Ch. 5 — “Buenos Dias, Señor Chris!”

Two adventurous teenagers and one HDTV hooked up to the System make for interesting times.

It is still the afternoon of Sunday, February 22.

Mom, Dad, and the paternal grandparents are out at the police department with James’ digital camera, and its flawless evidence against the car thief.

They are also destined for the electronics store, to purchase the equipment the family needs to protect the System from power outages.

On the kitchen TV, Lyndsey catches an NNN headline, which proclaims: A female teenager reported kidnaped almost six months ago has been found locked in a hidden room in a Toronto residence less than 300 meters from her parents’ home.

The full report that follows presents the fine detail of the incident:

Fourteen-year-old Lilian Dela Cruz, who was reported abducted in mid-summer, 2014, paradoxically has been found alive and well in a residence near her own home in suburban Toronto, Canada.

Better known as Lily, the popular youngster was about to embark on her very first semester at Applewood High School in Mississauga, Ontario, Toronto’s neighbor city.

Her Labor Day disappearance, September 1, 2014, because of its occurrence on a public holiday in both Canada and the United States, was widely reported on in the media of both countries.

Although police had deemed an ‘AMBER-Alert’ desirable at the time, no alert was ever issued.

Part of the criteria for an Alert is the availability of a description of the abductor or a description of his vehicle, including, if possible, its license plate or tag number.

That data was simply unavailable, as the kidnaper had apparently committed his crime without a single known witness.

Despite this, more than one hundred and forty leads were telephoned or texted to official hotlines, or to Crime Stoppers.

Not one proved fruitful, despite each tip being diligently followed up by trained investigators. Most proved to be cases of mistaken identity, while not a few were later classified as hoaxes.

One report (which has now proven to be a case of mistaken identity), was texted to Crime Stoppers, stating that the youngster had been seen walking east on the Lakeshore in Toronto.

The witness reported that she had looked away for a moment or two. When she looked again, the student had vanished.

The witness could only recall seeing a young man riding a bicycle toward Etobicoke Creek in the direction of the Mississauga city line.

This generated the suspicion that the abductor might be a male.

In the update to the case, the network reports: Officers, executing a search warrant at a house some two- to three-hundred meters from the Dela Cruz family home, reportedly found the teenager in an under-floor room.

The warrant, issued by a judge on an unrelated matter, was to permit officials to search the premises. They were seeking merchandise stolen in a number of recent robberies in the general vicinity of the perpetrator’s 43rd Street home.

A police representative reported that a colleague had been ‘intrigued by a squeaking floorboard.’ When the source of the noise was investigated, the offending plank was found to be part of a well-concealed trapdoor, which formed an entrance to the room where the teen was being held captive.

Upon entry to the hidden chamber, the girl was found. She was handcuffed to the metal headboard of a small bed. The stolen merchandise was located in the same part of the house.

As to the girl herself, it was reported: The now-14-year-old appears to be in good shape. She reports to officials that she was allowed full bathroom privileges and given permission to take daily showers.

The criminals provided her with several changes of clothing over the early part of her confinement, allowing her to launder her clothes frequently.

Her instructions from them had included a requirement to clean her quarters at least twice each week.

Unusually, for such a case, she advised police that she not been abused by her captors. They appeared, she said, to be more interested in the likelihood that her father would pay the $500,000 ransom they had demanded.

Finally, the report concludes: At this time, it is not known if any arrangement has been made to pay the ransom. In the months since the kidnaping, it was felt that the Dela Cruz family would have had great difficulty in raising such a sum.

Official reports indicate that the family’s neighbors are well-to-do industrialists whose children might have been the real targets of the kidnapers.

The three men found in the home at the time of the discovery of the girl have all been arrested, and are to be charged with the kidnaping tomorrow morning, February 23.

#

“Deej,” Lyndsey comments, “you know, the System would let us solve abductions like this before the perpetrators have had time to pick up their mobile phone and order a pizza for dinner.”

“You’re probably right about that, Lynz,” DJ allows, “but there is only one System, and we cannot stop crime entirely.

“Good intentions aren’t much help. What we need is about a hundred of these sets, and a couple of thoroughly honest individuals to operate each one.

“I tend to think that family finances are not going to stretch that far, so we’re going to have to make do with what we have for now.”

“Yeah, I guess I already knew the answer to that. What I’m hoping is that we can zip off to Toronto, and use this as an experiment in how to go about using the portal to solve crimes like this.

