An Inappropriate Use of Time Travel

July 24, 2012 at 9:01 PM | Posted in Fiction | Leave a comment

For this challenge Chuck wanted us to write about time travel. In fact I had, about a year ago, and I decided to bring the character back. To read more, go here yesterday:
Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: Must Love Time Travel

It was late at night when Thomas emerged from the barn.  By lantern, he checked his clothes.  Yep, these are the right ones.  *I’m not going back to the 1930s again*.
“Tom?  Tom, are you out here?”  Shit, the wife.  *My 1950s wife*.
“I’m coming in, dear.”
“Thomas Paine Ackerman!  You have been in that barn for hours!  I called you for supper two hours ago.”
Oh.  Shit, was his…what the hell is the name of that thing—chronogram—was his chronogram out of adjustment?  *I’m not a technician, I’m a pilot*.  Thomas knew how snoopy she was.  “Did you open the barn door?  Did you look inside?”
Elizabeth put her head down.  She spoke quietly.  “You know I would never do that.  I respect my husband’s privacy.”
Ah…it’s good to be back.  He kissed her on the forehead.  Any time after the mid-sixties, and women are just too damn assertive.
Thomas spent the next two weeks in the 1950s, taking care of things around the house and getting his manly desires satisfied.  When he had gathered all the artifacts the Delorean could hold, he left for his home-time.  He planned to be back before his 1950s wife knew he was gone.
Or maybe he would take an extra five days, because she just started her period.

“These are good pieces,” the dealer said.  *Too good.  How does this schlub come up with mint condition rare coins, stamps, and baseball cards*?
Thomas had no idea he was being followed.  He forgot technology in 2450.  He casually strolled into his small, empty storage space.  He jumped when he heard a voice.  “All right—what’s your game, Ackerman?”
Two men—one had been his collectables dealer.  Thomas had his hand inside his shirt.  The man saw it and said, “Pull that hand out real slow, assjack.”
Thomas pulled his hand out slowly.  And pushed the button his thumb hand been on.  His Delorean appeared, displacing both men’s torsos with a quiet pop.  He flew his car to a car wash, trying to imagine the physics of it, but he wasn’t that smart.  *Shouldn’t there be an explosion?  Space-time, conversation of metal and energy, or something like that*?
Whatever.  He couldn’t come back to this time, or twenty-some odd years after it.  He sat at the anti-grav drive-thru in 2610, slurping on a chalk-lite shake and reminiscing about the good ol’ days of the early 2200s–probably his favorite time.  Styles come and go, and there was a six year period where chubby, sweaty, middle-aged bald guys were getting more ass than they could handle.
Plus, a shake still tasted like chocolate then.
He was tracking where he had been and where he could no longer go on a hand-held.  He heard a noise.  He looked up and thought how sweet it was that even in this day, people still tried to rob banks.
Of course, there was no cash money anymore.  This was a knowledge-neuron bank, where people went for basic brain surgery.
Three thugs:  One driving, and one had an a-g cart floating out, loaded down with canisters.  The other one had a hostage.  A pretty young woman.
Thomas said quietly to himself, “That, my friend, is a mistake.”  He fielded his controls expertly, and came into the bank thirty seconds prior—just as the robbers were leaving.  When he waved his remote around like a weapon, they thought he was another robber.
“Shitburgers and fries.  Hold on.”  He put a semi-static stasis field in place.  Everyone was still moving, but very slowly.  He had learned that if he wanted any glory, he couldn’t stop a crime before it happened because then no one would believe him.
He freed the hostage, then moved the two lawbreakers together, and tightened the stasis field to be only around them.   Everyone else began moving again.  “Oh, crapsicles and pizza!”
He went outside, jumped back 14 seconds, and grabbed the driver before he could leave.  He placed a stasis on him and then let himself and his charge slide up 14 seconds in a doubletime march.  What a rush.
Finally, everybody was current, except the robbers, in stasis.  The woman thanked him, but she didn’t seem grateful enough.  It was just as well—these assertive types didn’t do it for Thomas.

