Ch. 4 — The Collision in Nowra, Australia

 

Sunday afternoon, evening, and the better part of Monday morning, have been spent on test runs, tryouts, and practice for those who have not had time to amass earlier experience.

Both Buckminster and Ladybuck have been sharing in this activity and have quickly acquired the skills necessary to keep the family out of trouble.

No one has bothered with work, housework, or school. All mundane activities have taken a back seat to the System.

Voice-mail is up and running, and virtually all telephone calls are being ignored. Something much more fascinating is taking everyone’s attention.

Their initial activity involves the date and time.

The group must first get both the newspaper’s calendar and clock to match the house data.

James’ chronometer remains on the rack on the other side of the portal’s screen, so that its display will automatically adjust to agree with the other media, including the year. The ancient watch is the center of attention. The folks need to know its exact capabilities, and whether or not it will fully serve their purposes.

“OK, I’m reversing in time now,” DJ says, taking the touch-pad.

The boy back-pedals in time slowly as February changes into January, then December.

Then, it moves through the fall months of 2014, and into the summer period; but, the battery in the timepiece is beginning to fade.

By the time the display shows April, its lights have gone out.

“I’ll have to put another battery in it; I have a spare in my room. Back in a second.” The boy heads up to his bedroom again.

With a new battery in place, and with the watch reset to agree with the journal’s installation, James again reverses in time.

Back in time to where the battery died, and the display backpedals from April, 2014. James slows to a crawl as the timepiece registers the days of early March, 2012.

He’s interested to see if February 29 will show up, indicating that the watch’s electronics are even familiar with the concept of leap years, since, in a leap year, that extra day surfaces.

What a delight to see it does, and that the watch can handle such idiosyncrasies.

The watch’s electronics are apparently programmed to respond to anything involved in the routine measurement of time.

It now continues to roll backward, but only through April, 2009, then the digital display on the timepiece begins to fade again.

It barely reaches January, 2009, when the display once again disappears altogether.

“What’s with these batteries? They don’t last any time at all,” he concludes.

Lyndsey, “I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, James, but don’t forget watch batteries last for only five years. Outside in the System, you’re going through five years in about five seconds flat. Do you have a way to plug it into the house current?”

“I could hardwire it, DJ,” Grandpa Buckminster volunteers. “But I won’t be able to do it without my soldering iron; unless you have one, Russell.”

“I do have one, Dad. Can I give you a hand with it in the workshop downstairs?”

The senior Richardsons head off to the workshop, with ancient timepiece in hand.

This will involve precision soldering. Inside the battery compartment of a wristwatch, there is little room for maneuvering.

#

The two elders surface again after an absence of about twenty minutes, bearing the watch, which now has a hole drilled in its back through which two wires protrude, one red, one black.

“How did you manage to do that, Dad,” Dianne asks.

“Wasn’t too hard,” Buck replies. “Russell pried the terminals from horizontal into an upright position and insulated them from touching each other.

“All I had to do was use his soldering iron to attach a wire to each one. It was simple to drill a hole in the back to pass the two wires through.

“All we need now is a step down transformer that works on house current and that puts out 1.55 volts DC,” the older Richardson concludes.

“Gramps, I have something that might help,” Lyndsey offers. “In my room, I have a travel converter I bought last year; it’s good for American and European input, either 110 or 220 volts, and has an adjustable output that, I think, goes down to 1.5 volts. Would that help?”

“That might be good enough,” which sets Lynz running for the upper reaches of the house. Moments later, she reappears bearing a small box with the electrical device inside.

Back off to the workshop go the seniors bearing their latest toy. They surface after a further ten minutes with large smiles on their faces.

“Can we start this trial run over again?” Russell asks.

With the Sunshine-Herald’s display still on the screen, the newspaper’s clock and calendar are once more adjusted back to match the information on show on the wall of the rec room.

The watch, powered up once again, is first adjusted by hand to match the other two sources.

Now, with the timepiece in plain sight, in situ on the ‘James rack,’ they once again proceed to work backward from 2015.

The batteries have been eliminated, and this time the watch is on house power.

James’ watch was manufactured some twenty-five years ago, in 1991, and the fear is that it will not display years earlier than 1991. So, this is the item of principal interest.

Inexorably backward, the newspaper’s display flashes through the days, weeks, and months of each year.

2014, 2013, 2012 … 2009, 2008, 2007 … 1994, 1993, 1992. Our corporate wristwatch matches the journal’s clock beat for beat.

The boy slows as he sees the chronometer working its way down to January, 1991 … March, February, January.

Then, December, 1990, at which point, the newspaper’s display changes from digital over to analog. The big elongated hands are back.

He now can feel comfortable speeding up once the watch rolls over the anticipated stop date. The huge arms of the journal’s clock are a blur as they swirl the years away.

What fascinates also is the way the newspaper offices shrink in size, as the years peel away the upgrades the corporation had made to its edifice in earlier times.

It continues, passing 1989, 1988, 1987. When the aged watch and newspaper displays both show January 1, 1950, he finally stops.

He calls out for his grandmother the numbers ‘1-9-4-1’ and ‘ENTER,’ as he punches that same sequence on the touch-pad.

The response is instantaneous as the time on both sources indicates

January 1, 1941.

“‘1-8-8-1’ and ENTER.” Again, an immediate response, from both the timepiece and the journal’s calendar. Both rip over to exactly the date requested. The default for this action is January 1.

“Anyone any idea why this is working, when this watch has no idea that the year 1881 existed in U.S. history?” the puzzled lad asks.

“The LCD display of the watch must contain all the elements to create the digits, as well as the electronic circuitry to drive it; you are simply making use of them all.

