Ch 1 Alice’s Death

Maclaren Fix-IT-Shop and home
Balerno, Scotland
Monday May 17, 1999

You would not think that you lived at the bottom of a lake.  Well, that is the type of little thing that can mess up an experiment and kill you or in this case, your wife.

Alice had been seated at the computer while she entered the setting to have the window open into world 4.  Hopefully, this world would be a better candidate for exploring from, but our other three location may have better access to the first two worlds.  She had refined her calculations with the results from opening windows to the other two worlds, so she did not have to make adjustments.  When the window opened, the water had rushed in.  Only about a hundred gallons, but when you are sitting at a computer controlling 25KW of power you will get a spectacular short.  Within a second, her life had ended and mine was torn asunder.

The Scotsman, May 18, 1999 – Douglas Richards – obit for Dame Alice Farwell Maclaren

Maclaren, Dame Alice Farwell

Dame Alice Farwell Maclaren, 54, died of electrocution while conducting an experiment with her husband, Jess.  The cause of death is believed to be a fault in the sprinkler system.
Dame Alice was a professor at the University of Edinburgh and Maxwell Institute for Mathematical Sciences.  Once described as the greatest mathematician in fifty years, she in recent years had cut back her work with the Maxwell Institute to concentrate on private research.  This followed the disastrous reception of her Theory of Adjacent Worlds.  …

Maclaren Fix-IT-Shop and home
Balerno, Scotland
June 3, 1994

Jesse had been in the shop, cleaning the remains of a slice of bread with peanut butter out of Sarah Patterson’s VCR.  Her toddler, Matthew had thought it was a toaster and had plopped the slice in.  That would not have been too bad if he had told his mother.  They had not found out until his father Jim had tried to put a tape in that evening.  The tape was ruined and peanut butter and bread were everywhere.  This was the type of job that Jesse liked to do for the neighbors and it added to the joke of his workshop’s name, Maclaren Fix-IT-Shop.  The shop was far more than a small repair shop.  Jess had a complete electronics laboratory, machine shop, paint shop, and some wood working machines.  Many of the local boys had once come by as much for the shop as for their two daughters and their girl friends.  Their girls were now long gone with kids of their own, so he enjoyed the breaks that these types of jobs gave him.  It kept him grounded in the neighborhood.

Alice had come in from the garden with her notebook.  “Jess, I have the proof for my co-located world theorem.”

Jess looked up and smiled.  “Honey, unless you can show them one of these adjacent worlds, very few will believe any equations you can show them.

She had come up and given him a hug and a kiss.  “That’s the problem with you physical types.  You need to touch something to make it real.”

He turned and embraced her.  “No, we just enjoy the touching.”  After a long kiss, he had broken off.  “Ok, give me 5 or 10 minutes to close up and check the VCR and I’ll look at you proof.  Not that I’ll know how you came up with it but you have them so well laid out before you tell us physical types about them that we can’t help but be impressed.”

Later at the kitchen table, Jess looked up from the notebook.  “Well your mathematics certainly provides a convincing argument, but Will and I have believed you for over forty years.  We still need to show people this adjacent world before they’ll believe.”

Alice had put down her glass.  “Not one world.  Four definitely.  Probably no more than fifty.  I need to have data to refine my calculations.  I do like the name adjacent worlds better.”

“Well, one is all you will need to show.”

“I’ve been thinking about that.  I think that we may be able to build one of the windows ourselves.”

“Well I’m just a simple tinkerer.  Our plan has always been to be part of the government program to develop the equipment and explore a new world.”

Alice smiled at Jess.  “Well those little toys of yours put the additions on the house, the girls through college, and enough money in the bank so that neither of us has to work.”

“Yes, but you love to show off the beauty of your math and I like to tinker so we don’t work we play.”

Alice smiled and nodded in agreement, but then the smile was gone.  “I had another dream.  It is time to tell the girls.  I know they’ve suspected something for a long while.  Marie first, I could use her help with the calculations, but also John.  His family’s factories will be a big help in the future as will his father position in the cabinet.  Not right away but Marie should not have to keep this a secret from her husband.  When we visit Kim and Rob this summer, Beth and Tom will be there.  Rob will help you design the integrated circuit that we will need for the windows, then Tom can present another one of your marvelous inventions to Texas Instruments.  Will and Leslie will be able to bring her family into help later.”

