After a moment the man returned. “Not too shabby for an outhouse. Although, if you’re all alone the privacy seems like overkill.”
“Papa said animals go in the woods. And he liked having a dry place to go when it rains. You still haven’t told me how you just fell out of the air,” Jacob pushed.
The man hesitated for a moment. “You see that ball I came out of? Well, that’s a time machine. I’m from the year 2130. I actually set it to deliver me farther back in time than this. Not sure how I ended up here. Do you know what year this is?”
“We don’t really keep up with it,” Jacob admitted, not realizing this was something that had once been important. As fantastical as this man’s claims sounded, Jacob couldn’t think of a reason to disbelieve him. The ball, or time machine, had after all just fallen out of the sky a few feet above the water.
“My name’s Farley by the way.” The man stuck out his hand. Jacob just stared at it. “Should I just call you kid?”
The man pulled his hand back. “Well Jacob, I might need your help getting my machine out of the water. But, if you don’t mind, I’d like to stretch my legs. Maybe take a walk and have a look around? That ok?”
Jacob nodded. Truth be told, this Farley guy could have asked him for anything and he’d have obliged. The shock of meeting another human had not worn off. Which is also the reason he followed him.
Farley pulled a small light from his pocket that was surprisingly bright compared to anything Jacob had on the farm. First, they checked out the main house. Jacob showed him in and gave an informal tour. The small stone structure only consisted of four rooms; a main living area, Papa’s bedroom, a room Jacob and his brother shared, and a small library. Farley seemed impressed with how clean and tidy everything was. Jacob explained that he was trying to keep things as Papa liked them. Farley was particularly interested in the library. Jacob explained that most of the books were from the past one or two hundred years. At least that’s what Papa had told him. He had close to five hundred, mostly collected from a nearby neighborhood. Farley asked if any of the books explained where all of the people had gone, but Jacob told him they didn’t.
Once back outside, Jacob showed Farley his garden, now only consisting of potatoes, the barn where he kept tools and his three goats, used for milk. Finally they walked back down to the lake where Jacob explained the problems he was having with the fish.
“Can’t believe you take care of all of this by yourself. If you don’t mind, I’d like to spend a few days here. It’s going to take a little time to get my time machine back into condition. And the people back from my time are going to be fascinated, if not a little alarmed, to know more about this place. Especially if I can figure out what happened to all the people.”
Jacob couldn’t very well protest Farley staying. For one thing, he didn’t know of anywhere Farley could go. And he did need help with the fish. Beyond that, the company of another human was much needed.
The evening passed quickly. Jacob and Farley extracted the time machine from the lake. Farley waded waist deep on the backside of the pod and pushed while Jacob stayed on the front and somewhat guided the large ball onto the shore. Once on the shore, Farley leveled the door with the ground, reached in, and tapped a button somewhere on a panel just inside. With that tap, the machine leveled itself, and to Jacob’s amazement auto-balanced. Despite being a large ball, it could now be entered and exited without provoking the slightest movement.
Jacob had been eager to see the inside. He rushed to the door as Farley put his hand out.
“Whoa skippy. That’s not a playroom. The slightest miss-adjustment to the controls can create a lot of problems. I wouldn’t want my head to end up in one time and my feet another.”
Jacob halted, not wanting to be responsible for such a horror. Cautiously sticking his head in, he scoped out the elaborate control room. Farley wasn’t joking. The controls appeared complex and there were a lot of them.
Farley stepped past him and sat down in one of two large leather captain’s chairs. “Dammit,” he exclaimed. “The battery appears close to dead. Must be from the particularly long leap. I’ll have to find a power source. I saw you had lights up in the house. They work?”
“They run off a battery we charge with a stationary bike.”
“Is that a joke? A bike? That certainly won’t produce enough for me. Our legs might fall off trying to generate what I need. Your dad didn’t have a better way?”
“He really liked the bike. Thought it was a clever way to get exercise. So he hadn’t hooked up the easy power yet.”
“Papa was working on it. Had some project he needed it for. But he wouldn’t tell me what it was. He’d become kinda obsessed with it.”
“I didn’t see anything like that in the house.”
Jacob laughed. “That’d be kinda silly. A solar field won’t fit in the house.”
“A solar field?”
“Yeah, next to Papa’s workshop. It’s down the road.
Farley smiled, “Well then tomorrow, down the road we will go!”
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