Time......... (Part 15)

Peter and Kevin managed to pick up a good amount of information from the notebook Kevin had picked up. They soon learned that there was a purpose for the release of the gang-members from jail that went beyond a mere longing to have those gang members back. The Scallions were planning an attack on a major bank in NYC, and needed all the people they possibly could. The Scallions worked by numbers; they figured that they could get away with more things by striking people with fear by their large number.
The night of the robbery was to take place in a week.
Peter and Kevin managed to get by unquestioned for the most part by keeping fairly quiet. They couldn't talk even to each other as much as they would have liked. But this only left all the more time for thought, and there was a lot of thinking to be done.
Kevin was able to slip the notebook back into the robber's possessions while everyone was asleep, thus removing any suspicions that might be aroused by the finding of it in Kevin's pocket. Peter began to work out a plan that would cause their "friend's" interest to be aroused in the releasing of the "time" machine, but it seemed to be a hopeless plan. It only seemed that way.
It was the third night Peter and Kevin were about to spend at the gang's hideout. Their "friend," whose name was Henry, was sitting contentedly in a group, telling stories in his loud, bold voice.
"I liked to build inventions when I was a youngster," he was saying. Peter looked up from the knot in the wood floor he had been studying drearily. "And I tell you, it wasn't easy, but I managed to build a machine that would make a bed."
"Yeah, right, yeah," several others mocked him.
"Really! It was made out of a couple o' pipes and an old motor, and...." his voice went on and on in description. Peter had stopped paying attention though; he had learned all he needed to know. He stood up quietly, and left the room. Kevin saw his friend rise and go outside, and waited for a moment before following.
"What is it, Pete?" he whispered when he spotted his friend sitting on the doorstep in deep thought.
"Plans," Peter said vaguely. "By the way, did you know Henry used to build machines? He is a great supporter of the idea that youth need to be more inventive."
"Really," Kevin said, trying to appear casual and uninterested. He knew what Peter was getting at.
"Yeah," Peter said softly. He turned to face Kevin, and allowed himself a grin. He stood up stretched as one would do when tired and left Kevin on the doorstep. Kevin sat there for five minutes more before he too entered through the door. This was the way they had been carrying on conversation for the past few days. It was aggravating and very slow, but it seemed the only way that would not cause suspicion.
"We'll be champion actors after this," Kevin thought with a grim smile.

"Henry, wait!" Peter called to the large man.
"Hey? What do ya want?" Henry paused in his tracks. It was the next morning, and the gang was working on getting their trucks up to an ideal condition.
"You were talking about machines last night?"
"Well, I like building inventions too. I have a machine that - rather, I had a machine. The police took it away when I was arrested."
"Ah, that must have been hard on ya," Henry said, his voice never once changing.
"Yeah. And I'm not sure how to get it out of the police station without being caught again!" Peter heaved a sigh to portray desperation. It was all Henry needed.
"Now, that's not so hard to do, youngster!" He said. "Tell, ya what, I'll get my tools and help you get it out tonight."
"Will you?" Peter didn't have to pretend his surprise, he was surprised. Henry was compassionate?
"Sure will. I believe robbers ought to be inventive; they get more accomplished that way." Thus saying, Henry hurried off to the trucks. Peter heard his voice raise in anger as one of the men splashed water on his tall boots.
"I'll kill you! I'll kill you for this!" Henry was yelling. There was a scuffle and a scream; then all was drowned out by the voices of others cheering and jeering.
Peter cringed. Henry was not compassionate. But why then had he taken an interest in Peter's affairs? Did he like mechanical devices that much? Or perhaps he knew that Peter and Kevin were intruders and decided to lure them into a trap by pretending to help them. Peter's face went warm at the thought.
"What am I to do?" he groaned in despair. He decided to risk it and go with Henry to regain the machine. After all, if Henry wasn't suspicious, he would become so by the mere refusal on Peter's part. Of course, it might be a trap. But in that case, even if he refused to go along, he and Kevin would be in grave danger by sticking around the robber's camp. And there wouldn't be a chance to recover their machine.
"And I used to think choosing between chocolate and strawberry ice cream was hard?" Peter laughed at himself.
Tomorrow night was the bank robbery. Peter managed to get in touch with Kevin and tell him the news; they would make their escape from the robber's camp during the confusion of the robbery.

