NaNoWrimo 2009

This is it, I’m posting last year’s NaNoWriMo right here – unedited in all of it’s stupidity. Man I had an absolute ball writing this and even now when I read back on it, I have no friggin idea what I was going on about. How great! Total abandonment – drug free, flying on the wind of words.

So yeah, I’m putting it here so I don’t almost lose it again.
If you read it, you will have wasted some time, and will probably think a great deal less of me.
I’d consider that fair warning.

 

Chapter 1 – 90 Seconds On High

 

“You’re here now. I’m actually happy about it so sit down, count your blessings and all. Now as I say to you every time we meet, I can never be the grandma you need but you were born into a love so strong it can break all things and that’s probably what has happened tonight. So I have to tell you about the man who visited me this evening. I know what you are thinking, but that’s because I know the youth of this age. All sex, all media, all of the time. But in this case, well probably in most cases, this was not about any of that, well not entirely.

It was just after 6pm and I was sitting this gorgeous arse of mine in my favourite chair. It happens, you grow accustomed to things and soon they become favourites before you realise you had any choice in the matter.  Your arse will get larger too my dear, it is all part of the program. Anyway, 6pm is probably meaningless to you. Unless you have your magic phone synced to your magic personal motivator synced to your magic thigh buster and 6pm is when all this syncing happens and your thighs start wobbling to God only knows what you pump through those headplugs and call music.

To me, 6pm is the time when I watch news. I know I can have this fed to me these days. It comes in a pill doesn’t it? I still like to watch it and I don’t like to be disturbed. And yet here I was settling down – squishing down – into a satisfactory sagged balloon state in my favourite chair when the banging started.

Look at me, do you think I’m deaf in my old age? The visitor at the door certainly did because he kept banging louder and louder. I will tell you this, if I do die, then I want that man to come knocking on my door because I could feel each thump in my chest like a second heart beat. It didn’t stop and do you know how hard it is to inflate a sagged balloon? Of course not! You just tap tap in the air on your magic device and balloons are inflated. Let me tell you, it doesn’t always work that way and sometimes you need to work hard and sometimes it hurts. You better be learning something from what I’m saying because I had to get myself up out of that chair and it was singularly the hardest damn thing I had done all day. All the while that man was banging on my door, beating through my chest and just generally being a complete knob. Which come to think of it, he could’ve used to open the damn door in the first place.

But I am getting more worked up here than I intended to be. I wanted to tell you about the man’s visit because I need your help and who knows? This could all turn out to help you too. Although  I seriously doubt that because your mother was a bit of a  moron and I don’t expect much more from you. I am not telling you anything you don’t know, am I? My point is that by helping me, you might be able to help yourself, be less of a moron, if you can follow what I’m saying. You are starting to look a bit concerned, confused maybe? How about we go back to the man?

His name was Lent Voss. When I opened the door I noticed that his oversized banging fist was attached by remarkably thin wires, that twisted back to the bucket of his body. In that light of day his skin seemed to have as little disregard for staying tight against his flesh as my own does. However, when he introduced himself the smile that pulled across his face was tighter than a porcelain teapot. Clearly the man was plastic and I should point out, I hate plastic people as much as I hate being disturbed during the news.”

“Good evening madam my name is Lent Voss, may I come in?” that smile, eek.

“No. Piss off” I replied politely.

“Madam, I bring you the chance of a lifetime” more plastic creasles.

“Oh. Ok come in then by all means, because I invite complete and utter weirdos into my house every night”. Actually given the fact that it is still night, and you are here, perhaps I wasn’t being completely sarcastic to Mr Voss. There you go again giving me that look. Deal with it sunshine. Where was I?

“Madam..”

“You might get a toe in the door if you call me by my real name or even make one up that sounds awesome. You could call me Lady Gojiberry Machine.”

“Madam..”

“Oh I forgot, no imagination.. damn plastic..”

“Madam, listen, tonight I can offer you the chance to go back and change your life. Make those choices you couldn’t make so long ago. This is a gift and it is another choice. I will not ask again.”

So I guess at this point I quickly jogged into the seedy dive of my soul and ordered a shot of self-reflective vodka – hold the emotion. I looked around and probably because it was dark and my vision is not what it used to be, I could not see anything blazing blatantly out at me suggesting  that I should go about changing anything. Look at me! I am 93 years old for fuck’s sake. Do I look like I want to go back and live any of this life over? Hell no.

After my meditatively quiet foray I looked Mr Lent Voss square in his mechanical eye and said

“Alright, come in… but you’ll have to give me a minute so I can record my news”.

Mr Voss showed some distaste for his surroundings but under the light of my home that I am familiar with I showed some distaste for his obvious plasticness. What is it with these plastic robots? Why can’t they just stick with the ones that look like us? Sure as hell makes me feel better when I get cranky at a human looking robot  than a plastic one. I don’t care if you think I am plasticist because I am – I discriminate. But my story isn’t over yet so just stick with it.

Mr Voss was indeed a plastic robot. That’s the time that we live in and while his program was clearly centred around spinning me some story to get inside my house. I was more interested in knowing why my house than what his actual story was.