“We could ‘drive’ to Mississauga and check out the girl just before she was abducted; find out who took her, and to what address.

“We can look all around the inside of the house to find the exact room in which she’s being held.

“Any information we can locate that the police would be interested in, we can give them. What do you think?”

“That would involve traveling about twelve hundred miles, and about six months into the past.

“That’s a whole lot shorter than the trip we did to Nowra, so we should be able to manage that without any great difficulty,” the young boy replies.

“OK. That sounds about right for our test protocols.”

“Can we start now?” she inquires. “But, DJ, you’ll have to be careful, and not do anything foolhardy, because, don’t forget, Dad said not to!”

“No, Sis. What Dad said was, ‘Be careful with it and don’t go into the screen for anything.’”

“Deej, you’re going to be a lawyer when your schooling is finished. I can smell it coming!”

James notes, “I suppose there’s really no rush about this; the girl has already been rescued and we know she wasn’t hurt. That will let us go about it slowly, and take our time over the details.

“We’re not going to get into situations where we have to make decisions about changing history in any way, or getting to bring someone back to life.

“So this sounds like a good opportunity to set up Florida’s first ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ service for the saving of young maidens in distress.

“Lynz, could you check out the Internet and print us a map of the border area between Toronto, and Mississauga, Ontario?” he requests.

“You had better pay special attention to the area around the street and house number where the girl’s family lives.

“Finally, we may need an overall view of the eastern end of Lake Ontario.”

With Lynz ‘driving,’ the first priority is to synchronize the journal’s clock with the horloge on the house wall.

Next, the siblings must adjust the view of the Herald’s display until it reads twelve noon on August 31, 2014. This will now match with midday on the day prior to the kidnaping at their destination.

Then the young pair slips quietly out of St. Pete’s and heads due north. As agreed, there is no rush about the assignment, so Lyndsey keeps the speed to a mere blast, and it takes less than twenty seconds to get to within sight of the smallest of the five Great Lakes.

It is a thrill to get their first-ever glimpse of the ‘honeymoon capital of the world,’ as they pass Niagara Falls which marks the U.S./Canada border where New York State and the Canadian province of Ontario meet on the Niagara peninsula.

Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, is now only about forty miles away, as the crow flies.

Once across the lake, she ‘cruises’ into Mississauga at Lakeshore Road East and Dixie Road.

“Look, Deej. Two golf courses; one each side of Dixie Road; we could set down on one of those and get our bearings.”

“Actually, you can just stop right here in mid-air and we can get the coordinates while we’re enjoying a bird’s-eye view.”

“Sorry, I forgot,” she apologizes.

“Lynz, what do you have on this young girl? I’m looking for a home address, if you were able to get one.”

“The info I found on NNN’s Web site was pretty much everything we need.

“The home address I have is 1517 Lakeshore Road East. The mapping program says it’s just east of Dixie Road, so we’re pretty much right on the spot. I’ll try ‘driving’ east along Lakeshore, and we’ll keep an eye out for the number.”

“There the numbers are, 1485 … 1489 … 1493, … then a gap and … 1517. OK, here we are, Lynz.

“Now, drive along the path leading up to the front door.

“No action here, Lynz, which means that the girl is still OK for now.

“Say, did you get a photograph of the girl off the Web site?”

“It’s in that folder on the sofa next to your bullet holes.”

“Got it, thanks.

“Are you positioned so as to be fairly low-profile, Lynz? We can’t afford to have anyone spot us?”

“Probably, but I could take us over beside that hedge, and snuggle in on the north side of it, so that spotting us will be a lot more difficult.”

“That’s a good idea. Once you get us there, could you then move us ahead a few hours, maybe ten or twelve in small increments, say of about one hour, until we start to see a whole bunch of police cars running around?

“I’m sticking my watch back outside, so we can keep track of the time back in last August and September. It’s adjusted to show the same date and time as the Sunshine-Herald.

“Once you see the boys in blue in their squad cars, you can put it in reverse, and, after that, we’ll just keep an eye open for the girl and the bad guy.”

Lyndsey acts as requested.

“Zip, and what do you know, the cops have already shown up.

That’s cool! Now back-up in increments of roughly one half-hour.”

“Slow down, Deej. Don’t forget I have to keep eyeballing the watch to make the changes of time, otherwise we’re not able to keep track of what the exact time is.”

“There’s the first one, DJ.”

“What time was that on the watch?” the boy asks.

