"Times Are A Changin'"

by Louder

part 1

"So what's it do?" Max asked his buddy Stan.

Stan was proudly displaying something that looked like a combination hi-tech vase and a model of a space station. It was tall and slender in the middle with a couple of rings circling it. There were LEDs and an LCD screen attached to it.

Both boys were 12 years old and best buddies although Stan was much more interested in tinkering with things than Max. Max liked computers but he never really cared to know what makes one work. Stan loved mechanical things. He loved math. He loved electronics. He was the proverbial book-worm and he fancied himself an inventor. Not all of his projects turned out like he wanted. The backyard was only now beginning to turn green again after his 'Eye in the Sky' model rocket and video camera experiment failed miserably. Not everything was a failure. His overclocked computer and custom built joystick was a smashing success as far as Max was concerned.

"Isn't it cool?" Stan said.

'But what is it?" Max replied "It looks like something my brother and his friends kept holding a lighter to out in the woods ... 'cept they had hoses on theirs."

"Hmmmmm I don't think it was one of these! This is a 'Stanley Time Portal Machine'. That name's not for sure yet but I'll name it somethin' like that," Stan replied

Max shook his head. His friend had really outdone himself this time. After all, the machine surely did look good. It had shiny lights and looked well constructed. The wiring was all neat and tidy. Very professional looking but then again Max knew Stan's attention to detail.

"Does it work?" Max asked figuring there was no way it did and still not exactly knowing what it did anyway.

"Sure ... I guess.... I was waiting on you so we could try it!" Stan told him. "How far back do you wanna go?"

"Far back?" Max asked.

"In time ... I have to set the proper coordinates to open the time portal. Wanna go 10 years?" Stan said.

"Stan, You mean you think you built a time machine?"

"Yip.... Just need to know where we're gonna go to for our first trip!" he answered.

"Ummmmmm Well.... 10 years ago we'd be about in diapers. I don't think I wanna see any of that! How about 20 ... errrrrrrrr ... how about 30 years ago? That'd be before computer games I bet! You could get rich!" Max told his friend.

"OK.... But I'm not sure about changin' anything. We'll just go back and look around ... at least for our first trip!" Stan told him.

"This isn't dangerous is it? You don't really expect it to work?" Max asked as Stan pressed some button and the device lighted up.

"There ... let's go!" Stan said.

"Where?" Max asked.

"In the time portal I've opened up ... right here," he said as an area around them begin to look like heat rising from a hot highway. "c'mon!"

Stan grabbed Max and pulled him into the strange area. The next thing that they knew they were falling onto the ground somewhere outdoors.

"Whoa.... Where are we?" Max wondered.

"Ummmm ... Oh.... I bet we're still where we always were. It's just 30 years back so the house isn't there yet!" Stan stated.

"You bet?" Max asked.

"Yeah.... I mean of course that's where we're at! It worked!" Stan stated triumphantly.

The boys looked around. Instead of houses and streets they saw woods and fields. The area did look familiar as far as the lay of the land ... but none of the construction had taken place here yet.

Hey ... is that how we go back?" Max said as he pointed to the strange distorted area still near them.

"Umm hmmm, no ... it is the wrong phase ... that's funny...." Stan mumbled.

"What's funny?" Max asked.

"I woulda thought the portal would've already closed. Well, it must take a while. 30 years is WAY back you know. Ummmmm I knew it wouldn't be fast to close, anyway." he answered as he checked his device. "It's closing though. C'mon ... let's go look around!"

"Where?" Max wondered.

"Ummmmm let's go to my Grammy's house. It should still be here," Stan said.

"Are we gonna talk to her?" Max asked his friend.

"Hmmmmmmm. Ummmmmmmmmm. We'll wait. She wouldn't believe us because she hasn't met me yet and wouldn't believe me unless we take her to the future some time," Stan decided, "We'll just look around at stuff."

"Can people see us?" Max said.

"Of course ... I guess .... Why couldn't they?"

"I dunno ... I just wondered ...."

And with that the boys walked thru the empty field to a nearby road and followed it into town. Stan's grandparents' house wasn't far and was located in one of the city's older housing additions. Of course now it was one of the newer ones!

