Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Flash Fiction: NAME THAT TIME

This is one of several stories I've written where I simply launch into writing the first phrase that comes to mind, keep writing and somewhere down the road, I find the story. Actually, to be imprecise, I've written several severals of stories like this. It's always fun. This story is featured in Weirdyear and comes from my anthology "Thirty More Stories."


            The first time traveler in history, Dr. Burgonius Limpstead V, flipped the switch of his ChronoMaster FlexTron9000 and plunged into a maelstrom of colors, pain and roaring silence that dropped him in a muddy swamp outside of what would be New Bedford in about, oh, 350 years, give or take a few decades. The automatic “dead man switch” on the ChronoMaster FlexTron9000 flipped Dr. Limpstead back, this time through a typhoon of brazen colors, raw pain and thunderous roars until he plopped limply in the petunia garden of the lovely Miss Rochester-Winthrop, the merry spinster who lived nine doors down from Dr. Limpstead’s Cedar Avenue Georgian cottage.
            After a few minutes of retching and vile cursing in three languages, two cups of mint tea from Miss Rochester-Winthrop’s Dresden-blue retirement gift teapot and a check to cover the damages to 38 petunias and a tulip patch, Dr. Limpstead, er, limped back to his Georgian cottage to furiously recalculate the programming vectors of the ChronoMaster FlexTron9000. He worked all through the night, slept on his laptop stand and recalibrated the entire software package by Wednesday afternoon. If it was Wednesday.
            The second time traveler in history, the same Dr. Burgonius Limpstead V, flipped the switch of his ChronoMaster Flextron9001 and plunged into a hurricane of sound, agony and blinding flashes of light, suddenly appearing almost 46 feet above a grassy plain that would be New Bedford  in about 200 years or so, give or take a decade or two. The semi-automatic “dead man switch” flipped Dr. Limpstead, who was struggling to regain the breath the fall knocked out of him, into a chaos of deafening shrieks, bone-searing agony and blinding daggers of light until he plopped unconsciously into Miss Rochester-Winthrop’s newly-seeded tulip patch, plowing into it at roughly 11 miles an hour and turning said patch into a foxhole.
            After almost an hour of empty retching and full-body cramps, two cups of chamomile tea and a few lady fingers, plus a check for landscaping what was left of Miss Rochester-Winthrop’s garden, Dr. Limpstead called a cab to drive him home, and after pointedly ignoring the look of Middle Eastern stupefaction he received for the ride, fare and miserly tip, Dr. Limpstead began furiously recalculating the programming of the ChronoMaster FlexTron9001. He worked all through the weekend, slept on both his laptop stand and denim-covered ottoman and recalibrated the entire software package and hardware components by Thursday morning. If it was Thursday.
            Digital cameras on 17-second delay were sent out to become time-traveling devices 1, 2, 3, 4 (came back soaked and useless), 5, 6 (which took 163 pictures of what looked like oil in water, with human ears scattered in precise Cartesian patterns), 7, 8 and finally 9, which showed New Bedford circa 1851. All nine cameras reappeared in Miss Rochester-Winthrop’s garden, causing the merry spinster to drop the idea of a petunia and tulip garden and use the money the nice Dr. Limpstead kept paying her to pave over the whole area and open an outdoor café.
            Finally, the third time traveler in history, Dr. Burgonius Limpstead V, flipped the switch on the ChronoMasterFlexTron10000 and plunged into a warm current of soft pastels, music of the spheres and a slight tingling sensation along his fingertips. He landed gently in a shadowy alley along the east side of the New Bedford square. As expected, a small gentleman of swarthy moustache and prosperous dress was walking west, his walking stick swinging along lightly. Dr. Limpstead gave him a stupendous punch in the mouth, knocking the stunned gentleman onto his fundament. “Don’t name the boy 'Burgonius’, damn it!” he roared.
            Dr. Limpstead flipped the “Return” switch and floated back amidst cool pastels, tinkling bells and a mild buzz along the knees, gliding softly into Miss Rochester-Winthrop’s Tea Tulip Café. The merry spinster smiled. “Why, David, how nice to see you again.”
            The next day, Dr. David Limpstead developed a marvelous new handheld GPS console with the uncanny ability of locating flower shops.

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