Kevin sat on the doorstep and swallowed hard. Peter had just left with that man, Henry. Would Peter be caught by the police? Or would he be killed by Henry in a dark alley? No, he couldn't be killed. He was part of the prophecy and was destined to save Andromeda with those other three people from this planet.
Who were the other three though? There was Frank. But what about the other two?
"Maybe I'm one of them," Kevin thought hopefully. "I'll be coming back from Earth anyways, and I'm helping save Andromeda by this whole expedition, aren't I? But I think the prophecy meant people born on Earth. And besides, I'm not good at computers, and I don't have tantrums. Wait! Carrying on; couldn't that mean someone highly encouraging? Someone who "carries on" a task in the midst of everything; you know, perseverance? But I'm not encouraging, am I?" Kevin suddenly felt left out and lonely. He scanned the dark landscape in the hopes of seeing Peter, but no one appeared. He felt a bad pain in his knee, and looked down to find himself pinching it. He released his hold and drew out a long breath, trying to steady his knotted stomach.

The task was done quickly. Henry was an expert at picking locks and the shed in which the machine had been held captive was not the sturdiest of structures. The machine was loaded on the back of Henry's truck. Peter sat beside it to hold it in place, and was relieved to have an excuse for sitting alone.
Henry was not suspicious of him, but it was best to stay as far away from the robber as possible. When they reached the camp again, Peter relocated the machine to a safer place, with Kevin's help.
Kevin opened the engine and began reconnecting the broken pieces quickly. Peter helped him.
"Does this machine, by any chance, happen to have the ability to travel to another location on the same planet?" Kevin asked.
"I don't know. I haven't played with it enough. I suppose if we were to pull the lever forward just a tiny bit, it might."
"Couldn't we become stuck in the middle of the solar system, though?" Kevin asked.
"I'm not sure. Forward from Earth brings us to Limblon, and backwards from Limblon brings us to Earth. Presumably, if you were to go backwards from Earth, you would find yourself in a different location than Limblon, and so on. But supposing we were to fit another lever in here; a horizontal lever. Would that take us to a different location on the planet?"
"I - I don't know," Kevin sat back on his feet and paused in his work with thought.
"There's no time for experiments, unfortunately," Peter sighed. "We'll repair this, and take the flight to California."
"California? Why there?"
"Because everyone knows that's where the movie star's home is," Peter replied. "We're going there to ask the star if he'd be willing to let you play in one of his movies; we need the money from it for the metal we need for our time machines."
"Wait a second! You can't come up with a better idea than that?" Kevin cried. "You, who has always tried to evaluate and make sure things are safe and so and so forth - I mean, this is totally an illogical solution!"
"Do you have a better idea?" Peter hinted.
"Well, not exactly. But couldn't we, like get a job or something instead?"
"We're running out of time, though! If you were to fake an actor for a time, you could be bringing in the money while I built the machines we need. We've got to work together on this in order for it to go fast."
"But I don't want to be an impersonator!" Kevin objected. "We're in trouble with the law already, and you would have us get into more?"
"Oh, Kevin!" Peter said in desperation. "I can't think anymore! I'm tired of the trouble that is chasing us around; I tired of trying to pretend to be a 'bad guy'; I'm tired of having to think!"
"So you'd rather just risk our lives and be done with it?" Kevin asked.
"Yes," Peter said firmly. Kevin was silent a moment.
"Get some sleep," he said at last.

Peter tossed and turned that night. There wasn't a better way, was there? And how many machines were they planning to build? How many could they build? There was only two of them And therefore could only build one extra, and that would not be enough.
Peter sighed miserably. The whole plan seemed a failure. All at once, he sat up quickly and gasped at the idea forming in his head. Maybe they could only build one more machine, but who said it had to be the same machine? He could redesign it so it would hold many materials besides its pilot; thus the delivery to Limblon would be worth while after all.
But there he was, stuck in a rut again. He could see how he would build the new machine sure enough, but it still left one wondering where the money would come from for it and its stock of supplies it would be shipping.
He could write home requesting money. Yeah right! That would really help.
Maybe he should take up a job like Kevin had suggested. No, for they were running short on time.
Robbery was out of the question.
Could he strike up a deal somewhere, like with a metal company? But what could a boy like him have to offer?
No, the movie star seemed to be their only hope.
Peter shut his eyes and tried to stop thinking. Kevin was right; he needed sleep.

