Cry of Triumph

By N. J. Kailhofer

"It'll never work."

The professor smiled at him. "It already does."

"That's impossible, Doc."

"No, Jim," he corrected. "Time is no longer a constant."

Jim tugged on his mustache, a nervous habit. "Professor Ferryman, you're kidding me, right?"


"But," Jim protested, "everybody knows that time is a constant"

"Time is a field that fluctuates in density, Jim. We physicists said that time was a constant because as far as we could tell, it was. You see, we didn't have the proper instruments to measure it. My new apparatus can measure it properly, and that's why I know the nature of time to be different than ever before dreamed."

Jim Roberts, science reporter for the National Times, was silent for a moment. "So what's the bottom line, Doc? What're you really getting at?"

His eyes gleamed. "I believe that I can, given time, locate areas of extremely slow time flow. Then once I've studied those areas, I believe I may be able to construct a device that will induce a _negative_ flow."

"Meaning what?"

"Go backward in time."

Jim laughed. "Gimme a break, Doc! You've been reading too much science fiction."

Ferryman glowered at Jim. "Oh? You think that only an idiot would believe in time travel, do you?"

"That's about the size of it."

"Well, learn from an idiot, because I believe in it."

* * *

Michael set his worn plastic tackle box under the seat of his twelve-foot boat. This was an unusual show of determination, as his battered craft never left his pier. Alongside the box, he plopped down a worn blue backpack, filled with a lunch, a book to read, and a manila folder packed with papers.

He swore to himself that today would be the day-the Day of Victory. He had decided that today would be the day when he finally got his 30 year-old outboard engine to start and he would go fishing.

The fog-covered lake was small, like many in northern Minnesota, and he could have rowed his boat to the middle of the lake with ten minute's work, but Michael McDonnall was an uncommonly stubborn man.

He would not row, and could ill-afford a new motor. He had therefore decided that it was either the motor or he. Every Friday night for the last five summers he had taken some part of the vintage motor and made adjustments to it in the hope that someday he would stumble upon the fault that plagued him.

Then would come Saturday morning. He would wake early, walk to the creaky old boathouse, lower his small craft into the watery caresses of the lake, and tie it to his long, wooden pier. Then would come the weekly battle between man and machine, a fight that machine always won.

Michael gripped the pull cord for the motor and stared out at the thick fog covering the lake in the pre-dawn light. Sighing, he began his grim ritual.

* * *

"Doc," Jim stated, "you're crazy. I'll call the hospital and have them reserve you a rubber room."

"Time travel is possible."

Jim shook his head. "No. You're nuts. I won't believe it."

Ferryman smiled. "The field fluctuations are now a documented fact. My instruments are correct."

Jim, a man of the practical world, was skeptical. "Look, Doc. I'm cutting you some slack for all the stories you've gotten me for the paper, but I can't buy this. If I told my editor this, he'd send me back to writing the obituaries. Believe me, the only thing worse on your social life than being dead is writing about being dead. Just try picking up a girl when you write obits. She asks you, 'So, what do you do?' Then I say, 'I write the obituaries.' 'Yuck!' she says, 'That's so sick!' I'm telling you, Doc, I'm not going go through that again."

Ferryman chuckled. "It will work, Jim. We'll have conclusive proof before you write anything about it.

Jim thought for a minute. "Proof?"

"Conclusive proof. Exclusive proof."

"Look, I'm willing to believe that you might be on to something new. I can accept that time could be a field, but so what? The time field can't vary that much anywhere here on Earth, so what's the point?"

The Professor peered at the young reporter over his round glasses. "Within 100 yards of this position there are areas of extreme and light density time."

Jim thought for a minute. "Ok, we'll assume these areas and the field exist. I also assume that to do this traveling you'll have to manipulate time in some manner. Question: what makes you think that you can manipulate time?"

"Preliminary experiments and observations." The Professor shoved a handful of papers at Jim.

Jim glanced at them. "This isn't English. This is all numbers. I can't understand this."

