The door slide open to the right, quickly, and a bright white light shown out of the room.
“You first.” Stuckey said motioning with a little nod towards the open door.
Gary took a step holding up his hand to shield his eyes from the light, he took another step and looked down towards the floor. He could feel a few degrees of heat difference from the exterior lab to the interior lab. His eyes slowly adjusted and he started to make out shapes in the room, a couple of tables around the walls, and slowly he noted there was a table in the middle of the room where all the light was coming from. There was the lamp. The one his uncle had had and had most likely allowed the peculiar experiment that had allowed his father to create a woman when he was in high school. It stood in the middle of the center table in the room with not one light bulb in it as his uncle had described but now it had a splitter device which allowed two bulbs to be operating but now the fluorescent bulb was burnt out.
Gary looked around the room now, no bodies. No piles of dust, powder or scattering of ashes on the floor; no puddles of goo, sludge, slush or goop that might have been his father at one time. No evidence that his father was in the room at all.
“They are not here.” Stuckey said from the doorway.
“Nope does not look like it.” Gary said happily.
Stuckey motioned and a second later his goon Jack Gable entered the room, he like Gary shaded his eyes at first.
Gary scanned the room quickly trying to decide if there was anything he could get a look at before Gable’s eyes could adjust to the light in the room. Nothing, no computer, no hard drives, not even a printer or scanner. He did note a several large white boards in the room with his father’s precise writing on it, a couple of rows and columns on each with the same numbers repeated over and over again. By now Gable had more or less become accustomed to the light and was looking around as well. Stuckey was still standing in the door way for some reason he was unwilling to come into the lab, Gary wondered why that was.
“Nothing in here Mr. Stuckey, just this lamp, three hot plates, a bunch of beakers of water and a big white board.”
“I can see all that you dummy, I am looking for a computer, a hard drive something that this idiot’s father was using to create me an artificial woman.”
“Nothing like that Mr. Stuckey.”
“You two get in there.” Stuckey’s voice commanded.
Gary watched as Stuckey moved away from the door and Sharon and Andrew entered the room, again with the shading of the eyes, looking down at the floor until their eyes grew accustomed to the un-shaded light coming from the middle of the room.
Stuckey’s voice commanded from the exterior. “Look in those boxes on the table, to your right.”
Gary had not noted the small boxes but Gable was closer to them and started examining them. “Just a bunch of light bulbs boss.”
Gary heard Stuckey swear.
“This is it, heck I was expecting bubbling test tubes, and electric Jacob ladders, and a little guy with bad posture yelling ‘Master, Master’.” Andrew stated with his hands on his hip.
“Gary’s dad is a computer geek not a mad scientist.” Sharon said as she came around the room to where Gary was.
“Well in that case I how about something like the set up from the bridge of the Enterprise or at least something like the Warlock’s Command Center at least.” Andrew said picking up a thermometer that was lying on the table.
Stuckey spoke from the doorway. “As was I Mr. Harlan, but it seems that the elder Mr. Donnelly had his secrets as well, this place” and he motioned around the room “is not what I was expecting, no he and his friend somehow skipped out of town and took the research with them.”
“I thought you said my father could not have possibly left town.” Gary said from across the room. “I thought your investigators stated he was still here?”
“Obviously your father was smart enough not to leave a trail. But I will find him, I am motivated, I have a lot of money and when I get your father’s invention I will be making a lot more. But for now, I will leave traveling wherever I need to go to track him down.”
Gary leaned against a wall now and waved. “Well, see you later you warped frustrated old man.”
“Warped and frustrated huh. Well that may be true, but at least I am not stuck running a crappy little comic book store in a crappy little town.”
“Hey, Montana is not a crappy little town.” Andrew blurted out defending his home.
“Ahh such a witty comeback.” Stuckey said waving his hand dismissively, he turned to Gable. “Let us go, call the hotel and have them check me out I do not want to spend another night in this backwater town.” With that Stuckey left without another word.
Sharon turned and smiled at Gary. “Did you just quote ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’?”
