Kim mulled this over. "You mean you're aliens?"

Ian laughed. "I guess, in a sense. We come from Earth, but it is not this Earth. A parallel one if that makes any sense."

"I'm going to need some help on this."

Kim pulled out her Kimmunicator and called Wade. "Wade?"

"Hey, Kim, what's up?"

"One of my teachers and her friend say they're from another universe. This seems more your territory."

"Pass me over."

Ian and Barbara shared glances. This Wade wasn't even fazed by the idea. This gave them some hope that these two could get them home.

Kim handed the Kimmunicator to Ian, who seemed intrigued by it.

Wade spoke first. "So, where exactly are you from?"

"Earth, but in a parallel universe, circa 1986."

"How did you get here?"

"I'm not entirely sure. We had just finished the day at the school we work at..."

At this Kim looked curious.

"...when there was a flash of light. We appeared in Middleton, in an abandoned house. We have tried to leave, but if we go beyond a certain point, we simply reappear in that same house. The distance we can travel from it varies, but right now we're about as far as we can go. We have been told by someone calling himself Doctor Dementor that he was experimenting on us."

"You seem to be taking this very well, sir."

Ian pondered on what to say, particularly as there was no guarantee anything he said would make sense. He needed the boy to trust him, not think him delusional.

"I've... seen some strange things. This was not the strangest, although it comes close."

Wade nodded. This invited questions, but not right now. "Did he say anything about the experiments?"

"Only that we would not be the only beings from our universe that would be experimented on. It would be bad enough if he simply means other humans."

"You have met actual aliens then, in the 1980s?"

"Extraterrestrials? Oh yes, with the help of some friends, although once we got back, we realized there had been a limited alien presence on Earth for some time."

Wade digested this fact and the list of future questions doubled.

"You say you worked at a school."

"Yes, Coal Hill School in London, England. I was a science teacher, Barbara here taught history."

Wade's fingers were flying on the keyboard. "I am curious as to how you know Doctor Dementor was telling the truth about you being in a different universe."

"As I've mentioned, we've had some experience with... the unusual, but more specifically we made use of these... cyber cafes, I think you call them. It took a bit of getting used to, I can tell you. Anyway, there is a Coal Hill School in this universe, but it didn't exist in the late 1950s when we started teaching there, it's in a different location and a junk yard we know of was never built."

"What would teachers need with a junk yard?"

"Investigating a student who was mysterious, had a vague background, knew far too much for someone her age in some things but was completely ignorant on other things."

Kim detested science fiction and wasn't a real fan of science fact beyond what it could do and the ethics of it. The sci-fi elements of the story had put her off, initially, but now she saw two people in trouble due to a mad scientist, two people she felt she could relate to a bit, not afraid to investigate and not intimidated by the strange.

"We will get you back to your home", she said.

"Yes", said Ian. "I have been reading about your exploits. You are a remarkable young woman. I'm afraid we're a bit too old to be gallivanting around, so we won't be of much use to you beyond Barbara teaching history."

Kim blinked. This was a first. She had certainly suffered from adults trying to take charge, she had worked with her mother as equals, but she couldn't remember ever having an adult apologise to her before for not being able to be a sidekick with her fully in charge. She could tell he was sincere, though.

"So not the drama, I'm going to be meeting my friend Ron shortly, he's usually my sidekick for this sort of work."

Barbara smiled. "I'm sure he fills that role well. We have been on many adventures as assistants, but this is your world, not ours, you're younger, your skill and experience in this type of work is far greater than ours, and, well, whilst we want to help in any way we can... We're just not used to feeling quite this helpless. We've seen too much, done too much. I don't see that there's much we can offer, but if there is then you are always welcome to ask."

She looked down, face drawn.

Kim wasn't much for people showing weakness either but respected the fact that these people admired the fact that she was young, considered that a strength, and respected her ability. She also respected that they wanted to do something, anything, to help and felt she could trust that they understood what that meant, without them wanting to interfere. _That was a perspective I could do with more of_, she thought.

She was beginning to form a mental image of Barbara and Ian as comparable to Monique and Ron. In some ways smarter, maybe even braver in some respects, although probably never ones to go swinging into action on a rope or dropping in with a parachute. She wondered what the Kim in their world was like.

"Why are you in this particular motel?", Wade asked. "It doesn't seem very safe."

"It isn't", Ian said. "But we weren't carrying much currency and British coins aren't accepted in America. Particularly the sort we have We only got to rent a room here because the son of the owner needed tutoring in science. When that comes to an end, so will the accommodation."

Wade frowned. Kim suspected there were some ethical issues going through the mind of the boy genius at the other end of the Kimmunicator connection.

They left it more or less there, Kim heading off to the movie theatre and Ian going back in to tutor.

"Hey!" Ron shouted as she approached. "Wombats 3 is playing!"

Kim groaned to herself. A kid's animation about an improbable hero and an even more improbable wombat sidekick with a pet wizard. She had been hoping to see something a bit more romantic. She should have known better.

Meanwhile, back at the evil lair, Professor Dementor was putting his plans into action. He had modified the trans-dimensional scoop for long-distance operation. He no longer needed to be at the house to be able to pull things into it.

He activated some controls and, fifty miles away inside of a tumble-down house in Middleton, a shadow formed.