Hey all! It's been like forever! I'm back today with a sequel to my other Jimmy Neutron story, The Irony of It All. I've had some time this summer and I figured I could throw out the first installment of the tale's continuation.
If you happen to have read The Irony of It All, then this chapter should bring you up to speed and remind you something about the plot.
Just as a forewarning for this quick readers, IF YOU HAVEN'T READ The Irony of It All, you will find yourself VERY confused. I recommend you read it! I hear it's good… .
Check out my author page to read the prequel.
And without further ado, here's the first installment to Memories of a Future. Enjoy!
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Chapter 1: James Isaac Neutron!
The car pulled into the driveway of the long-abandoned factory, its broken windows and vine-plagued walls looming above. Painted in faded purple letters, sun-bleached and weather-worn, was "Purple Flurp: Live on the Flurp side of life." It was an old slogan from a handful of years back; no one had bothered removing the lettering from the worn concrete. As the car rounded the final curve and rumbled through the rusted metal gates with ragged and frayed Caution tape fluttering in the breeze, the dull hollow of desolation seemed to mute the summer night, so that the only sound was that of the car's engine and tires rolling over cracked blacktop.
These were details of the old factory that Jimmy hadn't noticed two years ago, when he had first laid eyes on it in the custody of a mad man—shoved unwillingly into the back of a school teacher's sedan and told he would die here, within the walls of this abandoned place. Now it looked no different, if for a few more weeds here, a few more cracks in the asphalt there.
Jimmy couldn't help but shudder. He parked the car by the lounge entrance, cutting the engine and stepping out of his mom's coupe. Trotting behind him came his trusty dog, who approached the old scene just as nervously as his master. The silence was complete except for the low moan of the wind through the giant factory and the occasional whirring of Goddard's metallic joints. Jimmy gulped. This was, he decided, the last place on earth he really wanted to be. But it's the only place, he thought, that could have answers.
What seemed like eons ago, Goddard had neatly cut out the door with his high-power laser. The gaping hole now stood like an entrance to a cave, its inside dark and silent. The cloudy day did little to reveal anything beyond a few dusty floor tiles. Jimmy turned to Goddard and grimly nodded. The dog barked and produced from his back compartment a small spotlight, which he dutifully aimed into the lounge. "Well, boy," Jimmy said, "I suppose we have nothing to worry about." Goddard whined in response. "It's been ages since anyone's even thought of this place… The scariest thing we can expect out here is a spider or two." Goddard growled, shaking his head and taking a step toward the entrance. Jimmy, taking a deep breath, followed his dog's lead.
The inside of the factory lounge looked much unchanged; the chair Jimmy had once been tied to had toppled over, and the only other furniture in the room was a worn table, some low shelves, and cooking area. A teapot sat on an old stove; Jimmy expected the water to still be in it. He shuddered.
Goddard brought the spotlight in full circle around the room, giving Jimmy a full view, before resting the beam on one of the shelves in a corner. Jimmy strained his eyes against the glare. "Turn it down a bit, Goddard." Immediately the light dimmed, and Jimmy made out what appeared to be a book leaning at an angle in the shelf. As he moved closer, the book turned into a photo album. Jimmy grinned. "This is it!"
Opening the dusty book carefully so as not to break the binding, Jimmy turned to what appeared to be a title page. "Memories of a Future" it read. Jimmy was about to turn past the title page to what he expected were dozens upon dozens of photographs. However, he managed to stop himself. He could review the photographs later. But he had found it! "Goddard, this is—"
Suddenly, Goddard's light switched off. The room was plunged into darkness, save the splotch of daylight that marked the exit across the room. The hairs on the back of his neck prickled as he turned around slowly, heart thrumming. Silence. He licked his lips.
Immediately the light returned, but it was focused somewhere else. "Bark, bark!"
Jimmy rushed across the room, nervous but curious about what Goddard had found. He nearly dropped the photo album he carried in surprise when he came upon the rusted shell of another dog. Gears creaked eerily as the head slid up to look at Jimmy. He drew in a short breath. "Holy Heisenberg, it's… it's functional?"
The damaged, barely mobile dog emitted three glitched, mechanical sounding barks. Jimmy was somewhere between bewilderment and trepidation. He was not shocked by Skylar's condition, for two years' worth of disrepair and exposure to the elements would render any machine rusty and immobile. No, he was terrified that she was here, on this planet, in this dimension, at all, when the real Skylar was back in the suburbs of Retroville. Jimmy had seen her just that morning, beautifully polished and fully functional.
Slowly, almost painfully, a compartment opened on the back of the rusted creature. With metal grating against metal, a screen slowly creaked out and stopped, halfway emerged, so that Jimmy had to bend to read it.
Hello Jimmy, it read. Analysis concludes: Something is terribly wrong.
Jimmy paced a trench into the ground just outside the entrance to the lounge. He was relieved to be out of the musty factory and back in the daylight, but he was no less alarmed by what he had found inside. Goddard's head rotated back and forth as it followed his master's mad pacing. The broken and barely functioning Skylar had been placed carefully in the passenger seat of the car. Jimmy had debated for minutes whether to touch her, let alone remove her from where he had found her, but they had already interacted. Skylar had asked a question, and Jimmy had responded to her presence. It was too late to go back. Jimmy figured at the very least, this Skylar could answer some questions. But she was due for some major maintenance.
Beyond that, her presence meant something more… that something was terribly, terribly wrong. Jimmy sighed, the human part of him petrified by what the future might hold, and the genius part of him intrigued at the opportunity to learn more about what happened—rather, what actually didn't happen, two years ago.