Gary smiled and reached out for her pulled her close and kissed.
Andrew spoke up. “Hate to ruin the moment you two but do you really think he is gone, all that work, all those threats and he just walks away?”
Sharon spoke up. “Well this place is a dead end as far as he knows; he knows we don’t know anything more than what he knows, as far as he knows, so yeah he is gone.”
“You know I think she may be right you know.” Gary said teasing her.
Sharon punched him on the arm. “Don’t make fun of me.” Sharon kissed gave him a quick kiss and stepped back. “What do you think your father was doing in here?”
“I don’t know, give me a minute,” he saw Andrew about to touch the lamp on the center table. “Don’t touch that, let’s just leave everything alone for a minute and look around.
Andrew pulled his hand away from the pull cord. “Sorry, but this thing is awful bright, and really not necessary, the overhead lights in here should provide enough light.”
It was then that Gary noted the ceiling lights, one row of fluorescent lights around the exterior walls of the room, each of them lite. Andrew was right; they would provide more than enough light even in this enclosed space. The walls were painted white as well, so even without the center light off it there would be plenty of light.
Sharon was turned and facing the white board now, and spoke up. “Whatever your father was doing he did not label his work.”
Gary turned and looked at the board.
The first row, read, 40, 60, 75, 100, 75, 150, 200. The second and fourth and sixth rows were all 2.5. The third row read 2,11,18,20, 23, 26, 42, and 68. The fifth row was 6, 6.5, 7, 9.5, 10, 12, and 17. The last row only had two of the spaces filled in though not going all the way down just two spaces filled in.
Sharon had been looking at the numbers as well but then saw something under the center table and bent to retrieve it. “Hey guys look a red dry marker.”
“Just like the color on the board.” Gary stated then looked around. The other two markers were on the tray on the white board. “Hmm, my father is usually very neat I wonder why that was there.”
It was then that Andrew spoke up. “Hey guys, something is wrong with this light.” Gary turned and looked at him, he was not touching the lamp but his hands were close to the exposed bulbs. “No heat, this thing has been plugged in for what a couple of months, heck we know it has been on for the last fifteen minutes at least, but no heat.” Andrew pulled his hands away and backed away from the center table.
Gary walked to the center of the room and carefully reached out his hand, no heat at all.
“Yeah weird covers it, that one large spotlight bulb should be putting off all kinds of heat.” Gary said motioning to the one bulb.
Sharon was looking at the white board then around the room finally she walked to the boxes, and looked at the light bulbs. “I know what some of the numbers mean.”
Both Andrew and Gary responded. “What.”
Sharon laughed. “The rows with different numbers refer to the different watts of light bulbs.”
Gary came over and looked sure enough there was a bulb labeled with watts corresponding to the written numbers. He examined the bulbs further. “Yep, three rows, incandescent, fluorescent and L.E.D. bulbs.”
“But what do the other numbers mean?” Andrew asked, referring to the 2.5 columns.
Sharon spoke up now she was looking at the hot plates. “I think he was seeing if,” and she plugged in a hot plate and put a beaker of water on the plate. “the wattage of the bulb had any change on the boiling time of the water.” She said while looking at her watch.
“Why?” Andrew asked.
Gary was leaning against the table watching the water in the beaker. “I think he was seeing if the different wattages would affect the basic laws of physics, to see if it warped how long it took this water came to a boil, with the wattage of the bulb being the only variable in this room.”
“Well it looked like it failed, no change.” Andrew said motioning to all the 2.5 numbers alongside all the different wattages.
“So how come he did not finish?” Sharon said, pointing to the five empty spaces.
“My father would have finished the experiment even if he was convinced the results would not change, he would have gotten all the data he could.”
Sharon got a strange look on her face. “Then why is that splitter in the lamp, it’s an adapter, your father was only testing one bulb at a time.”
Gary scratched his chin. The room got quite for a bit, then their eyes were drawn to the water in the beaker, it was boiling. Sharon looked at her watch. “Two and a half minutes almost exactly.”
