Cassandra: Foot Games

Cassandra: Foot Games
 By: James B. Wright

Chapter 1: Just When You Were About to Relax

Christmas Day Eve, home of Jake and Sandy Rowen: two figures are in chairs in front of a blazing fire sipping hot chocolate.
“Jake are you happy?”
“You bet I am. The kids are at my parent’s house and we have two whole days to spend in bed. Doing whatever we like,” Jake said pretending to grope her. 
“That’s not what I meant. Although that thought has occurred to me as well,” Sandy replied. “I mean that it has been five year that we have been together now. Are you happy with the way things turned out for us?”
“Ok let’s review. We saved the world from the Nazis. We saved our adopted son Vern from his abusive father. You have had our daughter Cassandra. I have become a rising star in the TCU physics department. You just earned your PhD in archeology. And oh yes Jay and Wood our alien buddies have not come by to take us on another almost gottcha killed time adventure. Yep I am pretty happy.”
“You don’t miss the adventure?” 
“Well I thought I made a pretty good Indiana Jones.”
“I hate to break it to you dear,” Sandy said turning toward him, “but I am Dr. Jones the archeologist not you,” Sandy teased. 
“Alright, how about James Kirk?” He answered.
“No you are more the Harrison Ford type.”
“Hans Solo it is!” 
“No…something more down to earth. You want more cocoa?” Sandy said as she got up out of her chair.
“Sure but put a little more Kahlua in it this time.”
“Well not too much. I don’t want you to get too relaxed.” Sandy said as she took their cups into the kitchen. She was still insight as the two of them exchanged knowing glances. 
Suddenly Sandy was standing in front of him. She was dripping wet, dressed in strange clothes and her expression was wild and frightened. Jake stood up and reached for her.
“What’s happened?”
“Jake, oh Jake!” She cried. 
Instantly Jake knew when he looked over and saw Sandy’s shadow still in the kitchen. “You are from the future and…I died didn’t I.” 
Sandy sobbed uncontrollably as she fell into his arms.

Sandy heard the commotion from the kitchen and came immediately into the room, cups in hand. She glimpsed her just before her future self-looked up at her and faded away. 
Jake turned toward Sandy and said, “I need an extra shot in mine.”

The modest but unique castle-esque house that they lived in was locate in the TCU area due west of Amon Carter Stadium. Jake, a tall man in his late thirties with short brown hair and a handsome but cherubic face, given name was Jakarta. His parents like the exotic sound of it. He had originally acquired the house upon the death of his spinster Aunt Cassie. Sandy his wife was somewhat younger in her early thirties. She was a strawberry blond, slight of build but deceptively strong and athletic. She was also from thirty years in the past and Jake’s Aunt Cassie in a different time line. 
Their neighborhood was an odd mixture of older homes ranging from a simple and modest brown brick to gingerbread larger homes and ultra-modern, large high end houses. It was very quiet except on game days, then it was crowded and rowdy in its own laid-back way. It was the kind of place one could grow up in and manage to be reasonably normal, unless you lived in the Rowen home where sometimes the world passed directly through and left a calling card or two.

Jake and Sandy slept in late but not because they had a good excuse with the kids being gone, but because they were up late worrying. While time travel can be exhilarating, it also is quite a dangerous past time. A slight alteration in time produces a new set of realities with serious and strange outcomes and it was something one needed to avoid. 
December the 26th was still a holiday for most folks and it was a bit of a blood sport to attack the malls to exchange gifts in order to buy other more desired merchandise at wholesale prices. It was of no matter to Jake and Sandy as they gave and received few gifts and generally valued the ones they had. So at least for those staying at home, it was supposed to be a lazy day best spent catching up with friends and putting away Christmas items. However at 9:02 A.M. the sounds of Jake’s cell phone ring, which was actually an old style phone sound Jake had selected to match his affinity for antiques, startled them both. Who could it possibly be? Maybe it was Mom and Dad with urgent news of the kids falling and hurting themselves or possibly their neighbors Jim and Carrie Smith calling from Hawaii asking about some detail concerning their home that the Rowens were watching while the Smiths were on vacation. 
“I’ve got it Jake,” said as he touched and answered his cell phone, which had been on the hall tree stand. “Yes, no….now, really…where?” The party on the other end of the conversation abruptly hung up. Sandy saw her husband’s bewildered look and she feared the worst.
“What Jake!”
“That was Wood. He and Jay have been arrested. They are downtown in the county jail. He wants us to sail him out.”
“He means bail right?”
“Yes, of course.”
Wood was half of a pair of mysterious men who were definitely aliens, but one never really knew if that meant that they were from other worlds being or just from another country. Jay was the other half and no one really knew if these were their first of second names. It was just their only names. Either way they had a rather bizarre appearance; always being dressed in black suits, socks, shoes and hats, brilliant white shirts and thin black ties. They spoke flawless English at times and at other times they seem to falter with simple phrases and expressions. They drove a solid black Crown Victoria and always played loud rock and roll music. And yes their car traveled through time. 
Jake and Sandy were waiting for them in the lobby of the Tarrant County Jail when Jay and Wood emerged. Wood who was tall and thin shook Jake’s hand by reaching around and grasping the backside of it. 
“Season’s grieving’s,” Wood said.
“Greeting,” Jake said as he extricated his hand. Wood smiled a dopey smile and obviously did not understand. Jay a shorter plump man said nothing nor did he smile. 
After several long seconds Jake said, “Well shall we go? Where is your car?” 
“Damned if we snow,” Jay said. 
“Did they in pound it?” Sandy asked.
“No not in a pound. Our car was…stolen?” Wood replied.
It was then that Jake and Sandy began to notice that that the men’s suits were torn in spots and their faces each had abrasions on them. 
“Stolen? And the police arrested you?”
Wood said, “We were walking down University Drive looking for our vehicle and an officer pulled over to ask why we were in the street. We told him that our car was lost. He asked where we saw it last and we told him at Carlson’s drive in.”
“Carlson’s closed in the early sixties,” Sandy said. 
“He said that he was not amused. He asked for identification and we gave him our universal ID badges,” Wood answered. 
“Again he seemed not amused.” Jay said. “Is it normal to have to make your officers of the law laugh?”
“He rested us,” Wood added.
“Wait a minute if you were eating at a drive in the 1960’s?” Jake asked.
“Great bacon burgers,” Jay said.
“He had crush on Rose,” Wood added.
“Rose?” Sandy said.
“Waitress on roller skates,” Jay replied.
“And you lost your car, how did you get here and now?” Jake asked. 
Wood held up a key with a fab. “Spare key with limited time travel capabilities. We traced the car to this time and place.”
“Did someone…hit you?” Sandy asked. 
“Big mammon, stole car. We fought hard,” Jay said.
“Mammon?” Sandy said. 
“Milton name for the Devil of Covetousness,” Jay answered.
“What are we supposed to do now?” Jake said. 
Jay looked to Wood and back to Jake. “Go to your house and seek Mammon.”

Chapter 2: A Pair of Dice Lost

Bull Mac, also known William Scott, was feeling good. He just stole a fine car and he was cruisein’. The music was loud and brassy. Bull had picked up his friend Little J4 Ray and they were headed to do some gamin’ down on the Northside. 
“Little J4, I feel lucky tonight.” Bull roared. 
Little J4 was actually Jude Ray IV but what dude was called Jude anyway? So he fixed his name to match his cool. “You must be lucky this some set of wheels. I ain’t never seen such a fine machine.”
“And it is fast too. I easily hit 80 on the North-South freeway. My foot just barely…touchin’ the pedal. After we pick up some easy cash we’re goin’ to find us some nice women and go for a long drive,” Bull bellowed with a deep laugh. 
“Will be flying,” Little J4 relied. 
The game they were headed to was essentially an international event. A group of Mexican boys had set it up, a few Chinese guys, an Anglo or two and of course, Bull and his boys were invited to shot craps. Bills were plentiful but mostly twenties showed around. Bull was the last to arrive and he made an entrance. 
“Hey amigo, that is some fine car,” Emile Torres said as Bull strode up to the event. “I think I’m going to own it tonight.”
“Unless your dice is loaded Torres, you ain’t got a chance, cause I am not goin’ to loose!” He tossed J4 his keys. “Ain’t nobody owning my car but me. Now give me those damn dice and I’ll show you how it’s done boy.” Bull said with a large smile.
“You really think that you are bad uh big hombre. We’ll see, we’ll see.”
Actually, this was usually a good-natured affair. Shooting dice gave them a means to interact that allowed a bit of bravado with a lot of name calling but little real threat involved. The boys knew one another and while they did not hang together, they did find a way to keep things cool on a warm summer night. They played on a basketball court behind an abandoned church. It was lit by a nearby street light. 
The game lasted well into the night and Bull eventually hit a hot streak and was closing it out. Torres was tapped but one of the Chinese guys named Kim Lee was still playing and was beginning to get a little pissed at the big guy’s luck. 
“You know what I think,” Kim said as he just lost again. “I think that each week either the fat guy here wins or the Mex does. And we Chinese are always the losers.” 
“Well that’s the way it was in the war wasn’t it,” Bull laughed as he smiled at some girls just back of the lighted area.
“That was the Japanese you dumbass,” Kim replied as he and a friend stood up. “I think you two allow the other to win and later split what we lost each time!” 
“Thems fightin’ words little man,” Bull said as he rose to his full heights of six foot four inches. 
Kim crouched into a defensive stance. 
“Oh I see so you’re one of them Kung Fu fighters uh,” Bull said as he made a fist. 
“Now guys we are all amigos here,” Torres said as he too stood hands out trying to calm the situation. “Look Kim we can give you some of your money back and we can all go home real allegro, Si’.” 
“All I see is a fat boy who is going down,” Kim said as he moved sideways. “I have to warren you Bull, I am a black belt. I can crush your wind pipe in one kick.”
Bull was sweating but he stood tall and took a fighters stance. “I took boxing lesions at the Panther Boy’s Club Kim. I know how to fight,” Bull replied. 
Kim faked a kick, but Bull never flinched. Bull tried to close the distance between them but Kim moved back away. Bull took a huge step forward and struck Kim in the jaw. The smaller boy went flat to the pavement. Bull began to laugh.
“Kung Flop is who you are, little man….”
POP, POP was heard along with two flashes. Another Chinese boy who had not bet at all and had been absolutely quiet now stood with a small pistol pointed at Bull Mac. The big guy had a smile on his face and then blood began to pour from his chest just right of center where two small holes had formed in his shirt. Bull’s eyes looked up and then he collapsed on to the court and died. Afterwards a stunned several seconds followed. J4 grabbed Bull’s money and ran toward the car. Kim and Torres were momentarily stunned. Then Kim got off the ground and ran after J4. Suddenly the place was a panic of bodies running in all directions.
J4 shot into the driver’s seat slammed in the key and turned the engine over. A whine followed by a roar burst forth and he tore off just as Kim got there. Soon a car slid up next to Kim. It was his cousin who had fired the shots. Kim got inside their Toyota and they were in pursuit promptly followed by Torres in his silver Ford truck. J4 did not know the neighborhood all that well but after a couple of tries, he found the ramp to the freeway and headed south toward downtown. Seconds behind him were Kim and Torres. Soon behind them all, were two Fort Worth Police Department vehicles. J4 dodged in and then out between cars that just happened to be on the freeway at this late hour. Behind him, he could hear the sirens and J4 began to believe that he was going to die. 
Damn I wish I was out of here. Some time and place far away he thought. Strangely, he heard or thought he heard a voice ask how far. “Hell I don’t know Christmas 2015!” Then like in a movie, the car burst on to University Drive and despite J4 having his foot on the gas the car slowed markedly and simply glided to a stop at a red light on Berry Street adjacent to the TCU campus. It was dark and cold but Christmas light and decorations still shinned in front of the stores and the homes down the street.
“What the hell,” J4 whispered.

