Mike Dunbar

Book Five: The Breakout

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Chapter 13

Chapter Thirteen


            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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Chapter 12 (Cont.)

Chapter Twelve (Cont.)

The Return 

            Dr. Newcomb was surprised at the seeing the Atlanteans. The three Atlanteans were stunned and shocked at seeing Dr. Newcomb. “Carolus Nukium!” Lexitus exclaimed. “Carolus Nukium, what are you doing here? How did you….? No matter. You will not stop us again. Remember, what I said when we last met? I will do it now and I will do it with pleasure.”

            “I’m Dr. Charles Newcomb of the Time Institute,” the man replied. “I am not Carolus Nukium. I don’t know Carolus Nukium. Who is he?”

            “Do you think you can fool us that easily?” Exeta demanded. She spat out the words in scorn.

            “I warned you, Carolus,” Lexitus said approaching the small Time Institute teacher. The Atlantean held his spear in front of him. He placed the spear point close to the teacher’s stomach. Suddenly, he jerked the spear back and shoved it forward. Dr. Newcomb’s eyes opened wide like he had been surprised. He gave out a soft moan and fell to the floor.

            At that moment the CT 9225’s crew burst through the doors. The Triumvirate didn’t have enough time to turn before the three times travelers were on top of them. Mike and Nick snatched the spears from the Congrata and Exeta and shoved the two small women out of the way. Patrick grabbed Lexitus’ collar with his left hand and the man’s waist with his right. Patrick’s strength surprised even him. In his anger and rage, he lifted Lexitus off the ground and threw him across the room. The small Atlantean slammed into the far wall and fell to the floor. He was not unconscious. He had just had the wind knocked out of him.

            Patrick picked up the man’s spear and strode over to him. He placed the point on the spear on Lexitus’ throat. Slowly, ever so slowly, Patrick put pressure on the spear. At first, the point pushed in Lexitus’ skin, making a dimple. Then, as Patrick slowly added more pressure the needle-sharp point broke the skin and a small line of blood ran down the man’s neck. The man’s eyes opened wide in horror. He knew his own end was very close and his body shook with fear. He tried to control his shaking, as it only pressed his neck harder against the spear point. Mike and Nick held the two women and watched Patrick as he slowly finished off the man who had murdered their friend. They had no intention of stopping Patrick. This was justice. Lexitus was getting what he deserved.

            At that moment, Jen burst through the door, followed by Allie and Lenore. From the look on Patrick’s face Jen knew he was about to kill the man on the ground. “Patrick, stop!” she screamed. Patrick just kept on pushing the spear, slowly, ever so slowly. He wanted this to hurt. He wanted this man to die in drawn out, painful agony. He wanted him to have plenty of time to contemplate what he had done.

            Jen grabbed the spear and pulled the point away from the man’s neck. This snapped Patrick out of his rage. He looked at Jen and tears erupted in his eyes. “He killed Dr. Newcomb,” Patrick sobbed. The tears flowed like streams down his cheeks as he yelled at the top of his voice, “He killed Dr. Newcomb!” Patrick dropped his head backward so he looked at the ceiling. He screamed a mindless howl that was composed of raw pain and rage. Then, Patrick put his hands over his eyes and sobbed.

            As soon as they had entered the room Allie and Lenore ran to Dr. Newcomb’s lifeless body. Allie put her hands on the teacher’s neck to feel for a pulse. She looked up at the others and sadly shook her head. The spear had done its job. Tears filled the eyes of the other five time travelers. The two Atlantean women had terror in their eyes. Lexitus lay on the floor with his hand on his throat. He still shook with fear. Beaten, the three had no fight left in them. No longer in control, they had no courage. In fact, they had become whimpering cowards.

            Patrick went to his teacher and carefully picked up his limp body. He gently placed the dead man on the conference table. They had met with Dr. Newcomb at this table so many times. Patrick folded the man’s hands on his chest and closed his half-open eyes. Except for the blood stain on his chest, Dr. Newcomb looked like he was asleep. Lenore found a cloth and covered her teacher.

            “That was not Carolus Nukium,” Mike said to the three Atlanteans, who huddled together in fear. “That was our friend, Dr. Charles Newcomb. You killed our friend, not your enemy.” The three Atlanteans still cowered, but there was no look of regret in their eyes. They were not sorry. They were only worried about themselves, not about the man they had killed, or the pain they had caused his friends.

            Nick went back to the CT 9225 and returned with his tool bag. He pulled out a roll of duct tape and tied the Atlanteans’ hands behind their backs. He put strips of tape over their mouths. “We don’t want them to start singing again,” he explained to the others. “We have to wait a couple of days for everyone to come out of their trance. In the meantime, this will keep them under control, and quiet.”

            When the Time Institute people became their normal selves again, the boys turned the three Atlanteans over to Security. “They’re dangerous,” Mike explained to the full-sized men in blue uniforms. “They have to sing together to put people in a trace. So, keep them separate. Whatever you do, leave that duct tape on their mouths.” Security took the Atlanteans to the UNH Medical Center where they would be examined.

            Next, the crews met with Rabbi Cohen who was grieving for his dead friend. “I feel so guilty,” the rabbi told the two crews. The time travelers looked surprised. Why did the rabbi feel responsible for what happened? “You lost a precious minute moving me out of the line,” he explained. “If not for me, you could have arrived in time to save Charles.”

            “That is not your fault,” Allie said soothingly. “You didn’t ask to go into a trance. It was done to you. You could not resist.”

            “I know,” the rabbi answered. “I know. But part of my brain keeps screaming at me, accusing me of being responsible. I know it will pass. But right now, my guilt only makes my loss more painful. I miss my friend so much!” The rabbi burst into tears. The crews put their arms around him and gave him a tender and loving group hug. All the time travelers cried along with their teacher.

            The Time Institute honored Dr. Newcomb by burying him in front of the MacDonald Center next to Dr. MacDonald. In coming months, a statue of the beloved teacher and dean of students was erected next to the statue of Dr. MacDonald. In these ways the teacher was recognized as a man of equal importance in the history of time travel.

            At the funeral, the crews sat with Chaz and Mrs. Newcomb and Rabbi Cohen and Mrs. Cohen. After the funeral when all the people had gone, the crews told the others the story of their mission to Atlantis. They told how they had met Carolus Nukium, who looked just like his descendant Dr. Newcomb. They explained that Carolus had a gene mutation that protected him from the singing. They told how Carolus had escaped and gone to live with the modern humans. They explained Carolus’ plan for every generation of his family to name a son Carolus, a name that in time changed to Charles. “I will keep up that tradition,” Chaz promised. “I will name a son Charles in honor of my father, in honor of Carolus, in honor of all the Charles Newcombs who have done brave things.” Mike saw Chaz glance at Allie. He knew what as Chaz was asking with his eyes. Was Allie interested in being the mother of the next Charles Newcomb? Allie did not notice the glance. Mike let out a silent sigh of relief.

            “Why did the island rise out of the sea? Rabbi Cohen asked. “Did it happen on its own, or was it caused by the earth’s plates moving? How did the Triumvirate survive all that time?”

            “We’re not sure,” Mike explained. “This is my theory. The Triumvirate’s vault was a stasis chamber. They had a technology that put them to sleep and kept them from aging. They made a mistake, or something went wrong. Instead of sleeping for a short time, they were in the chamber for 12,000 years. Meanwhile, the world around them changed. Modern humans spread around the globe and developed civilization. We created our own technology.

            “I guess an earthquake shook the stasis chamber and awakened the Triumvirate. Then, they caused Atlantis to rise again. That was why the island came up out of the sea. They never expected that their city would be covered in mud and they wouldn’t be able to get out of the building. As you dug deeper, Chaz, they heard you. They started singing to hypnotize anyone outside. I’m sure they were surprised when they finally opened their chamber and found a bunch of archaeologists and geologists. Once they learned from the hypnotized pilots they were in a new world, they quickly developed a new plan. We know the rest.”

            Several days later the crews met with Rabbi Cohen in Room 307. The time travelers were silent as they looked around the room. They remembered all too clearly what had happened the last time they were in here. “We have a problem on our hands,” Rabbi Cohen told the six young people. “The Institute asked me to meet with you, as you dealt with a similar problem with Lt. Chuck Newcomb and Ensign Dubois. We have three Atlanteans at the UNH Medical Center, and we don’t know what to do with them. We can’t return them to Atlantis. If they went back and the Triumvirate created its empire, history would change. Atlantis was destroyed. That is its sequence and it must remain that way. As you know, the Triumvirate will not age outside their own time. That means we can’t keep them here, and we can’t take them to any other time. It would be cruel to make them live forever. And, we must never forget they are dangerous. We have to put them where they can do no harm. Do you have any ideas?”

            “I do,” Mike announced. “We take them back to their time, just not to Atlantis.” Everyone was surprised at this suggestion. “Remember the Neanderthals?” Mike continued. “During the Triumvirate’s time they are dying out. They are on their way to extinction. We can take the Triumvirate to the Neanderthal cave we found, and leave them there. They can live with the Neanderthals. They will live their normal lifetimes and then die. That will be the end of the Triumvirate. If they change any Neanderthal sequences, it won’t matter. Neanderthals go extinct. There would be no Chaos because their sequences end. All our problems will be taken care of. Of course, the Institute should check up on the Triumvirate from time to time, just to be sure they are behaving.”

            “It’s a plan,” the Rabbi announced. “I will present your idea to the Institute. I am sure they will approve it. Will you two crews return the Triumvirate to the Neanderthals?” Jen and Patrick nodded in agreement.

            The crews divided the Triumvirate between the two craft, just in case they tried to escape or put up a fight. The boys were the strongest so, they took Lexitus and Congrata. Exeta went in the Auckland. Outside the Neanderthal cave, Mike explained their fate to the three Atlanteans. “Welcome to your new life,” he said. “Make friends with the short, redheaded people who live in that cave. They will make sure you are fed and warm. However, they will insist that you help out, that you make yourselves productive.” The three Atlanteans sulked. “This is a pretty good deal,” Mike added. “Other times in history, you would have paid with your own lives for having killed someone. You get to live. Our friend is still dead.”

             The two time craft disappeared as the three Atlanteans tramped through the snow toward the cave.

Continued next Saturday.

This book and the previous four in the series are available at: castletonseries.com

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Chapter 12

Chapter Twelve

The Return

            Jen and Patrick landed their craft near the dig and Jen opened the Auckland’s door. The crews were surprised by what they saw. The scene was very much like another one they had recently witnessed, the one when they had met Carolus Nukium. In this case it was Chaz. He sat in a chair at the campsite with his head in his hands. The archaeologists and geologists he had brought with him were guarding the transports. Their arms were linked just like the guards who had stood in front of the domed building. These people too stared straight ahead.

