This is going to be a long one folks so get comfortable and enjoy!
Qbit’s push through the gate caused Skyler to lose his balance. He hit the beach face first and spread-eagle; his helmet ended up half buried in a mound of sand. Somehow, Qbit managed to arrive upright and on both feet.
Skyler lay there for a second then jumped to his feet, found Qbit and exclaimed, “Did you see the size of that wave! It was huge! That was unbelievable!” Suddenly his thoughts went to Yuki. “Did Yuki make it okay? Is she safe?”
“I think so. I had a second to look over and saw her disappearing through the gate, she should be okay.”
“Wow, does stuff like that happen all the time? That was wild!”
“As a matter of fact, no. I try to avoid surprises like that.” Qbit looked up and noticed a little boy on a swing set, desperately digging his feet into the sand to stop himself from swinging. The boys mouth hung open as his head swung from Skyler, to Qbit, and back again. “We’ve been seen.” He motioned to Skyler with a jerk of his head toward the swing set.
Skyler looked to where Qbit had motioned. As he twisted off his helmet, he saw several other people milling around a small building, but none of them seemed to have noticed anything strange. He looked at the building again, a little more closely, he thought he recognized it. Then it came to him. “Hey, that’s the refreshment stand I used to go to when I was a kid.” He turned to Qbit and asked, “Where are we?”
Qbit looked around, pointed and said, “Well, according to that sign over there, West Dennis Beach.”
“Holy cow, I’ve ordered plenty of food from over there. I had no idea we would end up right here. Did you know this is where we would be?”
Qbit pulled his gate device from his pocket, unfolded it, pushed a couple of buttons and looked around. “Kinda.”
Skyler looked toward the ocean which was about fifty feet away. “Just out of curiosity, how accurate is that gate thing? I mean, that water is pretty close. Couldn’t we have ended up out there and not here?”
Qbit refolded the device. “One of the up-grades this device has (he lifted the device), compared to the older one you found, is the ability to “see” what’s at the other side of the gate. It can read the electrical output from whatever’s there and determine, to a certain degree, what it is.” He put it back into the same pocket.
“But how does that prevent us from, say, stepping into the side of a building, even though it knows there’s the side of a building, right there!”
“That’s a good question because I’ve had a couple of close calls. While messing around with it, I found a way to send a strong electrical pulse through first in order to “push” (he used air quotes) a gate over a little in case it’s in an undesirable location.”
“Wow, that’s impressive.”
“I know. The Professor thought I was just lucky. But what does she know?”
Skyler wasn’t sure what to say to that. Luckily, a raised voice made him look back at to the kid on the swing. His mother was now standing next to him and it looked like he was trying to explain to her their sudden appearance; he kept pointing at them and making a poof gesture with his hands.
Skyler said, “I think I need to get out of this suit and into something that blends in a little better.” He shoved his helmet into the duffle bag. “If I remember correctly, there’s changing rooms over there as well.”
Qbit eyed the refreshment stand. “Okay. Hmm, I think we have a couple of minutes to get something to eat while we’re here. I mean, for old times’ sake, for you anyway.’ He started toward the stand, “Besides, I’m sick of that moon food. Do you want anything?”
Skyler thought for a second then yelled back to him, “Cheeseburger with extra pickles, mayo, mustard, fries and a large soda!” His usual when he was younger.
As Qbit neared the Order Here window, he inhaled the scents of unhealthy foods cooking in wonderfully greasy, grease. The thought of biting into a real beef burger, initiated a response from his internal processors; they sent a message to his chemical production unit which automatically combined one atom of oxygen with two atoms of hydrogen and sent the resulting liquid to his mouth to aid in digestion. Almost instinctively, he wiped the drool off the corner of his mouth, rubbed his hands together and stepped up to the counter. The professors warning of setting a good example for others was easily drowned out by the sound of frozen French fries hitting hot oil.
Skyler soon joined Qbit, who was sitting at a one of the outdoor picnic tables, just as their food was brought out. The two of them sat in silence as they savored every bite.
Satisfied, Qbit found the last clean spot on his napkin and used it to wipe the last trace of ketchup off his shirt. He threw his garbage on the plastic tray, looked at Skyler and asked, “Ready?”
