Comic Vs. Audience is proud to present, once again, a scintillating bi-weekly column, Literary Adventure, written by bookish gadabout Doogie Horner.
The room spun around me. I watched in astonishment as lifeless objects became animated. The tiny cactus on my writing desk sprouted flowers. The ham sandwich under the bookshelf grew mold and dissolved. My sea monkeys grew up, went to college, met a girl, started a family, worked ‘till 65, got their gold watch, wondered what the point had been, and then died as they had been born—helpless and bewildered. The sun rose and set, rose and set, a dozen times in as many seconds.
I pulled back on the crystal-topped lever and the spinning slowed, then stopped. I hopped out of my machine, a little dizzy, and surveyed my surroundings.
I was three weeks in the future.
I checked my voicemail: no new messages. Literary Adventuring is a lonely life. Maybe I should take a yoga class, I bet that’s a good way to meet people.
Why did I build a time machine? Not to glean valuable gambling information from the future, or ensure my parents meet and procreate in the past. No, my reasons were purely academic. I always wanted to know what inspired H.G. Wells to write The Time Machine, and this was the most ironic way to find out—to actually travel back in time and ask him myself. I love irony. I eat bacon and cheese veggie burgers all the time.
The time machine I built was an exact replica of the one described in H.G. Wells’ sci-fi classic, except mine also had a phonograph player with kickin’ speakers and one of those big, dumb bass boxes laying in the hatchback. It took me almost two whole days to build. However the beautiful thing is that I was able to go back in time and get those two days back. I watched my past self (so fat) toil on the machine while I read the complete boxed set of A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Three weeks into the future had just been a test drive. Now my ship was ready to commence it’s real mission. I hopped back into the velvet cushioned seat. I ideally wanted to catch Wells at the initial moment of inspiration, so I set the controls for 1894. I put Bitches Brew on the turntable, threw the lever forward as dramatically as I could, yelled “hyah!”, and hurtled backwards through time.
Since I was traveling further this time, the spinning was much faster, and almost immediately I grew nauseas. This is the crucial flaw in Wells’ “spinny” time-traveling technology, as opposed to the later “streaky tunnel” or “sudden, lightning laced explosion with flaming tire tracks” methods favored by later travelers. I had no Dramamine, no peppermints to suck on, and Miles Davis’s off-key noodling on the title track of Bitches Brew wasn’t helping. Only steely reserve held me together, as onward I tore through time!
My machine stopped with a lurch and I threw up into my top hat. Did I mention I was wearing a top hat? I was. Now it was full of barf. I had outfitted myself in Victorian clothes, so as not to draw attention to myself. But if I had known I was going to throw up into my hat, I wouldn’t have even bought it. I could’ve just worn a bucket on my head and saved some money. If only I had a time machine and could . . . Nah, not worth it.
I looked around and saw my machine sat in the middle of a small farmer’s field. The small farmer was nowhere to be seen, but I could see his tiny footprints in the dirt. There was a white farmhouse in the distance, and beyond it a town. I turned around and saw woods, and beyond them the mast of a ship. A bird flew over the blissfully silent fields. If you ever want to know what the past is like, I can sum it up for you in one word: fuckingboring. I covered the machine with some twigs and walked towards the farm.
I found the small farmer sitting on a full-size porch swing. His stumpy legs dangled a foot from the floor, and kicked lustily as he played O-Suzannah on the Jew’s harp. I was careful not to startle him.
“Excuse me, does H.G. Wells live nearby?”
The farmer stopped playing the harp. He peered at me, his eyes two black stones stuck in a shriveled apple.
“Youse a funny looking fella. Where’s your hat?”
“I’m looking for H.G. Wells.”
“Don’t got a well for the likes of you, you fucking dandy.”
“I don’t want candy, I’m looking for H.G. Wells.”
My journey was going to be a long one. “Look, just tell me which way it is to London.”
“Ah, I see.” That seemed to explain everything. “Well, jes git on one of them boats over yonder,” he pointed to the mast beyond the trees, “and tell ‘em ‘I wanna’ see tha Queen.’ You’ll be there in about—” he plucked a single note on the harp, “—in about a month er so. Ya fucking limey.”
Oh. Right. I had traveled in time, but not space. I was still in America.
TO BE CONTINUED
Doogie will be performing at Die, Actor, Die at The Khyber (56 S. 2nd St.) on March 24th, 8PM, $5