            “Didn’t we return to our frame of origination?” Mike asked. “When did all this happen?” he said, surprised at how much had changed since they had left on their mission.

            “Don’t you remember,” Jen reminded him. “After we left, we spent several days camping on that hillside in Spain. That’s when all this took place. While we were enjoying a couple of days off, the Triumvirate returned. It looks like they have come and gone. Notice that one of the transports is missing. They must have taken it.”

            “Yeah,” Mike replied, a little embarrassed again. One of the pilots had spotted an important detail that he, a trained S/O, had missed. He consoled himself by recalling that pilots pay attention to craft. Of course, Jen would notice if one was missing. In a while he would have picked up on that detail too.

            Menlo was off his leash and trotted alongside Allie. When he noticed the people with their locked arms, he stopped and came to attention. His J-shaped tail stood up over his back. He relaxed when he realized he had seen a line of people standing like this before. The others had not been a threat, so he decided these people weren’t either. Next, Menlo spotted Chaz sitting with his face in his hands. He took off at a run to greet the archaeologist. When the dog arrived at Chaz’s chair he bumped the man’s elbow with his nose to get his attention. Chaz looked up in surprise. When he saw Menlo he knew the time travelers had returned.

            “I’m so glad to see you,” he said as he stood to greet his friends. “You will not believe what happened here while you were gone.”

            “We have a pretty good idea,” Allie replied. “But tell us the story anyway.” She and the others examined the line of people standing around the shuttles. Like Menlo, the crews knew they were no threat and turned their attention back to Chaz and his story.

             “If you remember, I protected my archaeologists by having them work in shifts. A shift could only work one day in the trench,” Chaz began. “Then, they had to take a day off. That way, no one went into the trance. We kept digging around the domed building until we reached a door. Then, we stopped for the night. We planned on opening the door when we started work again in the morning. When we woke up, half of us were tied to our beds, and the people who had been in the dig that day were in a trance. During the night, they had taken the rest of us prisoner.

            “The weirdest thing was the three people who had appeared overnight. There were two women and a man. They were beautiful.” Chaz noticed the expressions on his friends’ faces. “Do you know these people?” he asked in surprise. “They called themselves the Triumvirate.”

            “We have met them,” Allie answered. “Go on. What happened next?”

            “The three started singing,” Chaz continued. “The rest of us went into the trance, everyone but me.”

            “That’s weird,” Nick said. “You and Carolus Nukium are the only people who don’t go into the trance.”

            “Who is Carolus Nukium?” Chaz asked.

            “Just someone we met in the past,” Jen answered. She didn’t think it was an important detail.

            “Carolus? Ha,” Chaz laughed. “I haven’t heard that name in years. When I was studying Anthropology at UNH I learned that Carolus is an ancient way of saying my name – Charles. Chaz is just my nickname.”

            Mike’s eyes opened like saucers. “Charles Nukium. Charles Newcomb!” he said to the others. “Get it?” he asked. “Carolus means Charles. Over time, Nukium got shortened to Newcomb. Chaz is a descendant of Carolus Nukium. He carries the gene. That’s why he doesn’t go into the trance. That means Carolus Nukium made it. He escaped. He married a cave woman and had a son he named Carolus. He developed the tradition of naming a son Carolus in every generation. Over time, Carolus was changed to Charles and Nukium was shorted to Newcomb. That’s why we keep running into all these Charles Newcombs. They’re all Carolus’ descendants. He carried out his plan!”

            They others stood silent, taking time to digest this discovery. For 12,000 years Carolus’ family had marked their sons who carried the special gene by naming one of them Charles. They were standing with a direct descendent of the man they had found crying on the steps of the domed building, the man whose sail they had seen on the horizon. Chuck Newcomb, the World War II flyer was Carolus’ descendant. So was Junior Newcomb, the civil rights lawyer. So was Mr. Newcomb, their music teacher. So was Dr. Newcomb, their Ethics teacher and Chaz’s father. So were Charlie Newcomb, the Hippie from the future, and his infant son Charles.

            Chaz didn’t understand all this talk about a guy named Carolus Nukium and genes. What did Mike mean that Carolus Nukium had made it? Where did he go? Chaz lost interest and changed the subject back to the events at the dig. “The Triumvirate was armed,” he said. “They carried spears with points made of polished granite. They looked razor sharp. I was unarmed and couldn’t defend myself.”

            “They must have made their weapons while waiting for the city to rise out of the sea,” Mike said. “They made spears because those are the only weapons they know about. They copied what the cavemen had. Still, spears can be very dangerous. We will need to be careful.”

            “The Triumvirate questioned me,” Chaz continued.

            “They questioned you?” Mike asked. “Where did they learn to speak English?” The others shrugged. “They are very clever,” Mike concluded.

            “They wanted to know where they were. I wouldn’t tell them. So, they asked the transport pilots. Those guys were in a trance, but they were still able to answer questions. They told the Triumvirate about the transports. The three were amazed that we are able to fly. The pilots told them about time travel. That really excited them. They said if they combined our technology with theirs, they could not be stopped.”

            “Where are they now?” Jen asked.

            “They went to the Time Institute,” Chaz answered.

            “This is bad,” Mike added with a look of concern on his face. “If they get their hands on a time craft, they can go anywhere, any time. We won’t know where or when they went. We won’t be able to find them. Who knows what damage they could do?”

            “Nick,” Patrick said with worry in his voice. “Cut the two craft apart. We don’t have to worry about getting lost any more. We’re in our own time.” After Nick and Lenore had severed the duct tape, they carefully peeled the strips from the craft. The Auckland and the CT 9225 looked like new. Patrick opened his craft’s door and stepped inside. The others watched him through the open door as he talked to his craft. He rubbed the cabin walls like a cowboy would rub his horse when he greeted the animal.

“Nick, Lenore, reinstall my human interface panel,” he said to the pair of engineers.

            While Patrick and Nick were busy in the CT 9225, Jen said to Mike, “We’ll take Chaz with us. Meet us back at the Time Institute.” Mike grimaced. He didn’t like the idea of Chaz being with Allie. However, this was not the time to get jealous or make a fuss.

            “I don’t know if those guys will let me go,” Chaz said, jerking his thumb at the hypnotized archaeologists and geologists with linked arms.

            “Don’t worry about them,” Allie said, taking Chaz by the arm and tugging him toward the Auckland. “They have been ordered to keep you away from the transports. They don’t care if you leave in another craft. They’ll only do what they were told.” Mike saw Allie take Chaz’s arm. He turned away in anger as his old jealousy returned.

            The two craft left the island and headed north to New Hampshire. While in flight Patrick turned on the University of New Hampshire radio station. He and his friends were surprised to hear the Triumvirate singing. “Oh, no!” Mike said. “They’re using our broadcasting system the same way they used the tubes under Atlantis. We’re going to find everyone at the Time Institute in a trance.”

            Patrick contacted the Auckland and told Jen to turn on station WUNH. She did. Just like the boys, the Auckland’s crew understood they had a problem back home. Meanwhile, Mike scanned the radio dial and found all the other stations were still broadcasting their normal programs. “The Triumvirate has only taken over UNH,” Mike said. “That’s why they’re not on the other stations yet. I bet they’ve gone to Durham to get a time craft. If they take over UNH and the Time Institute, they’ll have all they need. They’ll be unstoppable. Soon, they’ll have the whole world in a trance.”

            Mike stopped turning the dial when he heard a voice calling “Mayday! Mayday!” The boys recognized the international distress call. Mayday means someone is in trouble and needs help. “Mayday! Mayday!” the voice repeated. The boys recognized the speaker. It was Dr. Newcomb. He was using the Time Institute’s communication system.

            Mike immediately understood what had happened. “Dr. Newcomb has Carolus’ gene,” he said. “So, he’s protected against the singing. He witnessed what is going on at the Institute and has hidden himself in the MacDonald Center. We have to rescue him. He can help us stop the Triumvirate.”

            Speaking ship to ship, Patrick told Jen what Mike had learned. He asked her to take the Auckland to UNH. There, her crew was to shut down the radio and put an end to the daily singing. Without that, people would eventually come out of the trance. Meanwhile, the CT 9225 would find Dr. Newcomb.

            As the two craft reached Durham, they split up. The Auckland flew to UNH while the CT 9225 landed on the MacDonald Center’s front lawn. The boys recognized the scene that greeted them. A row of hypnotized teachers and cadets blocked the building’s entrance. They had their arms linked and their legs overlapping. They stared straight ahead. The boys knew many of the people in the line. Still, they were surprised when they spotted Rabbi Cohen. “Oh, no,” Nick whispered. “Not the rabbi.”

            As the boys approached the line blocking the doorway, Patrick wondered how he would get through it. He couldn’t bring himself to bowl over people he knew so well. At last he said, “Give me a hand, Nick.” Together the two approached Rabbi Cohen. “How are you doing, Rabbi?” Patrick asked. Each time traveler took the man under an arm. Together, they lifted him off the ground and gently placed the hypnotized rabbi to one side. Patrick waved to Mike and the CT 9225’s crew passed through the hole in the line created by the missing rabbi.

            As they entered the door Mike reminded his friends, “Chaz said the Triumvirate has spears. Spears seem primitive to us, but they are deadly weapons. Remember, the Neanderthals and the modern humans living in caves kill mammoths with nothing more than sharp stones attached to the ends of long sticks. We’re defenseless. The Triumvirate’s spears can do us a lot of damage.”

            “How can the Triumvirate be here if we heard singing on the radio?” Patrick asked. “They can’t be in two places at one time.”

            “They must have made a recording,” Nick answered.

            The boys did not know where in the building Dr. Newcomb was hiding. They would have to search systematically. They started on the first floor. As they walked along the hallway they looked into each room. Next, they climbed the stairs and did the same thing on the second floor. They did not realize that the Triumvirate was also doing the same thing, only the three Atlanteans were ahead of them and already on the third floor. The Triumvirate had also heard the Mayday distress call. They knew someone in the building was not in a trance and was calling for help. They had to find him and stop him before he ruined their plan.

            The three Atlanteans discovered Dr. Newcomb in Room 307. He was speaking into a microphone with his back to the door, still sending out his Mayday call. The Triumvirate burst into the room. “Stop!” Congrata commanded. The man at the microphone turned to look at the speakers. They were young and beautiful. They looked so much alike there was no doubt they were triplets, and there was no doubt they were not in a trance. There was also no doubt about their intent. They were here to stop him.

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Chapter 11 (cont.)

Chapter Eleven (Cont.)


            The time teams uncloaked before Carolus was able to turn around. He did not realize they had been invisible all the time he was talking with the Triumvirate. “What do you think they meant?” Carolus asked the crews. “They talked about a catastrophe, about a disaster. They talked about coming back. Do you think they were talking about the end of their empire? When my people come out of the trance those three will be removed as consuls. Do they hope to take power again? Are they so foolish as to think Alayniess would elect them a second time? They are finished. We are done with them. They will be fortunate if they are not banished to the country.”

