ollin squeezed his eyes shut against the blinding fireball of light. It was a lot like the one that sailed through the void and opened each piece of the puzzle, but this one shot flames of red. He opened his eyes just a crack in time to see the ball of fire begin to move slowly upward, its red glare shimmering on the white sand and the blue water not too far away.
A great roar, much worse than thunder, rumbled about, shaking the ground, Collin's feet, his legs and even his teeth. He covered his ears to block out the deafening noise. Courtney and Morgan scooted up close beside him and together they stared through wooden slats and swinging legs -- bleachers, Collin guessed -- at the commotion going on in the distance.
From a loudspeaker mounted on a tall metal pole, Collin heard a man's loud voice ringing with excitement: "Repeat -- we have lift off. We have lift off."
Feet stomped on the bleachers, and cheers and applause, almost as deafening as the roar of the fireball, exploded from the crowd above. Collin, Morgan and Courtney moved closer to get a better look at what was going on.
A tiny white rocket climbed ever higher into the bright blue sky. Billowing clouds of dense white smoke followed it into the air, then spread across the horizon like giant mountains of cotton erupting from the earth.
"Wow! This is cool!" Collin yelled, as he, Morgan and Courtney crawled out from under the bleachers and ran to a nearby chain link fence.
"I've seen stuff like this in old TV shows," Morgan said, her fingers tightening around the wire fencing. "We must be in the 20th century, but where do you think we are?"
"We're near the ocean," Courtney said, sticking her nose through the links of the fence. "Maybe Florida? You know, where the space shuttle and astronauts are?"
When Collin frowned, she reminded him,"Remember how things looked in the movie Apollo 13?"
"Rockets and astronauts means we're getting closer to our own time," Morgan said excitedly. "This is the eighth and last puzzle. Maybe we can go home pretty soon."