Cover image for The Portals: Chapter 8

The Portals: Chapter 8

The Portals
By Binneyan Smith
Chapter 8

Older Jerry’s words still echoed in my head… “We have to talk to you about time travel and what it’s doing to you.”

“Wh-What it’s doing to us?” Danny asked. He looked as nervous as I felt.

“What is it doing to us?” I asked.

“Calm down!” Older Danny said. “Nothing bad has happened yet, we just have to let you know what the rules are. If you’re afraid now, that’s probably good. It’s gonna help you to stay on top of things.”

Older Danny walked over to the sink and looked around, as if he had misplaced something. “Oh yeah,” he said, “You guys don’t drink coffee yet, so you don’t have a coffee pot. I guess we can have Cokes.” Then he opened the fridge and took out four cans. Carrying them over to the table, he placed them in the center. Grabbing one, he sat down. Older Jerry did likewise, so Danny and I did the same. Once we were all seated, Older Danny continued.

“Let me start by asking you guys a question. How old do you think you’ll live to be?”

I had to think about that one; I never really considered it before. I’m 16. Why would I even want to think about dying? Danny spoke up first.

“Well, we know that we’ll live to be at least 65, assuming you guys didn’t lie to us about the headquarters building existing in 2065. But we didn’t see our senior selves, so we don’t know what shape we’ll be in at that age. Assuming reasonable health, we could probably live to 85… maybe 90.”

“OK,” Older Danny said, “Let’s say you can live to 90. So far, you guys have made at least four dozen trips to deliver packages, including the trip to Paris. But on the Paris trip you had to travel back in time to get the package delivered by 18:00. Then you spent most of the night with François and his friends. When did you leave the party?”

“About 3:00 AM,” I answered.

“Right. And then you travelled back to… what, 7:00 AM the day before? After you slept for several hours, you got up and did other things while your younger selves were in Paris. Let’s just take the ‘extra’ time you spent and round it up to a day. Is that fair?”

We agreed.

“What would happen if you kept doing this? How many ‘extra’ days a month do you think you could get?”

We shrugged.

“Just for grins, let’s say four days a month. That’s 48 ‘extra’ days a year – more than a month and a half added to each year. What would happen if you did that until you were 65? That’s 49 years times 48 ‘extra’ days.” Danny pulled his phone from his pocket and did the math. “That’s 2,352 ‘extra’ days. But to be honest, those days are not extra; they still count against your lives. By age 65, you guys will have spent an extra six-plus years time-travelling, so you’d actually be 71-plus by your 65th birthday. Think about that.”

Danny and I looked at each other and then back at our older selves.

“So does that mean we have to stop ‘extending’ our trips?” Danny asked.

“No,” Older Danny said. “It means you have to log all of your trips so you know how old you guys really are.” Then he held up a pocket notebook and thumbed through the pages, showing the numerous trips that we would be taking in the next four years.

Then Older Jerry spoke up.

“We’ve found that we have to weigh the benefits of our time travel trips. Spending a few extra hours to study for an exam will provide more benefits in the long run than going to parties in Paris, but both are going to happen. You just have to use your best judgement before deciding which trips you’ll take.”

“Can we see your notebook?” I asked.

“No,” Older Danny replied. “You guys will do the right thing, trust me.”

“Can you at least give us some hints?” Danny asked.

“Keep studying French, and then learn Spanish and German. We Americans seem to think that everyone else has to speak English. That makes us look like dicks to the world community,” Older Jerry said.

“Will the Cubs win the World Series this year?” Danny asked.

“Come on, guys! Don’t you really want to find out for yourselves?” Older Danny answered.

We had to agree.

Our future selves soon left and we had a lot to think about and discuss, but first we had to finish our homework and get to a TV so we could watch the first game of the World Series!

= = =

The World Series starts in the in the city whose league won the All Star Game in July. The American League won, so the first game was in Cleveland, since the Indians are in the American League. Cleveland has won the World Series twice – 1920 & 1948. The Cubs also won the World Series twice – 1907 & 1908.

