Wednesday, December 19, 2018

CWATT Chapter Three

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CHAPTER THREE

After a self-assessment proved the Commander correct, I showered and shaved, as well as engaged in a third bodily function beginning with an “s” that completed the “three ’S’ tonic” about which Grandfather Templeton (my father’s father) always raved as the “cure for what ails a man.” I put on the comfortable casual clothing (though, I’m afraid without the stylish leather jacket that the Commander wore) and made my way back to the flight deck.
While previously the “wondrous” colours of the time vortex had become downright boring, I now savored their presence as a comfortable, warm reassurance that I was putting my little jaunt into the past behind me.
After all, what had I accomplished by haunting that alleyway with my gaunt, unkempt visage for all those weeks?
Who was I proving a point to? Myself? Younger me? The ghost of a long-dead father, as great of a man as he may have been?
And what had that point been exactly? I suppose my father’s words had quite the profound effect on me at that early age:
That’s a bum Finny… you want to work hard so that you don’t end up like him…
Truth be told, perhaps I was seeking to turn my father’s words into their own self-fulfilling prophecy. Especially since if the entire universe was pre-ordained, it *had* to happen that way.
And yet… somehow it was empty. Hollow. I couldn’t rightly explain it… but deep down, in my gut, it seemed wrong for me to be there, out of place, out of time.
Regardless of my own navel-gazing, we emerged from the time vortex to the comfortable sight of that enormous blue globe of earth in the distance, in its familiar, 2032 form.
“Who would’ve ever thought I’d be coming home to fight Nazis?” I said, to no one in particular.
“Yeah,” Corcoran punctuated his statement by chambering a round in the holster of his sidearm and grabbing what appeared to be a ghastly laser rifle, based on that awful contraption I had used to fell the T-rex 65 million years in the past. “But ain’t somebody gotta do it?”
I nodded, and wasted no time availing myself of the armory. I found several copies of my trusty old Beretta nine millimetre, as well as two (admittedly more advanced) copies of my prototype laser pistol that Steve Bloomington had appropriated for himself toward the end of our previous voyage.
I decided that given the potential torrent of Nazis that we’d be facing, there was no such thing as “too much firepower,” and loaded one of each into a holster on each shoulder.
I followed that up with a chest plate of (I must say rather light) body armor that hung in the armory closet.
Bavaria of my own time period was coming into view, and I had forgotten just how hard hit the Continent had been during the war.
The ship’s computer overlaid red “no go” zones over the landscape, presumably where low-yield nukes and dirty bombs had been dropped.
Fortunately, Leipzig had generally remained untouched. By 2032, it was perhaps the largest remaining city in Germany, and widely considered one of the continent’s leading centers of culture and scholarship.
In fact, despite three world wars, it was amazing how little had actually changed since Steven, the Commander, and I had visited the city during Bach’s time. Old buildings still dominated the landscape; even newer construction had been done in a way to try to recapture the architectural style of “the Old World.” In a way, I suppose it was also an attempt to recapture a simpler time, an easier time, without the wanton destruction of the present era.
Little did they realize just how brutal life had been even during a supposedly “cultured” period such as the Renaissance.
In fact, my travels had opened my eyes to just how brutish and “base” human nature could actually be. What frightened me wasn’t how much buildings and weaponry changed through the years. Rather it was how little humanity’s appetite for destruction had wavered through century after century.
I pondered all of this as we descended toward the university. I recognized the building that housed Klaus’s office almost immediately. It was “modern” not so much as meaning “of the times,” but rather in that way that most academic buildings were rectangular and looked to have been built around 1976.
The computer plotted a tight approach, and as we came in for a landing, we shot out of the way as another brushed metal saucer almost threw us off course.
“Sunday driver…” I raised my fist at the passing craft for maximum effect.
“Alright Doc, ain’t no time like the present, am I right?”
I don’t know if it was meant to be a joke or not—I simply nodded and turned my attention toward the door, where I steeled myself for whatever awaited outside.
Corcoran nodded in kind. “Okay, let’s do this. Computer, open the main door.”
The gangway extended into what I immediately saw was a sort of civilized wilderness. At first, the only “Nazis” I saw were a bunch of skinheads, the likes of which had been known to join gangs targeting those unfortunate Muslim migrants who remained in Europe in my own time. This was a rather horrid fact that I had put out of my mind in my drunken stupor, and for several moments, I once again felt downright had by the Commander.
But as I looked past those ugly foot soldiers currently undertaking this half-assed “siege” against the science department at the University of Leipzig, I noticed several of the honest-to-God, World War II-era Nazis that we had previously been face-to-face against, directing the assault.
Even more oddly, another group of black-uniformed Nazi thugs was emerging from a large bell-shaped craft, that appeared to be covered in some kind of script that looked eerily like hieroglyphs of some sort.
The Commander and I disembarked our own craft, and took cover behind a nearby pile of benches that had been assembled as a makeshift barricade. This must have drawn the fascists’ attention, as we were almost immediately torched by a tongue of fire unleashed by one of the World War II-era Nazis wielding a proper flamethrower.
Ricky cocked an eyebrow in annoyance. He shouldered the laser rifle and levied several bolts of plasma at the flammenwerfer, leaving three rather large holes in the man as he fell limply toward the scorched earth.
I could’ve sworn the Commander raised the laser rifle to his face and smiled before laying down more covering fire to help us get our bearings.
I fired several rounds at two approaching skinheads. They cried in pain as I hit one squarely in the knee, and the other in a shoulder, halting their advance, temporarily at least.
“Come on!” Corcoran motioned toward an entrance, guarded by two hulking figures in black jumpsuits. They wore what appeared to be incredibly advanced gas mask contraptions on their faces, with glowing yellow eyes that made them appear somewhat “less-than-friendly.”
I instinctively reached out for Corcoran’s shoulder. “Are you—?”
He shrugged my hand away and bolted for the door. Amid the chaos outside of the building, I had little choice but to follow Corcoran toward the menacing pair.
As we approached though, the two soldiers merely nodded and waved us through.
“Appreciate it fellas,” Corcoran huffed as we made it inside the comparatively quiet hallway. In fact, I was quite amazed by how little damage the building had taken during the firefight. I assumed that meant it hadn’t been going more than a few minutes before we arrived.
Corcoran stopped and surveyed the hallway. It took several seconds before I realized he was looking at me.
“Well?”
“Well what?
“Where is this Klaus fella’s office?”
It hadn’t occurred to me that the Commander had less-than-perfect information, so I gathered my wits and tried to remember where we had crunched those equations all those long nights ago.
Truth be told, it likely would’ve been easier had I had a stiff drink, situational “muscle memory” and whatnot. And while I craved a glass of Macallan 18-Year, if I was honest with myself, it was likely equally for my nerves as it was in any attempt to remember where Klaus’s office had been.
It finally clicked in my head, and I motioned for Corcoran to follow me. We navigated the maze-like corridors of the science building quite easily in hindsight. Though I suppose the soldiers with the yellow, glowing eyes were ensuring that no stray Nazis entered the building as of yet.
We finally came to the door with “K. Thurber, Professor” next to it on a rather plain, unassuming nameplate.
“Here it is!” I tried to wrench the door open, but it held fast. “We may need some sort of—"
