and fruit flies like a banana

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Banni Ophogee, a time-travelling student from the year 2525, inadvertently falls into a rift, causing her to displace local time around her. She accidentally meets a contemporary of 2005, Duck Mallard, a so-called adolescent in Banni’s epoch, and draws him into the dislocation.

Submitted: March 03, 2007

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Submitted: March 03, 2007

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Like most people making their way through life, Troy ‘Duck' Mallard had come to learn that certain things were concrete, others abstract, and that there usually wasn't much ground in between. Sure there were the odd happenings that seemed to defy concrete explanation, as there were also certain conceptual experiences that appeared to take on solid form, but he most often put the former down to mere coincidences while putting the latter down to moments of certain chemical reactions, mostly happening on a Saturday night. No, for Duck, as for most, a lamppost was a lamppost, thoughts were maybe words not yet spoken, the past was where you'd been, the present where you were, and the future some place over the next sunrise.

Confident in all of this, Duck had set off at a minute past the hour that morning, pursuing an all-time record of making it to the bus stop with time to spare for a whole cigarette instead of the half-smoked one he normally had to ditch just as the doors went swoosh and the driver eyed him suspiciously from behind his Perspex screen, as if saying, ‘You got smoke in that mouth, Mister?' As this unspoken accusation always made him feel a little shamefaced he would make a point of opening his mouth wide when asking for his ticket: ‘EIGHTY PEE, PLEASE,' he would stretch and grimace, ‘TO THE STATION,' even though it was obvious the driver thought he was either a little bit care in the community or else was taking the Michael. So to have arrived that morning without the bus looming larger in the middle distance had been both a relief and a triumph for Duck, making him the happy winner of a smoke from tip to butt.

So it was that, probably lost in his valedictory lighting ceremony, he had failed to notice the girl immediately, registering her only when she had, quite literally, bumped into him.

"Sorry," he'd said, making his customary apology for nothing.

"You are most kind," she'd responded, "but I thought the fault was mine that time. Have you been in this continuum long?"

"I've just got here," he'd replied, eyeing her warily, looking for the happy badge of some dippy culture out spreading tidings! joy! a little earlier than usual. He had smiled his nice-meeting-but-don't-bother-me smile and had turned to look for his bus when things sickeningly altered, all in the same moment. For as he had turned he was turning and was going to turn; a sort of gone, started and soon-to-be sensation that left him not knowing if he was, or maybe had been, coming or going.

"What the fu-!" he uttered, though in what tense he wasn't sure.

"Look out!" the girl had said as she remembered they were going to collide again. "You really must take more care," she reproached him, rebounding from the impact. "It's statistically proven that head spinners cause more accidents than co-ordinate shifters."

"Anyway, me take care? You hit me a second time!" he was going to protest indignantly after asking: "What the hell's happening? Co-ordinate shifters? You lost your map or something? Anyway, me take care?"

He reached into his pocket for another cigarette, the effects of which he saw, remembering the coughing it was going to cause.

"Have you ever roamed before?" she'd asked sarcastically. "You're not one of those home travellers, are you?" and she squinted suspiciously, showing she hadn't been satisfied with the answer he was going to give.

"'Course I've come from home, where else? I'd just got here when you popped out of nowhere... " he had started to say before floating through the present ... "What, you're telling me people build contraptions like that in their bedrooms?" ... to emerge into the future to collect what he had just said. It was suddenly all too much for him. "Stop! For pity's sake, keep it from moving. Let's have some regularity here!" he'd cried, and he clamped his hand to his head.

"Perhaps your constancy matrix is malfunctioning?" she suggested, reaching ahead of his despair, intercepting his hand with hers. "What parameter would you prefer? I'll see if I can use my matrix to steady yours."

"Any parameter, just fu-" he'd held back forming the oath, seeing how unhelpful it was going to be. "If you're responsible for all this, just make it now again will you?"

"Is that now now or now as it was or will be?" she answered a little tartly, not letting him off for his rudeness even if it hadn't quite appeared in the fleeting present.

"Any now, I don't care, just make it one of them!" he was going to gasp.