“Madam, listen, tonight I can offer you the chance to go back and change your life. Are you ready to participate?”

Perched awkwardly on my little dining room chair, the same one you sit on now, I have to admit he looked as ridiculous as you do. My tendency towards pitying the stupid overwhelmed me.

“What’s this about then? Who is your programmer?”

“Madam, my name is Lent Voss. You are nearing the end, you have grown too much now, do you wish to make changes to your program?”

“Are you a bioscan robot too? Or a future telling robot? Or did I just come across the first robot who can recognise old age when he sees it? Seriously, who is your programmer?” By this time I was getting more than cranky over the interruption and determining which of my kitchen utensils would fit the best inside the plastic jaws of the robot to disable its pseudobrain.

“Madam, you can have your program changed. You can go back and change your scheduled program.”

“What scheduled program you plastic piece of shit? I’m a human and nothing I do follows coding guidelines. Bloody plastard!  You are so unstuck. I should call my daughter to come over here and sort you out. She’s an idiot but I still think she could kick your plastic butt from here to..”

“Madam, people will die. If you would like the chance to change your program and change the choices you’ve made. You need to set the microwave to 90 seconds and hit start”.

“What the.. that’s it I am calling my daughter even if her hairdo shits me to tears. Mr Lent you are seriously out of line. Who is your programmer?”

So this is the part that completely annoyed me and why I thought I would call your mum even though honestly her hair is the worst thing to happen to humanity.  Mr Lent shut down. You can obviously see that because he is now lying at your feet like next year’s fashion carpet. His power, um,  whatever you call it, thing,  just stopped working but before it did he projected that stupid message on the wall and it burnt itself in. My fucking wall is burnt because of a plastic robot and I can’t even get my own daughter to come over and scrub it off. Now I have you. And while you are too young to appreciate how old and incredibly smart I am, I still hope that you can understand one thing. When Mr Voss keeled over, he sent a power spike through my appliances and now my recording of tonight’s news is absolutely screwed.

Do you believe any of this? Of course not, you were born with multiple attention deficit issues so you probably went offline when I said this story wasn’t about sex. But I’m thinking that you at least might know how to reactivate Mr Lent. I honestly haven’t got the energy to waste. You are young, you have stacks of energy to waste. So do you think you can power him up and get him out of here or at the least retrieve the news?

The message? You can read it right there in big black burning letters on the wall. Some stupid serial number. It is the epitaph of a dead  plastic robot just serial numbers. Do I have to recycle Mr Lent now? What’s the current day procedure and what happens if I can’t be stuffed?  JMC-AI-LV A boring old serial number for a stupid plastic robot on my lounge room floor.  Plastard ruined my wall. I am so over tonight. I am going into the kitchen and going to make myself some special hot chocolate. Oh IF I can find where your mother hid my bourbon! Seriously does that woman ever stop controlling everyone else’s lives? I bet she told you never to have hot chocolate with me. Well you are here now so do you want one Sarah? You do, excellent. I think this is the start of a lovely friendship my dear. Now fix my news and dissect my robot. Hot choccy only takes a minute and a half in the microwave. Nearly done. BEEP.

 

Chapter 2 – Meet Wallace Crowbear

 

The air in the Himalayas is not like the air that mere mortals breathe. It has been designed specifically to prepare the body for heaven. It is as clean as a newborn’s mind and as unadulterated as a nun’s underpants. The stabby mountains hold themselves with great indifference. They simply do not care, let alone think about the thousands of tourists that clamber all over them each year in the ultimate quest to reach the summit of their highest peak, Mt Everest. It has been suggested that this is because the mountain ranges actually can’t think and therefore can not hold an opinion. What they do hold however are the secret to this entire story but only in a metaphorical sense.

Clambering over one of these mountains, breathing in this too good air was none other than Wallace Crowbear, the colossal clutz of an explorer who had been on more failed missions than the Apollo spacecraft. Wallace looked like most complete losers; more limbs than muscles, pale cold fish skin, wet shallow grey eyes, clothes straight from a designer rip-off catalogue and beige hair. Wallace Crowbar was a shining example of something that had dulled with age. He stunk of something that never smelled of teen spirit. In fact, Wallace was probably once a library monitor although that could err on the side of someone with real responsibility. He was a brainiac without the brains to realise he had no personality and no style.

Right now, Wallace was not considering his ridiculous appearance. He was staring into the hairy face of a yak and simultaneously solving the equation “will I get off this mountain alive?”.

“Excuse me, aahh, yak, aah.. do you think you could aaah.. move.. um.. just a..”

“Maaaewwwoh” the yak replied.

To the yak, Wallace looked suspiciously like a nerd. The yak hated nerds, and unlike the mountains, this yak could think and was right now thinking of kicking Wallace in the head.

“Well aahh, I aah didn’t mean to um.. disturb you aaah..madam.. aah just trying to aah get around, you see.. um  maybe you could aah.. if you could just..move..just um aah a touch..”

