|| Home :: Robert Fitton :: Time Travels :: Red Shift|
Consider time travel a risky venture. In July of 1986, Jim Cahill turned thirty-two and had twice traveled back in time. They first sent him to 1976. Retrograde's elastic effect of moving back in time returned him safely to Hastings Mountain in four hours and garnered him the distinction as the first man to successfully survive a trip through time. Eleven men were killed in the previous attempts, but he had triumphed. Cahill thought himself lucky and tried again, this time venturing back to 1979. As were his orders on the first trip, he did nothing, touched nothing, and merely let the video capture a midwestern cornfield.
As a boy in Kansas he dreamed about traveling back in time, but never knew how Einstein's theories could help him construct the slick time travel machines he saw in the movies. As a man he figured flying high-speed aircraft would be the closest experience to journeying back through time, but even his test pilot training could not prepare him for the perils of time travel.
Assignment to the Red Shift experiments demanded much toil and energy with neither reward nor free time. Cahill cornered Meinkewitz after the last time trip and secured a week away with Kate. She would want to see more of him now that she had finished her doctorate work.
The cooler, fresh mountain air flared through the open window as Cahill maneuvered his five-speed Explorer up a long asphalt stretch somewhere in the High Sierra. It was only two hundred miles to San Francisco and Golden Gate Park, where he would meet Kate in four hours. Over a month had passed since he had stared into her earthy green eyes and touched long her dark hair. He replayed their making love back in New York and could almost feel her tight body.
He smiled at the thought, turned on the radio and scanned the dial for the Kennedy program. He found it on a scratchy AM station out of Salt Lake City. Jack Kennedy, older since he left the presidency in 1969, sounded as clear as his first inauguration in 1961."... of what the foreign policy of the United States should be. We need to make it cleah that we are the force in world, ah, politics today and stand by that position. We are ready to listen as well as move toward peace. Neither position is to be taken lightly ..."
The caller sought an argument. " Yeah, that's all well and good, but how much are we going to be spending until we break the U.S. Treasury? How much is all this defense spending worth? Do you have any idea?"
" I would like to point out that during the eight years of the Kennedy Administration, we ... ah, yes, I do have some ideah of what this defense spending is worth."
Cahill turned up the volume and the static. The former President maintained the most listened to radio program in the United States.
" It, ah, should be noted that because of the strong defense we were able to musta in the early nineteen sixties, we were able to stop communism just ninety miles from our shoahs. Now, conversely, I also have personal experience in not, ah, putting one hundred percent trust in all military advice."
The caller laughed. " Are you referring to Viet Nam?"
Kennedy kept a smooth and unruffled delivery. " Viet Nam was a mistake and I think that was the general feeling in late 1965 when we began bringing our forces back."
" But President Nixon said it was a mistake to bring the boys back."
" He said that at the time, yes. But I think it was the great initiatives of Mr. Nixon both to China and the former Soviet Union, combined with the Reagan build up of the 1970's and early eighties that led to the collapse of the Soviet Empire and-"
" Led to terrorism!"
" Yes, there are ramifications to every move on the world stage and, ah, we have to adjust to those realities. We will have ample opportunity to discuss these ramifications with President Nixon, when he is my guest for all four hours on Thursday. We will pause now and be back next hour."
The announcer's voice faded-in. " You're listening to World Forum on World News Network."
Cahill hit the FM switch and sent the channel search to a classical station. He sat back and chugged higher through the Rockies. The last caller had correctly targeted terrorism. His own briefings showed groups and alliances forged in the post cold war era as the real enemies of the United States. Prodigious secrecy surrounded Red Shift's possible military applications and Meinkewitz's talks with the intelligence people concerning terrorists frightened everyone.
1986 had already brought several terrorist scares and one near disaster. A radical splinter group had almost succeeded in planting biological agents in the greater Pittsburgh water supply. The general public never knew elite forces had killed five terrorists at the city's filtration plant. Other incidents included dismantled pipe bombs under cars, plastic explosives on bridges, shootings, and airliners exploding. The nuclear threat, with spent plutonium readily available from the former Iron Curtain countries, and rogue scientists and military personnel ready to build bombs, reached a public frenzy.
Unless Meinkewitz called him again, Cahill could forget the terrorism and his Red Shift work for the next week. He gazed out the open window and across the parched plains to the hazy horizon. The brilliant spread of jagged peaks tapered downward into rock carved canyons and the spaciousness was in stark contrast to the Hastings underground facility in Colorado.
