For the Love of Kari

By Susan Leigh Carlton


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4 mins


A cacophony of sound greeted Dr. Charles Vanlandingham when he emerged from the wormhole in a small courtyard behind the MIT research lab.
This end of the hole is certainly a lot noisier than the end I entered in 1870. Things seemed so simple in that time. This is the real world. He opened the door and entered the lab.
“Dr. Fujikawa wants to see you now that you’re back,” Buck Mason told Charles.
“I’ll go in to see him in a few minutes. Right now, I have to use the facilities. I haven’t been to the bathroom in 146 years.”
Buck laughed. “Good luck when you go to see the man.”

Dr. Fujikawa’s office…
“Your trip was successful?” The head of the research lab asked
“It was. Barry was in bad shape when I got there. I don’t think he would’ve lasted another week. The tPA did the trick. I had no problems myself this time. The train ride across the country was difficult but I exercised and was fine.”
“Mrs. Thornton is well?”
“She is,” Charles said. “She told me to thank you for the chance to see her daughter and her grandson. She also asked me to tell you if you come, you can talk.”
“I don’t have time to make trip,” Fujikawa said, “We have much problem here.”
“What type of problem? Everything worked perfectly.”
“Funding committee questions the logic of the program and going to the past.”
“I don’t understand,” Charles said. “By any standard we’ve been a rousing success.”
“We have nothing of commercial value,” Dr. Fujikawa said. “Nothing that will benefit man. The chairman said if we were to go back to the time of Galileo, we would be here in Boston with no way to get to Italy where he lived.”
“That’s true, but that’s why we continue research. We’ll find a way eventually.”
“The prevailing theory is that we should be going to the future, and then we can bring something back that will be of benefit now.”
“What do you think is going to happen?” Charles asked
“Unless we get more funding through designated donations, then we will shut down when the present funding runs out,” Fujikawa said
“When will that be?”
The lab head had thought for a minute, and said, “We should be able to last through the fiscal year, if we make cutbacks.”
“That would be best place to look for savings.”
“Let me be one of the cuts. I’ve been thinking about practicing medicine,” Charles said.
“Why would you want to do that, after all you’ve seen and done here?”
“I just had a good feeling when I was helping Mr. Thornton. I would like to feel more of it.”
“That does not seem to be wise,” Dr. Fujikawa said, “you are on the leading edge of big discoveries.”
“Why don’t we go public with what we’re doing and start a fund-raising campaign?” Charles asked. “I’ll bet there would be a lot of people that would contribute to such a thing.”
“Big money comes from corporations, and no profit for them in this.”
“Look at the prestige it would bring the school.”
“Won’t work,” Fujikawa said.
“Do you mind if I try?”
“School would have to approve. Even if you start fund-raising campaign, the school would decide where the funds would be allocated.”
“What happens to the equipment if we’re shut down?” Charles asked.
“It would go to other projects.”
“So we’re at a dead end?”
“Almost. We make a presentation to committee for funds. If they approve, then we stay.”
“If this project shuts down, I will leave the school and return to medicine,” Charles said.
“Many applications here to take your place,” Fujikawa warned.
“I’m sure there are. It’s a prestigious school. I can’t see why they would give up on this groundbreaking work.”
“Shortsighted,” Dr. Fujikawa said.

* * *

Funding Committee meeting…
Dr. Fujikawa asked Charles to make the presentation to the funding committee. His primary reason was his often fractured English as well as the passion Charles demonstrated for the project.
“Thank you gentlemen for giving us the opportunity to discuss our project with you,” Charles began. He outlined the scope of the project and the progress they had made. “If you have any questions, I will do my best to answer them.”
“Has time travel actually been achieved?” one of the members asked.
“Yes sir, it has,” Charles said.
“A person has actually gone to the past?”
“Yes sir.” He brought up the map with the pushpins scattered over it. “These are events where people have disappeared without a trace.”
“How do you know any of them went to the past?” another member challenged.
“May I play a video clip for you?”
Using his Apple notebook Charles brought up the TV show from KNHF with the Thornton’s.
“I saw that show,” the man with the question said. “The documented proof was a DNA match wasn’t it?”
“Yes sir, it was,” Charles answered
“What does that have to do with your project?” The man asked.
“We asked and they volunteered to travel back to the town where their daughter lived. They signed a release absolving the school of any liability and then went back through a wormhole.”
“How do you know they went back?” Most of the board members were leaning forward, their interest aroused
“I had arranged for them to leave a message in a prearranged place, then I retrieved the message. It included this.” He passed a laminated dateline of the Boston newspaper with a date of April 17, 1870. “It was left in one of the few buildings from that time still in existence. From here they took a train to Oregon to stay with their daughter and grandson.”
“How is it you know all of this?” the chairman asked.
“Mr. Thornton began having heart problems, and his wife sent a message hoping to alert us to the problem so we could try to prevent future problems. The message was a prearrangement with the family living on the farm today, descendants of the pioneer family, and Angela Thornton.”
“My question is the same,” the chairman asked
Charles smiled. He had them “I obtained two doses of Tissue Plasminogen Activator, took it back and administered it. It took care of the problem. I stayed a few days to make sure it worked, and then came home.”
“tPA requires medical training to administer,” one of the board members, who was also a doctor said.
“Yes sir, it does. I have a medical degree from Harvard. I flew with the Boston Emergency Med Flight prior to coming here.”
“Young man, you make a compelling argument. Thank you for telling us your story.”
“I do have one question,” a previously quiet member asked. “Is it possible to travel into the future?”
“Both Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking have said there is no scientific reason why not, but it’s going to be extremely difficult. It would require a spaceship that could approach the speed of light. That would take an unimaginable amount of energy. In reality those in the international space station do go into the future. One of the Soviet Cosmonauts came back two 100ths of a second in the future. Not much, but it’s a start.”
“Dr. Fujikawa, Dr. Vanlandingham, this has been most enlightening. Thank you for your time,” the chairman said, and brought the meeting to a close.

“How do you think they received it? Charles asked his boss.
“You did outstanding job,” Fujikawa enthused. “We might have chance.”



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