Skyler sucked loudly on his straw then scrunched up the burger wrapper and shoved it into the French fry container. “Ready.” He placed everything onto the tray, stepped back over the bench, grabbed the tray and headed for the garbage can.
Qbit wiped at the ketchup stain again, but it still wouldn’t come out.
Skyler came back and said, “Hydrogen peroxide will get that out.”
“Oh yeah?” Qbit replied, sarcastically. “Well, I must have left my extra bottle in my other pants on the moon.” He smoothed his shirt hoping the stain would be unnoticeable. It wasn’t. “Anyway, let’s get going.” They headed for the path that led passed the parking lot and into town.
This part of the road to town, had no sidewalk, so they had to walk along the narrow, sand filled, shoulder. After they had strolled a little way in silence, Qbit asked, “You said that you came here when you were a kid. What was it like?”
“Looks pretty much the same as it did back then, I guess.”
“No, I don’t mean here, here, I mean what was it like with your family here?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “It was great, as far as I remember. My mom would go to a conference at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute every year and we would all be allowed to come with her. While she was at the conference my dad would take us to the beach and we’d spend the day in the water, reading, eating lunch out of a cooler and getting sunburnt. When my mom was done and after eating dinner out somewhere, we would head to the go-kart track. I remember how exciting it was to wait in line with your string of tickets and watch the go karts flying around the track. We would watch carefully to see which ones went fast and which ones were too slow. It was a lot of fun. Other days, when mom didn’t have to work, we would head into town to go to the stores. My dad usually ended up spending hours in a used book shop while the rest of us walked around looking for the usual beach stuff to buy.”
“Sounds like a lot of fun.”
“It was. I remember, one year, mom took us to the marine biology lab for a tour. There was an octopus in a tank, you know, a display?”
“Well, she went over to the tank and started to talk to it. It was kind of embarrassing, but we all watched as it jetted over and attached itself to the glass right in front of her! She would move from side to side and the octopus would follow her. Then my dad went over, stood to one side of the tank, put his hand on the glass and the octopus came over to him. I mean, they talked to it like it was a human being, almost like it was talking back to them. My sister and I were mesmerized. It was then that they explained to us how they were from a long line of Keepers, like you said Yuki is, you know, on the moon?”
“Yeah, I remember.”
“She said my sister and I might have the same ability. She asked us both to come over and try. We did, but the octopus only came to my sister, not to me. It followed her hand all the way around the tank. When I tried, it just stayed in one place. It was frustrating and I got a little mad about it. Dad said that sometimes it takes a little longer to develop the ability to communicate with them. As we got older, my sister’s ability got better, but mine didn’t. It still hasn’t and if it hasn’t by now, I’m sure it won’t, ever.” He looked down at the ground.
“I understand that happens sometimes.”
They had made it into town and were now walking on the sidewalk lining Main Street. Skyler stopped in front of a bakery shop. “Those were my mom’s favorites.” He pointed to a stack of white powdered cookies that had holes in the center filled with raspberry jam. “I remember when my dad used to get up early, come to this store and buy a bunch of stuff for all of us. We used to wake up to a bunch of fresh donuts, muffins and cookies laid out on the kitchen table. It all smelled so good, plus everything was still warm.”
“Your dad did a lot for you.”
“Yeah, he really went out of his way to make sure everyone else had what they needed before he took care of himself.”
“You make it sound like that was all in the past. Doesn’t he still do it now?”
He looked at Qbit, “Oh, yeah, definitely. That’s never changed. It’s just that now, or I mean when I was last with him, I don’t know… things between him and mom changed.”
They started walking again. The sun was high in the sky, but it wasn’t too hot. There were quite a few people walking on both sides of the street.
Skyler shifted his bag to his other shoulder. “My mom’s research project got fully funded by a foundation in Canada, which meant she could spend a lot more time in the field, with her assistants and, unfortunately, not us. We now had to spend all of our time in Resolute; no more vacations to here.”
He looked up and closed his eyes as the sun fell on his face, enjoying the warmth. “You know, I didn’t realize how much I missed feeling the sun on my face. Somehow, it’s just not the same on the moon.”
They walked a few steps in silence. Skyler looked at Qbit and said, “I’m not boring you with this stuff, am I?”
“No, not at all. I find it very interesting. I like hearing about you and your family, please continue.”
