Pynesapp Home | jack-red | Chapter-22

The Adventures of Jack and Red.

This is the twenty-second in a series of blogs chronicling an expedition into 'space' with Jack Pynesapp and his granddaughter Red. To read the entire story (with notes) please see the JackPynesapp web site: [ click here ]


Red and her Grandpa were walking along the trail. It was obviously well used by bikers and hikers but so far there were no other other folks in sight. You could tell the trail had been mowed recently because there was nicely clipped grass bordering the pea-gravel path for about six feet on either side. The trail was taking an easy bend to the right and entering a wooded area. The trees on either side have grown up, since the trains stopped running, and now their tops form a gentle roof over the trail. It's not dense enough to darken the trail or make it seem dangerous or foreboding. It's just a little shade from the late summer sun.

"So Red," Grandpa said finally, "what have you been thinking about the train?"

"Okay, Grandpa," Red began, "remember when we were talking about how each of us has our own universe and how when we're close to each other these universes are nearly identical and as we move apart they are no longer identical."

"I remember that, yes, or course I do." Grandpa smiled. 

"Well, I was thinking. You know, we never talked about what links us together - you know - like our universes. What makes our universes alike when we're close and different when we're apart."

"Not necessarily different, I think." Grandpa said. "But perhaps free to be different, you know less restrained."

"Okay, whatever. That doesn't make any difference to what I'm thinking. I mean there must be something that ties our existence together and it's stronger when we're close and loses strength as we move apart."

"That's pretty deep thinking, Red."

"Yeah, maybe, I don't know." Red blushed a little.

"You mean like magnetism or something?" Grandpa asked.

"Yeah, I guess so."

"I guess there could be something like that, ", Grandpa agreed, "but what would it be?"

"It doesn't matter - something, all right? Don't over-think this okay?"

"Sorry - go on."

"Okay, well if there is something like that it would hold all our universes together, wouldn't it?"

"I suppose so, to a degree, I guess."

"I mean everyone on earth, you know, like all of us - all people."

"I guess we're all relatively close to each other if you think about all of space and all."

"Yeah, Grandpa, that's what I mean.  And whatever attraction we have could be strong enough to effect all of humanity - you know, kind of holding us all together. Like, everyone on earth."

"Okay." Grandpa said, "so what does this have to do with the train?"

"Just hold on Grandpa, I'm getting to that." Red said as she walked along. She was enjoying herself here and she was in no hurry to get to the point.

By now they had walked thought he shady part and the trail was now passing between cornfields on both sides. The old rail-bed had been raised up about 8 feet (in order to maintain the grade for the trains) so they were well above the surrounding fields. They could look over the tops of the fully grown and tasseled corn and see Mayville in the distance. It looked like it was about half a mile to the first houses and then it was only a couple blocks to the ice cream store.

"Come on Red, what does this have to do with the train?" Grandpa insisted.

"Well, I think that somehow while you guys were walking that day, that train came by and disrupted whatever force was holding you together with everyone else and somehow you got pushed next to some other universe - or universes."

"Hmm"; was all Grandpa could say.   He stopped walking and looked at Red. Then he turned and started walking again.

They walked along quietly for a while. The afternoon sun was warming thing up nicely and Red took off the jacket she was wearing and tied the sleeves around her neck and wore it like a cape. 

After they walked for a while she looked over at Grandpa and said; "So, what do you think?"

"That's an interesting idea." Grandpa said; "So you think the train caused some sort of disruption in the fabric that holds everything together. "

"Something like that, yes a fabric." Red stopped and picked up a rock and threw it into the ditch. Grandpa stopped and picked up a candy wrapper and put it in his pocket. And then they both started walking again. "Hmm, a fabric, " She continued, "that's good, Grandpa."

"Thanks." Grandpa smiled. Then he continued;  "And so you think this only effected your Dad and me?"

"And Billy."

"Yes, and Billy." Grandpa said; "And as soon as it went by us the effect faded and we re-attached back to our own universes?"

"Except for Billy because he got on the train."

"Yes, it would have been different for Billy, I guess. "

"But he came back so it must have only been a wave or something like that, you know."

"You really have been thinking about this, haven't you." Grandpa said admiringly.

"Yeah, like I said. I mean, haven't you, Grandpa?"

"Yes, of course. I've been thinking about time warps and that but not the universe thing."

"If it was just a time warp, how could Billy stay in that time and you and Daddy not?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well the fact that Billy was able to ride that train and then come back to the same place - more or less - that he left, you know. I can't explain this very well. I mean he was able to join that other universe (whatever it was) and then return to the same universe (or universes) he left and then things just keep going the way they were as if nothing happened."

Red continued; "And not only was that train from a different time, it was from a different reality. It wasn't just back in our time - it was back in some other time. Some other reality. Some other history. Some other universe."

"But close to ours." Grandpa insisted.

"Yeah, close. It wasn't like space aliens or anything. It was very close to our world but not our world, you know, our universe."

"Yes, that's the strange part of the whole thing." Grandpa admitted. "And that's also the scary part. And that's why your Mother is so worried about you (or any of us) going on this trail."

"Yeah, I know. That's what she said. We had a long talk about it, you know."

"Yeah, I heard about that, you know, from Grandma."

"But you and Dad have looked for the train and it's never come back, right?"

"That's right, but that doesn't mean it never will. It happened once, you know, and it might happen again. Nobody knows."

"Well, if it does happen, you know, if we do see the train, we don't have to get on - like Billy. We can just watch it go by - like you guys did. And then we'll be safe, right?."

"But wouldn't you be curious to see what Billy saw?" Grandpa asked.

"Maybe." Red thought for a few steps and then said; "It would be cool to ride it to the city and back like Billy did. After all he did make it back safely and nothing bad happened to him."

"Yes, there is that." Grandpa admitted; "I agree, it would be tempting. But what if Billy was just lucky, you know, what if it was just dumb luck that he made it back to the same place he left?"

"That's a scary thought.";  Red said.

"Yes it is." Grandpa said. "Very scary. So don't even think about getting on the train, Okay?"

"Like it's ever going to come back." Red laughed.

"I'm serious, Red. If you ever see that train  - or anything else like it - promise me you won't get on it."

"Grandpa, I've already promised Mom and Dad." Red said annoyed.


"Okay, Grandpa, I promise."

"Thanks Red."

They were just coming to the ice cream place and this time there were no races to see who would get there first. They walked into the store.

"You too." Red looked at Grandpa.

"What, me too?" Grandpa asked.

"Promise me you won't get on that train." Red looked at Grandpa with her sternest look.

Grandpa laughed (perhaps too nervously); "Okay, Red I promise."

"I'm serious Grandpa."

"Okay, Red." Then he continued almost under his breath; "Like it's ever going to come back." 

Red heard this and they both laughed.

Red ordered a strawberry sundae and Grandpa; a hot fudge. They took their treats outside to eat on the patio.

[ Click here to continue to part XXIII ]