# Thread: Tommy & Alfie: Time Travelers

1. ## Tommy & Alfie: Time Travelers

Tommy's jaw dropped when he saw the huge cardboard box sitting on the barn’s floor. He’d never seen one large enough to stand in without bumping his head, and he was going to make it into his best creation ever. Rummaging in his toy box, he found colored chalk. For a few moments, he just looked at the tan-colored sides, pondering what to do next, what to make.

An idea popped into his mind. I’ll make a time machine.

Last night, Tommy listened to a program about a man who made a machine that could travel through time. He could draw on the cardboard box, make his own time machine, and travel backward or forward to any time. Me and Alfie could visit all kinds of places and see wonderful things.

With the white chalk, Tommy drew readout gauges and dials for the time: a dial for the ones year, a dial for the tens year, a dial for the hundreds year and a dial for thousands year. His time machine could travel back to the year 0000 or forward to the year 9999.

Using the green chalk, he drew pipes and wires connecting each dial and each gauge. Inside the box, the time machine’s chamber, he drew yellow lights, green pipes, and white wires. On each box-end, he drew a doorknob and a window inside and outside.

With the yellow and green chalks, he decorated his time machine. At last, it was finished. Tommy stepped back to admire his handiwork.

Alfie appeared and asked, “What’s that?”

“Oh, there you are, Alfie. I made a time machine.”

Alfie walked around the box, examined the gauges, pipes, and dials, and looked inside. “How does it work?”

Demonstrating the operation of the dials, Tommy said, “If you want to see the signing of the Declaration of Independence, just set the year using these time-dials. Adjust the thousands time-dial to one, the hundreds time-dial to seven, the tens time-dial to seven, and the ones time-dial to six. 1-7-7-6.”

Alfie rubbed his chin. “That seems simple enough.”

Tommy continued with his demonstration. “Flip this on-off switch to the on position and the machine powers up.”

“What does the time traveler do then?” asked Alfie, looking inside the box again.

Waving his arms with excitement, Tommy said, “When this power-gauge reaches 80, step inside the chamber, and when it reaches 100, the time machine will transport anything inside to the year set on the time-dials.”

Alfie stepped back. “But what does the time traveler do if something goes wrong?”

Tommy hadn’t thought of that possibility, but he had a simple solution. He drew an on-off switch inside the chamber. “There, if anything goes wrong, the machine can be shut down from the inside.”

Alfie stood in the chamber, watching Tommy draw the switch. “Good. Once there, how does the time traveler get back home?”

Alfie sure has a lot of very good questions.

Tommy thought for a few moments and began drawing again. “Here’s a go-home switch.”

“You seemed to have thought of everything, Tommy.”

Tommy and Alfie stood a few feet away so they could see the full expanse of the box...err...time machine. “Let’s test it to see if it works.”

Alfie asked, “How do you suggest we test it?”

“Well, we can set the time-dials, put one of the barn kittens inside, and turn it on.”

“We should have an automatic way of returning the kitten to this place. The kitten can’t operate the go-home switch.”

“That’s right, Alfie. I’ll draw an auto-return dial right next to the time-dials. Then the traveler will return to this spot after a preset time.”

“Good idea. We can set the auto-return dial for a few seconds or for several hours.”

“Okay, I guess we’re ready for a test. Help me catch a kitten.”

#

“This kitten was hard to catch, but I got it. Where should we send it?”

“How about 200 years into the future,” said Alfie.

“Hey, that’s a great idea. Set the dials.”

Alfie adjusted the time dials for the year 2-1-7-5, and Tommy set the auto-return dial for 30 seconds, so the kitten would automatically return to the year 1975. Alfie flipped the on-off switch to the on position, and they watched the power-gauge slowly climb: 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, and suddenly jump to 75.

The time machine shook, shuttered, and rumbled. Bright lights shone from inside the chamber. The sound was deafening. It sounded as if the time machine would blow itself apart, but it held. At 80, the time machine quit shaking.

“Put the kitten inside the box before the power-gauge reaches 100,” shouted Alfie.

Tommy opened the door. The light was blinding. He gently put the kitten on the floor of the chamber and closed the door.

The power-gauge hit 100 and poof! The power-gauge quickly dropped to zero.

