Finn and the Time-Traveling Pajamas is a part of the The Finniverse series collection.
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Sisters Grimm and NERDS comes the second book in an action-packed middle grade series with equal parts humor and heart!
When Finn is saved from the Time Rangers by an older version of himself, it comes with a catch. Old Man Finn needs Finn and his friends, Lincoln and Julep, to help him win battles he lost years ago against the Paradox, a terrible creatures obsessed with revenge against Finn's father. If they succeed, he promises to tell Finn where his father is. He even gives them a pair of time-traveling pajamas to help them with their quest.
There's only one problem. The pajamas malfunction almost immediately. Along the way the kids avoid being eaten by sabretooths, shot by revolutionary war soldiers, and start a war with a town full of holograms, all in an effort to fix the jammies.
Just when their goal is in sight, Julep gets sick. Only...it doesn't seem like she's sick. It seems like she's changing. The adventure may cost Finn more than an old pair of pajamas--it may cost him his friends!
An Excerpt fromFinn and the Time-Traveling Pajamas
Cold Spring, NY
April 11, 2069
Finn watched his friend Lincoln reach into the bag of goodies. That was what they called the collection of technologies they’d stolen from the future. Finn had lost track of what was inside it long ago. All he knew was that when Lincoln took something out of the bag, a huge explosion usually followed. This time he found a shiny silver ball covered in colored lights. It looked a lot like a Christmas ornament, only with a glass screen and a big red button on the side.
“All right, let’s go over the plan one more time,” Lincoln said. “This is a miniature black hole engine, compliments of the fine people of the twenty-third century. Now, before you push the button--”
There was a beep, and a red number ten glowed in the window. Then it became a nine. Then an eight.
“Did you push the button, Foley?” Lincoln asked.
“I did,” Finn admitted. “I couldn’t help myself. There was a button, and it was red!”
The window glowed with a number five.
“Did I tell you to push the button?” Lincoln yelled.
“Aaargh! Throw it! Now!”
Finn hefted the silver sphere as far as his old, wrinkled arm would allow. It arched into the sky, down the street, and toward a raging fire. Inside the flames stood a monster, roaring and tossing cars aside with its bare hands. It called itself Paradox, and today Finn and Lincoln were going to kill it. At least, that was the plan.
“What are you looking at, old man? Run!” Lincoln shouted and they took off at a sprint in the opposite direction. They weren’t kids anymore. Both Finn and Lincoln were over seventy years old now, and the past sixty of them had mostly been filled with fighting, running, and explosions. All of it had taken its toll on their bodies. Finn’s hip screamed in protest with every step. The rusty hinge on Lincoln’s mechanical leg kept seizing and slowing him down, too. Still, they ran.
The sphere hit the ground with a massive boom! A shock wave followed and knocked the men off their feet. As they tried to stand, Finn saw a swirling black void open where the sphere had landed. From it came an intense gravitational pull that sucked in everything that wasn’t nailed down: lumber, porcelain tiles, busted appliances, old bicycles, trees, houses, everything was devoured by the hungry black emptiness. With the wind screaming in their ears, Finn and Lincoln dove behind an abandoned pickup truck, hoping it was heavy enough to avoid the pull. For a few moments it seemed as if they had made the right decision, but then the truck jerked forward, caught in the black hole’s grip. Inch by inch it slid down the street. The men found themselves dragged toward oblivion.
“I don’t suppose that thing has an off button!” Finn shouted over the chaos.
“No! It doesn’t! If we get crushed to death inside a black hole, I will never forgive you!” Lincoln cried.
The pickup’s front bumper kissed the surface of the void, and in a flash, the whole truck was gone. With nothing between them and certain death, Finn and Lincoln clawed at the bricks in the cobblestone street, fighting for their lives with only the strength in their fingertips. When it felt like they couldn’t hold on any longer, the hungry void suddenly collapsed in on itself and disappeared. A calm came to the world around them.
“We’re getting too old for this, derp,” Lincoln grumbled.
“I haven’t heard you call me that in a while,” Finn said.
“Do you miss it?”
“Not so much,” Finn replied, though he was glad his friend still had a sense of humor despite their situation. The truth was, they weren’t getting too old--they were way past too old. He and Lincoln were both tired and gray. They should have been retired and living out their golden years on a beach in Florida. But here they were, still trying to save the world.
“Do you think it worked?” Lincoln said as he fiddled with his hinge. “Do you see Ugly anywhere?”