“Well, anyway, mom was super happy because she was in her element; she got to do research in the same place she grew up, she was part of something she really believed in and, as a bonus she had the chance to stay in contact with her Great White Beast.”
Qbit suddenly stopped walking and asked, with a confused look on his face, “You mean the whale?”
Skyler stopped a couple of steps ahead of him, turned and said, “Whale? What whale? What are you talking about?”
“You know, the Great White Whale?”
“I’ve got no idea what you’re talking about.”
“You’ve never read Moby Dick?”
Skyler looked back at him with a blank stare.
Qbit shook his head in disbelief. “Herbert Melville? Giant whale? Bit his leg off? Call me Ishmael?”
Skyler shrugged his shoulders. “Sorry, Ishmael, but no. I mean, who reads anymore. Was it ever a video game?”
Qbit shook his head. “Video game, unbelievable. You know what, forget about it.” He whispered to himself, “A video game. Why’s everything got to be a video game?” He started walking again.
Skyler caught up and said, “Sheesh, don’t take it so personal.” He put his hand on Qbits back, “Tell you what, first chance I get, I’ll look it up and download it. Will that make you feel better?”
Something caught Qbits attention across the street. “Wait here, I’ll be right back.” He stepped off the sidewalk, looked both ways, then practically ran across the street.
Skyler yelled, “Where are you going?”
Qbit yelled back, “Stay there, I’ll be right back.”
He was about to follow when he noticed where Qbit was headed. It looked like he was going into the used bookstore, the same one that used to swallow his father for hours.
He smiled, looked around and found an empty bench outside a florist’s shop and sat down, enjoying the chance to soak up some more sun. Careful no to get any splinters from its worn, wooden planks, he leaned back and lifted his face to the sun. He closed his eyes and listened to the sounds around him. It was all so familiar. Memories of his family walking these same streets flooded his head; his mother and father, hand in hand and him and his sister, holding ice cream cones without a care in the world…
Without any warning his parents started to argue. He looked back to see that they had stopped walking and were standing face to face, yelling at each other. Him and his sister stopped too. A feeling of worry and anxiousness fell over him. He looked at his sister, Michele, she continued to lick her ice cream as if nothing were happening. She looked at him and said, “I can talk to the animals and you can’t. There’s something wrong with you.” She walked away. He turned back to his parents, “Mom, Dad, stop it. Michele is leaving, I don’t want her to leave. They didn’t hear him and continued to yell at each other. He went up to his mother and pulled on her pants leg. Mom, mom, Michele is leaving make her come back!
She looked down at him and said, “I can’t, she can talk to animals and you can’t. You’re broken. His father looked at him and said, “It’s all your fault. If you could do it, we would all be together.”
Skyler’s eyes popped open. A feeling of sadness came over him; he didn’t realize how much he missed his sister. He felt beads of sweat run down his back and forehead. He wiped his brow with the bottom of his t-shirt then looked around to see if anyone was looking at him, luckily nobody seemed to notice. He caught a glimpse of Qbit coming out of the bookstore, carrying a small plastic bag. He sat up quickly and straightened his shirt in hopes of erasing any traces of the last few minutes.
Qbit sat down next to him. “Everything okay?”
“I don’t know, you don’t look the same as when I left. Something’s missing. Did something happen while I was gone?”
“Okay, okay, sorry. I just wanted to make sure you’re okay.”
“I’m sorry. No, everything’s fine… did you get a book?”
Qbit looked at Skyler for a second more than looked down at the bag. “Oh, (he reached into the bag) yes. Yes, I did” He pulled a book from the bag and handed it to Skyler.
Skyler could see that the book was very old and well worn. The pages were yellowed and there were visible creases in some of the pages. He turned it over and read the title out loud. “Moby Dick by Herman Melville.” There was a picture of a huge white whale ramming a few unlucky people in what looked like a rowboat. “Why would they go after such a huge whale in such a small boat? Didn’t they know that it probably wouldn’t end very well for them.”
“They didn’t start out in a small boat; they were on a bigger one first.”
“Then why didn’t they stay on the bigger boat?”
“Because that’s not how it was done back then.”
“Do they still do this, hunt whales like that, I mean?”
“No wonder. You’d have to be crazy to try and take down something that big with such a small boat and (he looked closer at the cover) is that a spear?”
