As you might have guessed, this is the 26th installment of a piece of long fiction (though the first one doesn’t really count because it’s stuff you shouldn’t bother reading.) This particular installment is the last in a chapter that was so long that it was threatening to grow teeth and eat the rest of the novel. Elmer (the protagonist,) blew it with a young lady. He discovered a way to travel back in time, and now he’s reliving that moment of failure in hopes of not blowing it once again.
Chapter 11 Redux
Another Moment in Time
I’d say I was in deep thought, but as Dirk would tell you, I’m not really known for that. I was in deep fuzziness though. The drone of All Bore, the stench of the sheep, the pleasant effects of the smoke, had me suspended in that hammock of thoughtlessness that isn’t asleep, but isn’t aware either.
Blah, blah blah.
I never noticed how tedious my inner dialog was until I had to relive it. This traveling in time thing was very useful, but it was also embarrassing. Thank goodness Ono comes by and Swampy snaps me out of it.
“Um…” I said wisely – at least by my standards, “you want to sit?” As if Ono needed my permission to sit on the cold earth.
“I think,” said Ono. “That I’d like to sit on that ledge.”
“But the sheep.”
“I’ll try not to bug them.”
Sure enough, there goes the ram flying through the air. Let’s see if I can change speeds here. Whoa, that ram is flying! Now backwards!
I should probably get back to the story.
“You don’t have another algae bar, do you?” she asked.
I knew I had several little sausages in my fanny pack, but if I gave her food now, would we smoke cigars together? It might change the whole timeline.
Oh gee! There’s that stupid brook bounding down a rocky bed thought again. Like it wasn’t embarrassing enough the first time.
She smiled – just as pretty as she did before, and I fidgeted, just as I had before – even though I tried especially hard not to.
“I could offer you a cigar,” I said off-handedly.
“Please!” she said. There was still enough of my first cigar for us to use it to light two more. “Teach me,” she said.
It’s pretty hard to pay attention when you’re living a scene over again in your mind. I’m trying to get all my lines right about Dirk, Swampy and the school. But I never noticed how nice her hair smells – even with cigar smoke and a hundred stinky sheep in the immediate vicinity.
I wanted to throw in something about that, but I stick to the script.
“Magic,” said Ono.
“No, not magic. It’s all logical. It all makes perfect sense once you learn it, or figure it out.”
Blah, blah-de-da-blah! Man, I do go on, don’t I? I’m surprised I didn’t tell her all about Dirk and my Fassentinker duets on scratchwing and bellow. I need to face this – I’m a bore.
“Can you stop Lustavious from banishing you to oblivion?”
Now we’re coming to it. This is the second chance I’ve been looking for. Maybe it would have been a good idea to think what I’ll say here.
Oh great! I have no idea what I’ll say!
“So All Bore made me an offer,” she said.
All Bore, that dirty old man! Of course I’m over eight thousand years old, so what does that make me? No time to worry about that. Look concerned. Try to pretend you haven’t heard this before. She starts to hyperventilate and I take her hand.
“You thought I could save you?” I asked.
“We could save each other,” she said tentatively, hopefully, and at that moment I realized that she was right. I needed saving as much as she did.
At least I figured that out the first time.
“I don’t know how.”
“You could go to that school and figure out how!” she said. “We could be together.”
Silence. It wasn’t complete silence. All Bore was still talking, though I have no idea why. Maybe it was one of those dream talking things practiced by the Sublimin people.
My throat was dry, and it wasn’t because of the cigars.
Here it is – the moment! What if I can’t change history? A great time to think of that, Elmer. I should have offered her a sausage, just to test it.
The sausages! That’s it. I have changed history. I have sausages in my fanny pack. All right – here it goes.
“I understand,” she said.
“Wait – that wasn’t in the script! I waited too long. Speak Elmer!
“I’ll try,” I croaked.
“What?” Her eyes, downcast before, raised to meet mine.
“I don’t know what I’m doing,” I said, “but I’ll try. Maybe you’re right. Maybe we can save each other.”
“I’ll probably fail.”
She laughed as if I was joking, then threw her arms around my neck and hugged me. It would have been a beautiful moment if I hadn’t gotten a face full of Swampy.
“Ouch!” she said.
“The cigar is hot.”
“Just throw it away.”
We both threw our cigar stubs into the dirt, where they smoldered together. Really, I’m not making this up – they smoldered together. It’s not another of those brook down a rocky bed romantic thoughts; the stubs landed near each other, and they both smoldered.
“Say,” I said. “I’m out of algae bars, but I seem to have supernaturally acquired some little smoked sausages. Would you like some?”
Oh yeah. This is a much better ending.
Okay, I’m pretty sure that next week we’ll be exploring some scary territory – Dirk Destroyer that’s not Chapter 11 (or some form thereof.)
Well, it frightens me anyway.
Speaking of irrational fears.