Following a voice through the mist was difficult. Isaac wasn’t always sure which direction it was coming from. Plus, he had to keep ducking to avoid tree branches that came out of nowhere.
Luckily, just as the odd song about insects made from food ended, he arrived at doorway where the old man was waiting. Isaac remembered to applaud, and the old man bowed.
“So, where are we?” Isaac asked.
“This is my laboratory. I designed it myself. It’s so much more practical than Teddy’s lab.” the old man grinned.
“The other scientist on the beach. He designed a dungeon laboratory. So impractical. It is damp and moldy and of course that messes with the experiments. Mine is so much better. I’m Billy, by the way.” The old man pointed to himself.
Isaac held out a hand. “I’m Isaac.”
The old man leaned back and folded his arms. “I don’t shake hands. Germs.”
Isaac let his hand drop. “Oh. Of course. So, how is your laboratory different?”
“It’s a tower. You have to come and see.” Billy put a hand on the door and the entire door glowed neon blue before disappearing. “Come on in. Just don’t touch anything. Germs.”
Isaac followed him inside. The entryway was brightly lit. Glass cases lined the walls. He put his hands behind his back and leaned forward to peer inside the closest case.
“Is that a toaster?” he asked.
Billy looked over his shoulder. “Yes it is. I designed it to work upside-down, to save on counter space.”
“But doesn’t that mean the bread just falls onto the counter?” Isaac asked.
“When it’s done toasting. You just have to position your plate just right. I suggest gluing your plate to the counter so you don’t have to worry about it.”
“But then it doesn’t really save counter space at all,” Isaac pointed out.
“Maybe. Maybe not. It’s not really my concern. I just invented it.” Billy pointed to another glass case. “Look over there, that’s one I’m really proud of.”
Isaac looked into the case. “It looks like goggles. Like the ones Teddy was wearing.”
“That’s right. I invented them to see through fog. He stole my idea for them to make his own. We haven’t talked unless we absolutely have to ever since.”
Isaac frowned. “Well, living here, he’d need something to see through the fog. He might have just come up with something similar at the same time.”
Billy thumped his walking stick on the ground. “Of course not. It took me years to develop them. It was after that when I turned on the fog machine to test them out. How would he know in advance that I would create a fog machine or that I wouldn’t be able to turn it off? And yet he was wearing the goggles a month later. He stole my idea. It’s the only explanation.”
Isaac nodded. “Maybe you’re right. Can I borrow the goggles and look out the window of the tower? I’d love to see the island, but the fog gets in the way.”
“You have to give them back when we get to the moon gate,” Billy said. “I won’t have anyone else run off with any of my ideas or my inventions. And you’ll have to sign a non-disclosure agreement.”
“Of course.” Isaac crossed his heart and signed the papers that the scientist pulled out of his lab coat pocket.
Billy took them back, making sure not to touch the parts of the paper that Isaac touched. “Leave the pen on the case right there. I’ll disinfect it later. Germs.”
Then he took a ring of keys out of a different pocket and unlocked the glass case. He took out the goggles and handed them to Isaac, and locked up the case one more time. “The stairs are this way. We’ll go straight up to the moon gate. Feel free to look out the windows on our way up.”
The spiral staircase was in the middle of the tower. It alternated between narrow and wide spirals. The windows were on the wide spirals. Looking out with the goggles on, it was like there was no mist at all. There was also no one else on the island.
He could see a little shack on the opposite side of the small hill at the center of the island, which he assumed was the entrance to Teddy’s lab. Otherwise, it was all trees and rocks. No party.
Isaac took off the goggles with a small smile. There was only one island left. He was almost done.
“All done,” Billy said just then. “Behind this door is the moon gate.”