“Move, Doc!” Corcoran motioned me away from the knob. I took several steps behind him as he squeezed the trigger on his laser rifle, and dispatched the door handle with little trouble.
He put his shoulder into the door, and we found ourselves in Klaus’s usual unkempt office. Old-fashioned notepads littered the landscape, each one filled with priceless knowledge ranging from the equations explaining quantum entanglement or negative index of refraction optical physics to a series of (I must say rather clever) dirty limericks Klaus came up with after our various visits to one of the nearby pubs.
One thing that seemed a bit out-of-place was the foot-tall leprechaun that appeared on his cluttered desk as soon as it heard my voice.
“Hoi-toi-toi-toi! Oy, Finny! Just the man I was looking for!” The fantastical little creature let out in a delightful Irish brogue.
While I momentarily thought my foray into the past had driven me permanently mad, I then remembered how Klaus had amassed his small fortune. Unlike me, who had a fabulously wealthy (and in hindsight utter fraud) of a billionaire benefactor, Klaus had trouble securing funding for his wildly speculative and theoretical studies.
So instead, he brought to market a rather clever concept called “holopaper,” that served as a programmable gift wrap of sorts, whereby a holographic figure was projected above a wrapped present and invited the recipient to open it with whatever message the gift-giver desired.
In this case, Klaus had (quite correctly) assumed that I’d be enchanted by the hilarious little leprechaun. While I would’ve thought under more normal circumstances he’d delight in the thought of me chasing the little guy around the corridors of the college, it stayed put as I approached. He had quite clearly deployed it just to get my attention.
I unwrapped the green-and-gold paper from around the rectangular package. It was, unsurprisingly, another notebook. And while this one was filled with more than a few dirty limericks, it also contained hundreds of seemingly partially-finished equations, most of which were tantalizingly close to those that had unlocked time travel for me, though oddly only about 90% of the way there.
“What is it?” Corcoran asked.
“I’m not entirely sure…” I replied.
“Well, whatever it is, just pocket the damned thing and let’s get the fu—”
His curse word was interrupted by a loud “CRASH!”, and we were both thrown back against the wall. The blast left a cloud of dust and debris at the other end of the room, and as it cleared, a large opening became apparent.
“Hang on to your ass and grab some cover, Doc!” Corcoran toppled over several thick tables to provide us with some protection from the shots that were beginning to fill the room.
I threw myself against one of the felled tabletops and peeked over its precipice. Several stormtroopers adorned in black “SS” uniforms streamed through the new access way into the outside, spraying the room indiscriminately with automatic weapon fire.
Their machine guns were deafening. Albertson, I can still hear the sharp, “RAT-TAT-TAT-TAT” ringing in my ears to this day, each second bringing the horrible cacophony closer and closer to our position, even as Corcoran and I returned fire with our own, somewhat more advanced energy weapons.
The awful noise was followed by cries of “Snell! Snell!” There must’ve been a dozen of the highly-trained shock troops now. Though we may have clipped one or two of them as they advanced on us, it was becoming quite apparent that we were in for whatever horrible punishment these ghastly Nazi animals had in store for us.
A sharp whistle caused me to raise my gaze upward. I was met by a horrible old Nazi, his face made up of a seemingly hideous combination of sharp angles, his uniform adorned with shiny metals for committing who-knows what number of atrocities.
As he opened his mouth to spew whatever horrible things were to come forth, a curious thing happened:
There was another whistle, though this one was from the doorway to our left. It was rather weak and ineffectual, but it drew our attention, as well as the attention of the decorated Nazi and his horrible compatriots.
In the doorway stood two figures dressed in the black jumpsuits and futuristic gas masks with the glowing yellow eyes we had seen outside. One was tall and lean, and moved swiftly like a ninja as it bounded across the room to our position, snapped the Nazi Commander’s neck with an almost stunning grace, and unholstered two desert eagle magnums and opened fire into the crowd of fascists, all in seemingly one fluid motion.
The shorter figure in the doorway opened fire on the Nazis almost immediately. It wasn’t necessarily “stout” as it were, but surprisingly agile for its frame; it scurried about the room plugging Nazis with its laser gun like a little wombat of death, leaving hole-strewn Nazis like Swiss cheese in its wake.
The two were a magnificent sight for the sorest eyes, and allowed the Commander and I to regain our bearings and open fire on the remaining stormtroopers.
We stemmed the tide and began our own advance toward the gaping hole in the wall. The powerful energy weapons whined with each pull of the trigger, and while their bolts of focused energy didn’t always hit their intended targets, I was surprisingly accurate despite having shared a piss-soaked hell hole with several other bums but less than a day before.
Finally, only one stormtrooper remained. The taller figure in the black jumpsuit backflipped across the room, seemingly through a hail of gunfire that the stormtrooper unleashed at it.
The shorter figure scurried from side-to-side, dancing through the bullets as it made its way toward the Nazi, whose wide eyes belied the panic it felt.
As the taller figure got behind the fascist soldier, it grabbed under his arms and caught him in a firm body-lock.
The wombat of death arrived in front of the soldier and put its laser pistol up to the Nazi’s chin. It said a few muffled words through its glowing yellow facemask, its tone dark, low, and ominous as the words started becoming clearer and clearer.
“Take that, you douchenozed, Nazi fuckface!” the smaller jumpsuited person exclaimed in its deep, altered voice.
The Nazi closed his eyes and winced… and waited… one second… two seconds…
Nothing happened, and eventually he opened his eyes to see what sort of sick trick this shorter figure had in mind.
The taller figure kept its hold, and cocked its head to the side.
Something clicked in the shorter figure’s head.
“Oh yeah,” it said, almost matter-of-factly. It pulled the trigger, and a puff of ash followed the laser bolt out through the top of the gaping hole that used to be the stormtrooper’s brain.
The shorter figure shook its head. “Always forget that part.”
“I just thought you were being dramatic,” the taller figure said in the same, altered, monotone voice.
“Yeah… yeah, that’s it…” the shorter figure said.
“Yeah right…” the taller figure responded.
“Hey, Rowan and Martin,” Corcoran emerged from our spot behind the tables. “This is great and all, but we gotta mission to accomplish here.”
“We?” The shorter figure took a short step back. “So you mean he—?”
I took several cautious steps out of my hiding place, hands raised (though still on my guns) to show that I meant the deadly duo no harm.
“Oh my God!” The shorter figure reached for something on the side of its head, and pressed it to no avail.
The taller figure did the same, though the first time it did so, the face mask began stripping away from its face. “We got here just in time,” a female voice greeted us from where the contraption had been previously. I racked my (still groggy, from the medigel, I supposed) brain for where I had heard the velvety tones before.
And then it hit me. It seemed so long ago… though I suppose it actually had been, in both senses of the phrase, all that time ago back at Chronobase Alpha during dinosaur times.
“Commander Sanchez?” I asked.
“It’s Captain now, actually,” she responded, in the same, down-to-business, matter-of-fact tone I had known her for previously. “And I think you’ll remember my colleague as well…”
She pressed the button on the side of the shorter figure’s mask. Before the face mask could disappear back into the sides of the figure’s face, its arms were outstretched, and it was running toward me, with more alacrity than I ever imagined possible given the jumpsuit’s inhabitant.
“Doctor Templeton!”
Steve Bloomington wrapped both arms around me in a big, genuine bear hug.
And for the first time in recorded history, I was glad he did.

