“But we just got here.” Jimmy whined as he slumped back into his seat.
“And now we are leaving.” The big metal door slammed shut with a loud bang that made Jimmy jump.
Rex lumbered back to the console and started to press buttons furiously.
Jimmy scurried to watch over Rex’s shoulder.
“You told me you knew what you were doing. You told me we were going to see some awesome fireworks.”
“Go, sit down.” Rex grumbled. “I told you not to worry. Chill out.”
Jimmy twisted his face and stomped off as far as he could get from his brother – which was a mere couple of feet to a small bench seat taken from a rundown diner.
“We’re lost.” Jimmy sobbed into the vinyl cushion. “And I want to see the fireworks.”
“For the hundredth time, we are not lost.” Rex growled. “We’re, um…” Rex paused his frantic button pushing and fell back into his seat.
“We are just a bit scattered,” he said, slightly defeated.
Jimmy lifted up his red face, streaked with tears, and stared at Rex. He had never seen his brother so confused and frustrated at the same time.
“What do you mean by scattered?” he sniffled.
Rex sighed. The last thing he wanted to do was try to explain quantum theory to his baby brother.
“I told you we were traveling in a time machine, right?”
Jimmy nodded and wiped his eyes.
“Well, as we traveled through space and time…”
“We went through space?” Jimmy asked incredulously.
“Sort of.” Rex could already tell that this was not going to be easy. He swiveled his chair around and brought his face to Jimmy’s eye level.
“As we traveled and even when I built this thing, I assumed time to be linear. In a straight line.” Rex swiped his hand across the air. “Like the number line you learned in school.”
Jimmy stared intently at Rex, captivated.
“But there are some scientists that believe that time is not in a straight line. That there can be more than one thing happening at a time. So instead of one line, there can be multiple lines and sometimes it is possible to jump between them.”
“So… we are lost on another line?” Jimmy tilted his head like a tearful-eyed puppy.
“We are not lost!” Rex yelled in exasperation.
“Then where are we?” asked Jimmy, in a you-think-you-are-so-smart tone.
“We are in Washington D.C. on the evening of July 4, 2007,” Rex said matter-of-factly.
Jimmy hurried over to the big bay door, struggling to open it. “Let me out! I want to see the fireworks!” he screamed.
Rex tore from his seat and tripped in his attempt to block Jimmy from opening the door. With all of his might, Jimmy managed to pull the door ajar. A stream of light burst through into the machine. Jimmy stood frozen as colors from across the spectrum surged towards the heavens with a loud bang and a subsequent whistle. The rockets erupted in neon colors of yellow and blue across the grey-green sky. The Washington Monument rose up as a dark grey hue, opposite of the familiar stark white obelisk.
“This is amazing!” Jimmy screamed out to the world. “It’s like we are in a comic book.”
Rex felt his heart beating in his throat and his stomach twisted in revolt.
“This is all wrong.” He murmured. “All wrong.”
The visible light spectrum appeared out of whack like the heat signatures had somehow reversed. Light particles reflected and bounced all over the place. Light waves moved in pulses. They were observing light as both a particle and a wave, at the same time. Impossible. But here it was.
Rex’s eyes fixated on the bursts of light and the knot in his stomach tightened.
“We have to go,” Rex said urgently.
“But this is so cool,” said Jimmy as he remained rooted to his spot. “Plus, you promised me fireworks!”
“I know.” Rex answered, resigned. “But, but I think we are lost.”