Back at the Time Institute, after dropping off the Triumvirate, Mike told his friends, “I can’t go back home right now. If I have to sit in class, I’ll go crazy. I can’t bear the thought of doing homework. I need some time to get over Dr. Newcomb.” The others agreed. “I want to stay here for a while too” Nick added. Patrick nodded to say he felt the same way. The girls agreed and said they couldn’t imagine doing any missions right now either. The six time travelers met with Rabbi Cohen. He said he would arrange for the Auckland’s crew to take time off from work. He reminded the boys they were a time crew and were always welcome to stay at the Time Institute, as long as they wanted.
The crews returned to the crew quarters and assembled in the girls’ apartment. They spent hours sitting silently. That afternoon Lenore announced, “Being in Durham keeps reminding me of Dr. Newcomb. Can we go somewhere else?”
“I agree,” Jen added. “I don’t want to think about anything. I want to go somewhere I can clear my mind. I want to sit and just stare at the sky. Everything else hurts too much.”
“It was peaceful on that hillside in northern Spain,” Allie answered. “We spent some pleasant days there before we went to Atlantis.” The others agreed. That was a nice spot, and going back there would help them recover from losing Dr. Newcomb. The crews packed their two craft with the things they would need for a long camping trip.
The CT 9225 and the Auckland arrived on the hillside overlooking the olive grove. About a week had passed since they were last there. In his or her mind each crew member recalled the events that had occurred in that short time. From that spot, they had located the sequence of the Neolithic young man who asked his girl to marry him. Starting at his birth, they had tracked his woman ancestors’ sequences back many thousands of years. They had found a tribe of Neanderthals and discovered that this species of humans had endured a lot longer than believed. They had found Atlantis. They had spent three days programming the helmets, and then visited with the pilgrims. Next, they tested the helmets by letting Mike go into a trance. A couple of days later they met Carolus Nukium. They had watched him escape as Atlantis sank into the sea. They returned home to find Chaz being held prisoner by his hypnotized team of archaeologists. They had heard the Triumvirate singing on the radio and had hurried to the Time Institute and UNH. They had found Dr. Newcomb’s lifeless body and captured the Triumvirate. They had waited while all the people at the Institute came out of their trance. They had attended Dr. Newcomb’s funeral. Last, they had taken the Triumvirate to the Neanderthal cave. So much had happened in one short week. Time travel does mess with the mind.
The crews camped and rested. They spent lots of times lying on the grass watching clouds drift across a deep-blue sky. They watched the sun sparkle on the ocean. They watched the breezes rustle the leaves on the olive trees. At night they watched the stars, bright points of light on a black velvet background. They took walks, sometimes alone, sometimes with someone else.
They cried a lot, several times a day. They cried every time the pain of losing Dr. Newcomb became too great. When that happened the time travelers hugged Menlo for comfort. Menlo didn’t know why his friends were in pain. But he knew they were suffering and was happy to be with them and to help. He lapped away their tears. He watched them with his sad brown eyes, eyes that seemed sadder because of his friends’ sadness.
As the weeks passed, the time travelers cried less. They began to leave the hillside to visit other places. They went to the ocean and walked on the beach. They even waded in the water. It no longer bothered them to be around people. They walked through the town. One afternoon, Jen suggested they have lunch in a small restaurant. After lunch, on the way back up the hill Nick said, “We’re in northern Spain. I thought people here spoke Spanish. They didn’t. Whatever language they were talking sounded strange.”
“That was Basque,” Mike explained. “Remember I told you about the Indo-European language. It was spoken thousands of years ago. All other European languages were developed from it, all except Basque. Basque is a mystery. Scholars don’t know where it came from. The only people in the world who speak Basque live in this corner, where Spain and France meet.”
One day a couple of months later Mike went walking with Allie. He noticed the pain caused by losing his friend and teacher had changed. It reminded him of the time he broke his ankle. For a long time, his ankle ached and ached. It hurt so much that sometimes he cried. A couple of weeks later, it still hurt, but not like before. That was when he found he could bend it – very carefully and slowly, but he could bend his ankle. Soon, he was able to put weight on his foot, and even walk. He limped, but he could walk. In time, the ankle became strong and he could run on it. His ankle was healed.
Mike realized the same thing was happening now. The pain of Dr. Newcomb’s death didn’t hurt as much as when they came to the hillside. Back then, he and his friends had cried and cried because the pain was so intense. Now, his heart still hurt, but not as much as before. He knew what was happening. He knew his heart was beginning to heal, just like his ankle had healed. He told his friends what he had discovered. They all agreed that as time passed they too hurt less.
The two crews began to talk about their feelings. They reminisced about Dr. Newcomb. They remembered the first time they had met him. He had walked into the classroom at the MacDonald Center. “I remember the joke you made,” Patrick said to Mike. “This is our second first day of school this year.”
“Remember how Dr. Newcomb came into the class?” Allie asked. “He put his papers on his desk and he became so serious. He told us his name and then said, ‘This is the most important class you will take at the Time Institute. Our ethics code
controls all your actions as time travelers. Whether you are trained as pilots, science observers, or engineers, you must always act the way I teach you.’”
“He was so surprised when he saw us in Fixer uniforms,” Nick recalled. “He actually forgot what he was saying.”
“I wasn’t in your cadet class,” Lenore added. “Did he walk back and forth behind his desk, looking at the floor? Did his face go from serious to smiling as he waited for you to ponder what he had just said? You know, he was always smiling. It was like his smile was painted on his face. Did he tell you guys ‘All people are tied together by our common humanity? Your humanity ties you to everyone else living now, or who has ever lived?’” The others nodded. Yes, Dr. Newcomb had said the same things when they took his Ethics class. Tears filled Lenore’s eyes as she remembered her teacher.