“That will not keep the windows secret.”  Jess was confused but knew that Alice’s dreams had proven true for fifty years.

“No, we will need power for the windows and other thinks.  What TI will build will have two uses.  One will be a power controller that will control electric power generation, but the other will be the controller for the windows.”

“Power generation?”

“I have noticed that my equations also show how to generate power from the potential from between two locations in space.  I think that you will have a patent that will earn us and TI more than the calculator patent.”

Maclaren Fix-IT-Shop and home
Balerno, Scotland
Monday morning May 17, 1999

Jess had been at the workbench with a circular construct with a thirty-centimeter opening.  Four sets of heavy power cables ran to a fan cooled control box.  The box connected to the control computer on the workbench and with heavier power cables to one of the prototype AJ power generators.  An oscilloscope and a second computer for sensor reading connected to a box collecting data from dozens of sensor on the construct.  The equipment would check out Alice’s theory of adjacent worlds.

Jess looked at the time on the computer and made a note in a lab notebook.  He initiated a program on the control computer that would calibrate each of the force axes of the construct.  The first power setting adjusted to the initial value.  Automatic fine adjusts were made.  The program proceeded to the next setting and again made the fine adjustments.  When the calibration completed three minutes later, one hundred settings for each of the axes have been computed.  The settings for each axis were graphed on the sensor computers monitor.  Jess looked over the graphs.  After seeing no major problems, he initiated the analysis of the settings.  Within a minute, the results were displayed.  He compared them to the tolerances to which they had agreed.  He smiled and commented to himself, “Almost three times better than what we require.  Not bad for the first try.”

Figure 1: Setup of the equipment to open a window to an adjacent world.

He next checked over the data from all the sensors for each of the runs.  With only one force axis powered at a time, none of the readings showed any more than background readings.  He selected the upload button on the calibration program.  It requested an ID and password.  He smiled at the happy memory that the password was related to for easy remembering.  The day and place he had proposed to Alice.  He entered them as Alice entered the lab.

Jess looked up.  “Hi honey!  I just uploaded the settings for the axis controls to the FPGAs in the control box.  I am glad Rob insisted on adding them to the controller design.  The response time is at least 100 times better than direct computer control and all four axes are synchronized.  After breakfast, we can make the first try.”  He looked at each of the computer screens.  “All the readings were well within our limits.”

Alice looked over the equipment.  “Sounds great.  Are the cameras ready?”

“All the recorders are loaded with video tape.  The synchronizing time display message is mixed into each video feed.  We should be able to correlate all the views.”

“Ok, I’ll get my notes and then start breakfast.  Scrambled or omelet?  ”

“Scrambled,” Jess replied.  “I will be there in a bit to help.”


A while later, Alice and Jess returned to the shop.

Jess reviewed the operation of the control program with Alice.  “The Window Control program is set for null output.  Enter your values for the four fields.  There are sliders to the right of the entry boxes for fine adjustments.  When you select Start, the fields will change to your settings.  You can adjust each about 1% with the primary sliders.  The secondary sliders are a hundred times as sensitive as the primary.  The program will record all the settings and the window sensor readings along with the time and date info that it is adding to the videos.  Data is updated every tenth of a second so go slow on the adjustments.”

Alice smiled at her husband.  Once again, his work had met her needs exactly without having to tell him what was needed.  “As expected everything I will need and easy to use.  I have settings for four worlds.  The data from the fine adjustments will allow me to refine my calculations.  I will do that during the flight to Maryland.  Hard to believe we will have seven grandchildren.  At least it’s not twins this time.”

“Well you and the girls were all eager to start families off early.”  Jess joked.

Alice placed her notebook on the desk away from the computer and equipment.  “Yes, and we had the husbands to help us with that task and still let us finish school and start a career.  Kim said now that she has a girl that she would hold off on any more for a while.  She wants to be able to be able to explore with us.  I think that having new life forms to investigate has her very excited.”