Qbit shook his head. “It’s a harpoon and they don’t do it anymore like that because those kinds of whales are extinct. But that’s not why I got you the book.”
“No, I got it for you because of the major themes and symbols in the book. I think you might be able to relate to some of them and maybe it will help you figure out some things you’re going through.”
“So, I have to read it?”
“Of course! How else do you think you’re going to get anything from it? Sheesh!”
Skyler turned the book over and over, “Isn’t there a video or something I can watch?”
“Video? It’s not that hard to just read it!”
“But, it’s so long.” He flipped the book open to the last page. “There’s like, over five hundred pages! It will take me forever.”
“For goodness sake. I’m not asking you to read it all at once! Just every now and then, here and there. Man! Just put it in your duffle and let’s get going.”
“Okay, Okay. No need to get angry. I’m just sayin’ it’s long.”
Qbit got up off the bench. “Who said I’m angry? I’m not angry. Let’s just get going, it’s getting late.”
“Okay.” Skyler pulled out the bag from under the bench, unzipped it part way, then shoved the book in. “Oh, Qbit? Uh, thank you.”
Qbit paused, looked at Skyler and felt guilty. He said to himself, he’s still just a kid. “I’m sorry Skyler, I didn’t mean to get upset.”
“Not a problem. Nobody’s perfect.”
Qbit was about to say something back when he saw the big grin on Skyler’s face. He smiled and shook his head. “C’mon you pain in the…”
Skyler didn’t hear the last part, but he was pretty sure he knew what it was. He smiled, grabbed his duffle and ran to catch up with Qbit.
When they reached the corner of Ferry and Main Street, Skyler pointed down Ferry and said, “This way.” When they reached Loring Street, Skyler pointed down the road and said, “That way.” They walked leisurely past a few small homes tucked in amongst the trees.
“How did you find out about the garage sale?” asked Qbit as he bent to walk under some low hanging branches, pushing them out of the way with his hand.
Stepping long to avoid some roots that had pushed through the concrete walk, Skyler said, “I came back here before I left for the moon. One-last-time sort of thing, I guess. I bought a bottle of water in town and while I was opening it, I noticed one of those community bulletin board things. I looked it over and one of the flyers caught my attention. It mentioned a garage sale selling all types of electrical equipment, new and old. I’m into the old stuff and I still had a couple of hours to kill, plus it was right around the corner, so I thought I’d go take a look.”
They reached Pond Street. The house is down here, across from a big pond or lake or something. The house is kinda all by itself.”
They walked a short distance and Kelley’s Pond came into view on the right. “Here it is.” Skyler pointed to a mailbox shaped like a pelican with an oversized beak. “I’ll always remember that crazy mailbox. I think it’s funny how you have to pull open the bird’s beak, shove your hand down its throat to pull out your mail from its belly.”
Qbit said, “I saw one like that before, except it was pig shaped. You had to lift the tail to get to the mail in its belly.” They were both quiet for a second as they ran the visual through their heads.
“That’s just wrong,” said Skyler.
“I agree.” Qbit turned to look down the driveway that lead around a small group of trees. “Is it down there?”
“Let’s go then.”
They followed the driveway around the tree, their shoes crunched on the yellow pea gravel as they stepped.
“What are we going to say to the old man? What if he doesn’t remember me or he’s not here anymore?
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
They rounded another slight bend and the house came into view. It was your typical Cape Cod house; a one-story bungalow covered in grey, weathered shingles. The only thing different about this house was it looked like a beach-side gift store had vomited all over it. Every available type of sea, nautical and beach themed souvenir took up every inch of space on the front porch. Netting, complete with captured crabs and shells hung from the ceiling. Wooden seagulls adorned the railing. Lobster pots, filled with plastic lobsters, rested on the stairs leading up to the porch. Bleached sand dollars lined the windowsills.
Qbit said, “Wow.”
“I know, right?”
“I wonder what the inside looks like?”
“Well, I don’t see any oversized starfish or an old diving helmet out here, so my guess is that kinda stuff has found a home inside, along with the guitar playing blow fish and the Great White shark jaws.”
Qbit said, “Why don’t you go and knock on the door, see if he’s home?”
“Me? Why me?”
“Cause’ you’re the reason we’re here. Plus, I’m older than you, so get up there.”