"That is the data. You'll have to take my word for what it says."

Jim's brows furrowed. "Question two: How do you manipulate the time field?"

Ferryman smiled. "That I can show you in two hours when the supercomputer finishes running the model. Once it's finished, I can even show you in pictures."

* * *

Michael slumped backward in his small boat, lying on the floor between the two worn wooden bench seats, his frustration draining the energy from his youthful frame. He'd been trying for an hour, to no avail. In another show of determination, he untied the boat from the pier, letting the boat drift slowly across the glassy surface.

The fog was starting to lift, and soon the sun would pour its golden beams through the holes in the clouds, eroding the gray wisps of air in ever-increasing amounts until only the orange of the dawn filled the sky.

Michael took out the folder of papers and, propping his backpack behind his head, began to work on revising his lesson plans for the upcoming semester.

He worked on his plans until his eyes grew tired. Opening his lunch and, sighing, took out his favorite book on the Norman Conquest and the year 1066, Michael read until the rising warmth of the day set him to dozing.

His small boat drifted contentedly, floating across the glassy surface of the lake.

* * *

"You see, Jim?" Ferryman asked. "Now do you see what I'm trying to do?"

"Look, Doc... it's a very colorful picture and all that, but no, I don't see."

The professor repressed a show of irritation. "It's a map, not a picture."

Jim shrugged. "If you say so."

Ferryman tapped a few keys. The screen redrew itself a few moments later. "Let's look at it in two dimensions."

"Oh," Jim allowed with a start. "It looks like a weather map."

Ferryman nodded. "You could think of it in that way. What it is a map of the time density field. The blue part is heavy, high density time. The red is light, fast-moving, turbulent time. We are here, at the edge of this red turbulent zone.

"Do you notice anything peculiar?"

Jim shrugged.

"These smaller zones here." Ferryman pointed out a dozen small spots on the map. They occurred independently of the larger time flow masses. "The red one there is one in Madison. That pinkish one there is over Milwaukee. There, Green Bay. That is Minneapolis, that Chicago, and curiously enough that very small, very brightly colored red dot is over where we are."

Jim looked confused. "Why us?"

Ferryman smiled. "Supercomputers are made here, remember?"

"Oh, yeah. What about these other dots?"

"Cities, larger towns... Curious how they all have an accelerated time zone around them, is it not?"

"Why is that, Doc?"

Ferryman seated himself on one of the lab stools. "I assume it's due to one of two things. Either, one, it has some thing to do with geological phenomena that coincidentally occurs in the same exact places that mankind chooses to build its cities in, or two, mankind can effect the time flow."

Jim snickered. "You mean like time flying when you're having fun?"

Ferryman sighed. "Yes, a tiny, little bit. Yes, people must be effecting the flow of time."

"So," Jim proposed, "assuming your hypothesis to be correct, if you were to widen the scope on your machine, you should see zones appearing around all the other cities in the world. But, on the other hand, if it's a geological thing, those spots where ancient peoples built would show up, too."

Ferryman frowned. "Yes, so I would extrapolate, provided that it's not a mixture of the two. Unfortunately, my device has a limited range of a four hundred mile sphere."


"Yes, Jim. Here, let me show you." Ferryman tapped a few more keys into the computer. The screen redrew again, this time adding a third color-green.

"The green is the Earth. We are seeing it from roughly a side view."

Jim whistled. The areas around the cities were tiny teardrop shapes, the widest part being where the red low density met the green planet's surface.

"How," Jim asked, "do we get a picture of the whole planet?"

Ferryman smiled. "All I have to do is make three phone calls."


"First, I call my department chair and get her to ok large amounts of time on our supercomputer. Second, I call the patent office. Third, I call a computer net and put out a bulletin. I have friends in almost all the major research laboratories around the world. They'll build their own devices following my instructions and send me their data over the computer or fax it to me."

Jim scratched his head. "So how long until you can really get some global maps?"