Jess picked up the video camera on the probe arm.  He played it across Alice and equipment.  “Yes, but we will be setting up colonies so it is not like children will not be born in the new worlds.  Did she have anything more about the bacteria that she saw pop into her microscope?”

As she sat down at the computer, Alice had shaken her head.  “No.  Marie agrees that the equations allow micro-windows.  Under certain conditions, short duration windows around a few microns wide can open up spontaneously.  This is probably good for us.  Those micro-windows allow cross contamination of viruses and bacteria.  With these micro-windows, all of the worlds will have compatible flora and fauna.  The diseases will be similar across the worlds.  Not much different than going to the Orient.”

Alice called up the program and started to enter the parameters.  “Focus on the opening for the window.  We want to get data from the other side as fast as possible.  We may be poking into someone’s bedroom and I know how I would feel about that.”

Jess laughed.  “The number 2 camera is fixed on the window.  The last two cameras are in opposite corners of the room so that everything is recorded.  I am also recording what is displayed on the monitors.  The number 1 camera is for probing through the window and recording what is not visible from this side.  I should be able to point it everywhere but directly behind the window.”

“I should have known that between you, Alyca and Mary that everything would be covered, Alice said.  She was glad that Jess has found in his two nieces kindred spirits.  Their oldest daughter Marie had found the same love of describing the world through mathematics that she had.  She had known for years that Marie was a better mathematician than she was and that someday would surpass her.  Enough of this wool gathering.  “Initiating the first settings!”

Pause.  “Ok, all the axes are up.”  She looked over at the construct.  “No window.  Let me make some adjustments.”  She looked at the sensor readings.  “Axes one and three look good.  Axis two needs some positive adjustment and axis four needs a slight negative adjustment.  “There, the window sensors are showing alignment.”

Jess walked towards the first window into another world.  He had the camera on the probe arm extended before him.  “Well we’ve got sunshine coming in.  That says we’ve got some other place since it is raining today.  Boy, the air is cold.  Grab that indoor-outdoor thermometer off the windowsill.  You’ll need to loosen the screen to get the outside probe.”  Jess stuck the camera into the window and moved it around.

Jess had moved the camera around for a couple of minutes while he watched the monitor that displayed the image that it was seeing.  “Well the monitor is showing nothing but air and water.  Guess there is no land at this location.  That makes sense since most of our world is water.  We should expect the same odds of opening a window into water”

Alice inserted the probe from the inside-outside thermometer through the window.  “Yes, the water looks just about right for sea level.  Well there is nobody here to bother.  Guess we will have to check from Queensland or Texas to learn more about this world.”

Alice looked at the thermometer readings.  “Well that’s why it feels so cold.  The temperature is -2° C over there.”  Suddenly the probe cord dropped to the floor severed.  “What happened?”

Jess pulled the camera out of the window and picked up the thermometer wire.  “Cut clean”

Alice looked closely at the window.  “It’s varying in size.  You can just barely see it if you look close.  It must have cut through the wire when it rested on the edge.”

“Maybe some variation in the levels,” Jess suggested.  They looked closely at the control computer screen.  “No, they are showing very little variation and it is not like the variation that the window sensor is showing”.  Jess called up some additional windows and looked at the reports on the sensor and control data.  “Could be that we have some interference from something else.  I should be able to rig up a feedback network to dampen that out.  Before we go to the next settings, let us try an experiment.  I will hold a piece of metal in the window when we close it.  I want to see how it cuts it.”

Alice shook her head.  “Could you rig up something to hold the metal piece?  We do not know if a closing window may exert some force on an object in the window when it closes.”

“Good idea!”  Jess agreed.

They rigged a setup to hold a piece of scrap metal in the center of the window.

Jess stood back.  “OK, shut off the window.”

Alice moved the mouse to a control.  With a click, she nulled the signals to the window construct.

“I didn’t see it move.  The other end just disappeared as the window was shut down.”  Jess removed the shortened piece of metal from the clamps.  “No change in temperature except from the cold of the other world.”  He ran the edge of the cut across the tabletop.  “I am glad I did not try that with my finger.  That edge is very sharp.  Look at how smooth and shiny the surface of the metal is.  I think we have a new cutter to sell.”