Chapter 4 is available here

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

CWATT Chapter Two

NOTE: If you missed Chapter One, you can check it out by clicking here.

All chapters that have been released available by clicking here.

Jesus Was a Time Traveler (the previous book) available here.

Chapter Two

We arrived at the intersection perhaps some fifty metres later. The buildings that formed the corners were somewhat recessed from the alleyways, which provided ample room and privacy for what I imagined was Corcoran’s means of conveyance.
Corcoran motioned for me to wait at the exit of what had previously been “my” alleyway as he continued forward several steps. I remembered that my spectacles, sullied as they were, were, ostensibly, still smart spectacles. My motor skills were dulled a bit due to the quantity of whisky in which I had imbibed over the past several days, but after several seconds of fumbling I hit the button on the temple.
Sure enough, the lenses appeared to tint green, and the familiar outline of the time machine, my time machine came into view. I never thought I’d see the damned thing again, but doing so brought a flood of emotions to the forefront. I was certainly proud and relieved that the old girl had survived so long and was still in one piece. I was also furious at the traitorous computer inside, which Yanks would describe as a proper Benedict Arnold. The damned thing had been in cahoots with Helene the entire time, but continued to allow me to believe that I was the one ultimately in charge. Oh how mistaken I had been!
Curiously, Corcoran continued walking toward the hand panel that allowed entry to the vessel without any kind of sight aid. He placed his hand on the plate and the door opened and turned into the familiar gangway to allow entry to the ship.
“How did you—?” I asked.
“Smart contacts. I think Google makes ‘em. Or Apple. Not entirely sure on that one. They’re an improvement on those…those ‘things’ you insist on keepin’ around.”
My head involuntarily seized upward, “I’ll have you know that with the beating these frames have taken, they should be the model of ruggedness and utility. A prototype for proper vision the world—”
“Yeah, yeah—save it for the commercials, Doc,” Corcoran didn’t so much as turn toward me as he ascended the ramp into the ship.
“I see you’ve properly reprogrammed her to respond to your handprint now?” I asked, my indignation growing by the minute.
Corcoran nodded, “Yup. Still responds to you, too. Which brings somethin’ else up—” Corcoran reached underneath his t-shirt (which I believe was the same comfortable maroon number Victor Burnham had provided him during our visit to 1985-86 St. Louis, Missouri) and produced two old-fashioned keys on long, metallic chains. He pulled one of the keys over his head and tossed it to me.
“I figured your anti-theft system was a little lackin’. So now, just like a missile sub, both of us have keys, to go along with a biometric retinal scanner for both of our eyes. No more foolin’ around, no more mistrust.”
“What if one of us…you know…?” I asked as I slipped the key over my head.
“Croaks?” Corcoran asked in reply.
“Perhaps not quite so eloquently, but yes.”
Corcoran sighed, “It gets kinda grizzly, Doc.”
“I’m a bum who’s been living for months using the out of doors as his collective toilet and fighting others for favored urination spots along buildings. I think I can take—”
“There’s a contingency plan, but let’s just say it’s even more unpleasant than that, okay? Look, it’s a gesture of goodwill, okay Doc? I’m showin’ you that neither of us can just take the time machine,” he pointed inside the device with both arms, “and fly away with it, and leave the other guy stranded in the past. First of all, since I’m even here, I would think that’d be enough to dissuade you from doin’ likewise. But just in case it’s not, we’re a team now, you and me.”
I nodded, steeling my head so as not to belie my apprehension. To be perfectly honest, it was rather refreshing that he would so “graciously” put these measures into place, even when he had so callously made off with my pride-and-joy, the time machine, those several months ago…or years in the future…however one wished to consider it.
“Made a coupla’ improvements that I think you’ll like, though honestly, Doc, some of the stuff you came up with is still state-of-the-art, even by future standards,” Corcoran said.
I followed Corcoran up the gangway and into the ship’s interior, which was remarkably familiar, albeit with a few structural changes. The seating area opposite the bunk had been removed and relocated next to the kitchen; in its place was a wall that matched the material and colour of the rest of the ship perfectly. Immediately curious, I turned right inside the door and ducked my head in, to find three sets of bunk beds instead of the lone, military-style bunk I had placed in there practically on a lark before that jump to visit Jesus, or “Trent Albertson,” or whatever you wish to call the man whom ostensibly was the focus of Christianity.
“We increased crew capacity from three to six, ‘case we pick up any hitchhikers along the way.”
“Do we?” I asked Corcoran, knowing that he was more than likely well aware of the answer.
He pursed his lips and angled his head toward me in reply. “We also added a second head there,” he pointed toward what used to be the seating area past the wall, which now housed a door similar to the one that partitioned off the head I had installed.
I exited the quarters and sauntered toward the cockpit, which now consisted of three command seats, my own, in the middle, flanked by two others situated perhaps a foot behind the lead chair.
“Thought it might help if we had three experienced time travellers workin’ the controls this time, especially given the other ‘modifications’ we’ve made.”
“I’m quite capable of driving the ship myself, Commander. I don’t need your assistance, nor do I require the assistance of any other flunky you may bring along on this—”
Corcoran chortled before he raised his hands in mock defence, “Sure, sure, Doc—you get to drive the boat. I get it. That crazy control…hologram’a yours—”