Chapter 3: Houston, We Have A Problem

To Sandy their home had a strange “other world” look to it as they drove up. It was as foreboding and dark. The day was actually mostly sunny and cheerful for December. But as she walked inside, Sandy felt a chill. 
“I’m turning up the heat. Does anyone want something to drink?” she asked. 
Wood looked to Jay with a quizzical expression. “Imbibe, we need it.” Jay said.
“May we have…hot chocolate?” Wood asked. 
“Hot chocolate is imbibing?” Jake asked.
“In our time a plague has all but wiped out the cacao plant.”
“So no cocaine or coffee either?” Jake laughed.
“Different plants,” Jay responded.
“Yes I was being funny. Never mind…just when is your time?”
“Many centuries from now,” Jay answered.
“Ok well I always wanted to know, where are you from?” Jake asked.
“I’m from Detroit,” Jay said. 
“I was born in Kansas City but moved to Fort Worth soon after,” Wood replied.
“Alright, but I mean….what planet?” Jake said.
Both Wood and Jay had seated themselves on the couch in the living room. Sandy then delivered to them their drinks. At this point each of them took in the aroma of their drinks for several long seconds but neither seemed inclined to answer his question. Then, without a need to wait for the beverage to cool, they both downed it in one large gulp. 
Finally, after several minutes in which each of their guess went through an extended staring episode, Wood spoke. “We are from here. There are those beings from other worlds that look human and walk among us, but we are native to our world.”
“You are humans then?” Jake asked. 
“No,” Wood said. “We are the species Homo erectus.” 
At this, Sandy almost spilled her cup of tea. “What? No that cannot be Homo erectus earliest fossil evidence dates to 2 million years ago eventually it died out. Besides, Homo erectus had a heavy brow and a small brain case. Neither of you fit that description.”
“Yes we knew that you were so sure of your history that you thought of us as a dead species. You are not the only ones to evolve you know. But as with your naïve thought about dark energy and dark matter, your science is very….wrong.”
Now it was Jake and Sandy’s turn to exchange looks with one another. “But we have never found any evidence of that species after 70,000 years ago,” Sandy stated without the intent of sounding incredulous. 
“What do you know about dark matter and dark energy?” Jake asked so as not to be left out.
“Think extra dimensionally,” Wood said to Jake. 
“You have found evidence of us but as we intended, you misinterpreted it as being of your own species. Göbekli Tepe is an example of this,” Jay said to Sandy. “When we started building the sight humans were still in their…young child stage….”
“Infancy?” Sandy offered. “It was 12,000 years ago, but we do find evince of humans there.”
Jay nodded and continued. “We encouraged them to work for us.”
“Sort of,” Wood added.
“You enslaved them, you mean,” Jake amended.
“We cared for them,” Wood said quietly as he tried to clarify.
“When we abandoned the place some two thousand years later, we buried it and removed certain important artifacts so as to not leave evidence of our own civilization. By this time you were as a species…” Jay continued. 
“Were becoming a pain in the…” Wood began.
“Back end location,” Jay interrupted his colleague. “We sought regions of the world where your kind was sparse. Our sect came to this continent.”
 “Ok but when did you start time traveling?” Jake then asked.
Wood and Jay then did their semi-verbal and very non-comprehensible discussion they performed without even looking at one another. It was as though they were in some form of a trace. This one lasted several minutes and was the longest such rambling they had done in Jake and Sandy’s presence ever. 
“It is not germane to our discussion,” Wood suddenly declared. 
“It’s not germane…” Jake noted. 
“You can go get your car we are not coming,” Sandy unexpectedly said.
“You are unwilling to help?” Jay asked.
“No we are just not joining in on your fun.” She answered.
“We have a problem,” Wood began. “One of you must come to take us through time.”
“Why can’t we just beam you to where your car is right now?” Sandy said.
“We do not know where that is. Even if we did know in the stream of time where our vehicle was we couldn’t directly access from this facility and its time stream. We can never let the two streams cross.” Wood stated emphatically. 
“And crossing the streams would…” Jake asked.
“It would be very bad,” Wood immediately answered. “It would cause a disruption in time. In your concept of time having an observation point like strings passing through a button hole, all possible time variances in the past and the future come together for an instance when we observe time in the present moment.”
“Yeah?” asked Jake.
“That would be like the button shattering into an infinite number of units.” Jay answered.
“Ok don’t cross the streams…I got it.” Jake softly replied. 
“No Jake you and I are not going and that is final,” Sandy said as she turned and walked out of the living room and up the staircase. 
“Why does Sandy not want you to help us?” Jay asked.
Jake filled them in on their unexpected visitor; sadden Sandy from the night before. Neither Jay nor Wood said anything immediately. This revelation really did seem to trouble them. 
After conferring in their strange way, again Jay addressed Jake. “It is not for you to worry with our…loss. Please leave the house until tomorrow morning. We will proceed without further aid.”
“But….” Jake began. 
Sandy standing on the stairs said, “We will go to the Smith’s home until then. I will pack some things.”
Jake stood helplessly by and said nothing as Jay and Wood conversed once again and Sandy packed. He got the impression that the two of them were stalling until Sandy and he left. Sandy took very little time getting ready. She appeared eager to get this behind them. Before he left Jake took a minute and asked, “What will you do?” 
“By voluntarily turning the house over to us you have given us the ability to use it to travel. We will not be back. This may be last you see us,” Wood told him.
“Really, why?” 
“To preserve time line,” Jay said as he closed the door behind Jake.

J4 did not know what to do yet. Fortunately the streets were nearly disserted this hour of what he could only surmise was early in the morning. His car idled smoothly but it seemed to sense a need to be off again almost as if it was alive. Presently there was a tap on his driver’s side window. A white male in his early forties stood by the car. He was blocky; he had short blond hair and was short of stature. J4 rolled down his window and the man extended his hand. J4 did not take it. 
“Hey nice bit of driving there guy. You just blasted to a stop here seemly out of nowhere. How’d you do that?” The man said.
“None of your damn business,” J4 managed to reply.
“Ah but business is what I am all about my fine young man. Here is my card; I am John J. Ripper owner of Ripper Sites stores. We sell electronic components. I invest in let us say new and special technology and if I don’t miss my guess you are driving something pretty special right now.”
“Yeah what’s it to you? And what’s you doing out on the street this time of morning?”
“I always walk in the mornings even on a day like this one.”
“Yeah what’s so special about today?”
John smiled. “Being that it is Christmas, I would be willing to pay you some real money for a look at this car. Why don’t you open the door and give me a…test ride?”
“Christmas!” J4 said to himself but also in a whisper out loud. “Beat it white dude, I don’t need your money.”
“A hundred and fifty just to take a ride?” Ripper waved the money in front of J4’s window. J4 hesitated but then nodded. He fumbled with the door controls before the passenger’s side door came unlocked. Ripper noticed that the man was obviously confused and unfamiliar with the car. Was it stolen?….Perhaps John thought. However, he would not go there. It was just better not to know. Just deal with what you got and don’t ask for too many ‘extra’ details. John watched as the driver stuffed it in his shirt, a stack of loose money from the seat next to him. He noticed that many of the bills were not new currency but were made prior to the newer designs meant to present counterfeiting. The driver then grabbed John’s money and stuffed it in his pants. He did this without examining it too closely. Good thing John thought. The man eyed John suspiciously. John merely smiled back at him. 
“Where to dude?” J4 asked.
“Let’s drive around; just to places you are familiar with…what did you say your name was?”
“J4, look just call me, Ray.”
“Great Ray let’s go.”
J4 frowned at him but turned the car east down Berry Street.

Chapter 4: Back in Time

All the strange and different things he saw as he drove down Berry Street stunned J4. Shops and stores were different of just gone. In their places were new buildings and retail centers. Paschal High School where J4 had gone to school now had a completely new front and the grounds were all refurbished. 
“Man they really cleaned up this place,” J4 said as he slowly drove by the school. 
“It doesn’t look like it did. I thought so. Do you live nearby?” John asked.
“Look Jack why do you want to know that?”
“It is John, never Jack. I don’t like the name Jack.”
For the first time J4 smiled. “Yeah I bet the kids in school liked calling you Jack the Ripper didn’t they?”
Ripper was a bit taken back by the commit but the kid had spunk. He gave him that. “You see Ray I want you to discover what I already suspect.”
“What’s that?”
“This is the future. Your car traveled here through time.”
“Ok dude what year is it?” Ray said.
“It is 2015, dude,” John replied. “What year are you from?”

Despite her objections to going on the mission, Sandy cared what would happen to Jay and Wood. She watched their home from the Smith’s house’s living room, which sat caddy corner from her own front door. The house was unlit and still. Nothing had changed for the past several hours except for the early fall of night this time of year. Of course, a bank of heavy clouds moving in from the northwest made it even much darker than it should have. After a while, neighbors began turning on their Christmas lights. The sight of them usually made Sandy feel happy, safe and serene, but not tonight. 
“Jake, honey, maybe we should go home and turn on our Christmas lights.”
Jake was busy reading one of his neighbor’s medical books. “The lights are on a timer in a …”
“Jake the lights came on!”
“Yes nothing to get excited about, unless did some of them not light?” Jake said suddenly becoming interested in what Sandy was saying. 
“No, I saw someone walking around near the garage.”
Jake peered out at the house. Surprisingly lights began to come on inside the house. “Stay here and call the police. I am going to check out the house,” Jake barked out.
“The heck I am! I have my cell phone and you are not leaving me behind.”
“You never do as I ask.” 
“And you love me for it,” Sandy answered. 
Jake and Sandy bent low and crept up to one of their front windows and then after a pause Jake raised his head to look inside. Two very tall individuals stood inside staring back at Jake. The man and woman were slim, pale, and blond and had bright blue eyes that seemed to shine. They were dressed in silver outfits that were skintight. They motioned for Jake to come inside. 
Even though Jake and Sandy had locked the front door, it was now swinging open as they approached it. No one was standing there to make the door do this. Sandy closed the door but she held on tightly to her phone. The two people were standing in the living room, which was sunken, but their height made the still well above Jake’s eye level.

