“What is this?” asked Arn.
“A three inch thick solid steel panel that functions as a door. If you don’t know how to open it and the concrete-filled steel panel that just slid open, you’d need a bomb powerful enough to blow up this end of town to get inside.” I answered.
“We’ll find out in a moment.”
The door was a foot taller and a foot wider than the area we could see. The extra six inches on each side and the top and bottom rested in a deep steel groove embedded between thick concrete walls. Gramps had said a tank could ram the door at full speed and the tank would bounce off.
Fortunately, I remembered how to open it. The panel behind us closed with a whoosh. A light came on above us, and the door in front of us slid open, revealing an illuminated stairwell.
“It still works! Gramps’ door works as well as it did the last time I opened it, which must have been at least thirty years ago,” I exclaimed.
“You’ve been here before? Arn asked.
“Hundreds of times. It’s Gramps’ workshop,” I answered as we entered the open door and descended the steps.
“This is the last door.”
“What are you doing to make them open?” Arn asked.
“They know me and open only for Gramps and me.”
As the third door slid open, a light from the room inside came on automatically, and the door behind us closed. I stepped in and Arn followed.
As soon as we entered the room, the third door closed behind us.
“Gramps workshop?” Arn asked. “My Gramps?”
“No, it is my Gramps’ workshop, Arn. Why didn’t you tell me I’m on the earth I grew up on? Or is this some parallel universe, sort of a duplicate of where I came from?”
“I think it’s the same place, Tammy, the same place some time in the future of the time you’re from.”
“If you knew, why didn’t you tell me, Arn? Why?” I demanded.
“I wasn’t sure and I thought you needed to remember more before I told you what I knew.”
“So you’ve been in Gramps workshop before?” I asked.
“No. I didn’t even know it existed. What is it exactly?”
“Well, it was the place where Gramps used to putter, as he called it. He liked to work on his inventions in here, although I never understood why he buried it ten feet underground and made walls five feet thick.”
“Looks like he was some sort of survivalist,” Arn commented, surveying the supplies that lined the walls. There were cases of canned and freeze-dried food, bottled water, clothes, blankets, books, generators, and rows of floor-to-ceiling cabinets which we would soon discover were filled with more of the same.
In the middle of the room stood what appeared to be a large, armored Land Rover.
“Where the heck did he get all this stuff?” I asked no one in particular, since I knew Arn didn’t know. “He had lots of techno gizmos in here the last time I was here, but none of this stuff. How did he even get that land rover in here?”
“Beats me,” Arn commented.
Seventy-Five Seconds ‘Till You Die
“Welcome to my lair” a voice announced. “You have exactly seventy five seconds after the tone to disarm the auto self-destruct mechanism. If you fail to disarm it in that length of time, a teddy bear will appear and then this facility will be vaporized.”
A loud tone sounded.
“Tammy!” Arn shouted as I ran to a hidden panel on the wall to my right. “How in the hell do we get out of here?”
Ignoring Arn, I placed my left hand on the panel. A small door opened, revealing a large lighted keyboard inside. Letters, numbers and symbols were printed on the keys.
“Think. Think Tammy,” the voice commanded.
“Tammy,” Arn screamed. “Get us out of here. We’re going to die.”
“Shut up, Arn!”
I was sweating profusely. Then I remembered. I entered the long code.
“Congratulations,” the voice announced. “Look around and make yourself at home.”
“What in the hell was that all about, Tammy? Your Gramps rigged this place so it would blow up?”
“Apparently, although he must have done that since I’ve been here, maybe when he was hauling all these supplies in here.”
“How did you know how to shut it down, Tammy?”
“The voice. It told me.”
“All it said was something about a teddy bear and then it told you to think.”
“That’s all I needed, Arn. None of that would have meant anything to anyone except Gramps and me. I wish Gramps were here. Wait a minute. Maybe his picture is still on his desk, along with mine.”
My Gramps or Your Gramps?
I turned and walked to a small desk at the other end of the room. Yep, Gramps’ picture was still sitting there right next to the one Gramps took of me on my sixteenth birthday.
This can’t be a parallel universe. This is Gramps’ workshop. Those are our pictures. Arn must be right. Somehow I ended up in the future.