            “I don’t know what they meant,” Jen answered. “But I didn’t like the sound of it. I think we’d better get back inside that building and see what those three are up to.

            “I didn’t like what I heard either,” Patrick agreed. “Follow me,” he told the others as he ran up the stairs. “Carolus, come with us.

            “Sorry, Guys,” Patrick said as he charged the line of men with their arms linked. “No time to play chicken.” At a full run, Patrick’s strong, short body slammed into the smaller, hypnotized guards. It was like a bowling ball hitting ten pins. Five of the men were lifted off their feet and fell on their backs. Those standing next to them were dragged down. “Carolus, get in there!” Patrick commanded at a yell, directing his companions through the hole he had created. “The rest of you; Go! Go! Go!”

            One after another Carolus and the time travelers charged through the hole in the line. They entered the building and ran down the hallway, arriving at the chamber where the Triumvirate did their singing. They were just in time to see three pairs of legs disappear into the granite vault at the back of the chamber. They could only see legs because a massive granite door was slowly lowering and sealing the opening.

            The crews and Carolus slammed their shoulders against the thick granite door as it settled into position. It was useless. The heavy stone door was not going to be raised by mere flesh and blood. It would require a crane, or some of the rods being used in the plaza. “The rods,” Nick cried as he realized what he needed. “We have to get some of those rods. They will raise that door.”

            The group ran back down the hall and out of the building. After being scattered by Patrick the line of men had reformed. Once again, they were standing at attention with their arms linked and their legs crossed. This time, Patrick smashed through them from behind, bowling the men head over heels.

            As the time travelers and the Atlantean reached the top step, the group heard a deafening BOOM. The noise was so loud and powerful their chests quivered from the vibration. They saw the whole city shudder. Carolus stopped and called to the time crew who were just about to descend the stairs to the plaza, “Wait. What is going on?” Next, the group felt the ground beneath their feet quiver, like they were standing on gelatin.

            “Oh, no!” Carolus yelled in horror. He realized what was happening. “Oh, no! This can’t be! They are so evil! How could they do this? Oh Alayniess, Alayniess….”           

            “What is it?” Mike demanded.

            “They have cut off the power that keeps Alayniess afloat,” Carolus cried with terror in his eyes. “The city is sinking!”

            “That’s what they meant,” Lenore replied. “Remember they said they would rise again? They would sink first. What did they mean when they said they would bring Atlantis back and restore her to a greater glory? How can they do that if everyone is dead?”

            “How long will it take for the city to sink,” Jen asked Carolus.

            “Not long,” the frantic Atlantean replied. “Not long. I have to think. What do I do?”

            “You do what you planned,” Mike answered. “You get to the canal. You get in your boat and you sail away from here. Get to the people in the east and live with them. Pass on to your sons what makes you different. Name a son Carolus and teach every generation do the same. Get going. If you stay here, you die with the city.”

            Carolus stared at Mike for a long moment. He was stunned and needed to collect his thoughts. “Yes, yes,” he finally agreed with confusion in his voice. “Of course. That’s what I have to do.” The Atlantean left the time travelers and charged down the stairs. The last time the crews saw Carolus Nukium, he was running across the plaza towards the canal.

            “We have to get out of here too,” Jen said with fear in her voice. “Run for the craft.” The crews and Menlo set off at a run down the stairs and across the plaza. Once inside the Auckland’s cabin, Jen and Patrick lifted the two time craft into the air. Hovering above the city they could safely watch the catastrophe occur. A low wall of water flowed in from all sides. The ocean was claiming Atlantis as its own. High in the air, the crews were horrified as they thought about what was happening to the people below. The pilgrims they had met at the temple were closest to the coast. They were already gone. Allie and Lenore remembered the two men who had been so friendly with them.

            It comforted the time travelers to realize that the people in the city were in a trance, and unaware of what was happening. They were not fearful or panicked. They went down peacefully, still staring straight ahead.

            The crews continued to watch as the city sank deeper and deeper. In the far future, the domed building was first to rise out of the sea. Now, it was the last thing remaining above the surface of the waves. Slowly, it too disappeared. As it sank out of sight, the sea turned into a gigantic whirlpool. A half hour later, the waters stopped swirling and monstrous waves swept together from every direction. The waves ran into each other with such force the sea became a carpet of white foam. After an hour the sea had settled and assumed its normal appearance. Thousands of everyday objects floated on the surface. They were all that was left of Atlantis.

            The crews waited to see if there were any survivors. There were not. Little by little, the floating objects either sank or drifted away. Eventually, there was no sign that Atlantis had ever existed. The ocean was empty, just like it would be in the future, every time the crews had flown over it while looking for the city.

            Atlantis was gone. It had been brought to an end by its own children. Atlanteans had loved the gifted triplets. When they were young, they had been given the best education. They had been taught many skills. Finally, they had been given the authority to govern the city but they had used that authority to turn their people into slaves. Now, rather than surrender to their people, they had destroyed their city and everyone in it.

            The two time craft continued to circle the empty spot in the ocean. Looking out a porthole window Nick noticed a white object on the horizon. “What’s that?” he asked.

            Mike squinted. “It’s a sail,” he answered. “It’s a boat sailing away. I think I know who’s in the boat. It looks like Carolus escaped. He’s on his way to find those cavemen. I wish him luck.”

            “Oh, my word!” Allie suddenly exclaimed. “Jen, Patrick. Get us back to Chaz as fast as you can.” Mike looked at her with concern, and bit of jealousy. Why all of a sudden did Allie want to see Chaz? “Don’t you get it?” she asked the others as they stared at her with surprise. “I heard singing at the dig and went into a trance. We didn’t know what the music was then, but we do now. It was the Triumvirate. They said they would rise again. That’s what’s happening at the dig. They’re coming back. Those people are in danger. We have to get there immediately.”

            As the two craft returned to their own time, Lenore looked worried. “Did we make a mistake?” she asked. “Did we change time? Have we set off Chaos?”

            Mike and Allie pondered those questions. “We know the city had disappeared below the waves before we got there,” Mike said. “While we were looking for the city we flew over open sea numerous times. It wasn’t there. We weren’t responsible for the catastrophe. I don’t know what to think about Carolus’ escape. Did he follow his original sequence?”

            “He had already planned to leave Atlantis,” Allie replied. “He had his boat ready at the canal. We saw his sail, but we don’t know if he ever made it to land. We don’t know if he found the modern humans. We don’t know if he married, or if he had sons. Whatever he did, he was going to do it anyway. He followed his sequence. I don’t think we changed anything.” The rest of the crews nodded in relief. They had not violated Time Institute ethics.

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Chapter 11


Chapter Eleven


            Just before leaving the building the teams uncloaked. They were still inside the door and out of sight of Carolus Nukium, so he didn’t see them suddenly appear. Outside, they found their flock of chickens still crowing, clucking, and flapping. Carolus still stood on his step below the building and stared at the guards’ antics. His mouth hung open in disbelief. The two crews walked past the guards. When they reached the top step Patrick turned. “All done,” he said to his chickens in a command voice. “Go back to your guard positions.” The men lined up. They again linked arms and crossed legs like nothing had happened.

            The crews sat on the step with Carolus. “Going into that building was worthwhile,” Patrick began. “We know lots more than we did before. We saw the Triumvirate. We watched them singing.” He passed his hand in the direction of the plaza and the hypnotized workers. “They are the cause of all this. Did you know they could sing?”

            “No,” Carolus answered in awe and shock. “But they have many talents.”

            “They were singing into a tube,” Jen added. “Do you know about this tube? Do you know what it is, or where it goes?”

            Carolus shook his head. “No, but they are the Consuls. They are responsible for all public works. They have the authority to build the tube, whatever it is.”

            “I bet they have known for a long time that they have this ability to hypnotize people by singing,” Allie said. “I bet they have been planning this power grab for years. That’s why they got themselves elected to the Consulate. In office, they would have authority. They could build whatever they needed to carry out their plan. The question remains what is that tube?”

            “If one end of the tube is in their chamber and the singing is heard outside, it’s a pretty safe bet the tube comes out of the building,” Nick said. “If we could locate it out here, maybe we could mess up their plan.”

            “I’m sure they wouldn’t leave the tube out in the open,” Lenore added. “They would have hidden it.”

            “We have a companion who is real good at finding things,” Mike said, pointing at Menlo. The dog saw the gesture and perked up. He realized Mike had something in mind, and he was ready to do whatever his master asked of him. “The next time the singing begins,” Mike added. “I’ll have Menlo look for the place where the tube comes out of the building.”

            “That means we have another day to kill,” Patrick observed. Turning to the Atlantean he asked, “Carolus, can you meet us here tomorrow afternoon at the same time?” Carolus agreed. The teams noticed that the man was less troubled, like he had found a ray of hope. He knew what was causing the trance, and there was a chance his new friends could stop it. If so, Atlantis could go back to the way it had always been.

            The next afternoon the time travelers and the Atlantean met again on the steps that led up from the plaza to the domed building. Only one thing was different from the day before. Nick carried a bag on his shoulder. He had brought tools with him. Not long after the group reunited with Carolus, the singing began again. Mike took Menlo by the leash. “Nick, Carolus, come along and help me,” he said. The three climbed to the top of the steps. On the upper platform, Menlo stopped and looked at the row of hypnotized guards with linked arms. He didn’t like the look of them and gave a low growl. “It’s okay, Mennie,” Mike said, reassuring the dog that the men were harmless. He bent over and let the dog off his leash. Then he said, “Menlo, find it.”

            The dog started off at a trot with his nose to the ground. As he traveled he turned to the right and then to the left. He repeated that over and over, so he moved ahead in a wavy pattern. “Menlo doesn’t know what he’s looking for, but he’ll tell us when he finds something,” Mike explained to Nick. “It’s is a trick Kwasi taught him when we were lost in Nowhere.”

            Carolus didn’t know who Kwasi was, or about Nowhere, and he didn’t ask any questions. He was too interested in watching Menlo hunt. He had never seen a dog before.           “I understand why the tall people to the east keep these creatures,” he said. “If you live by hunting animals for food, they are very helpful.”

            Menlo worked his way along the side of the building, continually turning left and then right. He stopped several times and listened. Other times, he put his nose in the air and sniffed. Finally, the stopped and scratched at a spot on the ground. When the dog’s companions caught up with him, Nick examined the place that interested Menlo. It was a granite stone in the sidewalk that looked just like all the others. Nick dropped his bag on the ground. He got on his hands and knees and examined the stone closely. He knocked on the granite with his knuckles. “It’s not a block of stone,” he said. “It’s a panel made to look like stone.”

