Computers. Beeping noises. Science objects. A ginger in a spinny chair.
This time, not in California; not in an old, repaired 4’ by 4’ shed in the backyard. Here he built the first time machine, the first prototype that used a rocket to create a point of relativity for anyone in the shed, and had done it simply for fun.
Now, however, he was building something different: a new machine, not exactly science, not exactly fantasy. No one knew his new invention’s purpose, and his editor intended to find out.
Silently, Cara tiptoed toward Adam’s darkened office. Except for occasional flashes of light under the door, it was nearly pitch black inside. Flipping off the hallway lights to match the darkness inside the doorway, she slowly tried to open the door. With a swing, it opened, quite suddenly and without noise. Cara stared at the crazed ginger’s work.
It was… a machine, all right. But not just any machine… it looked very much like his time machine, but at the same time… she could have sworn it was the alternate-dimensionalinator he had used for his Narnia articles… but bigger. She tiptoed forward to get a closer look.
But the floor had other plans. A squeak from her shoe over the light office carpet was enough to tell Adam someone else was in his room. Turning, he looked the intruder over.
“Hi, Cara. You could’ve knocked.”
She stood her ground. “I could have. But I’d like to see what you’re building.”
With a slight smirk of a smile, he slid across the room in his chair. “Sure. It’s my new masterpiece: I call it the other-dimensional portal!”
“Portal?” Cara threw a glance at the wall. Suddenly, she noticed all the wires and metal pieces hung in a circular pattern. “Portal to what?”
“To alternate dimensions, of course! With this, we could take any technology we need to solve the world’s problems! We could use weapons, technology, even a food-creating machine! We could solve the world’s problems!”
At first, her heart leapt. They could probably annihilate crime, solve financial crises, even cure those things thought to be incurable, any chronic illness
“Adam… you want to solve the world’s problems, but… No one can ever solve them all. No one can cure the sin in the soul. That’s God’s work. We can’t do this, any of it. It’ll just be our attempt to replace God with our own brains and imaginations.”
The redhead sighed. “I… had hoped you wouldn’t see it that way. I’m sorry, Cara, I have to do this. Don’t you see? I could be the hero of everyone!”
“…The savior, even?” Cara asked poignantly.
“Of course I’m not… well…” Adam sighed again. “You just don’t see it the way I can. I’m sorry, Cara.”
Before she could react, Adam had pressed the button to his machine. Lights whirred, disks spun, and suddenly, light burst from the wall of the room with the portal mounted on it. A circular, white portal appeared. But, as they both looked into it, they could see…
“Nothing?” Adam exclaimed. “Come on, why isn’t there anything there?”
After this rather hasty remark, he bent closer. That was what’s known as a mistake.
A gauntleted hand shot out of the portal, into the room, and grabbed Adam by the shirt. Then, it yanked him back in.
But, after staring in disbelief for a second, she picked up the walkie-talkie from her belt:
“Everyone, we’ve got a code red. Not a drill. Mari, Julia, I request assistance at the humor floor.”
Adam found himself grappling with the other creature, who was suited up in a futuristic set of army-green colored metal armor. Then, the creature dropped him, saying,
“The portal’s closed. Now we can talk.”
Adam spun around, and to his shock, the portal he had come in through was gone. He was alone with this strange… person.
The ginger spun back around and addressed the person. “Who are you? What…”
“…Do you want??!?” The dude said, mocking the panicking teenager in front of him. “Be quiet. I’ve got to prepare you for the worst… time period… of your life.”
Adam put his hands on his hips and was about to say something sarcastic back at the person, but was immediately shut down again by the stranger’s silver-tongued verbiage: “You’re not funny when you talk, and only sometimes when you write. Now look down.”
Adam looked. To his surprise, he saw…
“That’s the clay office building!! But…wha…” His eyes widened.
He saw characters, like superheroes, supervillains, and even some of his favorite side characters. Explosions, futuristic gun noises, yells so loud they echoed up into the sky, where Adam realized he was on an invisible platform at least a couple of miles in the stratosphere.
“This is the world you’ve created, kid. Do you like it?”
An office building shook under the weight of an explosion. Adam shook his head. “No… it’s chaos.”
“Next time, keep the created worlds on paper. Be careful what you wish for. Now, catch.”
Adam swiveled his head up, just in time to catch the backpack being flung at him. He caught it, put it on, and asked, “What’s in this?”
“A parachute. You haven’t done this in a few years, but it should come back as you fall through the sky.”
“I haven’t…” Wait, what? He knows who I am? How would he know I haven’t done this since the AC1 Christmas thing? He looked up at the fully armored man. Though he couldn’t see his face properly, he realized he couldn’t be any more than 2 inches taller than he. He opened his mouth, but before he could ask…
“Yeah, I’m you from the future. Good luck, kid.”
Suddenly, the invisible floor simply didn’t exist anymore. The ginger began to fall.
Adam from the future watched him slowly tumble toward the earth with an acceleration of ~9.8 m/s². “You’ll need it.”
“Alright, when he comes through that portal, he’s probably going to have an entire army behind him. Be ready. You’re our last hope of negotiation.” Julia Holmgren, the Senior Editor, said over the radio to Mari Stanton and Bronwyn Dix.
“Thanks, Julia. We’ll do our best. Are you sure you have the office door barricaded?” Mari asked.
“Believe me, Cara piled everything on the floor in front of that door. Good luck, guys. I’ve got to help redirect traffic. Tell me when he’s there.” Julia said, hanging up.
“I hope he won’t try and kill us,” Bronwyn chortled.
“He probably will,” the ever-pessimistic and short Mari responded. “Is your bulletproof vest alright?”
“It’s good. Hey, Mari, if this goes south, at least we tried, right?”
“Yeah, there are worse ways to go. Glad you didn’t die falling down that gigantic reactor core in the desert compound, right?”
Bronwyn laughed. “Ah, one of the escapades that didn’t make it into the articles.”
“Saved by a slinky. Good times.” Mari said with a chuckle.
Suddenly, the portal blipped. And flipped. And… bubbled? With a yell, Adam came sailing through the portal, quarterstaff in hand.
“BACK, SMALL RODENTS!!!” He yelled, kicking several life-sized LEGO rats back into the portal. He threw his staff after them, and spun around to face Mari and Bronwyn.
“Adam, we have to ask you to sto…” But, before Mari could finish her scripted sentence, the ginger grabbed a sledgehammer in the corner of the room. With speed equivalent to his entrance back into the world, he brought it down with all his might on the machine.
Snap, Crackle, Pop. The portal, with a blip, instantly closed.
After a moment of silence, Adam remarked, “Yeah, so, I’m never, ever, doing that again. I’ll see you guys later. Nice vests.”
Adam brushed past his two stunned friends and tried the door. It, of course, didn’t move.
“Door’s blocked. Ruined my exit.”