“They’ll have to have a location where they’ve access to land on both sides.  I don’t think that dropping scrap into another world is what we want to do,” Commented Alice.

“No.  Most times, you want both pieces.  Do you think that the other world is in an ice age?”

Alice thought about it for a couple of minutes.  “It might be, but it could just be winter on that world.  There is no reason for the seasons to match.”

“That means we could just cross to another world to go skiing in the summer or to the beach in the winter.  I will clean the stand out of the way and then we will be ready to go to the next world.”

Alice recorded the settings for the first window in her notebook.  She spent a few minutes to revise the numbers for the other worlds.

“OK.”  She looked up as Jess picked up the camera and moved towards the window construct.  “Jess, a strong enough signal might close the window.  Just use the fixed cameras.  They should give us a good enough view to show what we find.  I do not want the window closing and you losing an arm.  I like you with both your arms to put around me.  Sit back and observe what we find.”

“I could stick the camera in as far as the probe arm allows without putting my hand in?  We could get a wider view?”  He moved forward with the camera.

“No!   Sit down.”  Alice said with alarm.  He sat down.  “The variations in the settings will give me the data that I will need to calculate the settings for the other worlds.  We can go back for a better view after we get back.”

“OK.”  He panned the camera across his wife and the equipment.  She smiled and turned back to the computer and her notes.  He continued to record.

Alice finished entering the second set of numbers.  When all the settings were entered, she initiated the change.  Looking at the window sensor reading she made some slight adjustments using the mouse on the sliders.  A wall of dirt appeared in the window.

“It looks as if we are underground.”  Alice commented.

As she entered the settings and the sensor readings into her notes, she said.  “There’s the setting for world 3.”

Jesse had put down the camera.  “World 3?  What happened to 2?”

Alice laughed.  “The last one was two.  Earth is one.  Ok, what do we have?”

They looked at the construct and the window to another world.

“Dirt.  It looks like we are not too deep, since it is dirt and not rock.”  He got up and walked to a workbench near the outside door.  He took a plastic container from a group at the end of the workbench.  Next, he grabbed a screwdriver.  He then walked over to the window construct.  Using the screwdriver, he flicked some of the dirt and pebbles into the container.  “That’s not too scientific of a sample but we did not have to pay for a lunar expedition.”

Jess is always so practical.  Alice thought.  “Well we can move the equipment upstairs when we get back and see what we got.  We can send the sample to Sanchez at the university to be analyzed.”

Jess marked the container with “World 3 dirt”.

Alice finished making additional calculations and entered them into her notes.  “Well, let us see world four.  After we check out world five, we need to shut down.  We can discuss what we want to do when we get back while we pack.”

Jesse came over and kissed Alice.  “Well, we are going to celebrate tonight.”

Alice smiled and shook her head.  “Yes, this will give us the start we need.”  Turning back to the computer, she started to enter the new data.  “I think I have the settings nailed this time.  It looks like we are part of a larger world cluster.  I have the settings for these four.  World five will be no more than a check.  The numbers are working out well.  I should be able to figure the settings for the others and maybe the return settings on the flight over.”

“Return settings?”  Jess asked.

Alice looked at Jess.  “Yes, we will need to be able to take equipment across so that we will be able to return even if something happens to the equipment here.”

Jess is surprised that he and the girls had not realized the need for a second window generator on the other side.  “Ok, S-I will have more sets including the large crossing portals ready within a few days since all the changes are minor.  The hard part will be the feedback control for the window variations but I want that to be a separate unit until we understand the causes.  I will discuss it with Alyca.  She should be able to use the basic design of the control system that she came up with for the ATVs.  She controls the current to the motor in each wheel based on slippage and other factors.  That is the type of control that is needed for the four axes.”

“Where is she?”  Alice asked.  “I would have expected she and Mary would have been here to see the first windows.”

Jess smiled.  “Just like Marie, they’ve no doubts that we will succeed.  They are setting their sights on the first crossings that we make.  Will is checking to see that Mary and Brenda have kept up with their shooting.”

