The weekend went too fast! We spent Saturday in Phoenix and Sunday we went back and checked out eight of the 16 buildings there. We were surprised when one of the buildings took us to Guadalajara, Mexico through the rear door, and Regina, Saskatchewan through the front! This was the first time we found ourselves outside of the United States! What an experience! I’m not sure about Danny, but I was glad when we got back to Chicago.
+ + +
ED: Danny here. Jerry is soooo weird! In Guadalajara he was like, “We gotta go back, Dan! We don’t have our passports!” And I’m like, “Who’s gonna stop us?” And when we got to Regina, the dude almost shit a brick! Fortunately, Regina was freezing and, since we left our jackets back in the breakroom in Chicago, as soon as the cold air hit us, we decided to turn around and go back.
+ + +
When Monday came around, reality sank in. School. Dan and I spent most of the day checking the time and waiting for our first text from our new boss, but 3:30 came and went with no texts. To be on the safe side, we went to the breakroom… you know… just in case. It wasn’t a total loss – we got to play with Chuck. He seemed to be well trained. He knew most of the commands we gave him. But when Dan told him to jump, Chuck just cocked his head and looked at him.
“Dan, he looks like he wants you to tell him how high. Hehe.”
After laughing, Dan patted his chest and again said, “Jump!” Damned if Chuck didn’t jump up and put his paws on Danny’s chest! That got him a treat from each of us.
= = =
And so it went. We went to the breakroom, did our homework, did our route planning, and played with Chuck. That is, until Friday of the second week when we both got texts at 3:30. We were at our lockers getting ready to leave school. At first we thought they were for the same job, but when we compared pickup addresses, I had an address in the Loop, but Danny’s was on LaSalle Street, about a mile north of the Loop – just south of Chicago Avenue. This would be the first time we would be making separate trips – and from pickup to drop-off. I was going to Houston and Danny’s drop-off was in Cheyanne, Wyoming.
Now we were glad that we had our ‘route planner’ on our phones. It was Danny’s idea. With it we could easily figure out how to get to any city from any other. We also found that each city had a hub, similar to the hub in Chicago, where we could get to any of the buildings just by getting into the hub and taking the right exit. We realized this on the weekend of the first week while we were waiting for texts. We figured it out in Phoenix. The weekend before, it took most of Sunday to check out eight of the sixteen buildings there. The next Saturday, Danny tried his key in one of the basement doors and found it led into the “Phoenix Hub”. Like the Chicago Hub, it had a breakroom and all the other stuff… including the door with a deadbolt lock that our keys didn’t fit. But on the plus side, the hub had access to all sixteen buildings. This meant that we didn’t have to have our bikes with us – we just had to enter the hub and exit through the proper door for our destination. And it couldn’t be simpler – all the doors were marked inside the hub, just like in Chicago.
Danny and I took off in different directions. I grabbed an Uber from school and got to the Loop a couple minutes past 4:00 PM. I gave the driver a $10.00 tip and promised another ten if he’d wait to give me a ride back to the starting point. Then I went into the building, checked the directory and took the first elevator to the 12th floor. Within five minutes, I had my package and I was on my way back to the Uber driver. He was at the curb, sitting on his front fender. When he saw me he walked around and got back into the driver’s seat. The trip back was fairly quick, and the driver didn’t seem to mind the detour to Mrs. Scott’s building on Summit. Of course, the total of $20 in tips probably had something to do with it.
I had my key out and let myself into the Chicago Hub, and within seconds I had switched to Houston. I checked my phone; it was 4:27. I opened my Uber app and found a driver within four minutes of my location. When he arrived I told him up front that I needed a ride to my destination, and then back here. I guaranteed him a $20 tip for the roundtrip. He smiled and said to get in. When we got to the client’s building, he said I had to pay, to make sure I didn’t walk in one door and out another. I agreed and when he asked about the tip, I told him he’d get it after he drove me back to where we started. He smiled. “Gotcha.”
It was just before 5:00 PM when I got to the client’s suite. After he signed for the package, he thanked me profusely and insisted that I take a $20 tip from him. I thanked him, pocketed the bill, and went back to my Uber driver. Yes, he was still waiting where he dropped me off. When we got back to the starting point, I gave him his fare and tip, and within a few minutes I was in the breakroom, waiting for Danny. I checked my phone; it was 5:38. I started my homework while I waited – taking a couple of breaks to play with Chuck.
Danny returned at around 6:15. We talked for a few minutes while we played with Chuck. It seemed that his delivery was as mundane as mine was. But as we were getting ready to go home, we heard someone at the locked door… the one we didn’t have a key for. Chuck heard it too, and he ran over to the door and stood there wagging his tail and waiting. Danny and I looked at each other in anticipation, and then back at the door.