Copyright - 11/29/2008 - Curious Cognitive Content (CCC)
Please do not reproduce without permission from the author(ess).



How does one delicately say that after a series of mistakes they created five pumpkin pies, without raising a gasp from their family?
So you see, I started to make some pies. Three of them, because I thought three was as good a number as any (ordinarily I would only make two). So I mix the spices and eggs together, and open up one of those large cans of pumpkin that make two pies. The contents of that can looked darker than usual. What was wrong with this pumpkin?
Wrong with it! I almost wish there was something wrong with it! It was an "easy pumpkin pie mix," just add eggs and milk. One can't add an already-spiced up can of pumpkin to more spices, and one can't stash spices and eggs beat together in the pantry. Meaning that I needed plain pumpkin to finish the three that I started, and I have to make this "easy" pumpkin mix into two more pies.
What was it that I said about reading labels? Oh, where is my head! Where is my head!
Now how do I phrase this over the phone to my currently-shopping mom and sisters?
"Oh, I hope you don't mind pumpkin pie for dinner."
"By the way, do you know anyone who might like a pumpkin pie?"
"Might want to buy some foil pie plates; we have a few pies here to freeze."
"I knew I should never have started on this!"
Hmm..... What does God want me to do with extra pies?

Pumpkin Pie

Partly from the back of the pumpkin can; partly the family's additions.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon (ground)
1 tsp. ginger (ground)
1/2 - 1 tsp. clove (ground)
4 eggs
30 oz. canned pumpkin
24oz. evaporated milk (or 2 cups milk, 1 cup yogurt)
2 pie crusts (unbaked)

Preheat oven at 425.

Mix spices. Beat eggs in separate bowl. Dump spice and pumpkin in with eggs. Slowly drizzle in milk till no more milk is left to be drizzled. (or, just pour milk in all at once and save time.)

Pour mixture into pie crusts (Note: pie crusts must be in pie pans when this is done).

Cook for 15 minutes at 425; bonk-down temp. to 350 and cook for 40-50 minutes. (Or, cook for an hour at 425: the black crust adds a special touch). Stab pie to make sure it doesn't bleed (isn't runny). If pie is cooked, serve. If pie is not cooked, cook until it is.

(Note: do not confuse the orange can of peaches for the orange can of pumpkin as I did; always read labels. Spicy peach might be an interesting combo, though.....)


Time......... (Part 14)

Mr. Sperring discussed his son's absence with the movie star's uncle, Abraham Hethe.
"What do you make of it?" he asked.
"Well, my nephew has been acting odd lately, but I have no clue how he got in New York City. I doubt that he had any thing to do with the Scallions's break in though."
"Has it been proved then that it was in fact the Scallions?"
"Oh, yes. They found the green handkerchief by the door, and it has been identified by the police. Clever trick they had, in order to get into that jail."
"But why would they release my Peter of all people?"
"That's beyond me. Unless they made a mistake?" Mr. Hethe asked the question in a hopeless sort of way. Both he and the Sperrings feared the worse: Kevin and Peter had joined a robber's gang and were hanging around in who knows where.
"Wait!" Mr. Sperring said suddenly. "Surely your nephew wouldn't leave a blooming career as an actor to join a robber gang, would he?"
"Not normally," Mr. Hethe admitted.
"And Peter would never go and do such an outrageous thing; he had his heart set on becoming a chemist."
"Do you think they were mere victims then?" Mr. Hethe said hopefully. The next moment his countance dropped. "That doesn't explain the odd machine they found with them in the street."
"True," Mr. Sperring agreed. He pondered it all in silence for a fewe moments. At last Mr. Hethe made a suggestion.
"Let's go have dinner now, and leave the problem for later," he pointed to a restraunt across from the police station. "From there, we can see if anything odd appears to be happening around the station."
Mr. Sperring took a deep breath and took his wife's nervous hands. "Alright," he said at last.

