Dr. Quigby poked his head out of the Fluxinator machine he had built in the basement of his brownstone house in the Vinegar Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn. He looked at the needle on the gauge. It was wavering back and forth at tremendous speed. The clock on the external gauge was thirteen seconds behind the second hand on his pocket watch. That could only mean one thing, he thought; success at last! However, the celebratory mood dissipated as quickly as it had come when he realized that he could not be sure of the experiment’s success. Running the tests himself was quite a disadvantage. He couldn’t stoke the engine and watch the timer inside the Fluxinator, and watch the external gauge and clock all at the same time. He was in need of an assistant to monitor the happenings outside while he was inside the machine to be sure.
Where would he find such an assistant? He hadn’t bothered before since, to be frank, his other tests hadn’t enjoyed much success and nobody could be trusted with an idea as big as the Fluxinator. He could change the course of the world if only he could keep the engine running, but this test was the longest it had run in all of his previous attempts. When he was inside the machine, he had counted thirteen seconds on his pocket watch before it finally sputtered out with a clunk. It was encouraging. An assistant must be found for another test, but who could be trusted?
He mentally ran through a list of all the people with whom he was acquainted and cursed himself when it occurred to him that it wasn’t a very long list at all. The idea of the Lindley girl from across the street flashed through his mind. At first, he dismissed the idea as preposterous, but it kept circling back around. He had often thought that the quiet, bookish girl had intelligent eyes when they chanced to meet on the street. Girls can be trusted over boys, he thought. If she did steal his idea, there was no way she could reproduce it on her own, and even if she did, no one would take a girl seriously anyway. Yes, the Lindley girl was a perfect fit.
With resolve, Dr. Quigby crawled out of the Fluxinator and quickly scurried across the street to fetch the Lindley girl. Since he had never been good with people, he practiced his speech to both the girl and her mother on the way: Hello, I’m Dr. Horace Quigby from across the street. I’ve been working on perfecting a scientific advancement that will allow humans to stop time, and eventually, travel through time and space in the blink of an eye. I’m in need of an assistant. It’s a great educational opportunity for the girl and it wouldn’t require much of her time…