Ch 3 Secrets Revealed

Alice and Jess Maclaren’s home
Balerno, Scotland
May 17, 1999

Jess looked at Mary.  “You will have to take updates on the window generators to TDI and MME so that they can duplicate this setup and be able to access the worlds.  The information needs to be presented to the technical teams.  We may hold off on exploring until all three governments are on board but we need the equipment ready as soon as possible.  John and his father will brief Prime Minister Blake tomorrow afternoon.  The three governments will want to keep the adjacent worlds secret, but there is no reason that we shouldn’t have the equipment ready.  It will take some time to co-ordinate exploration.”

Mary looked overwhelmed.

Jess’s smile was only a slight upturn far from his usual smile.  “You helped me set the first one up and have done most of the testing.  Jamie is going to go crazy when he finds out that the project was a little more than advanced uses of the AJPG power controller.”

“Yes, Professor Lawson was wondering why I hadn’t submitted a report.  He thought that you were adding features in the controller and was eager to find out what your toy would do.  He is going to be very surprised.”  Mary relaxed as she considers the reaction that a report on the use of the controller for generating a window would have.

“Alyca, I want you to develop the damping circuit for the variation in the window size.  Also you need to provide S-I the requirements for a guard ring that will keep anyone and anything from being cut by the variation.”  Jess said to his niece.

“I will need to operate a window to get both of those right.  The basic design will be similar to the ATV controller but the feedback will be faster.  I will have to wait for the government scientists to set up and then I will have to get their OK.”  Alyca replied.

“We can revisit the first two worlds this afternoon.  The third world is out until we can set up some safety features.  The fourth new world is a complete unknown.  We will leave that world to the government scientists.  The two worlds will give you and Mary some operating experience.  You will be the equipment expert for the scientists, but refer all mathematics questions to Marie.”

“Can do.  Electric and mechanical only.”

“Leslie, contact your pilot and set up an early departure tomorrow.”  Jess paused.  He looked at the ground.  With a visible effort he spoke.  “I want to see my new granddaughter as early as possible.  Will, contact TDI and let them know that you will be stopping by to discuss revised designs.  Marie we need to have five copies of the four pair of settings.  Copies for the PM, S-I, TDI, MME, and myself.  You will keep the original information and your mother’s notes.”

Marie understood what was driving her father.  He had to complete his wife’s life work.  She also felt the need to do this for her.  And for him.  She looked to the twins and Alyca.  “We need to get moving.  I will get the paperwork together.  Alyca and Mary check out the equipment and start on the repairs.  Brenda get the samples cut from the fish in the refrigerator.  Wrap them for transport and freeze them.  Then do a preliminary investigation of the fish and write up a report.  There is a Polaroid camera in mom’s office.  Take two sets of picture.  Use a separate load of film for each so that they can’t tell that there were two sets of photos.  After you are done, join us in the workshop.”

Brenda sighed.  “I was wondering if there was something that a pre-med graduate could do.”

The young women went off to their tasks.

Will asked.  “How many of these worlds do you want to explore right off.  I was planning for two teams with one in reserve for emergencies.”

“We expect most of the world to be like Earth.  Say two-thirds water.  You will be doing well if you have land at two worlds at your initial site.  Start at a location that is above sea level, but have the ability to move up and down depending on what the land level is in your location.  We expect that sea level is close across the worlds but that is close on a planetary scale.  I will modify the program and the hardware so that the window flashes open for from a tenth of a second to a couple of seconds and the computer will have a synch signal for a camera.  You will be able to open a window real fast and check what is there.  I suggest a remote operation.  You could hit a volcano’s molten rock.  The pressure and temperature will be extreme so even a fast window may let some lava in.  I guess we will have to open windows outside until we figure out some safer way to do it.  Starting at a high level and looking around may be a good idea.”  Jess explained

“Yes, I see the problem.  We should start at the highest altitude we have and figure out how things lie.  Mount Stuart is right behind MME.  It is 600 meters high.”  Will said.

Robert added.  “We could go down on one of the other worlds and open up a window back into one of the ore veins that Uncle Donald always complains that are too deep to mine.”

Leslie has a more practical problem in mind.  “You could open a window and pump the water out of the deep mine instead of pumping it to the surface.”

Jess commented.  “We know you have to be careful with water through a window, but there is no reason that a window can’t be waterproof.  I would suggest a small window set horizontal at a lower level and just let the water pour out.  This idea brain storming is nice but we need to get things square here before I can leave tomorrow.”

“S-I has been designing an RCV aircraft with an electric motor powered by an AJPG.  It was designed to fit through the largest window that we are building.  It has a camera that transmits back to the operator and it can be set to circle and record if the control signal is lost.”  John commented.

