Friday, April 23, 2010

Time Train - Chapter 14

A day late, but no less great, here's the latest chapter of Time Train.

The engine eventually ground to a halt under its own power, allowing Rhubarb T. Porterhut to step down from the cab. Immediately he was assailed by a warm and humid air which engulfed him completely.

“Fibulious, hold onto Columbus and do not stray from the train.”

Fibulious was up and staring out the windows in wonder, oblivious to Columbus who managed a timid peak out the door from behind the cab walls. He didn’t hear a word that Rhubarb said, and quickly leapt down onto the mossy floor.

“Did you not heed my words?” hollered Rhubarb from beside a rather large tree.

Rhubarb attempted to corral Fibulious unsuccessfully, but had no need to worry about Columbus, as the African Husky had little desire to leave the engine cab. Meanwhile Fibulious was hopping over logs and looking under rocks—essentially just being a child.

“Wow! I never seen’d a forest before!”

Rhubarb was beginning to lose his patience chasing after Fibulious, and stomped his foot hard into a pile of twigs.

“Futureman, come here this instant. I am not sure where, or more likely when, we are, and it would be best if we do not venture too far from the one mode of apparatus that is likely to assist us in finding our way home.”

Coming to his senses, Fibulious stopped what he was doing and came back toward the train.

Wherever they were, it was certainly much different from where they had been before. Unlike the dark, bleak train yard they had been trying to escape from, the forest was full of vibrant greens and rich browns. The life around them could not be more different than the hint of death and decay they had left behind.

“Now I do not recall passing through or near any forests of this nature en route to. … Well, wherever it was where we were. This is most unusual.” Rhubarb attempted to mentally retrace their steps, but there were far too many holes to make complete sense of things. Instead he thought it better to focus on their present plight and see what could be done to remedy the situation.

“Futureman, come and help me examine the time traversal device.”

“The time versity vice?”

Rhubarb forgot that Fibulious was still newly acquainted with his creation. He pulled the young boy in close by his shoulders and pointed in the direction of the engine.

“Why, that is what we call the train. Officially, it is the space-distance and time-duration modulating traversal apparatus. ... Er, but you may call it the ... time train.” The name tickled both Fibulious as well as Rhubarb who hadn’t really considered much the form of his transportation.

“Now I need you to help me examine the time train to see if there is any damage to it. We stopped here rather unexpectedly and if we need to manage some repairs we will have to work quickly.”

Rhubarb began to inspect the engine thoroughly, looking for any sort of cracks or structural damage that might have caused the train to stop and that might be detrimental to further travel. However Fibulious was unsure of what exactly to look for, and kind of hovered around the train, trying to look like he knew what he was doing.

“What are we looking for Mister Portrait?”

“Why, cracks. Holes, steam leaks, burst valves. Anything that might make it difficult for us to go home.”

Fibulious stopped for a second, then as if he had noticed something, crawled between the large wheels and climbed underneath the train. “Mister Portrait?”

Although he was locked in concentration, Rhubarb managed a reply. “Yes, Futureman. Have you found something?”

“This is a train, right?”

“It is a time train, yes.”

“Does the time train need to run on railroad tracks?”

“Well, it is a train after all. What are you getting at?”


Rhubarb bent down to spy Fibulious underneath the train, but more important was that which was absent from beneath the train.

“Egads! No track?!”

Now it made sense why the train had stopped of its own accord. Without any railroad tracks to ride upon, the engine had sunk into a patch of dirt and moss. Rhubarb was beside himself.

“What are we to do? I never had any intention of operating the time traversal apparatus without railroad tracks.”

Fibulious crawled out from beneath the train and sat down beside Rhubarb. With a simple gesture he tugged on Rhubarb’s pant leg.

“It’s alright, Mister Portrait. You built the time train, right? That means you can figure out a way for us to get the time train to move again.”

Rhubarb generally had only his self-confidence to bolster his spirits, but the added confidence of his associate was enough to steel his nerve. “Perhaps you are right. As one of this century’s greatest inventors, I, Rhubarb T. Porterhut III, shall find a way.”

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