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Resolution 258 (standard:science fiction, 3176 words)
Author: Peter EbsworthAdded: Oct 01 2003Views/Reads: 1982/1347Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A student's IT project accidently creates a system that allows emails to travel through time. The boy and his father find that they only have minutes to save a life.
 



Resolution 258 by Peter Ebsworth 

Time was pressing on Jack Blackburn as he cleared away the breakfast
dishes. Normally, he wouldn’t agree to go into work on a Saturday 
morning but most of his staff had gone down with flu and the hardware 
store couldn’t run itself. Shame though, he thought, that it’s the same 
day as Julie pulled a double shift nursing at the Clinic. It left Tom 
at home on his own all day, which made both he and his wife feel 
uneasy. ‘Only child syndrome’, their friends called it. Silly now that 
he was as big as he was, but they still worried as to whether he would 
be okay. 

Once the table was cleared, the plates and pans stacked haphazardly
beside the steel sink unit, he left the kitchen then went upstairs to 
get his jacket and slip on a sweater. From the kitchen window, he had 
seen that the sun shone from a diamond-blue sky, but it was late fall 
when even the lightest breeze carried the sharp edge of the Wyoming 
winter to come. 

* 

Over a thousand miles to the southwest, in Washington DC, Katie Dolton
was outside and would have welcomed a cool breeze. It wasn’t so much 
the early morning sunshine that was making her hot, although it was 
every bit as bright as Jack’s but retaining the memory of summer, but 
the hard work that she was doing. For weeks, she had been asking her 
dad to take off the stabilisers on her bike. She was much too old to 
have the silly things on; they were for babies. None of her friends had 
stabilisers on their two-wheelers, and she didn’t need them either. 
When she played at Jenny’s house, she was always riding Jenny’s bike 
and never fell off, well almost never. But her dad didn’t seem to do 
anything for her anymore. Ever since he gave up his real job to go into 
Poly-Flicks, he was seldom at home and, when he was, he and mom spent 
all their time talking about these Poly-Flicks and ignoring her. Even 
now, she could hear them sitting at the patio table behind her droning 
on and on. 

So this morning, she had got her bike tool kit from the draw in the
washroom where she had seen mom put it after they had peeled off the 
paper and cardboard on her birthday. She was taking them off by 
herself. Or, at least, was trying to. There weren’t very many tools in 
the blue, soft plastic case. Two, short flat-ended metal sticks; some 
rubber patches with paper backs that reminded her of the plasters mom 
put on her knees when she grazed them; a stick of chalk and a funny, 
flat metal thing with different sized holes in it. Carefully, she had 
tried the different holes until she got one that fitted onto the nut 
holding the stabiliser to the hub of the back wheel. But however hard 
she pushed and pulled she couldn’t get it to turn. And trying was 
making her hot and sticky. Sitting back on her haunches, she frowned at 
the red-framed bike, laying on its side like a shot deer, one end of 
the spanner locked on the nut, the other sticking up into the air. It 
crossed her mind to ask for help, but a glance at the white 
wrought-iron table showed her parents drinking their coffee while 
pointing at something in one of the newspapers. They wouldn’t want her 
bothering them, besides it would spoil the surprise. 

Then it occurred to her that if she could hit the spanner at the
sticking up end, the nut might undo at the other. But hit it with what? 
After some thought, she remembered the wooden hammer-shaped thing that 
she had seen her mother use to hit meat sometimes. She left for the 
kitchen to find it. 

* 

At the top of the stairs, Jack turned right down the hall as the door to
the spare room snatched open; his teenage son catapulting out so fast 
they almost collided. 

‘Dad, I was coming to get you,’ he said breathlessly, his face flushed
with excitement. ‘Its my electronics project, ‘ he kept the door jammed 
open with his foot, glancing back over his shoulder into the room 
behind him, ‘I’ve sent that old IBM into some sort of mega-warp.’ 

‘Well that’s great Tom,’ said Jack, facing his son but backing further
down the hallway, ‘as soon as I get back from the store I’ll come see.’ 


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