Thursday, February 11, 2010

Time Train - Chapter 4

The timely adventures of Rhubarb T. Porterhut and his reluctant hound, Columbus, continue.

Rhubarb T. Porterhut checked his pocket watch, even though only ten seconds had past since he had last checked it. He had barely slept a wink the night before, anticipation and anxiety both playmates in his fluttery bowels. Today he would be a taking a historic leap back into time.

The crisp morning air caused his unwilling cohort to whimper, as the residual heat from his owner’s back pitifully warmed a patchy Columbus, who was not used to being that awake, or that cold, at that time.

The locomotive was as they had left it, still sitting in the exact same place. Rhubarb had considered taking it off the track, but there were too many risks involved, and he did not want to tempt fate. It was 6:52 in the AM.

“Ah, it is the perfect morning for a temporal excursion, is it not, Columbus?”

Columbus obliged with a demure murmur. He knew that not answering would only elicit a more enthusiastic series of questions which he hoped to avoid at this early hour.

Rhubarb, with Columbus, mounted the mechanical behemoth which at present sat as serenely as dead duck floating in a winter pond. With only minutes to spare before launching themselves into time’s mercy, he began prepping the machinery. He stoked the fire more so than before, as he had calculated that traveling into the past would require a considerable amount of fuel.

“Ah, ah, must not forget to set the dial to the ‘PAST,’” declared Rhubarb, as he fixed the time knob. “We have already lost some time as it is, traveling into the future. We must not forget even a tiny thing lest we forget everything and find ourselves lost in a sea of eternity.”

With the fire now roaring, and his watch seconds from nearing 7 o’clock, Rhubarb released the brakes and started up the engine. Steam, smoke, and other indiscernible gases escaped from the locomotive as it bellowed with life, startling Columbus who had just settled into a momentary dream about being a prima ballerina. The locomotive lurched forward slowly.

“And now we bid fond adieu to the present ... or future ... and make our way to the glorious past.”

The stationmaster watched from the platform, a lone figure and witness to the couple’s departure. He waved briefly before collecting himself and gruffly resuming his duty, which at the moment involved sweeping the newly dusted platform once again.

As the locomotive pulled away, Rhubarb shoveled a few more loads of coal into the firebox. He knew that they might have to traverse some distance for some time if they were to make any considerable trip back into history. The locomotive was now moving at a steady pace, and Rhubarb decided to sit down and take a moment’s rest. With Columbus cushioning his back and the fire warming his body, Rhubarb dreamt of where they might end up in the past.

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