TIME JUMPER

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CHAPTER 79

Ethan hung out in the cafeteria all through lunch hour, waiting for Angie. She didn’t appear. He drank coffee until he thought he would burst, read old newspapers. He didn’t want to search the halls or somebody might get suspicious. He tried not to look at the wall clock though he knew his timetable was being shot to hell.

Just after he saw her get into the cafeteria serving line. Even though not many people inhabited the cafeteria at this hour, Ethan would not talk to her. Passing behind her, he dropped a small, folded square of paper onto her plastic tray and hurried to the exit. When he glanced back and saw the expression on her face, he began to worry.

Angie waited until she sat at a table in the corner of the cafeteria before unfolding the tiny square of paper. Her heart raced as she read, “Call the FBI now. Tell them to arrive just at . Not before. And I need 100 ml of Memnon and a syringe sometime before the feds arrive. Thanks. I’ll be in the quad all afternoon.”

Angie stared at her shadow on the plastic surface of the table. She wondered how she had enough substance to even cast a shadow.


She sat for ten minutes, not touching her food. Finally, she dropped the contents of her tray into the trash can near the door and shuffled out of the cafeteria. She returned to her office, gathered a handful of folders and stalked into the halls, looking busy. She headed for the lab complex, swiped her ID card through the slot next to the door, punched her PIN into the keypad, and entered the main testing rooms. Two technicians concentrated so hard on their work, they didn’t look up. Angie crossed through two rooms to a refrigerated storage area. Stainless steel doors hung from all four walls. She opened one near the corner and a wave of fog dropped out of it. Inside racks of glass vials sat in neat rows, all numbered and sealed. Memnon. She reached into the cold recess.

“Excuse me.”

Angie almost fainted at the sound. She whirled around.

“What are you doing in here?” The uniformed guard scowled.

“I, I’m getting something for Dr. Stewart.”

“Security codes are being changed. You’re no longer allowed in here, Mrs. Warner. You’ll have to follow me.” He held the door open for her.

The guard took her to the security office, where she sat alone for a long time. Finally, one of the security managers came out into the waiting room and handed her a new ID card. “I’ll take your old card.” He held out his hand.

Sweating, Angie extracted her old card from the plastic holder that hung from her neck. When the manager had the old card in his hand, he smiled. “Your security status has been downgraded. You won’t be able to enter the lab unless accompanied by someone with a higher clearance.”

Angie sat wide-eyed in shock.

“Is there anything else,” the manager said.

“Uh, no.” She rose and hurried out of the security office. She headed straight for the quadrangle. Her swollen ankles hurt. She wondered how bad it would get by the ninth month, carrying two.

She found Ethan under his favorite tree and settled next to him. Ethan held Angie’s hands cupped in his own. “Thank you for helping me.”

Tears welled in her eyes. “I did nothing.”

Ethan stared into her eyes and said, “Angie, I want you to do three things. First, go straight to personnel and resign. Don’t listen to arguments, just fill out the papers and get out of here as fast as you can. Second, go to . Take a claw hammer and a screwdriver with you. Drive down the main street until you see the white steepled church on the left. Go inside and sit in the last pew in the back on the left. It belonged to the Bauer family. The medallion with their name may or may not still be on the pew. Kneel down and look under the seat in front of you. There should be a piece of wood about eight inches square, half an inch thick, screwed into the bottom of the seat. Pry it loose. Between it and the seat you’ll find a packet sealed in wax.”

“What is it?”

“Something I found. A letter written and signed by Abraham Lincoln among other things. Collectors will pay a fortune for those documents. You’ll be set for life. You can be home with your babies and never work again.”

Awe pulled Angie’s eyes wide open. “You found? How could you find something like that?”

“My last jump. I got my hands on a dispatch case. I sealed the document in a wax packet so it’d survive until now.”

Her face twisted into what Ethan thought was surprise. “You’re serious? You did this for me?”

“Just go to the church. Then you’ll see how serious I am. It’s my way to pay you for getting that video out to the FBI. Now, for the third thing I want you to do.”

“What?” Angie looked near panic. Her response was not what Ethan expected.

Ethan pulled an envelope out of his pocket. “Here’s my address. It’s a farmhouse not far outside , near Boonsboro. You’ll find a big foxhound running the property. Name’s Buzz. He’s friendly.” He handed her a shirt that had been on the ground next to him. “Take this. He’ll smell me on it and he’ll be easy to catch.”

“Catch?”

“I’d appreciate it if you would take care of him.”

Tears welled up and slid down her cheeks. “Why? What about you?”

“This phone number on the envelope is for an attorney Beth used. You give him this envelope. I guess that’s actually a fourth thing to do.”

