Economics 101, a Novel, ch_38 -- Changing Search Strategies

(The story starts here:

The previous chapter starts here:

Is it time to catch up with their parents and Professor MacVittie? Let's go back to the previous Sunday and see how the search is proceeding.

During her short sermon for Sacrament Meeting, Mary Whitmer talked about the hope of the resurrection which Mormons have, referring to the Apostle Paul's epistle to the Corinthians, 1st Corinthians 15, around verses 19 to 22. Paul followed, and kept his remarks short as well, quoting carefully from Alma's instruction to his son Corianton, especially from Alma chapter 40 verse 23 in the Book of Mormon. Knowing that Zedidiah was still worried about Wycliffe's culpability, they both focused on the positive parts, on the concept of everyone who had ever been born on this earth eventually being resurrected.

But Zedidiah just did not want to think about the afterlife. His disappointment in failing to find Wycliffe alive made him all much the more anxious that Bobbie and Karel be found as soon as possible.

Anna Pratt led a short Sunday School lesson about the preaching to the spirits in prison, derived from Joseph F. Smith's vision of the same which would later form the basis of Doctrine and Covenants section 138. But without the background understanding, Zedidiah, in particular, didn't really understand what was so great about it. The concept of a spirit prison for non-believers definitely did not seem appealing to him and that was all he seemed to hear.

Professor MacVittie's mood was not helped by discussion of death, or of anything beyond death, even though he did understand the doctrines. He was still stuck on the question of whether Karel and Bobbie might be found alive.

After the Pratts and Whitmers sang a closing hymn and had a closing prayer to end Sunday School, Zedidiah said, "You know, I respect your need to take time for your religion, but I really think we should get back to looking for your children."

Professor MacVittie chimed in. "I think it's time to start discussing the next step in our search. Even though it's Sunday, we can't really claim the ox is not in the ditch."

(The cattle in the ditch reference is from Luke 14: 5 and other places, in which Jesus pointed out that Sabbath strictness is not, in and of itself, righteousness.)

Officer Paalo said, "We appreciate your spearheading the search to this point. We didn't have the resources by ourselves, and I'm not sure we would have found Wycliffe's body on our own. The results were not what we had hoped for, but it allows us to move forward."

Zedidiah had a suggestion he wanted to be heard. "I think the next step is to start searching in a circle around where we found the plane. Since we're hoping to find them in the dinghy, the next stage could be done by plane. And I'm wishing we had started earlier, because, really, there's not a moment to lose."

Nazoru wanted to speak up at this point, but held back.

Bob and Paul looked at each other, and then at their wives, and the four nodded, in agreement with each other.

Bob spoke. "If they were likely to be in the emergency dinghy, yes, we should have been searching in a circle from the outset. But we are definitely not expecting to find them in the dinghy."

Officer Paalo was intrigued. "Oh?"

Zedidiah was a bit taken aback. "What do you mean?"

Paul took a turn. "There was no luggage on the plane. We are sure that they did not try to load the luggage into the dinghy."

Now Professor MacVittie nodded. He was seeing something here, too. "The trunks would have sunk the dinghy. And the important stuff, their thesis reports, had already been sent. Impeccable reports, I am told. So we want to know why the the luggage was not on the plane."

"Ah!" Officer Paalo was now seeing it, too.

Zedidiah was not having it. "Maybe they tried to load it in the dinghy and then dumped it."

Mary inclined her head a bit to the right and said, "Perhaps, but we think Zedidiah was alone when he had to abandon the plane."

Wycliffe, who was watching the proceedings from the other side of the veil, agreed. "Quite apparent. Especially since the luggage was not in the water near the plane." But he was keeping out of things at this point and did not try talking directly to Zedidiah.

Himeru, Hanaka's mother, whispered something to Nazoru, and Nazoru nodded in response. She turned to Wycliffe and said, "Nazoru has a good sense. He was an abuser when he was drunk, but he only drank because he didn't know how to handle his sensitivity. I didn't marry him for nothing."

