Category: Steampunk


Thankfully, I found it easy to climb any of the trees and knock off a coconut when I was hungry. There were also some root veggies growing near the center of the jungle that were tastes. But out on the beach, it was hot and it was difficult to find shade during the day. Although I faced a world of water, the surf brought nothing but salt. Making drinkable water was a slow process. I hated that it was warm but I was glad when I had enough to gulp down despite the temperature.
I had intended on visiting the island to see if my calculations were correct; Is this where Amelia Earhart had crashed her airship? But circumstances, beyond my control, left me stranded on the island with nothing to eat, nothing to drink and no proof at all that the pilot had actually been on the island at all. What a waste of time.

I had programmed the door to take me to the mouth of the small cave where the jungle and the beach merged. I was hoping to arrive on the island moments after Amelia’s ship. Maybe I could help her. (I have rescued other famous missing people before. Of course I had to help them with new identities and start new lives. I explained that their place in history needed to remain as a missing person but they deserved a life anyway. So, for example, Glenn Miller became a middle grade music teacher in Kansas in the year 1980. He is, in fact, still there, living the life of a retired man on his farm.
When I walked out of the cave, the ground shook. An earthquake? How could that be? I was on a small island in the middle of nowhere. But the ground did shake and the cave collapsed behind me. There was no way for me to return.
I made a little hut out of branches, mud and thick leaves. I used my coat for a blanket at night.

My brass goggles were wonderfully suited as a magnifying glass to help start a fire. I would could but there are only so many ways you can make coconut and jungle root taste. Anything beyond coconut and jungle root.
I saw Amelia’s plane fall from the sky and into the water near another island in the distance. I had miscalculated. I used my goggles to zoom in on the island. I could see that Amelia, and another, had made it. They were crawling out of the surf and onto the beach when I heard a voice behind me.
“There you are,” she said. It was my niece, Molly.
“Where did you come from?” I asked.
Uncle Buster, you’ve been missing for ages. I had to sift through everything in your basement before I could figure out where you had gone to,” she said. “I had always assumed you would come back on your own, but soon I realized you were stranded somewhere. I finally figured out how to bring up the history on the door’s memory log. And there it was; Amelia Earhart’s island. I always knew you would attempt to find her. You’re very predictable.”
“I found her,” I said.
“Oh wow! Where is she?”
I nodded to the other island.
“Seriously?” She shook her head. “You got the wrong island?”
“Yep…”
“So what have you been doing all of this time?” She asked.
I offered her a coconut. “Hungry?”
She wrinkled her nose and waved her hand unpleasantly. “I hate coconuts,” she said. “Let’s go home, Uncle.”
I grabbed my coat from the mud hut and shook it off. I followed her to where the new door waited.
“You stink,” she said sniffing the air.
“I do stink, ” I said. “I stink at a lot of things in fact.”
“No, I meant that you just stink… As in you smell bad.”
“I know. I stink.”
The door pulled us in and the island vanished.

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Not a good day.

I stumbled upon Molly’s communication while I was taking a break from working on Lindbergh’s engine. (If that thing was going to fly, it needed attention. Parts from here… parts from there.)

I returned to the basement just as he was jumping through the only door that wasn’t smashed.

Molly asked me once why I had built three doors in the wall. Honestly, I always intended on destroying the first two doors when the third was complete. The problem was that each door had a unique property and could reach areas the other two could not. Sometimes door number one was the only was to the 1930’s and number one was my only path to my childhood.

He smashed one and two. 

He glanced back at me and winked just before he vanished.

So cryptic.

Something I would do. Heck…he is me so why not? Why would I do that? I should know, right?

I picked up the frayed wires and busted bulbs and dropped them in an old milk box. Several of the meters were cracked and beyond repair. I just didn’t understand. Why would he… I do that? There must be a point. Otherwise, why the wink

Cryptic… I hate that about me.