            Nick reached into his bag and pulled out a tool similar to a screw driver. He pried at the edges of the panel until it came loose. He lifted the panel and found himself looking into a tunnel. Still on his knees, Nick stuck his head into the hole to examine the space. “It’s part of the city’s drainage system,” he said. His voice echoed inside the hole. “There are drain pipes in there, but I can see the tube too.”

            Nick stood up and described what he had seen to Carolus and Mike. “It looks like they ran the tube through the city’s drainage tunnels. It’s clever. No one would have been suspicious. When they built the tube, it would have appeared that normal repair work was being done.” Nick looked at the opening, judging its size. “I’m skinny enough to fit in there,” he said. “Carolus, you’re small. You’ll fit too. Mike, you won’t. Stay here with Menlo. Carolus and I will do some more exploring.”

            Mike watched his friend and the Atlantean crawl into the opening. It was tight, but they made it. He saw their feet slowly disappear into the dark, leaving him alone with his dog. Half an hour had passed when Mike heard noises coming from the tunnel. He knew his two companions were returning. Nick crawled out first. While Carolus wiggled out of the opening Nick told Mike what he had done. “The tube is a broadcasting system. It is very clever. The sound travels down the tube and hits things that look like drum heads. The sound bounces off the drum heads and is amplified, made louder. Then, it is sent down other tubes to more drum heads. It goes all over the city that way. That’s why people in the country don’t hear the singing. The drainage system is only under the city. Those three people inside that building are real smart.”

            “Can we stop the singing from being broadcast around the city?” Mike asked.

            “It’s already done,” Nick replied. “I cut the pipe into pieces. Then, I put the pieces together so they made a great big loop. I secured the pieces together with duct tape. As the Triumvirate sings, the sound travels around the loop and goes back to them. They will hear their own echo. The sound doesn’t go anywhere else, just back to them. We need to return to the others,” Nick advised. “As soon as the Triumvirate realizes something’s wrong, I think we’re gonna hear from them.”

            The three joined their friends back on the steps. Nick had just enough time to warn the others to be prepared when a flurry of activity broke out at the domed building’s doorway. Sure enough, it was the Triumvirate marching out. Patrick whispered to the others, “Get behind Carolus and cloak.” The time travelers stepped back and disappeared. Carolus didn’t notice. To the Triumvirate, it looked like their enemy was standing on the steps all by himself.

            There was no doubt from the expressions on the Triumvirate’s faces, they were angry. “What have you done, Carolus?” Congrata demanded. The triplets stood safely behind their line of guards. “You have sabotaged us.”

            “I know what you have been doing,” Carolus laughed, “and I have stopped you. You can sing all you want. The people of Alayniess can no longer hear you. Soon, they will come out of their trance. When they do, they will not be happy with the Triumvirate. Your days in power will be over. You will be disgraced and punished.”

            “It was a mistake to let you live, Carolus,” Lexitus spat in anger. “I wish I had gotten a stick with a sharp stone from those primitives to the east. I would have stabbed you like they stab animals to kill them. Then, you would never have become a bother. If I ever have the chance, that is what I will do to you. I will kill you! I swear to you, Carolus. I will kill you.”

            “Too late,” Carolus laughed. “You’re not going to kill anyone.”

            “Don’t be so sure,” Exeta replied bitterly to her enemy standing below her on the stairs. “Yes, it is too late. It is too late for you, Carolus. It is too late for Alayniess. Do you think we are unprepared? Surely you don’t think we are without another plan, in case this one went wrong. Surely you don’t think we would allow the people to punish us. We are the best Alayniess has ever produced. We will not be punished by people who are inferior to us. Remember this as you watch the disaster happen. It is your fault. Alayniess could have chosen our Empire. The catastrophe is your fault.”

            “You have not defeated us, Carolus,” Congrata added. “You have only delayed us. You are finished, but we are not. We will be back. We and our Empire will rise again, and we will bring the glory of Alayniess back with us. We will restore to her a greater glory than she has ever known.” With that, the Triumvirate marched back into the domed building and closed the door behind them.

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Chapter 10 (Cont.)

Chapter Ten (cont.)

The Weeping Man

            The time travelers were amazed that Carolus had not connected the singing to the trance. “What do you think causes the trance?” Nick asked.

            “I do not know,” Carolus answered. “Perhaps the Triumvirate is causing it, perhaps not. I do know they are using it to their advantage. They are using these hypnotized people as slaves to build memorials to themselves. Do you see those three statues being carved?” The time travelers nodded. The last time they were in the plaza they had watched work being done on them. “Those statues are images of Congrata, Exeta, and their brother Lexitus. They are the only statues in all of Alayniess honoring people. We have statues of the gods and of mythical beings. We Alaynians have always been honored to serve the city, and we have never honored ourselves for our service.”

            “If those statues are what the Triumvirate really looks like, they are handsome people,” Lenore observed.

            “They are,” Carolus responded. “They were handsome even as babies. As adults, they are beautiful. As children, it was obvious to everyone that they had great abilities and great promise. We encouraged them. We gave them the best education. We trained them in many skills. When they came of age, we gave them positions of responsibility. The last election they ran for the Consulate and won. They are our Consuls. Congrata is First Consul for two years.”

            “How does the Consulate work,” Mike asked?

            “Our government has three branches. Our legislature makes the laws. Our courts ensure everyone is treated equally. The third is the Consulate. We elect three consuls to run the government. They serve six years. The First Consul is the leader for two years. The other two are advisors. The next two years, one of the other consuls is First Consul. The third consul is First Consul for the last two years. Then, we elect three more people for the next six years.”

            “How is the Triumvirate taking advantage of the singing?” Nick asked.

            “They are using people to build monuments,” Carolus replied. “They make no effort to stop the music, or to protect the people from it. They use them as slaves. They tell me they are building an Empire that will be more glorious than the Republic.”

            “That raises an important question,” Mike observed. “How come you can talk to the Triumvirate? How come everyone else is in a trance except you and them?”

            “I don’t know,” Carolus said, hanging his head. “I don’t know. I wish I was in a trance. Then, I would not know my beloved city was enslaved and our Republic being destroyed. I know I am different from all the other people, but I don’t know why. I don’t know why the sisters and their brother are also different.”

            “You call this the Eternal City,” Jen said. “Why? Tell us your history.”

            “Alayniess is eternal because it has always been here. We realize that our very distant ancestors must have been built the city, but we don’t know when, it was so long ago. Our histories go back tens of thousands of years. Even those earliest histories speak of Alayniess as an old city.”

            “Tell us about those rods,” Nick said. “What are they? How do they work?”

            “We Alaynians are proud of our art and our literature. They make our lives very pleasant. However, our greatest accomplishments are our mathematics and our science. The Loving Couple placed the sun in the sky. They placed this land on the middle of the earth where the sun is always bright. They placed us here on this land and taught us to make use of the sun. The sun provides us with all our power. That power brings the granite here from around the world. It moves the blocks into place. It carves the granite. It does all our work for us. I am a writer, not a scientist. So, I cannot explain how things work, other than to say we use power from the sun.”

            Carolus continued. “I can tell you a story of how great our science is; how it saved us from disaster. Many hundreds of years ago, the great blankets of ice to the north began to melt, and all that new water caused the seas to rise. Our land began to flood. We would have been lost beneath the waves but for our science. Using the sun’s power, our scientists cut our land loose from the earth below. Today, that same power holds our land on the surface of the ocean so we do not sink. Unlike other lands on this earth, Alayniess floats.”

            “That is amazing!” Nick and Lenore said together. “I would love to talk to some scientists,” Nick added. “This technology is unlike anything we have. It is a completely different idea from our technology.”

            “I am afraid our scientists can’t talk any longer,” Carolus said sadly. He stretched his arm toward the plaza below. “They are all in a trance like these people.”

            “What will you do?” Allie asked. “Will you remain here and try to save your people?”

            “It is no use,” Carolus answered, tears welling again in his eyes. “I have tried to change the Triumvirate’s mind. It is no use. I have a plan for myself. I will do what the Triumvirate has told me. Soon, I will go across the sea to the lands to the east. There, I will find some of the tall people living in caves; the ones who hunt meat with sharp stones on the ends of sticks. I will live with them. I will learn to be like them. I won’t go to the short ones. There are not many of them anymore. I don’t think they have a future.

            “Among the tall people I will find a woman and marry. I will pass on to my sons whatever it is about me that makes me different from other Alaynians. My sons will be different too. I will tell my sons to tell their sons, to tell their sons: in every Nukium generation name a boy Carolus. That way, even when I am long forgotten, my family will know who has inherited my difference, who can listen to the music without going into a trance, who can save Alayniess. That will be my mark. I will pass it on forever, until someone from among my descendants rescues my people.”

            “How will you get to the lands to the east,” Lenore asked.

            “I have a boat ready in the canal,” Carolus said. “I will sail down the canal to the sea. Then, I will sail to the east. I will never see my beloved city again. But someday, because of my plan, my children’s children may save it.” He began to sob violently and put his face in his hands.

            As the time travelers stared at the weeping man the afternoon singing began. “Wow,” Mike said commenting on the sound he heard through his helmet. “That really is sour and off key. It hurts my ears.”

            “I would like to know where the Triumvirate is and what they are doing right now,” Nick said.

            “They are in there,” Carolus answered, lifting his head. His face was red from crying. His cheeks were soaked by the tears that ran down to his chin. He waved his hand at the domed building behind him. “They come out through that door. The one surrounded by guards.”

            Patrick waved to his friends to follow him as he began to climb the steps to the building. “Wait, Guys,” Mike said when the group was far enough away from Carolus to talk. “I’ve figured some things out.” The others gathered around him to listen. “Carolus said his people have been here for tens of thousands of years, and the city was old even then. Do you realize what the Alaynians are? They’re another species of humans. They’re not exactly the same as us. They have some different genes. That’s why they all have wavy brown hair and brown eyes. To top it off, they’re a very advanced species. Look at their technology. Our ancestors are still living in caves.

            “Their ancestors must have wandered here from Africa tens of thousands of years ago. When the ocean levels were low because of the glacier, they could have walked here on dry ground. When the seas began to rise, Atlantis became an island. Their evolution followed its own path, separate from the other human species. Guys, we have discovered an unknown type of human. It’s not just modern humans and Neanderthals living on the earth right now. There are also Atlanteans. This is a major discovery for anthropologists!

            “Second thing,” Mike continued. “Remember Dr. MacDonald’s talk to our class about genes and mutations? Carolus has a mutation. That’s why he can listen to the music and not go into a trance. He’s right. He will pass that mutation on to his children. However, they will not save the city. We know that soon, in less than several lifetimes, it disappears. Remember how many times we flew over this spot and only saw ocean? This place is doomed. Atlantis has no future, and the Triumvirate will not enjoy its empire for long.”

            “I agree with Nick,” Patrick said. “We need to find that Triumvirate. I think we’ve all reached the same conclusion. They are involved in this.”

