1: Dr Mendel’s Discovery and Dilemma
Dr Mendel, was head of research at the Wiseman Institute for Advanced Quantum Research at Bethesda, Maryland. The Doctor’s cutting edge work led the field in the area of “Wave theory” applied to biological and mathematical research. On a routine afternoon of a particularly frustrating day, while wiping up a spilled cup of coffee on his desk, he observed the tracks in the liquid as he dragged his napkin over the spill. Reflected in the spill was the grate of the florescent bulbs overhead. They resembled the lines of graph paper in the spill; something about the way they shifted while the doctor was sponging them up caught his attention. The doctor stared at the stains reflection as a formula worked itself out in his mind. Dr Mendel accidentally stumbled onto the concept of distorting the wave reflections of neutrons bouncing off sub atomic particles. He quickly jotted down some figures on the tablecloth. In one instantaneous spark of insight, his discovery opened the door for the alteration of light particles. This in turn threw down the barriers that had plagued the possibility of time travel.
In an impromptu meeting that took place in the Institutes Dining Hall, he confided his theory to his closest associates; the world’s leading biological Human Genome experts, Dr Tsuranagi and Dr Roth a name renown in quantum physics.
In the frenetic weeks that followed, Dr Mendel’s formulas were checked and confirmed. Whatever followed would be drawn up, coordinated and executed; all in the deepest secrecy and backed by the wealthiest of donors. A lab would have to be built; He needed a particle accelerator to test his theory. Best if it were underground.
Coming up with the theory was the easy part, thought Dr. Mendel glancing at his notes; how best to implement it and demonstrate it physically was another matter altogether. The ground rules he set were deceptively simple; in one demonstration, to change the world for the better using the stunning discoveries the team uncovered.
There was no agreement amongst his colleagues about what to do with the gift of Time Travel. Should they use it to save Lincoln or Kennedy? Or perhaps warn the Captain of the Titanic. One doctor suggested assassinating Hitler. Another suggested visiting Jesus. The doctors engaged in endless fruitless debate. The boondoggle of finding an agreeable solution to demonstrate the theory was wearing the patience of all the staff members. Anything they could think of would alter the present, and their work would go unrecognized.
It was getting late, Doctor Mendel glanced at his watch; a quarter to ten already. Dr Roth suggested calling it a night. The wall calendar showed, Friday September seventh, 2001
The Doctor was already running down a list of things he had to do this weekend. He ran through the mundane tasks in his head; Most important, early on Sunday morning he had to take his wife to Dulles airport, a short drive away. She was going to spend the week in New York City with their oldest son and his family, they would take in some sightseeing. She was brought up in New York, and missed the excitement of living in the city. Dr. Mendel wished he could go, he loved being with his grandchildren, particularly with his bright thirteen year old grandson Max. Sadly he reflected how his work had him hopelessly tied up. Perhaps he might join them later in the week, but for next Monday the tenth he would be back at the institute to re tackle the dilemma. An answer will come, he reflected, it just needs more time.
2. A Dark Day for Thomas
Thomas was having breakfast early on Tuesday morning, September eleventh, Two Thousand and One, when the phone rang. His mother and father were calling the house from their cell phone. They had been attending a seminar in New York, and were doing a bit of early morning sightseeing, this particular morning they were at the Sky View level of the World Trade Center.
The first thing he noticed was how strange his Fathers voice sounded, his voice was steady but there was great sadness behind his words, in the background there was lots of noise, like lots of people yelling. His Father mentioned something about an accident, fire and smoke. His Father told him to turn on the news. Thomas jumped up and hastily grabbed the remote to turn on the TV as his father had asked. The image on the screen showed a view of the first tower, with smoke billowing up into the early morning sky.
”Son, your Mom and I are on the roof, but we are going to take the stairs, we will call you when we get to the ground level, but just in case....I have important papers in the living room vault, Call Mr. Cooper first and then your Aunt, your Mom and I, we made arrangements, He will know what to do.” A short pause,
”Your Mom wants to talk to you, be brave son, I love you very much, we will see you soon g-d willing.” His mother was emotional, crying yet trying to be brave, Thomas had never heard her like this, she was terrified but trying to hide it.