“Did anyone see a notebook?” Gary asked. The other two looked around and shook their heads and looked around the lab some more. “My father would have had a plan, I am sure this was his first test, something incredibly basic, something easy to set up. But he would have had further plans laid out, advancing in complexity, trying to figure this thing out.” Gary said pointing towards the lamp.
Sharon walked over closer to the lamp, and felt the cord following it along, till she came to a turn switch in the cord, she stopped and looked at it then back at the lamp, paying very close attention to the adapter. “Guys there is something wrong here.”
“What?” Gary said and both he and Andrew came around to Sharon’s side.
“Well this lamp is turned on by this switch,” Picking up the cord and showing them. “also that is not only an on/off cord that is a rheostat pull cord on that adapter.” Blank looks from the guys, Sharon remembered they did not come from a family of electricians. “It means that bulb may not be on its highest setting right now, or it may be on its highest with the possibility of the bulbs being dimmer.”
“So, it could be brighter or dimmer, dimmer would be nice.” Andrew said reaching for the cord. Sharon grabbed his hand. “Not yet, let us think about this for a minute.
“Let us sum up what we know for sure,” Gary said walking over to the blank white board, he had the red marker in his hand.
“Gary and my Dad are missing.” He wrote this on the board.
“The last place we are certain my father was, was here doing this experiment.” The other two nodded, Gary wrote ‘Last place here.’, on the board.
Sharon spoke up now. “Experiment unfinished.” Gary nodded and wrote this on the board.
Andrew spoke up. “No heat from the lamp.” Gary wrote ‘no heat’.
Gary wrote something, ‘Two bulbs now, one burnt out.’ The other two nodded. Gary was about to cap the pen. “Anything else we know for sure?” The room got quiet for a minute, everyone looking at the board then around the room, Sharon and Andrew shook their heads, so Gary capped the pen.
“Wait a minute,” Andrew said as he snapped his fingers. “we know the last place your father was, was here, but we don’t know if this is the place older Gary was, would he have been here as well.”
“Maybe, my father might have brought him along, or maybe Gary could have joined him here.”
Sharon spoke up now. “You once said Gary, your god-father was the one with all the crazy ideas right?”
“Yeah, all the stories I have ever heard the start out with ‘Gary had this idea..’.” Gary answered her.
“Well all these weird and crazy things happened when people were trying to invent things right, scientists in labs, inventors in their garages right.”
“Yeah that sums up all the incidents in the files, someone trying something out, discovering something or creating something, weather it was time travel, or that goo that defied entropy, or downloading a computer into a person’s head.” Gary answered.
Sharon was excited now. “Would you say your father was an inventor, a dreamer, or the creative type.”
Gary was trying to think where she was going. “No, he just made existing products better, he really did not have much of an imagination, sure he was smart and scientific but not a dreamer more of a tinkerer.”
Sharon turned towards Andrew. “You knew older Gary, was he a dreamer, did he have a big imagination.”
“Yeah I would say so, he loved getting into crazy conversations at the comic book store, always asking ‘what if’ type scenarios, then coming up with three of four of them on his own.” Andrew said, but stopped when Sharon held up her hand.
“Do you guys see what happened here?” Sharon said as if it was the plainest thing imaginable. Gary looked at Andrew, Andrew looked back both of them puzzled and then looked at Sharon.
“Every time something weird happened it was to someone with a deep knowledge of science and also the imagination to invent something fantastic. But with your father and Gary, it took two of them together to create their ‘real woman’. Your father with the science and Gary with the imagination, the two of them had to be together to get the Disruption Field to activate.”
“Okay say that is true, it takes imagination and scientific knowledge to make this thing work, that does not answer the question of where they are.”
The three of them turned and toward the lamp sitting on the table.
[Comment by A.A.: Sorry about the descriptions of the white board, WordPress was being difficult with the spacing so I could not get it laid out properly when I published it, so I had to make due with the paragraph describing the rows and columns of numbers. Also I had to change one light bulb to be burnt out for reasons of the story which will be revealed later.]