“3:00 p.m.,” the older sibling responds. “Although Mississauga and St. Pete’s are both in the same time zone, it’s handy that we don’t have to dart back and forth to check the journal’s time.

“I’m so glad Mom came up with the idea of using your old watch,” Lynz remarks.

“Another hour, please; there are still cops at the house.”

“OK, that’s 2:00 p.m. now,” she reports.

“Good. All the cops have vanished; meaning they haven’t shown up yet … Hey, it says on the hard copy of the NNN webpage, that Lily was taken at about 12:45 p.m., just after noon on Labor Day, but that she actually left from the back door of her home.

“We’d better zip around the rear door, and then pedal backward until the watch shows 12:30 p.m., and then just creep forward until the perpetrator shows up and the incident takes place.”

“Round to the back; then reverse in time to 12:30 p.m. Done, Captain!

“You asked for small movements in a forward direction, DJ, so I’m moving forward in time one click at a time.”

#

“There’s someone coming, Lynz! The door’s opening.”

The girl thinks to herself, “Hmm … Accurate prophecy, James.”

She’s just coming out. The NNN picture is excellent; it’s easy to see it’s her.”

“LP, ease the System up in the air so that we can watch Lily and see where she goes and who she talks to.

“By the way, what’s the exact time?”

“1:36 p.m.”

“Thanks. I’m making a note of that for our records.”

Lilian, dressed in blue jeans and a dark blue top, strolls along the north side of Lakeshore Road in an easterly direction, toward the nearby Long Branch Loop streetcar and bus station of the Toronto Transit Commission.

Her home is beside the Mississauga/Toronto boundary, marked by the waters of Etobicoke Creek.

The Florida siblings follow her every step with the greatest of interest.

Less than seventy-five paces beyond Etobicoke Creek, she comes to Forty-third Street, Etobicoke, a part of metropolitan Toronto, an L-shaped cul-de-sac having four small, three-story apartment buildings and eight single-family dwellings.

As she passes along the Lakeshore beside the southernmost apartment block, a young man exits from the side door of the building.

As he sees Lilian, he quickly sizes her up, and then ducks to take advantage of the cover of the building’s bushes. The soon-to-be high school student sees nothing of this.

It takes but a second to approach her; cupping his hand over her mouth to prevent her from screaming, he takes her by the wrist and, with a quick glance around to make sure he hasn’t been spotted, he drags the student into the bushes.

Thanks to the old chrono, DJ is quickly able to note that it is 1:44 p.m.

The youthful Toronto native changes his grip on the youngster to hold her more securely, and takes her over to the side door by which he has just exited from the apartment building, and, using a key, lets himself back in.

As he drags the girl in backward behind him, she desperately looks for a way to raise the alarm, or let someone know what is happening, but to no avail.

He continues to maintain the hand over the young woman’s mouth to stop her from calling out.

Lily’s abductor drags her in complete silence from the side of the edifice right through to the rear of the structure, where he uses a ‘panic bar’ to exit via the back door.

His next move is to take her from the rear of the apartment building, and, when the coast is clear, he guides her into one of the westernmost houses across the L-shaped street, at 1455 Forty-third Street.

Letting himself in at the side door of the house, he slams the door behind the girl to make sure that the lock positively engages.

A position as assistant superintendent for all four apartment buildings gives him easy access to the facility, as well as proximity to his home.

He is totally unaware, of course, of the presence of the dynamic Richardson duo, now in hot pursuit. The System has already ‘penetrated’ cleanly through the apartment block in close proximity to the bad guy and his kidnap victim.

Lyndsey has no need of a key for the lock. She simply ‘intrudes’ the residence by way of the rear of the house, to avoid arousing any alarm on the man’s part.

She simply ‘drives’ from room to room until she finds the perpetrator on the ground floor.

As he holds Lilian Dela Cruz in a tight grip and, with his single free hand, applies duct tape to her mouth to prevent her screams.

He handcuffs her to a hot-water radiator, to keep her securely attached to the building.

It is early September; the heating device is not in use. There is no fear of Lily being burned by the unit.

James is easily able to get photographs of both a full face and a profile of the man, just in case.

[The kids are not going to attempt a rescue, since Lily is, in reality, already freed by Toronto police.

But, from the present standpoint, this will not be until next February, when the police discover the young girl during their search for property stolen from the apartment buildings.

The owners of the four multi-family buildings had on several occasions reported to authorities the theft of valuable electrical and electronic tools from the basement workshop.

