AGAIN: These characters do not belong to me, but to Telescene or Over the Hill Gang or something- I made up one of them, so don't sue me! It might sound like I ripped off of "Tourist Season"- So, a special thank you (or sorry) to TLW writers! Antea R. April 2001
FINAL FLIGHT
Challenger had finally finished his helicopter. After the tourists from the future left, he was so fascinated with their flying machine, he decided to try and make one for himself. Some spare parts were leftover from the visitor's craft, and Challenger went straight to work. He found some old pieces of metal- silverware, old, cheap jewelry that Marguerite had grudgingly contributed- any piece of metal the explorers could find, including the generator- and his latex from the failed balloon. He had just enough to make it. Now, it was ready to be used.

Challenger had made just enough room for all of his friends, plus some supplies and experiments. They had already discovered that it could fly, from months of trials and corrections. The explorers decided it was time to go. This time, Veronica would be journeying with them. It had taken a lot of thought and sleepless nights, but she decided that she wanted to accompany her friends home. They found a way on to the plateau, she could too.

The wind was blowing hard- a little too hard- but the gang was too restless. They wanted to try it out.

"Oh, come on George!" Marguerite coaxed her friend. "You've been working on this thing for months. Are you really going to let a little wind keep you from testing your machine?"

"For once, she's right Challenger." Veronica chimed in. "You've worked so hard on it- it's not too breezy."

After all this endless parade of persuasion, he finally relented. "Alright, alright. Everyone grab their packs and get in." He stated.

"Yes." Marguerite hissed, getting in beside Roxton. When they were all buckled in safe and snug, Challenger started the engine.

"All right everyone. Hold on tight."

Within minutes, the machine was in the air, soaring over the treetops.

"You did it George!" Summerlee exclaimed, patting his friend on the back. "London, here we come." Marguerite whispered, taking Roxton's hand.

"I never thought you'd be this happy to leave, my love." Roxton smirked.

Marguerite gave him a playful glance and smacked him on the arm.

"I thought I'd be a bit more depressed to leave." Veronica said, staring out of the window.

"You'll be fine. When we get off the plateau, we'll put together another expedition as soon as possible. If you don't like London, you can go back with them." Malone said, putting his hand on top of hers reassuringly. She smiled at him and took one more glance at the only world she knew.

The wind started picking up, and a light rain started to fall.

"Oh, no." Challenger stated.

"What, what is it George?" Roxton questioned his anxious friend.

"The wind's starting to pick up and we might experience a little lightening." He answered.

"Well, that's just great." Marguerite huffed between clenched teeth. Deep down, she knew that she'd miss the plateau, but she longed to get back to London, have a nice hot bath, go to a nice restaurant and do a little shopping. She knew Roxton would object to all three- except maybe the bath.

The machine started to shake and it was pulled higher and higher into the clouds. Suddenly, a burst of lightening flashed before the traveler's eyes and then, there was silence.

"What was that?" Malone whispered.

"I have no clue old boy. Maybe the storm has stopped." Challenger replied.

"Well, get out of these darn clouds and see if we can find Big Ben!" Marguerite exclaimed anxiously.

"Just be patient my love. I think Challenger knows what he's doing." Roxton said cocking his head to the front seat to look at the professor.

Challenger let his machine sail lower and lower until the clouds were out of sight. What they saw startled them.

Not only could they not see the foggy city of London, but a huge, mirrored building was staring them straight in the face.

"What is that?!" Marguerite exclaimed. "I don't think we're in London anymore." Roxton replied.

Challenger found a large rooftop suitable for their landing. It was successful and the six explorers jumped out.

"Where the hell are we?!" Marguerite wondered out loud. "Maybe, because of the storm, my calculations were incorrect, and we landed in America." Challenger proposed. "Ned, does this look familiar?" he questioned the young journalist.

"Nope. It could be Boston or Chicago, but I don't think it's changed this much since I've been gone." he replied.

"Well. All we have to do is get off of this building and ask someone." Roxton said, leading the way.

They made it off of the roof, having to go on the nicest elevator they ever saw. Somehow, through "laser beams" as Challenger had named them, the numbers of the floors popped up on a screen. Challenger assumed it was a government building. When they got out on the street, the explorers were even more dumbfounded. Cars zoomed up and down the city streets, cars they never could imagine in their wildest dreams. People bustled left and right, pushing them aside. The six wayward travelers made their way to the street's corner, where Malone noticed a newspaper stand.

"Hey, let's see what my paper says today." Malone told the others. He picked up a paper and started reading the head lines. "'Scientists Try to Bring back Human Cloning.' 'Cell Phones Bad for Brain Cells' What? What's a 'cell' phone?" Malone asked.

