Travel Card

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Bandy pressed his nose and forehead against the rain-streaked bedroom window. Dad had done it again – missed the ball game I pitched. So what if the game was called after three innings because of rain. Dad should have been there.
He slammed his baseball glove against the sill. If it was Anna in a play, then dad and mom would both be there. He sighed, threw open his door, and lurched down the hall.
He glanced to his left. Five-year-old Anna. What did she want? He tried to ignore her.
‘Bandy, Melissa is broken. Can you fix her for me? Please?’ She thrust the broken doll at him as he hurried past.
He knocked the doll aside in anger, tears welling in his eyes as he bounded down the back stairs.
‘Fix it yourself, runt – or better yet, ask dad to fix it.’ He furned, a deep frown on his face. Anna stepped back in surprise and watched her brother with wide eyes.
‘Bandy, what’s wrong? Did I do something?’
But Bandy slammed the back door, grabbed his bike, and charged across Mr. Bettis’ garden in anger.

‘Hey, boy! Watch out for my roses!’
Bandy ignored his fat neighbor and rode like the wind, his eyes squinted against the pelting rain. A moment later the rain stopped. Up ahead he saw Ken Stevens and Hugh Billings still in their baseball uniforms. Bandy wanted to avoid them since his fight with Ken at the game, but he couldn’t turn now or it would look like he was running from Ken.

Ken immediately taunted him in a sing-song voice. ‘Hey, Hugh, there’s Bandy. Hey, Bandy, let’s thwow wocks at widdle wabbits. Haw haw.’
Hugh jumped in with, ‘Better yet. Bandy, let’s wound up some wunning weindeer.’ Both boys laughed loudly at Bandy’s expense, but he ignored them and rode on, his cap pulled down tight against the wind.
I’ll show them. I’ll show them all. One day I’ll pitch a no-hitter and…

His bike skidded on the wet street, the wheels went out from under him, and he ended sitting in the gutter, the left side of his pants soaked with muddy water that ran into the sewer. Slowly he rose to his feet, tried to plant his feet so he could right his bike. That was when he saw the shiny card lying on the sidewalk above the sewer. A credit card. Maybe somebody lost it and if I return it, I can get a reward…
The water was pushing at the card, trying to wash it over the edge and into the fast-moving water. Bandy dropped his bike and lunged for the card…just in time to catch it as it slipped over the edge.

He sat on the curb, oblivious of the water rushing over his sneakers. He studied the card, looked for a name and address, but could see none; however, he noticed across the top a series of words like a computer menu.
Somebody’s business card? No. What kind of credit card was this? He tapped the card with his fingers, turned it over, looked at the blank back, and turned it over again. As he did his finger hit VIEW, and the front of the card below the menu became a picture. No, no, not like a picture. This was a TV. The picture moved!
Wow, he thought as he watched the picture, a space battle! This must be a game card of some kind. He watched longer, and glanced at the menu words again. Hmm, I wonder what this does…
He pushed GOTO.
He screamed as he was caught in a whirring funnel, and when he looked up…

He was in the picture! He was there…In the space ship…beside the young pilot…He was in the middle of a war! Orange and red and purple rays blanketed the ship…the pilot cooly handled the controls and veered out of the rays.
A shell exploded against the ship…the pilot lost control for an instant, and Bandy cried out. The pilot seemed not to notice. Bandy screamed at him. ‘Stoppp! Let me out. I don’t belong here’…He put his hand on the pilot’s shoulder…but his hand went through! Bandy flinched and drew back. Wha…What is happening?
The card! It was in his hand. He pushed GOTO again. Nothing happened. In desperation he pressed RETURN
He wailed as he was caught once more in the whirring funnel of air…
He looked around. He stood in the street next to his bike. His breath came in quick gasps. He collapsed onto the curb and looked at the card in disbelief.

