2:30 am, Tuesday morning…
The two additional tests for that evening went on without any glitches whatsoever. Thomas had no explanation for Patrick for the flawless tests. Like Patrick said to the head scientist in the clandestine operation, the next day they would carry out three more tests just to make sure everything was on track.
After the tests, most of the scientists were closing down their computers and grabbing their jackets so they could go home. There were a few stragglers in the lab, but most of them went home. Patrick had another secret doorway that led to the outside so they would not have to walk pass the guards so early in the mornings during over-night experiments on the Solar Unlimited project. Years ago, Patrick knew the long hours it would take to do the experiments, so he hired an architectural firm to retrofit the Miracles, Inc. tower with the secret lab, complete with spy-like hidden doors and surveillance cameras.
“…are you going to get a midnight snack when you get home, Pat,” Samuel, one of the other scientists, quipped with him. Several other scientists that were heading out the other secret exit with them, all laughed hardily.
“Are you kidding? Samantha’s either still grading papers or she’s in bed now...sleeping! One of the last things on her mind—“
Patrick was interrupted by his cell phone chiming. All voices stopped but their feet kept going.
“Who’s calling you this late, boss,” Tracy, another of the scientists, asked.
“I don’t know,” he said as he fished for the phone out of his jacket pocket. When he looked at the sending number on the cell phone’s caller id, he was horrified to see that it came from his penthouse office!
He felt a chill race through his body and goose bumps permeate his skin, but he had to play it off so he wouldn’t alarm his employees.
“Hey…you goons have a nice few hours of sleep,” Patrick said, his voice totally void of his fear. He cleared the call from his phone instead of answering it.
“Everything okay, chief,” asked another scientist.
“Oh, I just got to check something out…good work tonight, everyone!”
There was a chorus of “good nights” and “see yas” as Patrick turned and head back down the tunnel.
Patrick had a bit of a dilemma. He needed to check out who in the world was up in his office, but he didn’t want to be seen by the security guards. Even though he owned the corporation, he could not stop people’s curiosity of what a world famous scientist was doing prancing around a skyscraper’s lobby at 2:30 in the morning! That was a sure way to start rumors that Dr. Patrick McClain was up to another of his scientific discoveries…and the Solar Unlimited was too important for him to risk that! There would be reporters casing the Miracles facility, at least one of his scientists was likely to talk, and word of the project would get out, and next thing you knew, one of Dr. McClain’s competitors would get the principle of what he was working on and expound on his project and get it patented before he did…
After exiting the hidden door that was behind the large plant on the lobby floor, Patrick waited at the corner that led to the hallway of elevators. If the guards were to do a 180-degrees turn, they would see Patrick. To circumvent this, the only thing he could do was tiptoe to the main stairwell across the lobby and walk up one or two floors, then go to that floor’s set of elevators…which he did successfully.
When the elevator he got on finally stopped at the 95-floor, Patrick briskly walked to the front of his office and de-activated the secured door with his id badge—he would later worry about whether or not the guards saw him on the monitors while he was in the hallway. After cautiously opening the door, Patrick slowly looked around the highly priced executive suite with its marbled floor, pricey modern artworks, and beveled glass. And that’s when he saw the stranger in his office.
He was silhouetted against the expansive window that had a knock out view of downtown Seattle, especially at night with all its lights. The man was of small build and was clothed in what looked like military fatigues. He had a beret on and boots, that, Patrick could see from the city lights that filtered into the room.
“This is quite a nice view you have here, Dr. McClain,” the man’s voice projected in the dark, suggesting a deeper volume to it than his physical appearance let on. There was a slight accent to his voice that made Patrick think of either New England or New York City.
Patrick flicked on the lights, which of course drowned out the vista outside of the window, throwing back the glare of the lights in the room. This caused the man to turn and face Patrick. Pat saw that he was around his forties, lean, and definitely was of some military organization, but he did not recognize the uniform to guess what branch. Patrick had been all over the world because of his riches and had seen many military uniforms; this one escaped him.
“I’m sorry to call you on your cell phone, Doctor, but, trust me, the situation you are in warranted the call.”
“Screw the phone call, pal, how did you get in here,” Patrick demanded of him, his face creased with indignation.