“It’s a beautiful view up here...” Thomas was trembling and crying now into the phone,
”Mom, come home! Ma, don’t cry” His father cut back in,
”We gotta go now son, someone got the door open,” He coughed hoarsely and continued, “Talk to you later son, be brave.”
That was the last Thomas had heard from his parents. He recalled how he numbly watched the events of the morning transpire. Calling his Dad’s cell phone he only got a recorded message of his Dad’s voice, telling the caller to leave a number.
He watched startled now as the buildings came down, first one and then the other. He tried desperately again to reach his Dad. By that time his Aunt Nan had gotten to the house, she lived a few miles away, and came as soon as she got his message. She grabbed Thomas and hugged him tightly saying,
”Don’t worry dear, they will be all right.”
As the day passed into night, it was apparent that his parents, like so many others, had not made it.
Mr.Cooper was called, The house would be sold. Thomas would move into his Aunts place and share a room with his cousin Ralph. The days that followed were dark and Thomas moved as if his body was set on automatic. He went through the motions; talked to friends, even spoke with another kid at his school that lost a sister.
The days past: an empty Christmas season bravely tried to cheer things up, but Thomas was still numb from the passing. As the Terrorist plot was revealed, a glowing hatred grew from a cold spot in his heart. The words of the President were encouraging; they spoke of ridding the world of terrorists.
It was early in January on a snowy evening, that Thomas sat down at his computer and wrote a note to the White house.
Getting home from school a few days later, he found Aunt Nan was standing in the doorsteps, she was smiling, which was rare these days.
”Thomas” she said ”I got a call from Washington, check your e-mail right away.”
Thomas gave her a quizzical look, then bounded up the stairs. His computer seemed to take hours to get on line. There in his inbox was a response, from the White House! Aunt Nan stood behind him and read the words on the monitor, squeezing his shoulders.
The President had invited him personally to an event in Washington. There would be special service at the National Cathedral and afterwards special meetings with councilors and therapists for those who lost friends and relatives to the terrorist attack. They would next be invited later in the evening to a special dinner where they would personally meet the President.
3: To Help you Heal
Thomas found himself in a small classroom, after the services, he was surrounded by a large group of kids his age; Ten through thirteen year olds. There were boys and girls of all nationalities; some had come from as far as California, while others were local. The only thing they shared in common was the loss of a parent or relative when the Towers came down. The councilor walked into the room, she was a young lady in her early twenties. She spoke in a loud but warm voice.
”Good afternoon, I’m Leah Mendel, I will be working with you this afternoon. I have a project that I use to help people who suffer from great losses, my specialty is Art Therapy.”
Several students squirmed uneasy in their seats, she continued:
”I know there are some here who are artistic, and then there are others like myself, who can’t draw a straight line. Nonetheless, you don’t have to be a great artist for this exercise. Sadness, Fear, Anger and Rage are not emotions we want to deal with, when we don’t express them and they get buried deep inside us. It is ok to express these emotions, but it is sometimes it is hard for us to do so, we have been taught to always be nice. Being nice has no room for these monsters.” She paused as some members of the group laughed softly.
”I want you to tap these emotions on paper with your drawings. Once it is brought out, it can be dealt with. You can rip up and toss your drawings away and feel a sense of release from these dark thoughts. I want everyone in the room to use the paper being handed out, and use the crayons, there is a box on each table, (sorry, you’ll have to share the box with your table) and then I want you to draw your thoughts about what happened on 9/11. Don’t be afraid of doing a bad drawing, or of not doing something good enough, you will not be graded, and you can even keep the picture you draw and not show it to anyone. If you want to share your thoughts about it, we will post the pictures and discuss them after we are done.”
Thomas’s picture was unique. He drew in stick figures, which kind of embarrassed him, his best friend could draw real good. His picture showed the two towers, and an airplane coming straight in, but between the plane and the building was a stick figure drawn taller than the buildings themselves, with a hand out, ready to catch the airplane before it hit.