“He taught us important stuff,” Jen added. “He taught us that we must never consider ourselves better than any other human being. Remember he said, ‘Treat them with the same care and respect you would want for yourself, and for the people you love.’ I think we have done that, don’t you?” she asked her friends. “I think we did what he taught us.”
“I think Dr. Newcomb was proud of us,” Mike said. “We were good students and he was happy how we turned out. I think he really liked us. I know I loved him. I miss him so much.” Mike burst into tears. Allie hugged him. Menlo lapped his face.
As the days passed the crews talked more and more about Dr. Newcomb. When they had first arrived on the hillside, just thinking about him hurt more than they could stand. Now, talking about their teacher made them feel better. Nick remembered when Dr. Newcomb met his ancestor, Lt. Chuck Newcomb. They were all at the UNH Medical Center. “Can you imagine how weird that must have been for him?” The time travelers all laughed at the memory.
“Do you realize we just laughed?” Allie asked. “I haven’t laughed since…, you know, that day. That was six months ago. It felt good to laugh. I think Dr. Newcomb would have wanted us to laugh. He would have wanted us to go on living our lives. He would want us to always remember him, but he would want us to go on living. I think I’m ready for that.”
When the crews returned to the Time Institute they met with Rabbi Cohen. “I’m glad you are all back and feeling better,” he told them. “Miss Tymoshenko. A request for a mission came through last week from a music researcher at UNH. I told the researcher you were on vacation and it might take a while. If you are up for it, I will arrange for you, and Miss Smith, and Miss Canfield to meet with her.” The Auckland’s crew all nodded. Yes, a mission would be a good thing.
“Mr. Weaver, you will be interested in this,” Rabbi Cohen said to Patrick. “Do you remember the papers you took from the desk in the domed building before the Triumvirate destroyed Atlantis? They have been studied. Your helmets learned the Atlantean language and that has been studied too. We have solved one of history’s mysteries and created another. It turns out Atlantean is the same as the Basque language. Now we know where Basque came from. However, we also know Atlantis was destroyed. We can’t figure out how the language got to the corner of Spain and France.”
“That’s easy,” Mike announced. “The only Atlantean to survive was Carolus Nukium. He must have settled where France and Spain meet. He taught his children to speak Atlantean and they spoke that language with their children. The language stayed in that area all these years. Carolus Nukium didn’t just pass on his gene to his children. He passed on his language too.”
“Fascinating,” Rabbi Cohen replied, pausing a minute to think about Mike’s conclusion. “Oh, there’s some other news that will interest you,” he said to the crews. “It involves a friend of yours. Chaz Newcomb is getting married. He’s engaged to one of the archaeologists that worked on the dig with him, a woman named Sandy. His friend, Will the geologist is going to be Best Man.” The others all smiled and nodded. This was nice and they were happy for Chaz. Mike breathed a silent sigh of relief.
After meeting with Rabbi Cohen the boys were ready to leave for home. They walked the girls back to the crew quarters. On the way, Mike said, “We know Carolus Nukium left behind his gene and his language. I think the Triumvirate left something behind as well.” The others looked at him, wondering what it could be. “There’s an ancient legend about mermaids, people from the sea who could hypnotize sailors with their singing. The Greeks called these mermaids the Sirens. It’s where we get the name for our band. What we know about the Triumvirate sounds a lot like the legend of the Sirens. If they were the origin of that story, we’re all connected to Congrata, Lexitus, and Exeta in a really weird way. Our band is named for them.” As they walked no one spoke. They all pondered Mike’s idea.
When the two crews arrived at the crew quarters they all hugged and kissed goodbye. The girls each took a turn hugging Menlo.
The boys hid the CT 9225 in the woods and returned to Mike’s house. As they walked up the path to the Castleton’s gingerbread cottage Menlo ran ahead and scratched at the door. He had not been home for more than six months and he was anxious to see the rest of his family. He wanted to eat from his food bowl and sleep in his bed. Mrs. Castleton opened the door for the dog and greeted Mike and his friends. “Where are the girls?” she asked in surprise.
“We walked them home,” Mike told his mother. Technically, he was not lying. Before returning to their own time they had walked with the girls to their home at the crew quarters.
“Nick and Patrick,” Mrs. Castleton asked next. “Do you boys want to stay for dinner?”
“I can’t,” Patrick answered. “We’re visiting my grandmother tonight. My father is going to pick me up soon.”
“Thanks,” Nick said. “I have a History paper due on Monday. I promised my parents I would finish it tonight. They’re going to pick me up too.”
After Nick and Patrick had left, Mrs. Castleton sat at the kitchen table with Mike. Menlo was asleep with his head on her foot. “Allie and her friends are very nice,” she told her son. “Your father and I liked them a lot. I hope you will bring them by again.”
“I think we will,” Mike said. “Nick, Patrick, and I like them a lot too.
“So,” he asked. “What are we doing tonight?”
“Your father is on another one of his old movie kicks,” Mrs. Castleton answered, rolling her eyes. “For tonight he picked one of those dumb adventures from the early 1960s. You know the kind with the really bad special effects. At least we’ll have a night together as a family. I’ll make popcorn.”
“I like that idea. Those dumb old movies are funny to watch,” Mike laughed. “Which one is it?
“Atlantis: The Lost Continent.”
Beginning next Saturday, Book 6 The Breakout.
This book and the previous four in the series are available at: castletonseries.com
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