PT1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 // PT 13 // PT 14 // PT 15 // PT 16 // PT 17 // PT 18 // PT 19 // PT 20 // PT 21 // PT 22 // PT 23 // PT 24 // PT 25 // PT 26 // PT 27 // PT 28 // PT 29 // PT 30 // PT 31 // PT 32 // PT 33 // PT 34 // PT 35 // PT 36 // PT 37 // PT 38 // PT 39 // PT 40 // PT 41 // PT 42 // PT 43 // PT 44 // PT 45 // PT 46 // PT 47 // PT 48 // PT 49 // PT 50 // PT 51 // PT 52 //

Sixteen

May 14, 2036, 4:31 p.m. 

14 Years, 202 Days Ago

Paul and Jordan sat talking in the school cafeteria. They’d just done the fourth successful test of the vacuum field. This time, they created the field without any casing. The blue orb formed and maintained its shape just like they hoped, but they didn’t have any idea how to connect one field to the other without running into the same problem they’d been trying to avoid. 

Paul listened to Jordan while he ate a bite of something that was either meatloaf of Salisbury steak. It was warm and filling regardless.

“Why don’t we try forming two fields to start?”

It was a good idea. “We can try that,” Paul replied after swallowing his food. Jordan shoved some food in his mouth while Paul continued. “Let’s do them close together in a large container. That way, if they connect on their own, we minimize risk.”

Jordan nodded. 

“I don’t really think they’ll just randomly connect. I feel like there is something that connects them that we haven’t figured out yet,” Paul said. “But when we test this next phase, we should test various patterns.”

“Like what?” Even with his mouth half full, Jordan could’t help but ask the question.

“We don’t know if the fields generate each other when you pick a destination or not. Do they have to be formed and then connected, or does the destination cause the second field to form?”

Jordan shrugged at Paul’s thoughts. 

“Hey?” 

The word drew Paul’s attention to a young woman who’d somehow managed to walk right up to his left side without him noticing. Then again, when Paul put his focus on anything, he tended to forget everything else. How long had she been standing there?

Even as he pondered the question, he realized he knew her.

“Oh! Hey, Lidia!”

She smiled at him. She had a pretty smile that accented a narrow face. “I think you forgot,” she said.

“Forgot what?” Then it hit him. “OH! Right! Um.” He was supposed to help her study for her test. “Why don’t you sit here?” He moved over to give her room to sit. “Do you have your notes on you? Maybe I can run grab my notes.”

“I have my notes.” She sat down, causing a long black strand of hair to tumble over her eye. “I was just hoping you’d sort of quiz me and tell me if I’m wrong.” 

“Yeah, we can do that,” Paul said.

“We?” Jordan asked. “I was, um, about to go.”

“You don’t have anywhere to be.” Paul said.

Jordan gave him a suffering look. “Can I talk to you over there for a minute?”

“Over there?” Paul asked. “What’s —“

“Just come here,” Jordan said. He sounded like Paul had left all the equipment out and left Jordan to put it away again. 

“We’ll be back,” Paul told Lidia. He still wasn’t sure why they were walking away in the moment.

They made it a few steps away, and Jordan stopped. 

“Why are you leading her on?” Jordan asked.

“What?” Paul replied. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Jordan rolled his eyes. “Listen, man. I know you have more experience than me, but isn’t it kind of obvious Lidia thought ‘help me study’ was code for ‘take me out?’”

Paul thought for a second. That couldn’t be right. “She brought her notes though. She just wants to study.”

Jordan rubbed his temples with a thumb and index finger. “She probably just wanted the excuse, especially since it looks like you stood her up.”

“I can’t stand someone up when it wasn’t a date,” Paul said.

“Did you say you’d meet her?”

“Yeah.”

“And you forgot.”

“Well, yeah.”

“Even if it wasn’t a date, you left her hanging, but I think she likes you,” Jordan said.

Paul looked at her. Slender and small, she seemed focused on her books. “Naw.” He drew out the word to accent his doubt. 

“Just because you don’t see how pretty she is doesn’t mean she’s not interested in you,” Jordan said.

“So you think she’s pretty,” Paul said. Ohhh!

“Anyone not named Paul who looks at her for five minutes would see she’s cute, but you’re avoiding her. She sits next to you in two classes and has sat with us for lunch more times than I can remember.”

“And never once asked me out.” Paul said.

“That time she talked about going to the game,” Jordan said. 

“She doesn’t even like basket ball.”

“The new movie that came out,” Jordan said.

“That was the night of Beta Test One.”

“And whenever she asked for help studying?”

“She has finals,” Paul’s voice went up an octave.”

… to be continued …

31 thoughts on “Visits From A Man Named Nobody 53

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