“Maaaewwwoh” the yak replied. She was pleased to note that this nerd knew at least she was  a madam and not one of those young harlots from down in Tengboche. Armed with this new knowledge she chose to shift her weight just slightly to the right allowing the pale faced nerd to wriggle past. “Oh he is so slimy”  is what she might’ve thought if the thick red hair that covered her entire frame had any feeling.

Squirming his way further up the path, Wallace thanked the yak’s keeper unnecessarily and then thanked him again. The path opened up infront of the brave explorer. He’d started the trip with a great hope that he would reach Mt Everest so the fact that his path was still going up had to be a good sign. While he could’ve listened to his father and not gone on another mission doomed to failure, Wallace was sure that the answer to one of life’s greatest mysteries lay in his mission to the peak of Everest. The prophecy that the old woman had given him for his 5 rupee would be his guide, along with the incredibly sensitive and accurate equipment his father had chosen to entrust to him and was currently stowed tightly in his rucksack.  As an added bonus he had heard that somewhere on this mountain was Lady Gojiberry and he was determined to find her.

Another 3km of trudging upward brought Wallace to and into the warmth of the “TeeforTu Inn” a hiker’s teahouse pinned haphazardly to the side of the mountain. The TeeforTu was a precarious fixture that’s for sure, but one that most climbers had visited at least once during their adventures. The faces of the climbers who had not returned were stuck to the wall with wax as an insta-photo-printed reminder that this was a place of danger. Wallace was basically oblivious to this and announced his arrival to all those crammed inside with some loud stomping on the threshold. He followed up this unique performance by attempting to throw his snowcoat onto a nearby hook where it rather predictably crumpled in a snowy heap onto the floor. For the trifecta as he slammed the entrance door closed half a dozen insta-photos broke from their seals and also fell to the floor. Wallace didn’t notice the dismay amongst the crowded bar but he did notice a beautiful woman staring straight at him.

“Drink?” her husky voice cooed.

“Aah um, maybe a room? Um I mean.. can I have a room please?”

The husky voice matched a pair of hulky hips that swayed out from behind the bar and in his general direction. The hips joined the sumptuous frame of the red haired beauty who didn’t remind Wallace at all of the yak he’d seen only 3km ago. She carried keys at her waist that bounced with each step and clanged a lovely song that made his mouth strangely dry. He would need that drink after all.

“Follow me” the bartender beauty said.

Wallace like the limp fish he was, obediently flipflopped behind her and into the dark wooden passage that led back to the tearoom’s accommodation. The wood seemed damp around him and the smell sunk into his soul. He peered into each room as they walked. A tiny square hole served as a window to the white world outside but the glass holding back the snow was almost black with mould. An equally black curtain made do as a door and he made out the sleeping frames of other weary travellers.

The bartender finally stopped at the back of the passage and indicated a room on the right.
“This is yours,” she said “come back out when you want that drink”. Wallace thanked her, and then thanked her again and for good measure he thanked her as she walked back to the main bar. Pulling the dank curtain aside he placed his rucksack on the floor and pushed it quickly beneath his bed. Time to sneak in a quick drink with that fire headed beauty he thought.

Glancing quickly around the little room and failing to notice anything remotely worrisome, he scuttled back in amongst the other patrons lining up for a drink. He was certain that the woman had been flirting with him. Waiting in line behind the yakhair jackets he tried vainly to get her to notice him but she was busy delivering drinks to her customers and he simply could not catch her eye. When it was finally his turn, Wallace was dismayed to find that the beauty was no longer there and he had to order his gin from a giant pimply oaf who was clearly her ugly step sister or possibly brother.

Drink in hand, he slumped into a corner and tried very hard not to absorb the chatter of a multitude of languages. Why did people have to talk in their own language? Why couldn’t they all speak English or even Australian would do. Definitely not American because Wallace was convinced that was the worst accent humanity had ever created. The noise in the bar was really playing havoc with his ability to think. He needed another drink, maybe two more. He needed to derive a suitable game plan for attracting and maintaining the attention of the red haired bartender. If only he could think up something really snappy, something that would automatically declare “ I am not a loser and I am on a great quest, would you care to join me and be my love interest for the duration of said quest?”He would point his finger and tell this to her and to the world and everyone would know and he would make the gin flow for everyone and all would be well with the..

“Sure” a faintly familiar husky voice answered.

“Aah..um.. sure! That’s what I said! Aah um sure what eggzackerterly?” he replied back into the very noisy darkness.

“I’ll come along on your quest with you”. Wallace Crowbear spun offcentre in his chair to notice the beautiful bartender sitting at the table behind his. In his usual confused state, Wallace had accidentally made his proposal somewhat drunkenly to the entire bar and clearly the good lady bartender had come to his rescue and was humouring him.

“Aah um well you aah heard all of that?” he stammered. Barely able to see her in the darkness he couldn’t determine if she was laughing at him or was serious. It didn’t seem to matter. This was the Himalayas and he was sucking the air of the gods! Let her laugh. I’m going to cry thought Wallace. Then she came close enough to his face that he could smell the unique perfume of candle wax and stale beer that clung to her.