“The omniyoke.” I said through gritted teeth.
“The omniyoke,” I hate to admit as much, but Corcoran’s mocking British accent had improved even more since the last time I had heard it, “that’s still how they pilot these things. Most of the changes are in the guts, things you can’t see from the flight deck. The computer’s been upgraded as best we can, though it still has the same ‘winnin’’ personality,” Corcoran grimaced as he said the words, and the panels flanking the center seat came to life with an affected 8-bit-like display of a crude, blocky face sticking out its tongue.
Great to see you again, too, Commander!” The display read in block lettering before the jagged face turned into a smiley. “Doctor Templeton!”
“Don’t you ‘Doctor Templeton’ me, you traitorous glorified eight track!” I moved to hit one of the displays, but the Commander easily subdued me with one arm. To add to the insults, the square-like face with its tongue sticking out flashed back up on the displays.
“Hey, come on now, play nice, you two!” Corcoran yelled.
“This isn’t over!” I spat the words at the computer. The smiley face returned. I turned to Corcoran, “Dare I say I enjoyed it better when Helene monkeyed with that damn thing.
“As for other changes,” the Commander ignored me and lowered his arm, “we can jump pretty much whenever we want, no questions asked—”
“How the devil is that—?” As soon as I asked the question, I realised that the answer likely involved my Benefactor’s previous artificially limiting of the computer to conform with her whims.
“—With a couple of exceptions,” Corcoran must have understood as such, “biggest one is that once we jump somewhere, jumpin’ within ten years of that time gets a little dicey.”
“The ripple effect,” I whispered without thinking. The “ripple effect,” as Trent Albertson (of all people!) had described it, was the idea that because of the quantum computations involved in time travel, there was always some uncertainty involved in the calculations made by the computer, no matter how advanced. As a result, upon arriving in the past, the residual tearing of spacetime acted like the ripples formed on the surface of a pond after casting a stone inside, making travel to and from that point somewhat more challenging.
Corcoran nodded, “Yeah, somethin’ like that. I don’t know the specifics. Where we’re goin’, uh…someone’ll be able to answer that a little better.”
Corcoran looked like a schoolchild asked to answer an advanced algebra equation before he brightened, “Other things—the reactor’s improved; only takes six hours to recharge give or take, and the cloak works a lot better. We even added some offensive weapons, real Star Wars-type shit. The places we’re goin’, we may need a little more than some tunnelin’ lasers, which are well and good if you’re carvin’ up spacetime, but if you’re in a firefight for your life…well…they ain’t exactly useful, ‘less you wanna turn the Earth into a black hole…” Corcoran looked at me for a response for several seconds.
I shook my head.
“Didn’t think so.”
Suddenly, an awful thought hit me squarely in the head. I practically ran off to the kitchen.
“What? All the talk about laser guns and smart-ass computers borin’ you?” Corcoran asked.
“It has to be here!” I made my way into the pantry and no doubt tossed aside a number of amazingly advanced delicacies that Corcoran had procured for this voyage in search of a solitary box, packed away long ago.
“What? There’s plenty of—” Corcoran must’ve realised what I was looking for and raced over to help me. “All right, all right, it’s in here somewhere…yeah…yeah, there it is,” Corcoran pulled out a case marked “Ramen Noodles” (whatever the hell those were) and opened it.
Inside, I witnessed the most glorious sight a man who had spent several months on the street could possibly imagine:
Macallan Eighteen.
An entire case of it.
“Thank God!” I heaved.
Truth be told, as with everything I encountered on this ship, I had somewhat mixed feelings upon seeing the stuff. Part of me recoiled at the bitterness I had felt first at being betrayed by Helene when she poisoned my drink, then by Corcoran as he left me a bottle as the only lasting souvenir of our previous excursions.
Then again, bygones being bygones and whatnot, how could I hold a grudge against the most perfect drink that the universe had ever created? There was nothing quite like a glass or three of Macallan Eighteen at the end of a thoroughly stressful day to relax the mind and debrief the senses on a job well done.
Judging by the Commander’s unwillingness to discuss our impending mission, there may be a few occasions when we may find the whisky’s services so valuable that we may think of it as an indispensable member of the crew.
“Right. God forbid you don’t have your sippin’ whisky, Doc. It’s the right brand, ain’t it?”
The beaming smile on my face and my eager nod must have tipped Corcoran off that he was indeed correct.
“Great. So…anything else now, Doc? Or are we good?”
I thought for a moment before answering, “I think you covered most of the obvious areas of improvement. I suppose we can always address other changes—”
“Fan-tastic,” Corcoran interrupted. He sauntered over to what was the gunnery seat and inserted his key into the box that had been placed next to the command console. It turned with a satisfying, firm “click,” and he looked at me.
“If you’ll do the honors…” Corcoran said.
I approached the odd-looking little box and tilted my head; it was certainly anachronistic, a dark, ugly, grey rectangle in the otherwise sleek, modern interior. I suppose to rig up such a device for something as simple and “old-fashioned” as non-electronic keys required a little bit of ingenuity, albeit by people who obviously lacked the ship’s creator’s design sensibilities.
I inserted the key and twisted to the right until it clicked. The blocky face that the computer had put up on the main console was replaced by the Star Trek: The Next Generation-inspired time travel interface, as the other panels awoke from dormancy.
The command console to the left of the chair already had coordinates punched in:

“20-7-2032: Leipzig, Germany”

“No cryptic note from Helene this time?” I muttered under my breath.
“Don’t worry, Doc; there’ll be plenty of mysteries for you to deal with here in a minute. For now, though, I’d recommend we head to those coordinates I was kind enough to punch in ahead’a time.”
“Two weeks after I left? Certainly didn’t waste any time in getting back to work,” I said.
“Christ, I can’t keep track of it all anymore. It’s probably been close to six months for me, give or take a few days, since I left Montauk. Don’t know how I’ll be able to have a real birthday ever again…”
I briefly considered changing the date on the console to a mere fourteen days earlier, to try and warn myself of the impending frustration and doom I faced before embarking on the most foolish of temporal scavenger hunts.
Then I realised how ridiculous such a notion was, and that should I attempt to do so, some horrible fate would likely befall the Commander and I before we reached our intended destination.
I sighed and saw that most horrible number displayed in the upper right-hand corner of the display:

“99.9%”

“You wouldn’t bugger me again on this one, would you, Computer?” I asked.
The blocky face appeared on the non-command side of the console. It shook its head and frowned.
I rolled my eyes before I looked over my shoulder at the Commander once more.
“All set then?” I asked.
“Yes—Jesus Christ, just hit the damned button already!”
I grinned at the Commander’s frustration.
“Now, now, no need to bring Trent Albertson into this.” My quivering finger hovered over the red “Engage” button for several moments. Oh, had I the opportunity to go back and do it again knowing now what was in store for us! Needless to say, I likely would’ve torn out the key and run back to the darkest, most anonymous corner of 2002 London I could find, content to live the rest of my days in a blinding alcoholic haze.
Sadly, though, my curiosity once again got the better of me. I dropped my finger onto the console and the engines whirred magically to life.
May God have mercy on my soul…
“Oh yeah,” the Commander interrupted my momentary reverie. What words of wisdom could he possibly have now? Perhaps another apology? Or maybe another betrayal?
 “Take a shower, will ya? You stink like shit!”

Chapter 3 is right here...

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

CWATT Running Chapter Links

This is probably the best page to share with others if you're enjoying CWATT.

It's all of the free chapters I've released to date.


What do the Great Pyramids of Egypt, the mysterious ruins at Gobekli Tepe, and the Lost Continent of Atlantis all have in common?