Peter felt slightly relieved when the trip was over. He clambered out of the truck in a hurry and tried to find Kevin.
"Hi, Pete!" Kevin called, suddenly appearing on Peter's right side. "I was looking for you."
"So was I. I mean, looking for you."
"What do we do next?" he whispered.
"Get out of here?"
"Yes, but how?"
"Let me think a little while," Peter shrugged.
"We don't have a while. We could slip away now in the midst of confusion, but how would we get the machine out of the police station without being caught?"
"Um, make friends with a pick-lock, I suppose," Peter grinned.
"Peter! I'm serious!"
"I know, Kev. But I'm all out of ideas."
"Humph," Kevin sighed. "Could we swipe a few tools perhaps?"
"We could, but I'd feel bad about doing that - even to a gang of robbers."
"So do I. Oh, hang it all! There must be some way!"
"Hey, fellows! What are you trying to hang?" a burly robber pushed his way into their midst. Peter noted with some alarm that this was the man who had tried talking to him while on the truck.
"Um, just a - you know - um," Peter murmured.
"Hey? Speak up! I can't hear ya!" the man yelled in Peter's ear. Or at least, it seemed like he yelled.
"Nothing!" Peter yelled back.
"Oh, okay. Say, have ya met Maxamillia yet?"
"No, I haven't had a chance -"
"She's over there! Just tell 'er you're a friend of mine."
"Um, thank you," Peter walked determinedly towards the woman indicated as Maxamillia, closely followed by Kevin. Both were glad for an excuse to get away from the man.
"What was that about, Pete?" Kvin whispered.
"An old friend of mine I met on the truck," Peter said grimly.
"Did you say 'friend'?" Kevin said suddenly, halting in his stride.
"Well, you know what I mean. He isn't exactly a friend, I just -" Peter stopped as he realized what Kevin was getting at. "If we want to get the machine out, we have to make friends with a pick-lock," he said slowly.
"Yes, and it looks like you've already started the process. We've come up with a plan for making that guy convinced that releasing a machine is worthwhile."
"I sure feel sorry for the police, though," Peter said dejectedly. "If I ever get out of this adventure alive, I'm going to be in hot water with the authorities, no matter how much I'd have done to save a distant planet in Andromeda."

"Edmund! Did you pack socks?" mom called.
"Yes, I did."
"And and extra shirt? You never know when it might rain."
"And your tooth brush?"
"Yes, mom! I've got everything!"
"Well, I'm just checking. You'll be away a whole week with no one to look after you!"
"I'll have dad."
"I mean no mother to look after you. Guys are so disorganized without girls around."
"I wouldn't make so broad a generalization. After all, my friend Luke is so organized, his mom always complains she can't find anything, because he picks up all her things when he has none of his own."
"That's Luke. That's not you or dad."
"Okay, don't worry about it mom. We'll just be in New York City for the conference, and then we'll be home."
"Ah, web designing!" mom wailed. "When you come home from the webdesigning conference, I never understand a word you're saying for a week afterwards!"
"I'll try to talk English then, for your sake," Edmund smiled.
"You're too kind," mom said sarcastically.
At last the suitcase was packed, and Edmund went to bed. His laptop was packed away.

Copyright - 11/20/2008 - Curious Cognitive Content (CCC)
Please do not reproduce without permission from the author(ess).


Time......... (Part 13)

See past sections of this story here.

