Don wondered if George were truly a “mad scientist” by the way he spoke. He had sent Don on what seemed to be a bizarre collecting trip. Don had the hunch George wanted him out of the way so he could talk with Bella alone. Would anyone ever trust Don?
Don broke open a rock formation, which he hoped contained the crystal George had requested and thought back to the conversation. As soon as George had discovered Don’s romantic involvement with Cassandra, he had changed the subject and given Don the collecting list. Some of it was hard to read. George seemed to live off of grilled cheese sandwiches, and the scrap of paper was smeared with melted cheese. Don wondered what had happened to the Pancakes. Did Bob still work at the labs? A wave of homesickness washed over Don. He missed Johnny and the old trailer. “Ouch,” Don hit his thumb. He’d better focus.
It was late afternoon by the time Don returned. Bella seemed worried. She told Don that she was going to be transported to Sixam that night.
“Sixam? What is Sixam?” Don asked her.
“You don’t know where Sixam is?” George interrupted. “And you were truly a technician at FSL?” He blew out a puff of disgust and turned to his work table.
“I’m surprised you don’t know, Don,” Bella laughed. “I would have thought that you out of all the technicians would have visited. For the parties alone.” She could tell from Don’s look that he did not know about the alien world and the portal at FSL. No wonder he had been so quick to step through the portal back at Oracle, and no wonder he thought it was a hospital.
“This is going to be awhile, so let’s go sit down,” George said. They retreated to a well appointed living room. Although the couch was very comfortable, Don couldn’t fully relax.
“Sixam a safe place for me. I’m no stranger to abductions, but this is more of a rescue mission. They picked up Geoffrey a couple of nights ago. George has a constant signal going. One of his safety protocols.”
Don still had no idea what was going on and was becoming frustrated. Bella explained, “FutureSim isn’t the only one who has an off-world bunker. As far as we can tell, Sixam is one of the only places that’s safe from Oracle encroachment. Off-worlders are telepathic, so it’s impossible for a double agent to trick them.” Slowly, Don was beginning to understand. “My Cassandra –“
“Our Cassandra,” Don interrupted.
“Our Cassandra is safe on Sixam. And so is your child.”
“My child?” Don stammered. “Cassandra was expecting? What about the Q36?””You of all people,” George giggled, “should understand the testing process. Q36 was still in testing.”
“I thought you knew,” Bella looked keenly at Don. “Cassandra didn’t tell you?”
“No,” Don said. “She didn’t. Or maybe she did and I don’t remember. Everything is fuzzy after I drank the sleep serum. Did we get married?”
George giggled. “Oh, you technicians never cease to provide me enjoyment. Never learning about sim-testing, so willing to try unproven serums.”
Bella ignored George and continued on. “Clone Cassandra is in that room, not our Cassandra. You do know about the cloning projects, don’t you?” Don was reluctant to reveal how little he actually knew. He’d been focused on the serums he and Cassandra had been developing and then his own project. He couldn’t concentrate on Bella’s explanations: he was going to be a father!
“When will I get to be with Cassandra and the baby? Is it a boy or a girl? Does she know?”
George interrupted. “She is safe, and you can’t go to Sixam. You have other things. Right now, we need to get Bella there safely. I don’t want to wait until tonight. It’s worse than I thought.”
“Now?” Bella’s voice trembled. George nodded and they went outside.
Don could only stand and stare as a glowing green orb appeared and a beam of light shot down to them. The ground beneath him pulsed in time with the shimmering lights and whirring sounds.
“Bella, tell Cassandra I lo–” he said, but Bella began to rise into the air. “Bella!” Don yelled, “I will see all of you again. It will be all right!”
It was as though Bella were floating up to the sky. Don’s heart pounded. After all of the strange events that had occurred over the past who knows how long, this was the strangest.
“Dag dag!” was the last Don heard. Everything was silent. Don stood, wondering if he would ever be able to move again.
“Are you ready?” George broke in. “Daylight is almost gone.”
“Tell me first, George,” Don demanded. “Will I see Cassandra and our baby again?”
“That’s difficult to say, T-56742746. I am not exactly certain where or when you’ll end up. But if you are to have any hope, you must perfect the ingredients for the serum. Take this, please. Don’t lose it.”
“There’s so much I don’t understand, George. How can I end up in a ‘when’?”
“We will walk and talk. You can do both at the same time, I presume. Time is not linear, T-56742746,” he laughed. “To quote a good friend of mine, ‘People assume it’s a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint–it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly . . . time-y wimey . . . stuff.’ Not that your lasagna brain could understand that, my friend. But have no fear. I’m sure you’ll end up in one piece. You must perfect the serum.”
Don took a deep breath and took the device. “Yes. And I’ll do it. I’ll perfect the serum ingredients.”
“Of course you will. When you signed your FSL contract, you agreed that you would have no ties. No family. No obligations. In turn, FSL promised to look after you. T-4684 is a FSL employee, and we will care for her and her family. My advice to you is to quit getting so involved. Gets you in nothing but trouble.” George giggled. “Good luck to you.”
Don looked around. Ahead of him was a bridge. “This is it?”
“Yep,” George replied. “Don’t know exactly what’s ahead of you, but you’ll be safe and be able to work on the serum. The process has been encoded, so you won’t forget. No matter what happens, no matter where or when you end up, you’ll be able to work on the serum.”
Don walked to the bridge. “Well, thanks. Dag dag.” As he stepped onto the bridge, he heard George call out.
“By the way, you might not remember anything else. Dag dag!”
Quote about time is from the Tenth Doctor, https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/doctor-who