Chapter One

Bianca Pierson stood in front of her full-length mirror inside her bedroom and hiccupped. She was shaking from head to toe and knew she was being silly.

"Just breathe, Bianca; nice and slow…oh, why did I never invest in an inhaler?" she muttered, wringing her hands.

"You will be fine, Miss Bianca," R.O.B., her robotic creation calmed in his tinny voice.

"You'd think I'd never had a date before," she whispered, brushing her shoulder-blade length copper hair swiftly. Truth be told, it had been at least three years since Bianca had been on a date. For as long as she could remember, Bianca preferred to spend her nights at home, working on her inventions, whether it be her robots or her greatest creation: a time machine. From the outside, it looked nothing more than a Plexiglas egg, but inside, it was a mish-mash of technology and computers that actually made it able to travel through time! Just a little over eight months ago, it had managed to teleport two men from nineteen-eighty-six to her present time. She smiled as she remembered Larry Appleton and his Myposian cousin Balki Bartokomous. The duo turned her world upside-down, but in a good way. After they left to go back to their time, she realized how much she had missed human interaction. With a little robotic nudging from R.O.B., she managed to use a dating site to meet and interact with the opposite sex. Four months went by without even a nibble, but now, things were different. Tonight, she had a date with a very attractive man named Max Fagen. Max was funny, intuitive and extremely sexy. His jet black hair and playful green eyes made her melt every time they would video chat. But now meeting him in person was a whole other ballgame. Just thinking about how many ways she could strike out made her feel nauseated.

Suddenly, there was a knock at the door and she knew it was now or never. "Just stay calm; don't panic and focus; oh my God I forgot how to focus!" she muttered under her breath as she smoothed out her black minidress and opened the door. "Hi," she sang as she saw him, hoping he couldn't see the bead of perspiration that formed on her forehead.

"Hello. Nice to finally meet you in person," Max replied smoothly, taking her hand. "I guess you already know I'm Max."

"Yeah and I'm….Bianca," she stammered. "C-come in."

Max wandered in and whistled "Nice place you have here. Your web design business must be booming."

"Uh, yeah, it is. Thanks. Can I get you something to drink?"

"Water is fine," he told her, bending his knees as he prepared to take a seat on her red and gold sofa. "Uh, Bianca?" he asked, mid-squat. "What is that little yellow thing in the corner by the television?"

Bianca giggled. "Oh, that! That's a, uh, Wakamaru robot. I got him from a Japanese furniture store a couple of months ago. I don't use him much because I can't get him to permanently speak English."

Max sat on the sofa and watched as she disappeared into the kitchen. "Nice. And what exactly is that little charging station over there?" he asked, looking to the other corner of the room. "Is that for Wakamaru?"

Bianca poured the water, her hands shaking so bad, she sloshed some on the counter. "No, that's for my…other…robot, R.O.B.. I have a set. Not a matching set, but a set. I built R.O.B. myself."

Max stood up abruptly. "So you're like a mechanical/robotic genius! Mind if we skip the water and you show me the rest of your house, starting with the kitchen? How many of your appliances are robotic?"

Bianca blushed, both embarrassed and pleased at the attention. "Um, actually, only the microwave, oven and can opener are highly advanced," she told him slowly.

As she and Max entered the kitchen, she spotted her iPad lying on the counter. She could have sworn she left it in her bedroom, but apparently not. She picked it up as Max observed every nook and cranny of her kitchen. "Maybe we should go–"

"I bet I know where that door leads to!" Max interrupted, pointing to the door leading into her garage. "I bet that's the mother lode! I'm sure that's where you keep all the big stuff stashed like extra robot arms, legs and torsos!"

Bianca let out a small gasp. She couldn't let him go inside her garage! That was where her time machine was! "You know what? I think we'd better just go to dinner. It's really a mess in the garage and it's so dusty and dark in there."

"Aw, come on! Humor me!" Max pressed, placing his hand on the doorknob.

Quickly, Bianca punched in the emergency password for the time machine–something she'd only had to use once or twice–on her iPad and swallowed hard. "Okay, see for yourself."

As soon as the door was open, Bianca almost let out a cry of relief as her precious egg was no longer there. She wasn't sure where it had vanished to, but she knew it was probably somewhere else inside the house. As soon as he was thoroughly unimpressed, she'd press a few more buttons and return the machine to its rightful place. "See? Nothing fancy. Just my car, boxes of old antiques and junk and tools. Nothing even remotely interesting."

Max turned to her and smiled thinly. "So you keep all the good stuff inside. Okay, now that you've indulged me, let's go have dinner," he told her, holding out his arm.

Bianca linked her arm in his and left her iPad on the counter where it was before, her time machine nerves being replaced by first date nerves.

"Balki, could you hand me another cup of coffee?" Larry Appleton asked from his position at the kitchen table where he sat working on an article for the Chicago Chronicle.

He looked up when he saw that his Myposian cousin, Balki Bartokomous was staring at something in his hand, not even acknowledging that Larry had been speaking. "Balki? What are you looking at?"

When Balki still didn't move from his place at the bar, Larry stood up and walked over to him, concern with a hint of annoyance on his face. "Balki, what has got you so interested that you're not even listening to me?"

Suddenly, Balki jerked his head to look at him and smiled softly. "I found the letters that Bianca gave to you and I. She still owes you that coffee and you still owe her a dance."

Larry sighed and led his cousin over to the sofa. He hated to break Balki's heart, but he had to know the truth. "Balki, listen to me. I know you miss Bianca, but the truth is that we will never see her again. I will never get that cup of coffee and you will never get a robot like R.O.B.."

"But Cousin," Balki interjected. "Bianca said she see us again. She made a promise."

"And I'm sure Bianca had every intention of keeping that promise, but she has her own life and it's not here. She belongs in two-thousand-thirteen and we belong in nineteen-eighty-seven. I'm sure she's probably even forgotten about us by now."

Balki turned to Larry, shock on his face. "Cousin, I'm surprised at you! Bianca promised to see us again and I believe her. I took her words at laced valium and you should, too."

Larry sighed. "Balki, I think you mean 'at face value' and it's been well over eight months since we said goodbye. Face it, Balki; we will never see Bianca Pierson again."

Suddenly, as if on cue, a loud buzzing noise could be heard and Bianca's time machine–still shaped just like an over-sized egg–stood before them in the living room.

"Wwoww," Balki breathed, jumping up. "I think the machine must have PBS."

"I don't believe it!" Larry cried out, forgetting about his coffee and the article. "Balki, you were right! Bianca didn't forget us!"

"Well, why are we standing here with our heads wide open? Let's go visit Bianca again!" Balki whooped.

"Wait; last time this happened, the machine saved our lives from carbon-monoxide poisoning," Larry recalled.

"So, I guess that means we should get inside and leave, hoh?" Balki pointed out.

"Let's go," Larry nodded, feeling more excited than he cared to express as they stepped inside and he pressed the button.

Unfortunately for Larry, he also forgot to hang on, for as soon as the machine sprang to life, he slumped to the floor like a rag doll.