As it opened, we were dumbfounded to see that it was… US! Well, not really us, but us as we would look in about four or five years. Danny and I were frozen to the spot. The older us started laughing.
“Hahaha! Jerry, look how we’re just staring wide-eyed in disbelief! I gotta take a picture of this!” and older Danny took out his phone and started snapping three or four pictures. Older Jerry did the same.
Danny and I couldn’t help ourselves; we couldn’t move for a few minutes. Finally, Danny spoke. “OK, you’re us, but how is that possible?”
“We’re all in the future,” older Danny replied. And then they walked over and washed and dried Chuck’s food and water bowls and refilled them. When they finished, they walked over to us and stuck out their hands to shake ours.
“NO WAY!” I yelled, as I backed away. “If we touch each other we’ll disappear… like in that ‘Time Cop’ movie Dad gave me!” By now we were against the wall and the older Jerry and Danny were still advancing! We had nowhere to run; they were almost upon us!
“Don’t be silly!” older Danny said, “We have a lot of things to do before we die!” and he grabbed Danny in a bear hug! I was so shocked that I didn’t notice older Jerry was getting ready to do the same to me!
Then it happened… absolutely nothing! We didn’t disappear; we didn’t disintegrate. Older Danny and Jerry were laughing their asses off again and taking more pictures. The bastards!
“B-b-but… b-but two objects can’t occupy the same space at the same time! Why are we still here?”
“We’re not occupying the same space, Jerry. If you squeeze an orange to get the juice from it, you and the orange don’t disappear, do you? It’s the same thing – we didn’t occupy the same space; that would be impossible to do. So meeting yourself and touching each other doesn’t do anything… depending on where you touch each other. He he.”
“Pervert!” (That was older Danny.)
Danny laughed at that one, but I was still trying to grasp the truth in what older Jerry said. Older Jerry let go of me, but I had to test it again; I grabbed his bare arm… and still didn’t disappear.
“Haha! I see you know how to test a truth through experimentation. Do it a few more time to make sure the first two weren’t a fluke.” I did… and I was still here.
Older Danny walked to the fridge and grabbed a Coke. He turned and said, “Think fast!” and tossed it to Danny, who caught it. Then he tossed one to me, and then tossed one to older Jerry before getting one for himself. Next he walked to the cabinet and grabbed a handful of peanut packets and some doggie treats and put them in the middle of the table. Pulling up a chair and sitting, he looked at us and said, “Take a seat; we have a few things to talk about.”
“Like I said,” older Danny began, “we’re in the future. Not just me and Jerry, but you guys too, and even Chuck.” Chuck perked up at the mention of his name and looked over to older Danny, who gave him a treat and continued. “Do you remember the frustration when you guys couldn’t find 315 West Washington Street?” We nodded. “That’s because it wasn’t built yet, and it won’t be until 2050… when we’re all 50 years old.”
“What?” Danny asked incredulously, “Are we in 2050 now?”
“Of course not,” older Jerry said smiling, “We’re in 2065. The building’s been here for 15 years and its top four floors – 21 through 24 – are the home of Express Worldwide, Incorporated; the company you work for.”
“Haha! Stop messing with them, Jerry. What he means is that the building is always in what we have come to call ‘real time’ – I sure hope Bill Maher doesn’t sue us for copyright infringement. Of course, by 2065, Bill Maher will be long dead, so it probably doesn’t matter.
“Back to the story… Sometime before 2050, Jerry and I – and that means you guys – will discover how to make ‘mini wormholes’. Along the way, you’ll also figure out time travel, since it’s tied into wormholes. This is some really big shit, as you can imagine.”
“You’ll even develop a solar energy converter that works at 78% efficiency. Solar panels on the average house in our time, for example, are fairly inefficient. Less than 14% of the energy that reaches them will be converted to electricity.
“There are three parabolic dishes of your design on the roof of this building. They follow the sun throughout the day, and reset overnight to begin all over the next morning. With the efficiency of the converters, tied into the parabolic dishes, you produce enough energy to power this building with one of the dishes, and you power the rest of the block with the second dish. The third dish is a backup, in case one of the primaries has an outage. What do you think so far?”
Danny speaks for me when he says, “Wow!”
“Yeah, that’s what we said when we heard about this four years ago,” older Jerry said.
Danny was all over older Jerry’s comment. “So you guys are four years older than us?”
“Give that man a cigar!” older Danny answers. “Yeah, we’re in our third year at IIT.”
“At what?” I asked.
Older Jerry responded, “Sheesh, Jerry! How can you be a Chicagoan and not know what the Illinois Institute of Technology is? Google it, and fast! You’re starting there in a year and a half! And don’t worry about the tuition; your employer will cover the tuition, fees and incidentals. One more thing… try to get a few ‘A’s. ‘B’s are good enough for most places, but at IIT, a ‘B’ makes you look weak, or worse… lazy.”
