Children suffer from boredom, pain, loneliness, and despair in the polio wards at Boston Community Hospital in 1950. Dr. Bryan Boyle, Director of the Communicable Diseases Unit, visits every child every day. He gets to know them personally –name, hometown, and family. Sadly, there isn't much he can do for his patients except make them less uncomfortable because there is no cure or prevention. Doctors don't know what causes polio, how it is transmitted, or why it attacks children more than adults and boys more than girls. The hospital tour he gives to a local newspaper reporter worsens his grief, as does the public budgeting process. His frustration turns to deep personal distress that hinders his marriage. He talks in jest of going into the future for a cure, and his wife scoffs at him. When he learns about a scientist who claims to have developed a time machine, he looks him up and visits him. The scientist sends the doctor 100 years into the future with hopes of returning with a cure, a vaccine, or both. In 2050 he finds a remarkably advanced hospital and health-care system, but he also finds something quite startling.