"The initial data should begin arriving by tomorrow afternoon."


Ferryman looked smug. "The brilliant part of my invention was not that it found the time flow. The brilliant part was that it was built entirely out of spare parts that exist in almost every laboratory in the world."

Ferryman paused. "I take that back. The other brilliant part is that the whole apparatus only takes an hour to make and calibrate properly."

"Ok, Doc," Jim stated, "if all this is so, I have another question: How do people effect the time flow?"

Ferryman was quiet for a minute.

"I haven't the faintest idea."

* * *

Michael woke as the bow of his battered craft bumbled gently into the slight dam that held the four feet of water in the small, pond-like lake. He poked at the stable serenity of the lily pads with an oar as he listened to the steady sound of rebel drops spilling out of their watery home, swirling downstream amid the storm-like eddies.

His eyes sparkled with laughter as he watched a small squadron of water bugs flirt for a moment with the dangerous edge of the dam and finally stampede over, plunging safely to the welcoming water below.

"Is that a better place?" he wondered aloud. "Now that you're there, did you wish you never left here?"

Shaking his head as if to clear it, he looked up at the sun. It was late in the afternoon. Getting his bearings, he rowed the short distance back to his pier and returned his boat back to its rightful position in the creaky old boat house.

He replaced the folder in his backpack and, shouldering it, left the peeling paint of the dented boat and began the long walk up the beaten path through the trees shrouding his cottage. Its sturdy logs had seen better days, but the roof was solid enough overhead.

He lit a fire in the stone fireplace to keep out the approaching cool of the late summer night and fumbled into the kitchen to make a meager meal on the old gas stove. It prepared, he settled into his favorite chair to enjoy the quiet perfection of the evening, undisturbed by any problems of the modern day.

* * *

"Evening Doc," Jim called out. "Having a good Sunday?"

Ferryman looked up from where he sat at his desk and grunted a reply. He was sitting in front of a worn terminal. The desk was overburdened with papers about six inches deep. On the cabinet next to the desk were two empty pizza boxes and a coffee maker that had almost finished making a new pot.

"Been at it all night, eh?"

Ferryman rubbed his temples. "The computer is considering the problem. When it is ready it will inform me, the mere scientist, of its decision."

Jim grinned. "Well, maybe you ought threaten to sacrifice a few central processor chips to the computer gods."

Ferryman looked at Jim strangely.

"What?" Jim asked.

"Nothing. I just feel as if I've already heard you say that before."

Jim nodded. "Uh-huh. I've had really bad déjà vu all day, too."

The computer beeped three times and the screen came to life.

"Dear God," Ferryman breathed.


"You said that you had déjà vu all day?"

"Yeah. So?"

"So did I. I wonder..."

"What?" Jim was wide-eyed at the look on the professor's face.

"Just a minute, I'm thinking..." Ferryman paused for a moment. "We need more data. Jim, go to Richardson's office down the hall and ask him if he felt any déjà vu today. After you ask him, ask Martins one floor down. They're here writing papers for the Forum Debate next week. I'm going to go ask Christine up in Duplicating Services. Meet me back here as soon as you find out."

* * *

Ferryman turned to Jim. "What did you find out?"

"Everybody's got it or had it. I even asked one of the campus cops on first floor. What does it mean?"

The professor pointed at the computer screen. "Look at it two-dimensionally. An area of low pressure, fast time has just passed through the Earth. The time front at the leading edge passed through our tomorrow. Because it was rotating counter-clockwise at great speed, as well as moving slightly vertically, we are now being hit by the fringe of the same front that passed through the tomorrow. We're not being hit by the exact same front because of the slight vertical movement of the front. We are being hit by the fringes of our own experience. I wonder what would happen if we were hit with the exact same time-space event..."

"Huh? Try that again, Doc."

"When it was yesterday to us the front passed through our tomorrow, which is today to us now. Are you with me so far?"

"No, but go ahead anyway, Doc."