Then it occurred to me. Lately, I had been going back and forth fixing things where I felt circumstances didn’t pan out the way I felt they should. Do-Overs. Even Time Travelers have not-so-fancy terms for the things we do. Plain and simple; Do-Over. And if the Do-Over didn’t work? A time traveler might go back and Do-Over the Do-Over.

I heard footsteps behind me. What now? 

“Uncle Buster,” she said, “You’re back.”

She limped over and gave me a hug. In the dim light I didn’t see her features too well. Why the limp? Had she hurt herself dancing at the recital I missed? She looked taller than I remember. Did I return to the right year?  

The active door sparkled for a moment. It did this before it went into automatic sleep-mode. The light from the main plasma coil cast red and green shadows on our bodies as she held me tight.

“I missed you, Uncle Buster.”

She stood back and fixed the wrinkled collar of my big coat and smiled.

Red light… Green light…. Red light… 

Her face was scarred and her left eye was covered with a pink, leather patch.

“Your eye,” I said. “Your face… What happened?”

She looked confused. “What do you mean?” She adjusted her patch. “Is it crooked?”

“Molly. I don’t remember this. Your limp. Your face. Your eye. What happened.”

“This happened three years ago… when we lost Mom and Dad…”

She stood back and I saw the metal leg and brace wrapped around her hip.

“We lost them?” My heart was racing.

“And… George.” she added. “Lost. Then Clifford… We never found out what happened to Clifford. Did you find him?”

I stood back against the busted door. I felt cold.

“Uncle Buster? Are you okay?”

  

..55-sport89 815 log in temp pwinitiate voice control. Voice print: Molly Brightbuckle.

start program in 3….2…..1
Uncle Buster. 

I can’t reach you by phone and you never seem to be in your lab.

Yet, I see you in the lab all of the time.

But it’s not really you is it?

Some days you look older than you should.

Other days you look much younger.

Older-You pays a little bit more attention to me than younger. 

When you’re here, and younger, you seem impatient and just want to do your work. Work, which is much different than Older-You.

Younger-You likes to dig through the blueprint drawers and make a lot of notes.

Older-You spends a lot of time smashing things in the basement. 

Older-You is nicer and smiles a lot.

I’ve figured out that Younger-You is very impatient and wants to find out what his Older-Self has invented so he can get to working on it before he actually has.

Older-You is smashing everything he’s not happy with.

So, the question is; Where’s You-You? The You from this time has been missing for a while.

By the way; You missed my camp recital. Mom and Dad couldn’t make it because of work and you promised that you would show up and shoot some home videos. Personally I didn’t really care about the video. I just wanted you to see me do my dance routine with the other kids. It was really fun even though it was just stupid how Ginny Flint banged into everyone on stage yet got the most applause. I think several generations of her family were on the lawn watching the show.

Anyway… you missed it.

So… if you get to reading this, or hearing it, please come back home soon. Older-You is downstairs right now smashing one of the doors. He doesn’t look happy and I think Dad is going to throw him out of the house soon because he’s making so much noise.

Oh… One more thing; George and Speegeltog said hello.

Love ya,

Molly

End Voice command

Embed recording–55-sport89—finalize.

Terminate VCM 

  

There has been much debate regarding the true expiration date of a Twinkle-ee Cake.

Will the spongy cake and sugary frosting center maintain it’s edible and spongy qualities well beyond the expiration stamped on the cellophane package?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked but, when someone finds out I’m a time traveler, the question of Twinkle-ee Cakes pops up. Why? I have no idea. With all of the questions one could ask a time traveler, why would anyone in their right mind care about Twinkle-ee Cakes?

I rarely socialize, but sometimes I have to in order to keep my brother happy. Inevitably, the topic of my past pops up and then someone will bring up the question and another will jump into the conversation and ramble off a bunch of scientific reasons that supposedly debunks the Twinkle-ee Cake myth.

“I’ve heard that Twinkle-ee Cakes can survive the atom bomb.”

