Her name was Imagine Summer. She was one of LeVram’s graduate students during the early work on the Calculix. She stands out in memory not least because of her nearly purple eyes that I’d gaze at as I passed her in the hallway. I liked to pretend she was pretending not to notice me. A second student in the LeVram lab was Bern Hijkl. I knew him only because our labs shared the same deep freeze where I would occasionally run into him. She and Bern were the two students most intimately involved in the research, and LeVram encouraged them both towards what can euphemistically be termed “playing” with the device.
I devised to track them both down for insight into the development of the Calculix. I would then break the story to the world and achieve, if not immortality, then maybe a paid writing position or a book deal.
Preliminary research revealed that Summer was now employed at Astrobiologica®, a multinational neuroceutical conglomerate. I learned that she frequented a certain coffeeshop at a research park, and I planned to “bump into” her one Thursday afternoon.
I recognized her easily. Older of course but in a way that enhanced her loveliness. Where once she was a perky college keener she now had the more restrained confidence that comes with success.
As she ordered her coffee I timed my approach to the sugar-cream bar and feigned a searching recognition, followed by surprise. “I think we went to school together” I said, “did you work on the third floor at the Sonatoska Institute?”
She seemed agitated, uncomfortable with a near stranger bringing up her distant past, a past forever linked to her controversial former employer.
I mentioned one of the classes we had shared and brought up the sordid rumours about the professor who taught it, Dr. Dunner, which had always been a popular topic among students and staff at the institute. She warmed up slightly at this gambit and I convinced her to sit down for a brief chat.
Conversation was tentative at first. Gracefully tall with bobbing waves of flaxen hair it was amazing to look into those pale blue eyes and after so many years have them look back at me.
“So you work for Astrobiologica now, interesting. Sometimes I miss the lab but my pure science days are behind me. I write now, and interestingly enough I’m researching the history of the Calculix.”
She looked at me suspiciously. “So this wasn’t a chance encounter.”
“Not exactly. But so too with science I’m in the business of uncovering truth. And you probably know better than anyone that the true story of the Calculix has not been told.”
“And that’s probably a good thing. Look, I have to be going.”
Imagine turned to go, paused. “Let’s exchange contact information. I may be able to give you something. I’ll have to think about it.”
“What about Bern Hijkl? You were both students of LeVram’s. What happened with him?”
Her face fell as she repeated the name. “Bern. He left science, he left reality. He’s not all the way back.. he changed. That’s all I want to say.”
“Well it was good talking to you. I’ll be in touch.”
She hurried away.
[Imagine Summer is Part 3 of The Calculix Series]