"When the front passed through us, even though as far as we know, it hasn't done it yet, we, in our cities of accelerated time, somehow created small eddies in the time flow front. So that now, as we reach where it already was, we are picking up our own disturbance before we are supposed to, and we have déjà vu."

Jim's brow furrowed. "What do you mean by 'disturbance'?"

Ferryman took a long drink of fresh coffee. "The disturbance is a faint echo of what we ourselves have already done, although as far as we can tell, we haven't done it yet."

Jim was quiet. "Does that mean that time is really standing still and we move through it?"

Ferryman scratched his head. "No, I believe we are both moving. I have difficulty trying to say for certain, because I can only measure localized disturbances in the flow. I also don't think that the flow can be completely described as going in any direction. It's not moving in any direction that one could point to, if you follow my meaning. You see, I don't completely understand all the data I'm receiving.

"For discussion purposes we can presume that the time continuum is a fourth dimension that we are traversing through. My apparatus can only pick up the eddies in that flow."

"Question," Jim stated. "A high or a low in weather is just a big eddy, right?"

"Yes," Ferryman replied. "In time as well as weather."

"Well," Jim continued, "you said that we and our cities made small eddies in the front, which is itself a big eddy, right?"


"So what made the front?"

Professor Ferryman was silent. "I'm not sure. Perhaps they are naturally occurring phenomenon. Or maybe-"

Ferryman stopped mid-sentence and sprang across the room and bounded out the door.

"What is it, Doc?" Jim wondered, following in close pursuit.

The aging professor stopped when he reached the Astronomy Lab. Bursting in, he grabbed the frazzled-looking graduate student whose nametag said he was the lab monitor.

"Bob!" Ferryman showed him his calculations. "Is there a body at those coordinates? What is it?"

Bob frowned, chewing hungrily on a sandwich. "The Moon."

"The Moon?" Jim sputtered. "How could that be?"

Bob peered condescendingly over his smudged glasses at Jim. "You're not an astrophysicist, are you?"

Ferryman interrupted, "Bob, you've taken all the classes here. Who, in your opinion, is the best instructor on Quantum Field Theory we have?"

"Professor McDonnall over in the English Department."

"What?!" Jim laughed. "English?"

Bob shrugged. "McDonnall's teaching Remley's theoretical class on Quantum Mechanics while he's in Scotland this semester. I guess McDonnall has two doctorates, or something like that."

Ferryman grabbed him by the shoulders. "Where is he?"

Bob shrugged.

"Is there anybody else?" Jim wondered.

"This is summer session. There's nobody here today."

Ferryman grabbed the nearest phone, fluttering into action. He made two long calls. When he finally hung up the phone he walked over and unlocked a small cabinet. He pulled out a portable soldiering iron and a laptop computer.

Clamping his hand on Jim's shoulder, Ferryman started to walk for the door. "Come on, we're going."

"Where are we going?" Jim asked, filing in behind the elder professor as he strode with purpose down the corridor.


* * *

Michael woke as the first warming rays of the sun filled his room with their golden beams. He stretched in the chair where he had fallen asleep under his favorite afghan, lulled into the realm of dreams by the ever-vigilant night watchmen of the world, the crickets.

He tried to lazily sit up but was pinned in his position by his other nightwatch. She pawed at him in the magical sunlight, purring loudly. She lay curled on her back in the folds of the afghan, her playful paws pointing towards the dark stout timbers of the ceiling. Her round, golden eyes twinkled eagerly as she watched her human.

"My dear," he announced, slowly stroking the gray fur under her chin, "you can't sit on me all day. I have to get up."

She protested, in her cattish way.

Michael sighed. "If you don't get off of me, Wysteria, I can't scrounge us up some breakfast. Come on, I have to get going. I'm going fix the roof today."

She appeared unconvinced, staring up at him from her upside-down position.

"Don't give me that," he retorted calmly. "I said I'm going to do it today, and I'm going to do it."

