Prisoners of Time: All the Time in the World
A low whistle pierced through the sky above the Navy Yard docks just before sunrise. Three figures fell out of the clouds and tumbled onto the deck of Phineas Bogg's schooner. Jeffrey sprung up. He ran away from Phineas and clutched the ship's wheel as if his life depended on it. Susan rolled upon her side and covered her face to hide her fright. She needed tending first. Phineas waved at Jeffrey to keep calm. He gently sat Susan up and pulled her hands down. Her skin blanched as she gazed around frantic.
"What happened? No…No…No!" The pitch in her voice rose higher and higher.
The trauma of Drake's abduction and her near brush with death frayed her nerves. Phineas kissed her forehead and kept her in a strong embrace.
"Susan, Susan, steady now. You're fine! We did it! We traveled through time! It works! The brass omni works!" He smiled.
His senses tingled with pure excitement and he felt a rush of adrenaline. Jeffrey slid his hands off the wheel and glanced up. Where it was evening a minute ago, the clouds had parted and brightened to a pale blue as the sun rose over the horizon. He tapped his face and body, to make sure he was still intact. The instant Phineas grabbed him, he had a sense of flying – and intense, flashing lights and colors twisted and burst before his eyes. He grinned and jumped up and down and pumped his fist into the air, startling Phineas.
"Yahoo! That was fantastic! You did it, Bogg! You made history! You changed history! Time travel is possible!"
"Of course it is! I told you I never lie!"
Phineas leaned upon one knee and hoisted Susan up. He had to get her below deck and under warm covers. He needed to rush her to the Academy. They employed the most current medical techniques and procedures, and used effective medicinal aids in the infirmary. She would need to be thoroughly examined so that she wouldn't contract any bacterial infections from the river waters. He would have to get himself checked, but his mind was too preoccupied to care.
"I scarcely can believe it! It was the most wonderful experience ever…and it was so fast!"
Jeffrey followed as Phineas rushed down with Susan. She rolled her head from side to side. Only the refuge of his strong arms was able to quench her fears. She kept having visions of Drake and his evil, black eyes. She replayed his cruelty over and over in her thoughts and still felt as if the cold waters washed around her. The odor of his repugnant alcohol and the dank harbor penetrated her senses. She fell into a coughing spell. Bile rose into her throat and she grasped Phineas' shirt in a panic.
"Please…please…Phin…I'm so sick." She begged for relief.
Phineas put her on the small bed. He snapped towards Jeffrey.
"Quickly, go into that closet and get me a slop pail. Be swift!"
Jeffrey brought it out. No sooner had he placed the wooden bucket beneath Susan – did she lean over and wretch. Jeffrey jumped away and swallowed hard, his stomach felt queasy. He thought it best to go above deck. Susan would have been mortified once she came to her senses and found out her vomiting spell was on public display.
"I'll go upstairs and be a look out."
"Good idea, Jeffrey. Call me if anything. I'll be up shortly."
Phineas drew the curtains around the bed and supported Susan's frame until she had finished. It wasn't much. He grabbed a cloth and wiped her mouth, then laid her down. He didn't want to be forward, but he had to remove her wet garments. He undid the buttons of her dress and slid it past her shoulders. She made no objections, so he continued to remove it until she was clad in only her camisole and long, white bloomers. Phineas forced himself not to stare at the revealing undergarments for too long. They were damp and matted against her soft skin.
He brushed the soaked tendrils of hair from her eyes and dunked a clean cloth in a washbasin he kept on hand beside the bed. He dabbed it with a strong soap, then slowly drew it over her face to remove the bits of river grime that spotted her cheeks and forehead. Susan's eyes flew open when she felt the water sprinkle her. She forced herself up and let out a scream.
"Don't touch me! No more! Please no more water!" She begged him.
Phineas at once put the cloth down. She was in a semi-state of shock. His hands balled into fists. Drake had made the mistake of his life. He clutched her arms and was about to lean her against him again when he realized he was just as drenched as she was. He looked down with a deep sigh. He pulled at his buttons and ties and removed his shirt. His clothing itched him terribly and removing it offered a small respite.
'If Garth could see me now.' He pondered. But he was no prude, and Susan needed his help regardless if they were bundled or exposed.