Frank licked his dry lips thoughtfully. Without Peter he was feeling rather lost. And he didn't realize how much Kevin had grown on him in the two days they had spent here together.
He wondered whether Peter had gotten to Earth safely, and where he had ended up landing. Probably in Africa. Frank had always wanted to go to Africa, so of course he would miss the opportunity. He felt a twinge of jealousy towards Peter, but the next moment he laughed at himself. Here he was in the middle of a different galaxy, wishing he was in a small section of land on the common-place Earth? But Earth wasn't common-place; it was home. And he was starting to miss home.
"What's the news?" he asked one of the men approaching him.
"Got another note from that Earth-geek."
"Who, the computer-hacker?" Frank laughed.
"Yup, who else?"
"What did he say?"
"That's confidential. Ask the leader."
"I've been wondering about something; why doesn't anyone know the leader's name? Why do they all call him 'leader'?"
"Oh, please! I'm sure I don't know," the man turned and walked away briskly. Frank reflected on the man's behavior. Everyone was that way when he asked a question. Maybe he asked too many....
He guessed the new password of the gate to the ITC, and entered the chamber to find the leader leisurely sitting at a table, drinking water and looking entirely stressed-out. He looked up in surprise as he saw Frank open.
"Oh, it's you again. You know, I can't keep changing that password."
"I'm sorry, sir. I wanted to ask a question."
"Well, things can't get much worse. Go ahead."
"Okay, so - wait a second!"
"What's wrong now?"
"You're drinking water?" Frank asked in a tone of disbelief.
"Um, yeah. We do have water here, you know."
"I knew that, but why don't you drink coffee instead? It would help handle stress better."
"Oh great! Now you're an advertiser! Just be so kind as to explain what coffee is," the leader said semi-sarcastically.
"You don't know what coffee is?" Frank cried in shock. "You've never heard of mocha? Or coffee beans? Oh, man! We've got to get Peter to bring some coffee back with him. I'm sure we could find some way to grow it here!"
"Anyways, about your question?" the leader said, a trifle annoyed.
"Oh, right. What was the note the hacker left?"
"Figure you'd ask that. We can't keep anything from you, can we?"
"Here, read it for yourself. I can't make head or tail out of it," the leader handed a slip of paper to him.
" 'From my calculations, you are located in a different universe and are therefore unable to be communicated to. My calculations are either wrong, or you are not real. Please clarify this for me,' " Frank read aloud. "Well this is nuts! This guy must be fancy with jokes or whatnot. Of course we exist! How else would he be getting answers from us!"
"We might be robots for all he knows."
"True," Frank puzzled over the note. "Have you responded?"
"No, I was hoping you might be able to."
"Why me?"
"Because you come from the same planet, you might understand each other better."
"I'm not so sure I understand him, though. But I can try."
"Good." The leader called a man over to help Frank with the computer.
Frank stared at the blank document nervously. What should he tell this hacker, or "Earth-geek"?

Edmund entered the house with a sigh. He pulled out the stack of homework and slapped it on the kitchen-counter in annoyance.
"What is it, dear?" his mother asked anxiously.
"This homework. Half of it is incredibly hard and due on Monday, and the rest of it is a bunch of dry articles I've got to read."
"You didn't used to find homework very hard," mom interjected.
"No, but as a year progresses, things gradually get more difficult."
"Gradually, yes. But not all at once!" mom protested. "You've been looking pale, too. Are you feeling sick?"
"Perhaps staying up late has made the sudden change," mom said slyly.
"Staying up late?" Edmund asked innocently.
"Yes, You haven't turned the light off until after midnight for the past week."
"Oh, that." Edmund grinned and left the kitchen. He sought refuge from more questions in his bedroom. The laptop was pulled out again, and he gazed at the screen intently. what strange document was this? This eyebrows raised in surprise as he read its contents.
We're not robots, you know. I'm Frank Liftun, and I'm stuck in Andromeda. Ever heard of me?
Edmund looked at the name again. He'd seen it somewhere. Where, though? Ah, the news! He pulled up another window and searched for the correct article.
Two boys, Peter Sperring, 16, and Frank Liftun, 15, mysteriously vanished from Mrs. and Mr. Greg Sperring's garage, sometime between noon and 4:00 P.M. on Monday. Police investigated scene and report that the only curious things they found were a hole in the roof, and a burned floor....
So that was where Frank Liftun came from. But what was this whole joke about him and Andromeda?
"There's something I'm just not getting," Edmund thought. But he wasn't going to give it up as some crazy joke; he was going to get to the bottom of it.

Copyright - 9/17/2008 - Curious Cognitive Content (CCC)
Please do not reproduce without permission from the author(ess).


Time......... (Part 12)

