On Friday morning Britney arrived at the school early and headed to the faculty offices. Moody and Cardozo were there and welcomed them into the consultation room. Though she knew them both, she had decided to reveal the purpose of her mission only to Hunt. Carefully choosing her words, she focused only on the concept of backwards time travel.
Moody had seriously studied the concept, and soon lapsed into his formal lecture about how time doesn’t really exist, it only seems to be a force pushing us forward and we haven’t found the reverse button yet. Cardozo talked about the speed of light and limitations on forward progress.
Bored, confused, and late for her first class, Britney asked them about Hunt. They said he’d be in at noon and they’ll have him set aside time for her later in the day.
Hunt was pleased to find the note, neatly written on a yellow post it by Cardozo,to “see Britney at earliest convence.” Cardozo had a habit of leaving out extra letters in long words when he was excited, so whatever Britney wanted must have stimulated him. He called Hughes to his office immediately and told her they should seek her promptly.
They met her on the way out of Moody’s class at 2 and brought her to the faculty lounge. As they sipped lattes and Britney gulped Gatorade she told them the sad story of Finn’s death and the incoherent details she was aware of regarding Emma’s death.
Attempting to fix the holes in the story, Hughes began to ask questions,but soon regretted it.
“Why did Emma kill herself?”
“I think she was afraid of germs.”
“You mean obsessive-compulsive disorder?”
“No, she didn’t give orders. She’s just the counselor.”
“No,my uncle’s a lawyer. His name’s Ozzie. Is that what you mean?”
“No, people afraid of germs are called OCD.”
“I’m not afraid of Germs anymore. They used to be bad, but they’re better now.”
“Sorry, start over. Did they both die together?”
“No, he died first and her third.”
“Who died second.”
“I don’t know!”
“Third base!” interjected a janitor, recalling the Abbot and Costello routine. None of them understood.
When they finally separated one thing was clear: Britney honestly believed she could go back in time to May 13 and somehow keep Finn alive, also ending whatever madness had followed. They told her colleagues better suited for the technical work would contact her soon.
Hughes was not terribly interested and thought it impossible, but she was pleased about the renewed energy it gave Hunt.
As Hunt mused over this development he directed his attention to the spiritual angle. As a man of science, such things rarely crossed his mind. That a powerful force had created the Universe he did not doubt, but the traits organized religion assigned to the creator made no sense to him and/or contradicted history and current events. However, howcould a creator deny such a simple desire from a sincere young girl? This might be the occasion when God and science might work together for a good cause.
He had to see this through wherever it might lead.
On Saturday afternoon Britney,Hunt, Hughes and an inventor named Peter Stuart met for lunch at Starbucks and talked for four hours about the types of machinery needed to develop a time machine. They recorded everything on several tape recorders and drew diagrams, compared formulas and discussed theories relevant to the issue.
Around 2:30 Britney’s phone rang. It was a welcome relief for the scientists, who could review their notes. It was puzzling to Britney. The caller was Sam Evans. He told her the graduation ceremony had just ended and wondered why she didn’t show up for finals week.
“I forgot.” Britney said,then quickly ended the call. Hunt and Hughes heard enough to understand that if Britney had missed her finals, they could no longer consider her a student,only a case study.
Such discussions would have to wait. The school year at MIT was also scheduled to end Wednesday with finals the following week. Faculty would begin leaving for summer vacations a few days after that.
That made it urgent that whatever they could create be determined within two weeks.