All three of them took showers (Bertie’s with local applications of the garden hose), then re-assembled in the Porters’ house, where Vince took charge of the kitchen and cooked a delicious bean stew with polenta dumplings. He did make a terrible mess, but it was nothing that Beverley and the dishwasher couldn’t handle.
Afterwards, they sat by the fire, with Bertie snoring and twitching on top of Vince’s feet.
‘I didn’t tell you, Vince. I saw the ghost again last night.’
‘By the boundary hedge, under the rowan tree. Bertie was whining to go out, so I let him. And as I opened the door I heard a voice say, ‘Herbert! Come!’ I thought it was you, so I followed him. He was standing in front of the rowan tree. And in the shadow of the tree there was the shape of a man.’
‘Are you sure about this?’
‘Look, I’m sorry, Bev. I don’t think you’re lying and I don’t think you’re mad, but I’m having a bit of trouble believing this.’
‘That’s okay – I knew you would. But I’m telling you, anyway, because you know what? I reckon Derek was giving him instructions. Telling him where to dig. Knowing it was safe with the Porters away. Knowing I could be trusted. Knowing that I knew you.
‘In fact,’ she continued, ‘he might have been involved from the start. I mean, first of all he saved my life. Then I reckon he tried to get Bertie to drag me over to see you. When that didn’t work, he got him to escape and visit you on his own, which led to us meeting anyway. He’s organising the whole thing, Vince. That’s what I think.’
‘And you don’t find that creepy in any way?’
‘Why should I? He was a good man, wasn’t he? And I trust Bertie’s instincts. If that was a dodgy ghost, he wouldn’t have gone near it. But instead he was all earnest and obedient, as if he had an important job to do. And afterwards he was so happy! As if everything was alright after all.’
‘Well, I’m glad he thinks so.’
‘I know what you mean. It’s a huge responsibility, isn’t it?’
‘To be honest, it scares me to death.’
And together they turned round to look at the two muddy boxes sitting on top of old newspapers on the dining room table.
‘So who does it all belong to? Legally, I mean?’ said Beverley.
To her dismay, Vince narrowed his eyes at her and went very still. ‘Why do you ask?’ he said.
‘I just think it’s something we need to be clear on,’ said Beverley, squirming inwardly, because it’s horrible when someone you like has doubts about you.
‘So what are you suggesting?’ asked Vince, his mouth contorting at the corners. ‘That we hand it all over to Derek’s family?’
‘Actually, what I’m…’
‘Do you know what they did with the contents of his workshop?’ he snapped, eyes blazing. ‘They junked the lot of it! I was so angry, I didn’t know what to do with myself. His whole life’s work – just thrown away!’
‘And what we have here… It’s not only the greatest achievement of his life, but it has the potential to change the world!’
‘I’m not arguing with you, Vince. I just…’
‘Do you realise what the energy cost is, in every single item we buy? The energy to produce it, the energy to transport it? It’s HUGE! With free energy, the cost of everything would plummet. We could heat our houses for free. Run our cars for free. What’s more, we could desalinate sea water and turn the deserts green. We could end poverty. We could stop polluting the Earth!’
‘Vince, you’re preaching to the converted.’
‘So we can’t let Derek’s family have this, Beverley. I’m sorry, but I don’t give a toss about the frigging law. I’m not going to let it happen!’
‘Hang on a minute, Vince. That’s not what I’m saying.’
‘Hey look, we’re on the same side… Vince?’
‘I’m sorry. It’s just that…’ but his words dried up and he bowed his head and braced himself against the arms of the chair.
‘No, I’m sorry. I can be a bit clumsy, sometimes. And I do understand how important free energy is for the planet… I also know we have to be very careful how we handle this. Otherwise, we could both end up at the bottom of the drop.’
Vince nodded, his head still bowed.
‘I suppose what I was trying to say was this,’ Bev continued. ‘We can’t treat it as if it’s ours and try to make money out of it. That would be wrong, because it isn’t ours. But in any case, nobody can apply for a patent – not you, not me, not Derek’s family – not anyone. Because the Cabal would suppress it and send round the henchmen. It’s simply not an option.’
‘Who’s the Cabal?’
‘You know – the Global Elite. They own the Banks, the Oil Companies, the Media, Big Pharma, and so on.’
‘But maybe there is a way we can… Vince, you knew Derek really well. Who do you think he would have wanted to have this?’
‘Everybody! The whole damn planet!’
‘That’s what I thought. So that’s what we do. We give it to the whole damn planet.’
They spent days researching the right kind of websites for open-sourcing Derek’s invention. There seemed to be plusses and minuses to all of them. For example, Steven Greer’s network for developing open-source energy technologies was at a very early stage; Ubuntu Planet promoted the idea of sharing, but wasn’t really a technological site; the Keshe Foundation had its own free energy technology – why would it be interested in Derek’s?
