Another Day

The lab cat wound itself around her legs and Kim petted it absent-mindedly. That morning, her boss, Dr. Heffleton Pfleeg had uninvented yet another Time Machine and Kim, starting to suffer from a weariness much older than her twenty-eight years, had finally decided enough was enough. She was applying for jobs. Pfleeg was not the only incredibly well-funded mad scientist out there. She would simply have to find one who managed to invent more things than they uninvented. Professor Gilbert O’Sullican, for example, was currently conducting some very interesting experiments into teleportation…

The cat mewed and shoved its face into her hand.

“Another leak was halted today sir, but they’re getting more persistent. Our agents on the ground are having trouble keeping up with them.”

The eccentric, Multi-Billionaire, Rodreeden Zimmerhalf, had not been seen in person for nearly thirty years and conducted all of his interviews by hologram wearing a cat mask. He was widely rumoured to be dead, living on Mars, living in an alternate dimension, a fiction of someone else’s imagination, dangerously insane or at least two of the above. At this moment in time however, he was comfortably curled in a large desk chair. He nodded thoughtfully to his Assistant and stretched his shoulders.

“We may have to increase numbers… Up the propaganda machine and commission more cucumbers…”

Kim finished the first page of her application as Jess, the Lab Assistant, came in with two steaming mugs of coffee. She smiled at Jess, laying one on the desk next to her and brought the other over to Pfleeg who was muttering to himself and connecting and disconnecting wires into what appeared to be a blender.

Professor Gillian McDougley was eating her third bowl of vegetable soup that day. Her sister had told her if she wanted to have a girl, she had to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, so Professor McDougley was diligently consuming rather distressing quantities of vegetable soup, resting the bowl on the bulge of her steadily growing stomach and performing the final calculations that would lead her, finally, to the holy grail of scientific research: The cure all, the Elixir of youth, the secret to immortality.

She was distracted by a cat which had got in from somewhere mewing at her demandingly and as she turned to shoo it away two women in lab coats appeared out of nowhere behind her. Professor Gillian McDougley jumped and dropped her soup. The cat fled, running up across the keyboard in its panic and landing one small furry paw on a key which read ‘delete’, just as the younger of the two women said,

“Who are you?!”

Jim Smith could not get anyone to pay for his microscopic robotic physicians. He only had three weeks left before he would have to start paying back the sizeable loan he had taken out to fund his shiny new lab and for some inscrutable reason, robots the size of sugar crystals, that could be injected directly into the blood and programmed to repair injuries from the inside, did not seem to have the market value he had expected.

Kim came back from the bathroom to find her freshly completed application form bathed in a large puddle of hot coffee. The lab cat sat innocently on the work bench, licking its paws and purring happily at her.

Professor Gillian McDougley has no choice. Against all the odds she has completed her research and must keep it out of their hands. She cannot possibly do that if she stays here and where she’s going is no place for small children. She kisses her sleeping daughter goodbye and leaves. Clicking the front door gently shut behind her.

Rodreeden Zimmerhalf arranges himself in front of his hologram projector and orders his assistant to connect to Agent8254, stationed at Pfleeg’s lab. The agent appears.

“Report.” Zimmerhalf snaps.

“The girl plans to abscond. We cannot let her out of our sight. She is her mother’s child. She will be trouble.”

Zimmerhalf nods. “Understood Agent. Keep eyes on her and stand by.”

The Agent nods and his image disappears.

“It is time.” Zimmerhalf tells his assistant. Fire up the Spatio-relocater. We’ll do it tonight.”

Kim has finally completed her application for the second time. She has the distinct sense Pfleeg is watching her. He has always been cagey, never allowing anyone else to touch his Time Machine and jealously guarding any equipment that could be used to construct a rival. He practically lived in the lab and on the few occasions he left it, locked it securely against intrusion. Neither she, nor Jess, were permitted entry without Pfleeg present and the bumbling idiot had been inventing and promptly uninventing time machines for years. He had always mistrusted her, she felt, no doubt because of her mother.

Kim’s mother was not just Kim’s mother, she was also ‘Doctor Death’, a slightly misleading and not entirely merited title she had acquired from a politician, who had been more than a little peeved when Kim’s mother stole the secret to immortality. The politician had been planning on getting re-elected – once he had made everyone who was rich and powerful immortal – for pretty much ever, and Kim’s mother had scuppered this plan in a rather big way. This had had two major repercussions for Kim herself, one: her mother had disappeared one night, never to be seen again, and two: everyone assumed Kim would also be an evil genius, which had made it rather difficult to get anyone to let her near a lab. As an evil genius in waiting, it was Pfleeg’s job to stop her blowing anything up, taking over any cities, countries or new planets or otherwise endangering herself, her colleagues or the free universe. It was an important role and one that Kim knew Pfleeg took very seriously.

In Professor Gillian McDougley’s secret lab, she was readying her own Spatio-relocater and checking the reading’s coming from Zimmerhalf’s base. They were getting ready to making their move and Professor McDougley would not let them get their claws into her daughter.

“Don’t let her out of your sight,” She told Mags, who nodded seriously and took off.

Jess burst into spluttered laughter making Kim look up from her own screen.

“Sorry,” Jess snorted into her hand, pointing at the screen in explanation. Kim moved her chair over to see. The video was a series of clips of cats jumping like alarmed, furry fleas at the sight of a cucumber. Jess, it seemed, could barely contain herself.