            “How are we going to get through that line of guards?” Mike asked. “They have their arms linked and their legs crossed. We couldn’t sneak through even if we cloaked.”

            “I’m going to tell them to act like chickens,” Patrick answered. Mike’s surprised expression showed that he did not understand, and certainly didn’t remember. “Never mind,” Patrick answered. “It’s an old joke between Nick and me.” Sure enough. Patrick walked up to the line of men with linked arms. “Listen to me,” he announced. “I’m sure the Triumvirate told you not to listen to Carolus Nukium. I am not Carolus Nukium. So, do as I tell you. You are all chickens. Act like chickens!”

            The orderly line of men turned into a crazy barnyard scene as they strutted around clucking and crowing and flapping their wings. Their heads bobbed up and down. “Let’s go,” Patrick told his friends. The time travelers laughed out loud as they walked by the imitation chickens.

            Inside the building, Jen advised, “We’re out of sight. Carolus can’t see us any longer. We should cloak. We don’t know what we’re going to find, but it will be safer if no one can see us.” Everyone put on their night vision goggles and their head covers and gloves. Allie pulled Menlo’s cover over his head. Each time traveler touched a switch on his or her chest and disappeared. Jen pushed the button on her remote and Menlo was no longer there either. Anyone walking by would think the hall was as empty as it had been before the crews entered.

            The time travelers passed several offices. Books and documents were scattered on desks. Patrick signaled the others to wait while he checked out an office. He remembered that Chaz was looking for writing and took some papers from a desk. He folded them and put them in his pocket. His friends waiting in the hall knew what he had done, and why.

            The group passed several more rooms before the six found what they were seeking. In a windowless chamber they spotted the Triumvirate. Everyone’s first reaction was the same. These three people were beautiful! The girls admired Lexitus and gave him a thorough examination. The boys couldn’t take their eyes off Congrata and Exeta. A long moment later, the group regained its senses and focused on what the Triumvirate was doing. They were standing around a tube that rose out of the floor. And, they were singing.

            “There’s our answer,” Mike whispered to his friends. “I don’t know how they do it, but I’d like to learn their trick. If The Sirens could sing like that, all our albums would go platinum. All we would have to do is tell everyone to buy a copy. They’d be in a trance and obey. We’d be rich.”

            Allie reached into her pocket and took out her recorder. “I want to record them live, as well,” she explained.

            The teams watched and listened to the Triumvirate until they had finished singing. Then, the three consuls turned and entered a granite chamber at the back of the room. The chamber was small, more like a vault. They began to work on the vault. The teams did not understand Atlantean science, so they had no idea what the three were doing.

Continued next Saturday.

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Chapter 10

Chapter Ten

The Weeping Man

            The two time craft – bundled into one - landed in the city. They placed themselves at the edge of the plaza below the domed building. “How do you plan to test the helmets?” Patrick asked Nick.

            “I don’t know,” Nick answered. “Anyone have any ideas?”

            Mike lifted his head out of hands. The annoyance at losing his Pitch Perfect still showed on his face. “Yeah,” he said in answer to his pilot’s question. “When scientists want to test something they give it to a guinea pig to see what happens. We need a guinea pig. Two people have to go outside to listen to the singing. One will wear Nick’s helmet and be protected. The other will be wearing a regular helmet. If the unprotected person goes into a trance and the protected one doesn’t, you will know the helmets work. The one wearing Nick’s helmet will be there to bring the hypnotized guinea pig back to safety. There’s no danger. We know people recover in a couple of days.”

            “What if the helmets don’t work and both people go into a trance?” Jen asked.

            “Easy,” Mike replied. “While they’re outside, they have to stay close to the craft. If both are hypnotized, we run out and rescue them.”

            No one could find a flaw with the plan. “Who’s the guinea pig?” Lenore asked.

            “I am,” Mike responded firmly. “I’m an S/O. Knowledge is my line of work.” He was still embarrassed at having missed the wavy hair and brown eyes shared by all Atlanteans. This would make up a bit for his goof.

            “What about Allie?” Jen asked. “She’s an S/O too.”

            “That’s right,” Mike agreed. “But Allie has already been in a trance. If I go under this time, two of us will have had the experience. We increase our knowledge.” Allie nodded her head in agreement and squeezed Mike’s handing lovingly. “The sun is directly overhead,” Mike told the friends. “That means it’s about noon. Nick and I may have to wait several hours. We only know the singing starts in the afternoon. We don’t know exactly when.”

            Mike and Nick put on their helmets. They didn’t bother to cloak. It was safe outside. Except for the people who were working, everyone in the plaza was standing like statues, staring straight ahead. The two friends sat in a shady spot on a sidewalk close to the craft. The crew inside could see them easily and could rescue them in seconds if anything went wrong.

            Nothing did. Mike and Nick passed the time talking. They studied the buildings around the plaza and watched the construction. They napped. After several hours of doing nothing, Mike and Nick suddenly looked up. The crews knew from their reaction that the music had started. The two time travelers on the sidewalk listened carefully. Then, they looked around the plaza to find where the music was coming from. They checked out the people in the distance. It was obvious to their friends that Nick and Mike were observing, trying to learn everything they could. Allie asked Jen to open the door. She reached outside and placed a recording device on the ground. “I want to record the singing so researchers at UNH can analyze it,” she explained.

            About an hour later, the S/O and engineer returned to the craft. Those watching them knew the music had ended. Inside, Nick and Mike took off their helmets. “How do you feel?” Allie asked them.

            “I’m fine,” Nick replied. “Listening to someone sing off key for an hour was torture, but I’m fine.”

            “I’m lightheaded,” Mike said. “It’s kinda how you feel if you wake up suddenly from a deep sleep with lots of dreams. You know, it takes a while to adjust. But I feel good.”

            “I hate to do this to you guys,” Jen said. “Until we know more, I think we all need to stay in the craft where it’s safe.” Patrick nodded.

            “Don’t do that to us again,” Nick begged. “It is so crowded in here. Until tomorrow, take us out of the city into the country. I can’t stay cooped up in this craft one more day.” Jen and Patrick looked at each other and nodded in agreement. It was unfair to keep someone as tall as Nick cramped in a small time craft cabin with five other people and a dog.

            The next afternoon, the craft returned to the same spot as the previous day. Mike and Nick exited and sat on their sidewalk again. Just like yesterday, they waited while their friends in the Auckland watched. The time travelers in the craft knew again when the music started. Mike and Nick stood and looked around. Once again, they were trying to discover anything they could about this strange sound, especially its source. After a while, Nick was the only one looking about. Mike had his back to the craft and seemed to be examining a wall. This went on for a moment before Allie realized what had happened. “He’s in the trance,” she announced.

            Jen opened the door and called to Nick, “Nick, it’s happened. Mike’s in a trance.” Nick looked at his friend’s face and nodded back to the craft. Yup. Mike was gone. The engineer took the S/O by the arm and told him to walk back to the craft. Mike obeyed without any reaction. He just stared straight ahead.

            Jen opened the door again so the two Fixers could enter the craft. Nick told Mike to sit. He did, still staring. “Well, that settles it,” Patrick announced. “We’ve proven two things. The music causes the trance, and the helmets work. We know it will take a couple of days for Mike to snap out of it. Why don’t we return to the country and wait. Nick, you and Lenore can wire the other helmets while we’re there.”

            Back where they had spent the previous night, Allie led Mike out of the craft and sat him on the grass. The others spread out to enjoy the warm tropical afternoon. After a long period of silence while everyone enjoyed the day, Patrick whispered, “Hey, Nick. You want to try an experiment?” Nick nodded. He was bored and was interested in whatever the pilot had in mind. “Good,” Patrick said with a devilish look in his eye. “Mike,” he called to his S/O. “You are a chicken. Act like one.” Still staring straight ahead, Mike stood and put his hands to his armpits, and flapped his elbows like they were wings. He scratched at the ground with his feet. “Crow like a rooster,” Patrick laughed. Mike did his best rooster imitation.

            “Stop that,” Jen yelled. “Patrick Weaver, you should be ashamed of yourself! You are humiliating your friend.” Patrick tried to act serious while Jen scolded him. It was impossible. Behind Jen, Patrick could see Nick rolling on the ground in laughter. Nick’s laughing was infectious and set off the pilot. Patrick’s face turned red, and when he could hold out no longer, he burst into uncontrollable giggles. Jen stamped her foot and turned to Lenore and Allie for support. Her two friends were trying to be serious, but the grins on their faces revealed that they were about to break out laughing as well. Meanwhile, Mike went about flapping, scratching, and crowing.

            After two days of waiting, Mike came out of the trance. It was a long slow process. He said afterward it reminded him of the time he had his tonsils removed. Waking up after the operation seemed to take forever, as he drifted between being asleep and being awake. He would open his eyes and talk to his parents and then, pass out again. He remembered nothing about the operation and only had dim memories of the drifting. Going into the trance was the same. Mike said he remembered being lightheaded and feeling like he was floating. Next, he found himself on the grass outside the city. Like being under anesthesia, Mike couldn’t remember anything that happened while he was in the trance.

            The two pilots landed their craft at the edge of the plaza and the crews exited, each person wearing a translator helmet. All the helmets had been wired to make the singing sound off key. The singing would have no power over these six people. Allie had Menlo on his leash. The time travelers didn’t bother to cloak. No one in the plaza paid any attention to them.

            The group walked through the plaza, watching the construction. The hypnotized workers were moving yet another jig saw block into place, and the statues had more detail than they did several days earlier. Otherwise, the place was the same as when Mike went into his trance.

            Everything was the same except for one small item. Mike was the first to notice and pointed it out to his friends. A man was sitting on the wide steps that led from the plaza up to the domed building. He had his face in his hands and he was shaking. “That guy isn’t acting like he’s in a trance,” Mike said. “Let’s try talking to him. Remember, the less he knows about us the better. Tell him as little as possible.”

            The time travelers and their dog climbed the steps to the man, Mike in the lead. The man was so absorbed by his grief the crews got very close before he realized they were there. He looked up in surprise at the approaching strangers. Mike looked at him in equal surprise. “Dr. Newcomb!” he blurted. “What are you doing here?”

            The man stared in stunned silence as the other strangers came up behind the first. They all asked the same thing. “Dr. Newcomb. What are you doing here?”

            “Who are you?” the man stammered. “You men are tall. You must be from the tribes across the ocean to the east. Why are you not wearing skins?” He looked at Nick with amazement and a bit of fear. The long, thin time traveler was a foot taller than he.

“What is that creature?” the man asked, pointing at Menlo. “I have heard that the tall cave people have animals that live with them. When anything approaches the cave those creatures make a frightening sound.”

            “Dr. Newcomb. Don’t you know us?’ Mike asked. He wondered if his teacher and friend had been in a trance. Perhaps he was just coming out of it and was still confused.