Peter looked at Kevin.
"What's that noise?" he asked. A loud grating sound, and numerous yells echoed all around them.
"How am I supposed to now?" Kevin groaned. "I've never been in jail before."
"Neither have I," Peter replied. He put his ear to the wall and listened harder. "It's coming closer, whatever it is. In fact, I think it's in the cell right next to this one."
"Can you tell what it is?"
"Some kind of mechanical device, but I'm not sure - Kevin, you have good ears. See if you can figure it out."
"Okay," Kevin listened for a moment before exclaiming, "Great Galaxy! Someone's breaking down the door with a drill!"
"A drill? How could they -"
"In other words, they're trying to open it."
"But the guards - policemen - whatever! They wouldn't let them, would they?" Peter puzzled over it.
"No, unless you Earth-people are nuts."
"Thanks a lot. Can you hear anything else?"
"Yes. The drill stopped now, and -" Kevin strained to hear. "They're talking."
"And? What are they saying?"Peter asked eagerly.
"Something about - scallions?"
"Oh, I see now!" Kevin said after a moment. "Somehow, these people got in here, and are releasing scallions."
"Releasing scallions?"
"Well, how should I know?"
"I wish I could hear myself."
"You doubt my ears?"
"Well, when it comes to scallions -" Peter paused. The drill had started on their own door. "We need to be quiet now."
"Yeah," Kevin gulped. "Who are they, and what will they do to us?"
The door swung open, and three men, dressed in tight-fitting, green clothes, rushed in. The stopped when they saw the two boys.
"You must have got the numbers wrong!" one of the men growled to the one next to him.
"Boss said number 46! I have the list to prove it!"
"Let me see that! Hmmm, 46 alright. But these boys - I don't remember them being a part of our gang."
"Boss never makes mistakes. Better bring them along."
Peter and Kevin were dragged up onto their feet and into the hall.
"The Scallions must be the name of a gang, then!" Kevin whispered to Peter. Peter nodded and pressed a finger to his lips.
"Pretend you knew that all along," Peter whispered back. "Pretend you are a part of the gang, and there less of a chance of them killing you."
Kevin gulped, and he tried to hide the fear on his face.
The gang traveled throughout the rest of the wing, opening certain doors, and bypassing others. It soon became apparent to the boys that this gang had organized a crusade to the jail, releasing all members that had been caught. The numbers of the rooms in which these members had been placed had been recorded on the slip of paper one of the men held.
Room 46 had obviously been either a typo, or the room had originally contained one of the gang who had been transported to a different place.
How the gang had got passed the guards was more than the boys knew - or wanted to know.
"Peter," Kevin whispered suddenly.
"Look what I found," Kevin showed a ship-shod notebook to his friend. Papers hung out of it, and the funny scraps left behind from torn-out pages.
"Where did that come from?"
"That fat guy ahead of us. It fell out his pocket."
"Hide it well, Kevin! We must not loose it for anything!"
"Oh, I'll hide it, never you fear." He shoved it into one of his deep pockets.
"How will we get to the time machine?" Peter said as the thought struck him. "And where will the money come from to help us buy the metal we need for constructing more of them?"
"Great Galaxy! I never thought of that!" Kevin gasped.
"Look, maybe we can - oh, I don't know. We'll have to earn money somehow."
"Like faking I'm a movie actor?" Kevin grinned.
"That would definitely bring in money - if it worked," Peter agreed. By this time the gang had released the last of their gang, bringing their number from 10 to 30 or so. They left the jail in a hurry and piled into several pick-up trucks just outside. Peter and Kevin were separated in this ordeal.
"Hey, youngster! I don't remember you as part of the gang!" One of the men punched Peter on the shoulder.
"I'm - sort of new here," Peter replied.
"Yeah, I'll bet the size of the gang just about doubled in the time I've spent in the old lock-up. How many's in the group, now, huh?"
"Um, I haven't exactly had a chance to count -"
"Oh, yeah. That's always a difficult thing to do. Is old Smithy still running, or has Chief put him down?"
Peter forced a smile, and the man roared in laughter, presumably at memories of old Smithy. Then the man turned to one of the other men, and Peter sighed with relief.
"Maybe he'll leave me alone now," Peter thought. But the next moment -
"How's Maxamillia?"
"Um, fine, I guess."
"Mmm. Nice girl, she."
"Is Blacky still hanging around her?"
"Um, no. Phil is," Peter said desperately, and not exactly wisely.
"What! Phil! And I always thought him a nice fellow! Well, he won't be hanging around her for long!" the man sneered. He gritted his teeth and shook a large fist. Peter gulped and determined not to say anymore. He didn't have a need to speak anyhow, for the man was growling to himself moodily, dwelling on revengeful thoughts.
"Why is it that just when I think things can't get worse, they always do?" Peter thought.

Copyright - 9/17/2008 - Curious Cognitive Content (CCC)
Please do not reproduce without permission from the author(ess).