My parents discussed it with us, and they decided to let Jenny and her friend, Gillian, come with us in our car instead of waiting till Christmas. Some of their teachers weren’t thrilled, but my father could be persuasive, it was a small town, and some vague rumor of my difficulties had reached everyone, so the last barriers were soon down.
“Thanks for inviting me,” Gillian said, “How long will the trip take?”
“Two days,” Caleb said. “And we will be staying in a hotel the first night we are there, too.”
“Oh, cool,” she said, and the two girls fell to giggling.
“This is soooo, wonderful,” leaning over on my husband. My wonderful husband. We drove out of town and over to the interstate. I looked at the clock. We had gotten an early start, with the girls staying overnight in the Jones’ spare room, and it was a minute to eight oclock, so I flippped on the radio for the news.
In a breaking news bulletin, it has been announced that the families detained as part of the investigation of the so called ‘time travel’ investigation are being released. The government is not making…
I missed the next part as the two girls in the back seat were too busy shrieking for me to hear,
“Quiet!” Caleb commanded, and his deep voice silenced them instantly.
They are being released over the next few days, and all are said to have signed agreements holding the government idemnified against any thing related to their incarceration. Our legal analyst, Judge Jackson, weighed in earlier on those agreements:
In one sense the agreements are not worth the paper they are written on. They were obviously signed under duress, and cannot possibily have been fully informed. And the actual victims of whatever this was are not being released, so each family has, in a sense, a hostage still held by the government. However, in another sense, as has been proved over and again recently; it is the government with the guns and the tanks, so they can and will enforce whatever they please.
Gillian started crying, “So they aren’t letting them all go?”
“No, not all of them,” Caleb said, “but some, and for that we can be thankful. Bobbi, call your folks and tell them. Perhaps they can get more info from Fox.”
“Mom, this is Bobbi. Fine, but Mom, you need to turn on Fox, right away. No, we haven’t been in an accident. Just turn on the news. I’ve got to go, Dad is calling.”
“Hey Dad. Yes, we heard. I called Mom. Call us if you hear anything more.”
“Well, they know at home,” I said. And it will be an hour before the next news.“
“See if you can find a talk radio station,” Caleb said, and I fiddled with the dial until I found some local guy. He didn’t know much more than we did, though, and the girls were getting bored.
“Let’s play scrabble,” I said, and the girls eagerly got out the travel kit.
“Wow,” I said, “I can make all seven!”
“This is why I hate playing with her,” Jenny said, passing me up the board and leaning over the seat the girls watched me put my word on. “I’m next,” she said, grabbing the board while Gillian wrote up my score. I listened to the radio,
Hostages! That’s the word for it, all right. Can you imagine the position those people are in? We will let you go, but you can’t tell anyone what happened here, or complain. What kind of country do we live in nowadays? What would Thomas Jefferson say about this? Tom in Smithville, you’re on.
“Well, Bill, I wonder just what is going on. What have they found out, and what are they going to do about it? Are they going to start changing the rest of us? Does anyone know?”
“Not me Tom, but we have a guest coming on the next hour from the physics department at the university…”
Your turn, Bobbi, Jenny said, and passed me the board back up. I saw they had added ‘STRANGE’ and ‘HELP’. I guessed that Gillian had added that latter, as Jenny was good at words. “Pass me the box with the letters,” I said, and drew,
“Well,at least she didn’t use all seven this time,” Jenny said when I passed it back.
Caleb turned down the radio, and put his hand on my leg, “Let’s listen again next hour,” he said, and I nodded. “Are you OK?” he asked, as I leaned up against him.
“As good as can be expected. It is great for the families, anyway. Or partially great. I can’t imagine what it must be like for them.”
“Here you go, Bobbi,” Gillian said…
So, for this hour we have professor Johnson from the Physics department. Welcome to KATS, proffessor. Have you been following this whole controversy, proffessor?
Well, Bill, I must say only partially. The original reports seemed extremly bizarre. I mean, the time travel idea was just bizarre. Even assuming, for the sake of arguement, that there is some way of influencing time, and I must say that I have never been very excited about that idea, how on Earth could they keep their original memories? It seemed to me much more likely that the time travel idea was a cover for something else.
And, besides that, Bill said, if you changed anything in time, then everything else would change, too, no?
Well, not quite. Certainly lots of things would, and more and more as time goes on. Especially things that could be easily influenced by the first thing. But it isn’t like if somebody sneezed then the Atlantic would empty or anything.
OK, so what do you think happened?
Well, my first thought was that it was a gigantic hoax. I work with college students, and they are fond of their pranks, you know.But that idea was rather blown away when they all got arrested. If they had been joking, I am sure they would have admitted it the second they or their family was arrested. So I was forced to think that something had indeed happened.
We listened for a couple of minutes, and then Caleb turned the radio off again. “He doesn’t know any more than I do. In fact he probably knows a lot less.”
“Say,” I said, “Anybody want a Coke? I have to pee.”
“That resteraunt was great, Uncle Caleb,” Gillian said. We had decided that she should call him that for the trip. Two weeks was a long time for him to be ‘Mr Jones’, and yet she needed to learn to obey us… her parents had made that clear.
“Well, great. Now we find a hotel.”
I found it totally bizarre to be checking into a hotel as ‘Mr and Mrs Jones’, and I let Caleb check us in, while I waited in the car with the girls. It had gotten too dark for Scrabble, so we were playing a word game out loud.
“OK, we’re in,” Caleb said, bouncing back down onto his seat. He seemed really excited. I guess he likde traveling and strange beds. I was looking to getting to ‘our’ home and ‘our’ bed, even if it would be new. “We have rooms 212 and 215.”
I looked at him, “Sorry, they didn’t have adjoining rooms. But girls, as soon as you have showered and gotten in your PJ’s, come over to our room.”
“OK Caleb,” Jenny said, and the two dragged their suitcases off to their room.
“That doesn’t give us much time,” I said, grinning at Caleb.
But I was already in the shower by the time I heard the girls pounding on the door, “Come on in, girls, and have a seat on the bed,” I heard Caleb say, and then, “Are you almost done?” He asked me, coming in the bathroom.
“Sure,” I said, stepping out and grabbing a towel.
“OK, girls,” he said, walking back in the other room, “I promised you a story. Now I got this series which you might have heard of, called ‘Island Peoples’…”
I dried off and dressed watching him read to the girls, who drank up the book. Probably more because he was reading it than anything about the book, which was pleasant enough, but no Tolkien or Lewis.
“Ok, now, right to bed, OK?” He said, when he had finished.
“OK, Caleb,” Jenny said, coming and kissing him, then kissing me. Gillian looked very awkward, but, with Caleb just looking at her, she came bashfully forward for a kiss,
“I guess since you’re ‘Uncle Caleb’ now,” she said, presenting her cheek to him, then quickly came over to me and kissed me enthusiastically.
When they had left, I looked at him. “That went really well,” I said. “they really seemed to like it.”
“Well, it’s a good book,” he said, getting up and getting undressed for the shower.
“No, silly, it was who read it that was important, not what you read. Now, hurry up.”