Thomas had a meeting with the mayor.
“Thomas, I’ve been thinking.  Other major metropolitan cities have their own super hero guardian.  How would you like to be ours?”
*A superhero?  I would get all the ass I want…*
“You would get all the ass you want.  Plus, a nice pad, a nice stipend, expenses paid, plus insurance and legal protection.”
“Wait—what’s that last part?”
“Insurance for the damage you’re bound to cause in your quest for justice or whatever, and free legal from the city.  Most superheroes break some laws as well as windows—you know that.  We got you covered.”
Thomas was barely listening.  The mayor’s assistant came in, and he was smitten.  Tall, blonde, beautiful, and wearing the type of fashion that only women in the 23rd century would wear.  Quickly, Thomas turned to the mayor.  It was probably a good deal.  “I’ll take it.  One thing.”  He nodded toward the woman.
The mayor smiled broadly.  “I’m sure we can arrange something.  Charlotte, I’d like to introduce you to our fair city’s crime-fighting superhero—Thomas.  You need a different name, son.”
Charlotte scoffed.  “Not interested.”  She eyed him with distaste.
“I can travel through time.”
“Time travel is inappropriate.”
He didn’t know what to say.  But he knew what to do.  Later, Thomas tracked her backwards at hi-speed, watching her life in reverse.  He found her at a moment just two years ago, where she was vulnerable and open to suggestion.  He was charming.  He took her out.  He got her drunk.  He took advantage of her.  And never called her again.
Two years later, when he became the city’s superhero and they met for the first time, Charlotte kicked him in the balls.


The Baby Boomer

February 1, 2012 at 7:31 PM | Posted in Fiction | 2 Comments
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I skipped a challenge or two–I had things going on. But I needed to get back to the writing, so this one came along at just the right time. Chuck’s Challenge this week was to write something using present tense.
Originally I thought of a story about time travel. I think it still is.
Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: The Present Tense

I’m laying on my deathbed.  Lying?  Laying?  I’m laying on it, and lying.  My daughter holds my hand.  “I had a good life, Sweetheart.  I have no regrets.”  And I’m gone.
It was what she needed to hear, but I’ll never see her again.  Probably.  Here I go with the peaceful calm feeling and the sensation of floating and the goddamn light again.  Oooh, a heavenly choir.  Angelic voices.  Fuck em.
Because here I am again getting pushed out of the womb.  Again.  Can’t a guy catch a break?  You assholes who think you’ll sleep when you’re dead have got it all wrong.  Sleep when you’re alive.  I’ve been dead a few thousand times, and I never get so much as a catnap.
It doesn’t hurt, but it is annoying.  The light hurts, but I refuse to cry.  Not this time.  The midwife slaps my ass and I choke and cough a little, and I give her a single “Wah.”  I’m done with this shit.
I have the same mother, and the same tired, used nipples.  Ain’t life grand?
I try so hard to remember everything, but it’s no use.  It just fades away.  I bet I’ve tried to remember before, too…but I don’t remember trying to remember.
Everything seems like déjà vu to me, but only because it is.  I get caught up living life again, swept up in the exci—
A girl.  I’m twenty.  I turn.  She looks familiar.  If only I could remember what I did before.  We’re sitting in the commons at university.  I don’t know what I did before, but this time I’m studying engineering.  She says to me, “Do you ever have déjà vu?”
I mumble, “My life is déjà vu.”
She smiled, not understanding.  “What?”
I say to her, “I don’t remember.”  It’s the only time I ever tell the truth.
We date, we marry.  We have kids.  This time, it’s three boys.  My middle son, John, dies in a car accident when he’s 17.  He dies because he is my favorite.  Oh, well.  I’ll have more.  Next time.
“He seems out of sorts, doesn’t he?  Since Johnny died.”  I hear them in the next room talking about me.  I smile and pretend to read the paper.  Ha!  I’ve always been out of sorts.  That’s the problem.
As bored as I am with it all, Life always throws some curves at me.  This time, my wife cheats on me.  Chuck is supposed to be my friend, but I guess this is what people do.  I’m sure I’ve done something to him.  I hope he’s had a hot wife before, and that I fucked her.
I forgive Charlotte, but not because I’m forgiving.  Slowly, over the years, I make her pay.  She’s such a martyr, she just takes it.  What a pathetic excuse for—
Just as I’m really invested in my hatred of her, she comes home crying.  She just came from the doctor.  She has cancer.  She’s dying.  I hold her and comfort her because she gives me no choice.  “It’s going to be okay,” I tell her.  I’m surprised that I tell her the truth, two times in one lifetime.  It will be okay.  She will die, and she will suffer no more.
And I have to go on.
Charlotte hangs in there like a trooper.  Or to spite me, I can’t decide which.
Looking at her tombstone, with the space for my name ominously blank, I do what passes for reflection.  I get the feeling, the sensation—
You know how when you have a dream, and you aren’t told things, but you just seem to know them?  Like the rules for this dream and how things are done?  I have that.  I have that most of the time.
And I feel like I used to think I knew why this kept happening to me.  Like the Hindu reincarnation, or I’m supposed to learn something and change and be a better person, and then I can move on.
I know it’s not like that, however.
It’s 2007, again.  I’m 60 years old, and I’m alone.  My two remaining sons have families conveniently on the coast, several hundred miles away.  If I did it right, I pushed them away.  In my condo I flip on the TV, and happen to see a movie coming up.  Bill Murray—“Ground Hog’s Day.”
I’ve only seen it once before but it seems like I’ve seen it a hundred times.
When it gets to the part where he realizes he can become a better person for love, I pull the trigger.
The bright light hurts, but it’s a relief to be out.  Still, I start crying before I get slapped by the midwife.  That’s okay, because she cleans me off and hands me to my mommy.  I love my mommy.
This is going to be a good one, I can feel it.  I feel love, and I feel loved.  When my eyes can see better I take in my surroundings.  Middle-class post war, oddly familiar décor.  I can read and I can think, I just can’t talk.  Such is the life of a baby.  From Mommy’s shoulder I see the calendar from the First National Bank.  October, 1947.  I’ve been here before, I bet.
The deep, strong voice of Papa fills the room.  I’ve only known him for a day, but already I love him.  He comes up to us and kisses Momma and gently touches me.
He says to Momma, “What are we going to name her?”