“The device just shows you what date it is, without any questions or arguments.” Grandma Ladybuck is on the ball once again.

“OK, if that’s the way it is, then we have found the way to get around in time, without ever having to resort to unnecessarily counting light and dark periods. Thanks to you, Mom.”

#

DJ is thinking that it is about time to do some traveling, maybe even big time!

“Dad, do you think we could use the System to go to some air shows in the summer?”

“For sure,” Russell responds. “We can do anything you want, as long as it’s still working.

“The real beauty of the System is that, if we want to, we can backpedal to World War II, and actually watch those aircraft literally performing the deeds for which they are now revered.

“For instance, there is nothing at all to prevent us from taking a trip back to the South Pacific and following the planes on the ‘Doolittle Raid.’

“We could even fly with the squadrons of aircraft as they took part in the ‘Great Marianas Turkey Shoot.’

“We can fly as ‘chase plane’ with the Lancaster bombers on the ‘Dam Busters’ raid as it unfolded over Germany.”

“There are other things we could check out too,” Ladybuck adds. “Actually, I have a few suggestions that I could make for projects.

“I know the Washington Monument is made from stone of two or three different shades of color, and I know why from my history classes. However, it would be a real hoot to be there in the eighteen seventies and eighties. We could oversee them actually building the obelisk; and find out what the architects and engineers thought of the ‘new’ load of stone when they installed it and noticed the color difference.

“Too,” she appends, “the ‘White House,’ also in Washington, was originally made of sandstone, which can be anywhere from white to red in color. So why is the building painted white today? The answer to that question is about two hundred years old. It would be interesting to be able to visit the men who did that, and see what happened to create that change.”

“Grandma,” James says, “that’s a great idea about the Washington Monument. I like that.

“Those are all places we will definitely go and check on in the days ahead. Keep coming up with the suggestions. I came up with a few things we could check out, too,” the teen adds.

“But we do need to do more testing first. We could be wasting a lot of time doing things the wrong way round, or perhaps because we don’t recognize shortcuts; as was the case with the DELTA button for example.”

“Actually, Dad, it wasn’t really an air show I wanted to go to. I had a specific place in mind that I would like visit, and something we could have a look at.”

“Alright, what did you have in mind, son?”

“How would you like to check out a ‘PBY’ in mint condition? It will give us an opportunity to do a long-range sortie.

“It would be our first intentional trip overseas where we genuinely go somewhere out of choice, not necessity. We might even be able to check out some of the scenery along the way.”

“Sounds great, but … international?” Russell questions. “Long range? … Where is it? … What’s your idea of long range?”

“The place I wanted to go to is called Nowra? We can have a close-up look at the Catalina that’s on display in the airplane museum there?”

“Where?”

“Nowra … New South Wales … It overlooks Jervis Bay on the east coast of Australia, about 100 miles south of Sydney.”

Russell, “OK, Deej, you’re the boss; but, how did you find out about this aircraft, if it’s in Australia?”

“I stumbled over it on a Web site on my mobile the other day.”

“Do you mind if I drive, Dianne?”

“Not at all, Russ. I should be doing some prep work on our lunch now, anyway. Could you call me right away if anything interesting comes up?” With that, handing the remote touch-pad over to her husband, she takes her leave upstairs to the kitchen.

First, we turn our attention back to the newspaper, to DELTA-key our way back from the 1880s, to insure the date and time match the information on display in the family room.

Once the huge analog clock disappears, and the huge digital display device returns to their view, both it and the corporate watch are finally adjusted to show Monday, February 23, 2015, 11:45 a.m.

Because of the difference in time between southeastern Australia and St. Pete’s, Russell elects to arrive in Australia in daylight.

Thus, he ‘shifts’ the System into reverse, and backs up quickly until the journal’s information shows February 22, 11:45 p.m., a loss of twelve hours.

Daylight almost instantly vanishes, rapidly turning to blackness as the sun, in fast-rewind mode, quickly falls into the eastern sky, dragging with it the light of dawn until it changes into intense darkness.

The view is a darkened Tampa Bay, with city lights shimmering on the water as the family heads out. Nightlife lovers’ automobiles light the surfaces of the area’s multiple causeways.

Their track is north northeast, on a trip of roughly 185 miles to Jacksonville.

Once there, the kids’ dad turns the portal to travel due west for about 330 miles from Jacksonville to Pensacola, in the Florida Panhandle.

Like an expert, Russell continues across the north coast of the Gulf of Mexico, passing over Houston, Texas, then west-northwest for the final portion of the U.S. sector of their trip.

It is well over 1,000 miles from Houston to San Diego, and, after almost clipping the U.S./Mexican border at El Paso, Texas, the California coastline of the United States passes below.

A slight turn to port and the family is on its way across the Pacific Ocean once again; this time in the direction of Australia’s southeast coastline, vectoring a smidgen south of Honolulu, HI.

Outside 14 Dusty Miller Drive, their home, it is total darkness at just minutes before midnight when they left.

Now, they are in search of daylight as they chase the westward movement of the sun’s rays.

Past Hawaii, where it is just time for sunset, they perform a flyby of the International Date Line, before slipping over Nadi, Fiji (or, Nandi, as the Fijians call it).

Russell adjusts to a southwestern trajectory and the really big island comes into sight.

Since the east coast of Australia is visible, an important course correction can be made. Russ makes a turn above the Coral Sea toward Australia’s principal metropolis.

Aiming roughly south, over Queensland’s Gold Coast, and the Great Barrier Reef, the folks first pass by the city of Brisbane.

Now the family is well on its way to the Nowra area.

As the System surges toward the south, the six eager tourists arrive over the state of New South Wales, and Sydney comes into view.

Russell slows down, allowing everyone to enjoy the gorgeous sights.