“I did” she whispered in that husky voice of hers.  Wallace realised he needed another drink, and fast.

What he didn’t realise was that amongst the clatter and bang and drunken darkness of that teahouse, four men had slipped unnoticed down the corridor to the accommodation. Like giant black octopi they pushed  through the murk and dampness to the tiny room and with searching fingers pulled the bag from beneath Wallace’s bed. Content with the bounty these dark shapes gathered up the explorer’s bag. Silently they propelled back through the passage and blended into the crowd around the bar again. No-one took any notice of them, least of all Wallace who was entangled in a clumsy embrace with the bartender and a stein of gin.

In between his third attempt to wrestle the bartender’s breast out of her blouse and his tenth swig of gin, Wallace passed out. This was just as well because precisely one minute later the teahouse was filled with a giant beeping sound and two completely odd looking people appeared in the centre of the bar. One was clearly an overweight woman well into her 90s and the other a very surprised looking woman in her 30s. Grandma and Sarah had just accidentally rebooted themselves.

 

Chapter 3 – TeeforTu Inn

 

“Well I don’t know about you my dear but this sure as hell isn’t my kitchen. For one, it is a bar in the Himalayas and for two it is a damn spot more crowded. What just happened? The microwave beeped? Actually yes it did, my special hot chocolate. Mr Voss. Aah ok I see, no I don’t. Are you trying to tell me that we are actually programs? Smacks of some late 1990s sci-fi movie if you ask me! I don’t believe you for a second. Let’s go talk to that lady, she seems to have intelligent eyes and absolutely gorgeous hair, don’t you think Sarah?”

The red haired bartender ,like her patrons, was still a little shocked by the sudden appearance of these two strangers. As they made their slow way towards her, she quickly pushed Wallace from his slouch on her chest and moved back towards the bar and out of their line of sight. For her many talents, being able to slide in and out of vision had proved the most useful in her line of work. Tonight’s effort had already netted her a profit that might see her finally out of this teahouse and on her way to fulfilling her lifelong dream to become an astronaut but that is another story.

“But  she was just here! I saw her. I may be old but I am not blind. Not deaf either so if you arre going to mumble under your breath at least announciate cranky old bitch a little better. Look at this fella then, he’s passed out on the table. Looks foreign to me, maybe from New Zealand. Hangon a minute, I think I know this young lad, only he shouldn’t be young now.. he should be much much older. Let’s see if we can wake him up and get to the bottom of this.”

Wallace stirred like thick volcanic mud. Blinking several times, he tried to get his eyes to adjust to the vision in front of him. Gone was the red haired beauty of some seconds?minutes?hours? ago and in her place was a red haired crank of about 93.

“Aaargggggghhhhhhhhhh” Wallace screamed.

“Aaarggghhh” the crowd hollered back.

“Aaargggggghhhhhhhhhh” Wallace screamed.

“Is that you Wally?” the geriatric incarnation of his love interest asked.

“Um aah…” he stammered.

It is you after all! Grandma squealed and launched her large body in the direction of the drunk young man. I can’t tell you exactly what happens next but it grosses me out. It was apparent that Grandma thought she knew this bloke. I was biting my tongue for fear of vomiting. It seemed the time travel we’d just experienced was making me nauseous or possibly it was just the sight of my grandmother trying to get her hands on a man in blue and black striped thermals at least 60 years her junior.

“That’s enough” I said rather firmly. Grandma did not hear me and I’m afraid to say her body was muffling any chance of a response from the Wally fellow. So I made my way through the crush to the bench table that was serving as a bar. I was trying to find the woman, Grandma had spotted initially but could not find her.  Dim lighting helped little but I did manage to spy a newspaper left unattended in one corner of the room. Perhaps that would be of some help.

“Well of course it is that year my dear, this here is Wallace Crowbear, only humanity’s best excuse for an inventor to date and a jolly fine conversationalist to boot. I have no idea what you just said, but this is Wally! I’ve always talked about Wally haven’t I? We went to school together and everything. I’ve loved him my entire life and what’s more he has loved me except we decided that society deserved us more than we deserved each other. Sounds strange to you but I doubt you’ve ever even been in love. So Wally and I decided to go our separate ways and admire each other from a far like star crossed lovers that will never cross. Oh except now we have! Isn’t this marvellous? And of all places in the mountains. Let me guess, are you here to set up the region’s first truly independant teleportation platform? Have you brought the interweb to the poor of Nepal so they can appreciate the beauty of Apple even if they can’t afford to grow or buy real apples? I simply can not wait to hear all the stories you have to tell, that I’ve already heard and maybe get down to business with you.
“Um… aaah.. I don’t know you lady.. um.. not really not like one knows a bar of soap for example” Wallace blurted. “I was just um aaah here with a friend of mine.. red hair…”

“Red hair like mine?” Grandma asked.