The military man’s face brightened with a smile. “It’s a long story, Dr. McClain…I really don’t have much time to explain to you what’s going on, Doctor, and I certainly don’t expect you to believe what I’m about to tell you…”
Patrick’s face only hardened after hearing that. The man continued.
“Please, Doctor, I’m not here to hurt you, your family, nor your employees, even your money does not concern me in the slightest. Now, I’m about to pull out my identification from my pocket. I don’t want you to think I’m about to try anything, okay?”
Patrick simply nodded and slowly approached the man as he took out his badge. He handed it to Patrick and spoke as he looked at the id card.
“My name is Tadosh. I’m a member of a secret service unit called Pangea.”
Patrick handed the man’s badge back to him while he shook his head. “I’ve never heard of it before. But, then again, I assume that’s because it’s secret service.”
“Well…” Tadosh rubbed his hands together after re-placing the id card back into his pocket. He seemed to be thinking about how to put his words together. “…actually, Dr. McClain, Pangea is a global organization.”
“Part of the United Nations?”
“Uh, no. Dr. McClain…you see, I’m from the future, from the year 2287, to be exact.”
Tadosh looked at Patrick straight in the eyes. Patrick snickered harshly, stopped, then looked at him again to see if he was laughing with him. He did not so much as blink an eye.
“You’re serious, aren’t you?”
“I’m afraid so, Doctor. Remember your first question to me, about how I got in here?”
“Have you and your team noticed anything different about your solar energy levels from the Sun?”
Patrick had half-expected this from the man. He knew it couldn’t have been a coincidence that Thomas and the crew in the lab had gotten those glitches, and all of the sudden this strange man pops up, literally, out of nowhere! Patrick nodded in confirmation to Tadosh’s point.
“As a matter of fact, Tadosh, apparently you’ve sucked away five percent of our power each time we ran the last four trials!”
As Patrick had finished his sentence, Tadosh was already shaking his head. “Not quite, Doctor. You’re correct to observe that I had to use some of your solar energy, but I’ve only had to do it once…”
Tadosh quietly looked at Patrick, waiting for him to piece things together. As it was, Patrick was contemplating on something that he, himself, had just said.
“But wait a minute,” Patrick said as he looked away to a corner of his suite, “if you’ve only used our energy flow once—“
“Then who used your solar concentration power the other three times,” Tadosh finished the question for him with a smile. “Ahh, that’s where we get to why I’m here, Dr. McClain, in your time! Pangea sent me here to hunt down and bring some troublemakers back to our time.”
“You mean there are more of you guys?”
Tadosh blew out a pathetic sigh, his brow furrowed. “The people I’m looking for are nothing like me, Dr. McClain! They’re political pariahs, one in particular. He goes by the name of Drogheda. Pangea’s not sure if that’s his real name, but we’ve got him on record for going all over the world and instigating revolts against many existing governments during our original time…you could say he’s a bit of a Nihilist and an Anarchist mixed together in one package. Now he’s trying to do in the past what he started in the late 23rd century! Why exactly, Pangea hasn’t been able to ascertain that part, yet.”
“But how did you guys get here, to 2008,” Patrick asked, yet incredulous about the whole story.
“I thought I already answered that, Dr. McClain…through the solar energy that your experiments produced, via your Solar Unlimited project.”
“No, I understand that! I mean, I just don’t get the connection between time traveling and a simple—“
“Look, Doctor, the details aren’t really important at this time, especially to me. I’m just a soldier doing what I was ordered to do. All you need to know is that your project is what’s giving us from the late 23rd century the ability to chronoport.”
Patrick looked at him with a blank stare. “Chronoport…? Oh, I get it, chrono, as in time, and port, as in a harbor for those who time travel. Gee, that’s just poetic!” Patrick was tired from the long day at work, and now he had to deal with this nonsense.
“Anyway, Doctor,” Tadosh carried on, ignoring Patrick’s sarcasm, “because your invention is the only contraption that is able to open up the door to time travel on Earth at this time, whether you like it or not, your project has become a time catalyst and it must be destroyed.”
