In Time for Revenge
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He invented a machine to take people to the future
Then he was accused of murder, but he can't remember killing anyone.
Billionaire genius Byron Gaines is accused of murdering his wife and her lover, but he swears he didn't do it. This couldn't have come at a worse moment: he is so close to a breakthrough in his research. He's about to invent a device that will change the world forever. The irony is, if only he had a little more time, he'd be able to make his legal problems disappear--along with himself.
Travel to the near future with unforgettable characters and evocative depictions of imminent technologies. See how society could evolve in both utopian and dystopian ways. Twists abound in this unpredictable read. A perfect novel for fans of Michael Crichton, Blake Crouch, Matthew Mather, and AG Riddle.
Release date: October 19, 2019
Publisher: Anthem Press
Print pages: 387
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In Time for Revenge
Jasper T. Scott
Part 1: Love to Hatred Turned
“Heav'n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn'd.”
—July 29th, 2020—
Rain pelts the tin roof of the converted barn on my family’s estate outside Denver. I watch through the slanting skylights in the vaulted ceiling as a blue fork of lightning slices the night in half. A primordial boom makes the panes of glass shiver. The storm is directly overhead.
I drag my eyes down from the ceiling and look around the big open space. A dozen desks are arrayed around an egg-shaped capsule on a raised platform in the center of the room. The computer screens on those desks are all off, the hard drive lights strobing red and yellow in darkened corners of the room. I really should install more lights in here. Everyone went home hours ago, everyone except for me and my lead engineer, Grant Coleman.
He’s busy staring at one of the three computer screens on his desk, occasionally typing something before clicking something on another screen. He’s running diagnostics on the “STCD Mark I” before we fire it up for the first time. The acronym stands for Space-Time Compression Device, but only Grant and I know that. The technology we’re working on is far too valuable (and dangerous) to tell just anyone. Another jagged flash of lightning draws my gaze up to the skylights, followed by a boom of thunder.
“Byron, it sounds bad out there,” Grant says. He looks up from his work to catch my eye. His pale face and blue eyes are highlighted by his computer screens. “You should tell Alison not to come,” he adds.
“And have her miss this?” I shake my head. “Not a chance.”
Grant smiles. “You’re assuming we’ll succeed.”
“The first rule of success is believing in it.”
“So, we’re waiting for Alison to get here?”
I nod and glance at the cell phone sitting on my desk. My wife hasn’t called or texted to say that she isn’t coming, so she probably still is. Besides, it’s not that far from the manor to the lab, and she can have Alex drive her, or just take the Tesla on auto.
While we wait I stare at the screen saver on my computer. It’s looping through pictures of me and Alison from our world tour last year. I see us sitting on the back of my yacht in the Caribbean, then toasting with wine at a five star restaurant along the Seine in Paris. A picture of us at the Colosseum. A gondola ride at sunset in Venice. Learning to Salsa in Barcelona, and touring the royal palace in Madrid. I move my mouse to wake the computer just as a picture of us touring Mount Fuji appears.
I type in the password for my computer. Twelve digits, numbers and letters. I click over to the software I wrote for the STCD and begin checking Grant’s values for the test run. This isn’t our first test, but it is the first one that’s likely to succeed. There’s a lot riding on tonight: I’ve poured seven years of work into this project, not to mention about ten million dollars. But that’s just a tiny fraction of the Gaines’ family fortune. I’m an only child, so I inherited all seventy-seven billion of that fortune when my parents’ plane crashed into the Rocky Mountains. If this works, though, I’m going to need every penny that they left me to scale this technology up to commercial viability.
Grant is drumming his fingers on his desk. Thunder rumbles on, more distantly now. A faint squeal draws both of our attention to the barn door—a reinforced steel security door that looks like it belongs in a bank. Locks clunk as they slide away and the heavy door groans open. The sound of rain roars into the lab. My wife, Alison, appears standing in the entrance wearing a red designer trench coat. Her long blond hair is pulled into a ponytail, and looks dry. Her makeup is still in good shape, too—not that she needs any with a face like hers. She’s holding two brown paper bags, lightly freckled with rain, while Alex, our driver and personal assistant, stands beside her sopping wet, holding her umbrella. Despite the late hour, he’s still in his working uniform, a black suit and red tie. Alex is a tall, fit African-American man with a shaved head and a thick black mustache. He’s still strong and vital-looking at forty-three, but I still remember him in his twenties, when he first started working for my parents.