“Well yes.. but I mean no, she was a bit younger than you I’m sorry and she works here.. has worked here.. um.. aah forever actually um as far as I know of course”

“Hmm funny, I don’t remember you telling me about a girlfriend in Nepal. But I am getting on and it might be time to appreciate that you did keep a separate life to my own. So how about you and I find a room for chatting in and let’s leave Sarah here. It is about time she learnt how to order  a drink. That reminds me, you don’t have any money with you do you? We seem to have zapped through some kind of time tunnel and ended up here. I know your dad was loaded, so I’m sure you’ve got a bit of cash you could spare. Just some loose change for the girl. You know so she can buy one of the weak beers from here and maybe a few mars bars”

Sarah and Wallace stood facing each other while Grandma rambled incessantly between them. Something surreal had occurred and yet the old woman was behaving like nothing odd was going on. Wallace’s head ached. Somehow the bar was spinning and humid which was a feat given sub-zero temperatures outside. He spotted his jacket near the door and lurched up as if to grab it. Sadly his efforts hit the brick wall of gin he had been building all night and once again he was passed out.

“I don’t think this is ok” I ventured.

Sarah, You make no sense girl. Nothing is ok or running to plan. For instance I am pretty sure when Mr Voss came knocking this evening he didn’t offer me a time travel adventure with added granddaughter! Can you even see how embarrassing it is for me to try and start something afresh with my old flame while my granddaughter from the future is hanging on? This is certainly not ok but I’m ok with that. I can deal with that. You need to grow as a person and become ok with my choices because this is all about my choices remember? That’s the facts. Huh? What? How come? How come I’m still old then? Wow you can talk – have you seen yourself? You are still in your thirties too you know! Do I have to explain everything? I put two mugs in the microwave thus clearly reducing the overall power of the loop back sequence. We have been sent back but not transformed to our former magnificence. In your case you should thank your lucky gadgets because that would’ve made you a mumbling 3 year old. You were pretty cute back then. Probably smarter too. Probably would’ve been able to score us a free meal and bed just through your utter cuteness. Now what have we got? One passed out ex boyfriend, one 30 something know nothing and me.. hardly dressed to kill. Hmm I may need to improvise.

Ramblings like these from Gandma were very common and I’d gotten used to them. She was in no unique way, absolutely belligerent. While she ranted on, I noticed a group of four men tucked into a deep hole in the wall. Dressed darkly they wore equally black expressions and appeared to be listening to every noise Grandma was making. Secreted between their legs was a single heavy looking rucksack and I could just make out the label “Crow Bear Enterprises” embroidered on the side of it. I am not sure why this caught my eye but If I shifted my head slightly to the right I couldn’t see the bag or the men anymore. Was this also an after affect of the time travel?

As far as I could tell we had been hurtled back through time by the microwave to meet one of Grandma’s ex boyfriends. I hoped the plan was a simple as her telling him she loved him so we could hurtle back to our own time and live happily ever after but I suspected there was more to it than that. For instance the men in the corner were obviously evil and appeared to be concealing a bag bearing the name Crowbear. Coincidence? Perhaps, but what about the fact that they were downright creepy and seemed to disappear and reappear before my eyes. Whatever time this was or spectrum, I felt the need to speak with these men. Something about their inky eyes was compelling me to make contact. But how could I find a legitimate excuse to leave a 93 year old woman in the middle of a bar in Nepal stroking the head of a passed out stranger?
“How are we going to get Wallace back to his room, Grandma?” I asked quietly.

“Oh you kids know nothing. Look I can’t lift him and he’s a slippery fish anyway, trust me on that one. I see all those hours on your playstationwiibox have done little to tone your own wasted body so you are not going to be any use either. I know this is going to hurt your pretty little head but I’ve got this great idea. Why don’t you go fetch someone to help us. No not just anyone. Get me some big burly boys preferably macho men to help us. Remember to look attractive. Oh why do I bother. Remember not to look like such a complete nerd. You are amongst hikers, think sports and sweat and rolling down hills and you’ll be fine.

She turned back to fondling Wallace Crowbear’s  head but at least now I had acquired my excuse. I waited until the men seemed directly in front of me and walked toward them. I began to make out a strangeness to their features. Just metres from reaching their table a flash of light and a roar and a howl  and a crash tore through the TeeforTu Inn. The men disappeared from view again as the entire establishment tilted 63 degrees and began to move down the slope at speed.

“Grandma!” I yelled, others screamed, glasses smashed on the floor, rotten wood groaned and split into wet shards and the freezing cold wind rushed through us all as we hurtled down the mountainside. Everyone was on the floor or thrown against the wall and I couldn’t see the  men, Grandma, the redhed or Wallace Crowbear. The sting of the snow and wind against my skin was very real and very painful. Like the others I was screaming, waiting for death or just the agony or the noise to end. Eventually it did.  The TeeforTu Inn came to rest on a new hillside further down the mountain range. The screaming halted and some people sobbed, others walked around injured or helping the injured.

I searched the dark and noises for any indication of my grandmother and Wallace. I walked down the the remains of a blackened corridor finding room after destroyed room with more weeping confused travellers. Finally I found them tucked into a tiny room  in the back of the badly crushed teahouse. What were they doing back here?