“I heard somewhere that someone found a Twinkle-ee Cake pinned to a blackboard in an abandoned classroom. It was 30 years old, they ate it and it was still good!”

Hog wash. Who would eat a thirty year old sponge cake?

I was bored. Fidgety, actually. The house was empty. I decided that an experiment was required.

The grocery store had one box of Twinkle-ee Cakes left on the shelf. They are still selling like mad. I don’t get it. They are just a sugary mess, if you ask me. Even at it’s freshest it’s probably the most unhealthy food on the planet.

I took the box of cakes through one of the three doors in my lab into the past. Thirty years to be exact. The door appeared in the same wall shimmering and set on hold. I can usually keep it open for about five minutes before I run into problems.

The Brightbuckle home coordinates never change. Programming the time was the only tricky bit. Sometimes the calculations are off and I’m tripping over cave men. Fortunately, the programming was right on target.

The light from the door cast crazy shadows throughout the basement revealing boxes, trunks and a couple of shabby looking bicycles.

I opened the basement window and let some sunshine and oxygen into the room. I don’t know what it is, but the air has a different scent back then. I peered out of the window. The hedges were smaller, the trees were shorter and the house was a different color. Otherwise, it was the same house. It’s been in the family for generations.

I placed one securely wrapped Twinkle-ee Cake in a small sterile metal box and snapped the lid closed.

It would be many years before I would relocate my lab to this house, so none of my equipment was present, but I knew one spot that would remain untouched for thirty years. It was a loose foundation block in the far corner of the dark basement. I wrestled it free from the wall and placed the small metal box with the Twinkle-ee Cake inside. I pushed the hollow block back into place and stretched my aching back.

I still had a few minutes to kill so I walked around the basement looking at the artifacts of my past. My first bike, my first tool box, my scout cap hanging on a hook.

Dad’s old boots. 

I felt a bit emotional. I hate when that happens. I took a deep breath, turned and faced the wall and returned to the present via the door.

My lab was there waiting.

I found the loose foundation block in the far corner. I pulled it free and peered inside. There was no box inside but there was a piece of paper. I picked it up carefully, holding it between my thumb and forefinger. It had a musty smell and a tea-stain color. I unfolded it.

Someone printed, in black ink, across the top of the paper;

You built a powerful time machine and this is how you use it?

You really should feel embarrassed. Shame, shame, same.

Scrawled at the bottom was a large “S”

Then the following;

BTW. In case you are wondering; Tasted fine to me.

Just as I suspected; The cake would not be where I left it.

I turned and faced the massive pile of boxes and abandoned experiments that I had in the basement lab. I calmly pushed as much aside as I could and dug into the mess until I found what I was looking for; my first toolbox. 

It was a standard box painted red, chipped, dented with rust spots here and there. There were a few stickers, across the top and side that had peeled and were curled. Colorful logo’s for super heroes and products like STP oil treatment, Superman and Jack’s Garage. I popped the chrome latches and opened the lid.

If anyone were with me they would have seen something rare; me grinning from ear to ear. I rarely smile and there’s not much that can evoke one. 

I lifted the Twinkle-ee cakes from the toolbox, the ones that remained from what I had purchased. I pulled open one of the cellophane packages and sniffed the cake inside. As fresh as if I had had bought it today. (Yes, yes; I know. I did buy it today, but thirty years have gone by. Since then just deal with it.)

I took a bite.

Disgustingly good. Just as disgustingly good as if I had bought it today.

Now… what to do about S?

 

  

Uncle Buster? Are you in there? Hello?

I couldn’t see. I couldn’t feel. I couldn’t move.

But I could hear.

Molly was speaking to me. Where was I? Where had I had I been. I wanted to ask her but I couldn’t speak.

Uncle Buster. Give me some sort of sign, that you can hear me. Move a finger. Twitch your nose. Something. Here’s my hand. See if you can squeeze it.