He drew it from his heart and without thinking. The image went on to the page almost by itself. The councilor walking from table to table, stopping to talk with the children about their work, when she got to Thomas’s desk. She looked at the picture, stood silent a moment, then asked,
”Who’s that standing by the buildings?”
”It’s the Lord Jesus.” Thomas replied, the councilor was moved, and asked if she could keep this one after the session, He was kind of ashamed of it, and was going to throw it out anyway.
”Sure,” said Thomas, “why not!”
It was later that evening at the reception that Thomas saw his councilor again, this time she was sitting on the far left, at a table closer to the President. Next to her was seated a distinguished looking older gentleman in a tweed jacket, with glasses and thinning white hair. There were several other people at the table as well, including a well dressed Japanese man looking very much like a banker, with his young wife.
Thomas noted to himself that the older man with glasses and a few other men sitting at the table were wearing funny looking black caps.
There were over a hundred and twenty guests in the dining hall, which was decorated tastefully with flowers and flags. The president was going to make a speech later in the evening but there were other speakers from congress and civic groups to speak first.
Thomas was surprised when the old man sitting next to his councilor was called to the podium. He was introduced as a top scientist, Thomas whispered to Nan that he knew the young lady seated beside him. They found out that the old scientist lost his wife, his son and his extended families of two boys and a baby girl to the 9/11 Terrorists.
Dr Mendel spoke of how hard it has been to bare the loss of everyone he loved, only his daughter Leah, had been spared. He spoke of turning despair into hope and of the promise of life and it’s beauties for everyone who holds on to their faith.
The President was called upon last, he spoke forcefully about waging a war against those who had done such evil,
”We will never rest until all terrorists responsible for this heinous and cowardly act are brought to justice.”
It was after the meeting that Thomas and his Aunt were introduced to the councilor and her father Doctor Mendel.
”Young man, I was very impressed with the drawing you did at my daughters session How old are you my boy?”
”I’m ten sir” Thomas politely replied.” The old man spoke, “Most in the room drew pictures of what happened, but you chose to draw what you wished would happen.” Thomas turned his eyes down in embarrassment.
”No, no, it’s a beautiful thing, I too would wish to change the events of the day if there was only a way to do it. My Son and his wife were in one of the towers with my grandsons..” He choked back a gentle cough, He daubed his eye with his handkerchief.
”Max was your age, such a sweet boy.” A tear in the corner of the Doctors eyes could be seen through his thick lens glasses,
”I too wish the Lord had intervened, I somehow find hope in your drawing.” Then almost as if to himself he continued,
”I will find a way to make things right again. I think your picture may have shown me the way.” Thomas was a little puzzled and not a little embarrassed.
”Son, I would like to get in touch with you sometime in the future, you gave me an idea that will help me at work. I’d like to talk to you about it.” Thomas had no idea what the old man was talking about, but remembered to be pleasant and humor older people, he nodded knowingly. He shook hands with the old man, but couldn’t stop staring at the skull cap the man was wearing, having only seen the pope wearing something like that.
”Are you a holy man?” He asked. Dr Mendel caught on to what the boy was staring at, inadvertently reached to straighten his yarmulke with his left hand, and laughed,
”A holy man? No son, I only pray that I am a good man.”
That was Thomas’s first meeting with the Doctor, he was surprised five months later when Dr Mendel called him at home inviting him to see the Doctors Lab.
4: The Secret Lab
The building could not be seen from the main road, to most this was just a small country road, two lanes cutting through the forested foothills of the Appalachian range. The car turned to the right up an unmarked gravel road, then made a left around a cluster of trees that led to a small manned gateway. The doctor drove the car to the checkpoint; the guard gave a brief nod and flagged the Doctor into the parking lot.
The building was unspectacular, at least from the outside.
”A shack!” Thomas thought.
It was a small wooden two-story structure, very plain. It reminded him of the temporary classrooms that were set up across the playing field at his school. He was inwardly disappointed at how ordinary the place looked. He was expecting more from the Laboratory that the Doctor described as his workplace, back when they had their first phone conversation. A sleeping cat on the porch was not an encouraging sign.