Sydney’s famous Opera House is to be seen gleaming in the brilliant sunshine of a beautiful Oz afternoon.

Its neighbor, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, stands majestically on the fascinating waterfront.

For almost ninety years, it has been standing guard as fleets of ferries endlessly made their way in and out of the harbor, traveling from and to their points of departure and destination.

Then, they continue on a southern vector over the spectacularly Edenic view from Bulli Lookout, at the northern end of Wollongong, and past the massive steelworks at Port Kembla.

Still heading southward, the male Generation X-er makes a slight turn inland to get a look at Albion Park Rail’s small but burgeoning civil airfield.

Initially glimpsing it in the near distance, with its adjacent bedroom community of the same name, he thinks it might be worth a visit.

He notes to his dad and DJ the aircraft-restoration facility at the edge of the field.

As the System passes silently overhead, the ‘inmates’ at the nursing home sit comfortably in their seats, and wheelchairs, in the residents’ lounge at No. 2 Pine Street, where lunch is just a memory, while dinner is a colorful dream.

The group passes down an imaginary line between Theodore Street and Central Avenue in Oak Flats. Wentworth, Parkes, and Lyne Streets zip silently beneath.

Then, once over Lake Illawarra, a turn to starboard returns them to the ocean, another allows them to resume their southbound course out over the Pacific once more.

Their vector gives them the opportunity to make an overflight of Shellharbour’s near-empty beaches; over the ‘world-famous blowhole’ at Kiama.

Finally, the sweeping curve of Jervis Bay causes the group to again catch its collective breath at the area’s awe-inspiring beauty.

After their under-three-minute trip from Tampa Bay, they arrive at their ultimate destination.

Though it is February, mid-summer in Australia, with the sun still high in the sky, it is nonetheless relatively quiet on the beaches.

With the fourteen-hour time difference from the darkness of St. Pete’s, on a Monday afternoon in Nowra, at 1:50 p.m., folks are back at their workplaces. Hence, lunchtime is about over in the Shoalhaven region of Australia’s sunshine coast.

As this is a weekday, there yet remains about an hour before the kids start showing up at the beach from school, at around 15:00, as is their custom.

Naturally, they are going to be ready for the necessary, with ‘schoolbooks under one arm and surfboard under the other.’

“DJ, perhaps you had better take over from here. I’m not the best at the detailed stuff.” Russell hands off the touch-pad to DJ.

At a low rate of knots, James ‘banks’ over the Pacific Ocean (in this area, it is called the Tasman Sea,) and heads inland, due west, just twelve miles to a military airfield, HMAS Albatross.

Touchdown! This marks their arrival at the museum home of a said-to-be spectacular copy of the Consolidated PBY.

Visitors scurry around both the interior and exterior display areas, inspecting the various artifacts belonging to the flight museum.

“Dad, we have to do something about all these visitors.”

“I agree. What about backing up to last night; then we can look around at our leisure?”

“Hold on, Russell,” says Ladybird Richardson. “You’ve been jiggling around with the clock already. I’ve kept track of each change that’s been made so far, and I might be able to save you from getting confused.

“When you’re ready … we started out on Monday, February 23, at 11:45 a.m. From that, you deducted twelve hours in order to arrive in Oz in daylight.

“That put us to Sunday, February 22 at 11:45 p.m. in St Pete’s.

“If we add fourteen hours to that to extrapolate it over from our time, to Australian eastern daylight time, it gives us 1:45 p.m. in Nowra, on Monday afternoon, the twenty-third.

“A DELTA over to the newspaper now, will verify that exactly, but the clock on the wall shows that my notes are only a minute or two out and that’s going to be the amount of time we spent traveling.

“So, if DJ can move back in time for thirty-six hours, (which will leave us a total of forty-eight hours off the actual time,) that will put us back on the week-end at close to 2:00 a.m.

“Sunday morning at Nowra, and, voila, no museum visitors.”

“Bird, that’s brilliant.” Buckminster commends his wife.

David James Richardson clicks just once on the DELTA and ‘Page minus’ keys to expose the Sunshine-Herald’s offices.

Because all the time-slot changes had been made prior to departing St. Pete’s, after extrapolating the data over to NSW time, the journal’s digital timepiece identifies the local time in St. Pete’s, their base time, as being almost exactly what Ladybuck had predicted.

James’ wrist chronometer verifies the information is accurate to the minute.

A press on the DELTA and ‘Page plus,’ and the family’s view changes back to the Naval Air Station at Nowra once more.

“Dad,” DJ asks, as he moves the System to an obscure location, to be out-of-sight to possible onlookers, and lowers the portal down to ground level, “could you double-check me with the watch.

“Keep your eye on it with me outside on the rack, so that we can make sure I go thirty-six hours, and not any further.”

Russell knows the obsolete timepiece is going to be their only reliable reference for their Nowra visit, and that it will need to be adjusted to match Oz time.

The senior Richardson first clears this with his son, who agrees to the change.

Russ makes the correction so that the watch shows local time, just for the sake of doing things in an orderly manner.

Hence, it now displays 1:56 p.m. on Monday, February 23, 2015.

James reverses rapidly for a day and a half, while his old timepiece moves through a full thirty-six hours, and eventually shows the time to be around 1:56 a.m., and its calendar indicates Sunday, February 22, 2015.

Russell is able to verify that his son has not gone beyond the 36-hour mark.

It is fascinating to think that in the final second of their time shift, the sun zipped back beneath the western horizon, and the sky flashed from brilliant sunshine through pre-dawn light of morning and then to total darkness.

At the Nowra facility, the Southern Cross can be clearly seen in the night sky of what DJ now knows for sure is within mere minutes of 2:00 a.m., Sunday morning.

