This is the
sequel to Pati's Big Adventure, which you
should read if you want to understand it. Both stories feature
Carl/Gabriel, time travel and my friend, Pati. I wrote it
for her birthday.
If You Don't Want Someone
to Read It
down and tell me what's wrong," Van Helsing said as he held Carl
firmly by the shoulders. Then the distressed look on Carl's face
prompted him to pull the man into an embrace. "Just tell me."
"Jinette. He read my private—oh God, you're going to be furious."
Van Helsing wasn't furious so much as he was worried. "Carl, if Jinette
read your diary, then he knows . . . we can just leave, it'll be all
Carl sighed deeply. "It wasn't my diary. My heart would have already
stopped and I would be dead if he'd read my diary. But this is almost
as bad. He read about our last . . . trip to the future."
"Oh," Van Helsing said softly, remembering how educational and . . .
athletic that had been. He often wished Carl didn't write everything
down, but he was an obsessive note-taker, and no doubt he'd included
every detail of their trip. "I'm guessing it wasn't your notes about
operating on people's eyes?"
"No. There were lots of body parts mentioned . . . but not eyes. But he
didn't read all of it—just one page. You see, I got it mixed up with
some notes I was giving him about an experiment . . . .
Carl raced into Jinette's office, prompted by the bellowing of his
name. He stood in front of Jinette's desk, watching the man look at the
paper in his hand and look up at Carl.
"Carl, you are trying to kill an old man."
"The notes you gave me, all very interesting, interesting indeed.
Especially this page. Shall I read it to you?"
Carl had never seen Jinette's eyebrows go so high on his forehead
Jinette mumbled several words and only clearly pronounced a few for
effect, and they had quite an effect on Carl.
"So we enter the room, dut dut dut dut, seductress, dut dut dut dut,
excitable, dut dut dut dut, limber . . . ."
Then Jinette dropped his head and looked as if he were looking over the
top of a pair of glasses, but he wasn't wearing glasses, and Carl
wondered, just for a moment, how easy it would be to outrun the man.
"So, you see, he knows about it all because, well, I thought maybe we
could go back for a while. And I had my notes out reading them again,
and I guess I got sleepy and got a page mixed in somehow. So he knows,"
Carl said the last three words more a despairing moan than anything.
Van Helsing patted his back. "So . . . we need to leave? If he thinks
he's going to do anything to either of us, he's mistaken. We'll just go
"We don't have to leave. Oh, if only it were that." Carl pulled back
and looked up at him with panicked eyes. "The page was all about umm,
Pati and you doing . . . well, you know that point when the three of us
. . . well, and—and we knocked all the pictures off the wall . . . and
she started mixing up all the languages she knew and we later
determined that she'd probably invented an entirely new one? Well
Jinette was . . . he . . . it made an impression."
Carl swallowed hard and his shoulders slumped a little more. "He wants
to come with us."
"Now, Cardinal, you just step in . . . that's right . . . keep your
arms at your sides and just relax . . . no, no, we have to go one at a
time," Carl said, giving Van Helsing a pointed look as he did so.
"There you go, that's right, just push that button when you're ready."
As Jinette disappeared, Carl already had a hold of Van Helsing's arm
hauling him into the machine. He started making calibrations.
"You sent him on ahead? But she doesn't even know him."
"No, I sent him out to the middle of the woods, yesterday. It was a
lovely, mild day and he'll only be there briefly, it'll be fine. And
the same malfunction is going to prevent us from following him, and
we'll be here for a couple of hours, or maybe three or four since I'm
scheduling us to arrive around her birthday, desperately trying to
repair the problem and bring the Cardinal home. Repeat that if you need
to. I've already written the notes for him to accidentally read later."
Van Helsing laughed as Carl pushed the button.
As they arrived at their destination, Van Helsing frowned and asked,
"Couldn't you just go back to before the Cardinal read the page and
make sure you don't mix that page in with your other notes?"
"That would be unethical," Carl squeaked, taking off at a run to look
for the lady of the house.
Van Helsing watched after him, his eyebrow cocked, mentally adding the
words he knew Carl was thinking but had left off: And not nearly as