Finn scanned the neighborhood for the monster, his eyes burning from the smoke and heat. There was no sign of Paradox anywhere. Could he trust what he was seeing? Had they actually managed to kill Paradox?
“Is that cannon thing ready?” he asked. “We need to be ready if it survived.”
Lincoln shrugged. “I think so.”
“What do you mean, you think so?”
“Well, it was in perfect working condition until you dropped it!”
“Are you seriously still mad about that? Future people were firing laser guns at us,” Finn cried.
“Future people don’t like it when you steal their stuff!” Lincoln grumbled.
Rustling in the debris brought the argument to a stop. Without another word, Lincoln reached into his bag and took out a long silver weapon. He placed it in Finn’s hands.
“Put an end to this, Foley,” Lincoln said. “If you kill it, everything can go back to the way it was supposed to be. No more running. No more scavenging for food, and no more magic jammies.”
Finn looked down at himself. He was wearing a pair of pajamas decorated with cowboys swinging lassos and tumbleweeds. Some wore ten-gallon hats, others sheriff’s badges, and all of them shared the same dopey smile. The pajamas were the only clothing he had worn in sixty years, and not a day had passed when he hadn’t wished he could take them off.
“We’ll get her back, too,” Lincoln continued.
Her face flashed in his memory. Despite all the years that had passed, losing Julep still hurt as badly as it had the day she died. He tried not to think of her anymore, but some nights she crept into his dreams, pushing her glasses up on her nose and carrying around her backpack full of weird books. She’d say something in her thick Southern accent and the voice sounded so real he’d wake up, wondering if somehow she had come back to them. Killing Paradox might bring her back to them, for real.
He hefted the cannon onto his shoulder and pressed his thumb against the firing button.
An explosion in the debris sent nails and glass and shingles flying in every direction. From the smoke rose a crackling ball of flames. It hovered in the sky over the men, staring down at them like a bloodshot eye, and inside it was the black outline of Paradox.
“Finn Foley!” Its voice sounded like a terrible accident, a rockslide crashing down on a busy highway, but it wasn’t nearly as horrible as its owner. When the flames went out and the ball vanished, Paradox dropped to the ground, landing as nimbly as a cat. Finn fought back a scream. Paradox never failed to chill his blood. Its body was grotesque, stringy and long, covered in a hard black shell that cracked and splintered whenever it moved. The face was flat and featureless--no eyes, no nose, no mouth. Long, spiky hair stuck straight up from its head, each tip sparking with blue electricity.
“I am Paradox. I am the fixer, the reshaper of time and space. I am inevitable, and I have much work to do, but you deny me my destiny. For sixty years you have kept your secret, and for sixty years I have made you suffer. Why waste what little time you have left on this pointless fight? My destiny is to break this world in half and rebuild it into something better. He must be by my side. He must see that his efforts to destroy me were in vain. Tell me where he is!”
“Not this again,” Lincoln said.
“Yeah, we’ve heard this speech like a million times. ‘I am Paradox. I’m the big bad. I will destroy everything and rebuild it in my glorious vision.’ Blah, blah, blah,” Finn said.
“You mock me.”
“Yes, consider yourself mocked,” Finn said. He aimed the cannon at Paradox.
“More of your silly toys?” Paradox said. “You should know by now that you cannot kill me.”
“Then it shouldn’t bother you if we try.” Finn pressed the firing button and a loud whirring filled the air. It was followed by a blast of heat and light and noise that slammed into the monster’s chest. For the first time in sixty years, Paradox let loose a howl. The black armor that wrapped around its body was stripped away strand by strand, and the monster fell to its knees.
“You’re hurting it. Don’t stop!” Lincoln shouted.
“There’s no chance of that, old friend,” Finn cried.
And then, without warning, the engine inside the cannon let out a pop, followed by a whiff of smoke, and died.
“Don’t say it, Lincoln!” Finn cried. He pounded on the side of the cannon, hoping to get it working again, but nothing helped.
“Don’t say what? You mean don’t say anything about how you dropped a super weapon from the year 2617 that was the first thing we’ve used that actually hurt the monster we’ve been trying to kill for sixty years? Is that what I’m not supposed to say?”
Paradox crawled to its feet, and in a sudden burst of speed, the creature snatched Finn’s wrist, causing him to drop the cannon. The monster’s grasp was superhuman and the pain was unbearable. In the old days, Finn might have been able to pull himself free, but time had made him slow and weak.