Jess laughed.  “I was talking to Alice about having to design one of those to send through the windows.  Can you have your dad send someone up with a set of plans this afternoon?  I would like to see if there is anything that I can add to the design.  We can include that in the package for TDI and MME.”

Marie yelled, “Company” before she leads Inspector Paul Hayes and Sgt. Jim Macpherson into the room.  Will and Paul hugged.  Paul had served with Will in the SAS.  John nodded before heading into another room.

Jess asked them to sit down and offered sandwiches and drinks.  Will passed the plate of sandwiches while Leslie got the drinks.

After he had taken a bite of his sandwich, the Inspector looked Jess in the eye.  “Ok, Jess what are you hiding?  I know it’s an accident but you are hiding up here and I feel that Jim and Ned weren’t telling me everything,”

Jim looked worried.

Paul smiled.  “Jim, I trust all of you.  Even the politician, who ran into the backroom.”

John laughed as he reenters the room.  “Thanks, I think.”

Jess shook his head.  “I planned to tell you after you made your report.  I need to keep what we were doing out of the papers.  If it got out too soon, we might have a lot of other deaths.”

John joined in.  “Also, I think the government will want to put a lid on this.  I have a meeting tomorrow afternoon with the PM where I am going to fill him in on things.  You should see a lot of action around here tomorrow evening.”

Jess sighed and looked at the Inspector.  “I would like to ask a favor.  Can you post a couple of men around so as to discourage anyone from looking into what happened?”

“I could do it but that might just encourage them.”  Paul replied.

“I think that with the station across the street and Constable Ewing’s house behind us you can monitor the house with little notice.  I’ll pay for the extra time.”  Jess offered.

“I shouldn’t have to worry about the cost if the PM has people in here tomorrow night.”  Paul paused for a second as he thinks about what would be needed.  He would send Ewing home early with instructions to keep an eye on the house all night.  Tomorrow, he and Jim could take turns coming across to visit.  “Let me have a key.  Jim and I will come over and check things out during the day.”  John handed him his key to the house.  “So what happened?”

Jess relaxed.  He could go and see Kim without worrying about the house.  “Do you remember when Alice was in the papers for days with her adjacent world theory?”

Paul face turned angry.  “I remember a lot of insults to Dame Alice.”

<The Scotsman, July 22, 1997 – Douglas Richards>
Local reaction to the negative reception that Dame Professor Alice Maclaren’s presentation of her paper on Adjacent World Theory has been uniformly hostile.  “Dame Alice has been named the best mathematician since Einstein.  How can they talk about her like they have?”  Mary McDougal, asked me when she served me lunch at a local pub yesterday.  I asked her if she had read Dame Alice’s paper.  She laughed.  “I read your reports so I can understand anything scientific.  Dame Alice has been so successful and she is always so helpful.  How can anyone treat her like they did?”

I agree.  The reaction that Dame Alice’s presentation evoked among the attendees at the conference is something that I have never heard of before especially someone with a record like Dame Alice.  …

Jess remembered the local outcry at the way that Alice had been treated.  “We planned it so that she wouldn’t be believed but hadn’t expected how nasty it would get.  We wanted to get the equations out to the world at large so no one could monopolize them.”

Paul realized that they had planned for the disbelief to hide the truth.  “Do you mean her death has something to do with another world?”  He is stunned by this turn of events.

“Yes, we opened a window to another world, but it was at the bottom of a lake.  The water spilling in electrocuted Alice.”  The event of Alice’s death was brought back to Jess.  He looks down and inhales deeply.  Marie took her father’s hand.

“I see why you don’t want to have it connected with her death.”  Paul expected a revival of the attacks on Alice.

Jess shook his head.  “No, we are afraid of others setting up windows to the other world and letting something worse in.”

“Plague!  Invasion!”  Paul’s words echoed the plot of most science fiction invasion stories.

Jess shook his head again and looked at Paul.  The memory had receded.  He needed to continue what Alice and he had started.  “No, Alice’s theory has a part that reduces the worry about virus and other biological problems.  That is one of the reasons that I need to go see Kim right away.  She has a video that may confirm that.  As for invasions of larger life forms, if they had a way to get here they would have already come.  But we need to be caution there also in terms of our invading them.”

As he got into his explanation, the shadow of the event loses its hold on him.  “The two problems I see right now are water and lava.  Imagine what lava under pressure might have done to the neighborhood.  Neither Alice nor I thought about opening a window at the bottom of a lake.  There may be other things to worry about.  I think that we need to be more cautious.  That is a typical function of government so I guess they should take over.  But they won’t have a monopoly on it for long.  I expect in two to five years that we will have windows to this other world opening up all over.  In garages, basements, universities.  A simple set up is all that is needed.”