Late October and early November in Chicago is never good weather for baseball and the same goes for Cleveland – both are northern cities and both cities are on the Great Lakes. Chicago is on Lake Michigan and Cleveland is on Lake Erie. But the Weather Gods smiled upon us this year and, unbelievably, it was almost as warm as spring. The first two games in Cleveland were around 48°F (almost 9°C) at the start of each game. The Cubs lost Game 1, but they won Game 2. Then the teams flew to Chicago for the next three games.

We were sure the Cubs would sweep the three home games, but that wasn’t to be. The temperatures were around 63°F (17°C) for Games 3 and 4, but it didn’t help. The Cubs lost Game 3, so it looked like we would have to go back to Cleveland to take the championship. Then the Cubs lost Game 4 at home! Danny and I were getting nervous! We would have to win the next three games to take the Series, and the way things had been going so far, that didn’t seem likely to happen. You see, Cleveland had three wins to our one win; they only needed a single win to take it. I don’t know about Danny, but I was starting to wonder if the Cubs would have to wait ‘til next year… again.

On Sunday night, October 30th, the temperature was a little cooler, but still a lot warmer than normal for late October; it was around 50°F (10°C). The game started out OK – but Cleveland scored a run in the 2nd inning. The Cubs came back in the 4th inning and scored three runs. Cleveland scored another run in the 4th inning, but that was their last score, so at the end of the game, the Cubs won it 3 to 2. Now Cleveland was leading three games to two, and we had to travel back to Cleveland for the final two games. We only had to win two more games… but if we lost even one, it was all over. *sigh*

The weather for Game 6 was unbelievable! At the first pitch, the temperature was 71°F (almost 22°C)! Like I said, it was unbelievable for Cleveland to be that warm at night on November 1st! Cleveland’s average high temp in November is only 51°F (10.5°C). The actual temperature was twenty degrees higher that that! In the 1st inning, the Cubs scored three runs to set the tempo for the game. By the end of the 3rd inning, the Cubs were up 7 to 0. The final score was Cubs 9 – Indians 3! The Cubs were doing something that hadn’t happened in the last 108 years… they were approaching Game 7 of the World Series in a tie with the Cleveland Indians – 3 games each!

Game 7 started at 18:08 rather than 19:08 because of a rain storm approaching Cleveland. The weatherman was right, and it rained off and on during the game, but not enough to stop play during the first nine innings. But this game was going into extra innings. You see, although the Cubs led all the way through seven and a half inning (6 – 3). In the bottom of the 8th, Cleveland came back with three runs to tie the game at 6 – 6. There was no scoring in the 9th, but the rains picked up and the umpires halted the game temporarily so the grounds crew could cover the infield so it wouldn’t turn to mud. I think all the people watching the game on TV, or listening on the radio, got a comprehensive weather report that should have been worth a couple of college credit hours.

Then, as suddenly as the rain started, it stopped. The tarps were rolled up and removed from the field and the game continued. The Cubs came back with an attitude not seen in previous years. By the time the Cubs finished batting and took the field, they were ahead by two runs – 8 to 6. Now we just had to hold Cleveland for three outs.

Cleveland did their best to come back. They even scored a run. But with two outs, the last Indian grounded out and the Cubs won 8 to 7. We were the 2016 World Series Champions! The losses of 108 years were over!

Danny and I got up early on Friday morning, November 4th, and skipped school so we could watch the Cubs parade and rally in Grant Park in downtown Chicago. We couldn’t believe how many people were there! Somebody estimated the crowd along the parade route and at Grant Park to be around FIVE MILLION PEOPLE! I guess a lot of school kids had the same idea. We found out later that the Chicago Public Schools, as well as most of the schools in Chicagoland, declared a holiday. I guess they realized that no one would show up anyway, and they didn’t want to fill out hundreds of thousands of absentee slips. 😀

= = =

Everything started to get back to normal after Friday. School on Monday and Tuesday were typical, but Tuesday night everything started to change. It was assumed that Hillary Clinton would win the presidential election in the U.S., but as the night wore on, the numbers started coming in favor of Donald Trump. Around 2:00 AM Chicago time, Hillary called Trump and conceded the election. Moments later, Trump made his acceptance speech. Even though Clinton won the popular vote (at final count, by 2.9 million), Trump had won the Electoral College Votes. He needed 270 votes to win, and he got 306.

