Forever was a very long time. Ishmael finished packing his essential personal belongings, clothing, toiletries and the like. It was all new and the money for it had been provided by the project. He then sat down to think about what exactly he would take in the small amount of space allotted to him. Not such an easy task.
He had planned to read some more before going to sleep, but when it came to it, he was very tired, and decided that he should go to sleep right away and read some in the morning. The journal, with all its strangeness and mystery, might just wake him up more and make him unable to sleep at all. So, employing a large amount of self control, he switched off his light and went to sleep, the journal lying silently on the table by his bed.
When Ishmael awoke the next morning, the first thing he saw was the journal. He rolled out of bed, pulled on his warm bathrobe, grabbed the journal off the table, picked up his cane and made his loping way across the room and into the small kitchen area. Soul followed him, asking for breakfast with his pale blue cat-eyes. After feeding the cat and making a mug of coffee, he settled himself his comfortable chair and opened the journal.
Day: 75. Year: 300.
I had meant this to be a daily journal, but here it is, three days later, and I’m only now writing my second entry. But it is, in this case, due to extenuating circumstances. Not only have I not written, but I haven’t slept and I’ve hardly eaten since the day after my last entry. I missed work yesterday, but managed to go today. However, I was so exhausted that my boss sent me home. They all seemed very concerned for me and probably think someone close to me has died. I’ve never missed work before.
But they have no idea what has happened. The nervous man—Dr. Stoward he called himself—returned. And this time he spoke before he left. He told me that someone recently discovered a unique property of a certain common chemical.
I had no idea that something as simple as this would be the solution to the problem. I don’t dare write down the details, but if I can integrate it successfully into my engines, we will be able to make the trip with our small budget. That was always the issue. There were ways to do it, but the costs were immense. If only the government would sponsor us! But they never will, so we must go on the little funds we can raise in private and secret.
Now, it may finally be possible. I have not told the others yet. I won’t want to tell them until I know for sure that it will work.
I’ve had a brief rest and am currently heating up a meal. I must eat and return to my work.
Ishmael’s eyes moved eagerly to the next entry, but at that moment his Com began to beep. Who could be calling at this time in the morning? Soul glared at the small beeping machine with an intensity of annoyance that can only be shown by cats. Ishmael closed the journal and pulled himself from his chair to pick up the Com.
Absalom sifted through his old files, annoyance at his own disorganization gathering in his chest. He knew he had an old document on Isaac. He remembered years ago, when he had first met Isaac, he had found out some random fact about the man that he thought might come in handy now, but he could not now think what it was. It was for this very reason that he had started a habit long ago, of keeping records on everybody he ever met.
He happened upon a file labelled Nerissa and could not help but open it. A page full of small thumbnails filled his screen and he opened one.
There she was, his arm was around her and she was smiling her gorgeous radiant smile that he had loved so much. The smile that went along with the contagious laugh. Nerissa. The woman he had loved. Emphasis on word had. It seemed so long ago now. Back when he though that there was room in his life for more than just his dream.
The next picture showed her holding their firstborn child—little Mathew. Just a tiny boy then. Now he must be what, ten years old? No, older than that. Sometimes Absalom wondered about the boy. What was he like? Had the child’s mother told him anything about his father? And Mathew’s little sister, Judith. Did she have Nerissa’s smile? She had been a newborn when he had last seen her. So long ago. Absalom exited the photo and returned to his task. It was not long before he found what he was looking for.
The file was title Isac Mettrets. A typo. Isac instead of Isaac. That is what had stolen him all this time. He opened the file. There was little written in the document, only this:
Isaac Mattrets. Involved in project: Recovery. Possibly historian? He keeps a low profile. Interesting information: he has an elderly mother whom he loves very much and often visits. He always visits her on her Birthday: the sixth day of the seventh month of the year. Her address, which I found on an envelope which by strange chance ended up in my possession, is: 7680 44th Street.
That was it. A regular visit from one place to another. Predictable. People aught to know better than to be predictable. It would be far too easy to arrange a little accident. No one would suspect anything. If arranged it during one of Isaac’s regular trips to the council’s meeting hall, or somewhere else he went almost every day, someone might possibly be suspicious. But a trip like this, to visit an aging grandmother—no one should be able to predict that.
Soon, the project Recovery would have a new historian. A journey like this one was no place for a slow middle-aged man like Isaac, willing to wait his life away, with such grace and patience. And if old people like him didn’t have the sense to step out of the way for younger, more capable people like Absalom, then they would have to be pushed.
But that’s wrong, Absalom. Nerissa’s voice.
He didn’t need her in his ear—least of all now. It was one of the reasons they couldn’t stay together. She refused to accept that there were things one had to do to get ahead that sometimes indirectly hurt others.
But this is not indirect. This is murder.
Absalom shut off his thoughts about his plans regarding Isaac. The easiest way with these things was just not to think about them very much.