The police already had ‘probable cause’ against the suspect, so they applied for a warrant from a judge. This is received, and executed.

During their search of the home, officers stumble over the captive lass.

This whole matter is already ‘history,’ so to speak, and the duo is checking it out simply as an exercise in feasibility, to see if they could do this all over again.

Next time, it will likely be a genuine AMBER-Alert situation, meaning a young child has been kidnaped and has not been found.

The experience they are gaining on this expedition will be invaluable next time around.]

Now Lyndsey moves ahead in time until the perp opens the trapdoor to the hidden room in which Lilian Dela Cruz will be discovered in several months.

Only when the young kidnap victim has been transferred into the holding chamber, and securely handcuffed to the headboard, does Lyndsey penetrate the floorboards.

DJ is busy too, and obtains photos and video of the whole scene to solidify the evidence against the villain.

James’ DVD writer continues to capture valuable footage of everything that transpires through the screen.

The System ‘intrudes’ the ‘cell,’ and descends to the level of the ceiling fan, so that Lynz and DJ are able to look down upon the girl, as she lies sobbing on the bed.

James, from the former comfort of the now-wrecked sofa in their family room, takes three photos and brief video of Lily.

There will be no value in assuring her that ‘eventually’ she will be rescued, so Lyndsey ‘elevates’ the System completely out of the house by way of the roof and heads for area of the front door.

Upon arrival at the main entrance, Deej makes a video record of the house number, 1455, as well as a view of the house and street.

Lyndsey ‘drives’ over to the street sign and her brother makes a brief video of the sign as well as an overall view of the area.

“You know,” he says, “that whole operation only took us about thirty minutes once Lily was in that guy’s control. If we had been able to go to the police for information, we probably could have done the whole thing in even less.”

“Listen, is that enough excitement for one day, or would you want to think about going somewhere else while we’re waiting for Dad and Mom?”

“Don’t forget Dad’s instruction, DJ. It’s still valid.”

“I didn’t go out when we were working in Mississauga, did I?”

“That’s true; you even stayed this side of the portal when you were taking your pictures and video.

“Remember, though, if you’re dead, exactly who gets to carry the can back? Mois, mon frère, mois …” the girl says as she DELTAs her way back to the Florida newspaper.

“So, where would you like to go today, madam?”

Deej, in response to his own question, “How about ‘1-4-9-2’ and ENTER?”

As he speaks, the boy changes video disks in the DVD burner.

“1492? Are you kidding?

“Alright, ‘1-4-9-2’ plus ENTER … DJ, it’s a forest … nothing else.”

“It’s a forest alright … but which forest? … Think about it for a second … Remember what we had through the screen before we started out?”

“Good grief, Deej. This is the property the Sunshine-Herald will build its offices on … in about … three hundred and fifty years!”

“Great. Now try this on for size. Say we key ahead in time to October of the year 1492, elevate ourselves to about 3,000 feet, then ‘cruise’ out toward the Caribbean, perhaps past Miami, or, at least, where Miami will be in a few hundred years.”

“After that, we could make a ninety-degree turn east over the Atlantic Ocean, stop, then advance in time, and watch out for three ships sailing in formation.”

“Do you mean the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria? How do you know when they sailed?”

“A lecture we had last week on American history from Mr. Bonofiglio included the date of September 6, 1492, when Christopher Columbus sailed from the Canary Islands; his only stop on the way to the Americas.

“Mr. B. cited a trip lasting about four weeks. That time span would be up in early- to mid-October.

“The System defaults to the beginning of the year; so if we nominate 1492 as our destination year, we’ll automatically wind up at January first.

“After that, we’ll need to do the old watch-on-the-coat-hanger trick outside the portal again, so that I can start advancing to October, 1492.

“That will save us having to count the number of days, because we have no way to know the actual date or time out here.”

“Hold on a second; why don’t we try it out without the modern technology … that’s quite a compliment for your old chronometer, by the way.

“Remember how you did it with Pyle’s memorial on Ie Shima? You asked the big sergeant to give you the date. That worked okay. Let’s try that again, just to see if we can work out the answer to this question of five hundred years ago.”

“What do you want to do, stop a ship and ask somebody?”

“I can’t believe you said that!” Lyndsey explodes.

“It’s actually not such a bad idea as you might think. Every ship has a log of some kind, even back then, and the date would be part of the information that they would have to record each day, if the crew was to keep proper track of the voyage.”