Half the country was stunned, while the other half was jubilant. During the next several weeks, the talking heads on the news programs tried to figure out why Trump won when nobody expected him to – including, it seemed at the time, Trump. The bottom line was that a lot of people didn’t trust Clinton and they voted for Trump, even though Trump had a myriad of faults. We probably won’t know the real reason for Trump’s win for another 20 years or so. But the people in Chicago and many other Democratic areas of the country just couldn’t believe what had happened. The only hope that they had was for 28 Electoral College members to change their votes so Clinton could win.

Danny and I continued our messenger service. In fact, business picked up with all the secret stuff that had to get between political offices, both Democratic and Republican. Normally we had eight to ten deliveries a week. After the election, that number doubled, and one week it tripled! We were having trouble keeping up with the deliveries and keeping up to date with our school work. Finally, Thanksgiving arrived and we got to relax a bit. The first thing we did was go to the breakroom and catch up on our sleep! We literally saw ourselves leaving as we arrived. When we woke up, we realized that we had slept for just over nine hours. Danny logged it.

Our families always go out for Thanksgiving Dinner. One of the restaurants has a really nice buffet. They have turkey, beef, ham, Italian sausage, lasagna, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, veggies and bread & butter. Not to mention soup & salad and desserts. We’ve been going here since Danny and I were in highchairs. When the meal is over, we usually go to our respective homes so we can pass out from all the food.

After Thanksgiving, Christmas shopping got into full swing, which increased our messenger runs. It was getting kinda crazy and we tried to think of a way to get help, but we knew we couldn’t let anyone know about the portals, so we were on our own.

On the 6th of December we had just finished our deliveries and we were sitting in the breakroom doing our homework and studying for tests that were coming up. Normally it would be Danny who would come up with the ideas, but this time it was my turn. I looked over to him and said, “I think I know how to get in touch with ourselves from the future!”

Danny looked up. “What? I didn’t hear you.”

“I said, I think I know how to get in touch with ourselves from the future!” I repeated.

“How’s that?” Danny replied.

“It’s simple. We go into the control room and leave a message for them. They still have to go to the control room, so they should see the message and get back to us.”

“How long will it take?” he asked.

“If we put the date and time on our note, they should be here immediately. They might not find the note for days in their time, but when they do, they’ll see the date and time and come here then.”

“Wow, Jerry! And your mom always said that I was the smart one! Let’s do it!”

So the next day I wrote a note:

Help! We’re getting backed up. Can you help us on December 7, 2016 at 15:45?

Then we went into the control room and taped the note to the control panel at the door to the Chicago Hub. When we got back to our time it was as I thought it would be – they came into the hub at exactly 15:45! But it wasn’t who we expected… Oh, it was Older Jerry and Danny, all right, but they were at least ten years older than us! We had expected the guys who were four years older. We must have shown the surprise on our faces.

“Hahaha! You guys realize that we all use the control room, right?” That was Jerry talking to us.

“Well… yeah, but we had only seen our four-years-older selves so far. How old are you guys?” I asked.

“We’re 25,” he told us. “Now, what’s got you backed up today?”

We gave each of them two pickup slips and we each had three. They looked at the slips and said they had to get come cash for the Ubers, since their credit cards wouldn’t work in our time. Then they walked back to the control room and almost immediately returned.

“Did you forget something?” Danny asked.

“No,” Older Danny said. “We’re back. It doesn’t take long when you have the controller keypad in the control room.” Then they took off without another word. Danny and I shrugged and did the same.

When we returned from our deliveries, we found their signed receipts on the table with a glass on them to keep them from blowing away. There was a note with the receipts.

Here are the receipts. We’ll be back on December 26, 2016. We need your help with a project. It should take about two days. Don’t worry; you’ll be back on the same day.

“I wonder what the project is,” I mused.

“We’ll have to wait and see,” Danny responded. “In the meantime, let’s blow this pop-stand and get some supper.”

= = =

Normally, Christmas seems to take forever to get here, but with school, work and homework, time really flew by. Since Older Danny & Jerry’s visit a couple of weeks ago, deliveries have leveled off to a manageable rate, thank goodness. It was really getting hectic for a while there. But we had to admit, deliveries in December brought out some big tips. The median tip was $20.00, but it wasn’t unusual to get a $50.00 tip. The company let us keep all of our tips, naturally, and they also paid us back for tips that we gave out. We must not have overdone it, because no one complained.