"Very well. Now. Then," she announced. "Better?"

He had looked nervously into her eyes, worried if it was something he was about to do, but things had held firm.

"Can you make it a bit more of the now now, a little less of the now then?" he had asked as he shakily put the cigarette into his mouth.

She duly obliged and brought their ‘now' a little further into the present.

"So what the hell is going on? Who are you?" he demanded, feeling more able to deal with things in the happening ‘now'. He put a flame against the tobacco.

"My name is Banni, Banni Ophogee, of pod Aye, cluster Apple, bower Macintosh" she replied, studying the blue smoke rising. "Is that the ancient craving in your mouth? The one all past-timers died from? Where did you get it from?" She waited until his sudden hacking fit subsided. "Are you not worried TemFuCorp will find out? They can sample from home travellers as well, you know."

He threw the cigarette away, strangely angry with himself for not knowing better. "I don't know what game you're playing, but I don't want any part of it, all right? And where's that bloody bus got to?" He turned in one fixed dimension this time, peering up the road.

"No, I do not engage in any game this roaming, I am here purely for research," she replied a mite boastfully. "I came to collect data on the impact of digital technology on adolescent cultures. What is your purpose here...?" Banni cocked her head, inviting his introduction. "Duck? You are studying ornithology, perhaps? But is that not gamma? I thought gammarians were supposed to stay contemporary?"

"Right now, all I'm studying is how to get out of here and keep my sodding marbles intact!" he answered, taking a step back from her. "Whatever it is you're on, it seems to be slipping my way."

"Ah, perhaps that is the problem, you may be in the wrong location? I believe marble was a building material more usually employed in the late childhood period." Banni stopped to think about it. "Yes, this period has more steel and..."

"Look, I'm not interested, all right?" Duck interrupted irritably. "I haven't a clue what you're on about but I do know you seem to be so far out of your bloody mind it's even loosening mine. So stop it, right? Just push off on whatever beam brought you here and leave me alone!"

She looked at him as though seeing him for the first time. Bewilderment flitted across her face, turning to outright, jaw-slackening astonishment as realisation dawned on her. She too took a step backwards.

"You are a past-timer!" she whispered, looking about her. "You should not be here! Go, before TemFuCorp reads the anomaly! My temporal freedom may be suspended!"

"Anomaly? Temporal freedom? What? You really trying to say you're, you know, from ... further up the road?" Duck asked nervously as impossibility threw two fingers up. "Look, Fanny, or whatever it is you're called, but you dropped in on me, remember? So if there's any going to be got it's going to be got by you, got it?" He put his arm around the bus stop. "This is mine, capiche? It belongs here, same as my ‘ancient cravings' belong here, same as the pavement does with me on top of it. So go flick your switch or whatever it is you do and clear off to some other epoch and leave mine alone, or I'll post you a sodding parcel marked ‘collect', understand?"

Banni felt suddenly all at sea or, more accurately, in the right place at the wrong time shift. She'd heard stories of roamers becoming lost, forsaken in a vacuum of no forevers, their roamings, even their existences, never having been recorded. Perhaps that was to be her own fate? She began to feel the slow terror of abandonment, not just by bower, cluster and pod but by any where, any when, in the light universe. Data gathering was supposed to be the safest form of roaming there is, nobody ever got lost and contact with past-timers was guaranteed never to happen. But it was happening. And to make things worse, this ornithologist from the adolescent period was confusing her with subjects her pod hadn't really tackled yet. Cultural Studies was beta level, but Rights About Time was at alpha. She felt the panic rising like a sinusoidal elevator before remembering something from her delta schooling: ‘If understanding races by, move into the past to see and reflect more clearly.' In trepidation, she quickly flicked her switch, which had a little more quantum circuitry than Duck could ever imagine, and slipped into the tenses of yesterday.

It had been a regulated eight morning when Banni set off for the pod, with high, fluffy cumulus drifting lazily across a pink-tinged sky, gently conditioning the biosphere for the regulated nine afternoon to follow. Banni so loved the harvest seasons.


© Copyright 2018 Charlie Devoir. All rights reserved.

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