Wycliffe didn't see a need to say anything further on that subject, so he just concurred.

Anna picked things up at that point. "We are pretty much convinced that Wycliffe meant no harm to our children. But he was not telling the exact truth when he said he had taken them to your cache island."

Zedidiah was miserable, feeling caught in third-party guilt over his failure to prevent Wycliffe's attempt at matchmaking. But he could not defend himself from their logic. He was in the search crew when they found no evidence of Karel and Bobbie having been on the island.

Wycliffe still kept out of things, in no small part because he knew it was not his place to tell Zedidiah to quit worrying at this point.

Paul took them through the next step in their logic. "He was coming to your cache island. He was not telling the truth about where he left Bobbie and Karel, but we think it was probable that he did leave them to explore some island by themselves. And he left their luggage with them so they would not be too uncomfortable. So we think he was coming from the island where he left them."

Wycliffe laughed to himself. "Well, I guess it was pretty useless, me trying to be so sneaky."

Himeru almost agreed. "But not entirely useless. Anyway, how things got this way is not the point."

At this point, Nazoru spoke up. "I know he bought enough water, bread, cheese, and sausage ..." Himeru whispered again, " ... and wine for two people for three days, just before he went to pick them up. I'm afraid I aided and abetted him in that. Not the wine, I disagreed with that, but I helped him buy the food. I didn't realize he had not cleared the plan with anyone beforehand."

Wycliffe offered a word of encouragement. "Hang in there, Zed."

We can't be sure what Zedidiah understood from Wycliffe's encouragement, but there may have been other voices he was hearing, as well. He was working on his own plan, but he did not mention it to anyone.

Wycliffe could partly read his friend's mind, but he was held back from attempting to advise him against the plan he was forming.

Officer Paalo was surprised at Nazoru's revelation. "Now that is important information. It doesn't really say much that we didn't suspect, but it does confirm a lot."

Professor MacVittie got a map out of his stuff and spread it out on the desk they were sitting around. "If we go along with this logic, we can trace a line from the island to the plane, and then from the plane out to as far as the plane had gas to make the trip, and see if there are islands to go looking for them on."

Bob said, "Almost. Thank you, Professor. We wanted that map just now."

Again, Nazoru had information that was useful. "There were some strong winds before the storm that took my daughter, that could easily have blown him off course. Especially if he took a nap with the autopilot set."

If you're wondering about the autopilot, autopilots for small planes back then were mostly for keeping the airplane in the air, not for course corrections. It was still well before the era of microprocessors, and of the powerful magnets to build light, cheap servomotors with. Autopilots without microprocessors and good servos were pretty limited, or were really expensive to buy and maintain.

The professor was tracing the line on the map with his finger and looking for nearby islands. "So, we could focus first on small islands around this line, and then extend our search from there. At least we'd have someplace to start."

"Well it would be a place to start, but the potential area is much larger." Paul traced out several possible courses Wycliffe might have taken. "These courses are probable limits, according to my very rough initial calculations. Zedidiah, are you familiar with any islands in this area that Wycliffe might have taken them to?"

Zedidiah shook his head. "I don't want to accuse him of kidnapping."

"We aren't accusing him of kidnapping." Anna was emphatic. "It was maybe a practical joke. More likely just being too helpful. And something happened that was not planned for. That is all."

"That's very kind of you," said Wycliffe, mostly to himself.

Officer Paalo's eyes grew wide in surprise. "You don't seem to be angry about it."

Mary nodded her head, smiling ruefully. "It was actually something we had joked about, calling Zedidiah and Wycliffe and asking if they couldn't have some convenient engine trouble near some nice island where they would need a couple of days to fix it and could sort of keep an eye on Bobbie and Karel while they had nothing to do but talk with each other."

Paul added. "It would be hard to find too much fault with Wycliffe."

Wycliffe was shocked and amused. "I wasn't the only one."

Himeru just nodded in agreement. But then she turned to Wycliffe and said something that surprised him. I'm not sure you would have been so interested in the idea if I hadn't suggested it to you. I apologize. I shouldn't have been such a busybody."