“Listen, since we are able to travel at high speed, is there somewhere we could take the System to find out what the date is? Like, maybe, London?”

“Perhaps we could find a poster or sign that has a date on it. There were no newspapers back in those days.”

“Hey, not bad!” the boy banters.

“A compass and a map would be handy if we’re going to be out in the middle of nowhere during the Middle Ages. Do you want to get them from Dad’s office?”

The boy leaves his sibling in charge of the touch-pad device while he walks toward the back of the house and steps into his dad’s workplace.

He checks for the world map that he knows Russell keeps in his desk. He picks up his dad’s compass, and, “I guess Dad’s binoculars might be handy too!”

#

“Thanks, Deej. Before you start though, how about putting your watch outside anyway, and we’ll use it to verify the information, so that we’re not getting misled about the actual date we’ve arrived at.”

Lyndsey opts to DELTA back once more to the journal’s office, and adjust the date and time to match that displayed in the rec room. James adjusts the date on his old digital watch to match the other media, and then hangs it on the coat hanger outside their 2015 time machine.

Lyndsey returns to the heavily forested view of St. Petersburg, whereupon DJ verified that the company watch is displaying January 1, 1492, as it should.

“Try moving forward in time and gently holding the key down, for about half a second. We need to move forward about six or seven months, to get closer to the date we’re looking for,” he directs.

Slowly, they worked their way forward to about the middle of summer according to the position of the sun at noon.

“OK. Right now,” he tells her, tracing a line of latitude on the map with his finger, “we need to travel this way across the Atlantic to go to London, which is just here, roughly east of our present position.

“Try going that way and elevate us up to 3,000 feet, and we should be able to see the British Isles fairly quickly.”

“Where did you have in mind to go to get the date, Lynz?”

“Well, back in the 1490s, people were not making a big deal about counting time the way we do today. It just didn’t seem that important to them.

“Folks pretty much calculated the days and years based on how long it was since the lord of the manor died, or when the barn burned down.

“Newspapers will not show up for a couple of hundred years, so I figure we’ll have to go to some place where they will definitely have the date sorted out for themselves.”

“Such as? … Big Ben? … Sorry, it was supposed to be a joke.”

“We would probably have to go somewhere like the home of the King of England. His guards are sure to have the info we need.”

“You mean, like, Buckingham Palace? What makes you think someone there will have an idea what the date is?”

“I’ll have to research this, but it’s very possible that ‘The Palace’ doesn’t exist back in 1492, and the king made his home somewhere else.” The girl reaches for her mobile.

“I figure that a gatekeeper is sure to know the date.

“If he’s anything like other soldiers, he’s using a calendar of some kind and is keeping track day-by-day of how long it is till he gets out of the service!”

#

“Look at this, Deej.”

“What did you find? I’ve been waiting for you to finish with the Internet.”

“We’re sitting off the south coast of England. That’s the Isle of Wight just over there, and beyond it is the city of Southampton.”

“Well, Buckingham Palace was a good idea, but it won’t wash, I’m afraid.”

“Whaddya mean?”

“Well, it seems the palace wasn’t even built until 1703, and didn’t come into use as the official royal residence until the middle of the nineteenth century, the 1830s, that is; during Queen Victoria’s reign,” she reports.

“So, that leaves us two choices: 1) The Tower of London, or, 2) Windsor Castle.

“Both of these were in use as family residences by the royals since the ten hundreds, just after the Battle of Hastings in 1066 CE.”

“Here’s something to think about, What kind of people are we going to visit? I think the Tower of London wasn’t just the home of the monarch of the time.”

From their history classes, both are aware that the Royal Family back then is not made up of the royals that we know today.

Five hundred and twenty-three years ago is seven years into the reign of the first sovereign ruler of the Tudor Dynasty, King Henry VII.

Too, they are not all nice people; the King’s son is just about one year old. On April 22, 1509, he will become England’s most infamous king, Henry VIII.

“Another item, although it doesn’t really affect our visit, is that the old world is still using the Julian calendar, but, like I said, that’s pretty much insignificant.

“If someone is able to give us the date, they’ll be giving us the information based on that same calendar.”

“Are you all set to head on in to the Tower?”

“Sure; when you’re ready.”

“OK, go ahead; but just be certain you approach the building slowly. We need to make sure we’re not getting into something we can’t handle.”