They're places that arrogant, borderline alcoholic genius Phineas Templeton is set to visit in pursuit of his friend who's gone missing through time.

After being left for dead in 2002, Doctor Templeton joins the dashing Commander Ricky Corcoran, his dowdy Mission Specialist Steve Bloomington, and the beautiful-yet-deadly Captain Sophia Sanchez on an action-packed romp through some of history's greatest mysteries.

All the while, they're in search of the great missing scientist Klaus Thurber, who disappeared from his laboratory in 2032 and stole a time machine for a secret mission into the past.

No one knows what Klaus is up to... but spurred on by promises of the fame and riches he so craves, Dr. Templeton joins the hunt to track Klaus down.

Little do they know the dangers that lurk after every jump... whether it's insterstellar dogfights, bloodthirsty "pasties", or even evil Nazis looking to use time travel technology for their own nefarious ends.

Join Dr. Templeton and his team as they jump through time, each jump bringing them closer to the shocking climax: just what is Klaus up to? And how does it have the potential to end the world in a blaze of glory?

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Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four 
Chapter Five 
Chapter Six

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Corcoran Was a Time Traveler - Chapter One

(NOTE: I'd HIGHLY recommend reading through the first book in this series, Jesus Was a Time Traveler, first. You can get it here. Even if you haven't read it, you should be able to follow along with this one. Enjoy! -D.J.)

(Oh yeah, also, this book contains adult language! You have been warned!)