Wycliffe just shook his head. "No biggy. I'm sure my plans were my own ideas, anyway. I'm definitely not going to blame my actions on suggestions you might have made from this side of the veil."

Zedidiah looked again at the area Paul was tracing on the map. "Well, if I were looking for islands he might have taken them to, yeah, there are a lot of islands in that area. Come to think of it, he told me a couple of months ago about a new island he had found that he said would make a perfect honeymoon island. His own words. Unfortunately, he didn't tell me where it was."

"No idea where it was?" Officer Paalo was immediately interested, as were they all.

"I think it was someplace he hadn't been before, but that doesn't tell us much. He's been a lot of places, but that's a big ocean. He did say it wasn't on any charts he had."

"Where had he been recently?"

Zedidiah thought a moment. "All our flights that week were short runs, close in. So probably he wasn't talking about a recent discover." He stood up and went to a filing cabinet and pulled out a few folders. After some searching, he found receipts for the week in question, and their contract log and fulfillment log. He set them down and showed them the routes they had taken that week.

"It was all places we both know pretty well." Then he looked at the records for the previous week. "The week before was all over the map."

Professor MacVittie said, "Let's mark all the trips for that month on this map. Blue for the week after, red for the week you remember him mentioning the island, orange for the week before, .... Then we can pray about where to start."

Wycliffe watched while they marked the map. None of the routes they marked brought them in the direction of Bobbie and Karel's island. "So far, so good," he said to himself. "Although I do feel bad about not giving the expected kind of help."

Himeru nodded, then whispered more to her husband.

Mind you, she was not whispering in the sense that Wycliffe didn't hear what she was saying. He did hear. She was speaking to his heart in a way that only a spouse or parent can. Or maybe a really good friend.

Bob said, "Didn't president Brown say he was coming to talk with us tomorrow?"

"Oh, that's right." Professor MacVittie gave his pencil to Anna and got out his pocket schedule. "In the afternoon. He said it was important, and the five of us should all try to be there."

"May I join you?" Nazoru asked.

"I think so." Bob checked with the others, and there was no disagreement.

Officer Paalo said, "I think I want to be there, too."

Zedidiah looked frustrated. "Isn't the search more important than some church meeting?"

Nazoru now felt it was right to talk. "Those two kids are just fine."

Officer Paalo looked up from the map. "You sound pretty sure."

Nazoru hesitated. Himeru said, "Go ahead."

"I've talked with my wife in a dream."

Zedidiah swore, then apologized to the women present. "Been drinking again, Naz?"

This put Officer Paalo off. "Zedidiah, I have it on good authority that Nazoru hasn't touched a drop for over a year now."

"Superstitions. The Islanders are all dreamers. Always talking to dead family members in visions. Completely useless."

Bob said, "Let's hear him out."

Zedidiah was the only one who disagreed, so Nazoru continued. "She says our daughter has been helping keep an eye on them, and they are having a grand adventure."


"Zedidiah, please." This was Professor MacVittie.

"Weren't you guys just talking about some sort of spirit prison just now? Wouldn't that be where she is? I mean, if there is anything to what you guys believe."

"I'm sorry." Anna frowned thoughtfully. "My Sunday school lesson seems to have caused some confusion. That's not what we mean by prison."

"Then what do you mean?"

"There are lesser glories and greater glories. Temples show us how to progress." She thought for a moment, deciding how to continue. "Anyway, if God is authorizing Nazoru's daughter to watch over our children, who are we to say it isn't so?"

"Besides," Mary explained, "nothing has changed about the impressions we, their parents, have that they are okay."

Zedidiah shook his head and muttered in disgust, his resolve building. He looked at the map and a particular area caught his attention.

"Zed, don't. Those are not good spirits pushing you to look there."

But Zed had closed his heart.

After that, they talked about the week ahead, made some tentative plans, and the meeting broke up.

And Zedidiah spent the remainder of the day working on his own plan.