“London on the starboard beam, Cap’n,” she calls out, again mimicking those old-time sailors.

“OK, keep going as you are, toward the center of the city. There! You can see the bends in the River Thames; just follow those.

“We actually passed Windsor Castle about ten kilometers back, on the way into town. It’s a much quieter area than the city, and so because of the hustle and bustle of the big city, we’re more likely to get a response here in the city of London.

“See the Tower? It’s the biggest building around.”

“Got it! I’ll circle it first, just to be sure.”

“Looks like you’re right. There are guards on duty outside. Gosh, what scruffy uniforms!”

“Henry VII probably can’t afford anything better; they’re just over the War of the Roses a few years back. He likely spent all his money fighting that conflict.”

“There’s a guard all alone, over there by the big lawn.”

“Here goes!”

Deej calls out, “Excuse me, sir.”

“Pray tell me how I can help thee, young master.”

“Wow! Thanks, sir … Could you please tell me what the date is on your calendar today?”

“Why, of course; it’s just thirty days since the birth of the King’s daughter, the Princess Elizabeth. Today it be the first day of August, Anno Domini 1492.”

“May I please inquire as to your name, sir?”

“Aye, John of Pytchley, East Anglia, young sir.”

“Have you a family name, sir?”

“Aye, master. Of the family Summerfield, of Lower End, Pytchley.”

“Master, the bench upon which thine companion art seated; what becometh of it?”

“Thank you kindly for asking, John Summerfield of Pytchley, but it’s a long story, sir, and we have to bid you good-day.”

“Have thyself a good day, nay, thee both.”

Lynz ‘drives’ away from the Tower of London, grateful that her head is still attached, unlike that of many another visitor to this same venue.

“Hold it, Lynz! Look at the name of that street close to the Tower. ‘Pudding Lane!’ Holy cow! The king should have someone set up a few ‘No Smoking’ signs. That’s where the Great Fire of London will start in 174 years, in 1666.”

“Impressive, Deej. John Summerfield’s date agrees exactly with your watch; August 1. We just need to add ten days to that to account for the change over to the Gregorian calendar. Just add ten days to whatever info shows on the watch and we should be able to fly with that, so to speak.

“Now I can press the DELTA button to get us back out to the western Atlantic, and do the time travel routine until Chris shows up with his water-buses.

“What a helpful man John Summerfield was. His family must be very proud of him; being in the service of the King, and all.”

“OK, Deej. Now we are back near mid-ocean … finally onto a western heading … advancing in time. Keep your eye on the watch from here on in.

“John Summerfield of East Anglia told us that it was August first. That’s the eleventh on our old banger. How are you doing on the watch?”

#

“Hold it there with the higher-speed stuff, Lynz. Slow it down to a jog for now.

“The watch is showing September 21st, so we probably need to move a little closer to the mainland, or at least the Caribbean area, if we’re going to find the three ships; they’ll be landing in a few days.

“Maybe, too, we should continue to about three thousand feet, and cruise over toward the island of Hispaniola.” Lyndsey complies smoothly.

“Once we get there, we’ll need to keep a sharp lookout for three smallish sailing ships.

“Officially, Niña, and Pinta, the swifter of the three, are of the caravel type, about sixty feet long. Niña is a three-master, while Pinta has two or three masts, and both are square-rigged.

“Santa Maria is of the carrack type and carries three masts. In length, she would be about eighty-two feet long.

“Weight-wise, they run around fifty tons and each carries a crew of only twenty-five to forty men, so they’re not big ships, by any means.”

#

“There are three lights in formation, DJ. It’s too dim to see, but if I ‘nudge’ the System and ‘edge’ it forward a couple of hours, it will turn into daylight.”

#

“There, now we can see that it’s a formation of three sailing ships … Still traveling together … Near to Hispaniola … They’re heading north though, not west … Maybe it’s not him.

“I’ll zip in and have a quick look.

“Hey, they look about the right size, DJ, and they appear to be together.”

“Buenos dias, señor.”

Now his Spanish-language classes really pay off in spades.

“Excuse me, señor.” Ever the polite one, the youngster continues in the mother tongue of the person who appears to be in charge of the crewmembers on deck.

“Might I inquire if these are the vessels of Christopher Columbus, sailing in the name of Her Royal Majesty Queen Isabella of Spain?”

“They are, sir. And may I inquire as to who wishes to know this?”

“We are travelers familiar with this area. Hopefully, we can provide some assistance should you require it.”

