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If you have not looked over "MURDER IN THE PAST TENSE", do so before you read further.

 

I could never get over the problem of what to do about the social upheaval any kind of Time Machine would bring.  Think about it.  If someone came up with the simplest form of a TM, say only being able to view the past, there would be great religious battles on determining what would or would not be viewed, nations trying to control it in order to safekeep their own secrets while finding out everyone else's (go back one second and you could listen and watch any secret meeting you wanted to.), industrial espionage, and political tricks by disclosing under-the-table deals.  But all of that would be minimal because one of the most disturbing cases would be the parents of missing children.  Try a web search on 'number of missing children' and see the results.  Yes, many return or are runaways, but the number each year is horrible to contemplate.  If your child was missing for a few days, weeks, months or years, what would you do if you found out someone had a machine that could go back and trace the child's movements.  You would be at their door as soon as you could...and so would every other parent!

I do not address that question head on, but it is a the stimulus that precipitates Boris and Marge's loss of their freedom when they find themselves... 

INSIDE PANDORA'S BOX

(WEDDING PICTURE, original title)

Chapter 1

 Boris took a chance and quickly looked down at the crowd held at bay by the police barricade.  He wanted to find fault with the people; but he couldn’t, they were motivated for reasons he could completely understand; even had sympathy for them.

The door creaked slightly.  He felt sad for Marge; she hadn’t asked for any of this; but the people who only wanted a little comfort, a release from their misery, held her here in her own home, a virtual prisoner.  At least Bobbie and Jimmy had escaped earlier and were on their way to their grandparents in Nevada.

A movement in the crowd caught his eye; someone had spotted him.  The crowd, energized by the glimpse, pushed harder against the barricade.  The police pushed back and only after it looked as if the police could not hold them back, the Stun Field Generator hummed and people started dropping to the ground from the back of the mob to the front.  One policeman had not stepped back in time and was caught in the wave of downed bodies.

Boris let the curtain close.  For the briefest of seconds he thought that if they would use the SFG from the front to the back and a few died in the mindless mob pushing forward, then maybe they would disperse.  He shook his head.  No!  That wouldn’t stop it.  There would just be more to replace the dead.

He turned at Marge’s voice, “The Tele News Channel said that there were about four thousand surrounding the house and almost twenty thousand being held back at the road blocks.  We can be grateful we live in a box canyon.  If there were more than two ways into the neighborhood, we would be crushed.”

“Yeah, grateful.”

“Boris, I know you didn’t mean for this to happen.  No one could have foreseen this.  We just weren’t careful enough.”

“Marge, if you say ‘Be careful for what you wish for’ one more time, I’m going to tell the police to let them in.”

“Sorry, I…” the cell phone the police had given them rang.  Their own home phone and cell phones had become useless due to the too numerous people trying to reach them.

Marge pulled it out of her pocket and flipped it open.  “Yes… I see…I’ll go down to the front door and wait.”  She put the phone back in her coat pocket.  “That was the police captain.  The Mayor is using the stunned mob as a chance to get in and try to help us figure a way out of this.”

Boris let out a hard long sigh, “Damned politician; all he’s after is a photo-op, ‘Local Mayor comes to the aid of a besieged constituent’.”

“No bets here on that, but we can use all the help we can get; even from a politician.” Marge said as she turned to leave.

When Boris came down the stairs, he saw the somewhat rumpled Mayor with his aide, an Army Officer and three MP’s in riot gear.  He approached the small tactical group standing in his living room.  Before he reached them, Marge leaned over and said, “The Mayor did pause on the porch long enough for a dozen cameras to catch him.”

The Mayor with his vote-seeking hand extended spoke first, “Mr. Carz, we almost didn’t make it.  Some of the crowd not caught in the stun field tried to follow us through the police line.  We lost one, and I’m afraid that some of the stunned people laying on the ground were probably hurt.”

Boris reached out and took the offered hand, “It’s only going to get worse.”

“Not if we can help it.  This is Colonel Nelson, from the base.”

The Colonel spoke in monotones, emotionless staccato, his eyes never staying on any one spot. “We’ve gotten the okay to move you.  Your family is being moved into one of the base’s Officer’s housing units.  There is an empty warehouse only three blocks away from the housing.  We will set up your equipment there.”

Boris dropped his head, chin on his chest for a second, and then, staring at the Colonel, mustering all the strength he could, fighting the years of fearing State Police and uniforms, “Don’t you get it.  I’ve said it enough.  My entire basement is filled with the machine.”

The Colonel interrupted Boris, “We’ve planned for that.  Two platoons will move in and create a path through the back alley for three large trucks ready to back up to your basement door.  They have already started taking down your neighbors’ fences to get them in.  We can load directly from the basement to the trucks.”

Boris, temper short, nerves on end, bumped a small table over as he turned around in a tight circle and shouted, “Is everybody deaf?  I’ve told at least a dozen officials from the city, state and federal government, even the White House, that the problem is not just size.  I don’t know if I can disassemble it; then re-assemble it and make it still work.  It might take a month or more to trace down all the circuitry.  I’ve tweaked and jimmied it for fifteen years.  It’s all in my logs, five hundred of them, every step.  But there isn’t a single document of the present state of the machine; just the original idea fifteen years ago and a long list of changes.  My designers and draftsmen do that type of work for me but they don’t make house calls.  I don’t have any idea which parts are necessary and which are not.  Hell, I don’t even know if some sections are still connected.  Can you keep the mobs out of here for a month?  I’ll need at least that much time, with a lot of talented help.”

“I doubt it.”  The Colonel added, “I’ll get the engineers working on it.  Maybe we can remove the house, its small, and lift the entire basement at one time.  What is this 2000 square feet, two stories?”  He turned around and without waiting for a response walked away while reaching for his cell phone.

The Mayor gestured toward the dining room table, “I’ve brought some fresh coffee and some luncheon items.  I’ll bet you haven’t found enough energy to do much cooking.”

The aide was busy unloading the breads, sliced meats, cheese and fruits from a large box onto the dining table.

As Marge and Boris started sitting down, the Mayor reached into an inner pocket and pulled out a picture.  He said, “After you’ve had a bit of food, my wife’s niece's daughter…

©AUG, 2003 Fred (Woody) Hendrick

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And so it starts..

Let me know what you think and don't worry, I have a thick hide.  Woody