Susan stared impassively, and then traced her fingers across his chest, savoring his warmth.
"Oh, Phineas, I'm sorry, I am behaving out of my head. Please keep me safe from that monster. He is pure evil! I saw it in his eyes. If only you could have seen it. He has no regard for any human life but his own!"
"I know it, Susan, and he will be stopped. You're very safe with me now." Phineas promised.
Susan hugged him. She rested her chin upon his shoulder and Phineas winced with compassion as her hot tears dripped on his skin. He ran his hand up and down her back in gentle, soothing motions. Susan gazed up at him and gently kissed his collarbone. Phineas burrowed his face against her neck, responding in kind.
They pulled apart and she touched his cheek. Phineas took hold of her wrist and kissed her palm, his deep passions inflamed. His kisses coursed down her arm and he lowered her until her head rested upon the pillow. He held her face and their lips met tenderly.
The brassy clanging of morning work bells intruded upon their intimate moment. Phineas disregarded them and leaned toward her again, but she halted him.
"Phineas, no. There is no…we…we cannot do this." She tried to sound resolute. "Jeffrey is here and you have to bring us back to land and tell the others what happened with the omni. It was unbelievable!" She stirred excited. "This is what we've been waiting for! Wait until Bobby finds out! He will be so thrilled! He and the engineers worked so hard on this model!"
Phineas frowned; the mention of another man's name dampened his fervor. He always imagined that the wiseacre Australian had a soft spot for Susan.
"You're right of course. I can't let my foolish senses get the better of me. I have a lot of work to do now."
Phineas stood up fast. He went to his closet and pulled out a spare set of clothing. He looked it over with a bit of distaste. It was overtly sea faring. He shook out a white, pillow-sleeved shirt cut low at the chest, tight beige pants and a sepia, suede vest. He got upon his knees and dug for the high pair of brown boots and when the outfit was complete, he shrugged. It was better than nothing. Clothing was clothing. He stared at Susan.
"Bobby wasn't all that sure if the omni would work, but I took it anyway. I'm glad to know it's also waterproof. Excuse me just a moment."
Phineas went behind the curtain to change. Susan sat up higher and twirled her mouth thoughtfully. She hadn't meant to dispel him, but they both knew where the desires they shared could lead. It had nearly cost them their future at the Academy. Phineas had become strangely abrupt once she mentioned Bobby. Was it possible he was jealous?
Susan had a notion that Bobby cared deeply for her and at times the feeling was mutual. Phineas was barely around the Academy since graduation and her small dreams she once had cooled off when he immersed himself in the Time Machine projects. It was his return the other day, which revitalized her to the intense affection they harbored, but she wasn't sure how long they would last. Phineas was a man on a mission.
Susan pulled the quilt higher and Phineas came out from behind the curtain. She gaped at him. He was always dressed impeccably fine or in his adventurous attire, but this was an outfit she had never seen. Phineas modeled for her awkwardly.
"Not your standard sailing outfit. It's much more of a pirate style if you ask me. I don't know what I was thinking when I purchased it."
Susan giggled. "You were thinking like yourself, this is an extension of your fashion, Phineas, like a clean-cut pirate. It suits you very well."
Phineas smiled and patted down the clothes. "It does, doesn't it? Well, I can say that I know how to shop and get tailored for comfort. They feel as part of my own skin."
The bells rang again and more voices crowded up the Navy Yard. Jeffrey approached the cabin stairwell.
"Bogg, I think we need to scram, those same dockworkers might come and find us again." He called down.
"I'll be right up, Jeff." He stared at Susan. "You need to rest, it's not a long trip back to Manhattan. Everything will okay."
Phineas grabbed the omni and bounded up the stairs before she could reply. Susan lay back and closed her eyes, wondering what would happen next.
"Ahoy, Phinny! Yo, ho, ho!" Jeffrey called out with a smirk when Phineas un-moored the boat and took the helm. "You got some neat clothes, Bogg."
"Thanks, but I'm no fashion plate." Phineas came closer and held his shoulder. "Are you alright, Jeff? How do you feel?" He had almost forgotten Jeffrey had been thrust through the time stream as well.
Jeffrey was still enthralled with the whole experience. "I feel great! What exactly happened, could you explain it?"
