We YODELed, and after we had materialized, and I pulled off my YODEL cap, that darn muzak was still playing. It was then that I noticed we were in a glass elevator that led down to the lobby of a fancy ski lodge.

However, I must point out at this juncture, that it was a rather strange looking picture that I looked down upon. Nothing in the lobby had any color whatsoever. Outside the lobby windows we could see the snow slopes, and they too were completely colorless.

We seemed to be on a colorless island of sorts, however, because out past the slopes to the left I noticed that everything was blue, and to the right everything was yellow.

"This is the center of the universe," Shadow said matter-of- factly. "Of the Blue and Yellow Universe," he added.

Of course, I had never heard of the Blue and Yellow Universe, but I took his word for it.

We checked in at the desk, and a bellboy brought us up to our suite.

The rooms were immensely extravagant, and huge. But rather strange looking, because nothing had any colors.

"Don't get too comfortable," Shadow snapped when I threw myself on the bed. "We're not staying very long."

"Oh," I sighed. All this YODELing was making me a little tired.

"Put your ski gear on," Shadow muttered, and he pulled a snow suit out of the closet and tossed it to me.

"We're going skiing?" I gasped nervously.

"Yes, George!"

I gulped, and did as I was told. "Aye, aye, captain," I shrugged.

Before I knew it, we were up on the slopes, and away we went.

I had never been skiing before, at least that I knew of. But even if I had, I'm sure it wasn't anything like Time-Skiing.

Time-Skiing is exciting.

I don't know how else to describe the rush of roaring through time so much faster than the speed of light, and yet being able to see it all whizzing past. People, places, and events rushing by with all the thrill of a runaway roller coaster.

My heart was pounding when we reached the bottom of the slope.

"That was great, Shadow," I laughed. "Let's do it again!"

Shadow was staring down at my feet.

"George," he said slowly, "George where's your boot?"

I looked down at my foot. "I don't know. It must have fallen off while we were skiing. But I'm not worried," I chuckled, and I hopped on one foot while Shadow stormed off toward the lodge. "Hey, I'm sure we can get a replacement."

"George, I don't think you understand what you've done."

"What's the matter, Shadow? It's just a boot. So, they'll charge us extra. I know we don't have any money, but what can they do to us..."

"You don't understand, George. You weren't just skiing. You were Time-Skiing, man. You can't just let things fall into time. There's no telling where they can end up, or what damage they can do."

Back at the lodge, a porter showed us to the Reading Room and Shadow walked over to the magazine shelf. He pulled down the latest copy of Time-Skiing Monthly and gasped.

"Oh, boy, George. Look what you've done!"

He flashed the magazine in my face.

"The End of the Blue and Yellow Universe!" the headline read.

"Huh?" I stammered. "What are you talking about?"

Shadow stood there skimming the article. "Oh, boy...Yipes..." he muttered to himself as he turned the page.

"Come on, George," he groaned, as he rolled the magazine up; when we passed the garbage can he carefully dropped it inside.

I hopped nervously after him.

"This is worse than I thought!" Shadow was sighing.

We dashed up to our room and Shadow threw my clothes into a knapsack. "We probably won't have time to come back again," he muttered angrily.

Then we stopped in the lobby to get me a replacement boot, and headed back to the slopes. Meanwhile, Shadow tried to explain what I had done.

"Apparently your boot dropped under the table of a commemoratory meeting between the Blue Hemisphere and the Yellow Hemisphere of the universe. Once every 100 years, either the Blue ambassadors visit the Yellow Hemisphere or vice versa. Your boot rolled under the table while the Blue ambassadors were visiting."

"So?" I said defensively. So far it didn't seem that bad.

"So, when the Blues left, the Yellows found the boot, and the longest war in the history of any universe was begun. It lasted for 10 million years, and it caused the complete destruction of the Blue and Yellow Universe!"

"How could my boot do that!" I protested.

"Apparently it entered a time when there was great environmental concern, and foot deodorant had been banned for ecological reasons. Over the years, foot odor became such a bad problem that it was illegal to take off your shoes in public. To leave a smelly shoe behind while visiting another's home was the worst of all insults. The Yellows thought the Blues had left the boot behind, and they fired yellow missiles in the Blue Hemisphere.

"The Blues fired on the Yellows, and every missile that hit created a green scar. This went on for so long that eventually there wasn't anything blue or yellow left in the universe -- everything was green."

"Wait a second!" I snickered. "So, no one was killed or anything?"

"Oh, no. But nobody knew who was a Yellow and who was a Blue anymore, nor where the dividing line was, either."

"So, in other words, it united the Universe!"

"Well, in a manner of speaking..."

"Then what I did was a good thing! I created a new united universe -- a Green Universe!"

"Well...yes...but there already was one of those, and besides, that's not the issue here. The point is that if a Time- Change is not corrected before you leave the Time-Ski slope, it gets sent to the Reader's Guide to Paradoxical Literature. And once it's in there, it can never be changed."


"SO! So, every library in every known universe will have your name indexed under 'Boot' and the Time-Catcher will see it, and he'll come and catch you just after you cause this Time- Change!"


"That's right, oh! Now we've got to go and get that boot back."

Shadow dragged me back up on the slopes. He pointed off to the far corner of the Blue Hemisphere. It was starting to turn green.

Shadow gave me a nasty look. "The Change is starting to set in," he mumbled.

I looked embarrassedly to the right and saw the Yellow Hemisphere was looking a little on the green side, too.

Shadow rolled his eyes, and we Time-Skied to exactly where the article told us the boot had landed.

Shadow waited in the darkness while I crawled on my hands and knees under some dignitary's chair, and under the table.

Apparently, we came just a little too early, because as soon as I was under the table, the boot came bouncing across the floor and hit me in the ear.

I jumped up in surprise and banged my head. The room was suddenly quiet. But someone laughed and glasses were tinkling again, and the air was filled with voices.

I crawled out of there as fast as I could!

Shadow hugged me when I was safe in the shadows. "I was kind of worried, there, pal. If they had found you..." He shivered and hugged me again.

We Time-Skied back to the slopes, and I looked off to the left and saw an un-tarnished Blue Hemisphere. The Yellow Hemisphere to the right was pure yellow. I felt kind of proud as we skied toward the lodge, but I held onto the boot very carefully!

Before we were halfway down, however, two figures soared past us, and I noticed it was the other-Shadow and other-me. They also seemed to be in an awful hurry, and I looked back and saw the Time-Catcher rolling down the hill, with his net wrapped around his head.

Obviously, he was an even worse skier than I was!

Then, from the left, another Shadow stopped in front of us. "Hi, guys. Glad you made it. Not too much further to go until you get to Mary," he promised. "You better put on your YODELcaps -- here he comes," the other-Shadow warned, and turning to the blundering Time-Catcher, he stuck out his tongue and yelled, "Na, na, na, na, na."

We put our YODELcaps on, flipped our glasses down, and of course became invisible.

The Time-Catcher groaned and rolled after what I assumed was Shadow-312.

"Flip your cap," Shadow commanded, and we YODELed off the slope.

Ski Slopes of My Life
( Chapter 32- MP3 song demo by Lyndon DeRobertis)


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