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It’s the story of how time travel was invented (partly) and how Jake got involved (somewhat) and why he’s willing to risk it all to muck about with stuff that seems to be broken (almost entirely.)
Also Felicity. He meets Felicity.
Here it is: the first true Jake Calcutta story. Download the 5,000-word short story right now, absolutely free.
The apartment was bigger than it looked in the photos online. Real estate must be cheaper in a small town than in the cities. I didn’t know. I’d never lived anywhere but one big city and apartments were even more expensive than renting a small house. It didn’t make any sense to me, but I guess if you’re willing to pay for the benefit of not having a lawn to mow, someone might as well take your money.
I also wasn’t used to having the super live offsite. Though she wasn’t the super, she was the apartment manager. Or owner. I should get that straight. She and her husband lived down the street in a nice little house by the lake.
“Right up the road if pipes burst or you lock yourself out,” Mrs. Wright had said. Mr. Wright was housebound so she had taken care of our business arrangements.
“Now, there’s lots of young men for neighbors, dear, but they’re polite and well-behaved or I wouldn’t have them. So you just make yourself at home.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Wright. I’m not worried about them.”
One eyebrow twitched, and she smiled.
“No, I supposed you’re not. I’m off, then.”
Maybe her intuition works better than mine. Maybe I was advertising more than I realized.
No young man was getting anywhere near me until my heart grew back in the hole left by the young man I’d just left forever.
Attending UCSD meant she got to leave the harsh winters of Chicago for the sunny warmth of southern California. Not that she couldn’t deal with cold. Growing up in the frozen white north, you acclimatized or you moved to Florida.
Or San Diego.
She’d acclimatized for years. Her childhood and later school years were full of snow and ice. Online friends in warmer places ribbed her about the one-day summer, joked about meeting penguins and polar bears on her daily run, and generally gave her a hard time about the northern winters.
She’d pushed back, defending the place she’d grown up, secretly agreeing with every word they said.
When her parents announced they were selling the house and moving to Florida, and also announced that the profit allowed them to pay for a degree at virtually any university she chose, she jumped at the chance to flee her homeland for warmer climes.
All that free space in my brain erupted today.
After spending the morning listing all 64 scenes for A Still, Small Voice (14% written!) I sat down this afternoon and slashed the fat grease pencils all over 8 or 9 pages of legal paper and outlined (fanfare!)
I can barely contain myself.
Idea — blend action/adventure with scifi
Concept — a genetic mutation allows a man to travel through time without the equipment other time-travelers need
Premise — what if a group of researchers discovered that the universal timeline had been corrupted and the only way to restore it was to send a mercenary back to pivotal points of ancient history to fix them — if he wasn’t killed first?
By the time Max and Mossie and friends arrived, Siobhan had filled in enough of the gaps to make most of it make some sense.
Patrick, Feany the First, had infiltrated Dubin’s organization a year before. He discovered quickly that Conor Dubin was a man of temperament, and could be closemouthed like a clam with one associate and chatty as a schoolgirl with another. The SDU officer unfortunately hadn’t been interesting enough to Dubin to get him to open up about life, the universe, and other crimes. I guess it’s tough to do an accurate personality profile on someone like that.
When the blow came I wasn’t the only one surprised.
Niall’s fist hit the side of Feany III’s neck with a sound like a handful of meatloaf you threw at the wall. Feany III went down like the meatloaf, and then there was one. Feany the Only must have heard Fearghal behind him; he dodged ever so slightly and caught the ham-sized fist in the side of the head instead of the pressure point on his neck. It was still almost enough; his head rocked, and he shoved backwards into Fearghal. Fearghal went over backwards, and Feany scrambled behind a car.
I looked at what I could see of the glorious old building; the triple nave above us, the square stone columns, arches everywhere. I wanted to take a closer look at the organ; built just before the Great War, it incorporated parts from the original from 1872. I had a quick mental image of being under a pump organ; I was so small that I could only pump one of the pedals; someone else was on the other, and the feet of the players (I use the term loosely) dangled over our heads. I wonder where that was, and if it was even real.
As we slipped down the stairs, I could barely hear the three behind me; Max and his big friends. When we got to street level it was black. Out front it was gently lit, but back here there were no lights but the stars.
In five minutes we’d be at the church, and I’d either be goading some thug into calling Dubin, or involved in something much, much worse. Siobhan could pretend it was all business; I couldn’t.
“Hey, you were surprised to see the map there still, right? You think he’s gonna leave it there forever? No, we advance his timeline with audacity.”
“You’re sure he’ll bite?”
“You’ve convinced me.”
Siobhan’s room was on the ground floor; not directly below Rob’s, but close enough that wireless connections for video worked between them.
She stayed in persona once we were back in the room. I had a harder time with the clothes than the hair; blonde was gonna suit her long before a leather mini would.
The chap behind the bar, whose name should have popped into my head but didn’t, gave me a nod between the heads of hair at the bar. I held up one finger, which he seemed to be expecting, and headed around to the table I’d sat at with Rob and Mossie. It was empty, which was a pleasant surprise, or completely expected—I’d walked past a couple empty tables to get here; most of the patrons were lining the bar where service was faster.
We walked across the gravel of the carport, then across an unkempt grassy area and down concrete steps to a rocky beach. There, over the sound of the waves, Dubin explained his plan.
He had arranged for a professor of Celtic history to ‘find’ the Brendan map and announce it to the world. I was to allow others to comment on its authenticity to see who else might support it. He hinted that some of the supporters might be ‘associates’ of his, but that they would only speak up if no other linguists or historians accepted the map as genuine.