“You are Jakarta and Cassandra, I presume,” said the woman in what almost sounded like an Irish lilt. “Be unafraid of us. I am Alby and this is Berit. We are sorry to intrude on your home.” Alby said
“We have a need to talk,” Berit added. 
Jake and Sandy moved very deliberately into the living room. Alby and Berit rotated as they approached such as they could still make direct eye contact. Eventually they sat down on the couch. Taking their usual chairs across from them, Jake and Sandy sat down as well. For many long seconds no one spoke.
“What happened to Jay and Wood?” Sandy finally asked. 
“Who are you referring to?” asked Berit.
“They mean Elwood and Jake. We have difficulty with the concept of…Nicolas names,” Alby said initially to Berit and then finished as she faced Sandy. 
“Nicolas names? Oh nick names…yes such as what we are called.” She pointed to her husband and then herself. “We go by Jake and Sandy.”
“You are Nordics,” Jake suddenly blurted out as he pointed his finger at them. 
“Jake that was rude and I believe they are of Irish extraction.” Sandy scolded. 
“Your spouse, is correct…Sandy. We are referred to by that name by your UFO…ah…committee,” Berit said.
“We say UFO community,” corrected Jake, “Not that I am one of them.” 
“No but in truth we are not from this world,” Alby said. 
“Jay and Wood, are they alright?” Sandy asked this time in a more pleading manner. 
“This is why we are here. You must complete their mission for them. It is the only way all this can be reversed.” 
“All what reversed,” Jake said. 
“They were killed on their mission,” Alby answered.
“Killed? No we cannot go. We just can’t risk it. Besides if Jay and Wood were…unsuccessful why do you think we will be able to do this?” Sandy said. 
“You do not want what is to happen,” Alby replied. “Even now storms are approaching.”
“Storms?” Jake asked. 
“Not ones like you are accustomed to,” Berit said. 
“An event will destroy two thirds of this continent. Massive weather events will follow,” Alby stated. “You will not die…immediately.” 
“What are you saying?” Jake relied. 
“Come with us. We have events you must witness,” Berit said.
Alby seemed to know what Sandy was thinking, “This small trip will cause no one any harm,” she said to Sandy.
Sandy nodded.
In less than an instance, they were standing on a wide plain. However, just in the distance was a community. Slowly they seemed to approach without moving a muscle. The all four of them were in the town. It extended for what seemed like miles in all directions. It had multiple well-constructed stone buildings that were primarily single-family dwellings. Then in a distance towers and elevated associated complexes of building stood out. People were walking, talking and conducting business like any modern city except that they were dressed in much more simple clothing. Still the outfits they wore were brightly colored and well made. 
“Göbekli Tepe,” Alby said. “At its peak.”
“No!” said Sandy. “I mean that I can hardly believe it.” 
“They don’t seem to see us.” Jake said.
“This is time sealed from change,” Berit replied. 
“I could study this for days,” Sandy said with enthusiasm. 
“Our time here is limited,” Berit said.
“I show you this to give you facts to elements of the story as it relates to Jay and Wood. You see the free individuals as opposed to the slave people. Look closely.”
“They are quite short and they walk a little funny,” Jake said. 
“That’s because they are not humans like us isn’t it?” Sandy said. 
“Yes they are Jay and Wood’s ancestors, the first truly intelligent beings to develop on your world. However, the servants are your people. Do you see a difference?” Alby answered. 
“Yeah they are doing all the real work,” Jake noted. 
“We originally supported The People as they called themselves. We gave them technology and even very powerful tools to help them master their environment and enhance their existence,” Berit added. 
“Would one of those tools been a time travel machine perhaps?” Jake asked.
“You are very cleaver, Jake,” Alby relied. “And that is why we had to take it back from them.”
“Because, I was cleaver?” Jake said. 
“Not you actually but your kind. Humans quickly learned and developed even while they were held as servants. Soon they began to rebel and they forced change. The People could not adapt as quickly and they were not as cleaver, Jake. They took possession of the time machines and then the community. The whole of the civilization crumbled.” 
“As of course all civilizations eventually do,” Sandy added.
“I am not rendering a judgment, but merely stating the facts,” Alby said. “We had to intercede as your people were very unprepared for such technology. We also had to repair many alternate time lines.”
“And eventually you dismantled Göbekli Tepe and buried it,” Sandy said. 
“We delivered The People to various parts of the globe to keep them safe,” Berit said. 
“I am sorry but what as all this got to do with us?” Jake asked.
“You remain the most cleaver species. This is why Jay and Wood failed. Look now over there,” Alby said.
A man was digging in the ground, as they again seemed to just advance upon him with no effort. In a while, he lifted up an object. It looked like a part of some small engine.
“Do you recognize this individual?” Berit asked.
“Jake its John,” Sandy said. “John Ripper!”
“Damn you are right, it sure is. What is he doing?”
“The time machine we possessed was to be again given to your species when you were deemed ready. In order to know when that was to be, we disassembled it and hide the pieces. When you were ready for it then you would gradually discover it and reassemble it in a communal manner to aid all of you world’s inhabitants.” Berit continued. 
“Wait a minute,” Jake began. “You are telling me that now is not intended time for humans to possess a time machine. However, The People, meaning Jay and Wood plus the Mrs. and I already have it. Now our buddy John here has it and yet for some reason he uses the damn thing to come back here what, 10,000 years in the past to dig it up again. Nothing you say is making any sense.” 
“He is clever enough to know what Jay and Wood did not,” Alby began.
“That was in order to keep it, John needs to become the original owner. That way no one could come along and repossess it from him by changing the near past.” Sandy said. 
“Ok and I know that I will regret asking this, but why do we have a machine and just how may are there?” Jake asked. 
“For now we had believed that there are only two on this planet. The People were supposed to have one and you were meant to eventually to possess the other.”
“But our adopted son, he got a hold of one and tried to save his biologic father with it. Where did it come from? In fact how did Jay and Wood end up with two?”
“We do not know,” Alby said. “It appears that forces beyond our selves have intervened to destabilize your planet.”
“And this purpose of destabilization is?” Sandy asked. 
“Again, we do not know. We can only attempt to help you prevent the disasters that this force wishes to place upon you.” Alby replied. “I am afraid that we have let you keep your machine as you two seem to be, in fact must be the only ones who can correct all of this.”
“What a load of manure that is,” Jake said. “You supposed all-knowing and well-meaning superior beings come here and screw all our species development up, leave us time machines that could simply destroy us all and now Sandy and I are the only two people who can save the entire species not to mention probably the whole planet from some non-identified sinister alien force as we fly through time trying to also prevent mad men from committing mayhem!” 
“You do seem to have grasped the central concepts,” Berit replied.
Sandy stepped in front of Jake, which helped to calm him after a while. Funny but Alby and Berit seemed to be somewhat intimidated by Jake’s emotional outburst. 
“So we are supposed to do what exactly?” Sandy asked.
“It is really quite simple I assure you. Either get a piece of the machine before Mr. Ripper does so he cannot fully assemble it or try to appeal to his basically good nature for him to stop his efforts as it will lead to no good,” Berit said. At this point Berit seemed to sound more like a Russian spy to Jake. 
“We have prepared a list of where the artifacts were at designated points in time. We have even given you the names of local individuals who may be able to assist you.” Berit said handing a piece of paper to Sandy. She glanced at it but said nothing. 
“So how do we save Jay and Wood?” Sandy asked. 
“You probably cannot but you may run into them,” Alby said as she made a face that rather resembled a smiling person. 
“Ok we have it. We are good,” Sandy responded. 
“Very well then we will leave. Luck best of,” Alby said as she made a minor hand wave. Then both Nordics disappeared. 
“Can you believe that B.S.?” Jake said as he turned his back to where the Nordics had just stood in order to face Sandy.
“Actually I have trouble believing any of it,” she replied.
“Come to think of it either do I,” Jake answered.
“Let’s go home Jake.”

J4 drove around rather aimlessly or so he supposed that he did, as he continued to discuss matters with John. “Where are we going?” J4 asked. 
“That depends on you and what you want from me and life,” John said.
“That talk is messed up Dude. Lay it to me straight or you can get out of my car.”
“So it is your car?”
“It’s mine Dude so what’s it to you?”
“I’ll buy it from you.”
“I don’t need your money, in fact here take your lousy $150 back and get out,” J4 said and he took the bills from his pocket. It was then that he noticed how strange they looked. “Hey man you tried to cheat me.” 
“What do you mean?” John asked.
“This damn money ain’t no good. The presidents on them are all blown up big and funny lookin’,” he complained.
“Relax the money all looks like that now.”
“Now I know you’re lying,” J4 said as he looked at and stared at a particular house he had now passed for the second time. 
“No I am not and I can prove it. How did you get here to this time?” John asked. 
“I don’t know. I just came up with a date in my head.”
“Ok think of another date back at the time you lived in.”
J4 glared at him but he did it anyway. Suddenly he was driving down the same street now for the third time but it was different somehow. J4 saw things that just did not make any sense to him. At least it did not look like winter any more.
“So turn on the radio and play so music.” John told him.
The music and the station were familiar and it felt good to experience both. 
“So what do you say I buy this car from you?” asked John. 
“With what? Again your money ain’t no damn good.”
“Ok let me give you something that is going to be of real value…stock tips.”
“Say what?”
“I know stock that you can buy for pennies in the next several years that will be worth hundreds of thousands more in the future.”
“You are saying you are going to make me rich like you.”
John grew a bit more sober now. “I’m not rich. In fact, my company is going broke and my wife has left me. Don’t get me wrong the two are not related except that I am the cause of both. I need this car so I can change what I did wrong in the past.”

Chapter 5: No Why is there Something Wrong with the Universe?

Usually when Jake and Sandy travel through time in an instant, they are where they wanted to be. However, this time it was different. Time seem to pass slowly. Images of Jay and Wood and John Ripper popped up and then slowly vanished as if in a dream. The feeling was uncomfortable and like not being able to awake from a bad dream. Presently the fog began to clear.

Despite her objections to going on the mission, Sandy cared what would happen to Jay and Wood. She watched their home from the Smith’s house’s living room, which sat caddy corner from her own front door. The house was unlit and still. Nothing had changed for the past several hours except for the early fall of night this time of year. Of course, a bank of heavy clouds moving in from the northwest made it even much darker than it should have. After a while, neighbors began turning on their Christmas lights. The sight of them usually made Sandy feel happy, safe and serene, but not tonight. 
“Jake, honey, maybe we should go home….” 
“And turn on our Christmas lights,” Jake finished for her
 “I think I see someone walking around near our garage,” Sandy said as she looked away from the Smith’s window and back into the house where Jake sat in a chair with a book in his lap. He was looking back at her. 
“Déjà vu?” Jake inquired. 
Jake joined Sandy at the window. Lights began to come on inside their house. “Stay here and call the police. I am going to check out the house,” Jake said as if reading from a script. 
“You already know that we both go home to meet the aliens.”
“Let’s not do it,” Jake said. He then walked into the Smith’s kitchen and grabbed the keys to an automobile.
The garage open away from the view to their house and Jake slowly rolled the dark blue colored Infinity Q60 out the driveway and headed to their right down a hill and away from their house. It took nearly a full minute to get down the street and out of sight of their home. 
“First we get the kids and my parents and then we drive as fast and as far away from Fort Worth that we can,” said Jake. 
“I hope the Smiths don’t mind us taking their car,” sandy added. 
“They are our friends and they already think we are a bit peculiar,” Jake said. “So sure they will mind but the stories we tell always makes up for it.”
Jake turned north on University Drive and a quiver of light momentarily dazed him. As Jake looked out his driver side window, they passed Carlson’s Drive-in restaurant on their left followed next by the Parkaire Drive-in Theater. They were back in the late 1950’s. Then suddenly a car swerved directly in front of them. It was Jay and Wood’s black Crown Victoria. 
“Is that John Ripper driving that car?” Sandy asked. This was immediately followed by a brilliant flash of light and both cars were driving down a dark unpaved country road. Jake had to hit the brakes hard, as he had to negotiate a rather sharp turn in the road followed by a horse and buggy on the wrong side of the road. As he passed the buggy, the poor man on it looked scared out of his mind. Jake waved to him. The man pulled his horse to a stop and stared after them. Once Jake looked back down the road, the Crown Victoria was nowhere to be seen. Impulsively Jake speeded up to catch him. The road again turned sharply to the left and Jake was unable to make the turn, but fortunately, a smaller road lay ahead. Sandy screamed. The road abruptly ended directly ahead as an open wooden building. The Infinity crashed into a pile of hay just beyond the doorway.
Sitting there for a few moments seemed the safest thing to do. Neither of them appeared to be hurt as they pushed the deployed air bags off. Jake checked on Sandy and then climbed out of the vehicle. Jim Smith was not going to be happy one bit but the car was not too badly damaged. The front fender was dented in but the rest of the car looked to be fine. Presently Sandy got out as well. She was talking to someone. Jake turned about and saw an older couple watching them. They seemed to be rather stunned by the sight of Jake, Sandy and their car.
“Ah I am sorry about your…barn,” Jake began.

J4 knew that he did not want to have anything to do with this car any more. It had set up Bull to die. The machine had a bad karma. However, J4 definitely did not trust this rip off guy either. Then there were the people he observed as he drove around. What was up with them?
“So are you going to sell me this car or not?” Ripper demanded to know. The nature of the request startled J4 out of his reverie. 
“Man you’re a real pain!” J4 shot back.
“So I have been told,” replied Ripper. 
“Ok, take the damn car,” J4 replied. Ripper was all smiles. Ripper gave J4 the stock tips list and dropped him off at his home on Elizabeth Street. “See ya in the future,” John said as he drove off. 
“Not if I see you first dude.”

