The last time he’d been here, Stan had to strain to see over the ledge, his little legs as much pudge as muscle, but his dad hadn’t helped him up. The other kids pulled themselves onto the carved stone all by themselves, and Stan was held to no less a standard, son of a Colonel or no. The water portal had been new then, and the bridge to another world was a temptation no four year old could resist.
Now, of course, the fountain was filled with ordinary water. The Great Emigration, The Invasion, and The War, all locked into the past, as unreachable as the Caithan’s world, a number of light years away that was large enough to make Stan’s head spin. Despite the prohibitions, the bottom of the fountain was scattered with remembrances – dog tags, a rosary, a cameo of a lover, lost forever when the portal had been abruptly closed.
But there was nothing in the water to commemorate Stan’s father. Stan himself only came here under heavy secrecy and with a new face. He loved his father, but it had finally become too dangerous to maintain any public connection to the Butcher of Caithan.
When President Rodgers had announced the closing of the portal and the end of the war, she had said that the decision was irreversible – that the mechanism used to sever the connection made re-establishing the link impossible. She’d even had some physics guy standing behind her with projections and charts, so that it made no sense to anyone. It had come out in the trial that she’d hoped to avoid impeachment, even though there were millions who’d never come home again, but that attempt had failed, and her name was as much of a curse as Stan’s father’s.
Of course, as with all things said by politicians, it was a lie. Nothing one person did was truly irreversible, if another worked hard enough. Stan fingered the transmitter in his pocket and smiled. It hadn’t been easy, figuring this out, but now he had the power to reopen the portal. And humanity had unfinished business on the other end.