Tuckby rushed over to them. “This is the culmination of my life’s work! I, Marcus Tuckby, have managed to stop time in its tracks!” He was a gesturer and inveterate arm-waver, never a good sign.
“Uh huh,” Parvo said.
“You’re right to scoff, sir. Many have trod this road and been waylaid by false paths, spurious reasoning, or the budget cuts of weak-kneed fools! But only I have reached the end of that long and difficult trail to discover the closely-guarded wonders to be found at the end!”
“Can you just dial back the mad scientist thing a little bit, you’re flicking drool on my coat.”
“Behold!” Without warning Tuckby spun and dashed back to a small table directly underneath the massive device. It was burnished steel, about the size of a footstool, and contained… nothing. There was even a dramatic spotlight aimed at the table, to highlight the nothing. The lab techs and assistants stood around with an eerie, worshipful silence. Buchanon gripped Parvo’s arm and dragged him over to look at the nothing. They looked at it for a long moment as Tuckby beamed with pride.
“Well, I’m impressed,” Parvo said.
Tuckby stopped in mid-rave to look at the table. “Why? There’s nothing there.” Abruptly he lowered his arms and looked at Parvo more closely, then smiled in a totally different manner. “I’m so sorry, son, my mistake, are you here for one of the special tours? Admiral Buchanon, is he allowed to have candy,” he asked, patting his pockets, “or should I–”
“AAAAGH!” Parvo screamed. He rose to his full and impressive height, his chest filling with enough air for another fully righteous and desperately-needed scream. Tuckby and his techs all stepped back, cowering before the wrath of…
And Parvo released it. Unclenched his fists. And smiled. “Dr. Tuckby, I apologize for my brusque demeanor but I’ve just had some very troubling news about a loved one that I’m still trying to assimilate. If you would be so kind, would you please demonstrate for me your amazing new discovery?”
The room breathed a collective sigh of relief. “Of course, of course, let me show you,” said Tuckby, flushed with the endorphins that a near-death experience brings. He snapped his fingers at the terrified techs, who scurried to various positions behind protective plasteel barriers around the room (except for the smallest, shame-faced lab tech, who had to go change his lab coat). Lights flashed. The massive monstrosity over them began to hum and spin slowly.
“Nice,” whispered Buchanon, smiling straight ahead.
“I’m going to kill you with fire,” Parvo whispered back, smiling just as brightly.
Tuckby took up position behind the table. The spotlight added a dramatic effect to his appearance which was, sadly, still Fudd-like. “One week ago, there was a cage containing a ferret on this very table. Using my formulas and the Tuckby HyperConditional Interimator, the inner workings of which are known only to me, I have sent it into… hiatus.”
Several smartass comments rose to mind, but Parvo was deeply into “get this over with yesterday” mode and held onto his snark with an iron mental fist. Too bad, there were some good ones. He also figured anything he asked at this point would make him look unbelievably stupid, so he settled for raising an eyebrow.
“Simply stated, Mr. Parvo, the ferret is currently skipping past this entire week. When it appears, in…” He looked at his watch. “…two minutes and seven seconds, no time at all will have passed for her.”
“The ferret. We call her Sunflower.”
“Of course you do. So, this is time travel?”
“Oh no, no no no, of course not. Time travel is impossible, mere science fiction fantasy and wish-fulfillment. No, we are men of science here.”
“What we’ve done is push a bubble of reality out of our universe. With a ferret in it.”