The older couple walked around the car slowly. The man just shook his head and said, “I am going to guess that you ain’t from around here either.”
“Either?” Sandy asked.
“Those two other boys, dressed kind of funny like you,” the woman remarked. “Lord but I have never seen a contraption like this. It is one of those automobiles isn’t it?”
“Yes it is. It is a really advanced design,” Jake replied. “Those boys wouldn’t have happened to be dressed all in black too would they?” Jake asked. 
“Yep and they talked like they were a bit ‘teched’ in the head, if you know what I mean,” the man said. 
“What did they say?” Sandy said. 
“Something about being from the future and tracking down a fugitive.” The woman answered. 
“Jay and Wood,” Sandy said to Jake. “They are alive?”
“Yep that were their names,” the man said. “Those boys sure were entertaining, bit a might bit strange.”
“Now honey don’t get us wrong. They were nice boys; polite and all, you know,” the woman said to Sandy. “It’s just that we are a small community here.”
“Where are we?” Jake asked.
“The Comanche called it White Settlement and the name sort of attached itself, don’t you know,” the man answered. 
“Like the suburb of Fort Worth?”
“Well I don’t rightly know what you mean by sub-verb, but you can see the building of Fort Worth from right here if you look east in the morning,” the old man said. 
“Um…don’t take this question to be strange but what year is it?” Sandy asked. 
The old woman sighed and took Sandy by the hand. “The boys asked that one too. Why don’t you come to the house and have a bite to eat. Do you like fried chicken and okra? Jay and Wood sure did.”
“My grandmother use to make it all the time,” Sandy said as she turned and walked off with her. She smiled back at Jake. Jake shrugged. 
“The year?” Jake asked again of the man.
“Sure, oh four.”
“As in 2004?”
The farmer shook his head and smiled, “Nope, as in 1904.”

The older couple was Jesse and Martha Farmer, which was fitting since they were…farmers. It seemed that Jay and Wood had spent quite a few days there on the farm with them. The boys, as the Farmers referred to them, had said something about being cut off from, The Time Machine. 
“Those boys couldn’t fool me none, H.G. Wells is one of my favorite writers,” Jesse said. “I know a whopper when I hear one.”
“Cut off?” Jake said. “Did they say any more about that?”
“Nope,” Jesse said. “They were all sort of bothered about it too.”
“Where are they now?” Sandy asked.
“Well in fact they had just set out two days ago to go to Fort Worth. They said that they were going to attend a party, a house warming as it were for a couple whose new home was built on a hill just south of town,” Jesse said. 
“Who is that?” Jake said. 
“It is for Electra….. um…Wag…Waggoner; she is the daughter of that cattleman, A.B. Wharton,” Martha answered. 
“You don’t mean it is at Thistle Hill, do you? Sandy asked.
Jesse looked at her curiously, “What in tarnation is Thistle Hill?”
“Never mind, when was the party?” Sandy asked.
“Tomorrow,” Martha replied as she cut a huge piece of cherry pie for her. “I make this with a little extra butter so it just melts in your mouth. You know a girl like you needs a bit more to eat. You are just skin and bone. A little extra heft keeps a man interested, if you know what I mean,” Martha continued in a whisper just for Sandy.

Jake and Sandy lay sunken in the middle of a down feather bed. Out the open window the chirping of insects and the flask of fireflies lulled them close to sleep. 
“You know, Jake sometimes I could just go back and live this life for myself. There are no 24 hour news cycles, internet lies and porn, or bad people from other parts of the world wanting to do away with us,” Sandy said. 
“Yeah I know what you mean. But no time is perfect.”
“Yes I know but simpler is…well appealing.” 
“You still miss the 1970’s don’t you,” Jake said turning toward her. 
“Yes but I would still give it up for you,” she replied taking his hand. 
“At times I feel rather like I stole you,” Jake said as he kissed her. 
After a while Sandy asked, “How did we get here? I mean we didn’t intend to come back in time to 1904 and in our friend’s car. How is this all possible?” 
“Well if Jake and Wood were cut off from our house’s time machine then I guess it reverted back to us.”
“But I thought that Alby and Berit had control of our house and the machine. I thought they choose to take us back 10,000 years to Göbekli Tepe.” 
“Well we sure as hell didn’t. I really do not believe anything we saw or experienced when we were with those aliens,” Jake replied. “We have to find Jay and Wood and get the real story from them.”
“And we have to keep them from dying,” Sandy added.
“Then we are going to crash a turn of the century western party tomorrow,” Jake said.
“If we had not gotten married at Robert Carr Chapel, Thistle Hill would have been my second choice,” Sandy said.
“Well both beat being married in a civil ceremony by a Nazi Justice of The Peace,” Jake added.

Jake decided that he would drive the white Infinity to Fort Worth, but they would not drive it up to Thistle Hill. They did not want to draw that much attention to themselves. Martha and Jesse did lend them some clothes to wear. They had belonged to their children and had not been worn in years. 
It took a while but they managed to find 7th Street and yes, they did create somewhat of a stir as they drove by folks in small vehicles, wagons and even on horseback. Eventually they found Jennings Street and took it south to Pennsylvania Avenue. The crest of Summit Avenue was in the fashionable residential district known as Quality Hill. It has gained a reputation for opulence and lavish entertainment. It was amazing seeing the area as it once was. No huge hospitals, office buildings, or businesses lining the roadways. This portion of town was just a residential neighborhood being filled in by substantial homes on large tracks of land. It was refreshing to say the least. 
Therefore, as Jake and Sandy had planned they got off the main road and parked south of Thistle Hill. Jake initially thought that leaving the car was a bad thing and then he reasoned correctly that no one would have the slightest idea of what it really was or how to enter it much less drive off in the vehicle. The walk was slightly challenging and yes, it was basically through knee high thistles in places. 
It was dusk on this late summer day and the festivities were in full swing as they approached the house from the rear. There was a substantial crowd of folks already here and they crowded even out into the lawn areas. Horse drawn carriages were continuing to pull up to the porticoes on the western side of the house. 
Sandy stared at the house. I had forgotten that the original style was Colonial and not the present day Georgian Revival. “So many balconies, oh I wish I had a camera,” she said.
“You keep forgetting,” Jake, teased and he whipped out his phone and took a picture.” 
“Put that away, somebody might see,” Sandy whispered. 
“Don’t worry history is replete with photos and even film of people on cell phones out of time,” Jake replied.
“I’m limiting your time on the internet in the future,” Sandy said. 
“Well it certainly will be the future,” Jake answered.
They went to the front of the house and to the entrance, which was a grand as Sandy had expected but it was also full of people. 
“We need to each look for Jay and Wood. I will meet you at the base of the stairs in about ten minutes,” Sandy said. 
Jake knew that she really wanted to take her own tour and he was fine with that. Jake wondered into the library where gentlemen were gathered smoking and drinking. It took some effort for Jake not to show a reaction to the smoke. He listened to the conversation for a while. Cattle futures, politics, literature and spiritualism were the topics, the latter subject being somewhat of a surprise to Jake. A taller man with a heavy mustache stopped leading the conversation and instead watched him for a while. It made Jake uncomfortable and so he left the room. Soon however, that same man caught up with him.
“Tell me sir,” the man began as he all but surrounded Jake. “You are not supposed to be here. 
Jake became afraid that his party crashing days were now numbered.
“How far in the future are you from and are you with those other two men dressed a dime store cowboys?”
“What….are you talking about,” Jake shrugged. 
“Shall I list my observations? Very well then, your clothes are out of date and do not fit well.”
“That means nothing,” Jake replied.
“Your shoes are very odd. I have never seen anything like them.”
“They are…called loafers and they are quiet the rage from where I come.” Jake said trying to sound unperturbed. 
“And where might that be?” He asked.
“I’m not prepared to say.”
“Well then what happened to that thing I saw you driving earlier? It was obviously some sort of automobile like none other than has ever been seen.”
“I came here in a carriage.”
“No you did not. The same shoes you are lying about show mud on the heels higher than the front of the shoe, which can only mean you walked up hill to get here. I also observed you take some gadget out of your pocket and aim it at the house as I did you watch you approach the house. A futuristic camera of sorts I suspect. And finally, as I am a doctor trained in the care of eyes I noted some strange lens in contact with your eyes. They seem to float about on their own.”
“Your name Sir is?” Jake replied.
“Ah…William Sigerson,” he answered. 
“I warrant that it is not,” Jake answered. “Your accent is Scottish I do believe. You demonstrate an excelled ability for deductive reasoning. You have by your conversations in the library an interest in Spiritualism and literature especially detective fiction. You call yourself Sigerson that just happens to be a favorite alias of one Sherlock Holmes. In addition, your knowledge of ophthalmology and your observation of my unique contact lens all make it very likely that you are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. However, Sir you are not supposed to be here either.”
“King Edward has not yet found it to his liking to knight Conan Doyle. However, I rather like the idea of it. Touché my man, you may have me. If I am whom you say then obviously I am doing an incognito trip to the states in order to write about the region more convincingly. Oh and I might add that those other fellows already told me that they were time travelers. An American joke on us foreigners, I had assumed, but now…” 
“Well,” said Jake. “Where might I find the two cowboys to whom you refer?”
“I will tell you, if I can be allowed to accompany you to meet up with them,” Sigerson answered. 
“Why should I do that?” Jake replied in a haughty manner but in actuality, he was rather enjoying himself. 
“I suspect that even time travelers have meetings to keep and limits as to performing tasks. I know where these men said that they were going and yet if you do not also go to this location you may not encounter them…perhaps ever again.”
“Are you always this…over barring?” Jake replied. 
“Yes without a doubt,” Sigerson replied with a smile that said that he knew Jake’s answer would be yes. 
Sandy approached and she pulled Jake to the side. “I have been all over the house including the ballroom on the third floor. I cannot find either of them, she said softly. 
“This…doctor thinks he knows where they went,” Jake nodded at Sigerson.
“Why does he look familiar?” Sandy replied as she now studied the man. “And how does he know Jay and Wood?”
“He has a talent for figuring things out and our friends are not exactly tight lipped about themselves.” Jake then accompanied Sandy over and introduced her. 
“Dr. Sigerson my wife Sandy. Sandy Dr. Sigerson.” The two of them shook hands. 
“Is your hair colored in some way?” Sigerson asked to Sandy as he studied her.
Sandy stiffened, “No…that is…only slightly.”
Jake eyed her with amused surprise. 
“So if you can help us then please do,” Sandy added so as to move their conversation along. 
“Come with me,” Sigerson said somewhat smugly.

Chapter 6: Something has to be done about the kids!

J4 was walking aimlessly down Forest Park drive when a friend Tye Dye pulled up beside him in his classic car. 
“Hey Four what’s you doing?”
“Go away man,” J4 yelled back to him. 
“Man you need a ride of somethin’,” Tye yelled back at him. 
J4 shook him head, sighed, and looked at his friend. “I had all the power in the world. I could have saved my best friend and I just gave it away. I would have ruled the world, but I was…like afraid or something. The dude saw it in me and he just jived it away from me.”
“Four what’s you on?”
“Nothing, you know I don’t do that stuff.”
“Then quit talking stupid and get in. I am going to see Bull Mac’s new ride, ya what to come?”
“At the Mexican craps shot on the Northside?” J4 asked.
“Yes you heard too? Big money and lot is happening too. I heard some real lookers was going too. Man I sure could use some pu…”
“Shut up and drive,” J4 said as he got into the late model Chevy.

Sigerson guided Jake and Sandy toward the left side of the large central staircase. A door in the hallway between the kitchen and the front room off set to the right stood partially open. Sigerson looked about before he opened and lead them down a set of stairs. 
“Where are we going?” asked Jake in a whisper. 
“I believe this leads to the basement,” Sandy replied in a low voice. She was in the lead and proceeded cautiously downward. The light was dim but two men could be seen bending down in the middle of the room. They seemed to be looking into a freshly dug hole. The three newly arrived adventurers drew quietly upon them.
Suddenly Jake bellowed, “Find anything guys?” 
Jay and Wood startled as them drew quickly around. Dime store cowboys indeed, they wore oversized western hats, bright multi-colored shirts with breast pockets, fronts and long sleeves closed with silver snaps, and crisp new jeans tucked weirdly into the tackiest boots imaginable. No wonder Sigerson knew who Jake was looking for. 
“Nice outfits boys,” Sandy said. “What was your inspiration for these clothes?”
“First, we have not found what we came to find…for,” Jay said. 
“Second, Roy Rogers…” Wood quickly responded with a sense of bride. 
All three of them looked back with blank expressions. 
“Dale Evens…Trigger…Gabby Haze…Nellie Bell?’’ Wood added. “Saturday morning shows in the 50’s….?”
“Sorry,” Sandy said. “That was a little before my time.” 
Both men seemed crestfallen.
“What precisely were you looking for?” Sigerson asked. 
“What is Doyle doing here?” asked Jay.