“Kept up!”  Alice knew how competitive all three girls were.  “Alyca has been teaching them.  After she won the Biathlon World Championship and the three World Cup meets that she participated in, she is the top shooting instructor in Europe.  The twins just want to surprise their father.”

“They are good and Will did teach them, but Alyca can sense the wind and knows those guns she designed.”  Jess replied.

“I think Mary and Brenda are learning how she does it.  They can sense what she is doing and are trying to copy it.”  Alice knew that they could pass on many of the special things that members of the family could do.  Both of her son-in-laws had picked up the ability to sense others who were nearby especially members of the family.

“They’ve learned a bit,” Jess agreed.  “I know Will wanted to see Alyca shoot, but I do not thinking he is expecting to see a major improvement in the twins.  Oh, Alyca has taken them out to the police range.  She wanted to show Will the changes that she made in the pop up targets.  Jim says that it is more natural and everybody loves it.”  Jess remembered what Sgt Jim McPherson had actually said to Alyca that day he had walked over from the police station to complement her.  He had gone on for over twenty minutes describing the things she had done.  He had not seen his niece blush for years but she did that day.

Jess returned to discussing the equipment that they will need.  “We will need one of the industrial size AJ power generators.  One of those will be hard to get upstairs.  We may want to set up a window this size first then see where we want to put the big one.  I think that I will have a small portable window system designed also.  It may be easier to have something that you can walk or drive around with and inspect the other world.  The power unit will be smaller.”  The power necessary for the windows increased with the size of the window.  Over two meters, the increase in the power requirement for successively larger windows took off such that even with an AJ Power Generator, it would be impossible to build one through which you could drive a truck.  All their plans called for small vehicles for exploration.  A large vehicle would have to be brought across in parts and then assembled in the other world.  That would not happen until they had the settlements with defenses in place.  He checked the power draw for the window.  “We are drawing just slightly less than expected for this size window.  Alyca will design the damping circuits while we wait for the equipment for the larger window.”

“Can you cancel it out completely?”  Alice looked concerned.

Jess took a second to decide on the best way to explain how they will cancel the oscillation.  “It will not be noticeable to the naked eye, but the damping circuit will use feedback loops which are not instantaneous.  I will also need to have Harry at S-I make a protecting collar to go through the window.  Even a microscopic variation would be enough to slice through something or someone since it is really a space discontinuity.  Guess we have come up with a better Veg-a-Matic if nothing else.”

‘Yes but the cut pieces will be in another world.”  Alice remarked.

Jess smiled.  “Just a detail”.

They laughed.

Alice took a blank sheet of paper and started making a list.  ”I like your idea of a model airplane with a video camera to explore before we cross over.”

Jess contemplated the changes that he had mentioned.  They had plans for an electric plane that used an AJ Power Generator for power.  It would stay up forever or until something broke, but it would not easily scale down to something that would go through this size window.  “Yes, it will be thrown together and crude, unlike the electric plane that MME is working on.  It should let us check around for a mile or two.  I may have trouble on the return hitting the window without clipping a wing.  Also I do not like flying even a model plane into the house at full speed.”

Alice realized that they had not been thinking clearly about the window.  “Jess, we will not be able to move a window while it is open but there is no reason that we cannot build the construct to allow the window to turn when the window is not open.  In fact, we could rotate it horizontal and release something like a weather balloon with a camera through it.”

Jess saw that Alice has come up with a better solution.  “Hey, I am supposed to be the practical one.  You’re the egg head professor with all the crazy theories.”  They laughed.  That was the part she had played, when she presented the paper on her Adjacent World theory.

“Also, we do not want to pop into somewhere and have the natives shooting at us.”  Alice entered another setting into the computer.

“They may even be human.  With micro-windows, the worlds should be very similar.”  Jess watched Alice and thought of the adventures that they would have exploring these other worlds.

“No, they’ll be similar only on the virus and bacteria level.  The higher order should be different, but not too much different.  More like Australia was.”  Alice entered another setting.

“Yes, but the explorers found aborigines there.”  Jess smiled as he watched Alice.

“Ok, I think I got it.”  She entered the last number and initiated the settings for world four.