John broke in.  “What is this that Kim came up with?  I will need to tell the PM about it too or he will have our heads.”

Will was initially surprised at John’s question, and then he realized that John’s question would make Paul think that Jess hasn’t discussed it all with us.  It was a smart move by John.

Jess explained.  “Simply that Kim saw a virus pop into view on her microscope when she was making an observation.  She has it all on tape.  She played it over and over again but couldn’t make heads or tails of it.  So, she called her mother.  Alice didn’t have any idea about it at the time, but she found that her equations would allow for spontaneous micro-windows between worlds.  That could mean that we would be getting repeated mixing of virus and bacteria between worlds.”

Marie smiled.  “Yes they would.  This moves things closer to my specialty.”  The discussion had awoken some ideas that Marie had been having.  She saw possibilities for a bunch of other ideas.  Mom may be right.  I may get a chance to match her.  “I think mom may have had other clear visions.”

Jess and Marie looked at each other and smiled.  The others were baffled by their smiles.

John looked to his wife.  “Anything to tell?”

Marie smiled at him, “No.  Like mom, I like to have all the equations neatly down so I can show off to my husband.”

Jess and John laughed and the others joined in.

“Paul, can you cover things here until the PM can have men down to take over.”  Jess asked.

Paul realized that something big was going on here and that it would be a while until he learned more.  “Yes.  What are you going to be doing?”

Jess smiled.  “I’m going to the states to see my newest granddaughter and to tell Kim about her mother’s death.”

John stood up.  “Inspector, sergeant, let us go down and talk to the reporters and leave the grieving husband and daughter to hatch their plans.  I think there is more that government officials shouldn’t hear.”

The police officers and John went down to the street where a pair of constables was keeping five reporters back from the house.  The story hadn’t yet caught the attention of any of the television news services or the news wires.  John knew that wouldn’t be the story tomorrow unless he could buy some more time.

John smiled.  He was used to dealing with the press.  “Gentlemen and lady, I’ve come down to answer some of your questions.”

“Which ones would those be, MP Lawrence.” asked one of the reporters.

Ok, John thought.  Let us give them ninety-nine percent of it.  “Ones dealing with the untimely death of my mother-in-law, Dame Alice Farwell Maclaren.  Let me outline the matter, as I understand it.  Dame Alice was helping her husband Jessie Maclaren with one of his new gadgets.  A flood of water washed over her when she was working at a computer, causing her to be electrocuted.  Her husband turned off the power.  He found that she wasn’t breathing and set off the house alarm.  He then started CPR.  When Sergeant Jim McPherson (he nodded to Jim) arrived, Jim called for an ambulance.  He then helped Jess in trying to revive Dame Alice.  The medics’ attempts to use a defibrillator to revive Dame Alice were also unsuccessful.  My wife was called about her mother’s death and I brought her here.

“Where did the water come from?” the female report asked.

“There is a fire sprinkler above the computer.”  John replied.

“What was the gadget that Jess was working on?”  Doug Richards, a senior reporter with The Scotsman asks.  John had met him a number of times here at the house.  Jess and he had been friends for years.

With a smile on his face, John replied.  “Something secret that would allow Jess to abandon all the hard work he puts in at the shop.”  John saw that Doug realized that there was more of a story.  Doug nodded to him.  Good, he would give us time.  Doug will be the one that will break the story for us.

There was laughter from the reporters and then the four police officers.  They all knew of Jess’s many patents that had made the family fortune.  Also the fact that Jess was always available to help the neighbors or develop devices to assistance the handicap for which he took no money.  They knew that he did a lot of odd gadgets that caught his fancy.  As to secrets, the reporters knew that when they needed to have something to fill some space in their papers, they could drop in and Jesse would describe something that he had done that would interest the readers.  He never went to them with his gadgets but he would talk their ear off if they came over.

“When will we be able to talk to Jess?” the female reporter asked.

“Dame Alice’s death has been a blow to him and Marie.  They aren’t ready to face the press.  I would expect that one of them would be able to answer questions tomorrow or the next day, but that just would be background information for the weeklies.  I am sure that you would rather have more information about my latest initiatives in Parliament.”  John thought now to divert their attention.

“Thanks MP Lawrence, but save it for the political reporters.”  Doug Richards said.  He knew John was trying to cut the interview off.