“Don’t wake up Mr. Spitz” He said, “He doesn’t like to be disturbed from his naps.” Doctor Mendel smiled slightly as he led Thomas and Nan through the main door. They walked down a short hallway and cut to the room on the left. The Elevator unseen from the entrance was strikingly out of place. It’s inside was brightly lit with a fluorescent glow, and air seemed to be flowing in from a hidden updraft vent. Once the doors were closed, the deceptive rustic setting was left far behind.
There were six underground levels according to the panel. One floor down, at Sub Level One, the door slid open revealing a long corridor lined with doors.
”The staff’s offices,” Explained the doctor,
”Our library and most of the electronics are housed on this floor, The fun stuff is below. We will get to it soon enough; I just want to fill you in with some background information, there is something I must show you first.”
The Doctor pulled out a thin card from his wallet, swiped the lock and entered a password on the numerical keyboard. The door lock snapped and the door slid open revealing a nice but sparsely decorated office. On the wall to the right hanging by pushpins was Thomas’s drawing. Thomas winced.
”That vision of yours is what kept me inspired. I had told you of my losses, and mentioned a little bit about my research”. The doctor reflecting on the drawing, choose his words carefully. He didn’t want to go overboard with the technical jargon. Turning to his guests he finally said,
“What I am about to tell you is extremely confidential, and must not ever be mentioned outside of this facility when you leave.” His stern look bespoke the urgency of his words.
”I must have your word that you will reveal nothing of what I am about to show or tell you.” He turned his gaze from Nan to Thomas. Both nodded.
”We can go back in time, at least four years back, after that the mathematical model breaks down.” Nan started to worry that Dr Mendel might have gone over the edge. The good doctor was beginning to sound like that mad scientist in the Back To the Future movies.
”We have done it in testing, and we have proof. Although we have not sent a living creature back, the algorithms check out on paper.” A screen descended slowly from the ceiling behind the desk as the Doctor was talking. He moved over to a small console in the corner of the room, flicked a switch and continued,
”Let me show you something that we retrieved from the vaults of an office security system in Bethesda. They save these records by order of their manager, this video surveillance tape of their garage parking structure was made February Ninth, Two thousand. Over two years ago”
A grainy black and white television image flashed on the screen, there as no movement as the camera scanned an almost empty indoor parking lot: Level four, section B.
A date on the lower right confirmed the stamped date and time; 2/9/2000, 12:55 AM.
”We sent the probe to this location last week.”
On the screen, an elevator in the back opened and closed to no effect. Nan and Thomas were hypnotized by the image on the screen. The doctor advanced the tape. At one O’clock exactly, the picture flickered and seemed to flash, going quickly snowy and then returning to normal.
”There!”, the Doctor said, “Did you see it?” Nan and Thomas shook their heads.
”Let me play it back and freeze the frame for you. It was only in existence at that time for a second, but it’s a start!” The image restarted on the screen, the elevator door opened and shut.
”Now watch” Said the doctor. The image halted, jumped and halted again. A black spot was seen in the center of the picture as the doctor advanced the film, frame by frame.
A gray blur formed in the center of the blackness, a white square with squiggles on it came into range. It looked like a piece of paper floating, with a small silver disc next to it. Quickly it materialized, then just as quickly flashed out of the picture,
”Let me back it up just a bit, and work on the focus for you.” He typed something into the keyboard. The screen showed it clearly to be a piece of paper; only now blurry printing could be seen. As a dial was adjusted, the paper came into sharp focus. it had a date hand written in black ink:
”Test 107-B August 20th, 2002”
The disk glued to the bottom of the paper was a coin, a quarter, the camera zoomed in to the date, “2002” Even as the time signature on the lower right of the frame showed , “2/9/2000”.
”We obtained this surveillance tape from a dusty vault. It had not been touched since the day it was made. No tampering yet conceived could have affected this, the original tape.”
The doctor opened his desk drawer and removed a sealed clear plastic envelope; it was the piece of paper that had been seen in the film.
”Meet the first successful time traveler.” He handed Nan the envelope.
