We travel, but not outside of time. To travel outside of time wouldn’t be to travel at all.
There’s many ways to travel.
That’s a fact, see.
But only a very few ways to travel to Dr. Zauberer’s castle.
For instance, you could take a balloon (one of the big ones you can ride in) but then you wouldn’t be able to land in the woods where his castle is located.
This is how it must be done: One must travel to Austria (you can take anything to do that), then one has to hike to the castle.
It’s a four-hour jaunt.
It’s not fun.
It shouldn’t be done.
So, the professor and Lucy found themselves at the foot of a mountain and at the edge of some black woods.
“His castle is somewhere up and in,” I said. “I think, personally, that Sandra is just messing with us overall. She probably didn’t want to do this, see.”
“As fond as I am of Sandra,” Lucy replies “She is not best known for her adventuring. It upsets her sensibilities, apparently. It looks like we might be on our own with this one. Pah.”
I nodded. What dadblamery!
And I was just about ready to put the first foot forward, and start the hike in and up when—the sudden—we were joined by none other than Mr. Ratherquite and the Ladies.
“Why, P.VJ!” Mr. Ratherquite said. “How good to see you! And…who is this lady!”
Mr. Ratherquite’s two ladies started giggling.
I looked at Lucy. “Well… this…this is…”
“I am Lucy, friend of a friend of the Professor and an investigator, of sorts. I am not so much of a lady, you know.”
Lucy offered her hand by way of greeting, but it was ignored.
One of Mr. Ratherquite’s Ladies—she had blonde hair—said: “What are you doing here, P.VJ? Are you going to Dr. Zauberer’s party, too?”
“Yes,” I answered. “How did you know?”
Of course, I didn’t know there was a party.
She shrugged and laughed.
“Goodness, that laugh could melt butter!” Lucy said under her breath.
“But I’m curious about something,” this professor said. “Certainly, Mr. Ratherquite, you don’t intend to take the four-hour hike to Dr. Zauberer’s castle, do you?”
“Don’t you think we could make it?” the red-haired lady asked, maybe a bit insulted.
“Not in those shoes, I’ll wager,” replied Lucy, eyeing her dainty footwear with a degree of envy.
Mr. Ratherquite laughed and grabbed Lucy’s hand.
Oh dear. This was not good, see.
“You’re very lovely, dear,” he said.
“Not only am I not a ‘dear’,” Lucy huffed, her temper straining at the seams, “but I am also, as you may yet discover, not especially lovely.”
“Ah, I’ll be the one to pass judgement on that, my dear,” Mr. Ratherquite continued, squeezing her hand more forcefully than was wise.
Lucy pulled her hand away sharply and shoved it in her pocket.
“I say that your ladies should keep you on a tighter leash,” she sniffed.
“Woof, woof!” Mr. Ratherquite replied, rather enthusiastically.
The ladies both seemed jealous the sudden.
“Woof, woof?! What does that mean?” this professor asked.
“So, anyway,” Mr. Ratherquite said. “We plan not to walk, P.VJ. However, since we were invited, a carriage will be coming to pick us up.”
Then, just like magic, I heard the sound of hooves.
A carriage was coming, but it was only drawn by one horse. This would be a struggle for the poor beast.
This professor looked at Lucy. “Let’s try to catch a ride on the carriage, don’t you suppose?”
“That’s good thinking, professor,” Lucy replied. “They may very well have tea and cake aboard.”
The carriage pulled up and stopped, and an ugly fellow jumped down. (You know, they ride on the top, usually. Too ugly to be inside.)
“What’s this?!” he cried. “I was told I was only picking up three people! Let me see your invitations.”
And he roughly grabbed Mr. Ratherquite’s, and his Ladies, invitations.
Then he turned to Lucy and me.
“Yours?!” he questioned.
“You know what,” I answered, thinking fast, “I left my on the train.”
“I think I left mine on the… boat,” Lucy said, not thinking quite so fast as the professor.
The coachman crossed his arms. “I can’t take you, then.”
“But if you don’t, my legs might fall off,” I answered.
“And I care because why?” he asked.
“Because we shall take your legs in their place!” Lucy exclaimed. “And then where will you be with your smart remarks? Hmm!”
But the coachman wouldn’t have none of it. He took off without us.
And we trekked the four hours to the castle.
“We’ll get revenge,” I told Lucy. “We’ll find him once we get there!”
“Too right,” she agreed. “But best make sure those legs are screwed on tight. They look a little wobbly to me.”
So, my legs didn’t fall off, but I can’t be sure: I couldn’t feel them when we reached the castle.
Story written by Professor VJ Duke & Lucy Brazier
Copyright: Where the stars are