Oh, I thought… I must be in a hospital bed. Where else could I be? Something bad must have happened. Molly’s hand… I couldn’t feel it but I knew I had to squeeze, somehow and let her know I could hear her. But which hand? I know, I thought, I’ll concentrate on squeezing both. 

I focused… I tried to will my hands to clench. I was suddenly aware of a beeping sound. Then, just as I was aware of it, the tempo increased.

Beep… Beep… Beep… Beep-Beep-Beep-Beep B’beep-B’beep…

Why is his heart beating so fast? Nurse? 

Squeeze… squeeze….

Wait. I felt him squeeze my hand. Uncle Buster? Can you hear me?

Squeeze.

He did it again! Call the doctor. Mom! Dad! He squeezed my hand!

Buster… It’s your brother. It’s Skip. We’re right here. Come on back to us. Come on back, Buster.

I felt warm. I felt the blood rushing to my head. This was new. ‘Feeling something more than darkness.

Uncle Buster. Squeeze my hand again.

Squeeze.

Yes! He can hear me! You’re going to be okay, Uncle Buster. Doctor Frances is here. He’s going to help you.

Beep-Beep-Beep-Beep B’beep-B’beep…

Stand back, young lady. Nurse, hold this tube aside while I look at his eyes. Hmmmm. no reaction to light in his left… and the right…. wait. there’s something.

I saw a bright light. It was so bright it was painful. I fell into it.

Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!

Doctor! What’s hap…..

It was so quiet. I felt my mind clear and everything seemed clear and in focus. I remember now, I thought. I remember what happened;

The doors were finally repaired and I decided to travel to one of my favorite spots in time; My town, thirty years ago. The old diner. My favorite burgers. The old electronic shop. The park before they paved Joni Mitchell’s paradise and put up parking lot. My favorite bench. The local newspaper before the internet put it out of business.

I was so happy to be there. 

I filled my belly with good food and my body with the sunshine of a perfect day.

Upon returning to the place where I left the door waiting, I found him waiting for me. 

“I knew I would find you here,” he said. His lab coat was soiled with grease and his goggles were wet from the sweat of his balding head. He sneered at me.

“I thought you were living your life out on an island somewhere,” I said.

“Oh, is that what you did to me?” Manny asked. “I have yet to experience you banishing me. Is that what you did? Banished me to an island? You always threatened it, but I thought you were joking. You finally did it, eh?”

My childhood nemesis and adult foe stood between me and the doorway home. He was not the man I had banished to an island somewhere in time. He was Manny from an earlier time. 

“Cat’s out of the bag,” I said. “If it’s any consolation, the weather is supposed to be terrific in that section of the world.”

We stared at each other for a minute but it felt like hours.

“Step aside,” I said. “I’m leaving for home.”

“You’re not going anywhere, Brightbuckle.” He pulled a metal device from his pocket. It was about the size of a deck of cards. It had a two inch screen that pulsed in a greenish hue. His thumb was poised over a flat, blue button. Sneering, he turned to the door and pointed the device at the center.

I chose this moment to leap. I knocked him aside and dove through the door. I was halfway through the door, glancing back when I saw him press the blue button. I felt the world around me explode.

“Brightbucklke,” he screamed. Then I heard his laugh echo in the darkness.

“The last thing I remember seeing was my dog, Darwin. I was on the basement floor looking at the blinking lights around the door and he was licking my face,” I said. My mouth was dry and my voice was little more than a whisper.  “Then the world slipped away. I must have passed out.”

“Darwin was howling when we got home from the movies,” said Molly.

“That’s some dog you have there, Buster,” said Skip. “He didn’t leave your side.”

I thought about Manny. This dangerous man was back. “Molly… It was Manny Snivelle. I saw him before I returned.”

“You were having a nightmare, Uncle Buster.” She touched the back of my hand and shook her head reassuringly. “Just a nightmare. You were talking in your sleep. It must have been a nightmare. Over and over you kept telling Manny to step aside. Step aside.”

