It’s an exciting evening for pre-history buffs, as they flock to a 3-D screening of the movie “Pangea: the Biggest Breakup in History.” The event has been organized by a local scientist, Dr. Viola Figueroa. Unfortunately, she is unable to attend, having taken ill. In her place, she has sent her nephew Alfredo. He arrives at the last minute, flustered, clutching a list of written instructions that he has not yet had time to read.
As the lights dim and the movie begins, a narrator’s voice says, “Prepare to journey more than 250 million years into the past, to a time when the earth contained only one supercontinent, known as Pangea.” Dozens of large dragonflies dart right out of the screen and the audience gasps in amazement at the realistic effects.
A buzz of cicadas fills the air, while huge ferny plants appear all around. Audience members realize they are no longer in theater seats, but rather are perched on rocks or sitting flat on the ground. Colorful beetles scurry about, and in the distance a lizard-like animal with a fin on its back lumbers between the trees. This is no mere movie.
As the crowd peppers him with questions, Alfredo scans his notes. Holding up his hand to shush the hubbub, he reads aloud to them what his aunt has written:
As you can see, I have arranged for you to experience Pangea firsthand. You are most welcome for the treat! I myself have visited the spot where you now stand, departing only a few minutes before your planned arrival. I found it delightful, despite that fact that a leap of hundreds of millions of years was not enough to escape the din of cicadas.
I connected the movie projector to a vortex manipulator, so that it would activate when the movie started. I have placed another time travel device near your current location, in a spot protected from the elements and from the Paleozoic creatures roaming about. I have left clues to help you find and use it. Have fun exploring, but don’t dillydally. If my meteorology is correct, I predict you have forty minutes before a storm develops that could result in flash floods, possibly washing away the time travel device.
As Alfredo scans the group of dismayed expressions surrounding him, he chuckles nervously. “That aunt of mine. Such a character.” When nobody laughs, he says, “If we all work together, I’m sure we’ll make it back to everything we hold dear in our lives — Wi-Fi, iced coffee, rescue hedgehogs. Oh, and our families.”
Dear readers, you can help this group escape a pre-Flintstones existence by participating in our program, Escape Room: Breaking Up Pangea. You will depart for the past from the Columbia Public Library Friends Room on Saturday, June 16. Since time travel is flexible, we offer four possible launch points from which to choose: 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m, and 3 p.m. Call (573) 443-3161 to register, beginning June 2.