            “Dr. Newcomb. What does this mean?” the man replied.

            “That is your name,” Allie answered. “It is what everyone at the Institute calls you.”

            “My name is Carolus Nukium,” the man insisted. “I do not know this Dr. Newcomb.”

            The time crews studied the man’s face closely. In spite of a being almost a perfect twin, the man was not lying. He was not Dr. Newcomb. His hair had not turned as gray as Dr. Newcomb’s, and his face did not have as many wrinkles. This man was probably ten years younger than the man in the distant future he so closely resembled.

            “We apologize for our mistake,” Mike said. “It’s just that you look so much like our friend. We mistook you for him. We’re sorry if we startled you.”

            “I am fine,” the man said. The crews knew this was false. The man’s eyes were red from crying. “Who are you?” he asked again. “Where do you come from?”

            “We’re explorers,” Allie answered. It worked last time. She hoped it would work again. Remembering Mike’s advice, she changed the subject. “We noticed you were crying,” she said. “You look so much like our friend; we can’t help but be concerned. Can we help you? Can you tell us what the matter is?”

            Carolus examined the faces in front of him and saw expressions of true concern for his feelings. He pointed out at the plaza and to the sprawling city beyond. “This is the Eternal City,” he began. “It is blessed by the Loving Couple who have always provided for us. They gave us our Republic. With their guidance and blessing, we have always governed ourselves as a free people. We have always lived in peace and liberty.”

            “They don’t look like free people,” Lenore observed, glancing at the Atlanteans in the plaza.

            “They are slaves,” Carolus said in disgust.

            “What causes the trance?” Mike asked.

            “I don’t know,” Carolus answered. “One day, everyone in the city heard singing. It was so beautiful we thought it was the Loving Couple, singing in joy to their people. The next day, this happened.” He stretched out his hand and pointed at the robot-like people in the plaza. “The singing happens every afternoon, but if it is the Loving Couple, they are wasting their time. Their people have become slaves of the Triumvirate.”

Continued next Saturday.

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Chapter 9

Chapter Nine (Cont.)


            The two men looked up with surprise on their faces. “Yes,” one replied to Allie. “It is very nice.” He paused. “I have never seen people like you. I have never seen hair your color.” Allie’s long, silky hair was auburn red. To Jen he said, “I have never seen eyes your color.” Jen’s eyes were a smoky gray. To Lenore he added, “I have never seen skin your color.” Lenore’s skin was like rich, smooth chocolate.

            “Where are you from?” the second man asked.

            Allie and the girls studied the men and then glanced at the other people gathered around the temple. She was slightly embarrassed she had had not noticed before. All these people had wavy brown hair and brown eyes. So yes, the three girls were different from these pilgrims. Allie’s embarrassment turned into irritation with herself. She was an S/O and observing such important details was part of her job. Although invisible, Mike was silently embarrassed as well. He asked himself how after all his training, he had not noticed something this important.

            “We are explorers,” Allie replied. “We have come from far away.”

            “Where could you come from?” the second man asked with curiosity. “We travel all over the world to obtain different types of granite. We know there are people in the lands to the east, across the sea. There are two types, the tall, dark slender ones, and the short, fair heavy ones. Both types are primitive. They live in caves and hunt animals. They use long sticks with sharp stones attached to the ends. They wear skins.” The girls realized the man was talking about the Neanderthals and modern humans. “You  cannot be from those people,” the man added. “You wear clothing. They don’t know how to make cloth. We don’t know of any other people on earth. Where do you live?”

            Allie knew she couldn’t tell them about New Hampshire. The state’s nickname is the Granite State. These people had probably been there gathering granite. She changed the subject. “What is this place?” she asked.

            “This?” the first man asked, pointing to the temple behind him. “This is the shrine to the Loving Couple, the god Alaynius and his consort Alaynia.”

            “What’s a consort?” Patrick whispered to Mike.

            “His wife,” Mike whispered back.

            “The god and his consort face east,” the man explained. “Each morning they greet the morning sun. The sun and the earth are their creation. They stand here in love, to admire and bless their creation as each day begins. We are their children. They gave us this good earth. They placed this great land in this spot on this world. The Loving Couple placed us directly under the sun so we would be warm, even as the rest of the world is covered in ice.” The girls knew what he meant. His land was on the equator, so the sun was straight overhead every day.

            “We are pilgrims,” the second man added. “We are here to pray to the Loving Couple to remove the curse from our land - to save their people. We worry that we have sinned, that we have brought this punishment on ourselves. We pilgrims pray day and night. We are on a rotation. So, every minute of the day some of us are in the temple. Our prayers never stop.”

            “When I asked what this place is,” Allie continued. “I meant this huge island and the city.”

            The men were shocked at the question. The look on their faces revealed what they were asking themselves. How could anyone not know that city? “This land is named after our gods,” the second man said. “The city is named after our land. This land is Alayniess. The city is Alayniess – the Eternal City.” At last the crews had learned the city’s name. It was Alayniess. It wasn’t much information, but it was important.

            While tracing the cave women’s sequences the crews had flown over this patch of ocean many times. In the future, they had seen only water. That meant that sometime after this visit, the city had sunk into the sea. From their search, they knew roughly when that disaster was going to happen, in less than five cave-woman generations, sometime in the next 100 years. Could these pilgrims at the temple know this? Is this the curse they had mentioned?

            “We visited the city,” Allie said. “It is beautiful.”

            “You have been in the city?” the first man asked in shock. “How did you get out?” It was Allie’s turn to not understand a question, and that showed in her expression. She had no trouble leaving the city. “Everyone in there is in a trance,” the man explained. “We do not go in there. Anyone who stays there for two days never comes back. Some have gone in and got out immediately. They have told us what they saw. All the people in the city have lost their will and their awareness.”

            “That’s the answer,” Allie explained. “We did not stay long. However, we did see the people in the trance. Tell me. What do you know about this trance? What causes it? When did it begin?”

             “We know very little,” the second man replied. “We don’t know what causes it, only that it takes about two days to happen. It began about six months ago, during the most recent consulate. The consuls had been elected about a year earlier.”

            “Consul?” Patrick whispered to Mike.

            “It’s a political position, like a president,” Mike whispered back. “The difference is that there are usually three consuls, not one.”

            “We who live out here in the country don’t get as much news as the city people,” the first man added. “We heard that under the new consuls life in there was good, as it had always been. The only change is that the consuls gave themselves a name. They started calling themselves the Triumvirate. People thought that was a strange title. It seemed too proud. Our elected leaders have always been humble servants of the people. It is an honor to be elected. It is an honor to serve.”

            The man second man continued, “There was another interesting thing. The singing.”

            “Tell me about that,” Allie asked.

            “Every afternoon for about an hour, the most beautiful singing is heard all over the city. Those who have listened claim the voices are as clear as the most perfect glass. They are as pure as the most perfect chime. People suggested it was the Loving Couple’s voices, that the gods themselves were singing to their creation. We know the gods love people who live in the country as much as they do the people in the city. So, we wondered why we couldn’t hear them. Why would they not sing to us too?”

            “Do you know anything else about this singing,” Allie asked.

            The man shook his head. “Only what I told you,” he answered. “It happens for about an hour every afternoon. The singing is beautiful, beyond description. We don’t hear it in the country. That is all we know.”

            “Tell me more about the Triumvirate,” Allie asked.  

            “Wonderful people,” the first man said immediately. “Two sisters and a brother. Triplets. The most handsome people you could imagine. Congrata, Exeta, and their brother Lexitus. They are so distinguished and gifted. They are as smart as they are beautiful. They have served the city in so many ways. Everyone supported them for Consul and they won the election in a landslide. Like I said, we don’t get as much news here in the country, but everyone in the city seemed happy with them and wished them success.

            “I don’t know what they are doing to combat this curse that has gripped the city,” the man continued. “I pray they are not in a trance like all the others. If they are, we have no hope. That is why we have come to the temple. We pray every minute that this curse will end.”

            “Do you mind if we visit with the other pilgrims and spend time with them?” Allie asked the men.

            “Everyone is welcome at the Temple of the Loving Couple,” the second man answered graciously. “Please be our guests. Join us. We have food. We have shelter. Pray with us if you wish.”

            The girls wandered away from the two men. The two crews felt safe, still the cloaked boys followed closely. The men were so friendly; they didn’t worry about trouble with the other pilgrims. Eventually, the girls sat under a tree. The boys sat next to them and uncloaked.

            “We have answered one of history’s biggest mysteries,” Mike announced. Everyone looked at him questioningly. All they had learned was the city’s name, Alayniess. None of them had ever heard of this place. What had been solved? Mike observed their expressions and realized they didn’t understand. He explained, “The way words are pronounced changes over time. That’s what happened with the name Alayniess. We say it differently, but it’s easy to see how the changes happened. Listen closely. Al-ay-ni-ess became At-layn-tess. That became At-lan-tis. Get it? We have discovered the lost city of Atlantis.”

            The questioning expression on the time the crews’ faces changed to stunned surprise. They couldn’t believe their find. Had they really stumbled upon the legendary Atlantis? Scholars had always said Atlantis was a myth because there was no proof it ever existed. The ancient Greeks told stories about Atlantis, but there was no evidence. The reason became clear to the crews. According to the Greek legend, Atlantis existed only a short time before their own civilization. That was wrong. The city had disappeared 10,000 years before the ancient Greeks, while modern humans were still living in caves.

            After a long period of silence, Nick announced to the others, “I know what’s causing the trance. And I think I can stop it.”

            “Okay, Inspector Gadget,” Patrick said. “What have you figured out that the rest of us are missing?”

            “It’s the music,” Nick replied, like the answer was so obvious everyone should get it. “It has to be the music that’s causing the trance. It’s the only constant. The crews at the dig heard the music. They went into a trance. Allie, you heard the music at the dig and you went into a trance. People here get a dose of the music every afternoon, and they go into a trance. It has to be the music.”

            “Do you think what happened to me is the same as happened to those people in the city?” Allie asked. “Why did it take me three days and them only two?”

            “I don’t have all the answers,” Nick replied, shrugging his shoulders. “You said the music you heard in the dig was faint. Maybe it took longer to overcome you because you didn’t hear it as well. You said you thought the music could be voices singing, rather than instruments. The men just told us; there is no doubt it is singing. The questions now are: Who is doing it? How are they doing it? Why?”

            “You said you could stop the trance?” Patrick asked. “How?”

            “Let me take of that,” Nick replied. “Lenore, let’s go back to the craft. I need your help.” Nick and Lenore left the group while the rest sat under the tree and talked about what they had learned. After several hours they wandered back to the craft. Inside they found Nick and Lenore wearing their helmets. They were taking turns singing silly songs to each other, and giggling.

