Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Claim Your FREE Audiobook Copy of "Jesus Was a Time Traveler"

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About the Book:

An action-packed dinosaur hunt...wave after wave of bloodthirsty Nazis desperately trying to mow down our heroes...and yes, an appearance by Jesus Himself. 

All in a couple days' work for Dr. Phineas Templeton. 

A quirky English chap with a taste for fine scotch, Dr. Templeton builds a time machine at the behest of his mysterious benefactor. His mission? To meet Jesus Christ Himself, and garner all of the fame, recognition, and accolades that writing an epic time travelogue would bring.  

Unfortunately for Finny, Jesus is actually a fellow time traveler, a hippie named Trent from Colorado in the future. While Trent explains that the past is fixed and immutable (“What happened, like, happened, man...”), Dr. Templeton realizes that he's made a horrible oversight in his calculations, and can't return to his own time period. 

The only way home is to follow a list of cryptic instructions his benefactor has hidden on the time machine, which sends him on a madcap, at times hilarious voyage from watching his hero, Sir Isaac Newton, be berated by a high school physics teacher, to hunting dinosaurs, to rescuing two colorful American soldiers and fighting Nazis hellbent on his destruction. 

A novel that's been called equal parts The Da Vinci Code and Back to the Future, Jesus Was a Time Traveler combines quirky humor, thought-provoking concepts, intriguing clues, and a finicky universe that would like nothing more than to keep things as they are.


I'm giving away a select number of review copies of Jesus Was a Time Traveler's audiobook!

All that means is you'll get a free audiobook copy, and in exchange you'll write an honest review of what you think when you finish it.

Simply fill out the form below with all of the info and I'll let you know if there are copies still available:

(Where to find your Audible Listener Page Link)


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

How to Access Your Audible Listener Page

This is a short and sweet post to help you find your Audible Listener Page URL:

1. Log In to www.audible.com

If you forgot your info, it's the same as your Amazon account.

2. Click on "Hi [YOUR NAME]" in the menu bar:


3. Click on "Listener Page" from the dropdown.

4. Copy-and-paste the URL wherever you want.

That's it! Enjoy!