Nazoru stayed to talk with the professor and the Pratts and Whitmers. He wanted to know more about what Mormons believe. He had heard some things from Wycliffe which he felt he must have misunderstood.

Professor MacVittie checked with Officer Paalo and received confirmation that, as long as they just answered Nazoru's questions, there would be no problems with the law.

Then he decided to stay and listen, too. He knew that some of the islanders enjoyed finding fault where none existed, and he would be able to confirm that they were not proselyting Nazoru.

From Nazoru's questions, it seemed clear that Wycliffe had been harboring some ambiguous feelings and misunderstandings about the Church. They were able to resolve a number of Nazoru's questions, particularly about the meaning of damnation, repentance, and eternal life.

The next morning, Officer Paalo came to visit Professor MacVittie. It seemed that Zedidiah had left in the middle of the night on a borrowed motorboat, with provisions for a week and enough fuel to travel several hundred miles.

The professor, the Pratts, and the Whitmers discussed this development. He hadn't left any clues as to where he had gone, so it seemed there wasn't much to be done besides pray for him.

Officer Paalo promised that their coast guard would keep an eye out for him. Technically, he could be arrested for fleeing during an investigation. But the assumption was that he was trying to take the search into his own hands, so there didn't seem to be much point in it.

During the morning, they made arrangements for an airplane and a boat, with crew, for search operations. They prayed for direction and sent some of the university student volunteers out to one of the closer areas that they had discussed the previous night.

In the afternoon, they met President Brown and his first counselor at the airport. Since they didn't feel right about using Zedidiah and Wycliffe's office without permission, they had their meeting in the bungalow where Bob and Mary were staying.

After introductions, they got started with a prayer. Then Professor MacVittie reported how the search was progressing, that they had found Wyclifffe's body and attended his funeral, but had still not found Bobbie and Karel. None of this was news, and President Brown did not have any questions.

Then they talked about the theories they were working on, and mentioned that Zedidiah had seemed dissatisfied with their pace and their chosen course of action, and apparently was off searching on his own.

President Brown's primary concern was that they should make the additional effort to find Zedidiah.

"It would not be right to let him sacrifice his own life in attempting to find Karel and Bobbie."

All were in agreement with this.

"The brethren are still impressed that it will take rather more time than less to find them. We want to encourage you to plan for a long term search. That's a big ocean, and even with the donations that have been coming in, we can't afford to hire the army of searchers it will take to scour the whole area in just a month or two."

Professor MacVittie closed his eyes and swallowed hard. For some reason, the Pratts and the Whitmers seemed unsurprised.

"My son," said Bob, "is quite happily taking over the family business. He was just telling me this morning how it would cost the company less to buy us a house and let us retire here than it would to keep paying my salary there." He grinned. "Pure chutzpah."

"Much more than chutzpah, honey."

"I know."

President Brown looked at the Pratts.

"My boss keeps dropping hints that I might find some time to check out prospects for setting up an off-shore factory out here. He thinks the wage differential and the availability of water for cooling could help us become more competitive in certain markets."

"Those aren't hints, sweetheart."


"Are you all inclined to actively follow up on those ideas? It would help keep you constructively occupied here for the time frame that I've been hearing discussed."

Paul braved asking the question. "How long?"

"Pretty long. As in all things, a lot depends on the choices various people make, of course, but they talk about more than just a few months. Are you willing to check things out?

The four of them nodded. They would start working on the long-term equations.

Brother Whitmer then reported on their church meetings. "We could have handled the first Sunday a little better. Some of our university volunteers were on this island, and did not get a chance to attend the meetings we held on the cache island that day. But those on the cache island with us attended our meetings there."

"That's a very good idea. You definitely have authorization to split up to try to cover all the islands where member volunteers are."

"We'll do that in the future. Yesterday, about half the volunteers from the university came to our meetings here."

"Did you take attendance?"

"Just count, no names."

"That's good enough. We are asking the volunteers to report their own attendance when they return. Did the meetings go well?"