The 36-hour time reversal strategy is a great success; the museum’s visitors simply disappear.

Atypically (as their luck has held out incredibly well to date), the big Cat they have come so far to see is nowhere in sight.

The refurbished aircraft must be in one of what seem to be the museum’s hangars, near the main gates of the naval air station.

So, in Nowra’s deep darkness, James ‘helicopters’ slowly around the base, checking for some indication as to where the Cat might be.

“Perhaps there is a sign,” someone volunteers.

James hovers back to the main gates, peering into the new nighttime darkness; again, the security men are completely unaware of the presence of this new ‘stealth’ device.

James is still scanning for signs that indicate where the Catalina aircraft might be hiding.

“JAMES! LOOK OUT FOR THAT HANGAR!

Too late! At full tilt, the group ploughs into a museum hangar … What now? … What is damaged?

Even more crucial, how will its operational capabilities be affected? … Can it still be used to ‘drive’ home? … How will it respond to efforts to move about in future time-travel missions?

The portal, from the view of its passengers inside the house, appears unharmed, but initially the unit will need to be lowered to the ground to permit an inspection of the exterior.

Incredibly, on the house side, the System appears intact, despite a strike of such magnitude.

Especially is the group grateful for the fact that no one has been hurt in the silent ‘collision.’

As paradoxical as it may seem, the portal has passed completely through the solid wall of the airplane hangar, apparently without damage to the building, or, more importantly to the family, or to the System.

“Dad, look at that old Sea Venom! What beautiful condition!”

“Never mind that, James! How on earth did we get through that wall without getting the portal damaged or destroyed?”

James rotates until the point of impact with the hangar comes into view. Finding: The building is totally unscathed!

“You’d better call your mother down here, Lyndsey. She’ll need to be in on this. We may have wrecked the System!”

“Can you drop us down onto the ground, Deej?”

“We’re already on the deck, Dad,” the boy confirms. Since no one from the Naval Air Station is within sight or earshot, Russell climbs off the still-shattered sofa.

The adult ducks down and clambers, right foot first, through the plasma TV, onto the sealed concrete floor of the airplane museum at HMAS Albatross.

Dianne arrives on the lower level in time to see the back end of her husband disappearing into the ether.

“Be careful out there, Russ,” she cautions.

“What’s happened?” she inquires of the remaining members of the group. “Why is Russell going out?”

“James ran into a hangar wall, but we seem to have passed right through it without any damage to the System. Dad’s gone out to inspect it for us.”

Lyndsey is succinct in her reply; nonetheless, Dianne appears content with the response.

The first thing is to take a look around the exterior of the portal, to make sure that damage, if any, is minimal.

Russell has long legs, which could carry him in very short order around the time machine.

However, he chooses to circle the device twice, slowly, just to be sure. It truly seems wondrous, like a miracle has happened, inasmuch as damage is zero; totally absent.

Now Dad will make a move toward the real purpose of the trip.

Russell sticks his head back into the room, and says to James, “Let me just do this, and I’ll be back.”

His head exits the house, and then, at a range of exactly 9,287 miles from home, an arm reaches back into the Florida homestead, and picks Lyndsey’s camera from atop the large-screen TV.

Russ strides closer to the De Havilland DH-112 Sea Venom, Mark FAW-53, and from various angles takes several photographs of the long-immobile airplane.

He chooses not to use the flash in order to avoid alerting the station’s security guards.

Now, while walking slowly around the formerly carrier-borne artifact, he takes one minute or so of low-lux video, stopping briefly every few seconds as he strolls around the beautifully restored and maintained museum piece.

Completing that task, within thirty seconds he is physically back inside the house in St. Pete’s.

However, the near-disaster is a serious event that needs some discussion.

“Maybe it would be good to bring the System back home, James. You’ll need to re-think this operation very carefully.

“We can always come back here later, if we decide to pursue seeing the Cat.

“Perhaps next time one of us should go for a spacewalk on Shank’s pony and find the plane first, so that we can check it out at our leisure.”

DJ makes the trip back to St. Pete’s by the use of the DELTA key.

The first DELTA, accompanied by a ‘Page minus,’ takes the group back to the beginning of the thirty-six hour time shift.

The second returns the family to its ‘default’ location, facing the journal’s edifice back at home.

Therefore, comparing notes when they arrive at their local newspaper they find that, no matter what any of the clocks might indicate, less than forty-five minutes has elapsed since the group initially left home on its trip to Nowra.

There is also the matter of the twelve hours Russell back-pedaled at the outset, to permit arrival in Oz during daylight.

For the time being the journal clock is ignored, and the folks are guided by the rec room clock.

Indeed, the DELTA is proving true the prediction of James, who identified it as a function that would, in future operations, prove to be very valuable.

#

Next time they go on any trip, they’ll be trying to complete it without incident. Everyone, especially Buckminster, will readily agree with this determination.

“DJ, that DELTA button is proving to be really handy,” Dianne comments. “If you want to, you can leave the System on that display and just zip back to Nowra later.

“That will save you having to make any time-consuming changes.

“Anyway, the wall clock says that it’s time for lunch. Any complaints?”

“Awesome!” The vote is unanimous.

“Deej, are you OK with talking about that collision at Albatross after we eat?”

“Maybe during lunch, Dad; since we’ll have everyone present at the same time.”

#

Between bites, “Dad, after we collided with that hangar wall, you walked around the outside of the portal to do a visual check. What did you find?”

“Great question, Deej; good for you,” Buck pipes in.

Russell, “Well, that was the strange thing about it. The inside wall of the hangar was completely unmarked and there wasn’t a single scratch on the exterior of the System.”