“Doyle?” replied Sandy. 
“Long story,” answered Jake. “What was it you hoped to find?” 
“We do not know. We followed John Ripper down here. He fooled us into believing he buried something here before he left to another time,” Wood answered. 
“You were to stay in your neighbor’s house. Why did you leave?” Jay asked. “You took the time machine away from us. We are…now were trapped here.”
“We found the Nordics, Alby and Berit in our house and they told us that…”
“Consummate liars,” said Jay.
“So their people did not invent the time machine?” Jake asked.
“Not probable,” said Wood. “Time travel is fatal for them…bad genes.” 
“Jeans?” asked Sigerson. 
“But they took us back in time to visit…” Sandy began.
“Göbekli Tepe,” Wood finished for her.
“Old blade,” Jay added. 
The three others looked at him in silence and confusion. “Perhaps you mean…old saw?” Jake finally said.
“Same, it is a lie they tell. They took you there only in your mind. It is like reality but on a careful examination it is not,” Jay corrected. “No one knows who invented the machine. It resides at your house but in another dimension. Nordics cannot even touch it, bad juju.” 
“So they want what?” Sandy asked.
“To destroy all manner of mankind and them possess Earth,” Wood said.
“And Ripper is…” Jake began.
“Latest dub, due to wander the Earth in chains,” Jay said with a strange grin on his face and looking at Sigerson. 
“That’s Charles Dickens, not me,” Sigerson replied. 
“Who are you really?” asked Sandy. 
Sigerson said nothing but merely smiled back at her. 
“So Ripper is not actually collecting and putting together parts from the time machine?” Jake asked as he ignored her question. 
“He is trying to do exactly that. The machine sometime in the future will be dismantled and placed into the past so as to prevent it from being reused,” Wood said.
“How does one do that?” Sigerson said. “I mean once you dismantle something like a time machine then how can you use it to place items in the past? It would take a magician.” 
“Houdini,” Wood replied. 
“What?” asked Sigerson? 
“Shhh…someone is opening the door above,” sandy said with a hushed voice. “Gather near to me quickly.”
As figure presently perched herself on the landing above the quintet below vanished. Electra Waggoner was sure that she had heard voices issuing from the basement but when she checked it was quite empty. She shrugged and went back to her party.
“Where are we?” Sigerson asked.
“I moved us to just a day later,” Sandy said.
“Oh so it is the 5th of July?” Sigerson said.
“The 5th you mean yesterday was the 4th?” Jake inquired of the group. 
“Yes that is generally how it happens,” Sigerson shot back.
“You won’t understand,” Jake snapped at him.
“Yes I would yank. I am not English but as a Scotsman I do know full well the concept of independence.” 
“Wait, so yesterday was special to whom besides the county as a whole?” Sandy asked Jake.
“John Ripper was born on the 4th of July. He is so self-centered right now that I bet he meant for something to occur on this day even if it was not this year.” 
“What if we scrolled through time on the 4th of July year by year right here, might we catch something involving him and this house?” Sandy said. 
“You could do that?” Jay asked. 
“Yes I think so,” Sandy answered. 
“If any of you see something, we can stop and…” Jake started to say.
“No do not stop just go slow enough so we pick up something without exposing ourselves to Ripper. He does not need to learn that we are on to him,” Sigerson said. 
The others collectively looked over at him in amazement. “Yes, you are correct,” Jay finally said. “Let time move. We will stop when the room is empty if we determine that we have seen something or in the future when we are sure that we will not.”
“Again get closer to me, I would hate to lop any one off,” Sandy teased.
“Could that really happen?” Sigerson asked.
Jay looked at him, “I do not know but let us not try.” Sigerson then moved in closer to him.

J4 peered out the window of Tye’s car as they approached the neighborhood where the game was being played. Sure enough, there was the crowd surging toward the house where the activity was. Tye actually parked just down the street from the black Crown Victoria. They both got out of Tye’s car and wondered over to the vehicle Bull Mac now was driving. 
“Do you think this is the one?” Tye asked.
“Without a doubt,” J4 replied. 
“Man it looks fast. I bet it goes a hundred in no time,” Tye declared.
“You could say that,” J4 said back to him. 
“Let’s go watch Bull Mac throw. I hear he always wins,” Tye said to J4. 
“Is it locked,” asked Tye?
J4 could not actually remember if this was the case or not, so he tried the driver’s side door and it opened up.
“Wooeee just look at that leather trim,” Tye sighed. “What I wouldn’t give to have this baby.”
That comment sent J4’s mind spinning. 
“Let’s go over and wait for Bull to finish and then ask him for a ride,” J4 said to Tye. 
“Man you think?” Tye asked.
“Sure he will. We’re his best friends,” J4 answered.
I’ll tell you what. I will race you there.” 
“What? You know before I got kicked off the track team I was a shoe in for the city championship in the 40.”
“It don’t matter. I’ll beat you so bad that I will be just sitting watching the action before you even get close.” 
“Go on,” Tye replied. 
“No man I mean it. In fact, I will give you a head start. I’m going across the street and when you yell go we will start.”
“No, no I don’t race you unless we have money on it.”
“Ok let’s say ten then.”
“You serious?”
“Sure why not? I’ll even give you my ten to hold.”
“Man this is too easy.”
J4 reached into his pocket and pulled out a wad of cash. He handed a ten to Tye. Then walked across the street and stood there waiting.
Tye looked at the ten and then got serious. He crouched down into his running stance. Then he started followed by a belayed “Go!” 
J4 jogged over to the Crown Victoria and quickly hotwired it. He then gunned to several times so to draw attention to himself. He could see Bull looking around. Then the big guy saw his precious new car begin to roll off down the street at first in a slow lazy way. Now Bull was big but he too had some speed and he broke into a mad charge after his car. When he had gotten far enough away from the game J4 gunned the engine and took off. 
J4 knew that Tye would offer his car in pursuit so he wasted little time after he had them in his rear view mirror. He began to concentrate. He thought over and over to himself, “Just get me somewhere where I am safe.”

Time began to pass by given the nature of small changes about them. Few if any significant images appeared to anyone so eventually Sandy stopped. “I guess that we failed.”
“Perhaps not,” Jake said. “A thought occurred to me. What if we need to see something that occurred on a different time line than the one we are on? You know like the one where Germany got the nuclear bomb in World War II?”
“The what kind of bomb, in what war?” Sigerson said. 
“How would I take us to another time line?” Sandy asked.
“Focus on your state of mind when you were on the other time lines. That should direct you,” Wood answered. 
She closed her eyes and thought. For quite a while, nothing happened and then suddenly time began to move. A blurry representation of two figures flew past. Jake told Sandy to open her eyes and move back in time. Sandy did so and this time the figures appeared again but they moved in reverse. The figures were blurred and the verbiage could be heard but it made no sense. 
“I feel faint,” Sigerson said.
“Just observe do not try to understand,” Jay said to him. “And remember to breath.” 
Sandy stopped once more.
“This time I will go back. I do not believe that I can go slowly enough for us to pick up any words. See what you can.’’
Jake fumbled with his pocket and then set himself. This time they moved slowly enough for the figures to become more defined. It was Ripper and another younger man. 
“Jake oh no do you see him?”
However, Jake was occupied doing something. Presently they stopped once more in the darkened room but an electric light was on in one of the corners. 
“Jake it was Vern. The young man was Vern,” Sandy said sadly. 
“Who,” Sigerson asked. 
“Their son,” Jay replied. 
Jake held her for several minutes. Finally, they moved apart. 
“I got a picture of the object in Ripper’s hands. It is a map of some kind.” Jake said.
“A picture with his miniature camera no doubt,” Sigerson said. 
“Actually it is a phone,” said Jay.
“A wireless telephone so small you can hold it in your hand and you can use it to make photographs! This is amazing….”
“You can also text message other people,” Wood replied.
“It is sort of like telegraph without the poles,” Jay said, “Wait until you see the internet. That is like holding all the newspapers in the world at one time in your hand.”
Sigerson simple gaped at him.
“Jake it is a map of Egypt. In fact if I am correct it is Tanis in the early 1940’s,” Sandy said looking at the image on his phone. 
“Tanis…. And me without the Staff of Ra,” Jake said.

They drove back to the farmhouse that night in relative silence, except for the constant manipulation and guffawing Sigerson made as he played with every gadget the car had to offer. At one point Jake wondered aloud what Sigerson would be like if they had taken him to Disney World. 
“Let’s not find out,” replied Wood. For the first time since he has known them, Jake saw a touch of irritation in either one of the two MIB. It was a bit reassuring he thought. However, Sandy was clearly upset as she did not engage or talk much with him or anyone else since they had visited Thistle Hill. When they arrived, Martha made them some food and gave everyone a bed for the night. Their farmhouse was not that huge but the Farmers were used to having relatives visit and stay for weeks on end. So there was an emphasis on bedrooms or in the case of Jake and Sandy a small cottage behind the house near the barn. 
Sandy looked it over in the fading night light. All the building were made of wood, painted white and shaded by pecan trees, which helped to keep them cooler in the Texas heat. She stopped and admired a small garden filled with ripening watermelons. 
“My grandmother used to take us up to Missouri when I was young to visit relatives at their farms,” she said to Jake. “They lived like this. It was a simple, quiet life full of togetherness and caring. Today we have so much ‘excitement’ and constant tension.” She turned toward Jake and held him. “I just want to go home and hug the kids.”
“Seeing the older version of Vern upset you didn’t it?”
“He looked so hurt and confused and John Ripper certainly seemed to be taking advantage of him,” Sandy replied as she released Jake. 
“We always wondered how Older Vern got transported through time and now we know.” Jake said. 
“What do we do about it?” Sandy asked. “Do we inject ourselves into the events or do we just sit back and observe?”
“I suspect that we observe for now. Vern has to do what he did in the past so that we can eventually counter those activities later. Otherwise, time lines will be changing again. Eventually we will have to deal with Ripper on his own turf.” 
“I’d rather just go home now,” Sandy said frowning at him and on the verge of tears. 
“I know but we need to stay with this for a little while longer. Besides, you seem to have a gift for guiding through time. I never k new you could do those things.”
“I have a confession to make.”
“I have been visiting with your aunt Cassie in the past. Don’t look at me like that. I just wanted to know what the life I never had was like. I also got to meet you and even me as children.” 
“I sort of became my own aunt too. I saw you save me from being run over by that truck in the front of our house when I was a little girl.” 
“I never knew that time travel would be so…incestuous,” Jake chided her. Sandy mocked a punch into his shoulder.
“Ok well maybe I could have found a better word to use,” Jake added.