Danny and I got our Christmas shopping done as well. Shopping for my dad is never very difficult. He loves movies and I can usually find a classic that he likes, or a new release that he doesn’t have yet. He must have close to 1,000 DVDs and Blu-Rays. He has at least that many VHS tapes as well. The problems come up when I have to find a present for Mom. Dad usually has to help me. This year I got her a cashmere sweater. Dad suggested it. Thanks, Dad.

I think Christmas Day is the only day of the year that I don’t see Danny face-to-face, but we did text a few times. He and his family were going to an aunt and uncle’s house for a family get-together. We were doing the same. The day after Christmas, Boxing Day, if you will, Danny and I met in the breakroom and we showed each other what we got… other than clothes. I mean, how does that even count as a present? It might be cool for a girl to get clothes, but hey, we’re guys, for crying out loud!

Danny got a drone from his mom and dad. (Mostly his dad. 😀) We both got new tablets – Windows, not Mac. They’re like the Surface Pros, but they’re made by Dell. I think our parents were in collusion on that one. I also got an Apple iPad Mini. Danny was having an orgasm about his drone, so we walked over to the park to try it out. It has a controller, but it also has an app that can be used via Bluetooth. The controller worked best, but we both downloaded the app to our phones, and I downloaded the iPad app for it as well. Within an hour or so, Danny was getting to be a great pilot! It really was easy to control, but Danny still got nervous when I was flying it. Hehe. We even took some aerial vids! That was the coolest! It was the next best thing to actually flying!

We knew we were gone too long when 25-year-old Danny and Jerry came over and asked us if we were ready for the project. Crap! We were having so much fun that we forgot all about meeting with them today!

On our way back to the breakroom, we asked how they knew where to find us. They both laughed and Older Jerry said, “I suppose we could say that we used a ‘DNA Sniffer’ to find you… but that doesn’t exist yet. You seem to forget that we are you. We remembered what we did nine years ago. It’s really not magic. Hehe.”

When we got back to the breakroom, the older us told us what we were going to do for the next couple of days. First, we had to go back to 2015 with the parts and install the doors on the outside of the Chicago Hub buildings. Then we had to test them and make sure they functioned properly. I looked at Danny… and he cracked up. We were thinking of a conversation that we had last April when all of this started…

“Jer, I wonder just how long these things have been here. I mean, were the buildings built around them or were they somehow ‘installed’ later?”

“‘Installed’? Like a new counter top? Hahaha! What? Do you think someone went down to Ace Hardware and said, ‘I’d like a 4×8 wormhole with a 1,500 mile reach’?”

“Hahaha! No, not Ace Hardware… Radio Shack. Come on, you know what I mean. If they were added later, I’d love to find out how. Think about it. We could put one between our houses.”

“Yeah… and you’d probably walk in while I was beating off.”

“Of course.”

“Pig!”

Older Danny and Jerry were watching us and even they began to laugh.

“Yeah,” Older Danny said, “We’re gonna install the doors. Now you know how they got here.”

“How will we get the equipment and stuff to 2015 if the doors aren’t installed yet?” Danny asked.

“Good question,” Older Danny answered. “Follow us.” And they walked to the control room and then to the control panel for the Chicago Hub. “First we have to go back to 2015 in the Hub.” He set the control for June 15, 2015 and 09:15.

“What’s the significance of June 15?” I asked.

“It’s a Monday, first of all, and school won’t let out until Friday, the 19th.”

“And the time?”

“That’s to make sure that people are at work and that kids are in school. We don’t want anyone snooping around.”

“Could we get in trouble for this?”

“Nah. But we don’t want people looking over our shoulders and asking questions either. We have to put in two doors on the brick wall and two doggie doors for Chuck. It should go pretty fast, but we have to prep it and wait for the cement adhesive to dry for the door frame before we put the doors on their hinges. It’s quick drying, so it should be ready about 30 minutes after we put it up.”

