The Orthogonal Galaxy

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Chapter 15

After doing his best to encourage Paol as they left the courthouse, Warron and Monay walked quickly together towards the parking garage, each holding a black umbrella to protect them from the rain. The storm was starting to clear, but a dampening drizzle encouraged them to seek shelter as they walked.

The silence began to disturb Monay. She was not one for awkward fits of silence, even if it was her boss. “Warron,” she engaged the sullen attorney, “do you still really believe that Paol is innocent?”

“Absolutely,” he affirmed. “I can feel it. I have no doubt that he is innocent. We just need to find better answers to the questions of the case. I really wished the jury had been more convinced that these questions were pertinent and serious. If I can find an answer or two, I’ll convince them in the appeal.”

“The case seemed so open and shut to me,” she confided. “If I was on that jury, I would’ve voted him guilty also.”

“I know, I know, I would have too. That’s why this is so difficult for me to swallow. I have a client who is a good, honest, and innocent man. I have failed to represent him adequately, and now he’s been sentenced to serve a prison term he does not deserve.” He stopped in his tracks and gazed intently at his paralegal. “But I will not fail him in the end, Monay. Mark my words. Paol Joonter will be acquitted.”

She turned one corner of her mouth up in a half smile. “I’m sure you will find a way… that’s why I work for you, you know.”

Distracted, she turned back towards the window front of an electronics store that the pair had stopped in front of. Televisions of all sizes, synchronized to the same channel were just starting to broadcast the evening news. A pair of speakers above the window allowed passersby the opportunity to watch and hear the broadcast.

A male news anchor dressed in a dark suit coat, white shirt and red paisley tie announced, “Our top story of the night comes from Houston, Texas, where our reporters are picking up the latest details from the incident on Camp Mars. Rilynn Stewbridge comes to us live from the press room at the Johnson Space Center. Rilynn, can you fill us in on what we know so far.”

The television screen split to show both the anchor and field correspondent side-by-side. A caption at the bottom announced, “Tragedy on Mars.”

“Well, Milas,” began the correspondent, strategically placed with an empty press podium and NASA logo in the background. “Dr. Vurim Gilroy just gave an announcement that NASA will attempt a mission to rescue the astronauts on Camp Mars. Communication has still not been made between Mars and Earth, and there is no word on the status of astronauts Garrison O’Ryan and Dmitri Boronov.

“He stated that a team of NASA specialists have been assembled, as well as renowned astrophysicist and CalTech professor, Carlton Zimmer, to assess the cause of the incident. We talked with Dr. Zimmer earlier today about the incident.”

“A newsreel then showed the interview with Zimmer. Warron lowered his umbrella, since the rain had completely ceased now, and took a couple of steps closer to the largest TV.

Wow!” he exclaimed. “Would you look at that?”

Monay playfully hit her boss over the head with her umbrella. “What is it with you men that make you drool every time you see a large-screen TV?”

He turned abruptly. “No!” he said. “I’m not talking about the TV… I’m talking about how haggard Carl looks.”

“Carl?” Monay asked as she turned back to the television. “Just because you’re one of the top lawyers in the country doesn’t give you a right to be on a first-syllable basis with every important scientist, you know.”

He turned away from the store window and began walking away from Monay. “Not unless that important scientist just happens to be your brother.”

Monay’s jaw dropped. “Carlton Zimmer is your brother! I… I… I had no idea!”

She bounded several steps quickly in order to catch up to Warron Zimmer, the younger, and certainly less popular sibling of the Zimmer family.

“I mean, sure you have the same last name and all, and maybe Zimmer isn’t all that popular, but I never would have made the connection.”

“Well, we certainly took a different course in life,” Warron said. “I was still in diapers when Carlton was already intently studying every move of NASA. Every young boy his age was captivated by the announced development on Mars. Carl just took it more to heart, I guess. He knew the first astronauts’ names. He monitored construction of the camp intently. He became quite the areologist.”

“Airy what?” asked Monay.

“Areology,” began Warron, “refers to the study of Mars. Carl made sure I knew the correct word, when I kept referring to him as a Martian-ologist. The poor chap looked exhausted in that newsreel, I’ll tell you that much. I don’t think he should continue to work at the pace that he does… he’s just starting to get too old for that to be any good on his health.”

“Well,” retorted the paralegal. “I’m not so sure he looked a whole lot different than you during your pre-trial efforts.”

“That’s different,” the lawyer countered. “I’m younger than he is… by eight years.” He cut a glance out of the corner of his eyes, spying on a reaction from his assistant. He was disappointed when all she did was roll her eyes.

“Anyway,” Monay switched the conversation back to the current event. “I saw a headline this morning in the newspaper regarding the Mars incident.”

“What did the paper have to say about it?” Warron asked.

“Nobody seemed to know what was going on, but it sounded like a couple of astronauts may were in serious danger.”

“And that’s how my brother comes in. NASA called on him to help them find a solution to saving the astronauts. Well, if anybody can do it, he’s their man. The best problem solver I know. He’d have made a better lawyer than me.”

“Well, he certainly makes a better Martian-ologist, or whatever you call it,” Monay asserted. “Your brother is Carlton Zimmer, and I know more about what’s going on at Mars than you do?”

“It’s not like Carl works on the Mars thing anymore. He’s chasing bigger challenges at this stage of his career.”

“Oh, that’s right. Didn’t he attempt to study black holes?” asked Monay.

“That was his main project a couple of years back, and I don’t think it ended on a positive note. It was a beginning of a rough relationship with NASA funding of his programs. It turns out that it’s really hard to understand something you can’t observe, and since black holes are known to be gravity sources so large that nothing—not even light—can escape, well, it’s not like you’re landing an astronaut on one of these things to take soil samples, are you? He mentioned that it was one of his toughest and most frustrating pieces of research. I know that he wasn’t happy with the results. Either way, he’s really been interested in just one objective practically since he was in grade school.”

“What’s that?”

“He’s trying to find a parallel earth out there. You know, I really respect his dream, but it seems so unreasonable. I hope he’s not chasing some dead end path. But… he is the expert, and I know he has his theories for good reason. I just don’t understand it all when he explains it to me.”

“Well, I wish him the best. He’s made some fascinating discoveries along the way. It sounds like a parallel earth would be a crowning achievement for him”

“It really would be. I sure hope he can find it.”

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