By Mike Stevens
The Story of a Super-Secret Government
Project Testing Time-Travel Technology
Steve Weaver’s eyes slowly began to register light. He blinked his eyes rapidly, and tried to figure out where he was. He was surrounded by men wearing uniforms he’d never seen; or rather he’d seen them, but couldn’t remember where. It wasn’t so much the fact they were strange, it was the fact they all had guns pointed at him that disturbed him.
“On your feet!” said one of the strange men, in French.
“Hold on, and you are?” he answered, also in French.
“Captain Dubwua Dubwua.”
“Well, Captain Dubwua Dubwua, how do you say, what’s the deal?”
“The deal, as you put it, is that our leader, Napoleon Bonaparte, wishes to see you, and we’ve been charged with taking you to him.”
“Napoleon? Whatever you guys are smoking, I want some! What, is this Halloween?”
“Come on, get moving!” and he prodded Steve’s back with his musket. Steve figured he had no choice but to do what these freaks wanted. As he started his walk, he desperately tried to remember what had led him to Bizzaro-Land. He remembered waking up that morning, eating breakfast, then going, where? He had flashes of memories, but not the whole picture.
He was marched into a building and sat alone in a room to wait for, what? As he gazed around him, his eyes came to rest on a painting of Napoleon, sword raised high, on a white hose, leading his men into battle. Steve had seen it several times, the first time was in elementary school. Elementary school! He at least remembered that. Slowly but surely, his memory was returning. Wait; there was something about what he’d just thought. Oh yeah, don’t call him Shirley. He groaned at the lame joke, and set his mind to remembering how he’d gotten here. So far, all he could remember was eating breakfast that morning, then nothing. As he tried his hardest to remember, a vision of a machine popped into his head. A vision of himself stepping into this machine; why? Suddenly, a conversation with a man who had huge amounts of fruit salad on his collar; a General? Then the name General Wells entered his mind, General H.P. Wells; and they were discussing what? A time machine! That was it, he remembered discussing whether time travel was even possible. Then he remembered building a machine which he was sure would work, and General Wells thought was just a waste of money. He remembered climbing in, and here he was, about to meet a man claiming to be Napoleon Bonaparte. If it had worked, and he really was back in Napoleonic-era France, it was incredible!
After what seemed to be a long while, the door opened, and in walked (strutted would be a more apt description) a very short, paunchy man, with the obvious air of command. Steve couldn’t believe it; Napoleon! This couldn’t be happening; surely he must be dreaming. “Don’t call me Shirley!” was his first thought, then after thinking ever-so briefly again about that sad, tired joke, he admitted to himself this was indeed real, and again in French (he couldn’t remember where he’d learned--oh yeah, college!), he addressed the emperor,
“Well, well, if it isn’t Napoleon himself. Honored to meet you sir.”
“Cut the crap; who are you and what are you doing here? A British spy, no doubt.”
Steve watched as Napoleon struck a familiar pose, putting his hand inside his jacket. “I can’t tell you how many times you’ve been painted in that exact pose.”
“Masseur, I’m sure I don’t know what you mean?”
“You know, with your hand inside your coat.”
“Oh, these bedbugs are a bitch!”
“Wait, do you mean to tell me it has nothing to do with a Napoleonic Complex, and is simply because you itch?”
“I don't know of the complex to which you refer, but I dig it; a Napoleonic Complex, yeah, but of course, Monsieur, do you think I want to look like an egotistical jack-ass?”
But you were an egotistical jack-ass! “No, of course not; I just was taught different in history class.”
“History class, Monsieur?”
“Never mind, I just can’t believe I’m sitting in a room, talking to the Napoleon!”
“You, Monsieur, are one freaky dude! Now, I’ll ask you again, what is your name, and why are you here?”
“Okay, you probably won’t believe this, but I can’t remember my name, I think it’s Steve something, and I think I’m here after climbing in a time machine in the 21st century, and winding up in the 18th or 19th century; I’m not exactly sure; what year is this?”
Napoleon just stared at him, before replying, “You must think I just fell off the turnip cart to believe that; a time machine? You know what I think, Monsieur? I think either the British emptied out their nut-jobs from prison, or you’re a spy trying to cover his ass. I’m inclined to believe the latter!” I think the guillotine will suffice for your ass!”
Steve reluctantly climbed the steps to his doom, prodded by a soldier’s bayonet, and pleaded with a watching Napoleon, “Can’t we talk about this?”
Napoleon fixed him with a disgusted glare, and answered, “Die like a man, Monsieur. This groveling is embarrassing!”
With that, Steve's grip on reality started to go. He was ordered to kneel before an evil-looking stockade, and forced to place his head on a block of wood with a gleaming blade high above. He was looking down on a bucket intended to catch his head. Oh god, how did he end up here? “Get me out of here!” he yelled. Then everything went black.