“So, does that mean the System has the ability to pass through solid objects without any ill effects?” Lyndsey asks.

Ladybird, “Why don’t you ease it across the street, and see if you make a lasting impression on the clock display at the newspaper?”

“What a fine suggestion, and we wouldn’t have to ‘drive’ far to try that out.”

#

“Thanks for lunch, Mom; that was great!” One pleasant hour at chow, and much conversation later, we are back at the HDTV ready for the big experiment.

“I know I was ‘driving’ when we hit the hangar at Nowra, but, maybe it’s best I do this one.

“Or, maybe, better still, Lyndsey should take a crack at it. She knows as much about this as I do; so why not?”

“Thanks, Deej; this is challenging,” his sister says.

Now in charge of the remote, Lyndsey gently eases the portal across Second Street South, aiming the HDTV directly at the center of the huge calendar display.

It has the appearance of the jumbo fluorescent screens where game scores are exhibited for sports fans at a ballpark.

As the family moves in closer and closer, Lynz slows down to allow everyone to be able to observe the full effects of the ‘collision.’

The System touches the sign and the whole group holds its collective breath as the HDTV slips ever so smoothly into, and then, gently, completely through the sign.

Not a sound is heard as the large-screen device easily penetrates even the glass portions of the metal-backed sign.

Forward motion terminates with a brief view inside the newspaper’s offices, from which Lyndsey tactfully extracts the group before the building’s staff catches sight of the family.

This fascinating experiment verifies a paradoxical possibility.

It now surfaces that the Lyndsey’s guess was in fact a prophecy. The System does provide the folks with a means of passing through solid structures.

This development further helps illustrate for the family the need for caution as to putting out word of the existence of the System.

Once public knowledge of the phenomenon is a reality, a capability of this nature will automatically make the portal of extreme interest to those with criminal minds.

That is why David James Richardson had earlier referred to such ones as the ‘bad guys out there.’

#

The lunchtime pow-wow is over, and the sign-penetration question is resolved.

Now Lyndsey recommends an immediate return to Nowra to try again to let the boys see the Catalina.

“Thanks, LP; that’s very kind of you to make that suggestion.

“It’s only a couple of DELTA and ‘Page +’ key presses to get there, and we now know how we can time-shift to ease the problems created by our running into crowds of people.”

He continues, “I’m all for accepting that idea. As a matter of fact, I would like you to be our ‘driver’ because you did such a good job on the newspaper’s clock display.”

Lyndsey uses the two stabs at the DELTA combination of buttons on the remote control to ‘zip’ the group back to Nowra.

This time, given a choice, despite having to delve around in the post-midnight darkness of 1:50 a.m., she chooses to start the family’s search by ‘intruding’ into the same hangar into which her brother had ‘crashed’ earlier.

Thanks to the reasonably adequate lighting in the hangar, the teen immediately recognizes the De Havilland Sea Venom that her dad had checked out and photographed on their earlier trip.

She remembers, too, that there is no Catalina here.

James’ watch remains positioned on the rack inside the System, just past the screen, while he remains inside the house, with the timepiece well within his sister’s sight.

The teen, realizing that running around in the dark between the hangars is getting her nowhere, asks DJ for permission to make a time shift. She’s thinking a later hour will be better, when no members of the public are around.

With DJ’s OK, Lynz ‘departs’ from the hangar and ‘intrudes’ on the Security office back at the main gate.

Lyndsey has in mind a very logical maneuver; a forward time shift to a moment when daylight is extant, but prior to the arrival of the day’s visitors.

With guard personnel unaware of their presence, the teen gets into a position allowing her to see both the office calendar and clock.

This enables her to ‘advance’ about four and one-half hours to sunrise. [At this time of year, sunrise in New South Wales is around 6:30 a.m.]

Once the clock indicates that it is after sunrise, yet still before the museum’s opening hours, with daylight visible through the windows, she reckons that this will be perfect.

The girl’s dad is about to make changes to the newly-hotwired timepiece, just for their common reference, when he remembers that, on the rack, it is on-site in NSW and needs no changes to be made.

Lyndsey now ‘extracts’ the System from Security and … voila, … broad daylight … yet no visitors.

So, the teenager ‘chauffeurs’ the family over to the first hangar where she thinks there could be museum aircraft displayed.

Again, she ‘intrudes,’ but this time, at the spot where the roof joins the wall. This height, on one of the ‘short’ walls, seems to be the optimum.

This vantage point offers sufficient elevation to enable the group to be able to see most of the contents of the hangar at a single glance.

Still ‘no dice.’ The hangar is filled with, not ancient aircraft, but, rather, modern fighter aircraft. No sign of the Cat.

Again, she ‘withdraws’ from the Naval Air Station’s second hangar and moves on to the third and final hangar. Once more, no Catalina; only helicopters.

“This is disappointing,” Lyndsey thinks to herself. “Where can the veteran Catalina be hiding?”

Bingo! As she ‘extracts’ the System from the last hangar, she spots a possible location. The hangar, where they had seen the Sea Venom fighter, is much longer on the outside than the exhibition area they had found inside on their earlier visits.

Hence, the hangar with which James had originally ‘collided’ was the next stop. The teenager draws up at the outer wall of the hangar where their ‘impact’ had occurred and ‘intrudes’ as usual.

No Catalina; but that’s OK with Lynz.

She now realizes that the museum hangar has two sections, with a huge bulkhead wall between them. The wall has a small personnel door in it, but this is hidden behind an aircraft that is part of the display.

It takes but a moment to pass from the first section through the wall to the second area, and, ‘eureka!One ‘Consolidated Aircraft’ PBY-6A, vintage 1945.

“Can you drop us down to the floor, Lyndsey?” Russell asks.

