Anchors No More #13: Speaking of Worms…Apr 14, 2014
As the night progressed, Gary and Holly got what they needed. After some soup and sandwiches, they were left alone to rest.
Sleep eventually came for Holly following a restless hour where she tossed on the adequately comfortable couch, too worn to speak of the thoughts surging through her consciousness yet too emotionally dynamic to still their onslaught. She finally drifted off, berated by dark, harrowing dreams, waking several hours later feeling moderately refreshed and hungry once again.
For Gary, however, such serenity of thought never came. He remained awake and staring at the ceiling, unable to calm his mind or settle his body. When Holly began to slightly snore, falling into her slumber, he couldn’t take another minute alone in his head.
Daniel hadn’t told them much, preferring to wait to unpack the breadth of their predicament until they had time to sleep, but what he did tell them was enough to chew on for a while. Daniel Hobbes had worked at ARLIS for over ten years when Gary and Holly successfully tested their device. He quit two years after that day, skipping the details for the time being, simply saying it was “due to ideological differences” and pointing out the blankets and pillows stacked on the table in the corner.
Ever since he left ARLIS on these “questionable terms,” along with several other notable employees, he had been in hiding, they all had. Together, they constructed their underground lab under immense secrecy. “Your work shook things up completely,” Daniel told Holly, heating up the soup while the mechanic, actually Doctor James Brammer, a respected scientist in the field of Nano Biology and Quantum Optics, began assembling BLT’s, “You have no idea the doors you opened when you hit that little green button. The fact it worked, that you really did it,” Daniel picked up the ladle and filled the bowl with broth and chunks of potatoes, carrots, and peas, “it was a revolution like nothing before. But, please, for now” he said, walking to the door with James, “eat and get some rest. I’ll tell you everything later, just relax, you’re safe here.”
Gary and Holly thanked him, ate their soup, sharing a sparse conversation as they finished their meal and spread their blankets out on the two couches. “Can you believe that’s really James Brammer,” Gary said sitting on the couch and taking off his shoes, “I read every paper he wrote back in post-grad.”
Holly lay down and covered herself with the thick blanket, “And here we all are,” was all she said before lapsing into silence and rolling over, burying her head in the cushions.
An hour later, Gary sat up and put on his shoes, poured himself a tall glass of water and chugged it. Leaving Holly to her sleep, he exited the room, joining the others in the lab. James had traded his greasy mechanics uniform for a long sleeved grey shirt and some corduroys, and he stood talking with Daniel and Restrepo back by Holly’s machine.
When they saw Gary looking lost beside the door, they waved him over. He said hello to the group of researchers he passed on his way, they looked up at him from their seats and said hello with something like admiration or apprehension in their voices. Gary let it slide, unsure if he could blame them either way. He joined the three men, “How’s it going?” he asked, shaking their hands.
Daniel smiled, “It’s good. We’re just trying to figure out what to do next.”
Gary’s smile was not as easy as Daniel’s, but it was as genuine, “That’s a hell of a question, now, isn’t it?”
James agreed, “That it is, my friend. The can of worms you have concocted and expelled is a large one indeed.”
Gary nodded his head and looked at Restrepo, “Thank you,” he said reverently, “I can, we can, never repay you for what you did for us. Officer Restrepo, you risked your life for us and…”
“And I would do it again,” Restrepo said, finally giving Gary the smile he had been hording all this time, “And please, Doctor Neff, my name is Sebastian.”
“It’s Gary,” he said interrupting, “Nice to meet you Sebastian.”
The two shook hands again, sharing a comfortable laugh. After a moment, Gary turned to the machine and began examining it, “Is that ours?” he asked, looking over the metal shell, the angles of its smooth sides.
Daniel shook his head, “It’s not yours, but it’s built exactly on your specs. Your machine is back at ARLIS. They have it secured, dialed in, and ready to go.”
“What?” Gary asked looking at each of the men in slow turn, “What are they doing with it?”
“They’re trying to get it to work,” said Sebastian, “and they had to wait until you popped back in to find the last pieces of their little puzzle.” He pointed to the table beside the time-device and to Gary’s bewildered delight he saw their two notebooks sitting there. Gary looked back to Sebastian as he continued, “Now that you’re back, now that they’ve seen these, nothing is going to stop them from getting what they want.”
“What do they want,” asked Gary picking up the notebooks, opening them, making sure they were intact and real.
“They want answers,” interjected James, “They want all the little secret herbs and spices.” He waited a second to see if anyone would continue, and when they didn’t, he did. “They have everything they need to utilize your temporal technology except for the keystones, the formulas and equations in your books. You didn’t write them down anywhere else and without whatever magic trick you played with the mathematics of existence they cannot move forward.”
Daniel saw the uncertain look on Gary’s face. “It became a military matter,” he said hoping to clarify. “When you guys used your machine, ARILS instantly climbed into bed with the military. The whole operation, the whole facility, became top secret, heavily guarded, immaculately funded. The Army moved into the place and set up a platoon of top researchers to try and duplicate your math but we couldn’t.” He paused, gesturing to James and himself, “We were on that team and all I can say was that I have never witnessed such a large group of brilliant egos humbled so completely. There was no way to crack your code.”
“It was Holly,” Gary said, “She’s the artist, I’m just the engineer.”
Daniel was unmoved by Gary’s humility. “Regardless,” he said, “as soon as we left ARLIS, we got in way over our heads. If they caught any of us…” He didn’t finish his thought, knowing each of them was completing it already, filling in whatever blanks remained with the pessimistic contents of their own highly-developed imaginations.
© David Edward Wagner 2014. All Rights Reserved.