The next morning they drove back into town and shopped at the Stripling store on Houston Street for a set of proper cloths to wear to Egypt. Jay and Wood along with Sigerson found some light colored outfits and white pith helmets as basic black would not do. In addition, it seemed that Jay and Wood always had cash money for this time and place in which they were traveling. Sandy made a mental note to ask how that was. 
Since it was uncommon women to wear anything but long dresses in the early 1900’s Sandy had to settle for a pair of boy’s pants, tan shirt and boots. Jake took considerable more time. Finally, he came up with a tan shirt, brown pants, and a dark brown leather jacket with work boots, a dark brown Edwardian felt fedora and a pistol with a brown leather holster and belt. 
Sandy slipped up beside him and whispered, “You are not fooling me mister.”
“What… I think all of this will come in handy in Egypt.”
“Yeah well what about a whip then?” Sandy answered. 
“Wait you are right!” He turned to flag down the proprietor. 
Sandy smiled and said to no one in particular, “All the man needs now is a theme song.” As if on cue a group of trumpets began blaring out on the street in a very familiar way as a small parade strode by to advertise the Fort Worth Cats baseball game to be played that evening at a park near the Texas and Pacific Depot. Sandy found the whole thing to be hysterical and only Jake knew why. 
Once back in the car sandy asked, “Ok how do you manage to always have the right currency?”
Jay shrugged and for the first time that Sandy could recall he smiled. “After our adventures we return briefly and hide the money.”
“So it would seem that we will be successful then,” Jake noted.
“Perhaps,” said Wood. “Time is a funny thing as it is so venerable to change.”
Back at the farm, Jay asked to see Jakes I-phone. In a few minutes, he returned it. However now it had a small mental clip attached to it.
“It is a solar battery that recharges only minutes after being in the sun. In addition you now get Wi-Fi,” Jay explained.
“I already get Wi-Fi,” Jake said.
“Not like this. It is retro. Our team beams it into the past,” Wood said. 
“Wait a second,” Jake said as he played with his phone. “I am on the internet. You are telling I am connected like I was back at home?”
“Better,” Jay answered. 
“Can I see that?” Sigerson asked.
“Knock yourself out,” replied Jake. 
“You said ‘team’, what does that mean?” Sandy asked. 
Now it was Wood’s turn to smile. “You Sandy are a very special person. You can move time like it was a candle held in your hand. We have been waiting for a human like you to evolve. Our team is here to assist you.”
“Evolve?” Sandy relied. 
“Here is a print of the map,” Jay interrupted. 
“You have a printer!” Jake exclaimed. 
“You blew up the map that Jake took a picture of….look at the detail.” Sandy noted. “This is Pierre Montet’s whole dig up to May 1940 when the war forced him to leave it behind. There is the Temple of Amun. And here are the Temples of Horus, Mut, Khons and Astate.”
“So this was a very great find?” Jake asked. 
“Yes and Montet would have gone down in history as perhaps the greatest archeologist of his time if it had not been for the war. Of course, everyone up to Montet thought that this was Ramesses II’s capital city of Piramesses but that was really about 12 miles south. Montet figured it out eventually.” 
“So they were digging in the wrong place,” Jake noted. 
Sandy ignored him. “Look at the site of the Temples of Mut, Khons and Asate. There seems to be an unexcavated site drawn in on this map with a different ink. I wonder if this is what we are looking for. And here in the south corner is a small ‘X’ written in as well.”
“I think we have our treasure map,” Jake said. “Now we need to discover when to go there.” 
“The best time would be in June 1940,” Sandy answered. “That would be after Montet left and before all the fighting happened.” 
“Let’s roll,” Jake declared. 
“First we need to say our good byes and thank you to The Farmers,” Sandy said placing a hand on Jake’s chest.
“I gave them a large amount of monies this morning,” said Wood as he carried a couple of large red baskets containing food and water. “They plan to buy more land.”
“Will that be ok as far as history goes?” Sandy asked.
Jay opened his eyes wide as if to say that he did not know.
“Are we becoming rather fast and loose with the time line validity,” Jake said. 
“You need to know that this time line cannot continue. There are too many inconsistencies. The only way to get back to our normal timelines is for a total reversal to occur,” Jay said. 
“Meaning?” Jake asked.
“Ripper needs to have never obtained the car. He is the outlier that is polluting the flow of the whole temporal grid,” Wood replied. 
“How do we do that?” Jake said.
“At this point it is an unknown,” Jay answered. 
“Look chaps what does it mean that ‘this sites has been unlawfully accessed as determined by the FBI’,” asked Sigerson holding up the phone.

Chapter 7: Hieroglyphs Cartouche for Fun and Prophet

When they reached their car, Sigerson was already sitting behind the stirring wheel. Jake walked up to the window and Sigerson happily rolled it down. 
“What gives?” Jake asked.
“I want to be the…” Sigerson paused as he fumbled for the word. “I want to drive. I have steered motor cars before you know and I studied how it’s done on your communicator.”
“Communicator”, Jake asked.
“Yes, I got that from your… Trek Star,” Sigerson replied with a bright and cheery smile. “They are very similar in function you know.”
“Yes I know,” Jake said. “I will sit next to you and at all times, you do as I say. You are the helmsman and I am the Captain.”
“Aye Sir,” Sigerson said as he offered a salute.
“Jake are you sure he should do this? I mean the air bags have already been used,” Sandy said as they both rounded to the opposite side of the car to get in.
“Well we are in the middle of nowhere on country road made for horses and buggies. In addition, we are going to the Sahara Desert. What could go wrong, besides hitting a cow or a camel?”
“We are destroying someone else’s car.” Sandy answered.
Jake shrugged, “Time heals all wounds.”
“Ok Art let’s go,” Jake said as he sat down in the front passenger’s seat and buckled his seat belt.
Sigerson hit the gas, the engine roared to life, and they did not move an inch. 
“Um, first put it in drive and then more slowly give it some gas,” Jake corrected Sigerson. 
“Why you call petrol gas is beyond me but yes Sir, Captain Kurt.”
“That’s Kirk, Mr. Sulu,” Jake said with a small grin. 
This time they we off, but at a less furious pace.

J4 had been driving aimlessly for a while before he began to realize that things were now different. He had left Tye and Bull way back down the North/South Freeway somewhere across from downtown. Now there were new streets and freeways crisscrossing his drive around Fort Worth. J4 was perplexed for he had not actually driven this way previously. What had he been thinking about that placed him here and just where was he going? One thing he knew he was going to avoid that Ripper dude. J4 pulled off on to University drive. He headed south for a while and finally he turned off into a mostly empty parking lot and simply sat there wondering what to do next. Suddenly a man in his mid-seventies knocked on his window. J4 rolled the window down and he viewed the man with genuine curiosity for he did look vaguely familiar, in fact, he looked a bit like an older Morgan Freeman. 
“I have been waiting for you,” the man said.

The switch to the Sahara was dramatic and stark. Mid-summer in Texas is usually dry and always very hot but it paled to what they were experiencing now. A blue cloudless sky allowed a very bright sun to beat down on the SUV and challenged their air conditioner to keep pace with the rising temperatures. The road was less sandy than the bland desert beyond it but not by a whole lot more. Sigerson’s driving speed slowed dramatically and the car began to fish tail frequently. Presently they topped a rise and as they crested it, a group of soldiers stood next to a roadblock. A tall rigged soldier waved for them to stop.
“I’ve got this one gentlemen and lady. They are the British Military,” Sigerson said. He pulled up beside a stern looking young infantryman. 
“What’s up Sargent Major,” Sigerson asked.
“Well first Mr.….” He began.
“Sigerson, I am from Scotland and these fine folks are from the states. We uh… are…”
“We are on an archeology mission sponsored by the Chicago Museum of Science,” said Jay as he handed the soldier some documents. 
“Yes and I am their guide,” Sigerson added.
The soldier looked at the paper work and then back up. He eyed each of with suspicion. After a few long minutes, the soldier seemed to relax.
“I do not recommend going into northern Egypt especially on a dig. The area you are going is under the control of the Italian Army.
“Well good I like Italians….”
He then saw Jake was surreptitiously shaking his head no.
“I like Italian food.”
“Are you trying to be funny?” The soldier asked sternly. 
“No, no I mean we are game to go in there.”
The soldier studied Sigerson again. “You look familiar, sort of like Arthur Conan Doyle.”
“I assure you I am not he,” Sigerson said almost with a blush.
“Of course not he has been dead for ten years,” the soldier said back to him. 
“Dead…for ten years,” Sigerson said softly as he looked to his companions. “Ah, has it really been that long indeed.” 
“Yes, most folks only cared for his Holmes stuff but I really like his ‘Lost World’ novel the best. I want to see the Amazon for myself one day” the soldier replied this time with a hint of a smile. 
Sigerson smiled back with a rather vacant look. He then turned to Jake and mouthed, “The Amazon?”
Jake replied while the soldier examined their papers once more by nodding his head yes. 
“Me too,” Sigerson declared. “I think that I will go there next.”
After a minute of rereading the papers the soldier said, “Look I can’t stop you from going to this Tanis place. But do be careful mind you.” He handed the papers back to them and then took a step back and saluted. 
Sigerson saluted back but not with any real vigor. He pulled out and headed down the road. After the checkpoint was out of sight, he turned to them all and said. “I died in 1930?”
Wood shrugged and replied; “Well look at it this way now you have out lived yourself.”
Sigerson turned back around and continued driving without another word.

They drove on for another hour without seeing fact the road they were on seemed to be getting lower and lower compared to the terrain surrounding them. Eventually Sandy figured out that they were in what was one the Nile River bed centuries before. “The Nile has like all ancient river changed beds as the years passed. This why Piramesses was abandoned and the capital was moved to Tanis which in time suffered the same fate,” she explained. 
“But why are we so far from the sight of Pierre Montet’s dig,” Sigerson asked.
“Well partially you drive like an old woman,” Wood said. Everyone turned and looked at him. It was so rare to hear either Jay or Wood say anything so harshly. 
“And,” continued Jake, “We wanted to scout out the territory. We have no idea who is there now. Montet left only a few weeks ago according to the internet. Hopefully we arrive before Ripper does.” 
“And Vern,” Sandy said to herself but not softly enough as Jake turned toward her and laid a hand on her shoulder. 
Soon the road began to climb once more and an elevated mound could be viewed on their left. Sigerson slowed down even more now but caution was an acceptable trait now. What they found as they crested the elevation was a small valley containing a dig with multiple limestone, brick and granite buildings surrounded by obelisks and fallen statues. However, to their relief no one else was around the dig site. 
“We want, I think NRT-VI which is to the south and west of the Royal Temples in the Royal Necropolis,” Sandy said as she consulted the phone images. “It is a smaller out of the way building with in our time nothing of note found inside. So go around these walls and the gate of Sheshong III will be around the side. No, not this gate, go farther north. There see it on the right, see it.”
They walked through the gate and around 110 yards to the right sat a small brick building somewhat away from the others. It was unopened. After walking round it, the five of them stood staring at the building wondering want to do next.
“We will have to time shift inside,” Jay said.
“You mean like we did at Thistle Hill?” Jake asked. 
“Yes but it could be dangerous so I suggest that only Sandy go first,” Wood said. 
“Dangerous, how,” Sandy asked.
“There will be no light,” Wood replied. 
“There is a flashlight in the car,” Jake said.
“Until she becomes solid in time the light will not penetrate into the room,” Wood said.
“Sandy could solidify within a wall or in whatever is in the room itself,” Jay offered. 
Sandy looked to her husband and then back at the other. “I’ll do it.”
“No wait,” Sigerson said suddenly. “She does not have to do anything of the kind. Look I know that I am viewed as someone of a rube but think about this. If this Ripper person is coming here to take this time travel object and it is inside this building then she needs only to travel back and forth through time to see what he does or does not do inside this building. Am I correct or not?”
Jay and Wood exchanged looks and then shook their heads in the affirmative. Sandy appeared relieved. Sandy took the flashlight just in case she needed it and they all stood back and watched. Sandy then began to move toward the building and gradually she vanished into the side of it. 
Minutes and then hours passed and Sandy did not return. Jake began to pace. It should not have taken this long at all. 
“I am going inside after her,” Jake finally declared.
“Have you the talent to move through time as does she?” Wood asked.
“No she is better than I am at that but I have to try,” he replied. 
“Are they the only ones who can do this time travel business?” Sigerson asked.
“Yes as they are connected to the home machine that responds only to its owner,” Wood answered. 
Jake became very serious in his expression and then he approached the wall, nodded his head, walked forward and smacked up against the side of the structure. Blinking he rubbed his forehead and tried several more times but nothing happened.
Suddenly Jay gave a small shake and said, “I have a thought just now. Stop trying to penetrate the building. Just try to move through time right where you are.”
“Ok,” Jake said and he focused his thoughts and…nothing happened. 
“This is bad,” Jay finally said after a few moments. 
“Bad how,” Jake demanded to know. 
“Why did I not realize it?” Jay said. “The time machine is here and Sandy has entered it.”
“Oh my,” said Wood. “We are Drillian Fools!”
“What!” cried out Jake? 
Jay looked mortified as he looked into Jake’s eyes. “The time machine inside the tomb is the one and only single time travel device. As such, our car and your house are but extensions of it at a later time. When she entered the tomb, the machine neutralized your connection to the machine in your home. Neither of you can now travel through time.”
“Then she is trapped inside the machine?” Jake asked.
“Yes she is in a form of suspended time I believe. I think she can only get back to normal time and time travel once the machine is opened and she steps outside it again,” Jay answered. 
“Is she alright?” Jake demanded to know.
“Yes I think that she is,” Jay said.
“You think she is,” Jake sullenly said.
“We won’t really know until the machine is freed from its tomb and opened,” Wood answered him.
“What do we do in the mean time?” Sigerson asked.
“We have no choice. We must wait until the tomb is opened,” said Wood.
“But we don’t know when that is….” Jake’s voice trailed off as he walked away.