"Seemed to. Well, Zedidiah seems to have some misapprehensions about what 'spirit prison' means. We'll have to watch out for opportunities to clear that up."

"Were you talking of mysteries in Sunday School?"

Anna said, "I thought it would be interesting to talk about Joseph F. Smith's vision of the work in the spirit world, and I didn't think to avoid the term 'spirit prison'. I think he was assuming that prison meant bars on the windows and locks on the doors. He wondered why we could accept Nazoru's assertions that his daughter was keeping watch over our children from the spirit prison."

"That one would cause problems for many of our good, faithful members. Did you talk of that in the lessons or sermons?"

Paul elucidated. "No, Nazoru brought it up afterwards, when we were discussing the next steps in our searching. Zedidiah was very anxious to get back to searching."

Nazoru added his thoughts. "I was hoping that he would be less worried if he understood that it wasn't just their vague impressions. Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned it. But I think Zedidiah is feeling responsible for not stopping Wycliffe. I know I could have let that worry me, if my wife hadn't come to me in the dream."

"I think I see. Well, I think you all understand your duties here well enough. No need to push things, but, as you say, look for opportunities to clear up what you can of his misunderstandings."

There was a pause in the discussions, then the first counselor spoke up. "President Brown, I think we are forgetting a little matter about an extension center."

"Ah, yes. Professor MacVittie, I believe Dean Hayworth has been talking with you about the possibility of setting up an extension center here."

"He's mentioned it a couple of times, but I didn't think he was serious."

"He is, and the University is. Are you interested in helping us try to set up an extension center here?"

Officer Paalo thought it best to interrupt here. "You are aware that we can't allow proselyting here?"

"Yes. But we would still like to give our students the opportunity to learn about your culture firsthand, as Bobbie and Karel were doing. Perhaps you could help us find the right people to explain our position to?"

Officer Paalo laughed. "That would be my job, to try to funnel your requests into as much red tape as possible. On the other hand, Bobbie and Karel have been pretty exemplary in their conduct, as have your student volunteers. Either way, I can definitely help."

"And I would be honored to be allowed to participate." Professor MacVittie was finally beginning to shake his worries. "If the brethren are truly sure that Bobbie and Karel will be okay."

"Would you get Officer Paalo to help you figure out where to start with the paperwork, and be ready to return to the university if necessary?"


"Thank you."

Now the first counselor had something to say. "Brother and Sister Pratt, Brother and Sister Whitmer, please keep working on the search efforts over the next few days, but keep Friday open."

"Keep Friday open?" Mary laughed. "That sounds mysterious."

The first counselor just smiled and said, "Yes, I guess it does."

And that's pretty much what happened the rest of the week.

The Pratts went out with the searchers on Tuesday, and the Whitmers stayed on the island to help Professor MacVittie coordinate the search and to go with him when he made a number of calls on certain officials in the government. On Wednesday, they traded places, and the professor made some significant progress, with more help from Nazoru and Officer Paalo. Then they traded places on Thursday again, and there was even more progress.

While they were helping Professor MacVittie, they found opportunities to inquire about things like buying houses and setting up factories.

On Thursday, they received word of where Zedidiah had been sighted by a passing plane about two hundred miles away. But when a ship in the area diverted to make contact, he was gone again. In the evening, they arranged for the next day's search party to go out where Zedidiah had been spotted.

In the evenings, Nazoru and Officer Paalo asked questions about the doctrines and practices of the Church, and about the relationship of the university to the Church, preparing their own reports to be submitted to the correct officials.

Friday morning saw them gathered in the Whitmer's bungalow again.

[JMR201607120955 -- Yeah, this goes here:

The weather was humid and a bit unseasonably warm, and they weren't really sure what they were waiting for. They talked a bit more about the Church, but the conversation dragged, and they kept having to wake each other up.

Officer Paalo suggested that maybe he should leave and take care of some official business, but Nazoru asked him to stay.


(The link to the next chapter will be here when it's ready is here:

(The chapter index is here:

Popular Posts