After a sickening rushing sensation during which Patricia had passed out, she awoke to find herself lying on some unbelievably bright green grass. Charlie and Jemima were already awake. Jem seemed to be walking backwards as the man walked forwards: what was it her friend didn't trust about him? Was it that this version of Charlie Kennedy had bad teeth? Was it his strange taste in clothing? Was it his manner (Patricia found that charming!); or was it the fact that he was still alive? Surely her friend can't have been put off by something as small as his saying he'd take them home, then saying he'd take them to another dimension that wasn't home? Nothing wrong with changing your mind about stuff.
Patricia smiled engratiatingly at Mr. Kennedy and was delighted to be offered an uplifting beam in response.
Charlie (as he insisted on being called) explained to them the basic fabric of Universal Reality. Apparently length, breadth and depth were all actually one dimension. He demonstrated this by walking forwards, sideways... and then doing the old pretending-to-walk-downstairs routine, complete with a tip of his hat and a cheeky wink. Patricia laughed. Jem didn't. He asked if they'd noticed a second dimension during his performance? No? Time. And the third was places which occupied the same first and second dimensions but which were different. You might have forgotten to tie your shoelace and tripped up... or you might have tied your shoelace and not tripped up... or you might have tied it but tripped up anyway. Each of these apparently-insignificant things caused a new branch of reality - a whole new galaxy complete with its own stars, planets and black holes. Yet the tripping-over you couldn't see the non-tripping-over you or the fact that your other self got to work OK that day while you had to go to hospital. Patricia thought the universe was overreacting slightly to the fact that somebody had forgotten to tie their shoelace but she didn't say anything.
Charlie said that he would be back for them soon but that they must stay here for a while. Before they could protest he had waved at them both... and vanished.
"This is well weird," Jem pointed out.
Her friend laughed nervously.
"Where shall we go?" asked Jem.
Patricia, who hadn't quite got the hang of parallel universes, suggested they go back to their estate.
Why not? thought Jem. If they met themselves... well, they met themselves.
They walked along the dazzling grass until they came to a shiny black road. They headed in what seemed like the right direction. There seemed to be nothing but brilliant green grass either side of the road. When they reached the place where they expected their block to be, they found a railway station there instead. Shrugging, Jem suggested they took a train just to see where they'd end up.
The building was covered in a yellowy-cream wooden canopy and was adorned with tall green metal pillars. Everyone's clothes seemed somehow to glow slightly, including the station porter, who came towards them with a great swagger.
"I'm the Station Porter," he announced, puffing out his chest, "and I'm a Very Important Person."
"Great," said Jem.
"When it's time for your train to depart, I'm going to blow my whistle - like this." And he gave a practical demonstration.
"Oh yeah, why not blow it in my ear, I mean to say!" complained Jem.
Patricia giggled and said what a good whistle he had.
"Peep peep - hurry along quickly, there!" boomed a loud voice.
Jem turned to see where it had come from... and what she saw stopped her in her tracks.
"Oh... my... days!" she said.
"Peep peep - Very Important Train arriving!" anounced the approaching steam engine, a smile appearing on its massive grey face.