-D.J.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

CWATT Chapter 6

Get all previous chapters of Corcoran Was a Time Traveler HERE

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Chapter 6

The snark and amusement quickly drained from my face as I levelled narrowed eyes at Helene.
You put him up to this, didn’t you?!”
She raised a cold, calculating eyebrow, “Of course—that makes sense. I somehow engineered the theft of one of my proprietary time machines by one of the few people to ever exist on this planet who might be able to reverse engineer it.”
I shook my head, “But you know he doesn’t!”
Helene wrinkled her nose, “Do I? That last entry—the end of the world?!”
I looked at Sanchez, “Is she right, Commander Sanchez? That wasn’t more ChronoSaber propaganda designed to mislead me?”
During my previous jaunt through time, Commander Sanchez had been the one to inform me that April 20th, 2102 was the date beyond which no time traveller had returned.
More troubling, people from her time onward had no idea as to why.
Sanchez nodded, “I’m afraid she’s correct. That information was absolutely true.”
Helene subsumed her scowl beneath an affected grin, “As much as you must think I’m simply a cruel, heartless businesswoman hellbent on making your lives a living hell—”
Corcoran and I exchanged a knowing glance.
“—I’ll have you know that you—especially you, Finny—are of far less import to me than this Thurber fellow, potentially ending the world!
She spat the final sentence across the long conference table with such vigor that I reached for my non-existent kerchief once more to wipe my face.
“Oh, spare me, Helene—” I started.
Carter pounded the table, “That’s enough, God damn it!”
He let the rich bass tones of his voice reverberate around the room for several seconds before nodding at Corcoran, “Now you and I both know that Army Black Ops finds working with private industry somewhat distasteful,” he eyed the two billionaires at the head of the table with suspicion, “but we’ve made exceptions in the past, Ricky. Namely for you to end the Third World War in 2032.”
I scowled first at Corcoran, then at Carter, and opened my mouth to speak.
Carter’s glared right back and stopped me in my tracks; the veins in his neck strained against his dark skin as his jaw jutted out taut, giving me the distinct impression that he was chewing on nails.
“By all reports, if this Thurber has anything to do with whatever occurs in 2102, for good or ill, then we need to find out what that might be.”
“So what are we to do then? Go on another scavenger hunt through time, with little more than Klaus’s ridiculous clues to guide us?”
Marlow nodded, “That’s exactly what you will do.”
“Yes!” Bloomington pumped his fist like an adolescent on his first trip to a whorehouse.
I shot a sidelong glance at the oddly thin scientist.
Helene interjected, “This time, though, the gloves are off: no restrictions on jumping, and no restraints on the QC.  You may tackle the list in any order you like, though I would suggest that you four start with the first entry on the list, since it’s a ChronoSaber operation.”
My eyes bolted upward momentarily before they settled on Helene, “Four?”
“Awesome!” Bloomington practically squealed with glee, “I’ll tell Marie to get her shit packed—”
“Commander Sanchez will be accompanying you as the ChronoSaber attaché on the mission.”
For once, Corcoran, Bloomington, Sanchez and I all yelled in unison:
“What!?”
“Ms. Tottingham-Clarke, with all due respect, my responsibilities at ChronoBase Alpha will likely preclude me from—”
“She doesn’t even know how to operate one’a these things!” Corcoran interrupted Sophia.
“I have to say, I agree with the Commander on this one—” I tried to get a word in edgewise.
“Do you know how many Nazis Marie’s mowed down? Seventeen. I counted every last fucking one of ‘em!” Bloomington screamed.
“And how many have I mowed down, Steve?” Sanchez narrowed her eyes at the skinny-fat man child.
He thought for a second and sighed, “Forty-three… I guess…”
“Shut up. Shut up!” Helene barked. She blinked and covered her ears, “Christ on Christmas, it’s like dealing with children in here! Am I the only one who sees the grave import of this?” she looked at Sanchez, “Sophia, the Army already has a representative on-board, and as much as I…” she looked at Marlow, “…tolerate Mr. Marlow here, I need someone from ChronoSaber to serve as my own eyes and ears onboard, and keep the, ahem, others on board on the straight-and-narrow.”
Corcoran rose from his chair, “I’ll be damned if I have some stuck-up soldier wanna-be lookin’ over Doc and my shoulders on this trip!”
He nodded at me, and I dipped my head in return.
“And, uh, Bloomy over here, too, a’course…” He must have noticed Bloomington’s peculiar, face-drained-of-pudge scowl.
Carter shook his head, “No ‘ifs,’ ‘ands,’ or ‘buts’ about it, Rick—Sanchez is going. It’s a concession we had to make to get use of the time machine for this mission.”
Corcoran turned to Sanchez. Sophia narrowed her eyes at him in reply, “Thanks for the vote of confidence, Commander.”
Ricky didn’t skip a beat, “Don’t mention it.”
Helene rose from her chair and shook her head, “If we’re quite through here, I have times to go, people to see.”
She paused before completing her thought, eying the four of us at the end of the table much like a lion would a wounded gazelle.
“So that’s it? ‘Oh, let’s get right into the scavenger hunt,’ then, isn’t it? Send dumb old Dr. Templeton out to be embarrassed once more, one more time—?”
“Oh, for the love of God,” Helene rolled her eyes, “Must we listen to you throw another tantrum, Finny? Isn’t Mr. Marlow paying you enough to just go along with it for once without being an obstinate, hard-headed bore?”