‘But this isn’t a competition,’ Beverley pointed out. ‘It doesn’t matter whose technology is best or becomes most popular, or whose name is known for it a thousand years from now. What matters is that free energy gets started on this planet, for everyone. It can be perfected later. It just needs to get going.’
In the end, they decided to submit the papers to fifty websites all at once – some technological, some not – asking the websites to publish them as open-source technology. They decided it wasn’t their concern how Derek’s invention was received and what people did with it afterwards. The main thing was to get it out into the world, and spread it so widely that it would be impossible to suppress.
But before they could send it out, they had to get the information into a fit state to send. Derek’s papers were too dirty to scan – they would have to re-draw the diagrams and transcribe the text into a word-processing document. And it was too risky to involve anyone else, so they would have to do it themselves. Beverley volunteered for the typing, which meant spending most of the next two weeks on the computer at Vince’s house. She was a slow and inaccurate two-fingered typist, but fortunately the computer sorted out most of the errors and Vince’s editing caught the rest.
And this meant that Bertie also spent a good part of every day at Vince’s house, lying on top of his feet. When Vince wasn’t taking him for walks, that is. He was in Dog Heaven.
‘I don’t know what the neighbours think,’ remarked Beverley one evening.
‘I do. They think we’re having an affair,’ said Vince.
‘Really?’ said Beverley, going pink. ‘Did somebody say something?’
‘Your next door neighbour.’
‘What did he say?’
‘He said, “Fine-looking woman, that Beverley,” and he smirked at me.’
‘He didn’t!’ said Beverley.
‘He did. And now you’re blushing!’ laughed Vince.
‘No I’m not, it’s just hot in here. And anyway,’ she added, getting pinker by the second, ‘it’s not a bad thing, really. It’s a good disguise for what’s really going on.’
‘That’s what I thought,’ grinned Vince. ‘The best.’
That night, Beverley didn’t sleep so well. She liked to be honest with herself and face up to anything that needed facing up to, and right now she was having to face up to the fact that she was starting to be attracted to Vince. It was a nuisance, because they got on so well, and she’d been hoping to keep him as a friend, but once you started getting attracted to someone it was hard to behave normally with them.
She didn’t kid herself that there was any possibility of a relationship with him – partly because he was so obviously a confirmed bachelor, and partly because he was fit and slim and competent, and she was post-menopausal and overweight and inept.
So it was all very awkward.
And there was no immediate prospect of relief, because the house-sit was for a full three months. Not only that, but she was committed to spending a lot of time in Vince’s company for the sake of Derek’s machine. That was the most important thing. So she just had to grin and bear it.
The strategy she decided on was to pretend to herself as firmly as she could that she only saw Vince as a friend, and to dismiss any other thoughts from her mind whenever they occurred. Sometimes if you pretended something hard enough, you convinced yourself…
What did Derek call it?’ asked Beverley.
‘He didn’t call it anything, really,’ said Vince. ‘It was the free energy machine, that’s all.’
‘How did the Cabal find out about it?’
‘He submitted it for a patent. Six weeks later, Bertie turned up on my doorstep in a terrible state, and I came over here to see what was going on. There’d been a break-in, and signs of struggle, but no sign of Derek. So I called the police. God, it was awful. I ended up having to identify him, and he was such a mess.’
‘It was. And poor Bertie was beside himself.’
‘You know, I’m surprised the Cabal didn’t try to buy it from him first.’
‘Well, they might have done – we’ll never know. But he would have turned them down.’
‘They would have tried to scare him into selling it, too.’
‘Yeah, but he wouldn’t have given in, you see. Personally, I would. But he wouldn’t. That was just Derek… So, no – he didn’t have a name for it. Do we need one, do you think?’
‘We do, really.’
‘How about, “Derek Hall’s Free Energy Machine”?’
‘We can’t use his name, Vince.’
‘Why ever not?’
‘Because they’ll trace it back to you, that’s why not.’
‘Bloody hell! The guy gives his life for this, the least we can do is give him some credit for it.’
‘Later, Vince. Once the Cabal is out of the way. Then you can come out and tell the whole story.’
‘Who says they’re going to be out of the way, ever?’
‘Loads of people with insider information. There’s a huge Alliance working to bring them down. And bit by bit they’re losing ground.’
‘So why not wait till they’ve lost and then bring it out?’
‘Because of the hope that it will give people. That the world can change. That everyone can have a good life without wrecking the planet. The more hope everyone has, the faster the Cabal will be defeated.’
‘I don’t see the connection.’
‘Because our feelings and beliefs create our reality.’
‘They do… Anyway, we still haven’t got a name for it… I tell you what, though. We could name it after Bertie.’
‘What, as in “Bertie’s Blaster”?’
They laughed about it for the rest of the evening, and Bertie’s Blaster it became.
Part 5 soon
© Sue J Davis 2016
Please see Copyright Notice on the ‘About’ page.