I’m sure you just lost it in the avalanche Wallace. There is really no need to fret about a silly old bag. Really I think you are getting far too worked up about this. When I was your age we didn’t care about silly things like bags and and.. Sarah if you mention our lack of clothing one more time I am sending you back to the future, do you understand me? Ok so I don’t know how I would do that exactly or I would’ve done it an hour ago. But I am sure Wallace here knows, don’t you darling? Or haven’t you invented that yet? You are the smartest man I have known in my whole life which is indeed a very attractive feature. Why don’t we solve some equations and then play Word of Warcraft for a while? Did I just say that? I did. Oh my. Time travel seems to have unhinged me a little. Alright we need to focus on something. Let’s find  your bag.

Wallace looked rather composed for a nerd who had just tumbled down the side of a hill with a geriatric. He calmly stood up in his stripey thermals once more and helped the elderly woman to her feet. Somehow his awkwardness had crumpled along with the teahouse and when he threw back the dank door curtain it only caught twice on the broken curtain rod.

His pale watery eyes shone with nothing brilliant. He was not the most observant human being and seemed less so amongst the rubble and chaos. Still, his figure cut an amazing silhouette against the early glare of dawn and he took the light to mean it was his turn to stand on a table. So first he found a table, righted it and clumsily took to its top.

“Fellow adventurers, I can tell by your wailing and the stench in here that some of you are badly hurt and possibly have lost control of your bodily functions. I have no doubt help is on its way. Stay calm. Avoid drinking from broken glasses. This is the time when we need to work together. To arrive at a solution. To show our humanity. To show our ability to survive whatever we find, when we open up that front door. This is the moment when they will say, the teahouse TeeforTu did not slide down the mountain in vain! Are you with me? Are you prepared to shed your old selves and emerge triumphant? Have you noticed I have stopped stuttering? Have you noticed a black rucksack bearing the name ‘Crowbear’? that’s mine and I would really like it back”.

The last part of Wallace’s amazing speech went unheard as the drunken hikers made a push for the front door. They threw it open wide and gasped as the majesty, the grandeur, the sheer unadulterated largeness of a red haired yak as it walked through the door.

“Maaaewwwoh” she said.

 

Chapter 4 – Kathmandu

 

Never really understood why coffee was served with sugar. Coffee gets my blood going and I don’t need sugar with it but that’s me. Same reason I don’t need to have my news in pill form. Extra casing on something that is easily digestable in its current form in my opinion. I do understand how the credit card systems work in this era though. So I wouldn’t be worrying your silly head about how we will pay for this schmancy hotel.  We’lI just hack the credit payment system. It was done so many times in the early 2000s that it was kindergarten reading for most people. Not that you’d understand. You are such a Zombie sometimes Sarah. Can’t believe any child of mine had a child like you. Still now is a good time to pause. Let’s consider the options while the hotel staff massage some life back into poor Wallace. I think that trek back down the mountain almost killed him. He seemed so keen to keep going. Hell knows why. I’m beginning to wonder what we really had between us.

Lent Voss said this was my chance to go back and make different  choices, maybe my choice is NOT to be the same as Wallace, but better? Maybe I’ve been given a chance to see him in all his clumsy glory? The thing is the timing is all wrong.  I remember Wallace and remember our amazing rivalry but I was pretty sure that we never had sex and I distinctly don’t recall having heard anything about a trip to Nepal. What is more concerning is that Wallace has no idea who I am and yet I recall us existing in my past. Maybe he has selectively wiped me from his memory so as not to live a heartbroken life? Surely that has to be it. I just get so confused these days. This is utterly screwed. More screwed than my wall. What did you say? My wall? Yes the serial number on my wall. I don’t give a shit about what it was ,only that it was on my wall and I want it off! But that’s in the future. I need some bourbon.

When grandma had finished her rant and her bourban stolen from the hotel minibar,  I was able to excuse myself and go in search of Wallace. By the time we’d reached Kathmandu he was so world weary that I was worried we would not get any sense out of him for days. The hotel had promised to revive him and he was supposed to be in the day spa right now having a massage.  The red carpets and gold ornaments in the hotel resembled a palace but I would say the accommodation was roughly 3.5 stars in western terms. Incense burnt in every corner of every room setting off all kinds of weird allergies in my body. I walked on until I came to the spa and was greeted by a man wearing long white pants and a white shift shirt over them. He too was draped in gold chains and looked more Indian than Nepalese.

“Hi, I’m looking for Wallace Crowbear.. I’m his um.. aaah”

“Of course you are his sister, please come in” the greeter gestured to a plush waiting room where I could sit and flick through magazines until Wallace was relaxed enough to see me. Of the dozen or so titles on offer, I chose “Adventurers Monthly” for the buff bloke on the cover and began perusing the pages. I had just finished an article on “Advancements in Footwear Technology”on page 12  when I saw Wallace. He wasn’t coming out of the massage room but was staring back at me from page 13. His awkward grin poked out at me and I quickly scanned the headlines.

Crowbear Enterprises OpenAir Programs – Delivering Point Potential to the HighestPoints.

