Sapphire was sitting calmly on a tree branch, blinking quietly in the morning dawn when Levi, Ruby and Zoe appeared on the desert floor before her. Their campfire was still burning brightly and the yellow and orange flames seemed to reach up into the heavens above.
"Whoa!" Ruby was excited. "That was awesome!" She was brushing a few ashes from the fire off her clothes, while Levi and Zoe examined their Travel Packs and equipment for any signs of damage.
"We didn't even get burnt or anything!" Ruby was happily spinning in circles around the fire.
"Where's Hazel?" Levi was looking around the desert floor, the fire and the trees off in the distance when all of a sudden the slender young girl stepped into view from behind a baobab tree.
"Here I am." Sapphire disappeared and Hazel had appeared in her place, now that time travel was over.
"How was everyone's journey through time?" Hazel sat down on a nearby log.
"Where are we by the way? I mean when are we?" Zoe wasn't sure.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Ruby looked confused. "I thought we travelled someplace else."
"Well," Hazel started to explain. "We did and we didn't. According to our Interstellar Positioning System (IPS) we've landed in exactly the same place we left, however, we are now in the year 500 BC. So we've travelled about 24,500 years into the future, but we're still in the middle of the African savannah not too far from our cave. In fact, once the sun rises we should be able to see our cave off in the distance. Maybe we'll find some people who can assist us with its interpretation."
"Cool!" Ruby was excited. "Can I look at the cave with your binoculars Zoe?"
Zoe pulled her binoculars out of her Travel Pack and handed them to Ruby.
"Why don't you see if Hazel will help you adjust the binoculars Ruby. See if our cave painting is still there and then maybe we'll walk over after breakfast."
"Sure thing Zoe. Where's Levi?" Hazel stood there with the binoculars dangling from her hand.
"I'm over here getting breakfast ready. Who wants oatmeal?" Levi was standing next to the fire stirring a small pot while dropping in sticks of cinnamon and cloves. He already had coffee brewing, so Zoe sat down with a steaming mug and admired their cave from a distance.
"Do you suppose we'll find anyone who understands the meaning of the cave painting Levi?" Zoe was sipping her coffee and trying to eat oatmeal at the same time - somewhat of a balancing act while sitting on a log next to their fire.
"I'm not sure Zoe. Maybe we'll have better luck with our people here in this time. There's only one way to find out! Let's put the fire out before we head over to the cave." Levi started dumping sand on the fire while Zoe rounded up the girls for breakfast.
"Here Zoe," Hazel handed Zoe a big bunch of leaves she had collected from the nearby baobab tree. "We can probably cook these with dinner. They're supposed to taste just like spinach!"
"Yum." Zoe made a face. "Just what I wanted for dinner. Spinach."
"I know, but we could probably use the nutrition. Just don't mention the word spinach to Ruby or she might not eat the baobab leaves."
"Right." Zoe replied.
Levi was gathering things together to make the trip to the cave.
"I'm wondering if we should find a higher vantage point and search the area for people. Does anyone have any interest in climbing a baobab tree before we leave for the cave?"
"No problem Levi!" Zoe replied enthusiastically. "Can I take your monocular up the tree with me?"
"Sure Zoe. Just don't let Ruby get ahold of it or she'll rearrange all the settings."
"Okey dokey! I'm heading up! I'll let you know what I see." Zoe clambered up the baobab tree carefully and stood at the top peering around for a few minutes. Then, she stowed the monocular away in her Travel Pack and climbed back down to where Levi, Ruby and Hazel were waiting.
"I saw a lot of people, maybe a small village, but they looked to be a few miles away from us, so it might require some walking. Maybe a half days hike."
Levi looked thoughtful.
"Why don't we investigate our cave and make sure our cave painting is there first. Then we can have lunch, pack our things and head towards the village. Perhaps they can help us interpret the meaning of the pictograms that we don't quite understand."
"I think that's a good idea Levi." Zoe agreed. "Let's take a few more pictures too, and then we can compare them with the pictures we've already taken."
"Alright gang!" Levi hoisted his Travel Pack onto his back, grabbed a tree branch he had whittled into a walking stick and lead the way across the desert sand in the direction of the cave. Zoe ran to catch up with Levi, while Ruby and Hazel followed close behind.
Once at their cave, Zoe and Levi each took a few more pictures of the painting. This time they noticed something different. Their big, black X was back. They each compared their pictures from their last trip to 25,000 BC, with their most recent pictures taken at this time, 500 BC. They also checked their original pictures from the cave in the African Rainforest in the present day. Everything matched perfectly. The dates were all correct. The original pictogram had been inscribed around 25,000 BC, while the "X" design had been added approximately 24,500 years later.
Hazel and Ruby were just arriving at the cave, so Levi and Zoe put their cameras away and started setting up lunch. They sat in a little circle in the cool of the shaded cave, out of the hot, desert sun. Zoe sliced cheese and apples, while Levi put together ham sandwiches for all of them. After lunch, Levi checked their coordinates with the map and decided they should start heading in the direction of the Village People.
"Everybody ready?" Zoe was gathering up their trash to burn, while Hazel and Ruby chased each other around the outside of the cave.
"We're ready!" Hazel had her Travel Pack on and was waiting for Ruby to finish tying her shoes.
"Are we going to find smarter people this time Zoe?" Ruby wanted answers.
"Maybe Ruby-bird." Zoe gave Ruby's hair a quick going-through with the hairbrush before putting it back in her little kid Travel Pack.
"Let's find out!" Hazel followed Levi across the desert sand with Ruby and Zoe close behind.