As she complies with Dad’s request, each of the guys heads for the HDTV with the intent of taking a hike over to the PBY.

Both digital cameras quickly go into action as the men-folk disembark from the portal, and inspect every feature of the archived aircraft.

There is more than enough ambient natural light to support the photography.

A series of pictures is taken: the floats; the observers’ bubbles; the wheel wells; the outside of the cockpit; the wing configuration, and the hull.

Next, from a short distance, both cameras move into the video mode, and then busy themselves recording the full length and wingspan of the World War II artifact.

Finally, the fin, rudder and tail plane are the subject of the cameras; in particular, both dwell briefly upon the aircraft’s registration (VHPBZ) and its other markings (A24-362, OX-V).

Re-embarkation is with reluctance. Although delight glows on their faces, they re-enter the house with their joy tempered by feelings of regret at having to leave the big bird.

“Well, at least we’ll have the pictures and the video,” they console themselves.

After the lads have spent well over an hour ogling and stroking the old war bird, Ladybuck offers to make coffee and tea for everyone, including those visiting the museum.

All agree whole-heartedly. “I thought you’d never ask!” says one, in jest. The matron heads off upstairs in the direction of the kitchen.

#

“Ready, you guys!” Ladybird Richardson calls down the stairs.

Those in the rec room start up the stairs, and, most of those giving attention to the aircraft return to the house without delay.

Everyone makes for the aroma of coffee in the dining room, with the sole exception of Buck. While everyone else has disappeared, the Richardson patriarch remains behind, still gazing at the museum’s static display of planes.

He stares at an S-2 Tracker as if he had never seen one before.

#

The old twin-radial-engined, carrier-borne airplane, which Buckminster knows first entered service with the U.S. Navy in 1954 as its first purpose-built ASW (anti-submarine-warfare) aircraft, had been bought by the Royal Australian Navy starting from 1967.

Buck also remembers hearing the news that, in the mid seventies, an arsonist lit a fire in a particularly bad spot. It destroyed a large number of the Australian complement of Trackers, right where he is standing, Albatross.

The loss of the Trackers had been particularly badly felt at the RAN, and orders were sent out to purchase some previously owned U.S. Navy S-2 Trackers to replace them.

He also knew these were subsequently received and put into service with the Australian Navy. They remained on the active inventory until 1984.

#

He suddenly appears to make a decision, and picks up DJ’s camera and heads for the HDTV. He ducks down and disembarks from the house back into the Nowra hangar.

Buck strides over to the plane and begins to take pictures of the Tracker, paying especial attention to the hydraulic mechanism exposed at the point where the wings would fold for stowage onboard an aircraft carrier.

#

Because Buck is missing from the coffee break upstairs, Dianne strolls unhurriedly down the stairs, sees nothing and presumes her father-in-law is in the rest room.

She checks the washroom on that level, but ‘no joy.’ The door is open, and no Buckminster.

A glance over at the System; she sees only the Nowra museum.

Without thinking, she picks up the remote control and presses the DELTA and ‘Page plus’ keys several times. She stops when the TV reverts to the Sunshine-Herald newspaper in St. Pete’s.

Replacing the touch-pad in its previous location, she then looks briefly down the stairs to the carport door but to no avail.

“You there, Dad?” she calls, but no reply.

The coffee and other goodies are proving to be a hit with all in the group.

Dianne heads back off upstairs, verifies her husband’s father is not in one of the upstairs restrooms, then returns to the coffee crowd.

She says to her mother-in-law, “Mom, what’s happened to Buck. I can’t find him.

“I thought he had stayed downstairs for a minute or two, but I just went down and looked but I didn’t find him in the rec room. I checked down at the carport door and there’s no sign of him.”

“Oh, don’t worry about him; he’s probably gone for a stroll. He’ll be back in a few minutes. He sure won’t want to miss his coffee.”

#

Half an hour later, still no Buckminster. Coffee is over and the group is heading back downstairs.

Russell keeps going all the way down to the carport. The door is still locked, but he disengages the lock anyway, walks outside, and around the house, re-enters the house and re-engages the lock.

He is thoughtful as he walks back upstairs to the rec room. “I’ve tried all around the house and I don’t see any sign of Dad,” he reports.

“This is beginning to get serious,” is the consensus.

“Well, what could have happened to him?” Dianne is starting to worry about her father-in-law. “He dragged his feet a bit when Ladybuck called us up for coffee.

“Two or three minutes later, I came down here to look for him. I checked all around in here, including the restroom, and I couldn’t see any sign of him.”

#

Meanwhile, literally half a world away, Buck is still innocently taking photos of the Tracker, blithely unaware of the fact that he has been left behind in Australia by a triple click of the DELTA-button-combo by his Florida family.

After some twenty pictures of the S-2, Buck glances at his wristwatch out of habit. Realizing that more time has passed than he thought, he walks slowly around the Tracker and makes a video record of the aircraft’s features.

He turns back to the System, or at least to where it was standing when he disembarked from it earlier.

Nothing!

Buckminster stays cool and doesn’t panic. “Someone’s probably ‘driving’ around looking for me,” he reasons.

Thinking logically, he heads for an open space in the middle of the hangar, hoping he is exposing his whereabouts to whoever is the ‘chauffeur.’

Still nothing. He looks carefully around the museum for the near invisible portal, but to no avail. The time-travel device is nowhere to be found.

Buck is not yet seriously concerned. He realizes that eventually his family will miss him and come looking for him, and settles in for the wait.

#

In Florida, Ladybird and Dianne are beginning to worry. It has already been over an hour since Buckminster disappeared. This concern is reflected in their eyes.

“Dad, why don’t we use the System to check what happened to Grandpa Buck?” Deej asks.