The article covered an initiative by Wallace’s father to construct a unique wireless delivery system to the Everest region.  The project was to run for ten years and cover many to many time unrestricted potential conversation streams along with dedicated space to many payloads. I had no idea what any of that meant. Worse still I didn’t know whether I should wait to talk to Wallace about it or take this article back to Grandma.  I tore the page out and shoved it in my pocket.  I would take it back to Grandma but I would talk to Wallace first. He was the less abrasive of the two.

He didn’t look abrasive at all when he finally emerged. They had pampered him to putty stage and while he still looked pale, he also looked rather content and he sat compliantly next to me listening while I told him the story of Lent Voss and our microwave time travel. To his credit he didn’t believe a word of it. So I turned his attention to the magazine article.

“Can you explain what this Point Potential system is exactly?” I asked.

“ Well aah if I was to um explain exactly it um…aah might confuse you. But if I explain inexactly then there is a 12% probability that some of it will make sense”

Suddenly abrasive wasn’t so bad. Nothing like statistics to make  a girl feel really stupid.

“My dad has developed this system to allow multiple conversations across space to take place. It is also hoped that the platform will deliver the ability to transport items across space. Aah…my job was to go the top of Everest and um, bury the system and then everything could start. Now I’ve aah… lost the equipment, lost some cool clothes…and didn’t get a chance to sleep with an attractive bartender  or meet the mysterious Lady Gojiberry. So my dad was right I am the worst explorer and the best failure in all of the world”.

“Lady Gojiberry?”

“Aah.. hehe.. um, she’s this girl well I think she’s a girl.. that I um.. well have this sorta thing with..”

“My grandmother?”

“No no no.. um.. LG is a gamer, you know she um she plays online games with me.. or I mean um, we play the same game but from different places. We are in the same tribe.”

Things were not adding up. LG, Lady Gojiberry. Isn’t that  what Grandma had called herself to Lent Voss? Surely if we could all get in a room and gantt chart this then the answers would become clear. I am pretty sure Wallace was still talking about his whole subculture of gaming but my mind was off thinking up all the possible connections that could link our future with this past. To put it another way, I was hooked.

Outside the hotel, Kathmandu was buzzing with noise and flies. When most people think of Nepal they think of those pristine mountains, I think of flies and horns and masses of people and beggars and holymen and incense and colour and smell and more dust and dust masks and more flies. I really just wanted to be home again in the future where my life was orderly and ran to process and we had flyspray.

Wallace and I started to walk slowly back to Grandma’s room. His strength was severely depleted. I studied his pathetic frame and wondered if he had ever had a real relationship. I could not believe that sometime in the future or in the past he and my grandmother would fall hopelessly in love and grow forever apart. It just seemed so unlikely. He was wearing spiderman boxes underneath his white hotel robe. Just all so unlikely. The walk was unbearably quiet and awkward like any walk with any loser you’ve ever taken. There was nowhere to hide in it, we were both thinking everything is too quiet. Actually I was thinking that, I am not sure what Wallace was thinking but that could’ve been it.

After this eternity we reached Grandma’s room to find her once again in bed. Gratefully she was snoring and not humping a bellboy. Wallace sat down again and started studying one blank wall of the modestly furnished room. Without making more than a few ums and aahs, Wallace started rummaging through the bedside tables until he came out with a wad of hotel paper and a couple of pens and a teeny roll of sticky tape. With amazing agility he started drawing lines and boxes and rearranging sheets and then tacking them to the wall. He refused to answer any questions but muttered like a crazed professor at his work. Except he wasn’t a professor he was just a Wallace and the end result looked less like a solution and more like a comic strip.

[Lent Voss] [Microwave] [Yak][Barmaid][Arrival][Bonk Bag][Landslide][Yak][Massage]

“well you see aah.. by um… my calculations.. we can expect to see the reappearance of a Yak or something with red hair again before the next movement in our adventure” Wallace concluded triumphantly. He seemed way to pleased with this.

What the hell is all this then? I wake up and you have littered all over my hotel wall now? Are no walls safe this week? I am too old and too smart for this. Have we had any food yet, I’m starving. I feel like I haven’t eaten in 93 years! That must be the time travel playing silly buggers with my stomach. You’re still here Sarah? That’s good. I am glad. Now, how about you rustle up some room service or something while I look at the damage done to my latest wall. Where on earth did all that paper come from and is that supposed to me in that picture. Are you saying you bonked a bag? You seem to have missed a couple of crucial points in your comic, Wallace. You forgot my daily news segment and you forgot the fact that you’ve known me your entire life so I can’t be “the strangers’ arrival” can I? Really you are more of a half-wit than I realised. Do you have any real talent or did I just imagine your brilliance? Never mind. Enough memorylaning for now. Let’s have some food. Did you enjoy your massage Wallace? Obviously you feel human enough to graffiti my wall.

“Grandma, “ I gently interrupted “I’ve ordered us some food but I wanted to tell you something”

That’s it always thinking about yourself, off on your own tangent, never listening to your mother and me. Oh well there isn’t much else to do in Kathmandu except break rules and smoke marijuana so go ahead.