Later that evening as the desert air rapidly cooled, they ate sandwiches and fruit from the baskets Wood had obtained from the Farmers. Meanwhile Sigerson was again using the internet. As the minutes rolled on and Sigerson alternately giggled, laughed and complained the other three in the group began to grow weary and inpatient with him. Just as Jake stood up and was about to shut him down Sigerson looked up at them with a grin. 
“I have it chaps. This will solve all our problems. It is an app, called ‘Whodine’. It gives instructions on how to open ancient pyramids,” Sigerson said as it held it aloft with pride.
“Whodine? Let me see that,” Jake said as he grabbed it from him. “It’s called ‘Houdini’ and it does appear at the very least to show ways to open sealed tombs.” 
They spent the entirety of following morning examining the tomb for a corresponding catch or lock to open up the structure from the exterior. Jake was about to give up when suddenly something went ‘pop’ and a large brick shoulder high slipped back into the edifice and fell away. Sigerson standing next to Jake started to insert his hand when Jake stopped him. 
“There is probably a trap inside,” Jake said.
“Why would you think that?” Sigerson replied. 
“Trust me that there always is one.” Jake then began looking about the ruin. He picked up and dropped several chard pieces of weathered stone. Finally finding a long but sturdy one, he inserted the chard slowly into the hole. Nothing happen and Sigerson smiled at him. However, as he was about to say something, a large and heavy brick fell down and crushed the chard. After a while, Jake was able to wedge the obstructing materials in the hole out of way. He then slowly reinserted his hand and then another loud pop could be heard. This made Sigerson jump. Jake’s expression was one of sheer terror until a section of the edifice facing gave way and an entrance was revealed. Jake sighed and removed his hand and then he smiled sheepishly at Sigerson. Sigerson frowned back at him. 
The room inside was about 12 feet by 10 feet and the ceiling was about 15 feet high too. Something large and shiny occupied the center of room. It was metallic and roughly, bell shaped. The surface was smooth and unbroken but the base was lined with a script of some sort that even though it looked like hieroglyphics it definitely was not. After examining it closely Jake began to beat on it as he yelled out for a response from Sandy. 
“It definitely sounds hollow don’t you think?” He asked Sigerson and the others. After a while, he stopped and listened intently. 
Sigerson who had been leaning against the wall looking sullen at the prospects suddenly stood up and placed his ear against the side of the vessel. “Do you hear it?”
“No, I think you are just…wait I do!” said Jake as he too leaned into the object. 
“It is code…yes Morse code,” Sigerson remarked. 
“I don’t know Morse code,” Jake replied. 
“No small wonder,” Sigerson replied. “Who needs it when you have all those fabulous communications devices?”
“But Sandy does know it.”
“It says…” Sigerson began but then waited for a long while. “Why does…I mean…did it have to be snakes? Good Lord she is in there with surrounded by vipers!” Sigerson said. 
Jake laughed and smiled back at him, “No, no it is alright. It our little joke. She is alright.” 
“You Yanks have a strange since of humor.” Oh, wait there is more. Stan Beck…Who’s he some comic…no…that must be…” Jake grabbed him and shoved Sigerson out the door followed by him. They landed face down as a mini explosion shook the tomb. Smoke gushed out and in a minute out walked Sandy. 
“I believe she meant stand back,” Jake said and he rose, kissed and hugged his wife. 
“Undoubtedly,” Sigerson said as he stood and brushed the sand from himself.

That evening after examining the interior of the vessel, they gathered about a small fire and ate their dinner while discussing their findings. 
“We thought that you would be in a state of suspended time,” Wood said to Sandy. 
“Well I was not aware of much of anything after I got inside the vessel. So I guess I was. However, when Jake began to pound on the sides of the capsule, it sure as heck brought me out of my trance. I tried to yell back but I just could not get through the heavily padded interior, so I began tapping on a section of exposed wall.”
“You know capsule is the right word. It looks like something out of NASA inside.” Jake said.
“What a NASA,” Sigerson asked.
“The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, it supervises all our space exploration.” Jake said.
“You mean you fly off the bloody planet for real?” Sigerson replied. “I thought all that Star Trek movie show was just factionary.”
“Well we go in to space not to that extent but we have been to the moon and have sent probes to most of the planets.”
Sigerson sat looking blankly once more. Then he said, “You have done this all in little more than a hundred years. Wait until I tell my readers all about this. However they will never believe me in a hundred years, so to speak.”
“Either none of this is going to happen at all or…” Wood began.
“Or aliens will exterminate us all.” Jay finished for him. Neither man seemed terribly emotional about it however.
“Don’t those prospects bother you?” Sandy asked. 
“Either way our species is dying out,” Jay replied. “Many of our kind have intermingled to such a degree that there is no more real distinction left.”
“We of course want our humanity and yours to survive. We however, do know what our future will be if the aliens do not take over our planet.” Wood added. 
“You will be us and we will be you,” Jake relied. 
“Our essence will be added to the collective,” Wood said a bit snappishly. 
“No, there is no collective that has only one personage. There are just us and them,” Jake said pointing to the darkening sky. “We are all beings of humanity and we either survive together or we are all lost.”
They were quiet for a long while and finally Wood spoke, “We cannot allow Ripper to coopt the machine. However, neither can we prevent it. Certain events have to happen and in fact already have happened. You will recognize events that must be allowed to occur for the sake of the time lines we have struggled to maintain. But eventually there will be a point where it all goes a rye and then Jake you must act. It is not the large thing that you do that will matter. It is rather the small and seemingly insignificant ones that will make the difference between the two realities to come.”
“Jake…will, but what about me?” Sandy asked.
“You have already done what you need to do except for one small difference,” Jay said.
“What is that?” Sandy said. 
“I cannot tell you this directly as it could degenerate our preferred time line choice. But what you say makes a huge difference.” Jay answered.
“I say,” Sigerson said. “If you know all these things then why don’t you just draw a straight line with us?”
“Mr. Sigerson your presence has improved our odds significantly. At the very first I thought that you were a mere contaminant but you have shown me that this was not the case.” Jay said. 
“Thank you.”
“Nothing of the sort, I am afraid.” Jay said without further explanation. 
“So when do we start the machine up?” Sigerson asked. 
“We don’t,” Jay replied. 
“Why not,” Sigerson asked.
“Prime Directive,” Wood replied. “We cannot directly interfere with the machine as it has been used or significantly change the timeline, only Jake and Sandy can,” Wood replied. 
“I think that I need to travel to 1965 and have a talk with this Gene Roddenberry person, writer to writer,” Sigerson said looking quite forlorn. 
“We all need to get some sleep.” Wood added as he stood. “Ripper will be here in the morning.”
Sigerson watched him and Jay walk off together. “How in the duce does the man know that?”
Jake and Sandy said nothing as they watched the fire intently as it slowly burned out.

Actual cartouche found at Temple of Osiris at Abydos in Eygpt 
As mornings go in the desert, the one next day was not exceptional. It broke clear, hot and dry. It reminded Jake of an August summer day in Texas without the vegetation derived from spring showers. About mid-morning, a dust cloud in the north slowly began to resolve into a convoy of vehicles, which included a large Nazi army flatbed truck, a regular Nazi troop hauling truck, a Horch 930 V car, and a Tatra T111 6×6 truck pulling a black Crown Victoria.

Observing them as they approach Sigerson remarked, “They sure know how to travel in style.”
“Why would they be pulling your car?” Sandy asked Jay.
“It is probably low on fuel,” Jay said rather matter of factly. 
“What fuel do you mean?” Jake asked. 
“As you would image a time machine need a rather highly advanced and efficient energy force to displace time,” Wood responded. 
“That sucker is nuclear?” Jake responded pointing to their car.
“No that one is,” said Jay pointing to the bell shaped object in the tomb. “Your house’s machine and our car collect and store natural energy derived from solar and geothermal reactions.” 
“It takes quite a while to store up enough fuel. So we usually take the car and park it by The Kilauea volcano in Hawaii. Of course while we are there…” Jay said
“Hawaiian girls are the best,” Wood added. 
“So our house uses solar energy to recharge its time machine link?” Sandy interrupted him. 
 “Solar energy has some advantages particularly here in the desert,” Jay answered. “Still it takes days to get enough energy stored to time jump. Your house uses thermal energy from a different time stream where a river of lava flows under it.”
“Lava?” Sandy said to Jake. 
“A super volcano erupted on December 25, 1949 at 23 :00 hours,” Wood added. “You have to connect the dots.”
“What does that mean?” Sandy asked but Wood never got a chance to explain.