I thought about her assertion for a moment. I knew Helene was up to something, but as of yet, I wasn’t sure what. I doubted that Klaus was in cahoots with the wily old shrew; after all, Marlow, though no Helene Tottenham-Clarke as far as net worth goes, still seemed to be fabulously wealthy, to the point that he could entice me to join this voyage by flashing a wad of cash at me.
Nonetheless, I wasn’t likely to tease out what she had up her sleeve in the presence of either Carter or Marlow. More importantly, perhaps Sanchez knew more than she was letting on, and could be pumped for information on the voyage.
Not to mention that I utterly abhorred seeing my beautiful laboratory reduced to such a monstrosity of ChronoSaber goons and gaudy technology from who-knows-how-far in the future?
“Actually, I’m told people find me rather charming,” I said, with the faintest hint of a smirk.
Helene sighed,”Now, if there’s nothing else terribly pressing…”
She allowed the silence to fill the room for a good two seconds.
“Good enough for me,” Helene walked out of the room, flanked by the ChronoSaber guards that waited outside. The two soldiers stationed at the door preempted any impromptu Q and A between the erstwhile time travellers and General Carter.
We made our way down the staircase toward my time machine. No matter how much Steve Bloomington had violated the old girl with all manner of “improvements” (though, truth be told, I was grateful for many of them), she still looked utterly remarkable, with nary a scratch on her shining, brushed alloy finish. I allowed myself a moment to admire the ship with a hearty sigh before I made my way toward the gangway.
Marlow followed directly behind me, and though I didn’t know what to make of the man, I was heartened by the somewhat frosty tone with which Helene had referred to him. Though now, more than ever, my guard was ever-raised, on the lookout for further traps and feints, I thought that anyone who bankrolled Klaus (and who offered such a princely sum to myself) couldn’t be wholly irredeemable.
That’s likely what others think of you and Helene, you dolt! I chastised myself.
It was only later that I realised that my likability (or I should say lack thereof) likely painted a far different picture of our relationship than previously considered.
As we approached the ramp, Corcoran stopped and saluted General Carter with his right hand, while his left pulled Bloomington back toward him even as the now-svelte and grotesque scientist let out his familiar (if out of place) squeal.
“Guess this is goodbye again, General.”
Carter returned Corcoran’s salute, “Maybe. Maybe not, Rick. You be careful out there. You’re far more than a desk jockey, shit, more than even a soldier. You’re an icon now. America needs you. Get back in one piece, whatever the cost.”
Corcoran nodded. I craned my neck to get a better look at the Commander. His eyes were dull; they stared straight through the General to a place far, far away. It was the same expression he had after he witnessed the carnage we had unwittingly wrought back in the Mayan village on our first trip.
Of considerably greater import, it was the same vacant, yet understanding, stare that he had given me so many times over the course of our first journey, almost willing me to understand, to figure out the con he was running against me.
I never did.
This time will be different, I assured myself as I followed Marlow onto the now-narrow entryway to the ship. I found it odd that the billionaire was making his way onto the ship alongside the crew, but I rightly suspected he had his reasons for so doing.
One of the features of my design on which I had most prided myself was the open layout of the craft. Though I wasn’t a proper architect hitect or interior designer, I knew enough about the subject from my father’s short lectures on ancient Greek and Roman buildings to know that the single room with small alcoves off to the side gave individuals the sense that the craft was larger.
Now, though, with expanded living quarters, another head, even more chairs on the bridge, the ship felt downright claustrophobic.
Hopefully that feeling will be offset by Bloomington’s decreased tonnage, I thought with a chuckle.
“What’s so funny?” Marlow asked.
“Pardon?” I asked. Perhaps I hadn’t realised entirely how audibly proud I was at my mental jest at Steven’s expense.
“Forget it,” Marlow shook his head. He arched an eyebrow and looked me over slowly, deliberately, almost as if he were a jeweler inspecting a diamond for flaws.
“A hologram would last longer,” I quipped.
“Phineas Templeton himself,” Marlow ignored my jest. Instead he extended a warm hand, “It is an honor, sir.”
“Forgive me if I don’t take your hand; given my history with scoundrels,” I threw my voice toward Ricky, who remained steadfast in his procession toward the cockpit, “in the past.”
Finnegan’s jaw dropped open, “Oh of course! Stupid old me! I forgot what that snake in the grass she-devil had done to you. My God; the father of time travel, relegated to history’s dustbin, all so Helene could make a few extra bucks.”
I gritted my teeth and forced myself to pat the frumpy billionaire on the back, over that hideous brown tweed blend he attempted to pass as a jacket.
“Indeed, indeed…” I took a breath.
Marlow pulled me close and grabbed my forearm. “We will meet again, Dr. Templeton. I know time travel scrambles the old noggin a bit—gets you feeling nutty sometimes. Just remember, if you’re ever in a pickle, remember where ‘back’ is.”
I rubbed my chin with my free hand before I opened my mouth to speak.
“Wish I could be more specific, but you’ll know what I mean when you need it. Until then, I’ll just say, ‘until next time.”
With that, he patted me twice on the back, the second so forceful that it halfway propelled me into the command deck as he made his way back down the gangway.