Been Such a Long Time

March 10, 2011 at 11:39 PM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
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And several things may have contributed to why I haven’t written in a while.  There, just that one sentence–and now I am off and running.  I think.
So much has happened in the last three months, and yet there is so little to tell.  In December my Aunt passed away, and right before Christmas Detroit fell on the ice and broke her hip.  She has been laid up for the past three months, and is only recently able to start trying to put weight on it.
I…oh, hell–it doesn’t matter.  I’m writing this crap for myself anyway.  It was (and still is) a fucking lot to deal with.  I have to do everything, including shit I’m not good at, like laundry and cleaning.  I appreciate more and more what she has done now that I have to do it.
Of course I had a great line for it, because I needed one to get me through.  People would ask how she’s doing, and I would explain the whole ordeal, and how the doctor told her not to put any weight on her hip.  “And even though he didn’t tell me specifically,” I would add, “I’m sure I’m not supposed to put any weight on it either.”  I pause innocently, waiting for my audience to catch on.
But that’s what I had to endure as well:  No sex.  It’s been very hard to go without.  I have these symptoms:
*Cranky and irritable
*No desire to write or do creative work
*Did I mention cranky and irritable?
And I wasn’t sure if it was because of the lack of sex or because of the increase in dosage for my ADD medication.  I seem to have leveled out on the crankiness–
Either that, or–like my new sexless life–I’ve come to accept it as part of my life now.
But I really didn’t want the medication to affect my creativity, because other than that this new dose is really working for me, I think.  Maybe I was just too focused on all the other tasks at hand to write?  I hope so.  I never gave up the desire, it just always got pushed to the back burner.  Plus, even though I wasn’t getting any, I sure was looking at a large amount of porn.
The specific porn in a guy’s collection sure does say something about his personality–
And let’s leave it at that.
The first weekend of January, our dog picked up a stray dog.  Yeah, our dog had a dog.  I didn’t have time and Detroit wasn’t able to look for the owners, so we kept her for about three days while it was really cold.  Then her son saw a sign in the neighborhood, so we returned her.  They were happy to have her back, but it did make us think that another dog is what our dog needs.
We were having a meeting in the living room, the whole house–the whole family.  Detroit’s family.  I guess they are mine, because they live in my house.  But dammit, I don’t want to admit or have to accept the oldest son, The Troll.
I had planned this meeting after the new year to talk about new responsibilities and what I wanted out of the boys, and also some different ways to shop for groceries and plan meals.  The meeting got interupted, so I didn’t get to finish and go off on them.  Detroit’s mom got a call.  Her sister in Michigan was very ill.
She went up to stay with her for several weeks–or stay with another sister and visit the sick one in the hospital.  Then she came home, and then spent three or four days with Detroit’s sister while she recovered from lap-band surgery.  That’s the thing where they squeeze off part of your stomach when you’re too much of a fat-ass and have no self-control and just keep shoveling food down your throat.  They should have installed the lap band about a cubit higher, at her mouth.  That would solve several problems:  It would keep her from eating, and she wouldn’t be able to talk, either.  Fuck, she is annoying.
Shortly after that–about a week ago–Bonnie’s (Detroit’s mom) sister passed away.  Away we trek up to Michigan.
I had high hopes of using some of my time off that I tried to accumulate to get some things done around the house.  Instead, the three days I built up were used on this, and I have nothing again, until next month.  I accrue 11.25 hours per month, which comes to about 17 days per year, or three weeks.  This doesn’t include all the holidays we are off and paid for.  I have a pretty sweet gig.
We go to Michigan.  They pack some bags, and I have to haul them.  It’s Detroit, recovering from a broken hip, and using a walker.  It’s her sister, recovering from her minor surgery and suffering from a severe personality disorder.  And it’s their mother, a short, waddly old sedentary woman with diabetes and other problems.  And me, driving the gimp-mobile.
It wasn’t a bad visit, as trips-for-funerals go–for me.  Detroit got sick Thursday and couldn’t go to the funeral (she was there for the previous evening for the wake.)  She was able to leverage her illness quite cunningly, I thought.  Her mother had planned–without consulting us–for us to stay there through Sunday, and leave Sunday morning, driving the ten hours back.  Detroit said she would rather be sick at home, and wanted to leave.
And that was fine with me, even though I was meeting more of her family and hopefully endearing myself to them…or at least not creeping them out too much.  To be fair, they are her relatives, not mine, so it’s perfectly okay for me to flirt with her hot cousins.
But we didn’t leave Friday, we left Saturday morning instead.  Friday I got to taste the star of local cuisine:  a steak sammich at Tony’s.  But it’s not a steak sammich.  It’s a burger, or a hoagie.  It’s a large oblong burger on toasted Italian bread with cheese and pizza sauce on it.  It’s a pizza burger.
It was purty goddamn awesome.
I also got to see the sights of Saginaw, Michigan:  Deteriorating slums, a vacant downtown, and roads that could use some putty, or crack-fill, or rock, or something.  Fuck, fill the holes with spaghetti and meatballs for all I care.  Just fill them.
Saturday morning we prepared to leave.  Meaning, I packed our bags, Detroit’s mom and sister packed theirs, and they sat there and watched me while I loaded up the van in the falling snow.  Then I herded their asses out to the van, got them in it, closed the doors, and we left.  It snowed all through Michigan, and somewhere in northern Indiana it turned to rain.  By Indy it had stopped.
I was glad to have Sunday off and at home; the road was not kind to my body, especially my knees.  I did nada but lay on the couch, then nap, then eat, then lay on the couch some more.  It was a busy day.

