The excursion train’s passengers all pushed off and out – full of chatter about their journey so far, the scenery, their snaps, their hand luggage – as soon as it halted. They were intent on enjoying Van Buren’s delights over the two and a half hour stop before the return run to Springdale.
The diesel-powered train sat in the afternoon sun at Van Buren’s terminal with the car-park almost emptied of vehicles. With two and a half hours, the clean-up crew would be in to work on it soon.
Still inside carriage 105, restored from the 1917 era, two people crouched between rows of seats – a man of 30-odd years’ appearance, and a young woman in her early twenties.
“Doctor, what’s happened? Where and when are we?”
The Doctor drew a gizmo from his inner coat pocket and consulted it.
“We’re on Earth, in USA, in a town Van Buren, and …” looking around “in a railway station.” He glanced again at the gizmo (he’d tried many times to explain it to his companion, but he’d chosen a ditzy one this time, so they simply called it The Gizmo). “And, it’s 2005 AD.”
“Where’s Van Buren?” she asked. “I thought we were heading for Santa Fé for the fiesta?”
“I’m not sure,” The Doctor confessed, grinning madly.”Never mind, it looks like a nice spot. Let’s go look around.”
“But, the Time Travel Machine? Where’s that?”
“Ah, let’s see…” the Doctor twiddled the gadget and read the digital coding. “Oh.”
“Doctor, I don’t like ‘Oh’,” a firm but worried voice from a stubbornly determined girl.
“Um. Well it’s like this. Um. In our hurry –“
“Your hurry, not mine,” she reminded him.
“Ah, yes. My hurry. It seems I wrongly entered Santa Fé’s latitude. I05o West somehow became carriage 105 on the Arkansas – Missouri tourist line. And look…” he pointed out the window. “That vehicle?” He aimed the gadget at it, and again read off the digital screen. “Ah, sorry. But it is part of an explanation I suppose.” His smile was doubtful – he probably could sense she was ready to blow her stack.
“Why’s that then?”
“Um. The vehicle? It’s a Suburban Utility Vehicle –“
“An SUV, yeah. So?”
“It’s a 2005 Hyundai. Model Santa Fé.” He looked at his shoes, shame-faced. “I was in a hurry wasn’t I!?”
“So you’re telling me that somehow, ‘Santa Fé –coordinates 35°40′2″N, 105°57′52″W, time 2015’ became a 1917 refurbished carriage, number 105, on the Springdale to Van Buren scenic rail road line, with a 2005 Santa Fé SUV parked in the station yard.”
“Oo!,” the Doctor was impressed. He beamed that daft grin again at her. “That was clever – how did you figure out that part?”
She stood up, and dragged him to the carriage window. She pointed at the station’s wall, on which was a large promotional poster:
“Take a 134-mile round trip excursion on the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad for an 8-hour scenic tour through the Boston Mountains that includes a two and a half hour stay in Historical Van Buren. Travel in Vintage Pullman coaches (1917 – 1920s) or the Vintage Parlour Car (1950s),” it proclaimed.
“Your head is so full of redundant facts, you confused yourself Doctor. Remember you were talking to me as you were entering data, about D H Lawrence writing about New Mexico in 1917? You must have entered 1917 into the time machine then. That and the latitude told the time machine a 1917 train carriage, number 105. It’s picked a time (who knows when) when a 2005 car would be here. The S of Santa Fe’ must have become S for Springdale, where the train trip starts, and the V for who knows what must have become Vehicle, and Van Buren where we are. Your Time machine has disappeared, and we’re stuck in this country city if it’s big enough to call it that. Hhmmph!” and she stalked out onto the platform and across to stand by the SUV.
The Doctor trotted after her, fiddling with his gizmo. As he got closer to her, the Gizmo tweated, and the SUV’s doors opened.
“Marvellous!” he cried in delight. “The Time Machine’s disguised itself. In we get. We can drive down to Santa Fe’ to the fiesta!’ The Gizmo says it’s only about twelve and a half hours away.” He slipped into the driver’s seat.
As his companion sat in the passenger’s sides, she noticed the controls were rather futuristic and familiar compared to any normal car. She looked around, then brightened.
“West, yeh? And we pass Las Vegas I bet!” She popped the glove-box, inside which was a sheaf of paper money. As the Doctor drove, she counted it.
“What d’ya know?” she laughed” There’s exactly 2,015 US dollars here! Your Time Machine needs a servicing Very Badly!’