Or I suppose you could frame it that he gave me a running start to the bar. Even though I had seen the woman mere moments before, the mere mention of Helene’s name (along with the veiled poison the words clearly held for Marlow) led me to take the few short steps over and fix myself a Macallan Eighteen, neat.
I took down several swallows in a single draught and craved more. Though one might think that my time in the past as a bum had caused my habit drinking to cross the line into problem territory, I still blamed my unquenchable thirst for scotch on the medigel and my harpy of a Benefactor more than anything else.
I sopped up the stray whisky from my freshly-shorn chin with a cocktail napkin, sighed, and turned to wave a hearty goodbye to Marlow with an affected smile.
Instead, I found wild whisps of dark hair standing half on-end before I looked downward and saw Bloomington’s gaunt-yet-gooey smiling face next to an empty glass.
“Hey, save some for me, crapface!” Bloomington nudged me with a limp elbow, in what I suppose was designed to be an attempt at camaraderie.
I smiled thinly and poured him a healthy swig.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa—I’m not all medigelled-out anymore!” Bloomington held up his hands in mock protest.
I shrugged and dumped two-thirds of his glass into my own before I took another hearty pull off of it.
A sharp snort echoed around the cabin, “Jesus Christ (I resisted the urge to correct Sophia by saying ‘Trent Albertson;’ it had become a bit of a habit of mine to interchange the two names), is this all you people do on these trips of yours?” Sanchez couldn’t hide the incredulity of her uncharacteristically judgmental tone.
Before I could reply, the glass in my hand clinked as Steven shot his hand out and connected it with his own.
“Just like old times, eh Doctor Templeton?”
As I rolled my eyes, Corcoran turned around from the flight deck and grinned.
“Hey Doc, if yer hungry, trash can’s over there.” He pointed at a corner of the kitchenette.
I harumphed, somewhat less than amused.
He grinned, “I could use ya up front to, you know, pilot the damned ship!”
I bristled, then refilled my glass for a final time, and made my way over to the flight deck.
Corcoran motioned toward the two-key contraption on the dashboard. Ricky’s was already in place; I removed mine from my neck, inserted it into the fitting, and turned.
The console came to life with the familiar “home” screens I had installed, even if several more options for weapons and the engines had been added.
“Think ya can remember how to fly this thing?” Corcoran asked.
I calmly reached out and hit the “auto-pilot” button on the console.
“Yep,” I said.
The computer flashed all manner of icons and text on both screens. The familiar time travel display popped up, complete with the map of the world and “dial” icon that controlled the target time period.
I must confess, dear reader, that my initial instinct was to program the ship to go anywhere but one of the time periods provided by Helene, just out of principle. After all, it was her ridiculous little scavenger hunt that had not only driven me utterly mad, but also been designed to do so! Oh, what I could do with an untethered time machine, the places I could go, all of the fantastical historical figures with whom I could interact, set timeline be damned! My eyes gained a mischievous gleam as I continued to turn the dial toward parts unknown.
My head tilted involuntarily as I considered what all that would truly mean; being a mere observer to God-knows what kind of a historical travesty, another important person torn from the pages of history and revealed to be yet another ChronoSaber puppet, playing out a role until a preordained death, when thousands more mourners from the twenty-first century would show up to simultaneously celebrate the poor wretch’s life and pay ChronoSaber handsomely to do so.
I shuddered at the thought of contributing to such a vile enterprise, albeit tangentially.
Besides, all thoughts of revenge aside, Klaus almost assuredly needed our help, whenever he was. Though Helene, and, by extension, Sanchez might have some idea of how Professor Thurber operated, neither had the faintest idea how the man thought, of what a brain so overpowered with intellect was capable. Only someone with a similarly outrageously bright mind could even hope to do so, and, at least according to some of history’s greatest businesspeople, there was only one man who fit the description.
Even if they had to dispatch another paper hero to an alley in London to find him.
Speaking of Ricky, his gruff, Southern twang rang in my ear.
“Hey ‘puter, can we get some tunes on in here? Maybe…oh, I dunno…’Magic Carpet Ride,’ by Steppenwolf?”
My eyes nearly shot through the roof of the craft; how utterly predictable, given that it had been the “runner up” as the first song I chose to play whilst taking off to times unknown.
The (admittedly catchy) tune played throughout the ship. Corcoran grinned like an idiot who had discovered a piece of “half-chewed” gum stuck under a park bench (or I suppose I could just say “Steve Bloomington” to save us all some time and trouble).
“I could get used to this…” Corcoran leaned back in his chair, hands folded behind his head.
“I had no idea you were such a First Contact fan,” I muttered.
“What now?”
Instead of answering, I merely shook my head knowingly.
“Wow…talk about ancient…” Sophia startled me from over my right shoulder. “Even the Star Trek movies with Chris Pine are old, old.”
My face went flush.
She broke into a smile and put her hand on my shoulder as she leaned over. “It’s okay—I’m kinda a Trekkie too.” she whispered at me.
I do believe the temperature in that cockpit rose a good 5 degrees centigrade at precisely that moment, as I was compelled to pat my brow with a handkerchief.
Sophia’s elegant hands deftly maneuvered over the controls. She pulled up the first set of coordinates:

