Chapter One: Tomorrow Comes Today
Another idyllic summer morning presented itself to the Flynn-Fletcher family; the sun was shining, birds were singing to each other, clouds lazily drifted through the sky, and inside the garage on this picture-perfect day two grown adults stood looking frazzled and fatigued at an antique radio.
"I'm afraid we may be out of luck on this one, dear," Lawrence said dejectedly as he looked at the radio. It was large enough to be a piece of furniture, but clearly had seen better days. The wood finish was weathered and beaten, the fabric covering the speakers was frayed and torn in spots, and despite all the attempts at re-wiring Lawrence had done it simply would not turn on.
"Such a shame," Linda added with a sigh. "I'll bet back in its day this was quite a beautiful piece of work, too."
Lawrence shifted his gaze over to the small transistor radio sitting nearby that had provided them with music while they worked. "It just doesn't seem fair sometimes that grand old craftsmanship like this goes to rot while cheap, miniature radios like this one can practically work like new forever."
"We're antique sellers, honey, not miracle workers," Linda reminded him as she put a hand on his shoulder. "Sometimes you just can't turn back the clock on these things."
"I suppose you're right, but in this case I kind of wish we could at least swap their ages," Lawrence said as they started to head back into the house. "I'll bet if that radio were only as old as that transistor radio it'd still work smashingly well."
Lawrence didn't realize that his words had caught the attention of a short, red-haired boy and his green-haired stepbrother, who had been standing in the doorway for some time watching their parents work on the radio.
"Swap their ages, huh…" Phineas mused, a wide grin slowly spreading across his face. "Originally I was just gonna say we should fix the radio for them, Ferb, but I just got an even better idea. I know what we're gonna do today!"
Isabella stopped halfway up the driveway to check her watch. Sure enough, she was on time as usual for her daily visit to Phineas' house. The garage door was open and the boys were hard at work building something that resembled a double-sided tuba. Clearly this was worth her dropping her signature greeting.
"Hi Phineas," she said cheerily as she entered the garage.
"Oh, hey Isabella," Phineas replied in kind.
"Today we thought we'd build something to help mom & dad with their antique restoration. Sometimes they have trouble making older stuff work or look right, so we're gonna help them turn back the clock so to speak."
"That sounds pretty cool. How's it work?"
Phineas stepped back and began pointing around the machine to explain while Ferb continued welding. "The idea is that the machine will swap the ages of the two objects that get put onto these platforms. So if we put something five years old on one spot and something seventy years old on the other spot, they'll swap ages."
"I getcha. Then the older thing will act like it did when it was the younger age, and vice versa. Right?"
"Exactly! We're almost done with the construction; we're just waiting for Baljeet to come over to quadruple-check our calculations."
As if on cue, Baljeet entered the garage, his face buried in a notebook with a pencil behind one ear and a calculator in the front pocket of his overalls. "No need to wait, I did the checking on my way over. By the way, where is Perry?"
"Oh, mom's taking him to the pet spa for the day," Phineas replied. "She thought he was looking a little ragged lately, so a little R&R was in order."
Baljeet raised an eyebrow at the concept, "I did not know they made spas for platypuses. Or…platypi. Or…platypeople? Or…well, you know what I mean."
"So how's our math lookin'?"
"There are a few areas I am concerned with, but I can correct them on the fly once you are finished with construction."
At that, Ferb shut off his welding torch, pulled up his welding mask and gave Phineas a thumbs up.
"Looks like we're good to go," Phineas said, pressing a button that brought a computer screen to life. "It's all yours, Baljeet."
"By the way, I wanted to ask: this machine won't work on people, will it?"
"It shouldn't, but who'd want to swap their age with someone or something else anyway?"
"Fair enough. Now, let us see to these settings then…"
Isabella stood back and watched the work continue, though mostly she just watched Phineas as he talked with Baljeet. For a moment she thought she heard a banging sound coming from another part of the house, but she dismissed it as she lost herself in Phineas-centered daydreams.
Candace sat face down at the desk in her room after having banged her head on it a few times in frustration. Behind her was a sea of crumpled paper that Stacy and Jeremy were both sitting in, also puzzling as they looked at their respective notebooks.
"Maybe we could…" Stacy started to say, but then lost her train of thought.
"Or there's always-" Jeremy started to add.
"Nah, we can't do that." Candace said, cutting him off.
Stacy chewed on her pencil's eraser some. "What about…no, that won't work."
"Hmmm…" Jeremy said, still searching for an idea.
"This is hopeless," Candace said in disgust as she stood up from the desk. "Jenny's counting on us to bring something to help with her food drive downtown today, and we can't come up with anything worth taking!"
"I still don't get why we have to go all-out for this, Candace," Jeremy said. "I mean, Jenny'll probably just be happy if we bring anything with us."
"But I don't want to bring just anything. I kinda feel like we've been neglecting Jenny this summer so far, and I wanna make it up to her by bringing something special."
"For once, Candace does have a point," Stacy added. "We really should make this something that'll really help Jenny's cause-of-the-day out."
"I can't argue with logic like that," Jeremy said with a smile. "But if we're gonna do something we need to get cracking on it soon, and so far we haven't come up with a single good idea. Maybe if we asked your brothers-"
"Don't even finish that thought," Candace said sharply. "They're the last ones I want to involve in this. They'd probably turn it into some huge fiasco like a stadium full of tomato soup or something ridiculous like that."
