashlight up at them in the tree house. “Come on down, kid. Is that Sarah Jenkins with you?”
“Yes sir,” Peter answered.
Sarah was as white as a sheet. He slowly removed his hand from her mouth.
“Her mom’s been frantically searching for her. How long have you kids been up here?”
“I’m not sure, Officer,” replied Peter. “We fell asleep waiting for Ben.”
“Ben, huh? The kid who shot his father,” the policeman responded tersely.
Peter looked back at Sarah, who was still cuddled up next to him, by now softly whimpering.
“He shot his father?” Peter replied. “He didn’t shoot his father.”
“How do you know, kid? What’s your name?”
“I’m Peter, Peter Anderson, Ben’s friend. I live up the street.”
“Were you with Ben the whole time?” questioned the officer.
“No, not the whole time,” Peter replied.
“Well then, you can’t be sure what he did, can you? Besides, your friend admitted to shooting his father. We even found the weapon in his possession.”
“But Officer!” Peter exclaimed.
“What do you want, kid? You and Sarah come on down,” the policeman said sternly.
Peter looked at Sarah next to him and realized what Ben was doing. He was obviously trying to protect his sister, so Peter had no choice but to go along with his story.
“Is Ben’s dad dead?” Peter asked as he led Sarah down the rope ladder.
“Don’t know,” the policeman answered. “The man lost a lot of blood. They’re trying to save his life. He’s at St.FrancisHospital.”
“Where’s Ben?” asked Peter. By now he and Sarah were walking with the policeman toward the house. Peter kept his arm around Sarah. She was limp and barely even able to walk with his help.
“He’s being questioned.”
“What will happen to him, Officer?” Peter asked anxiously.
“Don’t know. But his dad was highly intoxicated. Your friend may have shot his dad out of self-defense. Did you see the kid’s dad, Mr. Jenkins, last night?”
“Yeah, I sure did.” Peter said, glad to offer some defense to help Ben. “He yelled at us for having the TV up too loud and spilling chocolate on the couch.”
“We probably will talk to you more after we’ve looked into it,” the officer said. “But I need to get Sarah to her mother. She’s waiting at the hospital for her. Come with me, Sarah.”
The officer reached out his hand for Sarah. Peter carefully released his hold on her. Sarah was despondent. She was still quietly sobbing when the officer took her hand.
“Come on, Peter. I’ll drop you by your house.”
July 17, 2002
Jimmy cuts off the water and lies down. Though his thoughts are racing, within a few minutes exhaustion overcomes him, and he falls asleep.
Peter grabs another Newcastle and retreats to the back porch. It has been a very long day for him as well, but he has so much to think about. He surveys the ocean and feels sad that he can’t be sitting with Elizabeth.
Until the last few months, one of his favorite things to do was to be with his wife—just hang out with her, watch a movie, play ping-pong or pool, walk hand in hand, especially at the beach.
There was a time, not too long ago really, that just being with Elizabeth was the best life could be for Peter. No words had to be spoken between them. Yet to his shame, she had no idea he ever felt this way.
He had made her feel like she wasn’t important. He was always so into his work, into accomplishing his dreams. Why hadn’t he spent more time with her? Why hadn’t he learned more about what she enjoyed doing? Why hadn’t he included her in his excitement? At one time she had been very interested in his experiments, but he had caused her to hate his job by choosing his work over her night after night, proving to her that she was not a priority.
“God, I miss her!” he says to himself in a loud whisper, as he chokes back a sob.
It surprises him that he even mentions God. He had become disillusioned with any kind of religion years ago. If there was a higher power who had the ability to change the bad circumstances of life, He wasn’t doing a very good job!
There was a time when he thought he had trusted God, back when he met Elizabeth. There was something strangely appealing about Elizabeth and her deep faith that drew him to her.
But God had disappeared from his life when Peter had needed Him most. God had been silent when he and Elizabeth had cried out for children of their own. His love and care were distant when Peter’s favorite uncle died of cancer. And He was nowhere in the midst of the hell his best friend, Ben, and his sister, Sarah, had been through.
Now both Elizabeth and God have given up on him. Peter can feel anger building. He has to stop thinking about it.