25-4-2580 B.C., Giza, Egypt: The show must go on!

This time, the computer barely hesitated in its calculations:

“99.9%”

The red “engage” button flashed up on the screen. As I pushed it, an involuntary reflex pushed a cough through my lips, almost as if in vain protest of the events to come.
As we ascended through the lab and into the clouds, even I couldn’t begin to fathom the awesome, terrible events that were to come.

What could possibly be so terrible? What awaits at the end of our heroes' first time jump?

Stay tuned next week for another exciting installment of Corcoran Was a Time Traveler (and join the email list below to know as soon as it goes up!):

 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

CWATT Chapter 5

Get all previous chapters of Corcoran Was a Time Traveler HERE

Get the previous book, Jesus Was a Time Traveler HERE

Join my email list so you never miss a new FREE CWATT Chapter HERE


Chapter 5
I had half a mind to pop her one right there, in direct contravention of a previous oath I had taken to never lay hands on a female in an aggressive manner (though I will forgive you, dear reader, given my rather non-existent sexual exploits if you thought I may have initially omitted the “in an aggressive manner” prior to my encounter with one Cynthia Albertson during the previous mission, but I digress…).
Unfortunately, the presence of the heavily-armed team of ChronoSaber commandos ensured that nothing of the sort could occur.
Instead, my only ammunition was my keen wit and prickly tongue.
“You tart!” I spat the words at her.
This only elicited a haughty laugh and a smile from Helene, “Oh, posh! Come now, Finn, though we’ve had our disagreements in the past, I knew you’d find your way out of that mess back…or I should say ‘forward’ ten years from now.”
My face reddened as I took two steps toward her, fists clenched all the while. I plumbed the depths of my unrivaled brainpower for a pithy comeback, a witty retort.
“You scurrilous tart!” It was all I could muster through clenched teeth.
The two men behind her emerged from the darkness. One was a heavily-decorated, bald, black man in an American military uniform.
The other appeared to be a flustered, unkempt bumpkin of sorts with an unstylish tweed blazer to match a similarly grotesque haircut. An untrimmed mustache completed the atrocity against style and common decency.
I was shocked that Ricky brought his hand to his brow in a crisp salute toward the soldier, though I suppose Bloomington’s limp-wristed, backhanded attempt at the same was equally jarring, if for other reasons.
“General Carter, sir!” Corcoran barked the phrase out like a drill sergeant.
“General Carter, sir!” Bloomington did his best to copy his superior officer, though his nasally whine was somewhat less-than-impressive.
The man strutted over to Corcoran and looked him over, as if inspecting his strong chin for defects. To his credit, Corcoran stared straight ahead throughout the entire odd, wordless exchange.
After several moments, the decorated soldier brought a hand to his brow and returned the salute, “At ease.”
Corcoran broke into a grin, “Well I’ll be damned—General Carter!”
The General flashed an equally broad smile as he extended a firm hand, “Bet you thought you weren’t gonna see me again, eh Ricky?”
Ricky’s eyes narrowed with mischief, “Eh, when you’re in the line of work we are, ya begin to expect the unexpected.”
The two exchanged a vigorous handshake for several moments before the General disengaged and turned to Bloomington, “Specialist.”
“Hey General,” Bloomington’s cracking voice betrayed the affected nonchalance of his tone.
I raised an eyebrow at the display, “If your little reunion is over, I’d like to know what in the devil’s oven this…this succubus is doing here!” I nodded at Helene.
She shook her head and sashayed her way in front of me. She reached to grab my chin, and though I moved to prevent her from doing so, she rapped me hard on the wrist before her fingers came to rest on my freshly-shorn jaw.
“My, my. That’s how you repay me for all I’ve done for you? The billions that I, and my business partners,” she nodded at the shabbily-dressed man behind her, “invested in you? This,” her free arm motioned around the room in a wide arc, “wonderful lab space, leaving you to work, undisturbed, in,” she snorted, “perfect anonymity? And not to mention the rather hefty amount of money we’re willing to pay you now to make you whole.
She practically spat the last word at me, though I raised an eyebrow, intrigued.
“Don’t forget Avi,” I said, half-sighing.
“Ah yes, the private Aramaic lessons that were of,” she chuckled, “so much use to you in your quixotic little quest to visit Jesus, Trent, whatever you wish to call him. And what do I receive in return? Name-calling and temper tantrums?” She squeezed my cheeks in like an overzealous aunt condescendingly explaining something to a child.
This time, I raised an arm to force her hand off of me, but Helene caught it mid-flight.
“I’d gladly give you more if you’d let me?”
She grabbed the hem of her skirt and raised it an inch with an arched eyebrow, “Oh? That can be arranged…”
I shuddered with a mix of revulsion and arousal.
“Are you two through yet?” Corcoran yelled. He made his way over to Helene, “Now I got Bloomy, and I got Doc, and I got ‘em both here.”
Sanchez cleared her throat behind the Commander, though it did little to interrupt his train of thought.
 “That’s the last item on your little list. Now I’d like to know what in the,” he turned to the General, “no offense, General, sam fuck our mission is here.”
