Holly watched amazed. This really was an episode of The Temponauts that she’d never seen! She’d never even heard of it. It had never been mentioned in Trans-Temporal Times.
But it was a real episode, no question about it.
And it was the most exciting thing she’d ever seen. It was the episode she’d imagined seeing ever since she’d first seen a repeat of The Temponauts on TV nearly three years earlier — the episode where they revealed some of the secrets behind the where the Tempus had really come from, and how the temponauts could actually travel in time.
She watched, open-mouthed, ignoring the scritching sound coming from the other side of the attic as the rats she wasn’t meant to tell her mum about slowly ate their way through her granddad’s record collection. There was the best fight scene ever, where the Vejorans’ shields were submitted to a tachyon burst (a catchphrase of the show — Holly could mouth along with it even though she’d never seen this one before) and the Vejorans exploded everywhere!
But then came the best bit of all, when kindly Professor Chronos turned to Billy, the annoying kid one (Holly hated the annoying kid ones in all her favourite programmes. She didn’t see why grown-ups would want to hang around with annoying brats all the time, and planned never to do so herself once she was a grown-up) and said to him:
“Billy, you’re old enough now. You need to go off and have your own adventures. You need your own time machine. Let me tell you how I built the Tempus…”
And he did! He went through all the things you needed to build a time machine, and it sounded very simple to Holly. You just needed a box big enough to stand in, and some mirrors, and the gears from a bicycle, and a few other things — half of which were in Holly’s granddad’s attic! This would be easy! Holly could build her own replica Tempus!
Of course, it wouldn’t really work — Holly knew enough to know you couldn’t really travel through time — but it would be a Tempus that was exactly like the real thing, and that would be good enough for Holly.
She watched with a big grin on her face, as Professor Chronos said “And one final thing, you need…”
And then there was a black screen, and the next moment there was a Naston invasion fleet.
Holly climbed down the ladder and ran to her granddad, who was in the kitchen drinking tea with Holly’s mum.
“Granddad, something happened, the film went black and then there was a different bit of film! How do I rewind to the bit it missed?”
“I’m sorry, love,” her granddad replied, “if it does that, it means that that bit of film got broken, and I had to splice it together. You can’t see the bit you missed. It should only have been a few seconds though.”
Holly frowned. She couldn’t believe that she nearly knew how to build her own Tempus but was just missing that one vital part. But then she realised…
She knew the perfect person to ask, and when she could ask him.
As Holly clutched her new projector and cans of film to herself on the bus ride home, trying desperately to stop them falling, she looked forward to the convention next weekend.
* * *
The Saturday after, Holly was at her very first Temponauts convention, with her mum there to look after her. She’d seen a flyer for it in the local comic shop, where she bought her Temponauts toys, and begged her mum to take her.
All the stars of the series were there — Tom Edgar, who’d played Billy, the annoying kid; Jane Thompson, the voice of the Nastons; Derek McDonald, who’d played Ro-Bert, the comedy robot sidekick who’d replaced Billy in series three. There were none of the people from the new series, but that was OK — Holly thought the new series was a bit silly anyway, though everyone at school liked it and thought she was weird when she told them about the old ones.
But most important of all, there was Richard Thomas, the man who’d script edited The Temponauts and written over a hundred episodes of it. Holly was impressed by the actors (apart from Tom Edgar, who everyone knew was just rubbish), but Richard Thomas was the man who’d made up all those stories. He’d created Professor Chronos, and the Vejorans, and the Nastons, and Professor Chronos’ arch-enemy the Evil-utionary, and just about everything.
Holly wanted to be Richard Thomas when she grew up.
And now she had a question she wanted to ask him.
So when it came to his panel, she sat there patiently as he made jokes about the executive producer (he really hadn’t liked him) and talked about how he’d first had the idea for the Nastons when he was in the bath, and told someone what research he’d done to create the Kryzxyx language (“absolutely none, dear boy”), and then she stuck her hand up.
“Yes? The little girl in the Catoran costume?”
“Mr. Thomas, in the episode How To Build Your Own Time Machine, Professor Chronos lists all the parts you need to build a Tempus. What’s the last one?”
Richard Thomas looked scared and confused. “I’m sorry, dear girl, there’s no such episode. One more question please.”
Holly heard a couple of older boys behind her mutter about “fake geek girls, don’t know anything” and how she shouldn’t have been allowed to come, and had to go and have a bit of a cry in the toilets. She knew there was an episode of that name. She’d seen it. But she wasn’t going to let them spoil her day out, so she came back, and got into the queue to have her DVD of Planet Of Doom signed by Richard Thomas.
When she got to the front of the queue, she shyly handed the DVD over.
“You’re the little girl from earlier, aren’t you?”
“What’s your name, sweetheart?”
He scribbled something on the DVD cover, and handed it back to her.
“There you go, love,” he held up his hand in the Temponaut salute. “Fight for time!”
She giggled, and returned the salute. “It’s time to fight!”
As she walked away, she looked down at what he’d written on the cover.
Two AA batteries