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Oct. 14, 2032, 2:31 p.m.
16 Years, 89 Days Ago
“Why are you so excited about this?” Jordan asked.
They were walking across the square at Carnegie from the lab to the cafeteria for some food. The sun was starting to hide behind some of the large, square buildings, proving that they skipped lunch.
“Because it means we’re close!” Paul said. There was no containing his excitement.
“Let me get this straight,” Jordan said. “We create a spatial vacuum. That pressure causes the water in the air to collect into a puddle, and that somehow means we’re close.”
“Yes,” Paul said confidently. Of course, he had seen that effect.
Each time Nobody had visited, there was always an inexplicable bit of water. Their experiments over the years had produced the same effect. Paul’s theory of teleportation involved creating a vacuum between where the person is and where he needed to be. That vacuum caused the very moisture in the air to condense.
“I’m glad one of us is excited,” Jordan muttered.
“Why wouldn’t I be?” Paul asked.
The cafeteria came into view, and they each increased their pace without saying anything. Paul’s stomach rumbled. Had they skipped breakfast?
“Paul, we created a true vacuum, which isn’t even anything new,” Jordan said. “We’ve been working for years, and all we’ve done is create a different shape of a vacuum tube.”
Paul snatched the handle of the cafeteria’s door and cocked an eyebrow at his friend. “You’re strangely sullen.”
“I’m just hungry,” Jordan said.
“Now I know you’re upset,” Paul said. “You lie about what you’re mad about, and I start wondering if it’s the end times.”
Jordan looked away in shame. “I just don’t know how we’re going to create a pocket vacuum that spans the planet without, well, destroying it.”
Ok, so that was an actual issue. Creating a vacuum between one area and another would make movement between the two much easier, but that vacuum would require the obliteration of everything in the vacuum.
“We’ll figure it out.” Paul followed his friend inside.
A data monitor on the wall drew Paul’s attention. Oh, Paul thought. So we skipped a few meals.
The screen showed the date as Oct. 14, 2032. They’d apparently worked through dinner last night. They’d also missed breakfast and lunch.
“And you’re strangely optimistic,” Jordan grumbled. “I just don’t get why you’re so excited by this when it looks so much like a dead end.”
They practically flew around the buffet line, snatching whatever they could get their hands on. Each time Paul saw a different piece of food, his stomach seemed to demand more and more.
“I told you where the idea came from right?” Paul whispered.
His friend and mother were the only two people who had any idea. They knew Paul had seen someone teleport, but they didn’t know anything else about Nobody. They certainly didn’t know how often and for how long the stranger had been visiting Paul.
Jordan nodded as he dumped half a tin of mixed vegetables onto his plate.
Paul took the other half. “Well, when I saw it … “ Paul emphasized the word it to ensure his friend knew what he was talking about. “ … there was a puddle.”
Jordan’s face screwed into a look of bewilderment. “But how? How did he travel from one end of the vacuum to the other without, well, destroying the planet?”
Paul shrugged. They made their way to the cashier to pay for their food. “What if we don’t create one vacuum?”
Jordan looked away long enough to pay for his food. “What good would that do?”
Paul stepped up in line and held out his PID. He passed his wrist over a scanner, and the device instantly connected the cafeteria’s account to Paul’s, transferring the necessary funds.
“What if the trick is creating two vacuums, one at location X and the other at location Y, and then connecting those two vacuums … somehow.” Paul was thinking out loud more than explaining anything.
… To be continued …