The girls raced towards the unfamiliar voices. Children’s voices? They had only seen adults on Sixam so far and all of them were aliens. Not only that but these voices lacked the ethereal echo that alien vocal cords produced. These were sim-voices.
“You landed on me,” the second voice said as they rounded the hill.
“Hey, we’re kids again!” the boy said.
“Looks like the time-space thingy worked.” The girl smiled. They both looked around. “Expect, where are we?”
onezero and Penelope both felt a staccato thrumming through their feet. These kids didn’t belong here and yet…
“Hey! Hello!” the boy was looking up to where they stood. He waved.
Penelope waved back and the girls approached.
“Are we glad to see you!” he continued energetically.
“Yes, but where are we?” the girl stressed the where. They weren’t asking about their physical location, but their metaphysical location.
“My harddrive.” Penelope said. She wondered how to describe it. Third star in the cross-bear constellation probably didn’t help with relative distances between harddrives.
“Oh good, you’re game-aware. We’re um…lost.”
“We’re not lost, our save is lost. We’re here.” the boy said with a pout. “I’m Freezer Bunny Wolff Tea the intergalactic cheese mailman. You can call me Free-Jon.”
“You must be related to Animal Hat Cathy Tea,” onezero said. She picked Free-Jon’s last name out of the boy’s expansive introduction.
“She’s my fairy step-godaunt-twice-removed-with-gang-busters.”
“Mine too.” onezero said. “Although I live here now. ”
“Really?! You’re from the same hard-drive?” Emelia looked at her companion excitedly. “Free we’re close! We must be just a couple hard-drives away!”
Free however wasn’t paying attention, his stomach was growling now that he’d mentioned cheese. The ice cream felt like it was ages ago. He’d been an old man when he ate that. Now that he was young again did that mean he never ate it? It certainly felt that way.
“Come on,” onezero said seeing his discomfort. “We have food down at the camp.”
“Although my dad’s not a very good cook.” Penelope admitted.
Cocoa was surprised to see onezero and Penelope return to camp with two more kids. The kids looked familiar, but he couldn’t remember why.
“Did you come through the portal?”
“What do we have to eat, Father? They are hungry.”
“Um, there’s yogurt.” Wait – Cocoa realized he’d seen that particular smile before. He remembered a flyer that he’d been given back in Newcrest. It was after he’d dropped Penelope off at summer camp. The boy’s father had been looking for him and had been asking everyone.
“Only yogurt?” onezero was disapointed.
“That’s not good food for guests,” Penelope sighed.
Cocoa laughed at the girls’ transparency. He knew he wasn’t a good cook, that’s why he didn’t try. He’d set the house on fire making hotdogs when onezero had first arrive. He was also tired of eating marshmallows and yogurt. “Well, we can always go home and get Nebula to cook something.”
The children cheered.
“We’ll come back,” Cocoa assured onezero who had to tear herself away from the familiar landscape and comforting thrumm of her 1,000 mommies so near. She took a deep breath to better remember the heavy orange and purple scent of Sixam.
“The mommies say they’ll be waiting,” she announced, and then followed everyone through the portal.
“Oh my!” Nebula said as everyone arrived in the living room. “I didn’t think you were coming back till Mon- oh! Hello. Where did you two come from?”
“We are all really hungry,” Penelope explained. “Father has been cooking.”
“Right,” Nebula jumped off the couch and headed to the kitchen. “I’ll whip something up real quick, just wait a moment.”
“So, where did you two come from?” Nova asked, repeating her sister’s aborted question.
She explained about the tree house and the bears and the TARDIS. But that had gone all wrong and they’d ended up old and used the time-space thingy to get here. Except here is not where they meant to be.
“So, let me get this straight.” Nova said trying to follow their tale. “This last time you were trying to travel back in a loop and arrive back just after you’d left? So no one would find you missing? But you arrived on our Sixam instead? I have to say, you’re lucky you’re kids again. You could have ended up aging into ghosts.”
“Taco’s are ready!” Nebula called. Everyone filled their plates. It was excellent and they ate in silence. Nova couldn’t help but wonder at these two brave sims. Time might be relative, but that made it all the more difficult to arrive when you intended. The time-zones differences between hard-drives alone would cause problems. How had they gotten as far as they had?
Cocoa excused himself from the meal and went upstairs. He had a phone call he needed to make.
“Cathy? This is Cocoa…Good to hear from you too…You were going to call me? Ha! Great minds, I guess…No, you first.” He listened while Cathy Tea explained how her friends needed to understand how portals worked especially portals between time and space.
“This is about those kids that were missing, right?” Cocoa asked, trying to keep the grin from his voice. “How do I know? Well, these two kids showed up while we we camping in Sixam…Calm down, calm down.” He laughed at the obvious surprise and joy in Cathy’s voice.
“Yes, they’re fine. Nebula’s feeding them right now. Yes?…No, I don’t think that would work. The gallery doesn’t allow time travel. They’d arrive much later than they’d planned, if they could get there at all. They haven’t been travelling in the gallery at all, I’m not sure the game would allow it. No visa stamps, you know. So, you were thinking a portal would work to get them home at the right time?”
He was silent for a moment while he thought through the implications. Portals worked by tuning to molecular vibrations and when the vibrations in two locations were the same there was a link. If he could tune it between harddrives…
“Yeah,” he said at last. “It make take me a while to work through the calculations, but I think I understand where you’re friends are coming from. You say they were reading Dr. Godal’s work? Loops in space equaling loops in time? I’ll have to read up a bit…Sure. I’ll call you back.”
He hung up and headed back inside, his mind already filling with loops, vibrations, and equations.