I didn’t hear anymore tapping on the windows during dinner. The curtains were drawn tight over the darkness outside.
I enjoyed my dinner and didn’t pay too much attention to the conversations. Though I answered when I had to. I probably paid more attention to the candle flickering precariously on the table than to anything else.
I did start listening when the conversation at my Uncle’s end of the table changed to the topic of transportation off earth. Particularly to our moon which has been settled for quite a number of years.
Controversial transportation, they said.
“Controversial?” I asked. I looked up. “What does that mean?”
Honestly, it was the first question I had asked all night. Except if someone could please pass the beans.
Slagowski must have noticed, because he looked a little surprised. But he wasn’t the one who answered.
“There’s been some experimenting going on with different means of transportation,” it was the quiet man who had stood by the window. He was a bit short in height and had slicked backed hair.
“Why would that be controversial?”
“We’ve been experimenting transportation without any sort of vehicle,” he answered.
I still didn’t get it.
“What, so it can be a new tourist attraction? Walk to the Moon?” I took the bite that had been waiting on my fork.
“Physics,” he answered. “And some people are worried about how well we contain the experiments in our labs.”
“Oh. So people are worried they’re going to find wormholes in their front yards.”
The man looked down at his glass and twirled it.
“I’ve given up following the story on this new transportation,” someone said. She was next to him, also next to me. She bit carefully off her spoon. She didn’t want to ruin her lipstick.
“It’s worth following,” Mr. Newman put in. I suddenly was out of the conversation. “We have quite an excellent writer though I’m not quite sure where she gets her facts.”
There was a murmur of chuckles. Especially a dashing smile from Myra.
“I thank you Professor, but you forget I always cite my papers,” she returned. “Even if they only come from one man.”
She smiled over at the quiet man. He had stopped twirling his glass. Now he drank from it. But he looked through it at her.
I thought it was odd. I had no idea why but I did.
“As one of our prominent funders, what do you think of our progress so far?” He said. He looked across the table at my Uncle. He sliced a bit of his salmon.
“Well, you have an effect, but whether you achieved anything other than that I’m not sure,” he answered. “But of course it’s only been a few months since the experiments have begun.”
“How long should it usually take?” the girl asked. She sat across from Myra.
“It took Edison one year to create his light bulb,” Slagowski answered.
“Hm. One year,” she mused. She swallowed a bit of her meal.
“What do you call this experiment?” I asked.
“We call it the Double Effect.”
“Like your neighbor’s house.” I looked up at my Uncle.
“Don’t you have – never mind.” I looked back at my plate.
“This old man would scare off any neighbors even if he had any,” the girl said. She didn’t seem to notice the oddity of my comment. “Besides, it would diminish the unusual allure of the place.” She described her words with her fingers. As though trying to imitate the mist. Her other hand pronged her meat with her fork.
I looked over at her. I felt my mouth biting into a smile.
“I suppose you could call this some sort of hermitage?” I asked, playfully.
She made a face. But didn’t answering till she was done swallowing.
“Nothing like it.” She answered.
And caught a glimpse of the quiet man, the quiet scientist, staring at me. But I only eyed him back.
I decided to sleep in the parlor again that night. I could see the moor from it. I felt like I wanted to keep an eye on it.
I had turned off all the lights when I went over to close the window, still open and letting the cold air in. I stopped though when I saw the scientist and Myra standing outside, looking at the moor.
What are they doing there? It was late. Unless they too knew about the double house.
Double house. Double Effect.
“I’m going to bed,” I murmured to myself.