One of my favorite little stories actually. Charlie cracks me up in his own way. I wrote this the summer I was hurt and couldn’t work, and cooped up with nothing but Cheetos and my brand new laptop. I’d like to think my writing has evolved quite a bit since then, but then who knows. I do it for fun, and it is what it is.
By Cary Kelley
Charlie was upset.
No, he was downright angry by now! His Venusian love slave had died during the night, just hours after being brought to his laboratory.
Now what was he supposed to do? The Time/Space Tube was a success. He had reached a thousand years into the future, and light years through space to bring her here, and all she could do was gasp for air.
It wasn’t really his fault. He never claimed to be a xenobiologist. How was he supposed to know nitrogen would be toxic to her?
Well, one thing for sure, he didn’t have time to pluck down another girl, no matter where or when she came from. His mother would be home from her month in Europe in a few hours, and he still hadn’t cleaned up the incredible mess left by his last distortion test.
Quickly switching on his machine, he decided to attempt reaching both ways simultaneously, only this time with inanimate objects.
His first attempt at collecting samples from both the past and future had delivered an odd reptile egg from before mankind graced the earth, and a rather nasty version of what he assumed was a saber-toothed rabbit.
Needless to say, the house was a wreck by the time he was done, but the rabbit turned out to be quite tasty, and the egg would make a nice conversation piece for his mother and her boring friends.
He grinned at this thought as he continued modifying the time dials. He wondered how long poor Mrs. Stevens survived after landing on Venus in place of his beautiful companion.
Probably not much longer than the Venusian lived here, but he could only hope she suffered. She was one of the more irritating of his mother’s friends, and the world was better off without her!
With a final adjustment, Charlie went in search of his outgoing objects. What to send. The ‘past’ end of the tube was set to somewhere in the early part of 1900, and for this experiment he settled on a late model digital watch.
It had belonged to his recently deceased stepfather who wouldn’t be needing it anyway after his untimely trip to the Mesozoic period.
Bill had been an early casualty, participating unknowingly in Charlie’s first experiment with the tube. Oddly enough, the only thing that had returned from that test was a mass of ooze, but all in all Charlie decided it wasn’t a bad trade. The ooze never yelled at him, and it only needed to eat every seven to ten days.
The shrill voice pierced the walls of his laboratory, making his teeth grind out of reflex. His evil sister was coming, and she sounded angry.
With a crunch of old wood the door flung open, revealing the shapely figure of his eighteen-year-old sister. He supposed she was attractive, if one liked those types of distractions. All the boys at school seemed to think so, but to Charlie she was an endless well of complaint and irritation. She was only three years older and yet the way she treated him he might as well be a baby.
“Chaaarrrlieee!” She knew he hated the way she drug his name out into a siren screech. She did this on purpose, he was sure of it.
“What do you want, Mirranda?” He asked, still fixed on his instruments.
Mirranda, unfazed by his tone, sauntered into the room, seemingly uninterested in the array of equipment cluttering her brother’s room.
“Have you finished my science project yet?” She demanded, “You know it’s due tomorrow!”
With all his will power Charlie struggled to keep from strangling his only sibling. Then all at once, he had an idea.
“Well, actually I’m ready to test it, want to help?”
“Sure, I guess. I need to know what it does anyway. What do I have to do?”
A broad smile crossed his face as he placed the digital watch in the ‘past end of the tube and led her to the ‘future’ end.
“OK, just put your hand into the tube, and grab that handle.” He used the most soothing tones he could muster considering his current excitement.
Two out of three down! Now he had to somehow find an era to send his mother to, and he would be free!
“Hey Charlie, does this thing do hair? I mean it looks like one of those professional hair dryers mom used to go to. What does it do?” She smiled mockingly, and batted her eyes.
“Oh, don’t worry, you’ll see, just hold on tight.”
Charlie cranked the ‘future’ knob midway into the twenty seventh century with a satisfied flick of his wrist. She could get her hair done by Starfleet from now on!
“All set Mirranda. Here..you….go!” He slammed down on the transport button, and the house was rocked by the resultant distortion in time. Most of his mother’s fragile things had been broken in his earlier experiments, but the few things left on the walls were sent flying with this latest operation.
Charlie himself was thrown from his feet and covered with papers as his notes fell about the laboratory.
As the air cleared, Charlie was up and running to examine the tube. He rounded the table to find a new, finely crafted silver pocket watch in the ‘past’ end of the tube. On the back, it had the initials M.C. How ironic! Those were his dear sister’s initials!
Laughing at this, he turned to the other end of the tube, to find more of the same type of ooze which had returned from his stepfather’s trip. He found it odd that the same ooze found so far in the past would also be present in the future, but his excitement over the days events overshadowed the small questions he would have to deal with later.
“Hmm, I guess things are pretty bad in the twenty seventh century! Ah well, enjoy your stay Mirranda, for what it’s worth.”
Charlie giggled on and off for the rest of the day as he tried to clean up some of the chaos left by his wonderful invention. He moved quickly, even with his state of mind. His mother would be upset enough to discover her husband had run off with her daughter, she didn’t need a dirty house on top of all that.
After finishing his cleaning, Charlie returned to his laboratory. In all the excitement following Mirranda’s interruption, he had forgotten completely about trying to pull two inanimate objects at once.
This grated on his nerves, but he knew it had to be done. He would be lauded as the greatest mind of his generation, and he would not have sloppy experiments sully his reputation.
Flipping through his documentation, he lamented his inability to eliminate or explain both the randomness of his machine, and the replacement requirements.
There must be a way to travel to a specific place and time, without having to switch places with someone who is there already. He knew he could do it, he just had to figure it out.
As he pondered his problem, his stomach reminded him forcefully that it had been some time since his last meal. He could have sworn he heard Mirranda mention left over pizza in the fridge. That would be just the thing! He did his best work with pizza in his system!
Taking the stairs two at a time, Charlie made for the kitchen. He opened the almost empty refrigerator and screamed in terror.
Sitting on top of the pizza box was the digital watch he had just sent to the past!
“Hello Charlie.” An almost guttural voice jolted Charlie from one level of fear to another, deeper one.
Spinning, he beheld the hairiest person he had ever seen. All the intruder wore was a fur, and some sort of primitive knife, but there was an intelligence in those primitive eyes, and slowly Charlie realized why.
“Bill? Wha…how?” His mind raced to explain what his eyes told him, but he could not deny the facts. Before him was his stepfather, alive and well!
Bill drew his wicked looking knife, and crouched into a low, deadly stance.
“Wait…Bill!” Charlie stammered, stalling for time.
There must be a reason for all this, he just had to have time to think it out!
“How did you get back here, Bill? And what are you going to do, kill me?” Charlie regained his composure, trying to force color back into his face.
Suddenly Bill relaxed and stood straight, sheathing his knife. He smiled widely, revealing half rotten teeth, long overlooked.
“No. I won’t kill you.” He slowly raised his hand to point over Charlie’s shoulder. “She made me promise before she’d bring me back. You’re all hers.”
Again fear tried to grip him as he turned to face this new threat, but all he could feel was awe.
She was a magnificent sight to Charlie. Covered in a body tight armor he could only dream of examining, she was destruction incarnate. Virtually every inch of her body was a viable weapon, each bit of area utilized to it’s ultimate efficiency. Then there was the gun!
Mirranda’s face was set in a grim mask of barely controlled rage. Still, as she noted Charlie turning pale at the sight of her neuro armor, she allowed herself a slight grin.
Ka-Clack! She pumped the lower action on the pulse rifle she held and pointed it at her little brother.
“Charlie…you’ve been bad.”