All was quiet, and the blinding light was gone. Before they could congratulate ourselves on a successful first-test, the time machine began to rumble and shake. Inside was the same blinding light as before. The power-gauge immediately climbed to 100. The rumbling sound was deafening. The auto-return was bringing the kitten back from the future. In an instant, all was quiet, the power-gauge dropped to zero, the light was gone, and the kitten was softly meowing.

Alfie and Tommy rushed to see if the kitten was unharmed. They cautiously opened the door, and the kitten seemed nonetheless for wear. The first time traveler survived a trip into the future and returned safely. They were ecstatic over the success of their time machine and began planning what their next adventure should be.

#

“I like trains, especially, steam engines. Let’s time travel to 1830 to see the first steam locomotive made in America. I’ve always wanted to see how it all began.”

“I like your idea, Tommy. The first steam locomotive, Tom Thumb, was built and tested near Baltimore, Maryland on August 28, 1830.”

“Okay, set the time-dials to year 1-8-3-0, and the auto-return dial for one hour.”

“Check,” said Alfie.

“Flip the on-off switch to the on position.”

“Check.”

“Watch the power-gauge. When it reaches 75, we’ll get into the time machine.”

“Check.”

The power-gauge slowly climbed to 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, and as before, it jumped to 75. The time machine was shaking and rumbling, loudly. The lights inside the chamber were extremely bright.

“Time to get into the chamber,” Tommy shouted.

Alfie closed the door behind them. There was a flash of bright light as the power-gauge reached 100. All was quiet, the power-gauge read zero, and the chamber was dark.

Alfie whispered, “Did the time machine work?”

#

Alfie slowly opened the backdoor of the time machine. Standing on a small, grassy hill, they overlooked a flat field. In the field, two railroad tracks ran parallel to each other, disappearing about half a mile around another tree-covered hill.

Alfie and Tommy hunkered down, crawled along the ridge of the hill, and hid behind a small bush. Peering through its branches, they watched the activity below them.

The steam locomotive, Tom Thumb, was on the rails closest to them, while a horse-drawn wagon--fitted with rail wheels--was on the far track. Workers pushed another wagon on rail wheels and hitched it to Tom Thumb. The engineer lit Tom Thumb’s boilers and smoke belched from its stack. Workers led a horse to the other wagon and hitched it. Dressed in their finest clothes, passengers boarded each wagon. Each took their seat and waited for the historic demonstration to begin.

“It’s going to be a race between Tom Thumb and the horse,” said Alfie. “They’re about to start, Tommy. Look! There they go.”

Tom Thumb’s boilers groaned from the expanding steam, its wheels reeled from the weight of the boiler and wagon, and smoked belched from its stack. The engineer blew the steam whistle, and the horse was so startled, it reared up and almost fell over. Tom Thumb slowly pulled away from the starting line and gained speed with each passing moment. People on both wagons cheered as the race began in earnest. Tom Thumb extended its lead while the horse strained to keep pace.

Tom Thumb was clearly winning this race, when a drive-belt attached to the blower in the smokestack snapped, and without air, Tom Thumb’s fire couldn’t breathe, and it slowly smothered. The horse-drawn wagon caught up, passed the train, and went on to win the race.

“Wasn’t that exciting to watch?”

“It sure was,” said Tommy.

“Hey, who are you guys?” asked the policeman. “What are you doing under that bush? Your clothes, I’ve never seen clothes like that before. What kind of cap is your friend with the red hair wearing?”

The policeman grabbed them by their collars and pulled them to their feet. Tommy looked at Alfie, and he looked at him. What were they going to do?

But in an instant, Alfie and Tommy were back in the time machine. Lights flashed, the machine rumbled and shook, and it was dark and quiet. Tommy pushed open the time machine’s door. They were home, in the barn.

“It must have been the auto-home dial we set,” Alfie said. “We were gone for an hour, but it didn’t seem like an hour to me.”

“Me neither. But I’m glad to be home.”

What luck! They were apprehended by a policeman just as their one-hour time-travel expired. Tommy was glad to be home. He wondered how they would have explained their presence and their strange clothes to the people of 1830.

“See you tomorrow, Alfie. That was truly one of our greatest adventures.”

“Yes, it was. See you,” said Alfie, as he disappeared from sight.

2. Excellent story and a joy to read.

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