Lincoln charged forward and threw his best right hook. The creature ducked and the punch never landed. With its free hand, Paradox wrapped its fingers around Lincoln’s neck and squeezed.
“You are forcing me to do something I would rather not do. I’m going to give you one more chance, Finn Foley. Tell me where he is,” it said.
“Kill me if you want, Ugly. I’m never going to tell you.”
“I have no intention of killing you, Mr. Foley,” Paradox said. A crackle of electricity swam down its arm into its fingertips, and then into Lincoln. The old man’s body jerked. He let out a cry and then flew backward. Lincoln crashed against a fence. And didn’t move again.
“Nooooo!” Finn bellowed.
“Oh, look at your face. Look at the anger! You have wasted your whole life. Everyone you have ever cared about is gone. You must think you have nothing left to lose now, but you’re wrong. We’re just getting started! I will go back to every happy moment of your life and demolish it. I will kill every person you ever knew, then go back and make sure I can kill them all over again. Time doesn’t have me on a leash, Finn Foley. I can go anywhere. I can do anything. Tell me where he is. Where is your father? Where is Asher Foley?”
Finn fell to his knees, defeated and broken. Paradox was right. He had failed. He looked down at his shaking, wrinkled hands. Why was he still fighting? Maybe the monster was right? Maybe now was the time to bring it all to an end. If he told Paradox the truth, the pain would finally stop.
“This is over, Finn Foley,” Paradox continued, “You were never going to win. You can’t stop destiny. Put away your cowboy pajamas. You put up a good fight. Your dad would be proud. Now tell me where he is.”
Wait. Cowboy pajamas.
“This is far from over, Ugly,” Finn said, then closed his eyes. Please, he silently begged--not to Paradox, but to Time itself. After decades jumping through it, he’d come to believe it listened to him. Sometimes it seemed to make things easy. Other times it could be fickle. Now he needed to go someplace outside of time and space. He needed to go to a place he’d promised he’d never visit again. Are you listening?
“Pajamas, take me to the Ranch,” he shouted.
He braced for rejection, but then his hair stood on end. He felt the familiar sparks in his fingertips and watched the big golden bubble surround him in its protective shield.
“Thank you!” he cried.
“NO!” Paradox pounded on the bubble’s skin, but its attack did no harm.
“I’ll see you very soon,” Finn promised, and then the bubble sank into the ground. There was a flash of light, and he found himself in a tube of neon energy. He realized what he was doing was crazy--going to the Ranch was maybe the worst idea he’d ever had. But there he would find the one person in the universe who could help him stop the monster for good, and save everyone he had ever loved.
Cold Spring, NY
Finn Foley lay in his backyard admiring the creamy blue sky. The sun was bright and warm, but a breeze coming off Bear Mountain made everything nice and comfy. Honeybees buzzed in the flower bed near the back door, and somewhere a happy dog was barking. Lincoln Sidana and Julep Li, his two best friends, were lying in the grass next to him. It was as perfect a summer day as the world had ever seen.
“I’m dying of boredom,” Lincoln groaned.
“I can’t take it anymore,” Finn said.
“Saving the world ruined us,” Julep complained.
It was true. Six months ago, Finn and his friends had defeated an alien invasion. In the process, they’d visited strange planets and hung out with a glitchy robot and a lady with too many eyeballs. Now the world was safe. Everything was right and normal, and they were miserable.
Everything that used to excite them was now flat and dull. Video games seemed painfully slow. Exploring the woods was tedious. Even their weekly cannonball competitions in Lincoln’s pool couldn’t hold back the yawns.
“Let’s do something,” Finn said, “before I go insane.”
“I’ve got an idea.” Julep sat up and opened her backpack. She pulled out her collection of books on unusual topics--everything from fighting off evil curses to the Loch Ness Monster. Julep carried them everywhere she went.
The boys shared a knowing look. Julep’s “ideas” usually involved traipsing through the woods searching for missing links and vampires, and risking Lyme disease. Finn humored her “research,” mainly because . . . well, he didn’t want to call it a crush, exactly. It was more a feeling of being happy and barfy at the same time. All he would admit to himself was that he liked having her around.
“Hard pass if it involves Bigfoot,” Lincoln muttered.
“C’mon!” Julep said.
“I can’t spend another minute in the woods looking for something that doesn’t exist. I just got over the worst case of poison ivy my doctor has ever seen,” Lincoln explained.
Julep turned to Finn for support. He cringed.
“Maybe we could do something that doesn’t turn us into lunch for a million hungry mosquitos?” he said.