            “You guys came back here for this?” Patrick asked in surprise. “I thought you had some big idea.”

            “We did,” Nick answered, still giggling. “And I think it will work. Here, put on this helmet.” When Patrick was ready Nick sang, “Mary had a little lamb. Its fleece was white as snow.” He asked Patrick, “Did you hear that?” Patrick nodded. “Did you notice anything?” Nick asked the pilot.

            “Yeah,” Patrick answered. “Your voice sounded different and every note was sour. It’s a good thing Mike is our singer.”

            “Right,” Nick said with a smile. “You heard me in a different pitch and off key. The man told us how beautiful and perfect the singing is. I’m guessing that may be how it hypnotizes people. I’m hoping I can take away its power by making it off key. The helmet will change the pitch before you hear it. The music will sound like a bunch of sour notes.”

            “Good thinking,” Mike said. “How did you do it?”

            “Uh….” Nick hesitated.

            “Oh no!” Mike yelled. “You took my Pitch Perfect. Blast it, Nick. How many times do I have to tell you to leave my stuff alone? I never even got to try the thing out.”

            “Settle down, Egghead,” Patrick said to Mike. “Tell me Nick, is the person wearing this helmet the only one protected?”

            “Lenore and I need to work on your helmets,” Nick told the others. “This helmet changes the pitch, and then it sends the sound to all the others. If my idea works for my helmet, it should work for all yours. We should all be protected.”

            “Get to work,” Patrick told his engineer. “I suggest we go into the city tomorrow afternoon and test these things.” Meanwhile, Mike was so frustrated he sat on the bench with his head in his hands. 

Continued next Saturday.

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Chapter 9

                                            Chapter Nine


            “Our first job is to program our helmets,” Mike said. “Once we do that, we can communicate with the people in this city – if we ever find any. I don’t see anyone.”

            “Let’s fly toward the dome,” Jen suggested to Patrick. “Chaz said it was an important place. I would expect to find people there.” The two time craft banked into a curve and flew off toward the yellow dome. Jen was right. There was a crowd at the dome, but they were not acting like people going about their daily business. Some inhabitants did appear to be working. A small group was involved in moving a large granite block that looked like a piece to a huge, three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. However, there was no heavy equipment to do the moving. Other people were working on three huge statues that stood in a row. All the rest were standing still, doing nothing. That is precisely what they were doing – nothing, nothing at all. In fact, they were not even moving. They were frozen in place.

            As Jen and Patrick landed the craft the crews donned their head covers and gloves. Allie got on her knees in front of Menlo and dressed him in his uniform. The dog liked the attention. As Allie worked he kissed her repeatedly, returning her attention. When Allie was done she pressed a switch on Menlo’s chest, and he disappeared. “Bashir put a switch in Jen’s remote, so she can turn Menlo’s cloak on and off at a distance,” Allie told the others. Then, she used her hand to wipe her cheek and chin where she had been kissed repeatedly.

            The cloaked crews exited the craft. As they approached the people in the square they found lots of things to amaze them. Nick and Lenore were fascinated by the work that was being done. The huge block of granite was being moved by people standing at its corners holding some sort of rod. The block was defying gravity. It floated slowly along, apparently controlled by the rods. “This technology is way beyond anything we have,” Nick said in awe. “In my time, we would use a crane to move that block. In the future, they use reverse gravity polarizers, like in our time craft. That’s not what these people are doing. I wish we could take one of those rods into the Time Institute lab,” he said to Lenore. “We would have fun taking that apart.” Lenore nodded as she admired the technology and thought the same thoughts as Nick.

            “Can you imagine the mathematics they used to figure out that block’s shape?” Jen asked Patrick as she stared at the complicated piece of polished granite. That’s exactly what Patrick was thinking. “We would have to use computers to create that shape,” Jen added. “Wouldn’t you love to sit down with one of their text books?”

            Allie examined the people and noticed they were all about her size. She was used to being with people her height. All the time crews and many of the Institute’s teachers were small, but there were also larger people there, and at UNH too. Here, everyone was about five feet tall. The tops of their heads only came up to Nick’s shoulders.

            Mike looked at the buildings around the plaza and thinking aloud said, “This shouldn’t be here. The rest of the world is still in the Stone Age and living in caves. This shouldn’t be here. Who are these people? Where did they come from?”

            Continuing to examine the men and women in the plaza, Allie elbowed Mike. “Look at their faces,” she said. The others heard her and turned to see what Allie had noticed. The people had no expression. The workers watched the block as it moved. However, their faces were blank. All the other people in the square stood perfectly still. They were not watching the work. They stared straight ahead. Their arms hung at their sides and there was no expression on their faces.

            “Are they robots?” Nick asked

            “I’ll check it out,” Patrick said. He approached a man, and more closely than anyone would find comfortable, examined the man’s face. The man could not see the invisible time traveler just inches from his nose, and did not react. Patrick watched a while longer and observed the man blink. He looked at the man’s chest and could tell he was breathing. Otherwise, the man, and all the others stood as still as statues. “He’s human, not a robot,” Patrick told the others after examining the man. “But it’s like no one’s home.”

            Nick and Lenore turned their attention to the three enormous statues that were being carved, and tugged the others to follow them in that direction. They were amazed as they watched the carvers use their rods to slice away chucks of granite. To do so, they pointed the rod at the huge block of stone. Without any blade, without any beam, the rock was sliced off, leaving a surface as smooth as glass. No polishing was required. The carvers lowered the cut-away granite with the same rods. He or she pointed the rod at the sliced stone and it slowly lowered to the plaza, under complete control. “Amazing,” Nick muttered to Lenore. “I have to take apart one of those rods. I just have to.”

            “Guys,” Patrick announced. “This all very interesting, but there is a big problem. We need to program our helmets. To do that, we have to leave them some place where people are talking. There are lots of people here, but is no one is saying anything. We have to find another location.”

            The crews climbed back into the Auckland and the two craft took off. “Any ideas,” Jen asked the others. “Where do we find people who are not doing a robot imitation?”

            “Let’s do the outward spiral,” Patrick suggested. “We’ll cover most of the city that way. If there is any place where people gather and act normal, we’ll spot them.”

            “I can’t believe how big this city is,” Lenore noted after the craft had been flying for a while. “It goes on forever.” It did extend a long way, but not quite forever. Eventually, the Auckland and CT 9225 reached the edge. Outside the city, the craft began to fly over farmland. “We have even less chance of finding people gathering and talking out here,” Lenore said.

            Eventually, the two craft reached the ocean. “This land is a lot bigger than most islands,” Mike noted. “It’s like a small country. Let’s fly along the shore and see if we can find a harbor and some boats. Where there are sailors, there are taverns. Where there are taverns, people gather and talk.”

            The time travelers did not come to a harbor, but they did find a large building standing in the middle of nowhere, all by itself. It was all by itself in the sense there were no other buildings. However, there were lots of people, and they were moving, not standing like statues. They had set up tents and small shelters. This told the crews that they were camping in this place, not passing through. “I think we just found what we’re looking for,” Jen announced. She and Patrick set the craft down behind some trees.

            “Mike, you and Allie are the best ones for this job,” Patrick told the two S/Os. “Find a place to leave our helmets, and then put to use your astounding powers of observation,” he added jokingly. “Find out what you can. Anything that will help us.”

            “Menlo, stay with Lenore,” Mike told his dog. Menlo jumped up on the bench seat and sat next to Lenore. She put her arm around him and he lapped her cheek. The two S/Os cloaked, stepped out of the craft, and walked toward the building. People were standing or sitting in groups talking. Others dozed on the grass. There were so many people the cloaked S/Os had to work at avoiding them. “What do you make of this?” Mike asked Allie through their head cover communicators.

            “They’re camping. It’s a picnic, or maybe a meeting of some sort,” Allie answered. “They don’t seem to be doing any work.” As the two invisible time travelers entered the building Allie said immediately, “We know what this is. We saw lots of them when we were cadets and taking our Methods of Observation class.”

            “Yeah, Mike answered. “There’s no doubt. It’s a temple. In fact, there’s the altar. It’s in front of two statues of gods.” The statues were huge and carved from the same yellow granite as the domed building. They represented a man and a woman standing side by side, holding hands like they were in love. The statues stared out to sea, out to the east where the sun would rise every morning. Gifts and sacrifices were piled in front of the statues. “These people are pilgrims,” Mike said. “They’ve come here on a pilgrimage to worship.”

            Inside the temple was not a good place to leave the helmets for programming. There were lots of people in the building, but they were all praying silently. “We have to find a place outside where people are talking,” Allie told Mike, jerking his thumb toward the campground. Outside, they spotted a ledge over a window. Plenty of people were sitting on the porch under the window and the helmets could hear them clearly.

            Mike put his hands together and Allie placed her foot in them. Then, he boosted her high enough to place the helmets on the ledge. Allie covered them with a craft cloak cover so they would not be seen. Then, she tapped Mike on the head to tell him she was done. He slowly lowered her.

            Back in the craft, Nick announced, “I can’t want to wait in this cabin for three days. It’s too cramped. I’ll go nuts. I vote we do some exploring while the helmets are being programmed.” The others all nodded in agreement. This huge island was in the tropics. Even though the earth was beginning to come out of an ice age, and the glaciers were melting, it was warm and pleasant here.

            “These people are camping, so it must be safe to sleep outside at night,” Patrick observed. “I guess that means there are no wild animals in the area. It should be safe for us too. We have Menlo just in case. He’ll warn us if there’s any danger.”

            The crews followed a footpath away from the temple and came to a road. They followed the road to the west, away from the ocean, and found themselves in farmland. Crops grew in small, neat fields on both sides of the road. There were no farm animals. In fact, birds were the only animals the crews saw on their tour. Nick made the group wait while he watched a farmer working. The farmer was holding a rod parallel to the ground. As he slowly walked along his field, the grain in front of the rod fell like it was being mowed. Another farmer followed behind the first, holding another rod. As he walked along, the grass swept itself up into long rows. “They are using those rods to harvest the grain,” Nick told the others in awe. “I have to get my hands on one of those things.” 

            Three days later, after making a long loop through the countryside, the crews ended up back at their craft. The others watched while Mike and Allie found the helmets and returned them to their friends. “We need information,” Mike said. “This mission is one big mystery, both now and in our time. One option is to cloak and just listen to these people talk. Maybe we will learn some things. But we can’t be sure they will answer our questions. There is no point in going back to the city. No one there is talking. I suggest the second option. We uncloak and introduce ourselves to these people. They seem friendly.”

            “That’s too risky,” Patrick said. “They look friendly, but what if they’re not? This is my idea. The girls are the same size as these people. They will fit in better than we will. Nick, you’re so tall you’ll give them heart attacks. We’ll stay cloaked, but we’ll stand right beside the girls. If there are any problems, we jump in and rescue them. We’re so much bigger than these people; we can fight our way back to the craft. I don’t think we’ll have any trouble here, but if we do, that’s our fall back plan.”

