Ah, Saturday. I didn’t get any ‘Twicebound’ written during the week, so I was afraid I was going to really rush this installment and mess it up. However, it didn’t go that way. I’ve been swamped in my to-do list (none of those to-dos being writing my stories) and felt like I was trying to tread water all week. Stopping for two hours this morning to write ‘Twicebound’ was surprisingly relaxing. So, this time, I’ve gotta say thanks to you guys! Keeping up with expectations on the serial novel was exactly what I needed. That said, here’s your weekly installment of…
Chapter 5 – part 3
Eddie heaved a sigh. He’d gotten used to not understanding anything Vančura said.
Vančura stared at him for a moment.
“Yes, Eddie. A pond.”
“Dis time-travel messes me all up.”
“You won’t get used to it, my friend. But you’ll learn to ignore it.”
Eddie rolled his eyes.
* * *
Three hours later, Benwright stood in front of the tower of machinery and stared up at it. He glanced at the control console and scanned the readout suspiciously. The console screen was show green across all the indicators; unusual, since half of them had been flashing red for the last week.
The technician scowled, then tapped one of the buttons, bringing up a diagnostic chart. After scowling that, too, he turned to the colonel.
“Nothing’s wrong, that’s the problem. The thing seems to be functioning perfectly, or at least perfectly as far as we know how to expect. But it shouldn’t be. Those bad capacitor connections were a problem, yeah, but they shouldn’t have kept it from working. Something’s fishy here.”
“As long as it’s working, who cares?”
“Sir, it shouldn‘t work. Maybe the electrical discharge could aggravate the imbalance in the temporal aberration a little, but I don’t think it would completely stop the STAd from working.”
The colonel waved at the towering machine and snorted dismissively.
“Benwright, it works now. That’s what we need. You’re playing with the biggest invention since combustion and you’re concerned because you don’t understand everything about it yet? Just get it ready, man! We don’t need to understand it right now, we just need to control it. The brass is breathing down my neck over something I don’t know about. They want the knothole running, tested, and ready for a team to go through it in two days.”
A light blinked and a tone sounded on the console. Benwright tapped a few keys, then made a thumbs up to the technician perched high up on the STAd. The light went off and Benwright turned back to the colonel.
“Sir, you don’t understand. I’m not wanting to understand it all right now; Having it working is the first step to figuring out how it works.”
A disbelieving glare began to seep over the colonel’s face.
“So, what is your problem?”
“Vančura, sir. I don’t trust him.”
The responding bark of laughter was a decent simulation of real humor, but Bosze’s expression wasn’t amused in the least.
“Neither does anyone else, technician, but you’re the only one who’s letting it affect their intelligence.”
Benwright stiffened, his eyes going sullen.
“Actually, sir, I may be the only one here who’s not so scared of his boss that he’s ignoring the obvious.”
Before the colonel could get the furious response out, the tech continued.
“Sir, who in this project is qualified to find a problem with the STAd?”
Eyes narrowed, the colonel ceded the point without a word. Benwright, looking slightly relieved, continued. His fingers flicked the console controls, bringing up a spread-chart with multiple lines winding over it.
“This is a theoretical time-map of Vančura’s possible routes here. Now, it’s not supposed to be accurate, it’s just a reasoning aid I was working on last night. Now, my technicians and I are practically the only people here capable of figuring out what went wrong with the STAd, right? So, if that’s the case… how did a prisoner tell us what the problem was?”
He paused as he saw realization hit Colonel Bosze.
“Yes, sir. Everything pertaining to the workings of the STAd is classified. If you, or part of an official team had come back, claiming to have gone through the knothole and knowing how to fix it, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. But Vančura? We don’t give convicted felons top-secret information.”
Bosze turned away, staring at the tip of the STAd, where the distortion would be building up if the device were powered on.
“Two possibilities, then, Benwright. First, he found out in a way we didn’t plan. Second, we told him because it was our only option.”
He sighed and shook his head.
“Time-travel. This stuff could burn us worse than fire ever did.”
End Chapter 5 – Part 3
Go to Chapter 6 – Part 1
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“Twicebound” gets a new installment every Saturday. Regardless of any flying squirrel attacks, space termite invasions, or hordes of pink pachyderms. My promise to you.
The previous installments.
Chapter One: Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3
Chapter Two: Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3
Chapter Three: Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3
Chapter Four: Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3
Chapter Five: Part 1 – Part 2