Dr. Octopi led Sven into the control room. Sven felt comforted by the familiar machines. He paused. They were almost familiar. The three machines and control panel were designed exactly as the ones he worked on at CERN, yet they each had a faint purple haze around them.
“Just a trick of the light,” Sven told himself running a hand down the cold metal side of the closest machine and smiled. “This might as well be home.”
“So what is it that you need me to do, Sir?” Sven asked Dr. Octopi.
“Despite the genius I am,” Dr. Octopi confessed, “I’m unable to calibrate these machines to run for more than about 30 minutes at a time and now they have ceased to run. Do you think you have the capabilities to restore my machines?”
“Yes Sir! I’m confident I can fix them. The progress of science will never be stopped as long as I can breath!” The excitement of new breakthroughs chased all other thoughts from Sven’s mind.
Sven removed the side panel of the first machine to examine the twists of red, blue, and yellow wires. First he would ensure the physical components of the machine were in working order, then he would check the software. He didn’t want to let Dr. Octopi down. He would discover whatever was failing in the machine and correct the situation in record time. Sven was again the eight year old boy at the science fair trying to make his father proud. Everything felt right with the world.
Sylvia moved the last of the encyclopedias on to the cart to reshelve in the newly renovated area of the library. Sylvia kept a close watch on Violet in the corner of her eye.
“Are you feeling alright?” Sylvia asked.
“Why do you keep asking me that?” Violet said flipping her hair over her shoulder.
“You just seem so different sense the, well, accident. You just reappeared a day after Sven did. Maybe it would help if you talked about it.”
“No,” Violet cut her off. Sylvia didn’t know that the Violet she was talking to was not the Violet who had worked by her side for years. When Sven’s sister had been pulled into the portal alongside her brother Dr. Octopi had been forced to create a doppelganger for the scientist sister as well. Sven could not have escaped from the portal without Violet escaping as well. However, the doppelganger Violet could not reveal this information to Sylvia. Dr. Octopi insisted upon secrecy.
Sylvia returned her attention to the books. Violet’s new harsh tone was becoming hurtful. Sylvia handed three encyclopedias to Violet. Sylvia watched Violet struggle to properly place the books. Something in the portal must have jumbled Violets librarian training.
“Have you noticed that the portals have stopped appearing in the news?” Sylvia asked and fixed the order of the books Violet had just shelved.
Violet never had enjoyed talking about the portals, but Sylvia continued all the same.
“I don’t think they are opening up as often anymore. I wonder what happened.” Sylvia was mainly talking to herself.
“It’s broken,” Violet stated.
“What’s broken?” Sylvia asked.
Violet held her breath. Dr. Octopi had been forced to create her so quickly that she wasn’t as well made as she should have been. This was her first slip that Sylvia had actually noticed. Violet cursed herself.
“What did you break?” Violet rephrased Sylvia’s words to buy herself time.
“You said something is broken.”
“No I didn’t. You did.”
“Never mind,” Sylvia turned back to the books. “Portal must not be good for the brain,” she thought.
Violet tossed her hair again and Sylvia rolled her eyes. She handed Violet three more books.
“I’m glad the portals are gone,” Sylvia began again, “but I wish the news would find something other than the new presidential scandal to talk about.”
Violet placed the three books on the shelf, looked at them for a moment then switched the position of the second and third encyclopedia.
“I wonder if the portals are gone forever,” Sylvia said about to fix Violet’s books again.
“There’s one left,” Violet said. “The big one.”
“Big what?” Sylvia asked. “Big portal?”
Violet wished with every part of her being that Dr. Octopi had spent just a little more time on her. She couldn’t let him down.
“No, I was saying I think there’s one more big book left over there that we have to move,” Violet said as a cover.
“I’m sure I got them all,” Sylvia said.
“You should check just to be positive.”
Sylvia sighed and walked back across the library. Violet leaned against the bookcase and tried to slow down the nervous beating of her heart.
Sven’s fingers flew across the keyboard, a small smile on his face. He had suffered a brief moment of panic when the machine seemed to be in perfect working order yet still not worked, then he had remembered how he fixed the machines the night he spilt coffee across the switchboard. He had known his career was at an end but resolved to try to save the machine and his livelihood before anyone had noticed. Sven knew he could find another brilliant solution for Dr. Octopi now.
“I should have this machine purring like kitten before tomorrow morning,” Sven announced with confidence. “The other two will be easy after that. The switchboard probably doesn’t even have anything wrong with it. I think it all has to do with this.” Sven waved his hand at the formulas and codes on the computer screen.
Dr. Octopi stood over the young man and smiled. The eager little scientist had fallen right into place and was even cheerful as he prepared the machine that would soon destroy the Earth.
Violet stumbled along after Shawty as he showed her the way towards the particle collider. Her stomach felt as twisted as the tree branches she was tripping over.
“How much longer do we travel through forest?” Violet wanted to be able to give her full attention to her new mission and all the trees were making that more difficult.
“Well, we’re done with the forest part now,” Shawty said with a wave of his arm. Violet looked past him, but she didn’t feel any more comfortable with her new surroundings. An endless expanse of sand stretched out before her reminding her of the books she had read about the Sahara.
“Are you sure this is the way?” Violet asked.
“I suppose since you are the creature who was created and raised here you know how to get to the collider better than I do,” Shawty said as he approached a row of what Violet could only think to describe as sailboat jeeps. Violet frowned at the large pillowbeak’s sarcasm and decided not to ask any more questions for a while.
They boarded the strange vehicle and took off between the dunes of sand. Violet had the strange feeling in her stomach like when an elevator begins a quick dissent that you aren’t prepared for.
Violet couldn’t keep her pledge to limit questions for long.
“So how am I suppose to be able to telepathically communicate with my brother,” She asked.
“It’s not something you can just learn. It is a skill you have to train and develop,” Shawty answered.
Violet was beginning to get frustrated. Why couldn’t everything just be simple like in her library. Book number B-3865 always came before B-8521. She felt like the true goal of this alternate world was just to give her impossible tasks to keep her in the dark.
Shawty sensed the annoyance in Violet that was leading Violet towards the desire to give up. He began to explain the proper way to align her thoughts so she could have the greatest chance of successful telecommunication. An hour later Violet began to hear whispers at will.
“I’m not sure I can do this,” Violet said her shoulders falling forward.
“You’re making progress.”
Violet didn’t see much hope in her succeeding, but she couldn’t allow herself to give up on Sven. He was her brother after all. And of course there was Sylvia still back home. For a brief moment Violet wondered if Sylvia had still gone out and found herself a rich man.
“8726, enter, double click here.”
Violet was surprised by Sven’s voice clearly ring in her ears.
Shawty smiled at her. “You just heard him didn’t you?”
“Try to focus and make yourself hear him now.”
Violet began to think of all the things that reminded her of Sven.
“Drag this here and close this window.”
Sven’s voice was as clear in her head as if he was sitting next to her speaking. A wave of relief washed over Violet. But what was Sven doing?
“Control F7 A, right click, enter equation here.”
His voice was downright cheerful and anxiety began to churn in Violets stomach. He was fixing the machine.
“Dr. Octopi must have tricked him,” Violet thought. She couldn’t bring herself to believe Sven would knowing help someone commit such evil even if it was for science. However, she hadn’t been able to believe Sven would abandon his family for science either.
Violet remembered that she had to make Sven hear her as well.
“It will come,” Shawty said to her. “You just have to do it before your brother fixes the machine, and Dr. Octopi turns on the machine to start destroying worlds.”
“Right, no pressure,” Violet leaned her head back. “No problem at all. I just have to save the world. All of them.”