Kate awaited him in Golden Gate Park. He planned it perfectly, flying her in from New York, setting up the catered table in the park with the three-piece string section. As they dined outside, he would present her with the sparkling diamond, secured by one of Meinkewitz's connections in South Africa. Then they would spend the night in a Yosemite lodge and hike tomorrow.
The cellular ring broke the mountain silence and Cahill stared at the phone. Meinkewitz had promised three hours ago not to call again. Cahill wanted to let it ring, but reluctantly grabbed the phone and pushed the green button. " Cahill."
He held the wheel with one hand, nearing the mountain crest and rolled his eyes as Meinkewitz's gravely voice punctuated the transmission. " Jimmy, sorry to call you again."
" Ray, leave me alone. I think you have your damned watch set on a timer. It just beeped and now it's time to bother Cahill again."
The signal weakened. " Timer, that's not a bad idea ... Jimmy, you need to get to a land phone."
" Ray, I don't even know where the hell I am. I must be fifty miles from a regular phone."
" You are past 120 degrees longitude, probably just passed Truckee. North of Tahoe."
" And, Jimmy ..."
Cahill looked across the rows of evergreens piercing the slopes below. " What?"
" Have a nice day."
The line went dead and Cahill grinned. Meinkewitz was a father figure over the last fourteen months at Red Shift, and was a time travel theorist since the 1950's. Brought through the ranks of the intelligence community, Meinkewitz's connections landed the top Red Shift job. He was not just an icy elite scientist, and while his decisions could be reasoned out with the precision of an advanced computer, he empathized with his people. That empathy allowed him to motivate and to steer subordinates on the proper course. Cahill trusted him without question.
* * *
Half an hour later, Cahill rolled into a dusty lot housing a faded white gas station with dirty dark windows and a long porch. He slowed past a set of antiquated red and white pumps, and stopped at the corner phone booth. A heavy guy in denim farmer's overalls lounged next to a bulky, rusted red Coke machine. Cahill left the car door open, engine running, and entered the booth.
He quickly dialed Meinkewitz, but connecting took time. The porch guy's folded hands moved up slowly on his oversized stomach. Cahill had difficulty seeing beyond the porch's darkened screen door and reflective station windows.
" Okay, Ray. The view is splendid. You see, there's only this one thing: I can't enjoy it. Seems this guy keeps calling me."
" You're damned lucky I don't pull you out right now, Jimmy. There's a ton of stuff coming over the intelligence wires."
Cahill tilted his head back. " That's wonderful."
" Apparently they are searching New York City for a possible nuclear device." Meinkewitz's cigar was stuck in his mouth again.
" Come on."
" There are reports that other cities might be searched. I was afraid with you going to meet your fiancİ in San Francisco."
" Did they mention San Francisco?"
" No, only New York."
" Kate lives in New York. Tell me you're making this up. Thank God she's on her way to San Francisco."
Meinkewitz talked to his people inside the mountain complex and strayed from the phone for nearly a minute. The sun sizzled the nape of Cahill's neck as his heartbeat soared and he paced.
" Ray, I'm standing here waiting for you to tell me they're blowing up New York."
Meinkewitz finished up with the group. " Jimmy, it's not an alert or anything. It's a precautionary measure."
" You and your precautionary measures. Sounds pretty serious to me. I'm glad I'm heading west. You should have told me this on the cellular."
" Cellular phones can be monitored, Jim. Look how I found your position."
" I don't see terrorist groups having the expertise to pull off something like this. Is that all? Can I go have fun now?"
Meinkewitz chuckled. " I thought you ought to know that there might be problems in other cities."
" Odds are with me. But if they go on alert or something. then call me."
" You'll be the first to know. "
Cahill looked at the phone, set it back on the hook, and checked the man sleeping on the porch. Then he stepped into the Explorer and shut the door once he spun around to the highway. As he placed the reflective sunglasses over his eyes, diminishing the glare, he visualized a brilliant orange explosion and a mushroom cloud rising over some American metropolis, sucking up the imploded buildings, streets and people into a huge billowing fireball. Such farfetched notions rattled his imagination as much as time travel.
Copyright c 2000
Trendsaction.com is a service of SecondWave Information Systems
© 2013 Secondwave™
P.O. Box 5166, Chatsworth, CA 91311, USA