Having consulted the stars to determine exactly when a new venture should be birthed, Margot determined it was precisely 3:33:33 p.m. The gang of four, and brothers three joined her for lunch at Valhalla, three hours, thirty three minutes, and thirty three seconds before the moment she and the man once known as Mighty Mite would plunge into the no time tunnel.
Margot told the conspirators as much as she could about how the tunnel works. “As I said before, you have o know where you are going. At least one of you, that is. When I tripped with Steve, way back when, he always knew where we were going. But, once, when Steve was taking me to see penguins in Antarctica, I had kangaroos bouncing around in my subconscious mind. We came out in neither Australia, nor Antarctica.”
“Where did you come out?” Lance asked.
“Cairo,” was the answer. “Another time, we ended up in India.”
“Taj Mahal?”, Madonna asked.
“Not exactly,” Margot laughed. “I don’t know where we were, but it was bizarre. There was a water tower. A cow had somehow gotten to the top of the stairs the went up the outside of the tower. There’s no way that cow could have climbed those stairs.”
“How did it get there,” asked Kitty.
“No idea. A couple years later, when I was living in Vancouver, I thought maybe the UBC Engineer kids put it up there, somehow. They were always pulling pranks like that, at the start of Engineering week. It usually involved ca VW Bug in strange places. The had one hanging off the bottom of a major bridge, one time. But I don’t imagine they actually got that cow to the top of the staircase in India.”
“You never found out how it got there?” Madonna asked.
“No. But India is one Hell of a strange place, especially when it comes to cows.”
“Wait,” Stephen said. “How did it get down?”
“Indian Air Force helicopter,” Margot answered. “There must have been fifty thousand people there by then. It was insane.”
“You can get fifty thousand people to watch two dogs fucking in India,” Stephen laughed. No one challenged him on it, so he kept talking, “That’s really cool. Kinda like Bugs Bunny always missing the left turn at Albuquerque, and ending up anywhere but Miami Beach.”
Madonna laughed, “Great! Now I can just see myself popping up in the middle of a bullring!.”
“It is funny,” Margot agreed. “But you don’t know where you’re going to get to, if you don’t know where you’re going.” Looking at Kitty, she said, “You could end up in a prison cell, in Turkmenistan.”
Kitty nodded, then shook her head, and said, “That doesn’t sound like a whole lotta fun.”
“No. No fun at all,” Margot concurred. “Fortunately, there’s a failsafe built in, so if you do end up in a prison cell, in Turkmenistan, you can simply walk back into the tunnel, so long as you are able to walk. Here’s the Catch 22 to the failsafe: If you land chest deep in a pool of quicksand, you’re hooped. If you end up physically restrained from moving, you’ve got trouble with a capital T, which rhymes with G, which stands for ‘Get me the fuck outta here!’”
Margot looked around the table, to make sure all understood. Satisfied that they did, she continued. “As you are reaching your destination, you can see it. But, if there’s nothing to see, you can’t see nothing.”
“Huh? What do you mean,” Lance asked.
“Steve once took me to the Sahara Desert. It was light, here in Thunder, when we walked into the tunnel.”
“But it was night, in the Sahara, when you came out, which was the same time you went in, so it was pitch black,” Kitty said.
“It would have been pitch black, but there was a full moon, and the skies were clear.”
“OH MY GOD! That is so romantic,” Kitty gushed. “So, you made love, all night, under the full moon, and the stars, in the middle of the desert.” Kitty was looking at Margot, so she didn’t notice that Stephen was looking at her, and Madonna was looking at Lance, while she cooed.
Margot smiled demurely.
“So, the moral of the story is, don’t go to the darkness,” said Lance.
“Literally, and metaphysically,” said Margot. “Unless that’s where you wanna be.” She paused to see if anyone had a question, or a wisecrack, then continued. “To get back, you have to go back into the tunnel at the exact same place you came out of it. The portal is kinda like a two way mirror. It’s a circle, about 20 feet in diameter.”
“Can someone follow you, if you’re being chased,” Stephen wanted to know.
“No. Because they don’t know where they are going. They will not even understand where you just disappeared into, never mind knowing where they are going, so the portal is closed to them. If you disappear into a wall, they will run into the wall if they try to follow. If you disappear into thin air, they will run rigt through thin air.”
“It’s very exciting,” Madonna smiled.
“My advice is to book yourselves into a hotel, before you leave. I’ve booked myself into a specific room with a view of Big Ben. When I come out of the tunnel, I will be in the room. I’ll just open the door, head to the lobby and check in.”
“How will you get back into the room, into the tunnel, once you’ve checked out?” Stephen asked.
“I won’t check out. If I am done with the room, I will just call, saying I have to leave immediately, and that I’m at the airport.”
“It’s the opposite of Hotel California,” Madonna laughed. “You can’t check out, anytime you like, but you can always leave!”
All at the table loved that. “I want a room with mirrors on the ceiling, and pink champagne on ice,” Kitty chuckled. Stephen liked the sound of that; his son did not.
“You cannot directly get to any destination when you go back into the tunnel,” Margot explained. “You have to come back to the hub. Then, and only them, can you go somewhere else.”
“But that all happens in the absence of time,” Lance pointed out. Looking at Madonna, he said, “So, we can leave Vancouver, and get to wherever Branson is, at the same time we left Vancouver.”
“Yes, so long as you spend zero time at the hub,” Margot clarified. “That’s pretty much it. If I earn anything new today, I will tell you as soon as Steve and I get back from Wuhan. “Any questions?”
“How far is the entrance to the labyrinth from here?” Lance asked.
“There are three known entrances. Once is out on Pie Island. Another, out at Silver Islet, under the Sleeping Giant. The third, which we will take, is just ten minutes from here. Underneath Mount McKay. Any other questions?”
There were none, but Margot noticed Eric was staring at his phone, so she said, “Eric?”
“Sorry, Margot, but this came in as urgent. No, no questions.” Summoning Daisy, he asked her, “Can you get TSN up on the TV, in the bar, please?” Daisy dashed off to the bar. Eric looked at Jordan and Marc, and said, “Let’s go. Big news breaking.” Looking at the others, he added, “Pardon the interruption, s’il vous plait.”