Water!  Water was all over the table, the computer, the construct, and Alice.  Something flopped on the floor.  Sparks!  Alice screamed.  Then the breakers blew.

“Alice!”  Jess rushed to the power generator and shut it off.  Then he rushed to Alice who was slumped in the chair.

“Damn, she’s not breathing.  No pulse either.”  Jess barely held back curses.

He went to the outside door and hit the security panic switch.  The outside alarms started to wail.  He returned to Alice and carried her to a dry section of the floor.  There, he started to administer CPR.

Sergeant Jim McPherson had run from the station across the road.  “Jess, what happened to Alice?”

Without looking up, Jess replied, “Jim, she has been electrocuted.  Call the medics.”

Jim picked up the phone and called.  “They are on their way.  What happened?  She’s all wet.”

Jess looked up into his friend’s eyes.  “Later, please help me with the CPR.  She has no pulse”

Jim took over the heart stimulus, while Jess did the breathing.  Within a minute, a siren was heard.

Jess felt for a pulse.  “No pulse.”

Jim had also paused.  “The medics will be here in a minute, they’ll be able to shock her.  Continue to give her air.”

They switched what they were doing to revive Alice.

The medics entered.  They were Sue and Ned Douglass, friends of their daughter Marie.

“We’ll take over Jess.”  Sue said.

Jim straightened up.  “No pulse!  You’ll have to shock her.”

Ned sighed.  That’s bad.  “OK.  Jess, continue to breathe for her.  Sue, prepare her while I set up.”

Sue cleared Alice’s clothes so that the paddles could be applied directly to the skin.  “OK, everybody back up.”  She orders.  She moved out of the way for her husband.

Ned applied the paddles, then the shock.

Sue checked her pulse.  “Nothing!  Try it again.”

Ned repeated the shock.

Sue checked again then adjusted the defibrillator.  “Do it again.  I set it for max.”

Ned repeated the stimulus.  Sue still could not find a pulse.

Jess has slumped into a chair.

The medics stopped.  Sue turned to Jess a tear in her eye.  “Sorry Jess, but there’s nothing we can do to help Alice.”

Jess looked up.  “I know Sue.  I knew she was gone before I picked her up.”  He sat in shock unable to comprehend the desolation that has become his life.  Ned threw a blanket over Jess’s shoulders.

Sue said.  “I’ll ring Marie and let her know.

Jess looked up but the look on his face is not one that she had seen before.  The life had left his eyes.  “Thanks Sue.  She will be in her office.  The exam was early this morning.”

Sue picked up the phone.  “I know.  I often call and chat when things are calm.”

“It will be good that she hears the news from you.  I can’t …”.  Jess broke off unable to continue.

Ned finished putting away the emergency equipment.  “No, you are in shock.  Sit and relax.  Is there any electrical danger with the equipment all wet?”

Jess shook his head.  “No.  I shut down the power before I picked her up.”  Where are you Alice.  I can still sense you but you are far away.

Ned checked around the lab and came back carrying a large fish.  “The area around the work bench is the only place that has water.  This is the oddest pike that I have ever seen.  How did it get here?”

Jess looked up.  Curiosity pulled him a little out of his depression.  “So that’s what came through.  I saw it flopping on the floor.”

“Came through what?”  Jim asked.

“A window to an adjacent world.  We were proving Alice’s theory of adjacent worlds.”  Jess half smiled at the irony of her death just as their years of planning have started to bear fruit.

Ned looks surprised.  “You mean that paper she gave where the press was quoting everyone that she was crazy or worse.”

Jess sighed.  “Well not everyone, but most.  There was that American, Solomon White, who wrote on it in Analog.  He interpreted a couple of things wrong but he backed the concept.”

Sue commented in little more than a whisper.  “Hell of a time to buy it when you can prove all of them wrong.”

Jim shook his head.  “There is never a good time.”

Jess realized that others could be at risk from the windows.  “I think we were lucky that all we got was water and that I had used some fast breakers.  Not fast enough for Alice though.  If someone did this and hit a volcano or a bigger lake then a lot more lives could have been lost.”

