Experiment #286

The Disappearance of Lilly Cole Part 7

“Unless the echo has dissipated, which wouldn’t happen until…Oh, crap. I did marry Aria.”

“Who’s Aria?”

“My wife.”

“What?”

“Not me-mine… time-echo-me’s mine. I mean I-he went back to stop me from pursuing time travel and focus on my marriage.”

“Which marriage?”

“I… err… my time echo went back to fix my marriage with Cassy, but must have realized he was stuck, used my middle name, and settled down with Aria.”

“A lot of good focusing on your marriage did you…”

“Yeah, two men and two wives.”

“That’s not what I meant,” she said in a sober tone that made James stop his train of thought.

“What did you mean?”

“You don’t have the foggiest, do you?”

“Did we…?”

“About six years ago. You were bored with your desk job and we, ummm… Yeah,” Lilandra said.

“Does Cassy know?” James asked.

“That’s what ended it. It went on longer than I’m comfortable admitting. But you chose her, and she stayed with you.”

“Oh gosh. That explains what a blow Aria must be.”

“Yeah,” she said with an edge in her voice.

“In my other life, Cassy and I named our daughter after you.”

“And in this one, I just about ended your marriage.”

A long silence stretched out between them.

“Do you think you can get me into Fowler’s lab?” James asked.

“Why the Hawking would I do that?”

“For my daughter, your namesake.”

“What makes you think you can undo this? What makes you think you should?”

“Because of Lilly.”

“Well, what about Jimmy? He’s your son.”

“I don’t know him. But I knew my daughter, and she was something to fight for.”

“Are you seriously willing to doom him to non-existence for the sake of someone else? What happens if you lose both of them?”

“I’ve put Cassy through enough. If it’s a divorce for us, I want to say this version of me made the choices I’m forced to live with.”

“How will Jimmy live with the choices you make?”

He didn’t respond. After a long silence Lilandra let him off the hook. “And how do you propose to fix it?” she asked. “Going back could make things even worse.”

“I’m going to cancel myself.”

Lilandra sighed. “Please tell me you’ve been drinking.”

“If I can recreate the time machine, I should be able to send a time wave or time echo at an alternate frequency and try to cancel my original echo.”

“And you think you can do that from Fowler’s lab?”

“I know he has the equipment I need. I saw it when I was there.”

“And the calculations should only take you, what, the better part of a year?”

“Well, not if I ask Cassy…”

To Be Continued…

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