I feel a little out of practice at writing here, and I’m wondering how I’m supposed to make this interesting or funny.  Fuck it.  Live isn’t always interesting or funny.  Sometimes it’s just life.

Bill Gates’ Excellent Adventure

September 30, 2005 at 5:40 PM | Posted in Humor Me | 1 Comment
For the sake of Context, this was originally published 09/13/04,
shortly after the document -gate thing with Dan Rather concerning
Bush’s Guard service.

Okay, now bear with me, because the concept of time travel is full of
paradoxies and contradictions, not to mention problems with grammar.
That is why it has taken so long for this news story to come to the
forefront, and even so, the details are still unclear. But I am here to
straighten it all out, as best I can.

Gates, at the behest of the evil republicans in the RNC, was tricked
into building a time machine and travelling back in time. They came to
him using a pre-programmed Steve Jobs Clone. The SJC informed him that
Linux was going to merge with Casio, and be in the perfect position to
develop time travel. This new company, Lin-io, would then go back in
time, change the early pc history so that ibm would use the linux
operating system, and thus destroy Microsoft before it’s inception.
Apparanty, they had watched Star Trek: First Contact.
So Bill Gates
is entrusted with a mission, he builds a time machine, and travels back
to the year 1973 with a Dell pc and HP printer. He finds his younger
self, explains the situation, and the young BG helps the old BG make
his way to Darpa, to ensure the use of their technology, and they make
a deal with the government. Some of these names may sound familiar:
George Bush Sr., head of CIA, Gerald Ford, president, and Dick Cheney,
who was serving in some mysterious capacity in the shadow government.
Having secured the deal, bound in blood and witnessed by all, including
Satan, the Old Bill Gates comes back, and the young Bill Gates is left
with his complete agenda. It is a formidable task, but he knows he will
be a quadzillionaire when this is over. Plus, only the winners get to
go back and change things, so he goes over to Linus Tovald’s house and
gives him 12 hits of acid.
The government, meanwhile, has made a
deal that gives them certain assurances also, and some lovely parting
gifts. The Dell pc and HP printer wind up in the Texas office of some
Air National Guard Officer because of a favor owed to him for keeping a
certain young pilot from being drafted.

I hope this clears up any misunderstandings.

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