“This is it? This is your great invention?” Kim studied the tall box standing in the comer of Tony’s workshop. “You’ve gotta be kidding!”
The older boy walked over to the door of Voyager and opened it. He stared at the colorful rows of knobs, lights, levers, switches, and dials. Computer screens, maps, and charts covered the back inside wall of the machine, while a collection of control panels and system indicator boards crowded the sides.
Tony joined him. “Neat, huh? It may not look like much, but it works.”
Kim backed away. “No way. You’re not getting me in that thing.”
“Come on, Kim, it’s safe. I built it very carefully. It’s even had a whole bunch of improvements made on it since its last trip.”
“What do your folks say about this?”
Tony looked over at his brother. “They don’t believe it does what I say it does. They think I’m just playing a game with Tie Li. That’s OK with me. They don’t worry.”
“Worry? Worry about what?”
“Oh, you know what I mean. Parents just worry all the time. Must be part of their job.”
Kim looked unconvinced. “It still makes me a little nervous.” Tie Li entered the workshop and closed the door behind her. She stopped when she saw Kim standing beside Voyager. Her eyes searched Tony’s.
“It’s OK,” Tony said. “I told him about it last night at the cabin.”
Tie Li glanced at Kim, then back at Tony. “You told him everything?”
Tony nodded. “Everything.”
The girl’s face lightened into a smile. “Then you come too, Kim?”
Kim took in a deep breath. “Well, I–I guess so.”
Tie Li raced across the room and threw herself into her brother’s arms. “I so glad you’ll come, Kim. Now you can meet the man in the garden. Now you can see many wonderful things. I very excited!”
Kim looked over at Tony. The older boy’s eyes still reflected uncertainty. But Tony noticed that when Kim spoke to Tie Li, there was a spark of love in his voice. Maybe it wasn’t too late. Maybe Kim could learn to understand, to accept, to live.
“Then it’s settled. From now on, we’ll all go.” Tony closed the door of his invention. Something had been added to the name painted in bright red-letters across the front. “Welcome to Voyager II,” Tony said proudly.
Tie Li clapped her delight. “We go together; we go together;” She danced around the room, not trying to contain her happiness. Her brother had made his first step into her new world, their new world.
Tony opened the door again. “Come on, you guys, it’s time to go! You get in Voyager first, Kim.”
He directed Kim to stand against the back right-hand corner of the box. He’d built support holds at just the right level for the older boy to hold on to. “I’ve been planning this for a few weeks,” he admitted weakly. “I was hoping I’d get you to join us.”
Tie Li unfolded her little bench from the inside wall and took her faithful football helmet off the hook on the back of the door. Looking up at Kim, she said meekly, “When you little, you get bumped.”
Kim nodded, still not convinced he’d made the right decision.
Tony squeezed in next, his back to Tie Li and Kim. Closing the door, he spoke in the darkness. “Voyager, power up.”
Lights sparkled on all over the inside walls of the machine. A low hum vibrated the floor under the passengers’ feet.
Tony’s hands moved about the control panels, adjusting knobs, flicking switches, and pressing buttons. A computer screen blinked on above his head. Looking up, Tony studied the numbers and symbols illuminated there. Folding down a keyboard at his waist, the boy typed in
a command. The screen responded by listing the destinations Tony had entered in his data base the day before.
Kim scanned the words. He’d never heard of any of them. BETHEL, CANA, CAPERNAUM, GALILEE, OLIVET. His lips moved silently, trying to pronounce each one. SAMARIA, JORDAN, TIBERIAS.
Tony punched a few more keys, and a new list appeared, filled with words that were strange and mysterious. Kim saw his brother bring the on-screen selector down through rows until it stopped on a word near the bottom. The boy leaned forward to read the letters NAZARETH.
Tony reached above his head and pulled a lever. A circuit somewhere on Voyager switched off the magnetic field holding the four outboard cable connectors in place. The leads running from the metal cylinders at the four comers of the machine dropped from their attach plates and clattered to the floor.
Bright-red letters appeared on the screen above Tony’s head. POWER ON INTERNAL. SYSTEM CONFIGURATION COMPLETE. READY FOR POLARITY TRANSFER . . .
