The young woman who was destined to save the worlds grinned and held her finger over the ignition switch.
“Ready as I’m ever going to be,” drawled Blaine, who was a vampire. “Punch it!”
“OK, here goes. I hope Mom knew what she was doing when she built this thing,” she said, holding on to the wing-shaped steering wheel and flipping the switch.
“Wait,” said Blaine. “What? What does that mean, ‘I hope Mom knew what she was doing’?”
Everything began to vibrate.
“Next stop, Venus!” the girl cried.
“Are you sure about this, Jeep?” the vampire said.
“Of course not!” she shouted over the rumbling. “Who’s ever sure about anything new? That’s why you do it!”
Something pinged against a window.
“And then there’s the little matter of those people shooting at us!” Jeep shouted. “Ready or not, here we go!”
And she punched it.
The machine burst through the garage door, and she aimed for the field. Light pressure on the accelerator sent them careening forward, accelerating from zero to highway speed almost instantly. Alarmed men and women in suits and sunglasses dove out of the way, some of them firing weapons.
“Yikes! This thing goes a lot faster than I expected,” she said. They quickly reached the edge of the clearing, and she pointed the machine down the length of the grassy field.
“STOP, JEEP! YOU DON’T KNOW HOW IT WORKS!” came an amplified voice from behind.
“She’s got that right,” she told Blaine, “but I don’t like the idea of being shot or arrested or something.”
“But it’s set for Venus!” Blaine said, his calm voice perhaps a little higher-pitched than usual. “Shouldn’t we aim for somewhere a little closer?”
“No time!” Jeep said. “I can probably adjust the direction once we’re airborne.” And as if to punctuate her words, several more pings pinged against the windows. “Gotta go!” she said and punched hard on the accelerator. “I hope we can clear the trees or this is a short trip.”
Not only did the vehicle clear the trees, but it shot almost vertically into the sky, zipped through the troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere and exosphere and left Earth’s gravitational pull in the time it took her to say “this is a short trip.”
“Good newt!” Blaine shrieked. “Are you kidding me?”
(It occurs to me that perhaps we should explain a little bit about who Jeep and Blaine are, how they happened to be flying to Venus in a machine Jeep’s mother built, and why those people were shooting. Once upon a — Oh, dear, It’ll have to wait. Something’s happening.)
“Is that what I think it is?” Jeep shouted.
“If you think it’s Venus, I have to say I think you’re right,” Blaine shrieked.
“We’ve only been flying about three minutes,” she said. “How is that possible?”
“I have no idea,” Blaine said, “but that’s a planet, and it’s not Earth, and we aimed for Venus, so do the math.”
She pulled back on the throttle-thing, and the rumbling drew back to a more manageable and somewhat pleasant vibration. The huge green orb ahead grew at a more reasonable pace, and they began to believe they would have a chance to land there rather than splat against it.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” Jeep said.
“You don’t need my permission to think so,” Blaine sniffed.
“Say, on the dark side of the planet,” Jeep said. “Are those lights? like the lights of cities?”
Blaine peered into the darkness.
“They’re lights,” he acknowledged. “I’d have to be closer to know if they’re cities.”
“But they could be.”
“Have you ever been to Venus? Neither have I,” he sniffed. “I don’t have a clue what causes light during the night on Venus.”
“But they look like the light of Earth cities.”
“As you like to say, my dear: Duh.”
“That’s all I’m saying!” Jeep said.
“So: Venus inhabited?” Blaine raised his pointed eyebrows.
“Not in any universe I ever knew about!” she cried. It’s amazing how true that particular statement turned out to be.
“So: Shall we land on the day side or the night side?” Blaine asked. “I vote day.”
“Makes sense. How do you suppose you land this thing?”
“Oh, dear. You made taking off look so easy, I just thought you knew how to land.”
Jeep peered at the controls.
“If this thing flies like an airplane, I may have a fighting chance of getting us down,” she said. “Assuming a real airplane reacts like a video-game airplane.”
“Oh, my,” Blaine sighed. “How did we get into this?”