The bell over the door of Café Diem jingled as Eureka's Sheriff Jack Carter stepped inside. He nodded to patrons as they turned and smiled. To his right sat the elderly android twins playing chess. Just past them sat a few men in business suits, their heads bent down, focused on their PDAs as one of the local's biomimetic dogs barked.
A step behind Carter was Deputy Sheriff Jo Lupo. She grinned down at the pooch and gave it a pat on the head.
Spotting Fargo, Carter strode purposefully toward a small group huddled around the back table. Douglas Fargo, the assistant to the director at Global Dynamics and Eureka's brilliant but accident-prone problem child, sat among friends and co-workers, including Carter's daughter, Zoe.
Home on a short break from Harvard, Zoe had offered to help bus and wait tables again at the café, only this morning she looked more like a patron than an employee.
Vincent, Café Diem's stout and ever-helpful owner and proprietor, waved at Carter as he entered. "Morning, Sheriffhey, Jo. The Thank-God-It's-Friday Fritters are fresh."
Carter shook his head. "Morning, Vincentmaybe not today. S.A.R.A.H. says I still need to cut back on the fried foods."
"Oooh…; Vincent." Jo diverted to the counter. "I'll take one, and a Bavarian Hammer."
"Coming right up, Jo. Your loss, Sheriff. They're guaranteed to make your Friday go smooth as silk."
Though the idea of having one of Vincent's delicious fritters sounded wonderfulespecially to Carter's growling stomachhe really was trying to cut back a little on the rich food he'd enjoyed since moving to Eureka.
Café Diem boasted an eclectic and entertaining array of interior decor, much of which reflected the town's history, as well as her more famous scientific residents. Vincent himself held a reputation that he could fill any order asked of him, and he prided himself on having a freezer stocked to suit anyone who came through the door.
Also seated at the table with Fargo and Zoe were Julia, Fargo's girlfriend and researcher at Global Dynamic, and Henry Deacon, the town's most versatile scientist, mechanic, and mayor.
"Morning, Carter," Henry said.
"Good morning, Sheriff Carter." Julia's smile was incredibly bright and chipper for a Friday morning.
"Morning." Carter stood in front of the table, his hands on his hips. "Fargoabout this complaint against your neighbor"
"Yes." The diminutive assistant pointed at him with the pencil in his hand. "That noise has got to stop. The lights, the yelling, the moaning…;"
Carter frowned. Moaning? "You said they were making a movie." His eyes widened as he felt a smile tug at the corners of his mouth. "What kind of movie are they making?"
Julia sat up straight and pushed her dark-framed glasses up higher on her nose, blushing just slightly. "Nothing as brash as that, Sheriff. They're re-enacting Contactmaking a satire out of it."
Carter blinked and frowned as he tried running as quickly as he could through the list of movie titles he could remember. "You mean like Star Trek?"
Fargo sighed, lowering the pencil and his shoulders. "Sheriff, that's First Contact. This is Contact, the beloved book by Carl Sagan, where man's first contact with extraterrestrials is"
Carter held up his hands. "Okay, okay. Sorry. My bad. The movie with Jodie Foster"
"Awful." Julia sniffed.
"Totally not the book," Fargo echoed.
Zoe moved from her seat beside Julia and touched her father's arm. "Hey, Dad…; something for breakfast? Fritter?"
Carter smiled at her, feeling the soft affection he always had when he was with her. He was thrilled she was home from school even if it was only for a long weekend. But he was also aware of something else in her expression. Something sad.
He moved a few steps to the counter, away from the others as Zoe joined him. "Hey…; you plan on telling me what's been causing you to walk around like a zombie? S.A.R.A.H. said you called her Lucas twice this morning." He lowered his voice as he watched her face.
Zoe shrugged and looked back at the others as they talked among themselves again. "It's nothing…; really."
"Uh…; Zoe…; it's me…; remember? Your dad? The one who always embarrasses you? The one who's always right but you never admit it?"