The argument won, Michael went to the kitchen and made himself a sandwich for breakfast. Wysteria showed her approval by impishly trying to nibble on the other half if his sandwich.

He bribed her with a piece of ham and set about to do his Sunday chores with a contented smile on his features.

Wysteria bore a similar look, assuming her post as watchcat in the sunbeam on their favorite chair.

* * *

"Why couldn't we just call him?" Jim asked as he turned the car onto the dirt road.

"He doesn't have a phone."

Jim winced as his new car bounced through a deep pothole. "Wasn't there somebody closer?"

In the passenger seat, Ferryman folded the road map. "My Department Chair said that this has to be an in-house project to protect any copyrights on product development based on our research. There could be a great deal of money in this, Jim."

Jim frowned. "Then again, Doc, maybe there's just wasted gas money in this."

Ferryman patted Jim's shoulder. "Relax, my boy. Either way, you will get a story out of it."

Jim ducked as the reaching branches that scraped the sides of his car tried to dart in through his open window. "Yeah, well, I just hope it's a front page feature about a big scientific discovery and not a human interest about the failed attempt buried underneath the story about the guy who thinks he's the alligator king. Why do you need to talk to this guy, anyway? I thought that this was your baby and you were the expert."

Ferryman frowned. "I'm not a quantum theorist, Jim. I teach Physics 110. I never expected to find all that I found-I was merely trying to find a more precise way of measuring time. I need a quantum theorist to help me interpret all this data I'm receiving."

"But why do you think this English Professor will be able to do what you want?"

"M-Math for quantum theory was invented by Michael McDonnall when he was an instructor at Cal-Tech."

Jim looked crossways at Ferryman. "Whoa, Doc. Why would this guy teach at Eau Claire?"

Ferryman looked a little nervous. "He got his Ph.D. in Quantum Field Theory by inventing M-Math. I understand that it's such a radical system that no one else can figure it out, even when he explains it. They say computers won't even run it. Anyhow, with this M-Math he accurately proved quantum events that we didn't know existed."

Jim maneuvered the car around a fallen tree partially blocking the road. "So what went wrong with it?"

"He couldn't teach it to anybody, so he quit. He vanished until last semester, when he showed up here to teach English."

Jim spied McDonnall's name on a mailbox and turned the car onto the quarter mile-long driveway. "I hope all that equipment of yours in the trunk works."

"I hope he'll do it," Ferryman muttered.

"Why?" Jim asked. "I mean, why is it so important that you figure it all out right now?"

Ferryman sighed. "I want to know, and I want to know why now."

Jim winced as he felt his car bounce over one of the many large rocks in the driveway. "Why?"

Ferryman looked tired. "Because I've been teaching Physics 110 for twenty-six years, and I'm tired of it."


"I want to teach something else, somewhere else. If McDonnall can interpret this data for me, I can get a position anywhere I want."

Jim reached the end of the drive and parked the car. "I hope you're right."

Ferryman was out of the car immediately, walking down the packed cedar chip path to the log cabin. Jim followed close behind.

Ferryman bounded up the three cement steps and pounded on the door. He waited and then knocked again, loudly.

Michael, who had been patching the roof with tar, bent over and looked over the battered gutters at his visitors. He said nothing.

"I don't think he's home, Doc," Jim decided.

Ferryman knocked again. "He has to be."

"Are you looking for me?" Michael asked, an apprehensive look on his features.

"Professor McDonnall?" Ferryman asked.

Michael replied, "It depends what you're selling."

"I'm not selling anything," Ferryman stated. "I'm Professor Ferryman from the university."

Michael raised one of his eyebrows. "You teach 110, don't you?"


Michael thought for a moment. "I assume you aren't making a social call. What do you want?"

"I need you to do some M-Math for me."

Michael frowned. "No." He got up and started to walk back up to the peak of the roof.

Ferryman stalked over to the ladder and climbed up to where he could see McDonnall.

"You're wasting your time," Michael told him. "I don't do that anymore. I teach English."