“Perhaps we should go into the conference room to discuss it,” Helene said. She clapped twice and Carter, as well as the man in the ill-fitting jacket, followed closely behind her. Sanchez was behind them, and half of the contingent of soldiers surrounded them.
The other half flanked us and forced us forward, up the freshly-built stairs, and into a room at the top that was a part of an entirely new level of my laboratory.
I caught Corcoran’s eye during the forced march, “Remind me to thank you for the wonderful trip into this fabulous ChronoSaber police state,” I hissed.
“Ain’t like I had a choice, Doc. The way she sold it to me, this is end of the world, end of time shit we’re talkin’ about here.” He nodded at the room ahead, “Not to mention they seem to think your old pal Klaus is pretty important to this whole deal.”
“What did they—” I reconsidered my volume and raised a free hand to my mouth, “—what did they tell you about Klaus?”
“Eh, not much. Basically just that it’d get ya to come along on the mission. Plus, ya know, all the Nazis raidin’ his lab stuff obviously.”
“So then why are you going on the mission?”
Corcoran’s smirk dropped, “What? ‘End of the world’ not good enough for ya?”
I shook my head slowly as we entered the conference room.
What I saw next caused me to nearly dislocate my jaw so suddenly did it swing open.
There, in that very conference room, stood Ben Franklin, pounding a gavel on the table in front of an assembled coterie of additional poor facsimiles of historical figures. One of the actors was even dressed in a bright green dinosaur suit, presumably to be replaced by something computer-generated in post production.
My mind immediately raced to the hospital bed I had occupied at Chronobase Alpha back in the age of the dinosaurs. None other than the fetching Commander (nee Captain) Sanchez herself had shown me this very ChronoSaber orientation holovid, complete with ridiculous, British-accented anthropomorphic dinosaur in a short-sleeved, button-down engineer shirt, to prepare me for my “dinosaur hunt,” which in reality had been an elaborate way to (quite literally) scare the shit out of me.
“Should Frank’s wife apologize for calling him a fat slob? Socrates!” Franklin barked at a togaed actor at the end of the table.
I glared at Commander Sanchez.
She met my stare and shrugged.
Helene clapped twice, and the director (a scruffy-looking fellow with a large beard and even larger midsection) snapped to attention.
“Uh…cut! Everyone, take five. Take ten. Take whatever!” He eyed Helene nervously even as the old shrew refused to acknowledge him. The actors and crew shuffled out of the room even as the director pushed them out the door.
Within thirty seconds, the conference room was completely empty once more. Helene took “Franklin’s” former spot at the head of the table, flanked on either side by General Carter and the dowdy mustachioed fellow. Two guards stood near the entrance, though Corcoran, Bloomington, Sanchez and myself were allowed to select our own seats.
Needless to say, I took the one furthest away from Helene.
She pointed her mobile at the holoprojector on the wall behind her. Immediately, a picture of my dear friend and colleague, Klaus Thurber, filled the front of the room, his icy blue eyes accented by the silvery streak in his thinning, grey hair. Underneath the picture was a perfunctory bio of his numerous known accomplishments.
Helene didn’t waste but a moment before beginning, “Klaus Thurber. Theoretical physicist, University of Leipzig Department of Physics. Known to associate with,” she focused her gaze on me, “obnoxious, deviant, utterly mad—”
I cleared my throat and leaned in an arched eyebrow.
Helene waved the gesture off, “—contemporaries, known for their outlandish theories.” She tapped another button on her mobile, which brought up a picture of a standard-looking time machine (who would have ever thought I’d write those words down when i was studying with Avi those months ago!?). “This is the C.T.S. Saint Germaine. Exactly one year from today, Professor Thurber will,” she paused and took in a deep breath, “abscond with it.”
The room fell deathly silent for several seconds.
Bloomington raised his hand.
“Klaus stole it? A time machine? From ChronoSaber?” I asked in an effort to save Bloomington the embarrassment of asking the question I knew he would.
“What’s abscond mean?” Bloomington blurted out.
Apparently I had inadvertently worsened it.
Helene rolled her eyes (likely in unison with Corcoran and myself) before she narrowed and steeled her gaze, “He took it. Made off with it. Just, ‘poof!’ It’s gone.” She looked at Sanchez, who hung her head and frowned.
I brightened, “But I thought ChronoSaber security was unmatched? Absolutely unparalleled! Practically MI6 and the Secret Service rolled into—”
“Are you quite finished? Or shall I have you shipped back to the gutter in London where you can argue with your fellow bums about canned beans and gin for the rest of your miserable existence?!”
My mouth went slack. I reflexively pulled on the collar of my t-shirt and swallowed.
“Well!?”
“I’m still pondering it…” I managed.
“Take all the time you need,” she affected a smile.
I squinted; clearly she wanted to hear me give a verbal answer, to allow everyone in this hodgepodge of a group to know who was in charge.
“I’m finished,” I was willing to comply.
For the moment.
Her thin smile became more pronounced, “Good. As you might recall, the only other security breach we had was when a vagrant was allowed,” she chewed the words, “to stowaway on a machine bound for 2002.”