”Whoa! that’s a neat trick” Said Thomas. Nan said nothing.
”I’ll show you the device we used to send it back later, that’s on the lowest level”
”That’s got to be a trick” said Nan uneasily.
”I assure you, it is quite real; we have penetrated the frequencies that hold the fabric of time intact. We have out stepped our boundaries and returned to moments past. Our tests say we should be able to leave an object in the past for up to three hours, before friction between the layers starts to interact. and the future is phased back out.”
The doctor pulled another piece of note paper from his desk, he handed it to Thomas asking him to sign and date it. Thomas took the pen, addressed the paper, and handed it back to the Doctor who folded it, returning it to his suit pocket. He then went over to the same tape in the machine. The time was fast forwarded by the doctor who stopped it momentarily, then let it advance on its own. At 1:10 AM precisely the screen blurred again, this time the paper was quickly brought into focus.
”Well” said the doctor smiling, It looks like tomorrows experiment will be a success!” Nan and Thomas’s jaws dropped.
5: A Plan
As the lights came back up, the Doctor explained earnestly:
”We are going to save the World Trade Center. We are allotted only three hours to do so. Saving the buildings will change everything that has occurred since. The future will proceed in a natural measured wave, only it will be a future that differs from where we are now. We can do projections, but when we have crossed the barrier we will not even realize that anything different had happened. You will have your parents again and I will have my wife and family.”
Nan was growing ever uneasy, the questions in her mind were more directed towards the Doctors sanity, then in his dubious project. She stood silent like a statue. Thomas on the other hand was getting excited,
”If you have only three hours, how will you stop the terrorists in time?”
”A great question.” The doctor smiled.
”That’s where you come in. See your picture? We can do that too!”
Thomas felt suddenly dizzy.
”Do What?” Snapped Nan sharply.
”The growth factor is only a matter of perspective in the time and space continuum, Our Lab results say the effect is governed by a complex genetic structuring factor that rules out various metabolic and systemic..” He caught himself, glanced at them, took a deep breath and continued,
”Only an adolescent can be, expanded! Thomas, this was your vision, won’t you help us make it real?”
Catching on to the doctors insane notion, Nan jumped up in a protective rage. Forcefully she said,
”Come along Thomas, we are leaving. Dr Mendel, if you will be so good as to show us the door!”
”Of course you may leave,” He said slowly, “But can’t I persuade you to at least tour the Lab first, as we promised. I understand that you may choose to leave at anytime during the tour.” He looked almost sheepish, realizing he should have anticipated Nan’s strong resistance.
”It is most impressive,” He said looking for a sign of hope,
”I will accept whatever you decided upon concerning the project but won’t you at least see it first? My colleagues are very much looking forward to meeting you and Thomas.”
”Oh Please Auntie, let me see it.” Thomas pleaded.
The Doctor stood to the side while Nan and Thomas had some private words.
”Thomas, really!” She spoke sternly,
”First magic tricks, then talks of time travel, and “expanding” you? Thomas!” she said sharply, “I have never heard such nonsense!”
”He’s not some kind of crackpot, Ma..” The word slipped out, catching both in their tracks.
”He’s a genius like Einstein. The President is friends with him!” He pleaded. Nan looked into Thomas’s eyes and gave in, but resolved to herself that to show them the lab was one thing, to use Thomas in any cockamamie experiment was absolutely out of the question. She reluctantly nodded OK to the doctor, whose smile returned. Much relieved he said,
”Let’s continue with the tour.” Once they saw the lab, there would be no turning back.
”There are many wonders yet to be seen, we will be joined by my associates two levels below on the Observation deck.
6: The Grand Tour
The doors of the elevator opened with a click and a whoosh, a breeze of cool air rushed in, as if a seal had been opened. The panel on the elevator indicated that this was Sub Level 3.
“This is our Observation level” Said Dr Mendel, gesturing them to exit.