"We basically traveled faster than the speed of light through the cosmos, the time and date was pre-gauged on the omni. So far, we have only been able to make a break within a twenty-four hour time span."
"But how did you know it would work if no human tested it before?"
"We tested it with animals, monkeys were easiest to work with. We sent one chimp, and then made sure to be at the same spot twenty-four hours later. We wound up a minute late, but when we came into the testing room, there he was, scratching his head and bouncing off the walls. We ran all the necessary tests on him and he was unscathed. It was a thrilling day!"
"I'll bet! I hope you rewarded him with tons of bananas! But what about your time machine? What does that do?"
"The Omnichron operates on a different capacity. If all my calculations are correct, I can travel only within the area I am situated, but to any time. While protected within that blue vortex, we may be able to literally see eras of time speed up in reverse or forward! That would be breathtaking!"
Phineas kept his eye on the river as he manned the helm. "Today…err…yesterday, I received the geographic specs for it. Eventually I'll be able to alter my invention so the machine literally moves through space to other places. Unhindered time-travel across the world is what we hope to accomplish with the omni, then there will be no necessity for my invention. But our scientists are concocting all sorts of ways one could time travel."
Phineas laughed. "One British graduate had in mind to create a blue police booth of sorts and he said we can operate the time machine through a telephone inside. So you see, it's definitely not a limited science or concept."
"That is so fantastic. Who ever even thought about time travel to begin with?"
"Oh, there has been plenty of essays and stories written on the subject, and it looks like more will be at hand now that we got our inventions off the ground. But if my father were alive he'd tell you that time travel even goes back to the days of Joshua in the scripture, when The Lord made the sun stand still so the battle for Gibeon could be won."
"Wow! I know of that account, I just never thought about it as time travel before."
"In a way it is. You like to read, don't you?"
"I love it, I just haven't had the chance in forever. I miss my books."
Phineas patted his back and made a mental note to have a full library put into the boy's new room.
Jeffrey sighed. "Even if you never use it, your time machine would make a really neat art piece…hey can you show me the omni?"
Phineas gave it to him. Jeffrey stared at the dials. They were set for Saturday, September 3rd, 1882. However, the left light above the globe beeped and flashed red.
"Bogg, I know red means something's wrong, doesn't it?" He dug his fingers into Phineas' arm, nervous.
"Exactly. It has confused us at the Academy too. The only thing I fear wrong is that Voyager Drake is still on the loose. If we don't stop him, he'll succeed with his plans to take over the Academy. We will get him, Jeffrey. Our goal is to turn this light green."
Phineas steered the boat in the direction of the Manhattan skyline and toward the docks where he had left his horse with Harold. The boy bubbled over with questions that only time, age, and scientific study could answer. Jeffrey paced the length of the deck and looked out across the river.
"Bogg, what are cosmos?"
"That's a deep question, but the most basic answer I can give you is that it's the summation of all particles and energy that exist and the space-time in which all events occur."
Jeffrey cocked his head. "Are umm…are we cosmos?"
Phineas laughed. "That's a very interesting way to look at it…we are made of particles, energy…our body even consists of the same matter as the stars. There is a vital truth when the good book says we are made of dust."
"Fascinating. So we traveled faster than the speed of light, through the space-time…place…"
"You could say, continuum. We traveled to get from point A to point B. You got the essence of it."
"I'm not even sure of what I'm thinking or want to say, but I know it happened!"
Phineas glared at the approaching Manhattan Isle resolutely.
"And it will happen, over and over and over again. With these inventions, we'll have... all the time in the world."
"All the time in the world." Jeffrey echoed. "Then let's stop wasting it and hurry up and get home! We have a lot of work to do!"
Phineas slapped his back heartily. "That's the Voyager spirit!" He thought of Susan and made a hasty decision, but the ideas flew out of his mouth before his heart could confirm them.
"There's no time for romance!"
"Right! Voyagers! No romance!" Jeffrey repeated.
"Time is our oyster!"
"Quarter to no man!" Phineas spouted. His adrenaline pumped and his tenacity for the Academy's mission deepened. "We can do anything, change anything…be anything!"
Jeffrey stomped across the deck and stood beside him proud.
Phineas smiled and waved his arm wide across the expanse of the sky.