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Chapter Twenty Five

August 1, 2014

Yolo, California

My mouth goes dry. I have three thoughts (including subthoughts) that collide all at once.

(1) Nick doesn't know me and he's really just here for an episode of some stupid reality show where he investigates aliens and time travel and ghosts. Thus, this whole thing is just a cruel coincidence. Or the superiors set it up to purposely destroy any shred of sanity I have left.

(2) Our love has broken every rule we know about the universe and he knows me, yet doesn't, and is somehow figuring out the secret of how he knows me subconsciously. God himself is propelling this connection.

(3) Nick has found a way into my universe and he's here to take me back to him and Ben and our pretty awesome life which will include me NOT being a whore anymore.

I love the thought of option 3.

I'm unfortunately leaning more towards option 1.

"So is that a yes?"

I haven't said a word. I'm pretty sure the cameraman is thinking about just how much blank stare drooling the guys back at the station will have to cut.

"Time travel?" I finally say. A stupid, almost hysterical, giggle bursts from me.

"Is it really that funny?" He smiles. "I believe it's possible. I also can't believe that such a high tech lab would only be studying maps of planets. There's got to be more."

I struggle to pull myself together. I remind myself I have to pass this test before I am let loose from the confines of these walls. "It's my scientific opinion that time travel would, if it could happen, be extremely dangerous. Anything that someone would do that strays from the original course of history could have detrimental effects to the future. That's why we are limiting ourselves to the exploration of maps. Perhaps one day travel to a far distant planet will be possible."

"I'm pretty sure you explained why we shouldn't time travel," he gives me a full on grin. "Not that we couldn't. Has it been done?"

I'm sure the camera catches the sweat that slides from my hairline down my ear. "Have you experienced a detrimental effect of the future?"

He laughs. "Would I realize it if it happened?"

"You tell me."

"As someone who claimed he'd never get married, I think something must have happened to change my mind." He turns towards the camera. "I think we're getting somewhere."

My thoughts of option one grow stronger. The phrase 'pompous ass' crosses my mind.

"I can promise you that time travel in this dimension that we live in does not exist. Unfortunately, you're visiting the wrong lab to discuss the possibility of life on other planets or the probability of multi-dimensional plains. We're just two women who like to dream about big black holes."

It comes out before I can stop it. I say it so innocently but it's wrong, so, so wrong. Kal looks horrified and Nick....

Nick is on the ground clutching his stomach, elementary school boy giggles bursting from him.

"Cut," Mike commands. The cameraman's shoulders are shaking so hard I'm sure he wasn't getting a clear picture anyhow.

"You guys have clearance for only ten more minutes," Kal says over Nick. He slowly calms down, his face a blotchy, brilliant red. "Courtney can show you the testing center."

I fold my arms across my chest. I feel like hugging myself to death, squeezing my own ribs so I can escape. I want to be anywhere but here.

"Sorry," Nick apologizes, getting up. "That was just...hilarious."

"The testing c-center," I stammer.

I walk fast. Kal is still supervising. The room is quiet, the rats fast asleep. Across the room is a jumble of metal pieces and tools with ten syllable names that I can recite in my sleep.

This is the room where Josh and I first made the time travel devices. He had joked about his and her devices. Mine went in a compact. His went in a wallet. My breath catches when I realize a shattered wallet and compact are scattered on the table.

Both are beyond repair.

It is like the nail in the coffin. I know I won't be returning to Nick or that past life. Tears fill my eyes.

"What do you test in here?" Nick asks. Out of the corner of my eye, I see the red light of the camera flip back on.

"A lot of our research assists our friends at NASA," I lie. It is what 'they' have trained us to say should we be asked. "Our animals are not harmed, but they assist us in experiments with gravity and simple non evasive light tests."

"Light tests?"

"One theory is that light can manipulate time," I say softly. "That's where a lot of the time travel mumbo-jumbo comes from. In reality, it is more of a disorientation tool."

"Hunh." Nick is roaming the room, the cameraman close behind. He stops at the table. "What's all these pieces?"

I can't speak. How can I tell him what those pieces mean to me?"

"We were using the mirror from the compact for rudimentary work," Kal supplies. "I dropped it."

"Are scientists clumsy?"

Kal's smile is more grimace. "Not especially."

Nick's back is to me. I study the wide set of his shoulders. He slides his hands in his pockets and pauses.

"I think I dropped my keys when I was rolling around." He turns and looks at Kal. "Could you look? Since we don't have much time and all."

Kal looks like the last thing she wants to do is leave. "The agreement was that both of us had to be in the room--"

"You said Courtney was our escort. We'll just let her say a few more words about the improbability of time travel and we'll be done. We can't leave without those keys though."

Kal sighs. "I'll be right back."

"So Dr. Standiford, what, if anything, can you say to those fans of Back to the Future who still hold out hope that we'll one day get to go back to the Wild West?"

"Well, I would say--"

Nick's arm grabs mine before I can say another word. His voice is barely a whisper.

"I'd say your pal Professor Umbridge is going to give us only ten seconds. We've gotta go."


Nick kneels down, not letting go of my arm. He yanks down the heel of his sneaker and pulls out a compact.

The compact.

But it's not possible.

"Let's see if I can get this on the first try," he says breathlessly. "Guys, I promised you I'd make this worth it."

The cameraman and Mike look like they're going to pee their pants. I feel faint.

Option 3 is real. It is my Nick.

I'm going home.

We're going home.

I have no idea how he did it, but he did it.


"You move a hair and you're dead."

Nick's back is to Kal. She has snuck in through a seldom used door. In her hands is a gun the likes of which I've never seen.

My gut tells me Josh was the last person to see the barrel of Kal's gun.

And despite her promise, I am pretty sure we aren't going to make it out whether we move a hair or not.