Ferryman's advanced frame shook slightly on the ladder. "Allow me to explain, young man. I discovered that time is a field-"

Michael interrupted. "I know that. I proved that with M-Math years ago. Leave me alone."

"But," Ferryman continued, "I invented a device that can measure the field. The time field is a documented fact."

Michael began to spread tar over a torn piece of roofing, ignoring Ferryman's words.

"I have labs all over the world measuring the field for me, but I'm receiving data I can't understand. I'm afraid that only your M-Math can interpret it properly."

Michael continued to tar the roof.

"As far as I can determine," Ferryman explained, "both people and large stellar bodies can warp the time field into eddies."

Michael stopped. "Your device _measures_ the eddies?"

"Yes." Ferryman was shaking a lot, so Jim moved to steady the ladder.

Michael sat and thought for a minute. "Show me," he decided, climbing down.

Michael ushered Ferryman into the cabin while Jim brought the apparatus from the car. Within minutes Ferryman had it running and displaying a black and white picture of its data on the laptop computer's screen in Michael's kitchen.

Michael showed obvious displeasure. "This is no good to me. Show me the raw data."

Ferryman tapped a few keys and data began streaming across the screen. Michael watched it with obvious interest.

"Ok," he said when it had finished. "So what do you want?"

Ferryman licked his lips. "I don't understand how the moon can create an eddy in the time field."

"That's easy. Gravity interferes with time."

"I see," Ferryman breathed.

Jim grunted. "Huh?"

"Look," Michael explained, "everyone knows that the earth has a magnetic field. The earth also has an electrical field that exists at right angles to the magnetic-"

"What?" Jim asked.

Ferryman leaped to the explanation. "Think of a magnet, Jim. A magnet has a magnetic field. When that field moves, it produces an electrical field. That's how we make electricity in most power plants. We make magnets move and pick up the electrical field. Because the Earth is moving through space, and the Earth is in many ways a big magnet, it has its own electrical field."

Michael leaned back in his chair, continuing the explanation. "It helps if you think of space as a flat pool of water. What happens when you drop a pebble in the middle?"

"That's easy," Jim replied. "It makes ripples."

"That's what the Earth does to space. It causes ripples. The magnetic field is ripples in space in one direction. The electrical field is ripples in space at right angles to the magnetic ripples. Well, the Earth also causes gravitational ripples at right angles to those caused by the magnetic and electrical."

Jim's brows furrowed. "Isn't that too many right angles?"

Ferryman's patience wore thin. "Look at a box. It has length, width, and height. Call the magnetic field length. The electrical field can be the width. The gravitational, then, can be the height. Right there you have three dimensions at right angles to each other."

"Ok," Jim replied. "I get it."

Michael turned back toward Ferryman. "Now here's the part that is giving you problems, Dr. Ferryman. The Earth also has a time field at right angles to all the others. That's the field you're detecting. Your device is measuring the flow of a new dimension."

"How can that be?" Jim asked. "Four things can't be at right angles to each other. Can they?"

Ferryman drummed the table. "Yes. You merely have to accept that there is another dimension on the box that you can't see with your eyes."

"Where does it go if its not any of the other dimensions? I mean if it's not length, width, or height, where is it?"

Ferryman moved nervously in his chair. "You have to imagine that it exists, Jim. Can you imagine that?"

"I guess so."

Ferryman looked back to Michael. "Why does the moon make an eddy?"

"It has its own time and gravity fields that interfere with the Earth's."

"What about the déjà vu?"

Ferryman explained his findings.

Michael laughed.

"That's marvelous," he decided. "I've always wondered what caused that."

Ferryman chewed on a pencil. "Why would a time eddy travel through the earth and not just interfere with the field?"

"They're not just time eddies. They're also spacial eddies."

Jim interrupted. "I'm confused. I realize that I don't have a doctorate, but I'd really like to understand what you're saying."