“But I went through the door and saw him in the past. Right here in town.”

“No. The doors are still broken, Uncle Buster. You had a bad virus and you passed out.”

“I was sick?” I thought about it. Yes. I was sick. I remember. “It was a nightmare?”

“Yes,” said Skip. “You always had vivid dreams when we were kids. ‘Kept me up many a night babbling about this monster or that. Some things never change.”

A nightmare.

“We were so worried about you,” said Mary. My brother’s wife was a nice lady. We got along.

“We should let him rest,” said Skip. “Come on, girls. Let’s let my brother collect his thoughts.”

Skip gave my shoulder a friendly punch and the girls kissed my cheek. I waved to them as they left the room. Just me and the beeping machine.

Beep beep beep beep

I took a deep breath.

RIIIIIIIIIIIING!

The phone by the bed.

I picked it up.

“Hello?”

“Hello, Brightbuckle. How was your trip home?”

“Manny…”

“Hospital food is nasty business, isn’t it?”

Beep-Beep-Beep-Beep B’beep-B’beep…

  

———–program active
———–comm54 connected
———–signed MollyBB
———–tied-WP BloG

Uncle Buster,

Why did anyone ever invent the television? I am hooked on these old radio shows.

The other night, I listened to a show called “LIGHTS OUT.” The episode was called “The Ninth Life.” Wow… So much fun. I could see everything in my head.

That guy was here looking for you again. Sullivan… Sullivaine… something like that. He’s very pushy. Dad thinks he’s a vacuum salesman. He likes to pop by before dinner and acts like you two are old friends. Dad was polite the first few times but, last night, I heard him step outside and yell at the man. Dad actually growled. (I guess it runs in the family, huh?)

Also, another package arrived for you. It’s kind’a big. I left it in the back of the lab with the others. Maybe it was because the truck had their heater on… I don’t know… but it was very warm. ‘No idea what is inside. I won’t ask because you’ll probably tell me to mind my own bee’s wax. Anyway… you have a lot of packages to open when you get back.

Hope you come home soon. I need help with my science homework. (Mom and Dad are NO HELP at all. )

———–transmit end
———–confirm
———–disconnected
———–code 54rr-11flc-2973

IMG_1830

———–program active
———–comm52 connected
———–signed MollyBB
———–tied-WP BloG

Uncle Buster!
I love the old radio. Ever since I saw the wood radio in that orphanage, when we went back to the 40’s, I have secretly wanted to own one.
Did you know?
This one is a beauty!
Wait until George sees it. I bet he’s gonna want one too.
I see that you have it wire to the right door. Is that why it doesn’t bring in any modern stations?
I was listening to a News program and the announcer said it was April 27th. I soon figured out that the year was 1935!
‘Hope you don’t mind that I’ve been hanging around the basement lab and listening to some shows while doing my homework. It’s actually nice and warm down here. (Brrrrrrr…. It’s so cold outside. There is ice everywhere. I heard Mom say that this winter is really depressing her. Can weather do that? Make you depressed?)
I was just listening to a show called Flash Gordon. So much fun. A planet is hurtling toward Earth and this guy Flash Gordon is going to try and save everyone. He meets up with a scientist called Zarkov. Radio doesn’t have any pictures so, in my mind, I pictured him to look like you.
I wonder what he really looked like? The guy who played him…. Probably nothing like you at all.
Thanks again for being there at the dinner table the other night. It was great to have the whole Family back together again.
Darwin is doing okay. Although he keeps pacing in front of the middle door. Is that where you went? ‘Through the middle door? When are you coming home?
I hope you can read this where you are.

Okay… ‘Back to my homework.

Oh… Wait.

A package arrived for you today vxewiooem djembe rom that guy you,nebh njejjndj x1200 7elling me about. Looks very serious in the brow2999!s z oh n paper and string. Who does that anymore? Stri11111ing?

