John Quinlan as chrononaut Jack Kennealy

Ruby bounced her great-grandbaby on her knee, watching and waiting with the rest of her extended family.  She stopped bouncing, and held the baby away from her for just a moment, reaching for a spit cloth. She found it just in time.

The baby’s mother was on the mezzanine, waiting for her husband to come home. Grandpa Jack had been kicked off the mezzanine, not literally, but figuratively. He was agitated. He knew this long distance jaunte was to save his own sorry ass, and no amount of reassurance from Ruby could assuage his guilt. Kurou had even said his goodbyes to his family before jaunting, not knowing whether he’d be able to return, or if he did, whether he’d return as a “babbling rutabaga” as he so profoundly put it.

Two pops signaled the return of two chrononauts, and Ruby watched as each reapparated in the tanks on the far right, welcomed home by their own individual teams of support personnel.

Kurou’s tank was silent.

Two more pops, and two more chrononauts returned. The stabilizers were back. They needed assistance getting out of their tanks; they seemed exhausted and spent.

Four navigators popped in, laughing hysterically. One actually began to laugh while still in the gel, and started choking before her team pulled her out.

One more pop, one more chrononaut, and then nothing.

She didn’t understand why time should matter on the receiving end, but it did. The difficult thing was, they could never quite figure out why some came back sooner than others. They had learned how to stack their jaunters, sending them further afield with a team of supporters.

The point man was always last to return.

Knowing that didn’t make it any easier. The baby cooed in her arms. He had no idea that his father was incorporeal, somewhere, somewhen. He only knew that he was loved beyond measure.

Simultaneous pops reassured her, and she breathed a sigh of relief to see Poppy and Robin pop out of their tanks together. They even climbed out with very little help.

Ruby smiled as they gave her a thumbs up. So, Kurou had come back with them… but where was he?

When was he?

How was he?

A full med team was poised in the recovery room, waiting for him.

Pullers were poised at the top of his tank, ready to reach in and grab him as soon as he materialized.

Ten more minutes passed. Robin and Poppy came out of the recovery room, their eyes focused on their brother’s tank.

And then it happened. A pop, a hand reaching up to grab the top of the tank, slipping away only to be grabbed by a strong friend who pulled him up and out.

But the flurry of activity paused, and for a moment Ruby thought she was having one of those odd moments when she is acutely aware of everything in one particular instant. But Kurou’s team backed away slightly, hovering over him, but not touching.

He was seated on the mezzanine floor, which made it difficult for her to see, but she could tell he was going through his post-jaunte mind clearing exercises.

The team stood by, and Ruby knew they wanted nothing more than to rush him into the recovery room and let the med team have their way with him.

But not her Kurou, her Cuckoo.

He was home.

Chapter One: Synaesthesia

Chapter Two: Bacon!

Chapter Three: Ruby

Chapter Four: Kennealyology

Chapter Five: His Own Eyes

Chapter Six: Cuckoo

Chapter Seven: Munchkins!

Chapter Eight: Present But Not Accounted For

Chapter Nine: Poppies

Chapter Ten: Corporeal

Chapter Eleven: Clocks

Chapter Twelve: The Garden

Chapter Thirteen: Carnal

Chapter Fourteen: Cuckoo Incorporated

Chapter Fifteen: Lingering

Chapter Sixteen: Will-o-the-Wisp

Chapter Seventeen: Rescue

Chapter Eighteen: Over the River and Through the Woods

Epilogue

Here is an interesting link to an article about synaesthesia, and its genetic component.

To those of you who’ve read the whole story, I truly hope you enjoyed it. I plan to do another serial here on the blog in late January. I’m not sure what it will be, but it will be completely different!

A big thanks to John Quinlan, who provided the inspiration for and images of Kennealy, and to MissRiva, who provided the inspiration and images of Ruby. I think it’s adorable that, during the writing of this story, John and his wife had a little baby girl, and Riva and her husband found out they’re pregnant!

The shortlink for this post is http://wp.me/p1rMYd-bA


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