To Sail Beyond the Sunset

A Voyagers fan fiction


Douglas Neman

"Portugal, 1491," Phineas Bogg said, looking quizically at the pretty ornament in his hand, its lid propped open like a pocket watch. Handsome and dressed as always in his pirate's outift, he fliped it shut and looked around.

"Omni's reading red," he told his companion, a 13-year-old boy with dark, curly hair in red and white striped T-shirt, blue jeans and sneakers. "Got a clue?"

Jeffrey shrugged. "I can't think of anything."

Bogg peered further up and down the coastline. He was a Voyager, one of a group of people specially selected to travel through time, setting historical events right whenever they went wrong. Jeffrey was his only source of historical information, and the boy had so far been infallible.

Bogg had accidentally landed in the year 1980 – in Jeffrey's apartment, to be precise – due to a malfunction in his omni, the hand-held device which propelled him through time. Jeffrey's dog had grabbed his history guide book, and Jeffrey himself had fallen out a 30-story window.

It had been either the guide book or Jeffrey.

So Phineas had dived after Jeffrey, grabbing his hand and zapping him away just before hitting the ground. But his omni wasn't designed to travel further forward than 1970, so he couldn't return Jeffrey to his own time, nor could he retrieve his guide book – without which he was useless as a Voyager, since he'd never really paid much attention in Voyager class.

But not only did Jeffrey turn out to be a crackerjack history student, he was an orphan, and he didn't really have anything to return to, anyway. Now they were a team.

And the omni was blinking red, as usual. Some historical event in the vicinity was going awry. He and Jeffrey just had to find out what it was and set it straight. However, it seemed to be getting harder and harder lately to do that without getting themselves killed in the process.

"There," Jeffrey pointed. A man was sitting dejectedly on a rock, staring out at the Atlantic Ocean, as if contemplating its mystery and depth.

The two time-travelers strode up to the man and said hello.

"Phineas Bogg," said Bogg, bowing slightly, according to custom. "And this is Jeffrey Jones."

The man smiled and nodded weakly. "I am Christopher Columbus."

They both started slightly at the name.

"Of course!" Jeffrey said. "Columbus was Spanish, but he actually sailed from Portugal, because only the Portugese Royalty would grant him the funds for his expedition."

The man smiled again. "I see you are learned, and obviously from a strange land," he nodded at their clothing. "Yes, I am currently beseeching the Queen of this fair land to grant me ships, but," he shrugged, "I am not sure I am going anywhere."

"Of course you are," Jeffrey said. "The Queen will listen to your request. Just be patient."

"Oh, I have no doubt she will grant me my wish. I have her favor. It is I, however, who may refuse her. I am reconsidering whether the journey is worth undertaking. I still believe to go west would mean to go east, but the cost will be enormous, finding men willing to go with me a monumental task in itself, and I am laughed at and scorned for my beliefs. A man can only take so much, you know." He stared back out to sea with a longing.

"Look," Jeffrey said. "That's not the Christopher Columbus I remember reading about. The Columbus I heard of was ready to take any risk, dare any dare, brave any myth and monster to prove he was right. A man who forged ahead, who – who was willing to risk his life constantly to explore over that horizon where others feared to tread. A man who wanted to..." he faltered, desperately searching for the words. "To explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life, new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before!"

Columbus was amazed, his mouth hanging open. He stared at Jeffrey in wonder, as if he was an angel, and slowly turned his look of amazement and fire out to sea, to the waves crashing on shore.

"I heard a phrase once," Phineas said quietly. "'Ships are safe in a harbor, but that's not what ships are for.'"

Columbus slowly nodded. "You are right, my friends. You are right!" He stood up. "I will go, and I will prove them all wrong. I will find my route to the East. Thank you. Thank you! Surely you must have been sent by God!"

And with that, Christopher Columbus turned and bounded back down the coast, toward the village where he'd left his horse.

"'To boldly go where no man has gone before?'" Bogg asked.

Jeffrey shrugged. "I couldn't help it. It just came out."

They gazed quietly after the famous sailor. "He never did find his route to the East Indies, did he?" Phineas asked.

"No, even though he died believing he did." Jeffrey was smiling after the explorer, feeling the tremendous weight of history on his shoulders, but also the strength to carry it.

"But he found so much more."

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