“That doesn’t look like research?” Came Pfleeg’s disapproving voice behind them making them both jump guiltily. For an older man, Dr. Pfleeg walked like a damn cat. “Sorry sir,” Jess muttered, cutting the video. The Lunch lady blinked at the space where Pfleeg had just stood. He had been holding a banana and a tuna sandwich – which he had yet to pay for – and was informing her snootily that cucumbers were a fruit. Then he had disappeared. Poof! Gone. Shaking her head the lunch lady rung upstairs to inform management of the theft of the aforementioned sandwich and selected fruit item. When Kim arrived home that evening there was a lone magpie regarded her dourly from a branch in the tree in her front garden. “One for sorrow,” Kim told it. The magpie seemed to agree. Zimmerhalf watched his assistants work, calling instructions and hissing with displeasure when one of his underlings brought him the spatio-dissolvarity readings. “No good.” He snapped, “Run them again. We need to get her all the way to the ship, no use zapping her from her bed to leave her floating in deep space somewhere...” Kim ate her dinner, watched something moronic on the Transcendanet for a while and then climbing into bed.
Professor Gillian McDougley was frantically checking readings and altering the spectomics. Zimmerhalf was making his move tonight, that much she was sure of and if she didn’t get to her first, God knows what that maniac would do to her daughter. The only option was to get to her before he could. Mags had already reported that Kim had gone to bed. Zimmerhalf could strike at any moment.

The Time Machine sat on Pfleeg’s work bench. To uninstructed eyes it did not look much like a time machine. To be honest, it looked a little like an over-wired blender with an old microwave timer attached to it. Appearances could however be deceiving. Under the casing, a radiometer was attached to a high-powered hydrabattery and a brand-new temporal spectrometer was wired to the timer. Oh yes, Pfleeg knew what he was doing.

And after years of watching Pfleeg work, she knew exactly what she was doing. She worked quickly, reversing the spectrometer and installing a Tempolaxidator to the radiometer to improve temporal liquidity. She contabulated the wavomitry drive to light speed and set it in reverse. The Triptometer was set to release hyperstitional relativity at about 8blillion megaclicks a millosplice, which she estimated should be fast enough. Finally she checked the spatio-dissolvarity readings and adjusted the permeability metrics. Kim smiled to herself. She was ready.

“Power her up!” Zimmerhalf cried.

“Now or never.” Professor McDougley muttered.

Flash of light.

Pfleeg was standing in an abandoned building with no idea how he got there. No, not abandoned, because ahead was a large metal door with light stretching from underneath it. He walked tentatively towards the door.

“On my signal…” Instructed Zimmerhalf at exactly the same moment that Professor McDougley got a lock on Kim and yanked the Spatio-relocater into overdrive.

Flash of light.

“Where the hell am I?”

Professor McDougley spun at the voice, losing her grip on the relocater dial.

Dr. Heffleton Pfleeg stood behind her in the open doorway to her top secret lab holding a banana and a tuna sandwich.

“Who the hell are you?”

“Damnit!” Swore Zimmerhalf. “What the hell happened? Where did she go?”

The assistants dashed this way and that, checking readings, twisting dials, printing reports, but no one was able to tell him. Kim had simply disappeared.

“You fool!” Professor McDougley spat furiously, checking and double checking her own readings. “I’ve lost her! Oh my god, what have I done…?”

Pfeeg sat down grumpily and ate his banana.

That morning, the luna rise over Tunaxy was spreading purpley-blue light across the deck of Zimmerhalf’s star ship when he sat down in front of his Holoscreen and demanded wearily,

“Agent8254, report.”

“The man and the woman have not come in this morning, sir.”

“Pfleeg is also missing?”

“Yes sir.”

Zimmerhalf scratched his ear thoughtfully. “Interesting. Stand by Agent.”

“Yes sir.”

Zimmerhalf turned back to his exhausted-looking assistants. “It is as we feared: We have another player in the field.”

“There’s been a leak?” One of the assistant’s clarified nervously.

“It seems so. The humans have successfully tapped into Dimensionary Physics.”

A low hiss spread around the room. The assistant’s tails flicked restlessly.

“What should we do sir?”

“We must find out how the leak occurred and we must plug it. The human’s cannot be allowed to progress across dimensions. We will have to go on the offensive. Order all agents to be on high alert. They must be vigilant against any signs of promising Inter-Dimensionary research.”

“Some humans are already becoming suspicious sir…”

“Then get the propaganda department on it. I want the Transcendanet flooded with agents hiding in boxes, jumping at cucumbers and falling off things. Make it happen.”

“Yes sir!”

That morning, something had gone terribly, awfully and irreparably wrong.

There were two things that lead Kim to this conclusion. The first, was that she had overslept; the streaming sunlight suggested it was long past six thirty when her alarm should have woken her. The second, and slightly more alarming indication that something was definitively ‘Up’, was the fact that her bed was standing in the middle of an empty patch of land, when it should, by all rights, have been standing in her bedroom.

A lone magpie regarded her dourly from a branch and a small child with a football under his arm stood a little way off, staring at her with his mouth open.

Professor McDougley in her top secret lab, woke to the sound of wings. Mags came to rest on the desk beside her.

“It’s OK Professor.” She reported, “I’ve found her.”