The Time Catalyst

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Chapter 6

The Solar Unlimited laboratory in the basement of Miracles, Inc., Thursday night…

Thomas was preparing the project team for the last experimental run for the Solar Unlimited. He had a checklist that he had to mark off as he communicated with the crew as he called out to the various functions of the project…

“Okay, Bradly, how are we doing on our energy path targets…? You have your ducks in a row?”

“Copy that, Tommy…the satellites are waiting for you to shoot the ball on the pool table!”

“What about you, Nancy, how are my Receptor and Transmission satellites?”

“The Receptor’s getting a little tanned from the Sun, but the ol’ girl can function where she is!”

“Why don’t you pull the Receptor away from the Sun by, say, three ticks…you should have time to adjust that distance between them.”

“Roger that!”

“Tracy…?”

“The Solar Converter Receiver is nice and warm, ready for transmission from that big ol’ beach ball out there!”

“What’s the word, Samuel?”

“NORAD reports that the coast is clear for all of our birdies…the International Space Station won’t even come close to our neighborhood!”

“How’s my favorite folks in Telemetry doing these days?”

“Tommy, we’ve got all green lights on the board for receiving data on the project!”

“How’s my backup on those auxiliary satellites? Will we be able to change any possible flat tires out there in space, Richard?”

“Spare tires are locked and loaded!”

“Marcy, is Hawaii ready to receive the energy levels?”

“University of Hawaii’s got the table set, Tommy, they’re just waiting for us to come and eat!”

“…then, let’s eat!”

Thomas punched in the necessary algorithms to engage the Solar Unlimited network. This time around, the crew was testing for its highest level of energy feed from the Sun that was to beam down from their satellites and to the SCR, then bounce that energy to the University of Hawaii, whom had agreed to take part in the Miracle McClain study. The University had agreed to, for several minutes, shut down all of their power to the entire campus. On top of one of the science facilities at the University, a special receptor would receive the specially boosted energy flow from the Miracles, Inc. Tower, and, hence, power the entire University campus for fifteen minutes without the aid of generators, electricity, fiber optic wires, gasoline, batteries…nothing but the transmitted energy from the Sun sent via Miracles was to operate the whole campus for fifteen minutes! All this solar-powered industrial activity done at eleven o’clock p.m., Pacific Time. It would be the ultimate manifestation of wireless technology.

Fifteen minutes finally passed and Thomas was able to phone the Chancellor of UH and ask him how did his campus operate.

“You did the test,” the Chancellor playfully asked Thomas over their cell phones. “Why, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say we didn’t even flip the power generators off at all!”

The largest test to date for the Solar Unlimited was a success. The Chancellor could hear over his cell phone the eruption of elation from the Miracles team. Thomas made a formal statement of gratitude to the Chancellor, for posterity’s sake. Plus, it was just the polite thing to do since the Chancellor permitted the researchers to utilize his campus.

Thomas wished that Patrick were there to see the first full test of his own invention. Amid the jumping nerds, the popping of wine bottles, and the hugs and high-fives, Thomas dialed Patrick’s cell number. Thomas wanted his boss to hear his people rejoice after their many years of labor. To his surprise, however, only a message relayed that the owner of the other phone had either turned it off or the service was not operational.

The McClains’ private estate, Saturday morning

“I’m coming,” Samantha called out as she trotted over to her front door to answer the persistent knock.

When she looked through the peephole, Samantha was pleasantly surprised to see Thomas. She quickly unlatched the door.

“Am, am I here at a bad time,” Thomas apologetically shot out before Samantha could say anything.

“Oh, Thomas, you know you’re always welcomed here…! Come on in!”

“Thanks, Sam. I appreciate it.”

“I was just exercising,” she, now, apologized as they both stepped into the luxurious living room, “so, please excuse my sweat! I’m just going to grab my towel so I won’t melt in front of you.”

“Sam, you’ve always looked fine to me.”

Thomas may have said that in banter, but the truth was he always had a crush on his boss’s wife since the couple and Thomas met years ago, especially now, in her jogging outfit. But right now, he had business-related things on his mind.

When Samantha had returned into the living room, Thomas was already seated on one of the chairs. Samantha took the posh sofa.

“Sam…has Patrick said anything to you about a situation at Miracles?”

“What situation?” Her voice tensed up, as did her face.

“Well, I don’t mean to be overly dramatic or anything, but apparently he was accosted in his office on Wednesday night. Now—“ Thomas spoke fast, to ensure that Sam didn’t get too upset. “I wasn’t there when this happened, but Susan filled the rest of us in as much as she could.”

“Who was it,” she asked, her voice barely audible.

“The guards didn’t know…according to Susan, one of the guards heard someone talking tersely to Pat, but when they finally broke into his office, they couldn’t find a single place where he could have left the room!”

Samantha’s head snapped up as she looked at Thomas. He merely shrugged his heavy shoulders with a defeated look on his rotund face. They both remained silent as they pensively considered the situation.

“Sam, your husband is working on a very important project that will revolutionize the world’s usage of energy, and that’s not just happy talk! I think you have the right to know this.”

“Thank you, Tommy…at least I have a vague idea of why he’s been acting like such a recluse lately.”

“Thing is, Sam, this project has saturated Pat’s life for so long, I just found it odd that he wasn’t at the lab Thursday night to see our latest test—which was pretty significant, by the way.”

“Well, where was he? He sure wasn’t home!”

Now Thomas’ head snapped toward the pretty young lady out of surprise. “You mean he wasn’t here?”

“No…!”

“Hmm? I tried calling him after our test was done, but his phone was off.”

“Tom, Pat’s phone is never off!”

Now the house went stark silent. They could hear the spring breeze blowing throughout the house with its opened windows, but both had far too much on their minds to even notice.

“He’s been home since Thursday, right,” Thomas finally inquired.

“Oh yes,” she responded with a tear rolling down her face.

“He’s actually been having a good day today.”

“Where is he now?”

“Said he was going to the lab,” Samantha said with a sniff and a shrug.

Thomas’ face went blank. “We’re not even scheduled to do any tests on the project until next week! Why would he be at the lab today?”

Samantha looked away for a few seconds then shifted around on the sofa so that she was on its edge. “Thomas…you don’t think he’s having an affair, do you? Has there been a woman hanging around his office lately?”

“No, Sam, I’m almost positive it has nothing to do with that?”

“How do you know? You just told me you couldn’t even reach him on his cell! He could be doing anything while he’s not around either of us!”

“Sam, this weird behavior of his began the same night the guards burst into his office…now that can’t be a coincidence! I don’t know what, but I’m sure it has something to do with that.”

Thomas got up from the designer chair and stepped over to Samantha. This encouraged her to stand as well.

“I’m going over to Miracles. If he’s still there, I think it’s time we resolve this. It would be ashamed for our team to work five years on this project and successfully finish it, just to have Patrick wig out on us.”

“I’m going with you,” Samantha shocked Thomas as he turned to leave.

Thomas slowly turned around to face her. He spoke very deliberately. “I don’t know about that, Sam…if Pat’s throwing up a wall, I’d rather be the one to bump my head against it than you. At least I don’t have to go home to him, you do.”

Samantha already had her sneakers on with the jogging suit, so she went over to her coat rack and grabbed a jacket and donned it. She then looked at Thomas with determined eyes.

“Yes, your highness,” Thomas grated as he rolled his eyes and turned to head out of the McClain’s house.

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