Time Twister

Episode 6: Nick of Time

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Gelantrik stared at the tall insectoid and weighed her options. Her first thought was to use the handheld device that Ludovica had given her before she embarked on her journey through time. If Gelantrik sent out a signal now, her friends from Earth’s future might be able to whisk her away from danger.

“Still wouldn’t solve the problem,” she told herself. At the very least, she’d have to wait until she’d permanently disabled the temporal transponder embedded in the mine shaft behind her. But even that might not be enough. Obviously, this insectoid invader must have slipped through the same temporal anomaly that had gripped this entire region of space-time.

Worse, the subjugation of Earth by the Kolthraftian Empire would alter the future. The Gantoorni might never have been created. Her family and friends would cease to exist!

But what could she do? With no weapons and no fighting skills, Gelantrik realized she’d have to rely on her wits.

“You seem unimpressed,” said Traalohlar. “Rest assured, our conquest of Earth is only weeks away.”

“Weeks?” scoffed Gelantrik. “How primitive are you?”

The insectoid’s painfully thin body convulsed with laughter.

“You amuse me, Miss Whoever-you-are,” said Traalohlar. “Know that all that stands in our way are the unusually high levels of uranium embedded in this planet’s crust. They’re wreaking havoc with our instrumentation. But with the right filters in place, we’ll be unstoppable!”

A ray of hope entered Gelantrik’s heart — that she might yet turn the alien’s ego against him.

“You obviously don’t know much about the temporal transponder,” she said. “Under its stabilizing influence, the half-life of every radioactive material is increased by a factor of ten. Soon this planet’s crust will reach unacceptable levels.”

“What the blazes are you jawin’ about, Woman?” asked Phineas.

“I’m saying,” said Gelantrik, “that every second that transponder runs, the more likely millions of your people will die of radiation sickness.”

His eyes wide, Phineas pointed his Colt 45 at the spindly blue alien’s helmet.

“What you got to say for yerself?” he demanded.

“Please Phineas,” said the insectoid. “Don’t be absurd. She’s bluffing.”

“But what if she’s right?” asked Phineas. “I’ll be gall-darned if I’m gonna let you harm a hair on my family’s head.”

“My poor confused child,” said Traalohlar. “I promise no harm will come to … Ow!”

A blast from Phineas’ pistol ripped through the air and a bullet grazed the elbow of the alien’s encounter suit.

“Ain’t yer child!” Phineas shouted. “You said we was partners. I’ve had just about enough of your obfuscatin’ ways. I got half a mind to shut down that transponder myself.”

“Wait, you fool,” sneered Traalohlar. “Do that and you’ll never receive the weight in gold I promised you.” Phineas fired again at the alien’s feet.

“You shut yer trap!” he shouted. “This here’s America. And we don’t cotton to folks tellin’ us what to do. Especially tyrannical types like yerself, what got no respect for the rule of law. Come on, Missy, let’s get that there transponder shut down, smooth as silk.”

With the alien’s protests ringing in her ears. Gelantrik followed Phineas back into the mine shaft, where the transponder’s status lights blinked into the darkness. Relieved as she was to have her mission back on target, a sick feeling in her stomach told her that her victory was suspiciously easy.

All the same, she raced to the transponder and switched it off. Now the temporal anomaly could extend only into the past.

“Good work, Missy,” said Phineas.

“I admire your bravery,” said Gelantrik, “but I don’t think Traalohlar will simply let you …”

At that moment, the ground shook and the two of them fell to the mineshaft’s rocky floor.

“The mine shaft!” yelled Phineas. “It’s collapsing!”

“Come on,” said the Gantoorni, “into my stasis chamber. We can escape before that insectoid catches you.”

“Upon my word,” said Phineas, “I don’t reckon it’d be fit and proper fer me to step into that narrow compartment with an unmarried woman.”

“Don’t be silly,” said Gelantrik, “do I look like a woman to you?”

Another sharp tremor ripped through the mine shaft, and a huge wooden ceiling-beam crashed down less than a meter from Phineas’ left foot. Gelantrik grabbed his arm, pushed him into the stasis chamber ahead of her and typed in the coordinates for her next destination.

“Gol-lee,” said Phineas. “I ain’t never seen a contraption like this-un before.”

Gelantrik smiled. How many more “contraptions” would Phineas see before their journey’s end?

(To be continued)

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