"Wow! It looks like new!" Stan said as he spied the house up ahead.

Meanwhile, back in Stan's house in the year 2000....

"Boys? Stan? I'm home ... I have dinner ... Boys?"

It was Stan's mother Margo. She was a 35-year-old married woman with 2 kids. Stan and his 16 year old sister Liza. She was blond and still quite attractive despite having given birth to two children and the march of time. Margo had just gotten home from an interview and had brought take-out from a local drive-thru fast food place.

"Boys? Where are you? You said you'd stay here!" she said as she made her way to Stan's room. The door was open. She looked inside and saw the empty room. "Dammit ... that boy never listens!" she said as she now realized that he and his friend were no where to be found.

She almost turned around but she saw a strange sight in the room. She hadn't noticed it at first but there was a strange distorted look in the center of the room. Curiosity got the best of her and she slowly approached it.

"Hello?" She wasn't quite sure why she'd try and talk to the 'area' but she'd never seen anything like it. Was it supernatural? Her mind wandered. She reached out and her painted fingertips lightly touched it. She felt nothing but air. She walked closer. And closer. Finally, she bravely decided to walk through it. Slowly she stepped into the area but instead of finding herself on the other side she immediately felt like she was drawn into a tunnel. Her next realization was stumbling to the ground on some field.

"What the hell? Where am I?" she yelled as she realized she had been transported somewhere very unfamiliar. "Who did this? What's going on?"

Her first instinct was to go back thru the strange distorted vision in the air in front of her. Upon trying her hand couldn't enter. It was as if it was pushed back! Like a giant force field of some type was protecting the area. She suddenly wondered if the same thing had happened to Stan and Max! Glancing around she thought she could make out footprints.

Margo quickly realized that it was very possible that the boys had met the same supernatural fate! She had to find them and then figure out where they were. She hadn't yet realized that where they were was 30 years in the past! Margo rubbed her head as she felt the tinge of a headache coming on. The happenings would appear to be a bit too much!

The boys walked closer to the housing addition. As they got closer they saw two little girls skipping rope.

"Hey Margo ... go faster," a little dark haired girl said to the other as she twirled the rope faster.

"Margo?" Max said, "Is that little girl your mom?!"

"Ummmmmmmmmm, I guess so ..." Stan replied suddenly a little shocked himself to be seeing his mother as a living, breathing child and not some photograph of her as a child. "And that other little girl looks a lot like YOUR mom ... they always said they were best friends!"

Now it was Max's turn to be shocked. Could it be? It had to be! The girls continued to play and giggle until they noticed the two boys watching them. They then started whispering and giggling some more. Finally one sheepishly waved at them forcing them to wave back. This caused the girls to break up in a fit of giggling.

"Margo ... I need you to watch your baby sister for a few minutes while I run to the store. I'll be right back!" a woman said as she stepped out of the house.

"That's grammy! ...and Aunt Lisa! Look how young grammy is ... and Lisa is just a baby!" Stan said.

"Wow! This is freaky! Very freaky!" Max said as he watched the two girls sneer at having their rope skipping interrupted for babysitting.

At about that moment two boys on bicycles rode by and passed the girls.

"Margo-Smargo's got COOTIES!" one yelled as he rode by.

Margo stuck her tongue out at him and the two boys laughed and rode off chorusing "DUMB OL' GIRLS!"

"You know what, Stan?"


"I think that was our dads!" Max told him still unsure himself.

"Hmmmmmmm ....well they weren't very nice ... hmmmmmmmmm," Stan replied seemingly a bit distracted.

"Now what is it?" Max said.

"Well ... the portal finally closed .... but it says here that 3 things went thru the portal ... Hmmm."

"Maybe it's wrong?" Max stated.

"Ummm, I dunno ... I don't see how!"

"Well, we're the only two here," Max noted.

"Yeah ... Anyway ... it's dinner time ... we better get back before we get in trouble." Stan decided and they headed back to the spot in the field where their house would one day stand.

Little Margo decided to quit playing and make sure her little sister was OK. After all, her mother had put a lot of responsibility on her.