That hurt. I looked over at Danny and saw that he was feeling embarrassed too.
“Why didn’t you guys go to MIT or Stanford, or someplace like that?” Danny asked.
Older Danny fielded this one. “Because none of them have Wrigley Field! That’s why! Any other dumb questions? Hehe.”
I was about to mention that Danny and I had to get home by 7:00 PM when the locked door opened again and… and WE walked through the door smiling and said, “Goodnight.” Then we continued out the Summit Avenue door! I don’t know about Danny,, but I was thoroughly confused.
“Don’t worry so much, Jerry! You guys are on your way home. Now where were we?”
“I think we were about to show the guys what happens behind the scenes,” older Danny suggested.”
“Right!” older Jerry agreed, “But first we have to give the guys their keys.” He stood up and fished two keys from his pocket; he gave one to Danny and one to me. “These are the keys to the door that we came out of earlier,” older Jerry said. “Why don’t you try them to be sure they work?”
Danny got to the door first and his key unlocked the door, so he and older Danny walked through and closed the door. Older Jerry stood next to me as I unlocked the door, and he followed me to the other side. As we closed the door behind us, I saw Chuck circling his bed to lie down.
The two Dannys were standing next to what looked like a freight elevator. We caught up to them just as the doors were opening. Older Danny pushed the button for the roof and we swiftly and quietly ascended. I saw we started at the 21st floor and the roof’s button was just marked with an ‘R’. When we arrived and the doors opened, it seemed like it was a late spring or early autumn day. The sun was straight overhead, so I guessed it to be about noon. I checked my phone, but it showed the time as 6:50 PM, and it didn’t indicate a location.
“Don’t worry, Jerry,” older Jerry said, “It’s a different system and we’re not synced to it. When we get back inside, we’ll show you guys where the wall clocks are. In the meantime, let’s look at the parabolic dishes. As you can see, they’re simply labeled as ‘1’, ‘2’, and ’3’. Notice the polished dishes and how they reflect the sun’s light into the optical feed horn. The feed horn feeds a solar concentrator, which in turn, feeds the solar panels in the reflector room on the 24th floor.
“The dishes are mounted on the center of the roof and the bases of the dishes are stationary; it’s the dishes themselves that follow the sun. Take a look around and take all the pictures you care to. Remember, it’s us who will make this happen in 2050 and beyond, so there are no off limits places.
“There is only one rule: Only Jerry and Danny from 2065 – real time – can allow you to meet them. I’ve met you two from 2016, and Danny and Jerry from 2024. As you’ve probably figured out by now, my Danny and I are from 2020.
“Now let’s take the stairs down to 24 and we’ll show you the reflector room. Don’t let all this stuff overwhelm you; you’ll have years to get used to it all.”
We spent the next quarter hour or so looking at the way the reflectors worked. Each solar panel had an ultra-reflective hood over it and a fiber optic cable feeding the amplified beam from the solar concentrator. Putting the hood over the solar panel contained the ‘bouncing’ light beams so fewer of them were wasted.
After that, we moved to the 23rd floor and saw there were 16 separate hubs on the floor, each providing a connection to 32 cities, or 512 cities total. And there are THREE floors of hubs! That means a total of 1,536 cities! But what we were to find out next was even more astounding! At any of the 48 hubs, we can set them for whatever time we want, as long as we were alive during that time and as long as it never exceeded our true age. For instance, Danny and I were born in 2000 and we’re 16 now, so we can’t set the door to open in 2017. Older Danny and Jerry are 20, so their limit is any time between 2000 and 2020. Of course, since we’re constantly aging, that number is constantly increasing as well.
Danny and I wanted to try it out, so the four of us went back to the 2012 Olympics in London! That was an excellent trip! Danny and I wanted to stop at a pub and get a pint of ale, whatever that is, but older Danny and Jerry wouldn’t let us. “Dudes!” they said, “You have to go home soon! Our parents will ground you if they smell alcohol on either of you!” *sigh* They were right. But we had fun anyway.
The control was easy to use as well. There was a screen and a numeric keypad. All we had to do was type in the date and time and off we went!
When it was time to go home, the older guys transferred their much updated ‘route planner’ app to us. We thanked them and said goodbye. Then we remembered that we had to walk past us from a couple of hours before! We barely stopped laughing, but we couldn’t help smiling. As we passed by them, we said, “Goodnight,” and kept walking. It was weird seeing ourselves like that. When we walked out the door, we cracked up.
This is gonna be a great life!
To be continued…
Copyright 2016 Binneyan Smith