Economics 101, a Novel, ch_13 -- No Contact

[JMR201609111943: Moved the link to the abandoned almost-final draft to the bottom. ]
(The story starts here:
The previous chapter is here:

Maybe you're wondering, at this point, why Wycliffe didn't put out a general call of distress on his radio. I am, too. But he didn't. People forget important things sometimes when they are under stress or focused on trying to make what they are doing succeed.

Anyway, we are pretty sure he didn't know that part of his penance would be watching over the two people he had kidnapped from the other side of the veil. So we can be pretty sure that wasn't a motivation if he failed to make that call on purpose.

But we are wondering what Zedidiah did after Wycliffe radioed him during his trip from the uncharted island to the cache island. Let's find out.

"Wye calling Zed, are you there?"

"Zed here. How's the flight?"

"We had some engine problems and put down on the cache island. Our passengers explored the island a little while I checked the engine out and decided they want to camp out."

"Camp out? I'm supposed to believe you did not have engine problems on purpose?"

"Wellll, ..."

"Yes, well. What are they going to do for food?"

"I packed them enough for three days."

"Hmm. Next time, I'm not going to be satisfied with just, 'I'll bring them back safe and sound.' Other preparations?"

"The tent in the emergency supplies is not a five star hotel, but I think it'll do."

"Where are they now?"

"Hiking while I work on tuning the engine."

"Make sure the engine is running well enough to get home immediately when they say they've had enough fun. Otherwise, we could be put in jail for kidnapping and who knows what else."

"Of course."

"I should let their professor know."

"Good idea."



"I don't think camping is an approved activity for them."

"With chaperone."

"You're crazy."


"Well, then, be a good chaperone. If you're not back tomorrow, I'll spend your money to get someone to fly me out there to get them."

"I'll check back in tomorrow. Out."

"Out." He put the mike back on its hook. "But not over. What does he think he's doing? Going camping on the spur of the moment would be just out of character for those two. A picnic, sure. That would have been great. Coming back here and calling their professor and then going camping with some one to keep them out of trouble, maybe. This is not going to fly."

"And Wye usually doesn't push things. Maybe they did accept his suggestion. Deity knows they need a vacation, and we know they enjoy each other's company."

Half satifying himself with that, he went to the Western Union office. After sending the telegram, he took care of some other business and went home.

When he came back to the office the next morning, he tried calling Wycliffe on the radio, getting no response. As usual, he left the radio on, half listening to the sporadic chatter, wondering what anyone would have made of yesterday's conversation.

But Wycliffe didn't radio in, as we know.

Around ten, a messenger from the Western Union office brought him a telegram from Professor MacVittie.


So Zedidiah tried once more to raise Wycliffe on the radio, and went to the Western Union office to make the international call. When he walked in the door, the clerk looked up from his console and said, "Your professor asked me to re-connect as soon as you came in. I think he's not happy." And he re-initiated the waiting connection.

"I'm sure. I wish Wycliffe had consulted with me more on this one."

"Professor MacVittie? He's here." And he handed him the phone.

"Zedidiah here, Professor."

"What's going on?"

"Yesterday, Wycliffe called to tell me that he had been able to persuade Karel and Bobbie to stop for camping on an island where we cache fuel and supplies. That's about it."

"Wycliffe is staying with them?"

"He said he would be."

"Have you heard from them today?"

"Not yet."

"I'm responsible for their physical and moral safety."

"We are aware of that."

"I'll book a flight for as soon as I can. Let me know if the situation changes or you get any news. You can reverse the charges."

"Will do."

On the way back to the office, he stopped at the local equivalent of a Coast Guard and asked for help checking on Wycliffe. The staff took down the island name and asked about the circumstances and promised to ask with ships and planes that might be in the area.

Back at the office, he tried the radio again, then went out looking for pilots who weren't busy.

Unfortunately, none of the three other pilots who regularly worked out of that airport were available.

So he had to wait.

On the next day, there were storm warnings, and he telegraphed the professor to let him know. Pilots were tethering their planes. Nobody was going anywhere. Zedidiah felt helpless as the storm approached, but there really wasn't much he could do. He spent most of the day and all of the night in the office, listening to the radio and periodically calling out a warning on it just in case. The storm passed by the main island about midnight, drenching everything in torrential rains, but the sky was clear in the morning.
Finally, about ten in the morning, he was able to get one of the other pilots, a friend named Matt, to take him to the cache island. The flight path turned out to be following the path of the storm, but the winds had died down by the time they arrived. Circling the island, they found no signs of the airplane, nor of anyone camping. Landing, they found the cache in the cave where they kept it, along with Matt's and two other pilots' caches. None of the caches showed any signs of being disturbed recently.

Zedidiah asked Matt to circle low over the sea around the island, and, in the fourth pass, about fifty miles out from the island, by pure luck, they caught sight of Wycliffe and Zedidiah's plane under the water. Matt radioed the location to the coast guard, and they set back down on the cache island.

Zedidiah suggested they refuel from his and Wycliffe's cache, but Matt said Zed and Wye would need it. So they left the cache in place and waited for the coast guard ship.

(When the next chapter is ready, the link will be here. The next chapter is here:

(The chapter index is here:

The above is where I am currently re-working and rewriting this chapter.
An abondoned almost-final draft of this chapter is here:

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