Did that really happen?
He studied the card closer. That’s when he noticed the TIME/DATE in the lower left corner…
Omega Star System/2873 AD
He shuddered. Is this for real? Did this – thing – take me to the future?
He considered the card for several moments. He now knew that VIEW showed him a picture…no a scene of a time and place. And TIME and PLACE must select the scene. And RETURN brought him back to the present! But what about STOP and PHOTO? What did they do?
He hit VIEW again. The ship was still in a raging battle in space. He pressed STOP. Immediately the action stopped and the scene became a still picture. He studied the picture for a moment, then pressed PHOTO.  He heard a hum and felt the card vibrate, and out of the right end came a photograph!
He pulled the photo free and looked at it. A picture of the scene on the screen.
Now he had it all!

He could chose a time and place, view it on the screen, and go there if he desired…but not in reality…he was like a ghost with no substance. And when he wanted to return, he pressed that button. He could stop the action at any time, and even take a picture!
He pressed TIME. The screen displayed a calendar with YEAR/MONTH/DAY/HOUR.
He thought a moment and set 1 million BC, July, Friday, 3:00 P.M.
He pressed PLACE. The screen showed a finely detailed globe of the Earth with arrows pointing beyond. Could he travel to the stars? He pressed a spot near Arizona.

When he pressed VIEW, a desolate countryside with rugged cliffs in the background filled the screen. He scanned the scene, looking for human life. Near the foot of the cliffs was a tribe of hairy, ape-like beings gathered around a fire.
He pressed GOTO.
He stood just outside the ring of…cavemen? Three women and two children huddled in the rear watching hungrily as the men ate chunks of burned meat off a spit over the fire. Bandy watched for some minutes until one of the women lunged for a bit of dropped food. Two of the men kicked at her, and as they did, one of the small boys, darted forward, grabbed a hunk of choice meat, and dashed away up the cliff. The men grunted, gave chase half-heartedly, and threw rocks at him.

A spear with a chiseled tip hit the rock in front of Bandy. He looked up to see about a dozen men in light animal skins charging forward from the cover of nearby bushes. Bandy tried to pick up a rock, but his hand passed through it. Again, he realized that he was a spirit or ghost…or maybe…a hologram…in this other world. He watched in frustration as the first group of men and women were slaughtered by the new tribe. Finally after the pitched battle, the men in light skins settled around the camp fire and finished off the burnt carcass.
Bandy pushed RETURN.

Once more he stood by his bike, but this time with a smile on his face.
He was a traveler in the space-time continuum! He could go anywhere he wanted in time.
For what seemed like days, he visited foreign places in various ages, saw the pyramids being built, watched Michaelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel, sailed with Columbus on his historic voyage to the new world, saw Babe Ruth hit three home runs in one game, watched the Dallas Cowboys win a Superbowl, stepped off the Lunar Lander onto the moon, climbed the Materhorn with experts, and finally…realized that he was homesick.
He missed his mom and dad, even his pesky sister, Anna.
He pressed RETURN and found himself standing next to his bike once more. What time was it? Had his parents missed him? Were they worried about him?

He righted his bike, jumped on, and dropped the card!
Immediately the swirling, muddy water scooped up the card and swept it toward the sewer. Bandy lunged for it, but he was too late. The card plunged into the sewer.
He sat in dejection and wondered if he would ever see the card again. Slowly he rose, picked up his bike, and rode for home. When he arrived the house was quiet.

‘Anna!’ he yelled from the bottom of the stair. ‘Where is everybody?’
‘Bandy. We wondered where you were. Come on, son. We’re heading for Pizza Hut to get your favorite dinner. Yeah, I know,’ said his dad, ‘I missed your game. But next time I’ll see you pitch that no-hitter you’re always talking about.’
He threw his arm around Bandy’s shoulder and pulled him toward the front door. Bandy hesitated for a second.
‘Anna…her doll…I was mad and took it out on her. She wanted me to fix her doll…’
His dad laughed. ‘Come on, you can fix it when we get back. Anna and mom are waiting for us. It’s travel time!’
‘Huh?’ Bandy grunted. ‘Travel time? Why’d you say that, dad?’
“Hmm. I don’t know. The phrase just seemed to fit. Let’s go. Everybody’s waiting.’
‘Travel time. Yeah. Time’s a-wasting…’