“We shall meet my colleagues shortly, but first an overview of the Lab.” Thomas stepped out first, followed by Nan and the Doctor. A bare hallway stretched to the left and right, the walls were unadorned, but gave off a soft blue light of their own. Further down the hallway, entrance portals could be seen on the opposite inner wall. The hallway was not straight as it first appeared, but curved inward in both directions, forming a large circle around the perimeter of the lab. It was much larger structure than could be guessed at from the ground level. The Doctor indicated that they should go to the right. As they walked, he explained that the underground lab was shaped like a cylinder with the elevator at an outer edge. It extended down two more levels, but just below on Sub level 4 was where the actual lab and machinery was placed. From this level he explained, we will be looking down at the core machine. They reached the first portal, the Doctor punched a button on the wall and the double door opened revealing a vast space beyond.
“Step out on the gangplank, but watch your step,” Thomas eyes went wide. Nan gasped and stepped back, glad there was a handrail before them, the doctor smiled.
“Here you have a birds eye view of our Lab in all it’s glory” A sign on the railing before them indicated that this was “Observation Deck 3-A” The view was awesome. On the floor below, Technicians appeared to be going about their business, some walked the floor with clipboards in their hands, headsets dangling from their ears, others sat along the back wall, at desks covered with brightly lit control panels. There must have been at least twenty technicians in view.
The center of the room was dominated by a structure resembling a pillbox.
“That is the star of our operation” Said Dr Mendel gesturing at the structure in the middle. “Our Technicians refer to it as the “Grow Room” Nan winced. It stood a round, enclosed chamber, it’s exterior walls were of a dull brushed aluminum with no windows, it stood ten feet tall, and approximately ten feet in diameter in the middle of the lab. Lining its exterior wall was a series of exhaust pipes, fans, and blowers, a maze of pipes and conduits punctuated with dials and gauges that the technicians kept well monitored. Along the raised catwalk they walked along the circumference of the room until they could see the means of entrance into the Grow room. An enclosed glass tube walkway from the outer wall led up to the structure. Seen through the glass enclosure was the actual door to the room, a double sliding mechanical door that hermetically sealed it’s interior.
“The inside of the room, and it’s atmosphere is independent of external conditions, and is controlled by that bank of computers along the far wall” The Doctor pointed to the right.
“What’s that?” Thomas asked, gesturing at the large complex machine that stood to the side of the Grow room.
“Let’s walk further to get a better view” Suggested the Doctor. They edged along the catwalk, passing another outer door and plaque indicating “Observation Deck 3-C” Now on the floor below they could better make out the intricate clockwork of the odd looking machine.
“That’s my creation, the key to this project” Said Dr Mendel proudly. Rising up majestic from the lower levels was the large box like machine, looking more like a Neon art project then the complex instrument that it was. Nan could make out a large translucent tube that emerged from a bank of dialed panels. It was flanked by bright glowing Blue, Orange and Green tubes they extended to the Central room and doubled back to the base with smaller neon type tubes. The large tubes were pointed ominously like a large gun, directed to a diffusion filter on a side panel of the outer wall of the Grow room.
“This is my particle accelerator shaft” Said Dr Mendel as he gestured. “It shoots a beam into the wall of the room, that sets up a vibration inside the room, and” He eyed Nan and Thomas, “And does it’s magic.” It reminded Thomas of a colorful Battleship Cannon pointed toward the Chamber.
“That tunnel that goes to the room? How do you get to it?” Asked Thomas.
“Ah, Down below, that’s where the sterilization rooms are. Anything entering the chamber must be free of any microbes or foreign particles. We will visit them later on the tour. I see Dr Xavier down there over in the corner, let’s go down a level, so I can introduce you to some members of the staff.”
After a long day touring the facility, Thomas and Nan dined with the Doctor and several associates in the cafeteria. The Steaks were done to perfection and the vegetables were served up fresh and deliciously seasoned.
“This is just common fare, from our kitchen, we bring in our own chefs” The doctor noted.