Skyler didn’t think there was any point in arguing, so he dropped his duffle and carefully picked his way up the wooden steps. He reached the door and looked for a doorbell. There was none. He looked for a door knocker, but there wasn’t one of those either.
“Ring the bell!”
Skyler looked again, but he still didn’t see a door bell. He turned to Qbit and said, “There is none. There’s no doorbell anywhere.”
Qbit pointed, “No, not the door-bell, that bell.”
Skyler looked to where he was pointing and noticed a large polished brass bell mounted to the wall. A string hung from the clapper. “That thing? I’ve gotta ring that huge bell? I don’t wanna ring that thing!”
Qbit sighed and whispered, “Why does everything have to be so difficult?
“I can hear you!”
“Just do it! We don’t have all day!”
Skyler let out a slight moan as he reached for the string and gave it a couple of tugs. The bell rang loudly, a lot louder than he thought it would. He stepped back almost tripping over a stack of clam shells painted in various pastel colors, all them wearing googly eyes.
“No one’s here!”
“Ring it again. Louder and more times!” Qbit smiled to himself.
Skyler shook his head and sighed, but still stepped back up to the bell and gave the string two hard pulls, the bell rang loudly. On the third pull the string came off in his hand.
“You broke it!” yelled Qbit. He could barely contain his laughter.
“You told me to ring it harder!” Skyler tried retying the string, but it was too dried out. He threw it into the ceiling net hoping it would blend in. It fell to the floor. “Not my day.” He stepped back, carefully this time, but still, no one answered the door.
Qbit said, “I guess there’s no one home.”
Skyler came back down the stairs, “You think?”
They waited another minute then Qbit said, “Let’s go check out that rickety barn.”
“Barn? What barn? I didn’t see a barn.”
“What are you, blind? It’s right there.” Qbit pointed to a wooden building with two large doors that looked like they could swing out. It was about the size of a one car garage. There was a smaller door on the side.
“What! There’s no way that was there before! I would have noticed it!” They both walked towards the building.
“Well, it didn’t just appear out of thin air, did it?”
“How did I not see that! It wasn’t there the first time I was here either. I’m sure of it!”
Qbit went up to the door first. It was open, just a bit.
He pushed it open enough to stick his head in, “Hello, anyone here?”
He opened in further and stepped in. Skyler followed, close behind.
Once they were inside, they noticed that the building looked huge; rows of empty stalls seemed to go on forever. They looked at each other, both with the same confused look. They turned and backed out the door and looked at the building again. It was the same small building with two doors that looked like they swung out.
They stepped inside; huge building.
They stepped outside; small building.
They went in again. Skyler asked, “How is that possible? It can’t be, there’s no way it can do that!”
Qbit replied, “I’ve heard of tiny houses, but this is ridiculous.”
They walked a little further in. Skyler wrinkled his nose and said, “What the heck is that smell? It stinks!”
“It smells like hot metal and Sulphur.”
“Precisely!” said a voice, behind them. “It is Sulphur.”
Qbit and Skyler jumped about a foot off the ground. They spun around.
Standing there was an old man in a worn tweed jacket and heavy dark pants tucked into tall rubber boots. He wore a tall pointy hat, but the pointy part, instead of pointing straight up, was bent over, pointing at the ground. A long wooden pipe hung from his mouth and his clothes looked to be covered in soot. He took the pipe out of his mouth and said, “Oh, how rude, please forgive me for startling you so, I should have announced my presence much more wisely.”
Qbit recovered first, he extended his hand, “Ah, you must be the homeowner. I’m Qbit and this is Sk…”
“Skyler, yes, we’ve met. Previously. It was at one of my garage sales, great fun those garage sales. Never know who you’ll have the pleasure of meeting.” He looked at Skyler and extended his hand, “You purchased a uh, how should I put it? A device, an electronic device. Did you get it working?”
Skyler shook the old man’s hand. “No, I don’t think…”
A heavy stomping sound came from somewhere within the building. It was followed by, what sounded like a large something exhaling. A puff of smoke came from behind a wooden partition.
“Okayyyy… what’s that?” asked Skyler, stepping behind Qbit.
“Oh, nothing, nothing. Just, er, the family pet. You caught me in the middle of giving it a cleaning.” He gestured toward the soot on his clothing.
“What kind of family pet, uh, um, smokes?” asked Skyler.