Her gaze immediately moved up to meet his, and she gave him a half smile. "I know, Dad…; It's just that"she glanced back at the group"I look at Fargo and Julia and I feel…; kinda…;" Her shoulders rose and lowered. "I don't know. Sad?"
Frowning, he glanced back at them. "Well, I know it's kind of an odd pairing…; but they seem to go well together." He grinned. "Kinda like spaghetti and meatballs."
"But that's just it." She sighed. "They're so happy together."
"Uh…;" He sighed and straightened, now understanding his daughter's seemingly listless behavior since arriving in Eureka. "This is about you and Lucas."
She nodded. "Dad…; he's just so…; At first we were keeping up with each other. Texting, e-mail, calling…; And then I got busy…; and then he got busy…; and now…;" She shrugged. "Now it's so hard to even get a response out of him. I told him I was coming back to Eureka for a few daysbut he never responded." She turned a pained expression to him. It broke his heart. "I miss him."
"Oh, honey." He reached out and gave her a quick hug. "I'm sorry. I should have seen this. Look, I'm sure Lucas is busy at MIT. Why don't I pick Henry's brain later, okay?" He tilted his head from side to side. "Maybe kinda see if I can get information?"
"I wish I could pick Lucas's brain sometimes. I'd do anything to know what he's thinking."
"Trust him, okay? Like I said, he's probably just a little preoccupied with school. And I'll see what I can find out for you."
"Thanks, Dad," she said in a whisper. Then she lowered her voice and said, "Just don't let Henry know I'm the one that wants to know."
Carter grinned. "I promise." He moved back to the group with Zoe beside him. "So what exactly have we got going on here? Some kind of game?"
Jo joined them, a to-go cup in one hand, a napkin-covered fritter with a bite out of it in the other. She chewed as she looked at everyone. "What's up?"
Henry was the one to answer, looking Carter directly in the eye. "Remote Viewing."
Carter pursed his lips, nodding. "Annnd…; by that I'm assuming you're not talking about binoculars or like a telescope."
Jo shook her head and swallowed. "Nope. Like the Morehouse book, right?" She looked at Henry.
Julia's and Fargo's expressions slipped into surprise as they looked at the deputy, their mouths dropping.
"How did you know about that?" Fargo said. "Morehouse's book? Psychic Warrior?"
Jo's eyebrows arched high into her smooth forehead. "It's called reading, Fargo. You should try it sometime." She looked at Julia. "Though I'd always assumed it was fiction. So this Stargate thing was real?"
"Very much so," Henry grinned.
Carter looked from Jo to Henry. "Anyone care to give me a book report?"
"Remote Viewing, or RV as it's called, is the science of gathering needed information about a remote target," Henry said. "The means of the gathering is what's always been called into question because it relies on the mind and its connection to all things. The term itself was introduced by parapsychologists Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff in 1974."
"Harold Put-off?" Carter grinned at Henry, and then straightened his face when he realized Henry wasn't smiling. He cleared his throat. "So parapsychology?" Carter made a face. "Uh…; so you're into psychics and tarot cards now?"
"Of course not, Sheriff," Julia piped up. "RV is actually based in science. Our own government believed so in the seventies to the tune of about twenty million. They called it the Stargate Project."
"Stargate?" Carter looked at each of them before looking back to Henry. "You mean like the TV show?"
Jo chewed on her fritter.
"Oh, hardly," Henry said. "There's always been a fringe interest in using psychics and psychic sciences in other countries. Germany was more of the leader in this research, until the United States got involved. A lot of interest in the idea of actually ‘seeing' something from a distance with the mindwithout having to risk operations or teams, manpower or weapons and timealways appeals to those in charge. You just have to prove to them it works."
Carter shifted his stance and glanced down at Zoe, then over at Jo. "You two know about this stuff?"
"Not really." Zoe smiled. "I offered to help him teach itbe a test subject."
"Teach it?" Carter's gaze whipped back to Henry. "You want to teach psychic mumbo-jumbo to smart kids? You know you're gonna get laughed at, right?" He looked at Zoe. "And you're going along with it?"
"Dad…;" Zoe began.