Nan had warmed up to the Doctor, and found him charming through the course of the day. All the workers and technicians were friendly and informative. It was clear to her that millions of dollars had been invested into this facility; No one doubted the Doctors genius. A fiscal plan had been drawn up, offering incredible cash compensation for Nan and all her family for life; Schooling for the kids, Transportation and housing were covered. Health and Insurance all covered. Nan only wanted the assurance from the doctors, that there would be no danger to Thomas. They assured her that even though the details of the project were top secret, every precaution imaginable would be taken to safeguard Thomas. She asked for a night to think about it. Her Lawyer, Mr. Cooper would go over the paperwork she would fax him. She mulled over the details of their proposal; She and her family would have to relocate, Thomas would take a year from school, but be tutored at the facility during training, Her son Ralph would be transferred to a local but highly rated public school in the area. Thomas would be home every evening, and all weekends. All details had been worked out. Nan was sure when she left the building, that her Ex would be no problem, and furthermore, she believed that her sister and Thomas’s father would have wanted it this way. She would give them the go ahead, and sign the papers in the morning If Mr. Cooper gave it the green light.
7: A New Home and Training
Nan had carefully selected the new home in the lovely suburban town of Reston Virginia. It was an affluent community with a good school for Ralph, nice convenient shopping centers and a bustling shopping Mall, best of all, there was parkland all around. Her home was twenty miles from the Lab, an easy drive out into the countryside. Washington DC was just several hours away. She would be able to do her artwork, drive Ralph to school, and see Thomas off. Thomas would be picked up at eight thirty in the morning, and would be dropped off in the evening at six. There was plenty of time for him to do his homework and get some recreation at home. Although the Lab had a kitchen, Nan decided that Thomas would be better off having Breakfast and Dinner at home with the family.
Nan stood in the driveway, as the movers emptied the van of all her furniture, She supervised the men where to put the boxes and larger items. Ralph, who was a year younger then Thomas explored their new home. He was happy that he was going to have a room of his own again. He selected the small bedroom across the hall from Thomas. He had a view of the back patio, Thomas had the room with two windows, one overlooked the backyard, the side window had a view of the neighbor’s hedge. The moving took most of the day to unpack. Nan had the master bedroom with a full bathroom on the second floor. The men grunted carrying her bed sideways up the steps. Thomas moved his bookshelf from wall to wall determining it’s best place, He wanted his Bed across from the window so he could see out. His work desk got the side window view. Once the furniture was placed, the boxes, labeled in dark magic markers, were brought to their appropriate rooms. By three, Nan was exhausted; She suggested that they go out for lunch, both boys happily agreed. They found a Roy Rogers, and had hamburgers and fries. They got back to the house at four. Thomas and Ralph wanted to explore the neighborhood, Nan agreed as long as they would be back by six. As the boys went off to look around, Nan’s new neighbors came over to greet her, and introduce themselves. Later that evening Thomas and Ralph filled her in about their explorations.
“We found the pool, it looks neat” Ralph said, “They got a diving board, an showers an they are open till seven on weekends through the summer, but we gotta get passes”
“I found the Library, it’s got a great kids section, we need your signature to get Library Cards” Thomas said.
“Oh, an the park got all kinds of neat stuff, Swings and Monkey bars, and even a rope ladder, you gotta see it!” Ralph chimed in, “I’m gonna like it here” He said, and Thomas agreed. It was early May, the days were getting long and the summer lay ahead. On Monday Thomas would have his first day of training at the Lab, but for now the unpacking took precedent and a sunny weekend lay before them.
Early Monday Thomas arrived at the Lab, and began what would be a daily routine He would start with three hours of classes; Math, English and Science, His tutor Mr. Jackson was a young man of a pleasant demeanor. They would work in a classroom on the first sub level. Lunch was served at eleven thirty Thomas would eat in the busy dining hall with all the grownup scientists. Then in the afternoon, he would go on to his special training. The first day was particularly exciting, he met Dr Roth, who would guide him through special sessions. Thomas was taken to a lab room on the Fifth sub level and fitted with an earpiece with an attached wire microphone. Later as the lessons progressed, he would have this equipment embedded below his skin. The doctor told him not to worry about it, he wouldn’t even know it was there. The units would be much smaller, but that was still some time off. Thomas was disappointed that he would not be going directly into that central chamber at first, but there were other wonders to see. There was a mock up of the Grow room, a wonder of technology in itself, it was more like an amusement park attraction then a laboratory.