Corcoran Was a Time Traveler

By D.J. Gelner

Copyright 2018

***

Chapter One

 
     Should I break the empty bottle of Macallan 18 and slit his throat? Or would it be more satisfying to rip out his jugular with my teeth?
     I decided on the former and, in one motion, dashed the empty scotch bottle on the curb, and brought the jagged edge to the exceedingly cool-looking man’s throat.
     “Aw come on, Doc, we ain’t got time for this!”
     He made a casual attempt to swat away my erstwhile hand, which had formed a claw around the bottle’s neck.
     Yet my resolve was steeled. I was more beast now than man. Fueled by hatred, I pushed through his half-arsed defense, though his parry forced the bottle just far enough away so as to graze his cheek.
     Damn! How close I had been!
     “Damn!” he checked for blood. “So we’re gonna do this the hard way then?”
      I let out a primal scream (or what I imagine as such—I was in a state of somewhat less-than-complete sobriety) and lunged for the Commander again.
     I felt sick as he lodged his fist squarely in my gut. I heaved in gulps of air between near-wretches as I crouched to draw in breath after breath.
     “God damn it Doc can ya let me—”
     The sound of his voice re-lit my fuse. I spun out of the crouch in a backhand led by the jagged bottleneck. He sidestepped the attempt as I thrust the bottle toward him repeatedly, backing him toward the corner of the alleyway I had been “fortunate” enough to call home for the past several weeks.
     His eyes darted around the surrounding area. I had been in battle with this man long enough to know he was looking for an advantage, any advantage, he could press as I forced him toward a somewhat indefensible position.
     He set his back foot and used it as leverage to bound forward, his open palms straight out, on their way to the sides of my head, presumably to box my ears.
     I reached both hands up to block his assault, then leveled a kick at his leg.
     It connected flush, and as he reeled, I steadied myself into my boxing stance. I jabbed at him twice, connecting on both and brought my rear hand back, ready to unload a devastating cross (along with what remained of the bottle) on the side of his face.
     I could sense the now hot, moist glass nearing its target… the jagged edge of the bottle practically smiled as it thought of spoiling that well-crafted chin.
      Suddenly, I heard a loud “RIIIIP!”
     He had managed to raise a leather-clad arm to repel my final blow… though I must admit I was somewhat pleased it had utterly ruined his fine-looking jacket.
     “That!” He punctuated his exclamation with a right cross.
     “Was!” He followed it with a jab.
     “My!” His right hook connected and sent me reeling.
     “Favorite!” He grabbed the remnants of my sleeve and pulled me toward him as his off-hand somewhat curiously held my wrist. What the devil did he have in mind…?
     “JACKET!”
     <CRACK>
     I felt the blood drain from my face as the sickening noise coincided with an otherworldly pain in my arm.
     I instinctively released the bottle, which shattered on the cobblestones of the alleyway, and watched as my arm dangled lifelessly at a funny angle, broken at the elbow.
     My eyes went wide. I must’ve screeched like a schoolgirl as I ran around in circles, lamenting the grotesque break in my joint.
     “It’s gone! My arm—it’s gone!”
     Corcoran straightened his jacket and leaned against the wall with a sigh.
     “Oh come on Doc. It ain’t gone… just broke a bit.”
     “I can’t feel it! I can’t use it! It’s gone!”
     He rolled his eyes and reached into his pocket.
     “Here you go, ya big fuckin’ baby…”
     He reached up toward my mouth and squeezed whatever was in his hand. Within seconds, I tasted the familiar, vaguely pineapple-y taste of medigel.
     “Shhhh… there, there, sweetheart…” he deadpanned. The bastard had the gall to mock me!
     He reached into another pocket and produced a bottle of (rather cheap, mind you) whisky.
     “This oughtta even ya out a bit…”
     I seized upon the bottle like Smigol upon the magic ring and started chugging it down.
     “Christ Doc, I woulda settled for ‘Good to see ya, Rick!’ or ‘Wow, how long has it been bud?’”
      “How about ‘Thanks for ruining my life! Stealing my fucking legacy?!” I spat the words at him.
He harumphed. “Figured there might be some hard feelings leftover. Didn’t you get my—”
     “Yes I got your fucking note. Thank you.” I nodded at him.
     “Well… it was all in there, ain’t it?”
     “About how Helene employed you to steal my time machine? To abscond with it and the countless fame and riches that was rightfully mine for having discovered time travel?”
     “Yeah… yeah I guess it was kinda about that…” he rubbed his chin.
     “And now that you’ve come back in time to gloat, to show me just how awful I am… what a wretch I’ve become… to lord it over me, and add injury to insult in this case…”
     He shook his head, “Why you gotta be such a fuckin’ drama queen all the time Doc? Look I came here for 2 reasons, and rubbin’ your face in it or ‘lording it over ya’ ain’t neither of ‘em, okay?”
     I must have literally taken a step back, and the surprise must have been evident on my face.
     “First of all, I figured you might still be sore about what all happened back in 2042.” He took a couple steps toward me. “So I wanted to offer you the chance to take one free shot at me, right on the—”
     He had begun to point at his chin, but my fist anticipated his words. I launched a perfect left hook with my good arm that connected flush with his face, and sent him reeling toward the piss-stained wall that doubled as my urinal.
     “Owww! God…fuck!” He covered his face for several seconds. I don’t know why, but as satisfied as I was at getting my God’s honest revenge on him, I couldn’t fight the urge:
     “Are… are you okay, Ricky?”
     “That fucking hurt Doc!”
     “Yeah… I know. Months of repressed rage and so-on and so-forth?”
     He nodded. “Got it… Christ, and here I was thinking Bloomy was just a pussy when you whalloped him one…”
     Though I normally wouldn’t pass up an opportunity to make a joke at Steve Bloomington’s expense, with him not in present company, over half the fun was drained from said opportunity.
     Corcoran finally staggered to his feet and brought his hands away from his face.
     “How do I look?”
     A large purple welt had developed around his cheekbone, raising the usually taut skin into an unsightly mass of pulsing flesh.
     I shrugged, “Hardly can tell…”
     “Allright… we square now Doc?”
     I thought for a moment. It did feel surprisingly good to both enact some small measure of revenge on Corcoran and show him that I was a more than capable adversary when pushed.
     “I suppose that depends.What was your second reason for coming here?”
     He wiped his shredded jacket sleeve over the deepening purple skin on his cheekbone.
     “Well for one…” he paused, “I couldn’t in right conscience let you rot away back here in history, just so you could wave ‘Hi’ to daddy a couple’a times a week.”
     He delivered the final part in a rather grating, mocking baby voice.
     “Come on Doc, look at yourself! You reek of shit and piss!”
     I straightened up. “I thought the whole idea was quite moving, almost poetic even. Become the very vagrant my father warned me about on all those long walks by the Thames. A cautionary tale to young Phineas, week in and week out, forced to face my deepest fear and shame like—”
     “Spare me the goddamned ‘woe is me, daddy hates what I’ve become’ psychobabble lecture, awright? It’s fuckin’ selfish is what it is.”
     “I beg your pardon?!” I had half a mind to slug him once more.
     “Look, I fucked up. I can’t say I’m sorry enough. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Does that help?”
     “Only about 999,997 to go…” I deadpanned.
     His uneven stare glared at me for a moment… and I saw just how serious he was.
     “Truth is, what’s up there—” he pointed at my ragged hair, “Is probably one of the most valuable commodities in history.”
     “You… want to make a wig?”