“Our leader hoped to find land here, but we are running low on provisions and water.

“We are going to have to abandon our search soon, if we don’t find it.

“May I bring our leader to the deck, so that you may reassure him?”

“Por supuesto, señor.”

The officer calls one of his men and issues him a brusque command and the sailor hurries off toward the fo’c’sle of the vessel.

Moments later, a red-haired man emerges from the superstructure and walks confidently over to the officer the teens had first addressed.

“Buon giorno, signor. Buenos dias, señor.”

James greets the then little-known explorer in both his native Italian, and also in the language of his adopted Spain.

He feels a deep sense of relief that he had listened attentively when his homeroom teacher, Mr. Bonofiglio, was explaining greetings in the Italian language.

His use of the Spanish language continues, so as not to exclude the subordinate from the conversation.

“Señor, my companion and I are very familiar with the area in which you are now sailing.

“Your officer of the deck has indicated to us that you would be appreciative of assistance that would help you to find the land you have been seeking.

“Would you be willing to accept a suggestion that would help you to bring your voyage to a successful conclusion?”

“Señor, your assistance would be very welcome. Her Majesty Queen Isabella and her husband Ferdinand would also be most grateful. What assistance are you able to render?”

James now ponders exactly how to word his directions to Christopher Columbus. He feels a need to make it simple, while maintaining a professional appearance as he is dealing with a man who will, one day, be highly respected in his field.

“Señor,” he says, reaching out for Russell’s compass, “this is the compass of my father. As you can see, it indicates that you are traveling from south to north. The land you seek is …”

Lyndsey leans over to James on the sofa and urgently whispers to him, “James! Tell Mr. Columbus to follow those birds just passing above the ships; they’re heading west.

“He needs to change direction and go west, if they’re ever going to find anything. Those birds are American Golden Plovers, and a flock of Eskimo Curlews just flew over ahead of the plovers.

“Tell him they are shore birds, and to go in that direction; they’re flying toward land. That’ll get him where he’s going!”

“ … just a little further west of our present location, Señor. In verification of that, Excellency, my companion has identified those birds overhead as land birds and they are flying to their homes.

“Follow them, and they will lead you to the land of plenty that is just over the horizon to the west.”

“You are so kind, señor.”

“It’s our pleasure, señor.”

“Before I depart, señor, may I ask a question?”

“Of course!”

“The bench upon which your companion is seated; what happened to it?”

“It’s a long story, but thank you for asking, señor. Gracias y hasta la vista, mi amigo.”

“Nuestro placer, Señor.”

“Muchas gracias, Señor,” the grateful Columbus responds.

“Nuestro placer, Señor.” James maintains his decorum to the end.

Columbus communicates the information to his helmsman, and the three ships vector slowly to the west, and then move toward the horizon. To the west, this time, not the north, as they had been sailing previously.

“Great,” James thinks. “Lynz comes through with her bird stuff again!”

#

“Hi Mom, Hi Dad!”

“Hey, guys; watcha been up to while we were out?”

“Oh, nothing much; just gave some directions to some guys who were lost.”

“Like, what were they looking for?”

“They were trying to find America.”

“Say what?”

“DELTA, Lynz.”

“Done. ‘DELTA.’ Presto! Guys looking for America, back in October, 1492!”

“Is that Christopher Columbus? The three sailing ships; are they the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria?

“Holy cow, guys. What on earth did you tell them?”

“How to find America … or at least we pointed them west, rather than the direction in which they were traveling, north.

“Dad, Mom, this was beautiful. Lynz blinded them with her birdie science and we sent them off toward Hispaniola.”

“Well, at least we can be sure that our homeland will be discovered one of these years. That’s reassuring.”

“Did you get any pictures?”

“Naturally!”

#

“OK, fellas; Mom and I bought the stuff we went out for; and we filed the complaint against that idiot who pinched our SUV.

“You know, Deej, the Desk Sergeant looked at your camera and he just laughed. Seems the joker has a season ticket to the local hoosegow.

His name is Carlos Gonzales.

“The ‘sarge’ said it’s the best evidence against a car thief he’s ever seen.

”He was a little curious as to how we got the footage and the pictures.

“We just laughed and explained that we just happened to be in the neighborhood with a camera.”

“Actually, I asked him if he would be interested in a service that provides footage like that.”

“And…?”

“Well, he said that any police department in the country that decided to pass on a service like that would be nuts! Stealing cars would become as extinct as the Dodo bird.”