John continued, “I could bring the matter of hazardous conditions of mixing water and electricity to the PM’s attention.  He could send some scientist down to investigate.  That would give you a big story.”

“Thanks but we don’t need you making a big story out of this for our sake and your voter rating.”  The female reported said as she turned away.

“John, I think we will do you a favor and wrap this up today.”  Doug Richards turned to the reporter next to him and started talking about another story.

The reporters left.

Paul smiled as the reporters drove away.  “You got rid of them nicely, but don’t you think that was laying it on a little heavy.  It could cost you some votes.”

“No, by the time this comes out my polls will be the least thing that we will worry about.”  John was thinking of what would be needed to coordinate the exploration now that the governments would be involved.  “I told them the truth and they left of their own accord.  If some scientists are seen here tomorrow, they will write it off as politics.”

Jim said.  “They would have wondered if we tried to close them out, but since they did it themselves they left much faster.”

“Keep me informed.”  Paul said before he led his men across the street to the station.

“I will.”  John entered the workshop.


While the press interview was going on outside, everyone but Brenda, was in the workshop.  Marie read her mother’s notebook.  Jess and Alyca fixed the equipment.  He kept an eye on Mary while she explained the setup to her parents and brother.  Teaching was the best way to learn in a hurry and Mary would have to be ready to explain window generation in both in Texas and Australia.

“Won’t there be other people there.”  Leslie asked her daughter.

“No reason why not, we got what looks like a fish that Brenda is dissecting upstairs.”  Robert comments.

Mary shook her head, “We talked about that while we were working on the equipment.  Our conclusion was that we would have to have common ancestors for man to be on the other worlds.  Jess and I thought these worlds would be strange to us but Aunt Alice said that they would be ready for us to move in.”

Jess interjected, “Alice had dreams about the other worlds.  All of us living there and putting down roots.  She said that we would have a house across several worlds.  She saw herself there with us.  I have lived with her visions for over thirty years and never has she been wrong in the main details.  Several times they had her with us but she admitted it was strange because she saw herself as a young girl.”

“So she has moved on!”  A voice from the door said.

Two women had entered the shop while the discussion was going on.  John had been a step or two behind them.  Only Will and Robert had seen them enter.  Robert had looked to his father on what to do but when he seen the smile on his father’s face, he relaxed.

“Grandmother!” cried Marie.  She jumped up and hugged the woman who had just spoken.

Jess looked at his mother-in-law and said, “What do you mean, Edna?”

Edna turned towards Jess, “My grandmother Alice passed on the day my daughter Alice was born.  Has Kim given birth?”

“Yes” said a shocked Jess.

“So Alice to Alice does the soul goes again in the family.” said Edna as she collapsed into a chair.  Her daughter Marge looked concerned.  She checked her mother’s pulse.  Brenda had entered the room.

Edna shook her hand free.  She turned to Marge.  “You felt her go just as I am sure that Marie and Kim did.  Well Kim probably got the double hit just as I did when my Alice was born.  Feeling one die but the spirit reborn within your child is something you do not forget.”

Marie had a confused look on her face.  “But I knew the feel of my children before they were born.”

“Aye, I did too with your mother, your aunt, your uncle, and the one I lost.  It is not the same feel as later when they have grown to control their body.  Before she was born, your mother had a feel like my grandmother.  Then after the birth, it was more so.  As she grew with the body she changed but was very much the same.”

“So Alice is my new granddaughter?”  John held Jess as the impact of what was said breaks the steadiness that he has shown since the death of his wife.  Now, I understand why I still felt her but that she was far away.

“Yes, as much as the soul is the person.”  Edna answered.  “I have given it much thought while reading and seeking advice all these years.  At first, I thought I was mistaken, but with the rest of my children, there wasn’t that clarity that Alice had from birth.  I don’t know why this one soul stays with our family, but I have never doubted the goodness that I found in her.  She and I taught each other as she grew up.”

“That is a lot to absorb.”  Will said as he looked at his wife and children.

Now is not the time to tell them what we saw in those two.  Edna thought as she looked from Jess to Will.

“Jess, I came here to ask you if I could go with you in Alice’s place.  I need to talk to Kim about this.”  Edna asked.

Jess looked at Will.  Who glanced at Leslie.  They reached an agreement without words as they often did.  Leslie turned to Edna “We would be glad to have you with us.  Jess is flying over with us on the company plane.  We have room for you and one or two others.”  She looked at Marie and Marge but they shook their heads no.

Marge looked at Jess.  “Jess, I know you have been hit with a lot, but this may be good and bad.  Alice came to see me a few months ago.  She asked me to have a scan run of her head.  We found a tumor, but it was inoperable.  It would have killed her in the next few months.  She swore me to secrecy from everyone.  Including you mother.”