"Umm...Guys, look at the date." Marguerite began "Philadelphia May 2001!"

"WHAT?!" Veronica yelped, leaning over Ned and catching a glimpse of the paper.

"How can that be?!" Roxton said.

"Well, maybe what happened to those tourists has now happened to us- only the storm could've shot us through to the future." Challenger said staring off into the sky.

"That's all fine and dandy Challenger, congratulations, but what are we supposed to do?! We can't stay in the future!" Marguerite stated.

"She's right. We have to figure out a way to get back." Roxton agreed.

"Well, the lightening hit one of the wings and part of the engine's scorched, so we have to figure out how to repair it." Summerlee replied. "Well, since we'll be stranded here for quite some time, can't we at least have a little fun?" Marguerite questioned, glancing at Roxton.

"I suppose we should rest somewhere and eat before we start trying to repair the heliplane." Challenger said.

The group made their way through the streets of Philadelphia- Malone was the only one who had ever been there before, but, it was about 88 years ago- a few things had changed. Marguerite spotted a Double Tree Hotel, so the group headed in that direction to inquire for a nice place to sleep. It would be the first time in awhile that they would sleep in a real bed.

When they got to the desk, the concierge stared at their dated clothing. "May I help you?" he questioned, a little suspiciously.

"Yes, we'd like to get a few rooms please." Challenger said.

"How many?" he asked. After discussing it in low whispers with his friends, they decided on three.

"All right. Double or single and how many nights?" the concierge asked again, tapping his fingers on an unusual board.

"Umm. Double and one night." Challenger replied, staring at the contraption in wonder and disbelief.

"That will be two hundred and seventy dollars." he said.

"Two hundred and seventy dollars?!" Marguerite yelled. "That's highway robbery. I know a place in London that gives it to you for ten pounds a night!"

"Well, if you don't have the money, I'm afraid you'll have to leave." He replied, a little disgusted.

"We'll take our business elsewhere then!" Marguerite pouted and directed her friends out.

"That's ridiculously expensive!" she exclaimed when they all got out on the pavement.

"You have to remember my dear, this is eighty years later. Obviously, our economy will do considerably well!" Summerlee explained.

"Well, where are we supposed to spend the night? We don't have American money, let alone enough." Roxton stated.

"We can go back to the helicopter and sleep there tonight." Veronica said.

There was still a bit of daylight left, so the gang continued walking. Marguerite had to go to the bathroom and they all wanted to eat. They were very surprised to see the new modern day styles. There were kids with piercings all over their face, spiky hair, and huge, baggy pants. Women with tight jeans and brightly colored shirts. No poofy dresses, no feathered hats. It was absolutely amazing the changes they saw in front of their eyes. Marguerite caught Roxton watching a woman in tight shorts and a backless shirt shimmy down the street. She smacked his head.

"Oww!" He yelped, giving her a smirk. "Marguerite, why don't you wear some of those?" she smacked him again and the whole group laughed.

Summerlee bumped into an old woman by mistake who was rolling a little cart filled with clothes. "I'm terribly sorry, Madam." he said tilting his hat.

"You clumsy fool! Out of my way!" she yelled back, sending Summerlee tottering back to the group.

"People don't seem so friendly, do they?" he said when he reached Veronica, who gave him a comforting pat on the back.

They wandered around for hours, until something caught Marguerite's eye. "Diamond rings! Wait, wait, wait! Let's go in here a moment!" she said quickly.

"Oh, no." Roxton said under his breath, but Marguerite heard him and gave him a cold, calculating look.

"Fine. We've been walking all day- give Marguerite her treat." Veronica said shortly.

The other's stayed outside while Roxton accompanied the wide eyed, drooling Marguerite.

"Hello, may I help you?" the woman behind the counter inquired, eyeing her two foreign customers.

"Well, we're not here to buy anything-" Roxton started

"But we might." Marguerite finished.

"Are you two looking for an engagement ring?" the saleslady asked them.

"Sort of." Marguerite replied, glancing at Roxton's ring on her finger. "I'd just like to look at some of these diamond rings a little closer, if you don't mind." Marguerite said officially, taking out her eye glass and reaching for one of the rings the woman handed to her.

"Oh, boy." Roxton whispered, though this time he was lucky Marguerite didn't hear him.

They (well, Marguerite) had been looking at rings for almost an hour when Roxton finally said "Love, don't you think we should be going? The others are waiting for us and we still need to repair, uh, get a hotel room."