Alison half turns to him with a bright smile. “Thank you, Alex.”
He inclines his head to her. “Any time, ma’am.” He retreats just as a flash of lightning illuminates the falling sheets of rain. The door groans shut, sealing out the storm. Alison strides toward me, her Louis Vuitton heels clicking on the polished concrete floors. I stand up and greet her with a kiss.
She smiles radiantly. “I brought you both some dinner. Theodore insisted.”
Theodore Wilson, our major-domo. If it weren’t for him reminding me to eat and sending down meals with other members of the staff I’d probably have starved to death by now.
Alison glances at Grant and holds out one of the two bags. He pulls himself away from his desk and walks over to take it from her.
“Thank you, Mrs. Gaines,” he says.
“You’re welcome, Grant.”
He returns to his desk and pokes his nose inside the bag. “It smells like heaven.”
I take the other bag from her, but put it on the desk behind me. I don’t have time to eat right now. It can wait until we’ve successfully tested the Mark I.
“So, what is so exciting that you had to call me down here in the middle of the next great flood?” Alison asks.
I grin and point to my creation, the egg-shaped silver capsule sitting on the dais in the center of the lab. Seven years to get to this. I can feel my eyes burning with the threat of tears. Happy tears. I’m getting ahead of myself, but somehow I know that this time it’s going to work.
“It looks the same as it did the last time I saw it,” Alison said.
“That’s because all of the changes are inside.” I take my wife’s hand and lead her up to the platform. “Grant increased the power supply by adding twenty additional power walls around the perimeter of the building.” I point to a thick black braid of several dozen cables leading to the egg-shaped capsule. “He also fixed the overheating problem and increased the number of field conductors in the outer shell.”
“So what did you do?” Alison arches an eyebrow at me.
Grant snorts. “He thinks he’s the Brain. I guess that makes me Pinky.”
I laugh at that. It’s a running joke between us.
“Pinky?” Alison asks.
I remember the 10-year age gap between us. Alison wasn’t even born when that cartoon went off the air. I’m thirty-five and she’s twenty-five. Sometimes I wonder if she was ready for marriage, but it’s too late for us to go back and wait now. I try to give her space, which helps. She still models from time to time, and she’s working on a few projects of her own.
“What happens if it doesn’t work?” she asks. “Back to the drawing board?”
I shake my head. “It will work.”
Alison’s brow furrows. “I admire your confidence.”
I flash a lopsided grin at her and grab her hand again to lead her behind the circle of work stations around the testing platform. Grant comes over with three welding masks, one for each of us.
“What’s this for?” Alison asks, her nose scrunching up as he hands her a mask.
“Safety,” Grant explains as he slips his own mask on. He’s a big man. With the mask and his disheveled black hair he looks worse than a mad scientist. He looks like someone you don’t want to meet in a dark alley.
Alison is still staring at the mask in her hands. “We didn’t use these the last time.”
“Last time we weren’t using enough power to run a whole city block,” I say. “If this works, the Mark I is going to light up like the sun.”
“Okay.” Alison slips the mask on with an unhappy frown. I put mine on, and then pull Alison back to the far wall of the lab. I haven’t mentioned that there’s about a one percent chance that the STCD could explode. I nod to Grant. “Let’s fire it up. Start with ten percent power.”
“Aye aye, Captain,” he quips. His fingers fly across his keyboard for a few seconds; he grabs the mouse, his index finger poised to click. “The compression field is charging. And in three... two... one.”
Nothing happens. Grant leans forward, staring at his screens through his mask. I can hear a discernible buzzing sound fill the air from all the electricity suddenly flooding through the room. My heart is pounding. The hair on the back of my neck stands up, but that could just be my nerves. Outside, the storm has moved on, but we have our own electrical storm brewing in here.
“Well?” I ask. Grant slowly shakes his head. “The clocks are still running in sync.” I leave Alison’s side and stalk up behind Grant to see what he’s looking at. His screen is full of numbers and various graphical gauges. One of them is the Mark I’s internal temperature; it’s creeping up to 50 degrees Celsius. I look up at the egg-shaped device. If the temperature keeps rising, that egg is going to be poached.