Edna looked at her daughter, “I knew something was wrong and you two were hiding it.”

“Then this was a better death for Aunt Alice.”  Brenda said with a sigh.  As a pre-med student, she had seen the slow death from brain cancer.”

“Yes” Marge quietly replied.

Marie had gone over to her father.  They embraced.  John started to lead them to the living area, but Jess then Marie shook their heads.  “No, there is too much to do.  These worlds were too important to Alice.  Let us get things going so that she can explore them in a few years.”

“Explore new worlds?  I knew you were working on the equipment to open the windows to them, but to actually go there and explore.”  Edna looked surprised.

“We have been planning to both explore and colonize.  We kept it to those we needed to make the preparations.  Alice and I had planned to tell you and the rest of the family that wasn’t working on the project when we got back from seeing Kim.”

“Well you kept the secret.  I had no idea.”  Edna seemed a little upset.

Mary restarted her discussion with Edna and Marge included while the others went back to their work.

Within a half hour relatives and friends were stopping by to offer their condolences.  Edna and Marge took over greeting them.  They let them know that Jess and Marie were not seeing anyone and that Jess was going to see Kim to let her know about her mother and to see the new granddaughter.

Just after noon, there were visitors from whom they could not hide.  Douglas and Mary Alice Maclaren, Jess’s parents, along with Robert and Mary Brenda Maclaren, Will’s parents, had come to see Jess.  Identical twins that married identical twins.  For the last fifty plus years, they had done everything together including share the same house.  They had run the family auto dealership.  Jess’s parents had handled the repair shop and Will’s parents had handled sales.  The years had not been as kind to them as they had to Edna.  Mary Alice was blind, Douglas was slightly paralyzed on his left side from a stroke, Robert had an artificial leg, and Mary Brenda used a walker.  All used custom handicap equipment designed by Jess.  The auto dealership had branched into building equipment based on Jess’s designs and patents.  Maclaren Enterprises, which was now run by Jess’s brother Jim and his sons, was a fast growing private business.  Jim and his oldest daughter Laura had brought them by.

Alyca went over and hugged her father and sister.

Mary Alice was the first to speak.  “We talked to John Jr., Larry and Ian about Alice’s death.”

Her sister had walked over to John.  “The two of you need to make sure Blake doesn’t try to cut us out.”

Douglas hugged his son with his one good arm.  “Boy, how are you doing?”

The elder Robert Maclaren looked at his wife and sister-in-law.  “MB!  MA!  Hush with the business.”

The two sisters blush.  Mary Alice went to Marie and hugged her.  “We will miss you mother.  She and Jess were one.  Her wisdom and guidance had helped the family in things both big and small.”

Edna looked a little upset.  “They knew and I didn’t!”

Will laughed.  He put his arm around Edna.  “Who do you think we picked to co-ordinate everything?  They had the free time.  Who would expect four seniors in a senior home of running a world-wide plot to explore other worlds.  You know how closely they follow what each other are thinking.  They have been looking for something to do since Jim took over.”

“Well I could have helped.”  Edna saw the logic but she had been still upset.

“Edna, Alice and I were saving you to give an unbiased review of our plans once the windows were proved.  We felt that we were too close to the day to day work and that we needed someone with a fresh view.”  He turned to his parents.  “Go and give her a full run down of the plans.  Leslie, you should cover anything new.  Keep notes of any ideas or problems that come up.”  The six of them headed to the living area.  Marge followed behind to answer the door when family and friends stopped by.


The work in the shop continued.  By early afternoon, they had the window generator modified and operational.  Everyone was in the shop.

Mary was at the control computer.  It had been moved off to the side, with longer cables connecting it to the equipment.  There was a cleared space in front of the window construct, which had been raised a couple of feet off of the workbench.  Nothing but a video camera on a tripod would be in the way if anything unexpected came through.  Jess was on the other side with a box with switches connected via a long cable to the equipment.

”OK, let me go over what we are going to do.  Mary will enter the settings for world 2.  I will press down on the dead man’s switch that will allow the window to be powered when Mary executes the settings.  After Mary executes the settings, the window will open for a half second, then close.  I will let go of the switch when I see the window as a safety backup.  The camera is synched to the window opening.  It will grab a few video frames.  We will stop and review them as well as what everyone saw.  We will evaluate for dangers and then increase the window time.  Once we get to one minute, we will switch to continual operation.  We will observe the other world.  We won’t reach into the window, as I will still be using the dead man’s switch.  We will stick a camera on a pole through and see what is behind the windows view.  Will and Leslie will have guns ready.  The rest of you just keep out of their way.  We will all report of what we observed.”  Jess looked around to see if they all understood.  Everyone but the elders and Marge had a gun.