Russell takes the remote control for the large-screen TV, and seeing the Sunshine-Herald through the screen, he says, “We don’t need to worry about the time on the journal clock.

“We should check what’s going on in Nowra; just to be sure,” he asserts.

He clicks the DELTA and ‘Page +’ buttons and ‘zips’ the remaining members of the group back to the Oz museum on the other side of the world.

The final stop is the Security Office where Lyndsey had made a change, allowing them to be in increasing daylight and able to search the museum without the annoyance of visitors.

Next, the search for Buckminster will have to follow the route Lynz had taken in her search for the Catalina earlier.

First, he heads off toward the far end of the museum hangar where the Cat and the S-2 Tracker are located. Like his daughter, he ‘penetrates’ the building at its far end, which he knows is the last place his dad had been seen.

The graceful Catalina is slightly off-center of the screen, while to the right appears the Tracker exhibit that so intrigued Buckminster.

Russell ‘rotates’ the System slowly so that the family is able to look around the remainder of the exhibits and there, in the middle of the floor, stands none other than his dad.

“Over here, Dad,” Russell calls.

Buckminster calmly walks over to the portal, looks inside, and proclaims, “I guess I missed coffee, huh?”

“I’ll make you a fresh pot, Buckminster,” Ladybird volunteers.

“Sounds good,” he proclaims, re-embarking into the family room.

“How did you get back to the museum, Gramps?” Lyndsey asks.

“Well, I just climbed through the screen. I saw something of interest and fancied taking extra pictures.

“So, with you all disappearing upstairs, I thought I’d quickly check out the Tracker aircraft and take a few pictures, and I forgot what time it was.”

“Were you scared, Gramps?” she ventures.

“Not really. I knew you’d be back for me,” Buck assures.

“Oh no!” comes from Dianne. “That was my fault. When I came back downstairs to look for you, Buck, I picked up the remote control and dinged the DELTA button a couple of times. The System just reverted over to the journal’s display.

“It never dawned on me for one second that someone had gone out of the house back to the museum. I’m so sorry, Dad,” she concludes.

Ladybuck appears to be taking this in stride, and seems little concerned about the catastrophe that might have overtaken her husband of forty years.

“Imagine what would have happened if we had not thought to check the museum before looking elsewhere,” she calls down the stairs.

“You would have been the first man in history to be ‘lost in time,’” she jests.

“Hey, we were all looking for you here, so officially you probably would qualify for that title,” James adds.

“Can I add that to my masters degree, after my name?” Buck jokes.

“Coffee’s ready, Buckminster!” Ladybuck calls down.

Buck is now the guest of honor on the upper level as his wife serves him with the coffee and goodies he missed earlier.

#

When the telephone rings, someone picks up the cordless device and sees the name Grover; Dianne’s folks, so, for a change, it gets answered.

“Hello. Oh, how are you, Dad! No, we’re all fine, thanks. We’ve just been a bit busy for the last little while. Sorry we didn’t call you and Mother.”

“No, we’ve been having … uh … a little challenge with our new TV. I think we should have it all fixed up shortly, though. Why, what’s happened? … How are the Brownings managing?”

“That’s lousy luck, getting a power cut just when they would need to use their air conditioning! … What was that click, Dad? … Is that your call-waiting signal? … OK, if you have to go, say Hi to Mother for all of us, and we’ll talk to you very soon. Bye for now.”

“Russell, that was my dad calling to say that the news networks are reporting a tropical storm has made landfall in South Carolina.

“Apparently, it’s caused a major power cut to most of the state.

“It seems the Brownings are OK, so my family members haven’t been harmed at all.

“It’s just that they’ve lost all their electrical power and aren’t able to run their A/C and, as usual, it’s quite warm in Golfers’ Heaven right now.”

“Gosh, Di, that never even dawned on me! That could cripple us! A power shortage; a brownout; an outright power cut.

“That could be instantly catastrophic for the System! … Any one of them! … If that happened to us … Holy smokes! … We’d probably lose the whole thing!”

“Hey! Never mind losing the System!” James hollers, “You might lose me! What would happen if I was outside somewhere in the past? How would I get back home again if the power suddenly went off?”

“So,” Russell continues, “we’re going to have to make some purchases urgently, A gas-driven generator, for starters.

“Plus we’d better get an uninterruptible power source, one of those like the one I have in the office, which is hooked up to my computer, to stop the hard-drive from crashing when the power grid goes down.”

“Dad, something else you should maybe think about buying; we badly need a small TV, so that we can watch the news here in the rec room. The big TV is kinda spoken for right now,” DJ adds.

“We ought to be keeping an eye out for stories like this ourselves, while we’re spending our time working with the big screen.

“We can watch National News Network, or some other news outlet. That way, at least we’ll be able to latch onto these alerts, without being reliant on Granddad Grover to call.”

“OK, that sounds like a pretty good suggestion, Deej. I’ll do that.”

#

“We’ll be back as soon as we can. Call us on my mobile if you think of anything else. Be careful with that thing and don’t go through the screen for anything while your mom and I are out.”

#

“CURSE THAT GUY! Some jerk just drove off in our SUV.

“He’s stolen it out of our carport. I didn’t hear the alarm go off … he probably knew how to silence it … a professional.

“LYNDSEY! Can you call ‘9-1-1’ for me?”

“Dad, Lynz and I have the System up and running here. Which way did the guy go? We can go after him.”

“East on Dusty Miller Drive, and it looks as if he’s turning left toward First Avenue North, and he’s probably heading for the I-275,” Russell calls up the stairs.

“OK, Dad, we’re on it! Lyndsey is already cruising down Dusty Miller and rounding the corner to get on First Avenue. This shouldn’t take long.”