“It’s not glowing,” Alison says from the side of the lab. “Can I take off my—”
“NO. Keep it on.” To Grant I say, “Increase the power to twenty percent.”
The persistent buzzing in the room grows louder. It’s like a swarm of cicadas now. I stare hard at the STCD, my breathing shallow, my whole body tense. This has to work. I can’t have wasted my time. The math checks out, and I’ve checked the schematics and the code a dozen times. I’ve given everything I had to this project. I’ve—
My thoughts cut off in midstream as I realize something is different. The hair on the back of my neck is rising again. I lift my mask cautiously. The capsule is glowing faintly.
“Byron,” Grant whispers. “You’re not going to believe this.”
“The lab clock is running a full second ahead of the Mark I’s.”
I lower my mask. I’m feeling lighter than air. If I flapped my arms I swear I’d go soaring straight into the ceiling. “You’re certain?”
“We’re up to one point five seconds’ difference now!” he crows. “We have a confirmed compression factor of one point one zero five two.” He looks up, his expression inscrutable behind the mask. “We did it.”
I take a quick step back, look to the prototype, then back to him, and slowly shake my head. I can barely breathe. Is this a dream? It can’t be real.
“What does that mean?” Alison asks. I hear her heels clicking across the floor.
“Increase the power,” I say, ignoring my wife’s question. “Fifty percent.”
“Ramping up to fifty...”
“What is—” Alison cuts herself off and her heels stop clicking. The buzzing sound is a roar now, and the inside of the lab is blindingly bright. Even with the welding mask on, staring at the capsule is like staring into a hundred watt bulb.
“The clock is running ten seconds behind...” Grant says. “Fifteen... twenty! Compression is up to five point six!”
I stumble back another step, half-blinded by the capsule. It’s getting hot in here, and the buzzing sound is ominously loud, but to me it’s the drum roll of things to come.
We did it. It worked.
“The temperature is up to one hundred and fifty degrees C.”
I do the conversion in my head. Over three hundred Fahrenheit. Hot as an oven. “Ramp up to seventy-five percent,” I say.
“Increasing power,” Grants says.
“Are you sure about this?” Alison asks.
“Pretty sure,” but I can barely hear myself. The air is practically crackling with electricity. My skin feels hot. The light pouring from the prototype grows so intense that I have to look away.
“Climbing to seventy percent!” Grant calls out. “Compression factor is up to twenty times. It’s scaling exponentially with the power!”
I peer over his shoulder. The temperature is climbing past two hundred degrees. I can feel the heat radiating in waves from the testing platform. We still have a cooling problem to solve.
“Seventy-four percent!” Grant says. “The clocks are six minutes apart!”
I can barely see, and the buzzing feels like it’s inside of my head. Then something goes pop! and the lab plunges into darkness. Alison screams. I’m adrift in a sea of black. I put my hands out, feeling for something solid to anchor me. Finding Grant’s desk, I hold onto it with one hand and rip my welding mask off with the other.
“What happened?” My ears are ringing from the sudden silence. A ghostly blue tendril of electricity crackles through the lab, arcing off the Mark I.
“I think we blew a fuse,” Grant says. His phone’s screen snaps on, spilling pale light around us. He finds the flashlight app a second later, and shines the beam toward Alison. She’s standing with her arms out like a scarecrow, her mask still on. She reaches up to pull it off. “I thought it was going to explode,” she says shakily.
I decide not to mention that it actually could have. Instead, I look to Grant. The significance of what we just accomplished is only now dawning on us. Grant’s beam shines my way, blinding me, then dips to the floor. It’s enough to see the giant grin on Grant’s face. “We did it! Can you imagine what will happen when we scale up further?”
I match that grin and throw my head back and whoop like an animal.
Alison creeps over to us, her blue eyes wide and long blond hair sticking up with static. Maybe the hair standing up on the back of my neck wasn’t just nerves. “What will happen?” she asks, looking between Grant and me.
I stare at her, surprised that she hasn’t grasped the significance of this yet. I don’t even know where to start with answering her question. The applications for this technology are too vast.
“Well?” Alison prompts, getting impatient with my silence.
“I’ll explain later, honey.” Turning to Grant, I say, “Right now, it’s time to celebrate.”
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