Michael smiled. "Remember the flat pool and the pebble? Let's change that pebble to a cork. That cork, which in this case is our planet, has all these fields around it. Whenever one of the fields gets too strong, it begins to warp space-"

"You physics people always do that!" Jim interrupted. "You always say that something is warping something else and then when we finally get interested you tell us we can't see either of them. What is 'warping' space?"

Michael's smile broadened to a grin. "In our analogy the flat pool is space. As a cork bobs up and down it makes ripples on the surface of the water. Planets don't bob up and down, but their fields make almost the same kind of ripples. You can't see them just like you can't see the ripples in a pond once you go far enough away. That's warping space. Now, Professor Ferryman's déjà vu is an eddy in space and time. All the planets make them, and we travel through them."

"I get it," Jim submitted. "Why do people make eddies?"

"People have all the same fields as the planet, just nowhere near as strong. However, by this data, we can assume that their time fields are much stronger than their other fields."

Ferryman could contain himself no longer. "Is it possible for one to travel in time?"

"Yes," Michael replied. "But why would you want to?"

"How do you travel in time?" Ferryman demanded to know.

"Warp space until it touches itself. Like the waves on the pond, if you agitate them enough they'll splash. If you ride the crest of one wave as it collides with another, all you have to do is step to the other and you're in another time in relatively the same position."

Ferryman tapped the table. "Could you work out in M-Math the equation of all that would be necessary to travel through the space/time continuum without the intense gravitational field and then translate it to normal math?"

"I could," Michael admitted. "But you realize that you couldn't control when you went. You could travel away and never get back."

"I realize. Will you do it? You can use my laptop."

Michael regarded the computer with distaste. "No thanks. I'll use paper."

He turned to Jim, hinting. "It could take me several hours to complete the equation. If you get bored, you should try the fishing on the lake. If you're any good with stubborn outboard motors you can even use the boat."

Jim grinned eagerly. "Finally, something more my speed. Wanna help, Doc?"

Ferryman shook his head.

Michael walked into a side room, stopping only to pet Wysteria with an obligatory stroke. Once there he shut the door.

* * *

Michael came out an hour later with a pile of papers. He walked to the kitchen where Ferryman was pacing and handed them to him.

Ferryman slumped into one of the wood high-backed chairs next to the table and stared at the papers in his hand.

"You figured it all out in an hour. How did you do that?"

Michael smiled. "It's easy if you don't think so hard."

* * *

Stepping out of the back door, Michael stopped to breathe in the magical sent of the pine needles scattered all around the ground near the cabin. He walked down the beaten path to the pier, still marveling at the forest scent in the air. As he reached the end of the path he saw that Jim was just finishing replacing the cover on the motor. Scattered across the pier were assorted pieces of metal, wire, and rubber, some of which used to be integral parts of the motor.

Jim smiled at him. "I think I've got it."

"What was wrong with it?"

Jim beamed. "Most of the electrical system was shot. Luckily, Doc had enough stuff from trying to get his thing to work that I borrowed the extra parts and put them in here."

"What about the rest of it?"

"The rest of it was in mint condition."

Michael blushed. "I try hard."

Jim grinned. "Give it a pull."

Michael climbed into the battered old boat and stopped to look at the world around him. He noticed that the sun was especially bright and warm in the sky. The birds were singing a beautiful song that he'd never heard before. The water of the lake looked particularly clean and fresh.

He knew Ferryman was in the house unlocking the secret of time travel. Michael could be part of the frenzy of discovery and fame that was going to follow. All he had to do was go back to the house.

Or he could go fishing.

"I think," he declared, gripping the pull-cord at the top of the motor, "that this is going to be a really good day."

The motor started.

The End

Copyright © 2004 by N.J. Kailhofer

Bio:"Like my grandfather and my father before me, I became an apprentice at a tiny print shop in Kaukauna, Wisconsin. In hopes of saving my own children from their generational fate, or perhaps for sanity's sake, I took up writing. I was in the March 2004 edition of Planet Magazine, and look forward to future escapes."



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