            “You do the talking, Allie,” Jen said. “With your bubbly personality you can start a conversation with a statue.” Jen was right. Allie could chat with strangers and make them feel comfortable. When they were cadets at the Institute, there was always a crowd around Allie. She was the best one to approach these people.

            All six donned their programmed helmets and the boys cloaked. The three girls approached two men who were sitting on the porch talking. “Hello,” Allie said. “It is a very nice day.”

Continued next Saturday.

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Chapter 8 (cont.)

Chapter Eight (Cont.)

Fred and Wilma

            It was cramped in the craft. The sun had set, but it was too early to go to sleep. The crews were bored, cooped up inside the tight space. “I wish we had a television,” Patrick said. “Or a CD player.”

            “That reminds me,” Mike told Allie. “I brought something to show you.” He rummaged around in his bag and found a small box-shaped device. “It’s a Pitch Perfect,” he told her. “It’s a technology that’s being used a lot by singers in my time. It adjusts a singer’s pitch. If his voice is flat, or he can’t reach a note, this takes care of it for him. No matter how bad he is, he sounds perfect.”

            Allie said, “I read about this technology when I was in school in Ukraine studying music history, before I became a cadet. Don’t I remember that a lot of people didn’t like it? They thought it was wrong for singers to use it”

            “I’m one of them,” Mike answered. “I think this technology is cheating.”              

            “How does it work?” Allie asked.

            “The microphone plugs into this jack on this end,” Mike explained. “The amplifier plugs in here on the other end. The voice goes in one side and comes out the other. If it’s off key when it goes in, it comes out all adjusted and perfect. The audience hears the song with no mistakes.”

            “If you think it’s cheating, why did you buy one?” Nick asked. He reached over and took the Pitch Perfect from Mike.

            “I thought I should know how they work,” Mike told Nick, while his friend examined the device. “I would never use one in a performance. That’s lying to the audience. If a performer can’t sing all the notes, he or she shouldn’t sing that song. The Pitch Perfect is like an athlete using performance enhancing drugs. The guys who take drugs can do things they couldn’t do before. It’s cheating. When my audience hears me sing they have a right to know the voice they hear is me, the way I really sound.”

            Nick opened the Pitch Perfect’s case and looked inside. “Hmm,” he said, showing the electronics to Lenore. “This is how it works.” Lenore looked inside and nodded her head. She was an engineer too and figured out the gadget as fast as Nick.

            “It’s lights out, guys,” Jen announced. “We have to get some sleep. I hope we get lucky tomorrow and find that city right away, but I’m afraid we still have lots of work ahead of us.” The two crews were cramped in the Auckland. They spent a long time shifting around the crowded cabin trying to find a comfortable position. Allie and Lenore were the smallest, so they slept on the bench seats with their knees pulled up to their hips. The other four twisted and squeezed themselves so they all fit on the floor like pieces to a puzzle. Menlo tried to find a spot on the floor, but gave up. He walked over the four bodies and jumped up with Allie. She wrapped her arm around him so he wouldn’t fall off the bench seat. In minutes, Menlo began to snore.

            Jen woke up with Nick’s foot in her face. She struggled to pull herself into a standing position so she could look out the porthole windows. There was no danger. She opened the Auckland’s door and stepped out. “Up and at ‘em, you guys,” she told the sleeping crews. “We’ve got a full schedule ahead of us.” The crews joined Jen outside and stretched the kinks out of their stiff bodies.

            The six time travelers and their dog picked up where they had left off the day before. Mike and Allie kept track of how many generations they jumped backwards in time. While they had no way of knowing what year it was, it was important they make a good guess. To do his work, Chaz needed to know the city’s approximate age. With Lenore’s help, Mike and Allie logged each woman’s sequence. When they got back, they would give their records to the Institute to add to the directory.

            Mike observed the tools and clothes people wore. They changed as they moved back in time, and were no longer as well made as in the Neolithic village. “It makes sense,” he explained to the others. “Human progress happened as time moved forward. We’re moving backward, so we’re seeing change happen in the opposite way. Things are going from more advanced to more primitive. At some point, we’re going to end up in the Old Stone Age.”

            The next time the crews got out of the Auckland they found themselves outside a cave, rather than in a village. Smoke was rising from the cave’s opening and people were working inside and out. There was snow on the ground. “It’s happened,” Mike said. “These are cavemen. We’ve gone back before the Agricultural Revolution, the time when people started living in villages.”

            “I’ve noticed that the air has been colder the last several sequences,” Lenore said. “Why do we keep stopping in winter?”

            “Until about 10,000 years before our time most of Europe was covered by a glacier,” Mike explained. “It was a sheet of ice 3000 feet thick. That’s like ten football fields stacked end on end. The pack of ice was huge. The climate was so cold people moved south looking for places warm enough for them to live. They ended up in southern Spain and Italy. I’m guessing we’re in one of those places. Those countries are warm in our time, but their temperatures were much lower during the glacier. That’s why it gets colder the farther back we go in time. Unless we find that city soon, it’s gonna get worse. Right now, the Ice Age is ending and things are warming up. We’re going back into it. The weather will get a lot colder.”

            After their long search the crews were tired and decided to spend the night in the woods near the cave. Once again, they crammed themselves into the Auckland’s cabin. The next day, they continued their search. They followed women’s sequences and traveled back into the Ice Age. Mike was right. They saw more and more snow and it got colder and colder. 

            As they stood outside another cave Mike informed his companions they were definitely in the Old Stone Age. “You guys have to let me look around again,” he begged. “This will help me so much with my Anthropology class.”  The cloaked time crews snuck into the cave and watched the inhabitants go about their lives. There were a lot fewer people in this group of cave dwellers than in the Neolithic villages. Mike explained that these people were still modern humans; they just had a more primitive technology than the villagers. The cave residents did look like people you would see back home on the street; except they wore skins and the men had beards.

            The people had dogs, but no cows or pigs. Mike showed his friends their tools and weapons. The cavemen had bows and arrows and spears. Their stone knives were primitive compared to what they had seen in the Neolithic village.

            Talking through his helmet communication system so the cavemen would not hear the invisible visitors, Mike called the others to come see something he had found. “You have to see this woman,” he said. The woman was lying on top of an animal skin and seemed to be sick. One of the cave women was feeding her. “She looks different from the others,” Mike said. The time travelers all agreed. She did appear different from the other cave dwellers. She was short and heavy. She had thicker arms and legs. Her forehead was bigger and her nose was wider. Her hair was a sandy red, her eyes were blue, and her skin was fair. All the others in the cave had dark hair, brown eyes, and an olive skin.

            “Do you know what she is?” Mike asked the others with excitement in his voice, like he had made an amazing discovery. “This woman is a Neanderthal! This is amazing. I figure we’re gone back about 12,000 years before our time. My text book said Neanderthals lived in southern Spain and went extinct about 24,000 years before our time. This woman shouldn’t be here. But she is. This means Neanderthals lived a lot longer than we thought.

            “I’m not sure why she’s here in this cave with a bunch of modern humans,” Mike added.

            “They’re caring for her,” Allie said. “I wonder if they found her sick and took her in.”

            “That’s as good a guess as any,” Mike replied. “Compassion is a trait of modern humans.” The group left the cave and returned to their craft. Before boarding to continue their search Mike pulled off his head cover and said to the others, “If they have a sick Neanderthal in there, that means there must be more of them in this area. We have to find them.”

            “Mike, so far we’ve put up with your fascination with all this anthropology stuff and we haven’t complained,” Patrick said. “I’m tired. I’m tired of following sequences. I’m sick of squeezing into a crowded craft. I want to find that city for Chaz. Then, I want to go back to the crew quarters. I want to take a shower, have a good meal, and sleep in a bed.”

            “Guys,” Mike argued. “We have to find the Neanderthals. We’ve made a major discovery. Isn’t that our job? The reason we time travel is to learn new things, to increase knowledge.”

            The others looked at the ground. They all felt like Patrick. They were tired. This mission was wearing them down. However, Mike was right. They time traveled to expand knowledge. They had stumbled onto something important, and they had to do their job. “Okay,” Jen said to the crews. “All aboard. What’s your plan, Mike? How do we find a tribe of Neanderthals without a map?”

            “We do the same as when we were looking for the Auckland outside Carthage. Fly in an outward spiral. It’s pretty safe to say the Neanderthals live in a cave. They have to be burning a fire for heat, as it’s too cold to survive without one. We should be able to spot the smoke, even at a long distance.            

            Mike was right. Spiraling outward Jen and Patrick spotted a cloud of smoke coming up from a hillside. They set the craft down outside another cave. The crews cloaked their uniforms so they could sneak inside. Like the sick woman, these were Neanderthals and they were all short and muscular. Mike led the others around the cavern. He showed them how differently Neanderthals lived from the modern humans in the other cave. Things were really primitive here. The Neanderthals didn’t have bows and arrows. They only had stone-pointed spears. There were no dogs. There were only a few children. “They’re going extinct,” Mike said. “Without children, there will soon be no Neanderthals. We’ve arrived real close to the end of their species.”

            The crews left the cave, and before going the craft stopped to look at the scenery. “I recognize that shape,” Patrick said, pointing at a large hill standing all by itself. It’s the Rock of Gibraltar. You see it in ads for an insurance company. Where’s all the water? Gibraltar stands in the middle of the sea.”

            “You’re right,” Mike replied. “That is Gibraltar. I recognize it too. That means we’re in southern Spain. There’s no water around the rock because the oceans are so much lower. Remember, a lot of the earth’s water is locked up in that enormous glacier. If we walked in that direction we would end up in Africa. You can’t do that in our time, because there’s ocean between Africa and Spain. Now we now know where we are. Since we left that first Neolithic village, we’ve gone south. Makes sense that we would move from the cold north to a warmer area.”

            “You’ve found your Neanderthals, Mike,” Jen said. “We still have our mission. Now, can we look for the island and the city?”

            The Auckland and CT 9225 headed out to sea, to the location where the island and the city should be. The two crews were surprised when they came to land. Every other time they had flown over this area there had only been ocean. “I think we have finally found it,” Nick said. “Only this island is a lot bigger than that one Chaz is working on.”

            The two crews saw the city in the distance. They couldn’t miss it. Even from far away, the polished granite was beautiful. The city sparkled like a crown covered with colored jewels. When they reached the city Jen and Patrick flew low over the buildings. The time travelers were amazed at how perfect everything looked. The city was clean and neat. It was like it had just been built and no one had moved in. “Let’s fly around for a while,” Allie suggested. “We should get an idea of what’s down there before we land. It looks pretty quiet from up here, but there could be danger.”

Continued next Saturday.

This book and the previous four in the series are available at: castletonseries.com

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