"Fine, fine, fine." she said, putting the last of the rings down on the counter. "Thank you." she nodded to the lady as Roxton half dragged her from the jewelers.

"Robbins 8th and Walnut." Marguerite read from the sign. "I have to remember to come back here if I ever take another trip to America."

"You should remember that it probably wasn't here eighty years ago, Marguerite." Challenger said, which wiped the grin right off her face. "Besides, jewels now are ten times better than they were back then because of technology and the economy." he continued, trying to repair the damage before it was too late.

"Yeah, I guess you're right." Marguerite replied, as they continued their trek through the city.

Summerlee predicted that it was about 7 o'clock by the time they came up to a quaint restaurant half hidden from the city streets.

"Spare some change?" a young homeless woman asked the group. "We don't have any money for ourselves let alone have enough to give it to some stranger." Marguerite stated.

"Marguerite!" Roxton said.

"What, it's true. We haven't eaten all day and if we don't fix that blasted helicopter and get back home- London or the plateau- I am going to scream!" she replied between clenched teeth.

"I couldn't help but overhear-" a woman standing behind Challenger started "You don't have any money and you need to get home?"

The group whirled around to face the voice. A tall, slender woman, with light brown hair and green eyes, around thirty years old, was standing nonchalantly at the corner, waiting for someone's response.

"Why, uh, yes. You see, we don't exactly come from around here, and our money has no value..." Challenger explained.

"I could've guessed that you don't live in Philadelphia." she nodded towards the explorer's clothing. "Maybe I could help you- you see, I'm an ex-mechanic. I know a little about helicopters. Where is yours? On the river?"

"Oh, no, no. It's on the roof of a building." Malone answered.

"Oh. I see. Well, I could help you to repair it. I'm Grace." the woman supplied, holding out her hand.

"Oh, we'd be ever so grateful! I'm Professor Arthur Summerlee, this is Lord John Roxton, Veronica Layton, Miss Marguerite Krux, Ned Malone, and Professor George Challenger." Summerlee said, taking her hand in his, as he gestured towards each of his friends as they extended their hands to the stranger.

"Your names sound very familiar- I don't know why..." Grace squinted her eyes, trying to place their faces.

Challenger glanced around at his friends with raised eyebrows.

The group made their way back to their helicopter, making a few wrong turns here and there.

"It's up there." Malone said, pointing to the skyscraper.

"Oh, I see. Do you have any tools or supplies that we could use to fix it?" Gracie asked.

"We have a little latex, my own invention, and some canvas. A few wrenches and a hammer. I'm afraid that's about it." Challenger said.

"Latex?" Grace questioned, turning to the professor. "That was developed years and years ago. Just exactly where are you from?" she asked looking around at everyone.

"Don't ask." Marguerite said sourly.

When they reached the top of the building, Grace stood in shock. "What kind of metal did you use to make this?" she asked.

"Well, it was just an experiment. We didn't think it would take us this far." Challenger answered a little nervously.

"Well, the damage isn't that great, I can fix it in a jiffy, and it will be ready to use by tomorrow." Grace said, examining their broken craft. "I wouldn't travel tomorrow if I were you though. There's supposed to be a storm." The six explorers exchanged thoughtful glances at each other.

"I think we can manage. The material's pretty solid." Roxton said, patting the helicopter.

"Suit yourself." Grace said, taking some of the tools from Challenger.

"Will you need any help?" Malone questioned.

"No, no. I can manage. You all should get some sleep before you head out tomorrow. You can stay at the Holiday Inn on 2nd street."

"And how do we get there?" Marguerite questioned.

"Oh. You can take the 39 at Chestnut, and get off at 2nd." she answered, not turning around. The six explorers glanced around at one another, utterly confused.

"Umm...You see madam, we don't have this country's money. We don't know what the 39 is and we have no idea where 2nd street is. We can manage sleeping in the heliplane."

"Oh, it's on me. I have a few tokens in my purse and a hotel room there runs about 30 bucks. I'll lend you the money."

"Oh, that's so kind of you! Thank you so much." Challenger said.

"No prob. To catch the 39 bus, walk down this street until you see a sign for Chestnut. Take that bus all the way down to 2nd Street. The Holiday Inn's right there, you can't miss it." Grace explained, fumbling through her purse. She gave them each a token, and handed Challenger some money. They thanked her over and over, until she made them go.

When the group found Chestnut Street, they spotted a bus stop right on the corner.

"I guess this is where they tie up the horses. Where are the bars?" Roxton questioned, glancing around.

A huge bus appeared in front of them, opened the doors and waited.

"Well, are you catching this one?" the bus driver barked.

"What number is it?" asked Roxton.