“Oh, I’m afraid she’s picked up a bit of cold. Nothing to worry about,” replied the old man. “You were saying that you think…?
Skyler remained frozen, looking as the puff of smoke rolled past their heads.
Qbit elbowed him in the side. “Skyler, the power supply? Weren’t you going to say something about a power supply?”
“Um, yes, the power supply.” I think the device needs something with a larger power output.” He reached into his bag and pulled the device out. “I’ve tried every kind of battery I could get my hands on but the only thing the device ever did was, once, it made a buzzing sound then stopped. I thought I might have burnt out the electronics or something.”
“Ah, I see. Very good. It was very clever of you to get that far. Can I see it, please?” Skyler handed it to him. He looked it over then handed it back. “So now you’ve returned hoping that I might have the correct power supply?”
“Yes, that’s right,” said Qbit.
“Well, you’ve come to the right place…”
Skyler looked at Qbit and smiled.
“But…I don’t have it,” sighed the old man.
Skyler and Qbit said, “What?”
“I’m afraid I don’t have it here, with me. I know where it is though, you just have to go and get it.”
Skyler set his duffle down and said slowly, “You as in we, (he pointed to himself and Qbit) you mean? Like we (his finger moved quicker between the two of them) have to go get it?”
“No, I’m afraid, you as in you (he pointed directly at Skyler) have to go get it. Qbit nor I can go.”
Qbit, looking a bit confused and asked, “Why not?”
“I’m afraid this is all going to sound a bit overly dramatic but, the place you’re going to, um, doesn’t allow just anyone, I’m afraid.”
“What do you mean just anyone,” said Qbit with a hint of doubt in his voice.
“Yeah?” piped in Skyler. “What do you mean just anyone?”
The old man started to pace back and forth while tapping the end of his pipe over the edge of his hand. “How should I put this, eh?” He stopped and turned to them. “I’m afraid you have to be (he pointed with his pipe at Skyler) like you and not like (he pointed with his pipe at Qbit) you.”
Skyler said, “What, old and fat?”
“Hey, hey, hey! That’s uncalled for! I prefer seasoned and portly!” rebuffed Qbit.
“No, no, no, nothing like that for goodness sake, that’s preposterous! Judging someone one because they’re of a large frame and mature age, nonsense!” said the old man as he pulled a leather pouch out of his pocket.
Qbit looked at Skyler and said, “Large framed and mature, I like that!” He turned to the old man, “Thank you!”
“Yes, yes.” He unzipped the pouch and removed a small amount of nothing and placed it into his pipe.
Skyler, a little thrown by the fact that the old man seemed to have put nothing in his pipe, asked “Then what difference do you mean?”
The old man zipped the pouch up and put it back in his jacket. “Why, carbon based versus neutrino based, of course! What else?”
The old man placed the pipe back between his lips and looked around while patting his pockets. “Ah,” he reached into his right front pocket and pulled out a match box. He pushed it open and pulled out nothing. He struck nothing against the side of the box then brought nothing to the bowl of the pipe and sucked in a few times. He flicked his hand quickly to extinguish the flame on nothing and threw it to the floor.
Skyler, completely confused, said, “Sir, you do know there’s nothing in your pipe?”
“Quite,” he replied, “Trying to quit. Fools the brain, you know.”
Skyler looked at Qbit and was about to say something when something suddenly clicked in his head. Qbit noticed the click and he cringed, waiting for Skyler’s response.
“Hey!” He turned to the old man, “How did you know Qbit’s neutrino based? He looks just like any other carbon-based unit!”
Qbit watched the wheels turn in Skyler’s head. He readied himself for what he knew would come next.
Skyler continued, “You two must know each other, right! How else would you know he’s made of neutrinos?”
The old man looked at Qbit and said, “Oh, dear.”
Skyler stepped back and looked at Qbit with fear in his voice, “Have you been lying to me? Has everything we’ve talked about and done since we got here been planned out? The food? The book? Your interest in my family?”
Qbit reached for Skyler, but he backed away, “No, no, no, that’s not true! I knew I had to get you to the gate but after that I knew nothing about any of this! You have to believe me I would never do that to you!”
The old man put his pipe into his pocket, “That’s true Skyler. Listen to him; everything Qbit said is true. I told him nothing of this, you have to believe him.”