The System performs flawlessly, as it has on every other occasion they have called on it.

Russell and Dianne are coming back upstairs to the rec room to catch the action.

The felonious sinner is already in sight driving the vehicle that he has just ‘borrowed’ from the Richardson’s carport.

He is moving very quickly using the pattern of one-way streets set up by the City of St. Petersburg to help the flow of traffic in the direction of the major freeways.

If he gets to the Interstate-375, he’ll be able to access the I-275. Then, it’s only a matter of time until he accesses the ’75’ and probably be lost forever, to have his wicked way with Russell’s car.

However, that evildoer has no clue that he is under surveillance by six leading-edge ‘G-men’ from the Richardson’s hyper-private detective agency.

As they continue with the operation, they are certainly giving new meaning to the expression ‘working undercover.’

Lyndsey is getting to be very skilled at operating the remote; in fact, she has improved drastically since the early ‘driving’ lessons off Iwo Jima.

The vehicle and its unseen escort now smoothly transition from Fifth Avenue North onto the westbound I-375. With little but open road ahead of him, Mr. Felonious now guns the engine to reach the full Interstate speed limit.

Lynz keeps pace without missing a beat. She carefully ‘nudges’ the control to continue on a straight path; initially following close behind the truck.

The teenager then quickly allows the System to pass beyond the vehicle. It is fascinating to be able to get a bird’s-eye view of the family jitney in motion.

“DJ, I urgently need that dentist’s mirror in my en-suite bathroom cabinet. Could you get it for me, right away?” the girl asks.

As they overtake the SUV, and, while the folks are still immediately above their family truck, Lyndsey slowly rotates the System until it completes a full one-hundred-and-eighty-degree turn.

Carefully, she backs off from the vehicle’s hood, in the direction of travel, so that the family can get a clear view of the front end of the car, including a high-resolution view of the perpetrator.

The man is still blithely driving along as though he has just made the perfect pinch. Not true!

As she gets into the optimum position for good photography, James returns with the requested dental mirror. “Thanks,” she says, and sticks the tiny dentist’s tool into the screen to use as a rear-view device; one small enough to make it hard for the perp to see.

The girl must keep in mind that she is in reverse, and cannot afford to run into another vehicle.

Fortunately, traffic is light, and drivers are generally maintaining a hefty distance between vehicles.

With the two parties now traveling south to north, as well as face-to-face, the System ‘driver’ drops down, so that the group is hovering just above the road surface.

All this while still traveling at a fair clip.

James reaches over to Ladybuck’s end of the chair and retrieves his digital camera.

Just as calmly as if he is in the peace and quiet of his own home, which, of course, he is, he kneels in front of the HDTV and takes two photographs, and approximately ten seconds of video footage of the bad guy.

His dad suggests, very reasonably, that he make very sure that the vehicle’s State of Florida license tag is legible in the ‘mug shots.’

Finally, she pulls over to drive above the grass-strip median, reverting to the front view before heading in the direction of home.

Buckminster, “What district attorney could refuse to prosecute this guy on the strength of this evidence? That’ll teach him not to mess around with us.”

“Listen, kids. It’ll be a while before we get our wheels back.

“We still need the emergency generator and the UPS gear and the extra TV. Mom and I will get a taxi so that we can take the camera over to the police station on First Avenue North, over by Tropicana Field.

“We’ll drop your camera off with them, James, and sign out a complaint against this bozo.”

“After that, we’ll truck on over to the Electronics Superstore on Route 19 North, and pick up the stuff we need.

“I’ll rent one of the Superstore’s pickups to bring the stuff home, or, perhaps they’ll deliver it for us; it’s going to be a fair-sized order.”

“Russell, would it be okay if your mom and I came to the store with you?” Buck inquires.

“Sure, Dad. We’d love to have you along.”

Dianne, “Remember, you two, be careful with that System. You’re the only kids we have!”

James, “Don’t forget I want my camera back in one piece!”

#

“I suppose you realize, Lynz, we could have teleported the camera over to the police department?”

“There’s no such thing as teleportation,” she asserts in return.

“Well, just think about Nowra. Gramps just teleported my camera from St. Petersburg to Albatross, where he took pictures of the S-2 Tracker, and then teleported it back here again.

“We could just as easily have gotten off the I-275, turned around and gone straight over to 1300 First Avenue North and dropped the camera off with the Desk Sergeant at the police station without bothering to drag it over there from here.”

“Don’t mention that in front of Dad.”

“Why not, for Pete’s sake?”

“Just think about it. He’s a transportation specialist! Can you imagine hundreds of tanker-trailers of gasoline driving up to our house, to get their hoses into our System and through to filling stations in Chicago every day?

“That’s just for one city, never mind every other city, town, and village in the country. The things he couldn’t get up to with this portal simply aren’t worth mentioning.

“Given the opportunity, everyone in the United States would be transporting themselves through a TV. Nobody would need to fly with a commercial airline any more.

“As a matter of fact, if everyone in the United States had a television set with these capabilities, every last one of President Eisenhower’s interstates could close down; who’d need them any more?”

“You mean that he would have, like, Jed and Granny Clampett, Jethro and Elly May all coming through our house to get out west?”

“Sure. That old truck, and the rocker, and all.”

“Ouch!”

####

 

2 Comments »

  1. Julie said

    Hello! merci d’avoir partagé cet article et aussi toutes ces belles photos sur ton blog. je suis également passionné par les animaux et j’ai même débuté un blog y’a peu de temps. a bientôt, Julie

  2. Just wish to say your article is as astounding.

    The clearness in your post is simply spectacular and i could assume you’re an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your RSS feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please carry on the rewarding work.

RSS feed for comments on this post

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s