Bloomington raised his hand again. This time, I politely patted him on the shoulder and shook my head.
“This other pilferage was decidedly not by design, and represents an enormous threat to our security. Regardless of what that fool Hank Fleener may have told you—”
I raised an eyebrow. How could she possibly know who Hank Fleener is? I thought.
“—this is the sole blemish on all of ChronoSaber’s otherwise sterling security record.”
Corcoran squinted at Helene, “So why don’t ya just, you know, go back and stop him ‘fore he steals it.”
Helene looked as if she was about to leap over the table and castrate the Commander, “Commander, you of all people should understand the impossibility of such an idea!”
“Right—whatever happened, happened, I know. But I mean, we were just in Leipzig, right? Why the fuck didn’t you tell us to get Doc and Bloomy there like a day sooner, before he boosts it?”
“I assume you also forget the idea that the universe wouldn’t allow such an event to happen? That some horrible tragedy would befall your motley little…” she eyed Bloomington with equal parts shock and revulsion, “…crew well before you got access to the man himself?”
“So if we can’t find him before the fact, how in the devil will we be able to uncover when and whence he absconded with your ‘misplaced’ machine?” I asked, perhaps with a twinge too much condescension.
The unkempt-looking hayseed at the front of the room finally opened his fuzzy-lipped maw, “We were hoping that you could help us with that, Dr. Templeton.”
His voice was deep, with a perfect Americanized elocution that threw me; I was certain that I would be speaking with Uncle Goober from Mayberry. The voice that greeted me was far closer to that of Alec Baldwin.
The man slid a file folder down the table toward me. I appreciated the nod to tradition, even if, admittedly, my tablet was one comfort of my era with which I could scarcely be without.
Sanchez’s eyes went wide, “Wow…” she exhaled.
I looked around the table with incredulity before I pointed at the lovely Commander Sanchez, “Has she reviewed this already?”
Helene rolled her eyes, “Commander Sanchez is marvelling at the vast quantity of paper she sees before her.”
Sanchez nodded, “It’s pretty rare…”
The formerly-disheveled man next to Helene now looked anything but; his hickish cow-lick had been shrugged into place, and his eyes, formerly dull and uninspiring, came to life, focused intently on my own.
“These are all of Dr. Thurber’s files found in his laboratory, shortly after his departure.”
I thought the better of patting the journal in my pocket the little holographic leprechaun had given me.
Instead, I thumbed through the file folder. It was utterly remarkable! Many of the equations were familiar to me, but I had never told another soul about them before my rather abrupt departure, and though Klaus and I had touched on some of the concepts tangentially in our conversations, he demonstrated a mastery of several topics that far outstripped my own genius. Most notable of these topics was optics, which was hardly a surprise to me given our discussions.
More troubling was the fact that within the labyrinthine arrangement of equations upon equations, just when he was about to make a breakthrough that would have allowed him to crack the code of time travel, he stopped. Instead, several large “P.T.”s in Klaus’s handwriting were highlighted on the pages.
“See anything interesting?” The barely-mustached man asked.
“How the devil did you get these?” I looked up, indignant for my colleague. “This is tantamount to stealing!”
 “It’s not stealing when you pay for it,” the man said. he eyed me, then Helene.
I could have reached out and popped the man in the face.
“Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Gabe Marlow.”
He paused, as if the name should have struck me like a laser bolt.
Instead, I merely tilted my head with confusion, along with Corcoran and Bloomington.
“Gabe Marlow? Marlow Aerospace?” Marlow continued.
“That some kinda airplane part-maker?” Corcoran asked, his own rural affectation in full force.
Marlow rolled his eyes, “You might know me from my various space-based endeavors. I was one of the first private companies to explore sending a rocket to space. Wanted to build a big, modular space station slash hotel slash casino in space, charge millionaires exorbitant prices for in-orbit entertainment?”
I certainly hope that wasn’t the tagline, I thought.
“Oh…that Gabe Marlow.” I hoped my delivery was wry enough for the tidal wave of sarcasm to flood through.
Marlow shook his head, “Of course, officially, the government awarded some key contracts to other, higher-profile private spaceflight companies.” He paused and turned to General Carter, “I told you we should’ve gone with something bigger—higher profile! Something with explosions!”
“Since you wanted ‘Marlow’ to be associated with disaster?” The General snorted.
Marlow waved him off, “No matter. Unofficially, we went into business with General Carter here, Army black ops. The stuff we were doing was very cutting-edge, very ‘hush-hush.’ I don’t even think Commander Corcoran over here knew what we were doing behind the scenes during Project Omega.”
All gazes in the room turned toward the erstwhile “hero.”
“Hey, don’t look at me,” Corcoran shrugged. “I ain’t got a clue who the hell this joker is.”
“It was quite some time ago—I was younger. Dumber. More foolish, perhaps, but DAMN—” he banged loudly on the table, “—if I’d take shit from anyone.”
We all jumped out of our seats. I heard a shriek and looked at first Sanchez, then Helene, but both women remained unfazed.