Skyler asked Qbit, “Really, you’re not making this up?”
“No, I’m not Skyler, and I think you know that. We’ve known each other long enough for you to think I would purposely lie to you. I think you’re scared of being alone again, that’s all.”
“I can assure you, Skyler, that nothing bad is going to happen to you once you go through that gate. I have arranged for someone, well, not someone, more like something, to be there to help you with your journey.”
“Something? How come that doesn’t make me feel much better?” He looked Qbit in the face, “You mean what you just said? Really?”
Skyler straightened his shoulders and said, “Okay, I can do this. If I was able to join the Merchant Marines and go to the moon, I can do this.” He looked at Qbit. “Why do I have to do this again?”
The old man answered his question, “Because you need to find out your true potential. You need to find out who you are Skyler, and what direction you need to follow in life.”
Skyler hesitated for a second then asked, “Couldn’t I just watch a movie?”
Qbit laughed, “No, no movie or video game!”
Skyler laughed then said, “Wait, I just thought of something, how are we going to see the gate if we don’t have a power supply and since we don’t have one, why can’t we just use Qbit’s device instead?”
“Well”, the old man replied. His device won’t work with this type of gate?”
Qbit said, “Really? This gate is different?”
The old man rubbed his hands together and said, “Yes, yes! Very different indeed! It’s invisible to any other type of gate device except that one!” He pointed to Skyler’s device. “That one detects the undetectable! Marvelous, isn’t it!”
“That sounds great and all, yes, but, as I just said, we don’t have a power supply for this one!”
“Hold on!” The old man patted his pockets again, “Ah” He reached into his left pocket and pulled out a thin black box with a single wire hanging from it. He handed it to Skyler, “Here, plug this in.”
“What is it?
“It’s something I threw together. It’s sort of a temporary power supply. I think it’ll work long enough to go through the gate, then, after that, who knows?”
“Boy, that sounds real encouraging.”
Skyler plugged the cord into the bottom of the device; there was a slight hum. A shimmer appeared in the air only a few feet away. “Oh great, it works.”
Qbit said, “Well it’s now or never. We don’t know how long it will stay open. Are you ready?”
“I guess so.” Skyler grabbed his duffle and stepped up to the gate. Skyler looked at the shimmer then turned to Qbit. “Let me ask you one last thing. If, what I find, in there…”
“Yes,” replied Qbit.
He looked back at the shimmer. “Tells me everything I need to know about myself…”
He looked Qbit directly in the eyes, “Then do I…”
“Do you… what?”
“Still have to read that Moby Dick book?”
Qbit slumped his head and said, “OH, MY, GOSH! You never give up do you!”
“Just checking.” Skyler turned to the gate and was about to step through when Qbit said, “Wait!”
Skyler turned, “What now?”
Qbit reached up and grabbed him around the shoulders and pulled him towards him in big hug, “Stay safe and keep your eyes open.”
Skyler, a little surprised at Qbit’s rare show of emotion, hugged him back, “I will, no worries.”
Qbit released him and Skyler turned back to the gate, raised his hand and said, “To infinity and beyond!” He stepped into the gate and was gone. The shimmer disappeared.
Qbit stood looking at the vanished gate.
The old man came up to him and put his hand on his shoulder, “He needs to find out about himself, Q. He’ll be fine. Trust me.”
Qbit said, “I know, but he’s still just a kid.”
“Ha! His father and mother said the same thing.”
“You talked to them!”
“Yes, well actually, no, not me, directly. A had a whale tell them everything.”
“A whale you say. It wasn’t a big white one was it?”
“Um, no. I believe it was a killer whale.”
“Oh, okay, that makes me feel better.”
A low growling sound and another puff of smoke came from one of the stalls. Qbit looked at the old man, “Your family pet seems to need some attention.”
“Ah, yes, poor thing.”
Qbit followed him over to the stall. Inside, laying on a bed of straw, was a dragon, a red dragon. The old man bent over it and stroked the side of its head, “Don’t worry Ceto, you’ll soon be reunited with your family. Your baby is safe, and Kukulkan will soon be rescued by the boy.”
“What’s that? Who’s rescuing who?” asked Qbit.
The old man stood up and turned to Qbit, “Oh my goodness, didn’t I tell you about that part?”