“Why not just turn the window around to see what is in the other directions?” asked young Robert.

Jess, Marie, Alyca, and Mary looked at one and other.  Why hadn’t they thought of that?

“That is a good idea.  One that none of us working on the window equipment had thought of.  Alyca, we need to incorporate that into the new window constructs design.”  Jess smiled at Robert.  Robert has a good head on his shoulders.  I wonder if he has made up his mind about what he wants to study at university.

Alyca  responded.  “I am thinking a big turntable with the equipment behind the window.  The operator can use the cameras to observe the other world.”

“What is on the backside of the window?”  Marge asked.  Again, Jess, Marie, Alyca, and Mary looked at one and other.  They realized that there was still a lot to think about.

Marie answered.  “Mom and I never thought to look at the equations for that interface.  In looking at the video, I saw nothing coming out of that side of the construct.”  She stared off into space as she considers the problem.

“No water came out from world four when your mother was killed.  All the water was on one side.  That is what made the sprinkler such a poor excuse.”  Jess said.  “I will add another camera to cover that side.  Alyca, take Will’s position and have your gun ready.  Will, I would like you to move to the rear of the window but off to the side.  Let us clear in front of the window and back off the opposite side in case he has to shoot through the window.  We will stop after the first one and see if we need to cover that side.”

Jess and Alyca set up the extra camera.

Jess was ready to go, but Marie was still staring off into space.  John placed his hand on her shoulder and she returned to the activity around her.  “The back side doesn’t open up on to the planet.  I think we need to add at least one more dimension of control.  If I understand the controller right, you didn’t include a spare axis control?”

Jess laughed.  “No, it has just the ones that you and your mother said that we needed.  It will take a redesign of the IC to add that.  Let’s get this side squared away first then we can work on the changes.  I know that you will be working on the equations but that has a lower priority.”

“OK, I think that the backside doesn’t open into anything.  I’m not sure what we will see back there.  I think that that interface is non-functioning.”

“Then the plan is the same with the exception of Will behind the window and everyone else out of his line of fire.”

“And I am out of your line of fire.”  Will looked at Leslie and Alyca.  They nodded agreement.

“Mary, enter the settings for world 2.”  Jess directed.  She nodded when she had them entered.  “I am pressing the deadman’s switch.”  Jess pressed the switch.  All eyes were on the window construct.  “Mary, energize.”  When she did, the window blinked open and closed faster than Jess could release the switch.

There were a few cheers.  The elder Robert described what he saw to his wife.  The younger Robert had a puzzled look on his face.

Over the next hour, they continued experimenting with the window to world 2.  They were wrapping up their observances of the experiment, when Jess asked.  “Anyone have anything further to add.”

“I do.”  Young Robert’s had had a distracted look whenever the window was closed.

“Something has been bothering you.  Go ahead and speak up.”  His mother told him.

“I can sense the other side if I focus.”  He told them.

There was silence for a minute.  Brenda broke the silence.  “Yes, I think I can sense it also.  I sensed the window opening and closing.  If I focus on that sensation I can tell that the sun, ah star, is setting.”

After opening and closing the window to world 2 a few, more times everyone but the five grandparents and Marge could sense the other world.  They could sense the window opening and closing but couldn’t focus to sense the other world.

They switched the window generator settings to world 3.  Robert was able to sense the other world after the first opening.  The others that could sense world 2 took two to seven openings before they could sense world 3.  The grandparents again couldn’t sense world 3.

The two feet that the construct was raised, made the top six inches of the window above ground in world 3.  They took some plants and some bug size animals as samples.  There was one that looked like an insect and there were a couple of worms but they left the identification to those more qualified.  Marge had taken air samples from both worlds.  Her specialty was immunology, the study of the immune system.  She would study these to see what they would face in the way of allergenic reactions.  There were also a few stones.  These and the other samples would be saved until they had specialists that were cleared to investigate them.

Jess started to shut off the equipment.

“Hold up, Jess.”  Edna said.  Jess looked at her.  “You said that Alice had to adjust the setting from what she had originally calculated.  That the settings were close but that the window construct hadn’t matched to the other worlds.”


“What if we used settings for world 4, that were slightly off?  Turn it on and see if Robert can match the right settings with his sensing.  She looks at Robert, who was considering the suggestion.”

“Yes, we can set it off just enough that it won’t open.  We had moderate readings for the axii with the first try before Alice adjusted.”  Jess turned to Robert.  “Want to give it a try?”