It was only when I turned to Bloomington and saw his hand cupped over his mouth that I realized the source of the banshee-like utterance.
Marlow smiled smugly for several moments until the room calmed down once more, “As I continued to gain money and power behind the scenes from my forays into black ops, I decided to take on a promising academic as a protégé, a German physicist who was doing incredible things, experiments that, at least I thought—” he glared at me, “—were on the vanguard of manipulating space and time itself.”
“Klaus?” I whispered.
Marlow nodded, “Indeed.”
“But…why would you need to ‘manipulate space and time?’ What exactly were you working on?”
Marlow raised an eyebrow, first at Carter, then at Helene.
They shook their heads.
“Let’s just say you’ll find out soon enough, Doctor Templeton.
I collected myself, “All due apologies, Mr. Marlow, but I think you owe me a little more explanation that that. We have the finest, most experienced crew in history ready to work for you…shouldn’t we have a bit more briefing here up front?”
I very much hoped that Bloomington wasn’t picking his nose at that moment.
Marlow shook his head, “My cash, my rules.”
“What do you mean?” my eyes narrowed.
“I’ve put up 1,000 Bitcoin to be delivered to you directly upon successful completion of this mission.”
He leveled a steady gaze at me.
“Yes but—” It took a second for the full force of the words to hit me. “1000 Bitcoin?”
Corcoran and Bloomington looked at each other, dumbfounded.
Marlow noticed their confusion, “It’s the equivalent of about $3 billion in 2012 dollars.”
Bloomington’s hand shot up.
“And 100 Bitcoin each for each of the rest of you.”
Steve, Ricky, and Sophia looked at one another.
Bloomington’s hand shot up again.
“That’s $300 million in 2012 dollars for each of you.”
Bloomington’s hand came to his chin, deep in thought. Or I should say, “as deep in thought as possible for him.”
1000 Bitcoin? For me? Surely it wasn’t quite as nice as the notoriety that I so desperately craved… though I suppose it was a “passable” consolation prize.
“Of course, I asked ChronoSaber to match it, but unfortunately Helene refused.”
She glared at the unkempt, gravely-voiced billionaire. He returned her look with a sharp smile.
“Cheap bitch,” I muttered under a cough at Helene.
“Fancy prig,” she shot back.
“And why would I ever work with this…this hussy on anything?” my rage boiled to the surface, ready to erupt in a tide of invective.
“I suppose ‘billions of dollars of compensation’ isn’t good enough now?” Marlow asked.
“The reason I declined your offer, Gabriel,” she sighed, “Is that I know what Doctor Templeton really wants. And not only that, but I can give it to him…” Helene took a draught from a nearby glass as she leaned over the table. As I steadied myself to make another quip about her unwanted sexual advances, she produced a smile.
Then, her eyes went steely, her expression almost grave as she gritted her teeth, “I promise that when this is all over, we will host a ‘Doctor Phineas Templeton Day,’ at ChronoSaber’s expense, in order to get you the—” she sighed, “—fame and recognition that you so crave.”
My mouth, which had been ready to unleash the full fury of my sharp tongue on its erstwhile target, went slack. I truly didn’t know what to say; I looked first at Sanchez, then at Corcoran. Both Commanders nodded their assent, even if Sophia’s was somewhat reluctant.
“R—really?” I asked. I didn’t know what to do—all residual vengeance directed toward Corcoran (if not Helene) melted away, as I considered all of the wondrous possibilities: entire museums and universities named for me! Lecture series, bestselling books, the whole nine yards! My eyes went starry with thoughts of the opportunities that—
“Look, we don’t even know what the damn mission is yet!” Corcoran blurted out.
Marlow snorted, “Flip to the back of that file, Doctor.”
I shook my head to collect myself and did so, and found a package that looked like it had been torn into by a couple of hungry pit bulls trying to get into a butcher counter. Despite its condition, I could clearly make out the salutation, which I read aloud.
“To: Doctor Phineas Templeton. From: Your Friend Klaus.” My laboratory address followed.
“We went ahead and inspected it. Hope that’s not a problem,” Carter said without a hint of emotion.
“No, no—far be it from me to worry about your federal government committing federal crimes,” I said. I hoped my tone didn’t betray the other journal Klaus had left for me in his lab.
Inside was one of the tiny notebooks that Klaus was fond of using to jot down errant thoughts.
Instead of the dirty limericks and edge-to-edge equations that I had come to expect from Klaus’s books, there were five specific dates and locations (in very neat handwriting, might I add):

25-4-2580 B.C., Giza, Egypt: The show must go on!
13-5-9203 B.C., Jerusalem, Israel: A miner annoyance…
5-1-13872 B.C., Latitude: N. 38 degrees, 43 ‘, 18”, Longitude W. 27 degrees, 13’, 14”: It has risen!
23-4-1749, London, England: Count Your Blessings R.I.P.

But perhaps most jarring of all was the final line, a date that caused Sophia’s eyes to widen and her mouth to utter a curse even before it came into my field of view.
When it did, my jaw went slack. I reached for a handkerchief to wipe my dampening brow, but found none in the clothing that the Commander had provided. My skin went pale and clammy even as I read off the final line, chilling in both its brevity and meaning:

20-4-2102, Cairo, Egypt: Bye Bye…

I could only form two words, awful ones that foretold the fresh hell I was about to enter:

“Oh goody.”

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