I realized Arn was standing next to me, looking at the pictures of me and Gramps.
“That’s my Gramps, Arn.”
“Kinda thought so. That’s my Gramps too, Tammy.”
“Excuse me? Did you say that’s also your Gramps? How is that possible? My Gramps couldn’t possibly have lived long enough to have been your Gramps. How do you explain that?”
“I’m guessing he got here the same way you did.”
“You said he was here for years. My Gramps never went anywhere for more than a few days.”
“Maybe not, Tammy, but I’m pretty sure it’s the same Gramps. Maybe he came after you left your time and somehow got here before you did, then left again before you got here.”
“Did your Gramps have a tattoo on him?” I asked.
“A little blue sailor girl sitting on an anchor on his left shoulder,” Arn replied.
“So did mine. He said it reminded him of his sweetheart when she was a kid. That would have been my grandma. They knew each other as kids.”
“Same story, except I never met your grandma. Gramps said she died before I was born.”
“I knew my grandma, Arn. She was alive the day I was last in this room.”
“He called her Lindy.”
“That was grandma’s name. Well, actually it was Linda. Lindy was her nickname.”
Gramps Told Me You’d Be Coming
“How do you explain all of this, Tammy?”
“I have no explanation. I fall out of the sky, wake up on this Godforsaken planet that looks nothing like mine, spend my days brushing dust off some kind of weeds, eat weed leaf soup, sleep on a patch of dry grass under a poor excuse for a tree and until today have been nothing but way too hot. Now I find my grandpa’s hidden workshop and you tell me he’s your grandpa too, but you’ve never seen this workshop. Does that about sum it up?”
“I’d say it does, Tammy. Gramps told me you’d be coming. He was right. You’re the prettiest woman I ever laid eyes on.”
“Gramps told you I was coming?”
“Yep. He said it was a certainty.’
“How did he know I was coming?”
“I don’t understand this, Tammy, but he said you were the one who convinced him to come.”
“How could I convince him to come if I’d never been here and didn’t know how to get here?”
“Gramps said you’d already been here. You told him the way would find him, but he would never find the way, whatever that means.”
“That doesn’t make any sense to me, Arn. I’ve never been here, at least not in this time zone.”
“How well do you remember, Tammy? How far back do you remember?”
“You’ve got me on that one. I don’t remember much before I was about fifteen. My only clear memories start the day Gramps took that picture of me on my sixteenth birthday.”
“So maybe you were here before that.”
“I don’t know. Just a minute. You don’t remember much of anything before about six years ago, do you Arn? So are you my brother?”
Third Person in the Room
“You’re not related.”
Shocked, Arn and I both spun on our heels to face the voice. Gramps stood there smiling.
“Gramps!” we shouted almost in unison.
“Hello Tammy and Arn. My two favorite kids. I knew you’d find my workshop, Tammy. I really did know it. You told me yourself that you found it. What do you think of all the supplies I brought here for you? There’s more in the rooms beyond the far wall. Lots more.”
“How’d you get here?” I asked. “Are you really my Gramps? Who are you?”
“In a sense I am Gramps. I look like Gramps, and know all that Gramps knows, but I am actually a generated image. If you touch me, you’ll discover that I have no substance. Even so, I can talk to you, answer your questions and things like that. We’ll be spending lots of time together over the next couple of years.”
“Where’s Gramps?” I asked.
“Right where you left him. He doesn’t even know you’re here.”
“I’ve been gone a week and he doesn’t know I’m missing?”
“You’re not missing. We’ll talk about how that works later. In the meantime I’d suggest you acquaint yourself with the contents of these rooms and then get to know your new friend.” Gramps gestured to the Land Rover.
“How’d you get that in here?” I asked.
“Very easily,” Gramps replied.
“Where’s all the technical wizardry that you used to have in here? Instead of stuff even James Bond never dreamed of, we have blankets and canned soup.”
“I decided to upgrade. I’ll explain that later. You’ll approve, Tammy. Why don’t you two grab something to eat first, look around, meet McKaren and I’ll be back. Oh yes, McKaren is your ride,” Gramps said, pointing to the Land Rover.