The German convoy pulled up right next to their location. Immediate a man dressed in a white suit and hat jumped out followed by a now even older Vern dressed in a German uniform. Behind them were a Nazi General and his two guards. Jake recognized the officer from their prior adventure in Germany. Presently half dozen German soldiers piled out of a truck. Noticeably they were not brandishing rifles. 
The man in white stared at Jake and Sandy as he removed his hat. It was John Ripper. 
“If it isn’t Dr. Rowen and his wife Dr. Jones. I recognize you from your TCU faculty position pictures. And of course when you chased me in your Infinity time machine,” Ripper said as he looked from them to their vehicle.
“No actually it is not a time machine and it belongs to our neighbor,” Jake replied.
“Yes, indeed your neighbor,” Ripper smiled back at him. “General Schneider have your men run their car into the ravine and then blast it to hell.”
“The keys Dr. Rowen,” the General said in flawless English as he relieved him of his pistol.
“I don’t have them,” Jake replied. 
General Schneider raised his own pistol and he aimed it at Jake’s head.
“Wait, here they are,” Sigerson said as he handed them over to the Nazi officer. 
In minutes, the car was wrecked, blown apart by artillery and burned. 
“Jim Smith is now going to be really pissed at me,” Jake said to Sandy. 
Meanwhile Vern sneered at Jake and Sandy as he moved quickly into the open tomb. In a moment, he emerged and said, “Mr. Ripper it is here and intact.”
“Excellent General have your men tear down the walls to the tomb,” Ripper called to the German officer. Quickly ten men came to the tomb with picks, sledgehammer and shovels and tore down the brick structure. Soon only the bell shaped object remained.
 “It is as they said it would be,” Ripper said as he stood admiring the alien structure. Now Ripper waved his hand again, the mean brought a wooden pallet from the truck, and the machine was pushed on to it. 
“Who put him in charge,” Sandy said as she watched.
“He already demonstrated his power to return to the past or the Nazi’s would not be here now,” Wood noted in response.
The pallet was drugged and pushed across the sands to the flatbed truck. From there a hoist placed in on to the bed. These extra men were then sent away in a truck leaving the driver of the flat bed, Ripper, the General and two guards who did not even bother to point their rifles at the group of hostages. It was the middle of the Sahara Desert. Realistically what were the hostages going to do?
As if Vern had instruction for the time machine in seconds, he had located a door and popped it open. He went inside and a low harmonic hum began to purr gently on to the late, morning sun bleached plain. 
After a while, Ripper and Vern stood talking freely about Vern’s mission to return to what will be an event occurring in 3 years, but also it was strangely a part of Vern’s past. In 1943, Vern will try to save his father’s life and give Germany a nuclear bomb.
“I say is this bomb that dangerous?” Sigerson whispered to Jake. 
“The German’s could destroy most of London with just one bomb,” Jake replied. 
Sigerson from that point on stood very quiet and stiff as he intently watched the men go about their tasks.
In less than an hour, Vern was poised to use the machine. However, before he did he walked over to Sandy. He glared at her with such hatred that she diverted her eyes from his.
“You tricked me into trusting you and then the both of you killed my father. Now I will exact my revenge upon you and your country,” he explained with immense pleasure.
Jake started to walk over to him but two soldiers assigned to the General stopped him. Vern motioned to let Jake pass. Jake walked slowly over to the young man. Deliberately and with a non-aggressive manner Jake placed a hand on his shoulder. “Do what you must, but Son one day we come back for you.”
“I will be ready for that!” Vern barked back at Jake.
“Good because when we do, we will take you in our arms and love you and protect you,” Sandy said as tears began to flow from her eyes. 
Vern’s determined expression faltered slightly before it once again formed upon his face. He turned and marched off in to the Bell. He entered the doorway and slammed it shut. A roar like a jet plane engine followed the low-pitched whine. Then an instant flash of light occurred even brighter that the midday sun. Then anti-climactically nothing else happened. Ripper opened the Bell’s door entered the machine and then returned smiling. 
“Alright General, the boy is gone. Now let’s get this thing to your Fehrur,” he declared. 
“And what about these people?” The General asked. 
Ripper looked over them as one would if apprising animal stock. “Do whatever you wish with them.” Then he marched over to the Crown Victoria and signaled the flatbed to follow him as he drove off toward the north. 
General Schneider pulled out his pistol and aimed it at the five of them his two soldier raised their rifles. “Go get the car,” he barked to one of them. Clearly, he was the driver. Truthfully, neither man appeared to be seasoned veterans. The man had gone only about five paces when Wood suddenly ran after him. Schneider turned and fired at him. Jake stepped forward and nailed Schneider with a huge right fist to the chin. Jay and Sigerson wrestled the other soldier to the ground. Jake then pulled out his pistol that Schneider had placed in his belt and took aim at him. The man dropped his rifle and he began to run away. Both Schneider and his other soldier were out cold. All was quiet except that Sigerson began running toward the car. It was then that Jake saw Wood lying face down in the sand. When they reach Sigerson, he looked up at them and shook his head. Wood was dead from a bullet taken to the chest. 
Jay knelt next to Wood’s body. He began to cry. They gave him some space but he then looked quickly up at them. “I must stay here with my brother. You need to hunt down Ripper. He is the key to all of this. Do not fail us.” 
The three of them started toward the car. Sigerson found the keys to the 930 V lying in the sand where the first soldier had dropped them. 
Sandy took them from him. “I need to do this,” she said and Sigerson took a seat in the back of the car. Jake sat up front next to her. As they speed away, Jay watched them go. 
They easily followed the trucks tracks in the sand, which in the early afternoon sun had become very fine and difficult to maintain traction as they drove. Suddenly as they meet, the top of a rise there was the truck and the Crown Victoria stopped below then some 30 feet away. The truck was stuck in a sand dune. The only two people there were Ripper and the truck driver. Jake pulled out his pistol and took aim at them, but Ripper quickly assessed the situation and returned to the Crown Victoria and speed off. The truck driver just held up his hands. Clearly, he was unarmed. Sandy slowed just enough for Sigerson to get out and confront the man. Then they drove off after Ripper. 
Ripper obviously had the superior automobile but the sand was the great equalizer. Neither car was exceptionally made for these conditions. Jake wondered when Ripper would time jump but then the thought occurred to him that the energy to do so might just not be at that place yet in the Crown Victoria battery or perhaps Ripper was just too caught up in the moment to think of jumping. Whichever was the case thanks to Sandy’s driving skills they were closing on him. 
Jake fired several shots at Ripper’s car to try and hit a tire but he was unaccustomed to firing on the move and his bullets missed. He put away the gun and he pre pared to leap upon Ripper’s car. Then suddenly a huge roar occurred which stopped the Crown Victoria cold. Sandy pulled up beside it. Continued roaring filled the air. It was like a rocket launch occurring just feet away. Bright flashes began popping all about them. Jake took advantage of the distraction to leap from his vehicle over to Ripper’s. Ripper locked his doors. Jake grabbed his pistol stepped back and using an angle he shot out the driver’s window. Ripper reacted by shoving open the door to knock the weapon from jakes hand. The two men then began to fight or more to the point wrestle in the sand. 
More and different light displays shot across the plain and then things really got weird. Night and day began to pass in strange sequences, as did varying weather patterns, which included clear sky, clouds, sand storms, bursts of winds and even rain. Sandy looked out beyond them, saw the River Nile spring forth, and vanished repeatedly. In addition, what appeared to be accident Egyptians at times stood right next to her and at the next moment, they were gone. However when they were present they very much seem to be seeing her as well. 
Then out of the east, several jet fighters shot by. A sped boat roared up the Nile just past them and then it and the river vanished again. Finally, a helicopter soared overhead and just before it landed on a group on awed Egyptians, it vanished again. By now, Ripper and Jake became too fascinated by their surroundings to keep on fighting. Jake ran over to Sandy as he watched to whole thing become incredibly intense, as moments of time flew them fasted and faster. 
Then slowly at first, an object began to rise up into the air. It did not vanished with the time lines but instead it held firm. It was the Bell. 
Jake turned to Sandy and exclaimed, “It must be Sigerson!”
As they watched, it became clear that the time flow activity was imitating from the Bell. Then all at once, the Bell accelerated off in the general direction of the west and flew out of sight. A strange quiet fell over them. Presently they both began to notice that it was now night. Ripper was gone. There were no tracks in the sand. No car was left behind for them. They were utterly alone in the cold of the dessert.

Chapter 8: There Is No Time Like the Present

In the dim light of pre-dawn, Jake spotted a green line in the sand that appeared to flares. He bent down and examined it more closely. It gave off heat unlike the cooler sand surrounding it. Jake took out his pistol and combed through the foot wide strip of green. Pieces of glass broke off the main stream. 
“I think this is fuel from the Crown Vick’s battery. I must have hit it when I was trying to blow out the tires,” Jake said. 
“Then the car is leaking this stuff where ever it goes,” Sandy replied. 
“Yeah and it is so hot that it melts sand into glass,” Jake added.
“Yes but where did Ripper go?”
“I think I know. Well I don’t know where but I do know when,” Jake announced.
“December 25th, 1949, the date of the Super Volcano eruption. Look how this stuff is penetrating down into the sands of the Sahara.” Indeed, the green ditch appeared to be quite deep and getting more so. 
“Then his location must be in Yellowstone National Park. The timeline that Wood spoke of when a lava flow was next to the house….our house, Jake.” 
“His leaking battery will or is or has created a new opening down to the magma. But what should we do? I mean isn’t that what is supposed to happen in an alternate time line so our time machine gets its energy source,” Jake said.
“But a whole lot of innocent people will die, Jake. We have to stop that from happening even if our future is attenuated somehow.”
“Ok, but Yellowstone is a vast place. Where do we look for him?”
“I don’t know. All Wood said is that ‘you have to connect the dots’,” Sandy said thinking hard about their short conversation.
Jake opened his phone, which still worked and he began to page through the internet selections. “Wait I have it, I think. There is a Dot Island in Yellowstone Lake which is in the caldera.”
“That sounds too easy,” Sandy replied.
“Do you have another idea?” 
Sandy and Jake knew that they had the correct location as they stood on the shoreline looking at the small island. It pulsed green in the deep dark of the night. 
“I have to go over there and get him to move that car is I can,” Jake said.
“I will go with you.”
“No it is too dangerous. Besides one of us has to be able to do something else if I fail,” Jake explained. 
“We might be able to get a boat there is a lodge nearby,” Sandy said. 
“No I need to sneak up on him. I will time travel over. I have a little bit of your ability and this is not very far away.” He gave her a one armed hug and then he stood away from her.
It did not occur to Sandy until Jake was gone that if he used time travel then he would be bringing it into Ripper’s time travel space. Jake was going to cross the streams!
Then a gigantic tornado of bright green shot up from the island. The land began to vibrate and then explode right in front of Sandy as a wave of lake water poured down on her. In Sandy’s mind, she reached out for Jake.

Suddenly Sandy was standing in front of Jake. Her clothes were dripping wet. She felt scared and frightened. Jake stood up and reached for her.
“What’s happened?”
“Jake, oh Jake!” She cried. 
Instantly Jake knew when he looked over and saw Sandy’s shadow still in the kitchen. “You are from the future and…I died didn’t I.”
Sandy sobbed uncontrollably as she fell into his arms.

Sandy heard the commotion from the kitchen and came immediately into the room, cups in hand. She glimpsed her just before her future self-looked up at her and faded away.

Then suddenly everything faded away and instead Sandy found herself looking out her neighbor’s window.
“Jake, honey, maybe we should go home….” 
“And turn on our Christmas lights,” Jake finished for her
 “I think I see someone walking around near our garage,” Sandy said as she looked away from the Smith’s window and back into the house where Jake sat in a chair with a book in his lap. He was looking back at her. 
“Déjà vu?” Jake inquired. 
Jake joined Sandy at the window. Lights began to come on inside their house. “Stay here and call the police. I am going to check out the house,” Jake said as if reading from a script. 
“You already know that we both go home to meet the aliens.”
“Let’s not do it,” Jake said.
Sandy looked at him and then back toward their house. 
“Let’s go to the garage instead,” she said.

As they walked in the street to avoid the front of their own home a tall black man came up to greet them. He looked rather like Morgan Freeman. 
“Hello,” the man said extending his hand to Jake’s. “I am Jude Ray IV and I want to return a car to you.” Behind him next to the curb was the shiny black Crown Victoria. 
Jake and Sandy looked at the car. It was unmarred and looked almost brand new. They both began to remember things that just happened to them or did they.
Mr. Ray continued, “I am going to say something’s that most people would find very strange but I think you folks will understand me.”
“We probably will,” Jake replied.
“I first acquired this car in my sorted youth. I in fact kind of stole it from a friend of mine who most like stole it from a couple men you know. They always dressed in black and I…well I….saw you with them as I passed through time. All of you were always were here at this house when I saw you.”
“You must have met John Ripper,” Jake said.
“Indeed, he made me a wealthy man. In addition, in turn I invested in his company. It is one of the most successful high tech companies in the county. John is a well-respected, philanthropic pillar of the community.”
“Thanks largely to you,” Sandy replied. 
“Well I may have contributed to his success as well as to the well-being of some of my closest friends. Yes, you could say those things about me. Anyway her are the keys to the vehicle.”
As the keys fell into Jake’s hand the world seem to rotate to the left or something like that. 
“Thanks,” Jake said to Mr. Ray. “Do you need a ride somewhere?”
“No my associate Mr. Scott is waiting for me right over there.”
A very large man in a Cadillac Escalade waved from just across the street. 
Mr. Ray smiled and walked to the car and they drove off. 
Jake turned to his wife, “Now do we dare walk back into the house?”
Sandy shrugged, “I guess we have to sometime.”
When they entered through their garage, Jay and Wood sat on the couch waiting for them. It was a relief to see them both and there were no aliens with them. 
“So did you miss us?” Jay asked. 
“You died,” Jake said.
“Not in this timeline,” Wood replied.
“What about the super volcano?” Sandy asked. 
“That timeline was wiped out except for our various escaped from it. Meaning you son still goes back in time and you still go back again later to rescue him.”
“What about Sigerson” asked Jake? 
“We don’t actually know,” Jay answered. “The Bell reappears in Kecksburg, Pennsylvania on December 9, 1965. It contained a dead man dressed in a Nazi uniform. We don’t think it was Sigerson.”
“He wore a General’s uniform with the name Schneider on it.”

The part time police officer sat in front of his television. He parked himself there every night after work and watched the television shows of the day. He dreamed of someday writing shows of his own. This night he was watching Wagon Train starring Robert Horton and Ward Bond. A knock came from the front door. The man got up and answered it. A gentleman dressed in old style clothes stood there.
“Mr. Roddenberry, my name is Sigerson and I want to talk to you about an idea that I have for a television series,” The man said smiling and extending his hand. “May I come inside?”