Maybe with Jimmy’s help he can do something—something unbelievable. Maybe he can fix what God refused to. Maybe he can right some terrible wrongs. But even as he thinks it, something deep in his heart cringes. Does he really think he can do better than God at anything?
Finishing his beer, Peter walks down the path lined with tall grass and sea oats leading to the ocean. He begins to mull over the possibilities. He and Jimmy will have to hurry, though. It seems that once again God is working against him, sending an adversary to spy on him.
Anger at God rises in Peter again, this time fueling his incredible desperation. As he walks, the sun continues its run toward the western horizon. A far-fetched plan is birthed and fills Peter’s mind. He dismisses it several times, but it will not go away.
Unable to accept how his life is turning out, Peter formulates a wild fantasy that takes on a life of its own, a fantasy that will not die until every conceivable barrier has been overcome, no matter how unbelievable.
Thoughts of wormholes and particles that weigh less than nothing consume his thoughts. He wonders if time travel really is possible as he reaches the second pier and turns around and heads back toward the condo. With what he and Jimmy have recently encountered, a portal to another time seems so tantalizingly close. He plays the possible scenarios over and over in his mind.
So many questions still remain. But if anybody can help him put the missing pieces together it’s Jimmy. Peter turns away from the breaking waves and walks along the serpentine path back to his rented condo to wake Jimmy for dinner.
A short time later at dinner
Jimmy is still a bit groggy from his nap as he and Peter follow the hostess to an outside table at Sara J’s. At the end of the pier, away from any other diners, their words would be muffled by the waves crashing against the wooden beams that hold the pier in place. The warm, brisk, summer night wind whipping against their faces, they stare at the menu and make their choices.
Peter orders a fried seafood platter with onion rings and a tossed salad with bacon and crumpled blue cheese and ranch dressing. Since Peter is paying, Jimmy goes for the filet and buttered lobster. They order a bottle of white merlot.
As they eat, Peter lays out his plan. It involves using the discovered particle with negative density and the recently discovered wormhole, if that is in fact what it is, to pass highly magnified laser pulses through the microscopic portal in an attempt to communicate with a stargazer back in 1968: a twelve-year-boy looking up at the stars with his friend in a night filled with horror.
The plan involves using the Electro Magnetic Spectrometer Peter is working on, as well as the particle Jimmy has discovered, to try something that had never been accomplished in the history of mankind.
The recent meeting that had been assembled by the dean of his college included some strong speculation that the EMSM had uncovered the existence of an area of tremendous mass. What if this mass really is a wormhole, a hole in the universe connecting us with another time and space?
With Einstein’s theories of the effect time could have with objects traveling at the speed of light, the possibilities of time travel had been birthed in man’s wildest fantasies. Peter saw no way for a person to travel back in time. But this didn’t stop his determined, driven compulsion to try to fix a tragic event in the past.
Preliminary findings of advanced research authorized by Dean Derrick’s meeting, concerning what he had discovered with the EMSM, should be out by the middle of the following week. If there is a wormhole out there, Jimmy’s particle, referred to as the “Boullionitron” by Peter, could be the key to keeping it open long enough to access distant regions of space-time.
It’s all such a long shot, but as they talk quietly, carefully, analyzing the ideas, Jimmy agrees that the possibility exists. “Doc, even if the time portal could be held open for a period of time, how could it be accessed?”
“I’m thinking light, Jimmy, pulses of light using the EMSM. If we can integrate the new particle in with the laser blasts, we should be able to send these pulses through the time tunnel.”
“Pulses of light? Oh, Morse code. I see what you’re getting at. Did Ben or you know Morse code back in 1968?”
“I was just learning it for Scouts, but I was pretty good at it.”
“But how will we pinpoint the laser pulses?” Jimmy asks. “In order to control where and when in time the light will appear, we’ll have to control the light to the exact angle and intensity.” He dips lobster meat extracted from an upper claw into the butter and slides it off the tiny fork into his mouth.
“The intensity is not a problem. I can control that with the EMSM. We’ve never even used the highest settings,” responds Peter, taking a sip of wine. “And I know I can bounce the beams off of neutron stars to help pinpoint the specific angle. But the problem is getting the light pulses started at the right angle from earth.”