"Thirty- nine. In or out?"

"Uh. In, I guess." Veronica stammered, clambering up the stairs. She stared at the token in her hand, then at the bus driver.

"So put the token in." he gestured towards the slot.

"Oh, yes. Of course. Sorry." she said, as she placed the token in the correct groove. Her friends followed her lead and placed their tokens in as well.

"Ya better take a seat folks." the driver requested, closing the doors behind them.

"What?" Marguerite asked, as the bus pulled out and they were all forced forward, trying to grab each other for support.

"For God's sake!" Roxton cried, grabbing on to Marguerite's arm, and pulling her from a man's lap.

The group made their way cautiously to the back of the bus, took a seat, and waited for their stop.

When they spotted the sign for 2nd street, they waited at the door. The bus kept going.

"Excuse, me! That was our stop!" Marguerite yelled to the front of the bus.

"Well, why didn't you pull the dinger?!" he barked back, coming to a complete stop and flinging the group once more to the front.

They all jumped out of the bus, looking around.

"Well, we need to find the Holiday Inn." Malone scratched his head.

Roxton spotted it down the block. "There! Right there- I see it." he said, pointing to the hotel.

After half an hour of trying to figure out how to get a room, the six explorers finally reached their destination. There were two twin sized beds.

"Great. Who gets the first shift?" Marguerite asked, looking around at her friends.

"I don't really think we need to keep watch. There are no dinosaurs here." Roxton said, smiling.

"Well, I think Challenger should get one bed, since he's flying the helicopter. We can flip for the other one." Malone answered.

"How 'bout you guys take it?" Veronica gestured towards Roxton and Marguerite "That way there will be only three people left. There's a couch in the other room- Summerlee can have it. We'll switch in a few hours." she sorted out.

"Sounds good to me." Malone answered, followed by everyone else's nods.

When they were all in their appointed bed, Roxton piped up "So, how are we supposed to get back to the helicopter?" everyone groaned.

"Grace didn't give us extra tokens. We'll have to walk all the way there. We better wake up early then." Challenger stated. The group agreed and they all fell into a deep sleep.

When day broke, the explorers were still dreaming. By 11 o'clock they had not woken up. Finally, Roxton roused, followed by Marguerite.

"Oh, Jesus! We're late! Come on everyone- get up! We have to get back!" the group roused, realized what their friend was saying, and tore out of the room.

When they got out onto the street, still a little drowsy, they looked around apprehensively.

"Great. Which way are we supposed to go? We're nearly a mile from the helicopter." Marguerite stated, stamping her foot.

"Um- this way! I remember passing by that building last night!" Veronica said.

"Well, we have to get there in a hurry! The storm will break soon, and if we don't make this one, who knows how long it will take for the next one to arrive?" Summerlee said, as the group started to jog.

They stopped only a couple times, for Summerlee to catch his breath, as people stared at them in wonderment. They finally reached what looked like the building. Grace was standing nearby with a worried look on her face.

"Oh, thank God! I thought you got lost! I finished the repairs a few hours ago. Once this storm passes, you can get going." she said, rushing over to the group.

"Well, we were thinking of leaving right now." Challenger said.

"What? You'll never make it! This is supposed to be a bad one-just wait it out." she replied, looking at them inquisitively.

"No, no, no. We'll leave now. Don't worry." Summerlee said, leading the group into the building.

They rushed up to the roof and climbed into the helicopter. "Thank you so much for all you've done." Challenger said warmly, shaking Grace's hand.

"Oh, it was nothing. Glad I could help."

"We really owe you one. We were worried we'd never get back to the plateau." Malone said, without thinking.

"What? What plateau?" Grace asked.

"Oh, nothing. You know, the plateau in...the United Kingdom." Marguerite said, looking around at her friends.

"Where exactly are you guys from?" Grace asked once more, as the storm clouds started to get darker.

"Maybe you'll read about us in your history books one day- If you haven't already! Thanks for everything." Veronica said, as the helicopter lifted off of the ground.

They were flying straight towards the bright light. "Why didn't we learn from the last time? Did we really think flying in a storm was such a great idea?" Marguerite yelled over the rumbling.

"It worked one time Marguerite, it'll work again!" Challenger exclaimed, checking all the gear. They flew higher, and higher until the light burst and they were soaring over the familiar jungle.

"We made it!" Veronica exclaimed, clutching Malone's arm.

"Of course we made it! Challenger is the best heliplane pilot in the world!" Roxton exclaimed, leaning forward to pat his friend on the back.

"Well, the best in this time at least!" Challenger exclaimed as he lowered his experiment to the ground.

THE END