Robert found himself the center of attention.  “OK.”

Marie and Jess took Alice’s notebook and reviewed the settings that she had originally selected and the later ones.  They decided first to try settings that are a little off for world 3 to see how Robert interprets them.  When they tried those settings, he was able to tell that it was almost set to world 3.  They repeated with world 2.  Again, Robert knew that it is almost set to world 2.  For both worlds, they adjusted the settings to see how close the settings need to be for Robert to sense something.  The range was just a little larger than Alice’s errors for the original settings.

For world 4, they went into the same safety and security precautions as they started with for worlds 2 and 3.  Robert was able to sense the world when they got up to an on time of about a minute.  He could sense water in all directions, but there was a shore about 20 feet behind the shop.  Also, the surface of the lake was less than a meter above the window top.  After a few more tries, first Alyca then Brenda and Mary were also able to sense this world.

Jess decided to check out world 5.

Robert was able to sense that world when the window construct was on for about 45 seconds.  “Turn it off.”  He looked a little stunned.  “Uncle Jess, it is a good thing that you and Aunt Alice didn’t try world 5.  This location is in the middle of molten rock on that world.  I wouldn’t have recognized it but for the trip to New Zealand where we visited a volcano.  This volcano is a big one and the lava is flowing.”

“Yes, it is a good thing that we didn’t try for that world.”  Jess slumped in his chair.

“Dad, in mom’s notes a few pages earlier from last week the order of the worlds was different.  World 5 was the second set and world 3 was the fourth.  She had some doodles in the margin with some symbols by each set of numbers.”

Jess looked at the page that Marie indicated.  “Yes, she switched the order.”  He passed the notebook around.

When Edna recognized the symbols, she went white.  Marge steadied her mother.

After a little while, Edna was able to speak.  “She knew.”

“Knew what?”  John asked.

“Those are the symbols for earth, air, fire, and water.  She knew that she would find open air on world 2, earth on world 3, water on world 4, and fire on world 5.”

There was quiet for over a minute.  Marie had taken the notebook back and studied the page.

“She committed suicide.”  Leslie finally stated what everyone was thinking.

This time the silence lasted longer.

“Alice knew she was dying.  She must have known that her soul would transfer to Kim’s daughter.  She timed it so that it would happen.  I don’t think suicide is the right word.”  Marge said.

“I don’t think we have a word for what she did or what happened.  If all souls move on, suicide may not be what we think it is.”  Mary Beth commented.

Marie walked over to her father.  “Dad, look at the doodling that she did.  See the way that the symbols are part of the doodle.  She was thinking about something when she did the doodles but I don’t think she consciously identified what you would find.  I think it was her unconscious mind that identified the worlds.  That is in line with her dreams.”

Jess took the notebook and studies the page.  “I agree.  I could feel the surprise she felt when the water washed over her.  It isn’t the reaction of someone that knew what to expect.”

“Whatever happened, I expect that we will have to wait until Alice is old enough to answer some questions.  I don’t know how old she will have to be so as not to traumatize her.”  Will said.

“A lot younger than you would expect, if she is a strong as my daughter was.”  Edna was glad that Alice had not consciously known what to expect.

“Let’s continue with world 5.  I want to learn how to sense that world.”  Alyca requested.

They continued with world 5.  They were quiet and slower than they have been.  Their minds were on the implications of what they have learned.  Again, Alyca, Mary, and Brenda were able to sense world 5 after a few more cycles of turning the window on and off.  After a couple of additional cycles, Marie, John, and Jess reported that, they were also able to sense this world.  They went back to the near settings for world 4, and now those three were able to sense it also.

“I think that is all we can do.  John, don’t include the ability to sense these worlds in you briefing to PM Blake.  I think we should keep this in the family.”  Jess was concerned with the family’s safety.

“I agree.  I don’t know how I would have reacted to the information if I weren’t here.  I think we should only consider telling those that react to a window opening.  It will be a good indicator of who can learn to sense another world.”  John answered.

“Let’s think about that for a while before even telling someone outside the family about this.  I think it will be hard to explain even if the person can sense the window.  We need to keep an eye out for people that may gain the ability because they may think that they are going crazy.”  Leslie suggested.  She looked at Brenda.  “Also, I think Brenda should stay in Texas for a while.”

Brenda looked at her mother.  There was a confused look on her face.

“Very good idea, dear.”  Will replied.  Brenda now looked at her father.  “We need someone to back her up.  Jess, what about going to TI and starting them on the addition of the other axis.”

“Yes, both of those are good ideas.”  Jess said.  Brenda now looked at him.