“So, what’s with the two boxes?”

“Boy, I’d forgotten them already. The generator weighed over 100 pounds, so we left it for the Superstore to deliver tomorrow. They promised it would be here before 10:00 a.m.

“The other boxes are the second TV and the UPS equipment. They were fairly light, so we decided we could manage those OK … we took a taxi home for the four of us.”

“We dropped Grandma and Gramps off at home on the way here. They’ll be back tomorrow morning.”

“The System is costing us a pretty penny … we should start trying to make some money with it soon. It’s going to have to pay for itself eventually.”

“It’s funny you should mention that, Dad,” James responds. “This portal is extremely entertaining, and, like with the car thief, we can get some use out of it, too.”

“True, but that’s expensive entertainment. This isn’t just like any other TV.

“If you switch a regular TV off, you can turn it on again; this one has to have all sorts of expensive gadgetry to keep it going and you can never turn it off, at least not that we know of, so far.”

“Dad, what would be the possibility of delivering small packages to people anywhere in the world? For a fee, naturally.

“That would generate good income for the System, and we would be able to cover the cost of the electronic back-up equipment we have to maintain.”

“James!”

“Dad, Lyndsey doesn’t want me to mention it to you, but did you know that this System will allow us to teleport things?”

Dad replies, “What?”

“Well, like I told Lyndsey, Granddad teleported my digital camera to Okinawa. He took a picture of Mr. Pyle’s grave marker, and then teleported the camera back to St. Pete’s.

“My idea was that we could offer … like … a courier service, for people who want to send letters and envelopes.

“Stuff that is so urgent that they have to have it delivered right away, by hand.”

“Say, as an example, the president, in Washington, wants to send a private note, or something like that, over to the government in England.

“We could take it for him, many times faster than a jet fighter could, and can teleport it from his door at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, to the prime minister’s door at 10 Downing Street in London.

“Door to door in minutes! Seconds, even, when we get the hang of it a little more … Some extra practice with the controls.

“Gosh, I hope the System never packs it in on us.”

“Can you plug in this uninterruptible power source unit for me, James?”

“Hold on, Dad. How can you plug the TV into the UPS equipment without unplugging it from the wall receptacle first?”

“Good grief. This is a bit beyond my electrical and electronic capabilities. I never thought of that. Of course, to plug the System into the UPS, we first have to disconnect it from the house supply.

“It’s a good thing one of us is thinking today.

“We have to find someone to wire the System with a second plug, without disconnecting it of course, so that it can be looped into the house supply and the UPS at the same time.

“Then, if there is a power cut, the UPS can fill the power needs until the electricity comes back on.

“Ultimately, we’ll need to plug the System into the generator, as it will be connected to the house supply and when the main power fails the generator will fill in for most of the building, including the System.

“I sure hope that this makes electrical sense.”

“How can we get the electrician to do this work without him seeing what’s on the System?” James queries.

“We’ll just have to tell him that we’re recording a special program with our DVD-writer and hope he believes us.

“Incidentally, this power problem won’t arise with the new TV Mom and I bought.

“It’s a smaller version of the plasma-screen HDTV, just the same as the big one here, but it’s equipped with a built-in battery back-up, so, a power cut can’t hurt us.

“You can’t do anything with the big set until the re-wiring gets done, so can I get Lynz to give me a hand to set up the new TV right here?”

“By all means.”

#

“Hey, Dad! The new TV’s ready to go; do you want to come and watch while Lyndsey plugs it in?”

“On the way!” The adults come down for the big event.

“OK! NNN, at last! I was beginning to have withdrawal symptoms. I thought I’d never see John Rocks again.”

“Dad, it’s John Cox … not John Rocks!”

Russell gasps, “Wow … what’s been going on in the world? … It seems like weeks since I last saw the news.”

“You know there are sure to be three wars, four murders, fifteen robberies, and, if it is John Cox, then our southern border is bound to be flooded with illegal immigrants. What else is new?”

“OK, James, if we’re going to take a crack at something on the System, then perhaps you can move the new TV over next to the big one. OK?

“You can plug it into that receptacle just there.” He points to one about nine feet to the right of the original large-screen TV.

“Thanks, son.”

Dianne asks, “Can I choose somewhere to take us one of these days?”

“Such as, Di?”

“Windsor Castle.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“We could even watch out for 10 Downing Street on the way past.”

“Deej!”

“Sorry.”

####

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