Back in the field, 35-year-old Margo tried to organize her thoughts. How did she get here and where was here? What about Stan and his friend 'what's his name?' she wondered. The area did look vaguely familiar and she kept feeling a strange sense of dejà vu. She followed the footsteps for a while but stopped to collect her thoughts. Maybe she should wait for help? Wasn't that the thing to do rather than walk aimlessly when you are lost? And she knew she was lost! It was dinner time and she was far from home. The pressure of the situation about brought tears to her eyes. She wondered if Stan and one of his stupid inventions had anything to do with this! She began to get a little mad figuring this was all Stan's fault somehow. Now she was lost and decided he was too. There would be big trouble when they got out of here! And a sense that he might be getting her in trouble too washed over her. Her shoulders shivered at the thought.

She stopped and sit down in the path and frowned in frustration. Stan was gonna be in big trouble and she was gonna see to it! She was getting hungry and her thoughts turned to the sack of food that she had left behind. She began chewing on a blade of grass.

"So anyway ... Doncha say anything about this to anyone!" Stan ordered his friend as they walked along. "It'll be our secret!"

"OK ...." Max replied and then stopped. "Shhhhhhhhh ... somebody's up there."

Stan looked ahead in the field and could see blond hair in the tall grass. Margo was laying on her back watching the clouds and waiting for help and didn't hear the boys in the distance.

"Who is it?" Max asked.

"I can't tell ... c'mon .... shhhhhhhhhh," he said as they crept closer.

Once they got close enough he saw that it was his mother! She had been the 3rd person to use the time portal. How, he wondered?

"Mom?! How ....?" Stan said as he startled her and she jumped up!

"You're gonna be in BIG trouble ... this is all your fault and now we're lost!" she said as she stuck her tongue out at him.

"Hey ... we're not lost ... Stan invented a time machine so we're all just back in time," Max explained.

"A Time Portal Manipulator," Stan corrected his friend.

"That's a different name?!" Max said.

"Ummmmmmmmmmmm, well, I told you I haven't named it yet exactly!" Stan countered.

"I don't care what you two poopyheads call it ... you'll both be in BIG trouble cause I'm gonna tell!" Margo said as her shoulders again shivered.

"Mom, are you OK?" Stan asked.

"Huh? You're just mad cause I found ya!" she replied as she spun around and wouldn't look at the two boys.

"Something's going on," Max understated, "What's up? She's acting really funny ... and does she look different?"

"Maybe.... Kinda younger...." Stan answered.

"How could that be...." Max asked.

"Ummmmmm, uhhhhhhhh, well ... ummmmmmmm, maybe it's cause she's a little girl in this time?" Stan said.

"Yeah ... so???" Max replied.

"I'm thinkin'! Uhhhhhhhhh, maybe we're OK cuz we don't exist here but she does and she exists as a little girl so time is just fixin' itself?" Stan deduced.

"Well ... are you sure we're OK? And what can we do?"

"Ummmmmm -- hmmmmmm ... I bet if we just go back everything'll be fine. I'm sure that's what it is," Stan said after some thought.

"Well, we better hurry or else you're gonna have a little sister," Max told Stan as he saw Margo wiping her nose with her sleeve. She also appeared to have entered her twenties physically.

"Mom, we better go back home because you're acting funny! It'll be OK once I use my machine though ... I think...." Stan told her.

"Nuh huh! You're gonna get me in BIG trouble with that dumb ol' toy! You can't make me go!" Margo yelled.

"You hafta!" Stan ordered.

"Nah - nah - nah - nah. I can't hear you," she sang mockingly.

"I'll just start it and we'll push her in," Stan declared.

"Nuh uh!" she yelled as she quit singing, "you can't make me!"

She kicked off her heels and ran barefoot as fast as she could away from the two boys.

"c'mon ... we gotta catch her .... she's gettin' worse!" Stan yelled to Max as he took off in pursuit.

"And younger too!" Max noted.

"Mommy! Mommy!" Margo yelled as she ran toward the road.

"Wait....!!!!" Stan yelled to her, "You're getting worse! We gotta go back now!"

to be continued


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