Brenda had known they were teasing her but she couldn’t take not knowing the reason that she wouldn’t be going home.  “Why am I staying in Texas?”  Brenda asked.

“You are the only one available.”  Marge answered.  “Marie and Alyca have to stay here.  Mary has to help them set up in Townsville.  Your brother is too young to stay there without Leslie or Will.  In addition, I expect that your father has something planned for him.  That leaves you and Jess as the only ones available that can sense the other worlds.”

“Oh!”  Was all that Brenda said.

“Well, I need to get home.  With an early flight to catch, I have some packing to do.”  Edna stood up.

Marge and Edna said their goodbyes and left.

“Do you need Brenda and Robert for what you need to do?”  Will asked his cousin.

“No, what do you have in mind?”  Jess answered.

“I thought to drive around a bit and see what they can sense of the other worlds.  Also, we will pick up some dinner.”

“Sue and Ned will be here around 5:30.  You know the Chinese restaurant back towards town.”  Will shook his head yes.  “I will call and have pickup ready at 5:30.  Is that enough time for what you had planned?”  Marie asked.

“Yes, that will give us enough time to cover some territory.  Do you have a couple of notebooks so that they can write down what they sense of the other worlds?”

Jess opened a file cabinet and handed them notebooks.  This would be the first mapping of the other worlds.

John left a little while later.  He had a long drive to Carlisle then kids to take care of and a talk with the PM to prepare for.

Later that evening, the family was gathering in the parlor.  Marie was the last to enter.
“I briefed Sue and Ned on our plans to explore the world where that lake is.  They were excited to get to explore it.  It made keeping the secret of the other worlds easier to bare.”

Jess understood the concern of his daughter in lying by omission to her best friend.  The government would want to keep things secret, but Sue and Ned had seen the aftermath of the accident in the workshop and had learned about the window to another world.  When they had reached an agreement with the government, Marie would tell her friends about the other worlds.

“They will learn more soon but we will be following the governments lead in a lot of this.  We need to show that we are concerned about security.  John has the two data packages and the samples.  The government and S-I will start working on them tomorrow.  Marie, Jim will drive you home tomorrow.  You should take all your mothers notes with you.  Alyca will follow you and he can drive home after he drops you and your car off.”

“Uncle Jim doesn’t need to see me home.”  Marie replied.

“Yes he does.  That information is important but you are even more important.  You have a lot of work to do so that you can meet your mother’s expectations.”

Robert looked puzzled.  “What is Marie going to be working on?”

“The data for the four worlds will help to clarify some of the possibilities that mom and I saw in the equations.  Like I said earlier, I want to have everything in order before I tell even John.”

“Jim, can you get one of your boys to drive Alyca down to Carlisle?  I think that Marie and Alyca should do some mapping on the way down.”  Will asked.

“I can map while I drive.  I have a recording system that I use to take notes while I am driving.  I wrote some of my papers that way.  There is also a GPS unit that feeds into the same computer.  It can note the location on the recording.  I do that when I map out rally race courses.”  Alyca interjected.

“I’ll get Doug to drive down to bring me home.  I think that you will want to keep your car with you.  I know I don’t want to drive it.”  Jim told his daughter.

“Daddy, it’s safe.”

“For you it is, but I don’t have your reflexes and it’s too tempting to let it fly.”

Everyone laughed.

Will turned to Alyca.  “If you don’t have documents on how you set up your recording and GPS systems in your car, can you get together the information?  We could use it for mapping the worlds.”

Jess laughed.  “She documents everything.  She has twenty-seven patents already.  She is aiming to beat my count.”

“Twenty-nine.  I got the letters last week.  It isn’t that I want to beat your count.  It’s the money.  You need money to build things and I have a lot of projects in mind.”

“If you are willing to have investors, I can get you financing and you can hire someone to handle the patents.  Most creative types would rather skip that portion of the business.  I tried to get Jess to do it but he never would.”  Leslie said.
“I always had enough money to do what we wanted to do.  Plus, I was set in my ways.  Alyca, I agree with Leslie that you should go that route, but get a good lawyer before you sign anything with her.”

Leslie gave Jess a dirty look.

“We almost cured her of taking advantage of people when she finances start-up companies.  After the last suicide where her “partner” left the five kids and a wife, she almost realized the problem.”  Will related.

Leslie reached over and swatted the back of her husband’s head.  “It was only four kids.  And he committed suicide when we turned him down for financing.”

Everyone laughed because they all knew that they were joking.  Pot of Gold Investments was one of the biggest and luckiest venture capital companies in the world.

Chapter 4


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