Tony typed on the keyboard. SEQUENCE COMMAND ACTIVATE.
The on-board computer blinked its response. DESTINATION CODE ENTERED AND COORDINATED. POWER RESERVE 100 PERCENT. VOYAGER STANDING BY . . . Tony turned to his brother. “You ready?”
Kim shifted uneasily. “You sure you know what you’re doing?”
Tie Li tugged on his shirtsleeve. Kim looked down at her. “He knows,” she said.
The older boy gave Tony a weak thumbs-up.
Tony turned back to the computer screen. He spoke slowly, firmly. “Voyager, go!”
The machine responded instantly. The workshop filled with a soft blue light, which quickly turned a brilliant white. With a sound like a strong wind, Voyager disappeared in a blinding flash.
Tony’s invention settled on the outskirts of a small village nestled among rolling hills. After a few moments the door swung open and the boy stepped out. Tie Li followed close behind.
“How was it, Tie Li i? I think the new configuration works better. It wasn’t as rough as before, was it?”
“It much better,” the girl agreed. “Not so many bumps.”
The two stopped and looked back toward Voyager. “Hey, Kim,” Tony called. “We’re here. You can come out now.”
Tie Li walked back to the doorway. She giggled. “Kim. You can open your eyes now. We here.”
The older boy stepped gingerly through the entrance into the bright sunlight. He stood surveying the landscape. Flocks of sheep grazed on the lush, green grass covering the hills. Nearby, a man walked along freshly turned earth, throwing seed in a wide arc from a large cloth container slung over his shoulder.
Up the hill from where the children stood, the village rose from the fields, its streets dusty under the tread of animals and people scurrying about, busy in the business of making a living. Heavily burdened donkeys vied for position among the crowds at the market square, heading for destinations known only to the men and boys prodding them along.
Kim took in the scene with growing excitement. He watched a herd of goats make their way from the edge of town to a well buried in the hard-packed earth by a grove of tall trees.
“You did it,” he whispered. Turning to Tony, he repeated the words a little louder. “Tony, you did it. We’re not on the farm anymore.”
“Well, we’re not on our farm, that’s for sure.” Tony switched on the solar recharge unit at the base of Voyager.
Tony looked down the hill. “Galilee. The village is called Nazareth.”
Clearing his throat, Kim spoke with some uncertainty. “When are we?”
Tony closed the door to his machine. “About 2,000 years ago.”
“Two thou–that’s incredible!”
Tie Li sat down on the grass. “We only stay two hours, like before, Tony?”
“That’s right, little sister. Two hours. Then we have to go back.” Turning to Kim, he continued, “The people and animals can’t see or hear us. We’re just visiting. Voyager’s translator circuits will allow us to hear English, no matter which language is spoken. That is, if not too many languages are spoken at the same time.”
Tie Li giggled. “Like at Tower of Babel?”
Tony nodded. “That, was a mess! It blew my poor overloaded system board all to pieces.”
“Poof!” Tie Li threw her arms up into the air. “Some fireworks.”
Kim walked a few paces toward the village, then stopped. “Why are we here? What did you want me to see?”
Tony motioned for his two companions to follow. “I’ll show you. Over there lives an ‘adopted’ boy, sorta like you, Kim. His dad is a carpenter.”
The children walked along the path leading up the hill. “Even though his new mom and dad take good care of him and love him, this isn’t his real home. But for now he can’t go back where he came from. He may never be able to go back. It ‘depends.”
Kim studied the whitewashed walls of the buildings up ahead. “Depends on what?”
“A lot of things.”
The older boy was quiet for a moment. “So he has to stay here forever?”
“No. He can return to his Father’s land after he does something first.”
“What?” Kim stopped walking. “What does he have to do?”
Tony looked out over the peaceful pastures surrounding them. His gaze fell on the trees growing beside the well. A flock of sheep waited for their shepherd to draw water from the cool recesses below the ground. The animals waited patiently, their throats dry.
Kim walked over beside his brother. “What does he have to do, Tony? Tell me.”
The boy drew in a deep breath. “He has to die. Some people will kill him.”
“Who? Who will kill him?”
Tony looked first at Tie Li, then, at Kim. “We will,” he said.