Unlike previous owners, the landlady wanted nothing more to do with the machine. “I don’t care who made the damn thing,” she exclaimed. “I want it out of here.”
Happily, Gloria and I found a place for it without too much trouble. Her ex-boyfriend’s mother had a huge unused barn space and was more than willing to let us set up for a nominal monthly fee.
Gloria had a simple plan: We could bring personalities back, who we could then interview. “Do you know how much money we could make from an interview with Einstein Mom?”
The problem I saw was that no one would believe it. How could they? I mean seriously, would I believe if someone told me they had brought Edgar Allen Poe back from the dead and then conducted a ten-minute interview to discuss how he had created the Dupin character?
No. I probably would not. I said as much. “Even if it’s unbelievable, think about the knowledge. Okay, pretend we don’t get to post our interviews in the New York Times, but how valuable would the information be, for say, a new Theory of Everything from Einstein?”
She had a point. But for me it was not the money we could make from this, but the discussions we could have. I wanted to speak with Poe and Einstein, but more importantly, Socrates. He had been my hero. As a teen I had fallen in love with the crazy man, but more, I pined for his insights. Why were his principles more important than his life? What did he think about our life today? Could I give him an update without causing problems in the ether or netherworld?
“Maybe,” I said, silently agreeing for my own reasons. I doubt at that point either of us could have turned back. We wanted to know so much more; not about the machine, but about the netherworld. Limits to human experience included the path we were about to travel. We would be the sole proprietors of this knowledge.
Setting up the machine was not as difficult as I expected. There was no hidden tunnel. The machine itself produced the effect of the tunnel and the tunnel produced the consciousness we would call. Gloria set a couple of friends to helping us set it up and within a day, we were ready to begin.
A problem occurred when it came to choosing who to call first. My daughter had her own ideas. Jimmy Hoffa, Kurt Cobain, Elvis. She even mentioned Vlad the Impaler. My list of noble personalities included as I mentioned before, Socrates, Albert Einstein, Leonard Da Vinci, Freud, Jung, Joseph Campbell.
“We should make a list,” I suggested.
We stood just inside the barn with the double wooden doors of the building wide open. Outside storm clouds had begun to gather. From the looks of it, tornado weather. Gloria shook her head. “I already have a list in my head. I don’t need to write it down.”
“Well, I mean so we can take turns in who we bring back.” I thought quick, trying not to insult her. “Look, I don’t care about Elvis or Jimmy Hoffa. They are not exactly personalities I would consider beneficial to human society. Maybe in their own little ways, but they can’t compare to Leonardo or Socrates.”
She turned a dark look upon me that would cause even Vlad to take a step back. I
swear this child is a real-life version of the Black Witch. I back tracked, quickly. “But you may have a point,” I gestured to the machine, tucked neatly under the loft. “You could call whoever you want, while I do the research for the personality I want to call. Tesla said we’ll have about five minutes to interview before they begin fading.”
She winced at that. “I’m not staying in here by myself with that thing.”
How could I respond? I took a step outside the barn, smiling to myself. Glancing back and heading for the car I shot back over my shoulder, “I guess you’ll need my help then. When we do bring someone back, It should be Tesla again. Before we do anything else.”