“That’s brilliant, Doc!” Jimmy agrees, looking admiringly at his colleague. “Since neutron stars have imploded upon themselves, causing neutrons to pack together, they have the increased density we need.”
“Yeah, we’ll test the theory board on these stars if this whole thing works. That’s why they’re also referred to as pulsars. They’re supposed to be capable of creating a lighthouse type effect when hit with intense light.”
“What do you mean when you say the initial angle is a problem?” Jimmy asks.
“The combinations of neutron star patterns we would need to get an exact angle would be virtually impossible. In order to have our pulses of light show up at an exact time and place in space-time, the angle our light hits the tunnel must be exact. We need something we can control somewhere in space between earth and the wormhole. If we could bounce it off of something in space, maybe we can achieve the angle we need. Without it we’d only be able to access one region of time-space.”
“What about a satellite?” Jimmy asks.
“That might work.” Peter pops a fried shrimp smothered in tartar sauce into his mouth. “What do you have in mind?”
“Milton, one of my colleagues on the meteorite research team, is still heavily involved in gathering data from the Voyager probe sent into space for the ‘grand tour of the planets’ in 1977. It is still out there, millions of miles into deep space. It has a data-gathering panel that is controlled from earth. Could we bounce the laser pulses off of that panel? I know Milton has the ability to adjust the panel remotely.”
“That could work, but can Milton be trusted?” Peter asks.
“I think he can. I’ll start some background checks on him.”
“All we need is to get someone involved with us who has another agenda in mind. We have to be sure he’s clean. I just want to right a couple of wrongs. If this thing gets into the wrong hands, the world would not be a safe place.”
“A couple of wrongs! What do you mean? I thought you wanted to keep your friend’s dad from being killed so that he and his sister’s lives wouldn’t be destroyed?”
“I know,” answers Peter. “But if this thing works, think of other things we could do to warn people of impending disaster. What if we could warn people about the hijackers who drove their planes into the TwinTowers, or warn the captain of the Titanic about the iceberg, or…?”
“Hold on!” Jimmy interrupts. “That’s more than I want to get into. We need to be very careful. No one knows how events weave together to form history, unless you think an ‘Intelligent Designer’ knows. What do they call it, ID?"
“So you did read that article I asked you to read in the April edition of Natural History magazine. What did you think?”
“That was a good article. I liked the way they presented the views of the three proponents for an Intelligent Designer, followed by responses from proponents of evolution,” Jimmy answers. “It didn’t change my position, though. I’m not comfortable giving up and assigning all mysteries to a ‘black box’ called God.”
“I don’t know that natural selection can explain our mysteries any better. But I’m in no position to want to defend God right now. I want to fix some things that He messed up,” Peter declares sharply.
“OK, then. We can talk more about natural selection versus Intelligent Design later. But as far as changing the world ourselves, let’s just start with helping your friend and see what happens.”
“Agreed.” Peter nods.
“I’ll check on Milton and make sure he can be trusted,” offers Jimmy.
“We don’t have to tell him why we need the data-gathering panel on the Voyager. We could get authorization from Dean Derrick for its use with my experiments.”
“Sounds like a plan!” Jimmy raises his wine glass for a toast.
“Great!” Excitement breaks through Peter’s battered heart as he meets Jimmy’s glass with his own.
“While you do that, I’ll study the neutron star positions since 1968. I’ve got a meeting on Wednesday with Dean Derrick. By then we should find out if there really is a wormhole out there.”
Meanwhile, back at the physics lab, the University of South Carolina
As Peter and Jimmy talk, the lab Jimmy had been working in the night before is being combed for information. A woman and two men scour through the lab, being careful to leave it exactly as they find it.
The woman turns on Jimmy’s computer, entering the password as she passes the log-on screen. She goes right to the directory where Jimmy always documents his findings. She prints his entries from Friday night and earlier that morning and shuts the computer down. Meanwhile, her accomplices write down the model number and serial number of the Ultra, as well as noting its settings.
“I think that does it,” the woman says as she grabs the printed document from the printer. “Let’s go.”
The three walk out the same door they had come in through and lock it behind them.
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