     “Always a fuckin’ wise ass… your brain, dummy! You’re one of the greatest human minds of all time, damn it! And to wallow in self-pity like a damned pig in slop is downright fuckin’ tragic… when you could be helpin’ so many people all throughout history.”
     I tried to take in the Commander’s compliment in the best manner possible. And unless he had added “Oscar Winning Actor” to his repertoire (I was legitimately afraid to ask him if he had), then I believed his apology to be sincere.
     “Very well then—for what do you require my assistance now?”
     He scrunched his nose momentarily before he shook the awkward sentence construction out of his head. “I have a job offer for ya.”
     I rolled my eyes. “Oh really? Need some sap you can pin the Kennedy Assassination on? Perhaps I could be nailed to the cross in Trent Fucking Albertson’s stead?”
     “No, nothin’ like that.”
     He didn’t even chuckle.
     “Anyway… does the name Klaus Thurber ring a bell?”
     I was (quite literally) taken aback—I shuffled backward a half step.
     Klaus was a dear old friend of mine, and perhaps more importantly, was one of the few people on the planet whose intellect could even begin to rival my own.
     We had spent many gin-soaked nights together in Leipzig opaquely talking around key concepts of my time machine in coded vagaries like a couple of mobsters planning a hit.
     He was especially keen on optics, and I had enlisted his help more than a few times tweaking the time machine’s cloaking device to get it to perform up to spec.
     “What in the devil does Klaus have to do with anything?”
     Corcoran shook his head. “He’s in trouble back in the future. I guess he got involved with Chronosaber somehow, and then the Nazis got word of it, and they ended up coming to his lab in 2032, and—”
     “You cannot be serious.” I rolled my eyes. “Who in their right mind would ever do business with Chronosaber?”
     This time I at least got what I can best describe as a “huffed guffaw” out of the Commander.
     “Damn it, Doc, this is serious stuff. Last I saw, Klaus was pinned down in his lab, under heavy fire from Dolph, Gerry, and the reunion tour of the survivors from our little jaunt into Paris circa WW2.”
     “Klaus… is seriously being attacked by Nazis? He’s in trouble?”
     This time it was Corcoran who rolled his eyes.
     “Yes! Fuck it, Doc! And as soon as those Hugo Boss-wearing assholes goose-stepped their way into his office, he sent me to get you.”
     “Why?” I shot back.
     Corcoran shrugged. “Beats the tarred shit outta me. Somethin’ about he wanted you to have somethin’a his? Or somethin’?”
     I narrowed my eyes in the hope that the Commander would realize how unhelpful his description was.
     “Anything more than that? Like an invention? Or piece of equipment?”
     Corcoran shook his head. “That’s all I got. He said you’d know what to do with it when you got to Leipzig—”
      “And fought my way through an army of Nazi thugs?”
     “Fought our way through an army of Nazi thugs!” Corcoran couldn’t conceal the glint in his eye from the glee he felt at an opportunity for unchecked mayhem against the fascist horde.
     I stroked my chin. If Klaus was truly in trouble, then it would logically follow that he had something that only I could understand. Should someone of lesser intellect, like the Commander, for example, try to use or decipher whatever Klaus had prepared, it would be much akin to a chimpanzee in a lab coat trying to operate a fission reactor.
     My only worry was the mention of Chronosaber. Obviously that old crone Helene was cooking something up, and had employed Klaus to help her do so… but what? And was this some ruse concocted by her to further humiliate me? And make me the clown’s arse of history?
     Or would it allow me to cross paths with her once more and set history “right”? Sure, “what happened, happened,” and whatnot… but nothing I had seen had shown me definitively that I couldn’t off the old bat in both of our futures.
     For all I knew, she would have travelled directly from our meeting in 2042 back to 2032, and now I would have the opportunity to exact revenge from her, much as I had already from the Commander.
     With eyes greening by the minute, I nodded my head.
     “Well then, if Klaus is in need of help, then help him we shall.”
     A broad grin crossed the Commander’s face.
     “Awesome! Put ‘er there pal!”
     He extended an outstretched hand to me.
     I shot away from it as if it was a loaded gun.
     It took him a second to realize it was the same hand that had damned me to become a vagrant all those months ago when he had inadvertently used a “memory glove” to capture my handprint and abscond with my time machine.
     “Ah come on Doc—no glove, see?”
    He raised his bare hand in what I imagine was supposed to convey a sense of comfort.
     I steadied myself, sighed, forced an overbroad smile, and clasped the man’s hand in my own.
     “Very good then. To one more adventure, just like old times!”
     Perhaps it was the medigel taking hold, but I must admit it was invigorating to contemplate a proper adventure like the ones we had previously undertaken!
     The sad truth was, sitting in this alleyway, pickled as a mummy in formaldehyde, week after week, wasn’t nearly as therapeutic as I thought it might be. I longed to recapture that sense of adventure, that joie de vivre from our previous travels. Even more so than I wished to come to terms with my father’s shame…
     My father!
     “Um… one more thing Ricky?”
     “You name it.” Corcoran nodded.
     “I…err…well…you see, it’s my father and I.”
     “Look, Doc, if you really want to  come back to this time period when you’re done to be a damned bum and see your Pop, we’ll see what we can—”
     “No, no—seeing him these few times was thoroughly therapeutic,” I said. “But the simple fact of the matter is that we saw the bum every week when I was a child, and if I leave now—”
     “Won’t someone take your place?” Corcoran asked.
      It took me a moment to catch on, but eventually I realised what he was saying.
     “Ah yes… ‘whatever happened, happened.’”
     "Right. No matter what you do, the past is fixed. You leave, and someone else should be right there to take your place, just as the universe intended..."
     As if on cue, the sound of a stream of water impacting brick resonated out from behind the dumpster in front of us.
     “OOOOOOHHHH YEAH MATE!” a voice yelled after it. “GET AFTER IT, POP, WHYDONTCHA?” the booming voice asked no one in particular.
     We circled around quietly to find one of my alleymates urinating loudly on the facade of the building next door.
     “He been there the whole time?” Corcoran asked.
     “That’s Horace. Real piece of work, that one,” I shook my head.
     As the man continued to pound the wall with a torrent of urine and groaned, Corcoran walked over to the far side of him and stared at him in profile.
     Hopped up on God-knows how much gin and barbiturates, I doubt Horace even noticed.
     “Sure,” Corcoran said.
     “What?” I asked.
     “He’ll do just fine.”
     As Horace shook out the final drops of what I imagine he considered his greatest masterpiece, Corcoran grabbed him under the arm and guided him the several steps back to where I had previously made my home.
     “Absolutely not!” I protested. “Horace takes all of the aluminum cans for himself out of the bins. Furthermore, he’s an incessant bore. I will not have that man represent me on my—”
     “Your what? Your wall? Who the hell knows it’s you, anyway? Not your Pop, that’s for sure. Not little Phineas Templeton. Look at him—he’s a dead ringer.” I hadn’t had the good fortune to admire myself in a mirror lately, and though grudgingly I must admit that Horace was somewhat of a “handsome homeless,” if I was in as poor of shape as he was, it was probably a good thing I was getting back to work. The Commander waited for Horace to finish his semi-orgasmic urination.
     I offered Corcoran a tight smile and a nod, “Very well then, Commander. I am officially, if reluctantly, in your employ.”
     The familiar broad grin worked its way over the Commander’s face.
     “Outstanding. Thank you, Doc. I mean it—won’t let you down again.”
     I nodded, perhaps too-grimly to betray my suspicion. “Indeed. Now about these Nazis…”

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