Thoughts about that wild adventure brought Jimmy to a stop, his mind whirling at the memories in his head of events that, in the end, never transpired. Thanks to… well, thanks to something. That something saved not Jimmy's life, but his existence. That was two years ago. Jimmy stared into the ground, absorbed in the memories, until Goddard nudged his leg.
Jimmy shook his head, smiling at his dog. "You're right, boy. Let's head back. She will no doubt be interested in this."
Together, they returned to the car and left the factory behind them. Jimmy couldn't help but sigh in relief when it disappeared from the rearview mirror.
By the time Jimmy turned onto his street, the sky had darkened so that tiny slivers of burnt oranges and reds peeked through the cloud coverage at the horizon. He waived to a few of his neighbors, out for an evening stroll or walking their dogs. Retroville had certainly seen fewer disasters from the boy genius in the past few years. Jimmy liked to think the 'boy genius' had honed his skills, and he was now, as his mother called him, a Little Teen Genius: 'Little' because he Mrs. Neutron liked to think of Jimmy as her little boy; 'Teen' because Jimmy was now seventeen years of age, well-built, and (for the most part) post-pubescent; and of course 'Genius' because he was now, as he was before, a fully licensed genius, with the addition of being recognized by the National Genius Society, sometimes even acting as a political figure for them. He took more precautions before experimenting and conducted his dangerous experiments where no one would be hurt.
Things were good for Jimmy Neutron. Well most things. As he pulled into his driveway, he caught sight of someone peeking through the window of the residence across the street. Jimmy sighed. Most things were good. Not her, though.
Jimmy's mother stepped out of the house as he closed the car door, wiping her hands on her apron and smiling at him. He hadn't told his mother that he was going to the factory, but he did get his brains from someone in his family, and Judy Neutron was the most likely candidate. Ever since Jimmy's battle with his radiation-caused illness, Judy had gained an immense amount of confidence in her son. That didn't, however, stop her from worrying.
After the incident two years ago, Jimmy had struggled to keep from examining his regained existence in too much detail. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, Jimbo, Hugh had said. He had been given a second chance, and if he delved into the matter any more than that, he might cause trouble for himself and others. He had waited two long years when finally, upon learning the final words of a mercury-poisoned schoolteacher, he deemed it appropriate to investigate.
Corbet had mentioned a photo album, somewhere in the factory, before stumbling off the edge of Jimmy's high school and crashing to his death. It wasn't Jimmy who had heard these final words, and two years had passed before Jimmy heard about them. Jimmy frowned at the thought. In retrospect, it would have been a terrible idea for Jimmy to learn about the album, because of course he wouldn't have been able to resist investigating. It could have gotten him into trouble. It's already gotten him into trouble now, two years later. What kind of trouble? He only dared to guess.
Coming back to the present, he smiled, perhaps guiltily, at his mother, who arched an eyebrow in response.
"You went to the factory, Jimmy?" She had posed it as a question, but Jimmy knew it was more of a statement. "What did you find?"
Jimmy brushed a hand through his shortened, spiked hair. "Two things. One I expected to, one I didn't."
Judy heaved a sigh. "James Isaac Neutron, how many times do I have to tell you?"
Jimmy rolled his eyes. "I knoooow mom, 'don't tamper with things that involve reality and fate of the whole universe', blah-blah, but I didn't 'tamper'—" here he used air quotes for emphasis. "—with anything!"
"Well? What did you find?"
Now Jimmy heaved his own sigh. "A photo album, no doubt with some answers."
"That's what you expected. What didn't you expect?"
Jimmy walked around the car and opened the passenger door. "See for yourself."
Judy stepped hesitantly down the front steps and walked around her car. She blinked in surprise when she glanced inside. "Skylar? What happened to her?"
Jimmy shook his head. "No, not the Skylar you're familiar with… this one doesn't belong here." Judy suddenly drew her eyebrows together, as if struck by a horrible thought. Jimmy stiffened. He wondered if she had also realized what catastrophe this finding could mean for them. "What is it?"
"All that rust, all over my seat! Oh, Jimmy this is a new car!"
Rolling his eyes, Jimmy patted his mother on the back. "Don't worry mom, a quick power wash and steam clean will get that right out. I'll take care of it."
"You had better!" She smoothed out her apron. "Now, come inside, I've had dinner ready and you know how your father gets if his blood sugar is low."
Jimmy smiled. For all the implications of impending disaster in his discovery, Jimmy wondered what could really be wrong, when life seemed to move forward as usual.
After a quick dinner, he excused himself from the table and went straight to the lab, where he could get a few machines started on rehabilitating the dilapidated Skylar, who seemed unable to communicate further in her damaged state. In the mean time, he had some business across the street. He checked himself in a mirror briefly, sighed, and headed for the door. "Today it's been a month," he said as he passed Goddard, who was content to snooze on the couch. "Thirty-one days! She has to forgive me by now."
Shifting, Goddard growled his response. Now that you went and found the album, she'll hate you all over again.
Jimmy put his hand on the doorknob. "Maybe, but I'm hoping she'll be more interested in looking at the album than being angry at me."
Goddard emitted a sort of robotic snort. Women.
Jimmy scoffed. "Like you'd know!" The robotic dog ignored him, and Jimmy stepped out of the door into the starry night air, readying himself to face the greatest challenge ever encountered by this boy genius: Cindy Vortex.
Continued in the next chapter: Cindy Aurora Vortex