“What’s in it?”

“A codicil to my will.”

“Your will? What are you doing?”

“I’m making an unscheduled jump.”

Angie’s face went from consternation to curiosity to fear. “Ethan, did you ever feel my little boy or my husband out there?”

“I tried to feel them, but, no, I haven’t encountered them.”

“But you looked?”

Ethan felt like the world’s biggest charlatan as he said, “Yes.” He had fed her hopes because he couldn’t trust Ted beyond getting the video and witnessing the codicil. He’d needed this woman to link him to the outside world.

“You’re sure they’re out there?”

She seemed so forlorn. Ethan felt guilty for how he had used her. What choice did he have? Did he really think his gift to her would expiate his guilt?

Ethan held her shoulders and said, “Angie, they exist. Where, is anyone’s guess. But somehow in the eternal vastness I know is out there, they will learn to do what I have done. You may meet someone someday who seems to know you, someone you feel immediate attachment to. It could be Steven, or Keith. And if they were able to hold their memories together, they will tell you who they are. Anything’s possible.”

Her green eyes glittered from her tears. “You give me hope.”

“I also gave you things to do. Now, get moving. You don’t want to be here when those feds arrive.”

Her face showed panic. To hide it, she buried it in his chest and sobbed. Ethan held her in bewilderment for a few seconds feeling the wetness of her tears against his shirt. Then he gripped her upper arms and held her away from him. Splotches covered her face and she avoided his eyes.

“What’s wrong?”

“Oh, Ethan, I’m a terrible person. I’ve done a terrible thing.”

Ethan cocked his head to the side. His stomach sank.

“The FBI won’t be coming. Churchill threatened me.” She looked at the floor. “He said he’d fire me and bleed me dry in court if I didn’t tell him what we talked about.”

Ethan’s grip tightened. “What did you tell him?”

“As little as possible. But I told him about you and and how you were trying to find her.”

“What did he say?”

“He laughed and said he didn’t care what you did as long as you gave him what he wanted.”

Ethan started sweating as he asked, “That was the terrible thing?”

She looked down and in a feeble voice said, “No. I gave him the video.”

The sinking in Ethan’s gut turned to nausea. All he could think of to ask was, “Why?”

“He had a surveillance photo of me reaching for it that day in the courtyard. He knew it existed. He wore me down.” Her blotchy face twisted into a pained mask. “Oh, God, I hate myself for being so weak.”

“And the Memnon I asked for?”

She looked at her feet. “I can’t get near the lab. They downgraded my security status.”

Ethan closed his eyes and bowed his head. He heard Beth’s words on the last morning they had spent together, remembered the promise he had made. When he looked up, Angie saw a strange expression on his face. “I’m a terrible person too. I’ve stepped over the line and I know the feel of evil. I don’t like how it feels. You can do good or you can do bad. And if you do bad, you should pay. I wanted Churchill to pay, but maybe I need to pay too. The price for me to move on is to forget about revenge on Churchill. So he gets away with his crimes. In the vast scheme of things, he doesn’t really matter. I should just leave him and all his bullshit behind.”

“You’re not angry with me?”

Ethan managed a faint smile. He imagined his face probably had the same weary expression that Jasper’s sometimes had. “You’re human, Angie, and Churchill isn’t. How could you possibly hold out against him?”

Her tears started again. “I was such an idiot. I am so sorry.”

“Forget it. You tried to help me and for that I’m grateful. I should never have put you at risk. Get the documents from the church. And when you contact the attorney, don’t say no.”

“No to what?”

“You’ll see.”

Her eyes snapped wide and she grabbed at her belly. “Oh, God.”

“Are you okay?”

“They’re really kicking.” Instinctively, she grabbed Ethan’s right hand and placed it against her bulging stomach. “Feel?”

“Yes.”

“When they both get to kicking, I feel like a bowl of Jell-O.”

“I’m happy for you.” Ethan withdrew his hand.

Tentatively, she said, “What are you going to do?”

Ethan chuckled. “I’m leaving.” He pointed straight up at the sky. “For good.”

Her eyes opened so wide, the whites showed all around the pupils. Her right hand came to her mouth as she realized what he was saying. “Oh, my.”

“Angie, I know what I’m doing. I found Beth and I’m going back for her. Don’t worry about me, okay?”

She nodded then turned quickly away. Right before she entered the building, she gave him a last frightened glance.

Ethan let out his breath in relief. He hadn’t been aware he was holding it. He checked his wristwatch. If the feds weren’t coming, his timetable was shot. He decided to go to the lab, steal the Memnon, and make his final jump. If he couldn’t send Churchill to jail, he had no reason to hang around.

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