He turned to the sergeant.  “Jim, if you would keep the experiment out of the report and the papers for a while, I may be able to come up with some safe guards.  Alice and I had noted a problem where I could have lost an arm.  Wished that had happened, then we would have been more conscience of the problems.”

“Or you could have bled to death all over Alice.”  Ned said.  “Jim, go turn that valve over there off.  It controls the sprinkler system.  I will open the sprinkler above the equipment and we will have a reasonable source for the water.”

Jess voice was flat but the need to ensure that others did not die gave him purpose.  “But not the fish.  Sue, take the fish to the kitchen and wrap it in some plastic wrap then throw it in the refrigerator.  Kim will want to study it.  The genetic differences will tell us a lot.  Jim, if you can take Alice’s notebook and put it in a drawer, we will not have someone learning too much too soon.

They got about the assigned tasks as Jess sat and thought about what else would need to be done.  In a few minutes, Sue returned.  “Sue, did Marie say anything about calling Kim.”

Sue was happy that Jess was not dwelling on Alice’s death.  “Yes, she said that she definitely was not going to do it.  She spoke of calling Kim’s mother-in-law, who is already there with her just as you and Alice were planning to be.  She thought that with her there she would know when to tell Kim and not upset her just before delivery.”

Jess frowned.  “I hate to not tell her right away but it is probably better for her and the baby.”

Sue continued.  “Marie will be right over.  John had come up with her but his errand was complete.  She plans to stay the night with you.  John’s mother or sister will gather the kids in.  She seemed to have known that something had happened.”

“Alice and I seemed to pickup things from each other now and then.  The girls seem to have inherited it from both of us since they often shared thoughts.”  Jess comments had put a startled look on Jim’s face.

Sue nodded her head.  “Yes, I’ve noticed it over the years with Marie and Kim.  I was jealous when we were children but they never made a big thing of it so that soon passed.”

Jess looked worried again.  “I wonder if we will be able to delay Kim knowing.  Probably not but Beth will be there to help.  She will tell Rob when they are alone.  Then they can decide what to do about telling Kim.  I hope Marie knows to tell Beth that Kim may have an inkling that something has happened.

The coroner arrived followed by a reporter from one of the weekly papers.  Sergeant McPherson backed the reporter out of the workshop and stood guard at the door.

A short while later, Marie and John Lawrence arrived.  Marie looked just like her mother had twenty years ago.  Seeing her Jess had not mistaken her for Alice, since he had sensed her when they drove up.  He had risen and they hugged.  Sue and Marie also hugged.

Marie turned back to her dad.  “Dad, are you alright?  We got a look at mom as they were putting her in the coroner’s truck.”  Marie was surprised at how well her dad was handling her mother’s death.

“Physically but losing your mother has torn something out of me.”  Jess eyes drift to the west as if he was looking for something.

Marie put her arm around her dad.  “I caught Beth just after Kim had given birth.”

A reporter started to ask questions from the doorway.

John interposed himself in front of the reporter.  “The family will answer questions later.  Right now we are going to get over the shock of our loss.”  He turned to Sue.  “Sue could you and Ned stay for a while.”

“Ok, we need to get the equipment back in the ambulance.”  Ned answered.

When Sue and Ned took the equipment out, the reporter asked them questions.  As she put the equipment away, Sue told him that she and Marie have been best friends since they were five.  The other Maclaren daughter, Kim, lived in Maryland and she was expecting her fourth child.  Dame Alice and Jess had planned to leave tomorrow to be there for the birth of their seventh grandchild.

Back inside, Marie continued.  “I also contacted Grandma Edna.  She will contact the rest of the family.  When I called Alyca, she said that they would be right over.”

Jess smiled.  Will, who was really his cousin, was closer to him than his brother was.  In school, Will, Alice, and he had been inseparable.  Will had joined the military.  While on a training assignment in Australia with the ASAS, a trio of Aussie ASAS brothers had introduced him to their sister, Leslie.  She had turned out to be his Life-Mate, just as Alice had been his.  They were here for the graduation of their twins, Brenda and Mary, who had just completed their undergraduate studies at the University of Edinburgh.  He was glad that Will was here and not on the other side of the Earth.

Chapter 2


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