“Mmm Hmm. I love you to. Yes…” Helen set her purse in its usual spot, and headed for the bedroom, her link on with her husband’s voice prattling on about being late. It was time to get out of her professor clothes and change into something comfortable for puttering in the garden. “Yes, sweetheart. It’s fine. I’m having dinner with friends tonight, and I’ll see you when we both get home.” Atticus rambled on some more, and Helen heaved a sigh. She loved her mathematician husband dearly, but sometimes he got so wrapped up in what he was doing, he just didn’t know when to stop. “Atticus!” she interrupted, sharply, but with affection. “I’m glad you are making such great progress, but I have things I need to do.” She listened to his last words, then said “I love you too. I’ll see you tonight,” and she ended the call.
It was still early in the afternoon. It had rained a little the night before, and the garden smelled marvelous. Helen told the system to play some music suitable for enjoying the outdoors, and started deadheading all the flowering plants.
The morning glories were doing so well, they had completely covered the old trellis. Marigolds along the sidewalk were equally prolific; Helen favored flowers that reseeded themselves and required little or no maintenance.
A new smell drifted across the breeze, and Helen looked up, wondering if the neighbors were having a barbeque. It was definitely meat she smelled… bacon. An odd choice for a barbeque.
She shrugged, not able to identify the source, but not really caring. She sang along to His Eye is On the Sparrow and was not at all surprised to find a small flock of the tiny birds checking around the rose bushes for seeds and bugs.
After eight songs had played, all featuring songbirds, Helen sat back and pondered. This was probably just a coincidence… they were all songs she liked, and all quite appropriate for puttering in the garden. It was just odd that all of them would be about birds.
The ninth song the system chose to play was Little Yellow. It was about a cuckoo.
The hairs on the back of her neck stood straight up. Atticus was still at work. He always told her about the little moments of synchronicity he experienced when Kennealy jaunted, using him as a platform. But although she had witnessed a few of those moments, it had always happened when Atticus was there. Never without him.
Could this be the non-corporeal Kennealy looking for Atticus? Finding the physical location where Atticus could often be found?
Could it be one of those other time travellers Ruby recognized, but could not identify?
Could this be what so many people through the centuries mistook for a haunting?
Helen was not exactly a scientist, but she had a researcher’s mind. As a professor of Musichiatry, she understood how music and sound influenced the human brain. It made sense that, if there was indeed a non-corporeal chrononaut trying to reach her, that they would do so through music.
“Music” Helen prompted the system, and a light went on signifying that it was ready for a command. “Switch to music with a water theme.”
The system played Lake City, which had no mention of birds whatsoever. But the next three songs all fit the water theme, and somehow included at least one mention of a bird.
The next song was Ruby.
Helen called Atticus. “Have you had any of those strange moments of synchronicity in the last hour or so?”
Atticus sounded excited. “Actually, I was in Miranda’s office just now. You know, she has a collection of old communication devices…” Helen was about to tell her husband to focus on the actual question, but she sensed this was not a side track. “Well, it just occurred to me that we should connect each of them to a power source, and see what happens. About half of them lit up with static. Now, that might be explained in several ways. They are old devices, but some are still in use in various places. Radio signals still exist…” He paused a moment, as if momentarily distracted.
“Then one of Miranda’s research assistants started rummaging around the cabinets, and found a device to measure electromagnetic fields. It lit up like crazy. We’ve recorded the patterns, and we’re running it through several algorithms to see if we can decode an actual message.”
There was a long pause. Especially long for Atticus, who tended to prattle.
“And did you find anything?”
“Only one so far.” Another pause, but shorter. “You know what dot-dot-dot, dash-dash-dash, dot-dot-dot means?”
Helen took a deep breath, but did not let it out. The system started playing another song, and it wasn’t familiar to her. It sounded like a 1900’s Rock-and-Roll ballad… it was sad, about a lost love.
Where are those happy days, they seem so hard to find
I try to reach for you but you have closed your mind
Whatever happened to our love? I wish I understood
It used to be so nice
It used to be so good
Helen stood slowly, looking around her for any other signs. She closed her eyes. There was another smell on the breeze, and it took her a moment to place it.
She wasn’t sure what poppies smelled like, but she was fairly certain no one in the neighborhood was growing them. She was absolutely certain, unreasonably certain, that the smell was poppies.
“S.O.S.” Helen replied. “Save our souls… and old distress call. When does Kennealy jaunte again?”
“His next jaunte is the day after tomorrow. It is planned to be a three day field.”
“What about the other chrononauts?”
“Mike and Nate are only doing three hour jaunts at the moment. They’re not natural synaesthetes, but they are learning. There are two newbies in training who are natural synaesthetes, but they’re far from ready to jaunte. The lab never overlaps jaunte fields, so technically the only non-corporeal time traveller that should exist right now, on this day, is Kennealy.”
“Unless the other chrononaut is from a farther future time, or there is a lab elsewhere doing similar experiments.” Helen mused.
Helen walked into the house, turning off the music with a touch of her finger, letting the clear plexi door close itself.
A small thud from behind her caused her to whirl around, looking back through the door to the garden.
She opened the door to find a tiny mass of yellow feathers flapping feebly on the stones in front of the door.
Chapter Twelve: The Garden
The shortlink for this post is http://wp.me/p1rMYd-aG