“Let’s do a test run” Said Dr Roth, leading him into the empty room. “We are going to dim the lights, and then bring them up again. You will talk into the mike and explain what you see. Don’t be nervous, We are just testing out the equipment ourselves, this is the first time we get to do a run with an actual subject. You can sit down on the stool in there if you want, Just relax and tell us all that you see. Ok?” Thomas nodded.
“After I leave, the lights are going to go down, but they should come up again quickly, that will be the beginning of our test” With that, Dr Roth left through the door, when the door was shut, the lights faded. It was kind of spooky, thought Thomas, to be sitting in the dark. In the next moment, the room gradually lightened. There were no bulbs visible, but the room took on a golden glow, faint at first and then getting brighter.
“Hello Thomas, can you hear me?” came the voice in Thomas’s ear. Thomas nodded.
“Thomas, you have to speak, we don’t have a visual on you yet, If you hear me, say something” Thomas replied, “I hear you”
“Good” Came back the voice, “Now look around, and describe what you see” The room was a bit brighter, and the color of the light went from yellow to light blue, and Thomas was surprised to see the room filled with what appeared to be a fine smoky mist.
“It looks like some kind of fog” Thomas said, not sure if his voice was being heard.
“Very good” Reassured the Doctor, “Now tell us what you see” The room had taken on a daylight hue, the color was diffused but the mist was getting thicker. more like a fog.
“It looks like a foggy day” Thomas reported. “Very good” came back the response. Thomas thought he heard something, a sound, which was coming not from the earphone, but from inside the room, the sound at first faint, grew louder.
“I hear a sound” Thomas reported, “ It sounds like an engine of some kind, and its getting louder.”
“What does it sound like Thomas?”
“It sounds like an airplane”
“Very good” came the response, now try to follow with your eye, the direction of the sound” The sound was growing in volume from over his left shoulder, behind him. When he turned around, he was at first startled, then vastly amused. An airplane, the size of a toy model was coming through the mist. It looked like it was in the room, but it was not. It was more like the skeleton of an airplane, defined by a grid of green light, projected through the mist. As it flew past him, disappearing in the mist in front of him. Thomas let out a laugh. It seemed three dimensional, and sounded real enough.
“It’s a plane!” Thomas exclaimed. “It’s real small, and it just flew right past me!” Very good, came the response.
“We are going to send another one past you, Just stand still, let it pass, and tell us in detail what you observe.” Thomas stood listening. This time the plane was coming in from his right side. He stood still, as ordered; the plane like the first one was just a skeleton grid projection, this time a little larger then the first. It was a Jet Liner, with a two-foot wingspan. There were markings on it’s surface, and the outline of windows could be seen along it’s hull. Thomas swore he felt a rush of wind as it passed about two feet from his shoulder. It continued on course and disappeared like the first one into the mist.
“That’s it for today” Came the doctors voice, “Over the next few weeks, we are going to have you attempt to catch them, like in your picture.” Thomas was given a book on Commercial and military aircraft, to take home and study, He would have to identify the various Aircraft they would send his way.
The next part of the days testing puzzled Thomas, he was given a bathing suit to change into, and then was taken to a room with an irregular shaped pool in it. The pool was not large, but its base was sloped. The water was dark and very cold. You could wade into the pool, but before you knew it, it would be over your head. The water was salty, and the floor of the pool had a sandy texture.
“I’m afraid you are just going to have to get use to going into some cold water, we will do this once a day, sometimes the bottom will be sandy other times it will feel like mud, If you jump right in from the deep side, the shock of the cold will dissipate, so they say,” Laughed the doctor. We control the water temperature, and will start you with slightly cool water, but with gradual training you will be able to withstand the coolest of ocean temperatures.
This was not going to be easy, thought Thomas, who hated taking even slightly cool showers. The only good thing about this part of the test, was the warm blankets that the helpers brought him, when he came out. All the while he was wishing to enter into the Grow room, just to see what it was like.
“In good time, Thomas” Dr Roth told him, “All in good time!”