BRB… Someone at th3 9oor…1——–89—–yuccffh33p8177346a—-
———–disconnected.
———–auto connect retry
———–connection failed
————end

IMG_1826-1

There are two problems with being a Time Traveler with Frequent Flyer Miles;
Temptation and Disappointment.
You probably think that there is much more to be concerned about, and there are, but these are the two biggies as far as I’m concerned.
Temptation: We Time Travelers are constantly faced with the temptation to change events in the past in order to influence or alter the future. Sometimes we think we can make a small change and correct what has gone wrong. Save a life. Win the Lotto. Save the lives on the Titanic….
But, even though, sometimes, we can do these things… We really shouldn’t .
Disappointment: I’m not referring to any disappointment I experience… it’s all about the people we care about.
Molly, you know this is about you. But you’re not the only one I’ve disappointed. You’re probably still steamed at me for what I did over the holidays. The whole Tree thing was unacceptable.
Why can’t I stay in one place?
I don’t know.
Why can’t I come back home when I promise that I will?
I don’t know.
Why can’t I just return a minute after I left? We TT’s should be able to pull that trick off easily. (We can…)
I don’t know….
Anyway… What I mean to say is I’m back.
I know you’re going to ask where I’ve been so let me just get it out of the way now;
I went back to see my old company… My old staff. Back to that time when they respected me. When the government looked to us for answers. I needed to experience that again.
I sat in my old chair.
Drank from my old mug with my company logo….
I stayed a little too long.
Time is a Hungry Beast.
But, you’ll proud to know I didn’t change a thing.
The ribbon cutting ceremony went as badly as you probably remember and her singed hair still made the papers.
I was disgraced and run out of business.
I watched it all from the shadows.
Nothing changed.
Good times….
So… Maybe we can all have dinner later.
Tell your Mom and my brother that I’m home.

IMG_1824

—-Launch Voice Command module 54—remote from Pad—synch 5400A2014-12-19—stream with spell check—

Uncle Buster,

Awesome!

Waking up this morning and hearing Sleigh Ride playing on the old turntable made me so happy. I knew that when I ran down the stairs you would be there and my parents would be there and Darwin would be there…. and the tree would be there.

I knew it and I was right.

Thank you! Thank you!

The tree looks just like it did last year and the year before. Just perfect. The decorations and the lights…. (sigh). Was it stupid that I started crying?

Another year and another perfect tree.

But, you can’t fool me, Uncle Buster. I know it’s the same tree. And that’s okay. Mom and Dad are not on to you yet. You’ve got them thinking that you have a knack for finding the perfect tree every year. Little do they know; you found the perfect tree once and you keep putting it up every year.

Smarty pants! You’re probably the only person in the world who cheats at finding a tree for the holidays.

Thanks for not letting me down. I can’t imagine starting the holidays without the Big Tree Reveal.

So, where did you go after breakfast? You looked so concerned about something. You hardly said a word. Dad usually picks up on it and starts grilling you, but he was so into Mom’s pancake breakfast that he barely looked up from his plate.

Are you okay?

Where are you?

—End Transfer—5400A2014-12-19—stream to main Comm—complete—

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—-start voice command module session transfer protocol 99IT-1945-8-12-54335gzz6t—-

Molly,

You clever little girl! You figured out what I did.

Why would I use this blog, you ask? Do you have any idea how much energy is ripping through the web? Wiring connected all around the world!! I’m amazed… And you know it takes a lot to amaze me. It was the best choice. Where else could I tap into a wire structure that size?

So here I am… Stuck in the 1940’s. I took Julia back to her home just beyond the end of the war. She us safe and happily reunited with her family.

The tree is not up. I know. So, you think it’s the same tree every year? Really? Am I that obvious?

Hang in there, Kiddo. I’ll be home soon. It’s going to take a little bit if work to get this door open again. But, even if I get it open, I think I may stick around to help my new friends clean up this mess.

– Uncle Buster

—-end voice command module session transfer protocol 99IT-1945-8-12-54335gzz6t—

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