“Do we have to knock down the wall to put the door in? That’s gonna be a mess… and we’ll have to haul away all the bricks and concrete that we remove,” Danny observed.

“This is gonna be a lot easier, Danny. Just watch.” Then Older Jerry took a device out of his pocket that was about the size of my new iPad Mini. He started tapping on the screen and then he told us to get behind him. When we did, Jerry tapped a final time and a huge hole appeared in the wall, and we could see the yard on Summit Avenue. Older Danny and Jerry chucked and told us to stop gawking and start moving the equipment outside. Once we were outside with all of our equipment, tools and supplies, Older Jerry tapped a few more times on the screen, and the hole in the wall disappeared! WTF?!?

“OK. What just happened?” Danny asked. I would have asked, but I wasn’t able to speak yet.

Older Jerry held up the device and said, “This is a portable wormhole. We had to get the supplies here, and the portable wormhole was the easiest way.”

“A portable wormhole?” Danny asked. “If we have a portable wormhole, why do we need the portals? It doesn’t make sense.”

“Danny, the portables need an outlandish amount of power to operate, so the batteries run out much faster than we want them to. But to get us to a location where we want to install a portal, they’re perfect! The portable was open only long enough to get us and the equipment through to Summit Avenue. That way we can use it to get back to the breakroom, and then to the control center, once the portal is installed. You see, we have to power the portal from an uninterruptable power source, like the one we have at the 315 W Washington Street building in 2065. That’s why one solar gathering dish is needed to power the headquarters building, but another dish powers the rest of the block – that’s six additional buildings of comparable size. I hope that gives you an idea of the amount of energy that we need for all the portals. If we had to pay Commonwealth Edison for electricity, we would have gone broke before we started.”

“Wow! And Jerry and I invented this stuff?”

“Every bit of it.”

“Wow!”

= = =

We spent the next fifteen minutes unpacking the door frame and the door from their crates. While Danny and I were doing that, our older selves were measuring and marking the wall for the door. After measuring three separate times, they were finally satisfied. They opened their toolbox and set up a hammer drill and attached a three-quarter inch masonry bit. Within minutes, they had 16 mounting holes drilled and waiting for the door frames. This was the easy part. All we had to do was hold the frame up against the brick façade of the building, and the older us filled the drilled holes with quick-drying adhesive, and then they inserted the fastening bolts to hold the door frame in place. Once everything was in place, we wedged two-by-fours against the frame to keep it steady, and in fifteen minutes, the adhesive was dry and the door frame was rock-solid. Now all we had to do was mount the doors and the doggie doors. That took another ten minutes.

This was repeated another seven times for the remaining 14 doors and we were done for the day. Our older selves treated us to dinner, and they even put us up at their place that night. They have a nice house and it was a lot more comfortable than the beds in the breakroom. They have a four-bedroom place and Dan and I each got a bedroom. After a shower, I was out like a light.

The next morning, we awoke to the smell of fresh coffee, toast, and bacon & eggs. They apparently forgot that we don’t drink coffee; they didn’t have any milk. That was the first day Danny and I drank coffee. It wasn’t that bad. They didn’t have any cream or sugar either, so we took it black. Since then, both of us have liked black coffee.

The work on day two was pretty boring. We had to run power to the doors in the Chicago Hub and then test that everything functioned. Some fine-tuning was required, but in general, it all went well. The older us cut us loose at about 15:00 and we went back to the breakroom in our time and again we showered and slept some more. I don’t know how long we slept, but Danny logged it all so we’d know. When we woke up, we dressed and went back to the park to fly Danny’s drone. We chuckled when we saw our younger and older selves walking into the Hub. 😀 I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that.

= = =

And now it’s New Year’s Eve. Danny and I are waiting to welcome in the New Year. We’re at Danny’s house because my ‘rents are having a party for their friends, including Danny’s parents. 2016 is almost over and 2017 can’t get here fast enough, if you ask me. Of course, the Cubs winning the World Series is a plus. 😀

Happy New Year, Everybody!

 

To be continued…

Copyright © 2016 Binneyan Smith

[email protected]

 

One thought on “The Portals: Chapter 8”

  1. Another good chapter to a great tale ! Thanks Binneyan for taking the time to write such an interesting story. Cheers Mick

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