Disclaimer: none of the characters are mine, but belong to their respective owners.
Penny was walking up the stairs of her apartment building in a nearly enraged mood: of all the nerve! Sometimes she was irritated by her geeky neighbors and their equally geeky friends to a point of near rage. Mark you, they had their nice moments and all, but today – after they caused her to be horribly late for work and lose a shift’s worth of pay – this was not it.
Penny stomped up the last flight of stairs and opened the door to Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment. “You!” she snapped, and – paused.
Penny paused not because Raj and Howard were there, nor because all four of her nerdy friends were staring at the time machine that Penny had saw earlier today when it had blocked the stairs, but because of the mood. Somehow it was more serious than the usual – and there was not any takeout food either.
“Ahem,” Penny said loudly, though with less anger than she intended to. “What are you doing?”
“Not now, Penny – we got ourselves a time machine, and Sheldon’s about to have a mental breakdown because it breaks all the laws of physics in the universe – and all that he knows of: it’s debatable which is the greater number,” Raj turned to explain to her before realization hit and he closed his mouth with a snap.
Penny felt her old anger returning. “Look, guys,” she said trying to sort her emotions out, “I’m very pleased that you got yourselves a brand new toy-“ she took another look at the time machine which was rather big and bulky, and continued: “-a really big toy, but-“
“But nothing!” Howard said firmly. “Watch!” He climbed into the time machine, and before Penny – or anyone else – could say anything, he pressed a lever and vanished, along with the entire time machine, in a flash.
Penny felt her mouth hanging open. “Where did he go?” she managed to ask.
“The correct question would be ‘When did Wolowitz go,” Sheldon replied sternly, but not quite in his usual know-it-all voice, “and the correct answer would be-“ Howard and time machine appeared right where they vanished “-now.”
“So,” Penny said after a pause when it became obvious that no one else was going to break it, “the time machine really works.”
“Yes. And it breaks all laws of physics,” Raj replied as he drank some beer from Penny’s fridge (he went and got it while no one else was looking.) “Sheldon is about to go mad and destroy it with a socket wrench or something.”
“I do not!” Sheldon shot back. “The only wrench we have to worry about is probably Wolowitz’, since he plans to dismember the time machine to see how it really works!”
“I do not!” Howard rose to the bait, but Penny already had an idea, and since she tended not to overthink things, in fact it was more of the other way around, she decided to follow it.
“Good!” she said brightly. “Since you guys caused me to be horribly late, you owe me one!”
“One what?” Sheldon asked suspiciously, even as Leonard, who had a better understanding of how Penny’s mind worked, climbed into the time machine.
“One trip into the past!” Penny said brightly. “Leonard, can we go and see the dinosaurs? I always wanted to see the dinosaurs!”
“Hey! If there are going to be dinosaurs, we’re in as well!” Howard said quickly as he and Raj joined Penny and Leonard. Sheldon did as well, albeit after a momentary hesitation, so brief that no one else had noticed it.
The time machine was not really designed for five people, more like for two or three, and Penny felt decisively squashed and decided that she was going to tell it to the guys, when Leonard switched the lever, and the world dropped.* * *
“...Whoa!” Penny said as she felt that she dropped down five or six floors in one moment. “That’s... that’s something!”
“Yes, isn’t it?” Leonard agreed with a small smile, even as he and Penny and Sheldon got out of the time machine – Raj and Howard were already down at the island’s edge, splashing in the surf.
Wait. Splashing in the surf?
Leonard may have needed glasses, but even with them he could see that the five of them were located on a small sandy island, one of many such islands situated in a shallow-looking tropical sea. “Uh, Penny, I don’t think that s we’re going to see any dinosaurs just yet-“
“That’s okay, that’s even better,” Penny said, her eyes sparkling with excitement. “I always wanted to go to the beach but just couldn’t find the time. Leonard, do you want to join me?”
There was not any particular innuendo in Penny’s voice, but Leonard was over at the blonde’s side in an instant. “Do I!” he said brightly. Within moments they too were splashing in the surf, albeit on the other side of the small island from Howard and Raj. Sheldon was left all alone.* * *
Sheldon did not mind being all alone. Really. Until Leonard and Howard and Raj, he usually was along (various roommates and the like did not count). He did his best thinking while alone, although it was usually not on a small island in an apparently tropical sea. Deciding that there was nothing wrong in getting his feet wet, he too walked down to the sea proper and took his shoes and socks off: better feet wet from water than sweat!
...Something was wrong all the same, even in the overwhelming wrongness of working time machines and absent dinosaurs and small tropical islands. Sheldon was a physics professor, but he was also a genius and knew some things of the more esoteric sciences, such as paleontology. And, as he looked underwater where colorful but strange squid-like mollusks were hunting trilobites, those things, those bits and pieces came to his mind all the same.
“Trilobites?!” Sheldon exclaimed incredulously as realization hit. “Oh no! We must get out of here immediately!”
“Sheldon!” Raj called out as he half-dragged Howard to the time machine, “something’s wrong! Howard is feeling really ill! We’ve probably stayed here too long!”
“Raj? What’s wrong?” However engrossed Leonard and Penny might have been with each other, they were over at the time machine in a moment.
“We must go back,” Sheldon replied instead of explaining at length, and pulled down the lever even as the others had gone into the time machine, more or less, and they were off!TBC