"Would it really hurt to just ask them for an idea? I mean, they are the creative ones in your family after all," Stacy asked.
"Hey, I'm plenty creative as well," Candace retorted.
"Yeah, when it comes to coming up with plans to bust your brothers. Face it Candace, it's been a long time since you thought outside the box."
Candace sighed and flopped down onto her bed. "Please don't remind me."
Jeremy cocked an eyebrow at Candace's remark. "Remind you? Of what?"
Candace rolled enough to look back up at Jeremy. "Well…let's just say that Phineas wasn't the first Flynn to try to do something outlandish."
"Okay, you've got me hooked now," Jeremy said, turning a chair around to sit backwards on it. "What'd you do?"
Candace sighed deeply as she sat up on her bed. "Well, one night when I was…maybe ten I think? I overheard mom upset that she wouldn't have enough time to make dinner for everyone that night. So I got this idea in my head that I could do it for her. I decided to try and make something everyone would like: grilled cheese sandwiches. Which are, not coincidentally, my favorite."
"That doesn't sound so bad."
"Yeah, well, I kinda went overboard with the cheese. And I didn't exactly use what you'd call 'standard cooking methods' either…"
"See, I wanted to make a really big grilled cheese sandwich, but I didn't know how to make all that cheese melt so I kinda…." Candace's voice trailed off into a mumble for the last few words.
"I didn't catch that last part," Jeremy said, leaning closer.
"Tell him, Candace, or I will," Stacy added impishly.
Candace sighed in exasperation and sat back up, "…I loaded the cheese into the clothes dryer."
Stacy and Jeremy both burst into raucous laughter at the thought of a young Candace throwing chunks of cheese into a dryer and then turning it on.
"Ha ha, laugh it up," Candace said, clearly annoyed. Her expression then turned downcast as she stared at her bed. "When mom got home she caught me in the laundry room and busted me big time. All I'd wanted to do was help her out, but I ended up getting punished for it. From that time on I promised myself I'd never step out of line again."
"I guess that explains why you keep trying to get your brothers in trouble," Jeremy said, regaining his composure. "But still, you had a neat idea and good intentions, just like your brothers. Why can't you just tap into some of that creativity again?"
"I'm not ten years old anymore, am I? I think I just lost my creativity somewhere along the way," Candace said as she fell back onto her bed again. "Phineas and Ferb don't know how good they have it. Being a teenager isn't all it's cracked up to be."
No sooner did Candace finish her thought when a low humming sound filled the house. She sat bolt upright and growled a bit, knowing exactly who was responsible. This time, for sure, she'd bust Phineas and Ferb just like she'd been busted years ago.
The Age Swapper, as it had now been dubbed, was fully operational and currently being prepared for its first test. Phineas, Ferb, and Baljeet hefted the antique radio onto one of the platforms while Isabella placed the transistor radio gently on the other one. All four of them put on sunglasses as Ferb hit the button to activate the machine. The two massive tubes on either side of the Age Swapper bathed their targets in yellow rings of energy. Moments later, the machine finished its process and the four kids took their shades off to inspect their handiwork.
The antique radio now shone with a perfectly polished wood finish, all the fabric was intact and, upon being plugged in by Ferb, immediately picked up a local radio station and played its music for all to hear. Meanwhile, the little transistor radio was looking much worse for the wear. Isabella went to pick it up, only for it to fall to pieces in her hands. Unbeknownst to her, the battery inside rolled across the floor a ways.
"It worked," Phineas exclaimed, giving Ferb and Baljeet a high-five. "Mom and dad are gonna love this!"
"You'd better believe it," Candace added as she, Stacy, and Jeremy entered the garage. "Not only are they gonna love it, but they'll love busting you for making…whatever the heck this thing is. And I'll love watching you get busted too!"
Candace then saw the antique radio and grinned even wider, "And you even involved one of their antiques? Oh this is too good. You guys have practically busted yourselves. Stacy, Jeremy, help me take this thing back upstairs. We'll keep it safe until mom & dad get back from the store this evening."
"Candace, be careful with that. Don't drop it, we just got it fixed after all," Phineas told her.
Throwing caution to the wind, as usual, Candace started trying to pick the radio up on her own only to stumble and tip it over. She fell backwards into Stacy and Jeremy, all three of them landing on the platform the radio had previously been on. The crashing of the radio on the floor startled Baljeet, who bumped into Phineas and Isabella. All three of them landed on the other platform. The crashing radio had caught the rolling battery and sent it flying through the air in a perfect arc towards the Age Swapper. It landed dead center on the activation button and, in moments, both platforms were bathed in the same yellow rings of energy as before. Ferb had to shield his eyes quickly as the machine fizzled, shook, and shorted out from being overloaded. Almost a minute later, the Age Swapper finally died down, smoke rising from it and arcs of electricity sparking all across it. Ferb rubbed his eyes as they came back into focus and went slack-jawed as he looked at his stepbrother and friends where they sat.
"Uhhh…what the heck happened," Phineas asked, rubbing his head as he stood up. "Hey Ferb, I thought you were taller than me. How'd you get…down…there?"
Phineas finally noticed that he stood a fair bit taller than Ferb now, and his voice had dropped by at least half an octave. On top of that, his clothes seemed to have changed as well from his orange and white striped t-shirt and shorts to an orange t-shirt with white rings around the neck and sleeves, cargo shorts and working boots.
"Well, Baljeet, I guess I have to take back what I said before about the Age Swapper not working on people."