Charlie's parents still clung together in sorrow. He was only gone an hour in real time.
"Charlie!" they cried in unison.
"Mom ... Dad. Help, I'm tied up."
They couldn't get there fast enough to release him and Durga from their bindings.
They covered Charlie with hugs and kisses until he struggled free.
"Dad, I have to tell ..."
"What is it son?"
"When I went through time, I saw ..."
Professor Quentin entered the room.
"Charlie, my boy. I'm so glad to see you've returned safely. Oh, the platform is only half here. Where is the rest of it, I wonder?" he strolled over to it and knelt beside it. Manfred went over to join him.
"What's the matter son?" Manfred asked, surprised at Charlie's urgency.
"When I went through time, I saw thousands of humans with destructive weapons wipe out our entire race. We've got to stop that from happening."
Manfred rubbed his chin solemnly, considering the dilemma seriously. He deliberated awhile, pacing the room in thought.
"Mmmmm. There aren't many humans here, yet. We should kill all of them, before they kill all of us."
"Noooooo!" everyone else in the room protested in horror.
Before Manfred could comment, he fell through the floor beside the travelling platform. He was too startled to scream. In minutes his head popped back up through a pulsing transparent hole that had formed around the time machine.
Quentin crept near the edge of the hole. "Are you hurt?"
"No, but I've discovered something interesting. There seems to be another world on the underside of your floorboards."
"What sort of world?"
"I don't know. I can only see mountains and trees from here. I'm going to go take a look."
"Can I go?" Charlie piped up, the fate of all humans forgotten for the moment.
"No!" Hazel put a restraining hand on his arm.
"I'll go with him," Quentin told her.
He jumped through the transparency to join Manfred. They stood beside the bottom half of the travel platform, to survey this strange new world they didn't even know existed twenty minutes earlier.
All around them the mountains rose to majestic peaks, the same as they left behind on the other side of the dimensional tear. The forests below them in the valleys also appeared to look familiar. The big difference was that there was no science institute, no flying dragons overhead, and no village of dragons. They stood in a lush mountain meadow rampant with plant life and bushes full of ripe berries.
"Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh!" a guttural cry of rage came out of nowhere. When Manfred tried to see where it came from, he felt something heavy pounce on his tail. He turned his head around as much as he could, to see what was going on back there. His tail was crawling with humans, who were just tall enough to grab it when it was off the ground. He watched as more of them crawled onto him. His scales were too thick to do much damage, but they felt like big itchy ants, and they annoyed him. He swayed his tail experimentally, and a few fell off.
"No. Don't go up there ... come down! " Quentin yelled.
Manfred looked over at his friend, who was desperately trying to pull humans off of the time machine. He took a few steps in the direction of the platform, but he found his tail had become even more weighed down with creeping, crawling, bouncing, pouncing humans. His few moments of hesitation had allowed his tail to drag, and dozens more of the pesky creatures climbed on. He whipped around quickly enough to send several of them sailing screaming through the air, and into the bushes. He shook as many of them off as he could, but some still clung to him as he struggled over to Quentin. The professor was having a really hard time keeping the humans off of the travel platform.
"Manfred, we can't let them climb through the dimensional tear. If they get into my office, they'll completely destroy it. Can you help me get rid of them?" Quentin gasped through clenched teeth, while he pulled down more humans.
Manfred picked one up bodily when it tried to bite his leathery leg. He studied it as it struggled and grunted furiously.
"Gah. This thing is ugly. It's got a face like a sack of clams."
"Ugly or not, we've got to keep them here. I don't want to do it, but I may have to singe some of them!" Quentin exclaimed as his nostrils spouted open flames.