A narrow escape

Gia and Jeff: The activist and the geologist

“Would ya two stop jumpin around?! Yer makin the time machine go all wibbly wobbly! ” Martin scolded, as the jumpy lil hooligans couldn’t hold in their excitement, jumping up and down enthusiastically and making the time machine shake and swerve. They decided to make an emergency landing on a steep slope called Ladeira da Preguiça to avoid a crash. Wow! This would be a great place to race our bikes! ” the girls exclaimed in unison on catching a glimpse of the winding streets through the glass of the time machine. “That’s what every father dreams o’ hearin his daughters say- Let’s ride our bikes down the dangerous slopes o’ Brazil! Brilliant! ” he muttered sarcastically, as they ignored his protests and ran off to explore. “Leave em be. They’re just kids. They’ll be back soon.” his carefree wife assured, before turning her attention to a switch on the remote control in her hand while Alice and Matt unloaded the luggage.  Olivia and Jenny ran past the graffiti covered walls and soon disappeared out of sight just like the time machine did when their mum activated it’s Hideaway feature with a flick of the switch. “Oh…what d’you know?! Ya only had em for nine months!  That’s it, I’m goin after em! They’ll probably get lost or somethin! ” a concerned Martin declared, before running off. Matt, Alice and Kelly followed behind.
They soon found themselves in the midst of a noisy crowd which had gathered in the middle of the street for some reason. Suddenly, a familiar voice rang out through the commotion, crying out for help. “Jenny, step back!” Kelly cried out in horror, pulling her daughter away from the front of the crowd. The crowd had gathered around a gaping hole. A curious Olivia had gotten too close and lost her balance. She was now on the verge of falling in, clinging and clawing at the loose dirt as she looked up frightfully. Fortunately, Matt and Martin were able to grab hold of her and pull her out. Soon, she was back in her parents’ loving arms, dusty and bruised but otherwise unharmed. Their happy reunion was soon interrupted as a bespectacled man wearing a lab coat pushed through the crowd and yelled out orders. A stern-faced lady followed behind, interacting with the crowd before popping up beside him. “Locals say that the child almost fell in.” she whispered, as they both narrowed their eyes at the couple and the quivering child. “I gather you’re not from around here. Piece of advice, mate- Don’t let your kids play around dangerous sinkholes, kay? ” the important looking man advised in a mocking tone, before helping them up. “How’d this happen? ” Alice asked, peering into the hole. “Obviously, global warming….brought about by your irresponsible actions. You people come here to our beautiful Brazil, dirty the environment, pollute it an’ expect us environmentalists to clean it up! ” the hot-tempered lady replied, glaring at them as she spoke. “But, we didn’t….we just got ere….” Martin stuttered, backing off as she inched closer. “Stick a badge in it! ” she interrupted, not letting him finish as she forcefully pinned a Go green badge on his shirt pocket. “Forgive my wife. Sinkholes openin up in every nook an’ cranny, earthquake every two minutes, gets to her, ya know? I’m Dr. Jefferson Scully. I work at the Institute of Geosciences of the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul. This is….” he introduced himself, before beginning to introduce his wife. “Gia Hermanos! My next door neighbor! Long time, no see! ” Martin interrupted on noticing her name on the green badge, before flashing her a toothy grin . “Wait a min….Matthew O’Reilly?! Been such a long time, amigo! ” she greeted once she’d calmed down, pushing past Martin before hugging his brother. “You look familiar too…” she muttered, turning her attention to Martin. “Martin O’Reilly, remember? ” he reminded. “Right! The one with the stupid hair! I remember! ” she remembered. “I’d love to stick around an’ get to know you lot, but unfortunately we’ve work to do. I just got a call bout a crack appearin at Sao Paulo. Let’s get a crack on, sweetheart! ” her husband interrupted. “She doesn’t remember me. She doesn’t remember her childhood crush! ” a forlorn Martin mumbled, watching as the couple hurried away. “C’mon. Let’s get outta here. This place gives me the creeps! ” Matt decided, snapping him back to reality as they decided to go in search of a hotel, tired from their journey.

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