“What! Are you freakin’ crazy? I’ve spent several hundred million dollars of my own money on this project and several years on it! I’m not trashing it for something that could turn out to be a—hoax…”
Patrick’s words choked up in his throat after he saw Tadosh brandishing a futuristic gun, and he had its business end pointed right at him!
“Look, Dr. McClain… I don’t want to be the one who goes down in history for killing the great inventor, the Miracle McClain, but if I have to, I will. Sorry, but that was also part of my orders. My superiors anticipated that you would not part with your project, so they told me if I could not succeed at destroying the Solar Unlimited, then I would have to destroy its maker. Haven’t you learned from the great English novelist from the 1800s, Mary Shelley?”
Patrick slowly backed away from the little man with the odd-looking gun, speaking slowly, as though if he had talk too quickly it would set off the gun. “I’m afraid that I’m not much of an enthusiast of English literature.”
“Frankenstein…I’m sure you’ve heard of that.”
“Oh, yes,” Patrick said, still nervous as Tadosh, now, started to slowly walk toward him, backing Patrick into a corner, “…what about it?”
“The creator should never create anything that he or she cannot control…! So, which is it, Dr. McClain?” Tadosh was now only two feet away from him. “Your life, or your—“
“Dr. McClain! Dr. McClain!” It was the security guards.
Somehow they must have detected something wrong, because Patrick explicitly ordered no surveillance cameras in his office. However they pieced what was going on, Patrick was glad to hear them beyond the door to his office, as they now tried to knock down the door with heavy thuds.
Tadosh looked at Patrick with surprised eyes. He then smiled. “Nothing personal, Dr. McClain, I’m just following orders.”
Tadosh then reached his free hand over to the other hand with the gun and pressed a button that was on a wristband covered with high-tech gadgetry. As soon as he did, Tadosh suddenly vanished in a steam of light-blue haze with wisps of electrical arcs floating around, much like the way leaves did on a windy day. The flash was accompanied by a loud fizzling noise that crescendoed up to the point of his disappearance. Patrick must have fallen into a state of shock from the apparition, because after the guards forced the door to his office open, one of them ran to Patrick and waved a hand in front of his eyes and shook Patrick to see if he would respond.
The other guard, a pistol in his hands, began to search the room wildly. Funny how pathetically insignificant the guard’s 21st century gun looks now!, Patrick thought to himself.
“Okay, it’s all clear,” the guard with the pistol acknowledged.
As soon as he said this, Susan, one of the scientists working on the Solar Unlimited project in the basement, and a couple of other scientists came running into the office and went straight for Patrick. They were the ones who stuck around in the secret laboratory after everyone else left.
“Pat,” Susan explained, “we got a call from Samuel saying that you had gotten a call on your cell…he was checking to see if we had seen you since, and when we told him we had not—“
“Dr. McClain, who were you talking to,” one of the young guards asked tersely to him. He was the one that had checked on Patrick after they burst into the office.
“What…?” Patrick was still a bit dazed.
“Yeah,” the guard persisted, “he said something about the creator shouldn’t create something that he can’t control…I heard him, Dr. McClain! His voice was quite different from yours, so I know it wasn’t you. What was he talking about?”
Oh, crap, the Solar Unlimited!, Patrick thought. “Nothing,” Patrick lied, “he, he was just looking for money.”
Susan and the others looked at Patrick with blank faces. They knew something wasn’t right!
“Where did he go,” the other guard inquired after making another round in the suite. “I don’t see any point of exit except the door!”
The other guard looked on, also expecting to hear something from the Miracle McClain.
“Look…I’ve had a very long day even before the intruder…can’t I just go home for now?”
Both of the guards’ faces relaxed with understanding.
“Of course, Dr. McClain,” the one closer to him said.
“Want me to drive you home, Pat? We can talk about what happened…” Susan asked this with an air of suspicion in her voice that the two guards would not have caught onto. But Patrick knew his people well enough to know when they, too, had something on their minds.
“No, no, that’s all right, Susie. But thanks anyway…come on. Let’s just all go home and get some rest. Carl?”
“Yes, Dr. McClain,” the guard next to him responded.
“Can we get someone to find a new door for my office?”
“Right away, sir! I’ll contact Maintenance.”