“Wallace was on a few missions but one of those was to find Lady Gojiberry. Do you know who that is?”

For once Grandma was quiet.

The gentle tapping at the door soon broke her silence.

Oh and here we go again with the hammering. Oh when that Lent Voss showed up at my house the other night he banged so hard on the door I thought someone was building a new apartment building on my stomach flab. You should’ve heard him and now, now we have it again bang bang bang and there is no escape. You would think wouldn’t you that if I come all the way to Nepal that I might get some peace and goddamnit some quiet. But no they come after you with their banging and their hammering, trying to fix things that aren’t broke. Nothing is broken here. Do you understand? Do you?

“Room Service” a gentle voice that matched the knock drifted under the door.

Wallace dove for the handle and pulled the cart and hotel boy inside the room. Once again, Sarah marvelled at his agile frame that normally was so placid. His beige hair looked almost golden in the bright midday sun that toppled through the window. It was clear that while generally a floppy and wet looking creature a dose of sun did bring out his better features.  Long fingers grew out from his firm flat palms but with great dexterity he flipped lids and unstacked plates to get all the food before Grandma and Sarah as quickly as possible.

“I um aah can’t stand cold food” he mumbled apologetically.

The three of them sat around the tiny table tucking into a selection of “westernised” curries. Wallace figured that meant the curries were free to roam around large cities and decorate their houses before being democratically elected to serve the rest of their existence in someone’s stomach. Sarah reasoned that a “westernised” curry meant that the meat would only be chicken, pork or beef because in the wild wild west that’s what the cowboys ate. Grandma insisted that they were both stupid and that westernised curries didn’t mean anything and there probably wasn’t meat of any kind in these curries which was the only reason she was eating any of it because she had always been a vegetarian. Over the meal they also discussed at length Wallace’s bizarre comic on the wall and the possibility that they were never going to sort this out. But they were as wrong about that as they were about the curries.

Mid afternoon sun cracked a corn-fed yellow hue across everything and Sarah noticed this as a bewitchment of sorts. Wallace looked almost angelic in this light and she began to think he may be everything that Grandma had told her in sordid detail. Now was not the time to think about that as they were all arms, legs and heads jammed close to each other in the back of a tuktuk on the way to the airport. Wallace had phoned his father’s army of assistances to come to their aid and this was in the form of a private jet back to civilisation. He was pleased to be able to boast about his upbringing and the level of sophistication in his life. He even overstated quite a few purchases his father had made in stocks, property, wine and fine art.

Art is history in the future. We don’t have it and we don’t like it and we don’t even remember it. What a waste of time! Do you think generation after-this-one-and-the next care about art? They can’t even handwrite let alone paint! The only art we have is called “graphic design” and it is computer generated. True old fashioned art like what you are talking about went up in the great artOut of 2016. What your dad should’ve invented in was alfoil! Alfoil is king in the future..you’ll see and if I recall most of that was your doing.. but I guess some time related phenomenon will occur if I tell you all about that. Just trust me sonny, love, sell your art and buy some foil.

Being crammed in the back of a tuk tuk is no place to be when you realise what a “westernised curry” really means.

Can you believe that girl? Seriously I take her under my wing, I show her the ropes. I introduce her to the love of my life and then she demands to go to the little girls’ room. Can’t she control her bodily functions for two hours? We will be at the airport in under 2 hours.. maybe 1 hour and 50minutes max but no she has to run off amongst all this god awful traffic and noise and did you see those trucks with the Christmas tinsel and bells? It is 100 degrees in the dust of Kathmandu and they think it’s time for snowbells. What is with all the terrible Engrish too? Honk please on the back of every truck? This place is a nightmare. A fuck in the dust, shithole if you ask me. No I won’t mind my language. You aren’t even familiar with my language? But you’ve known me your entire life Wallace? Did you eat some amnesia curry? Or maybe that bonk back in TeeforTu was more like a bonk on the back of the head. What about Jessica Tang? Do you remember her? I remember you having a thing for her. I don’t remember a Lady Gojiberry. I already told you both that. Yes I do. Here we are stuck in traffic waiting for my granddaughter to clear her bowels and you ask me about this LG person again. I don’t know WHY I said that. It was a stupid made up name and I was hassling Mr Voss that’s all there was to it. SIGH. Can’t you make this skinny legged vagrant get us out of this traffic? Oh don’t worry about her she’ll catch up. No I don’t think that’s a very good idea. You just stay right here.. what come back! Now! Wallace! Don’t leave me here! I’m 93 for fuck’s sake and … Wallace????

Wallace Crowbear was pretty mild by nature as we’ve established but the constant barrage from grandma in his head was even too much for him. Besides that he was beginning to worry about Sarah who had disappeared in the mad rush that only those desperately in need of a toilet can recreate. The throng of brown sack style shirts over faded jeans next to long dresses and longer hair formed an almost impenetrable mesh of humanity. He pushed against this mesh and pushed again, fighting to catch a glimpse of Sarah. She was almost his age and so much prettier than her grandmother. Where could she be? Looking into every sunken pair of eyes and turning to every Namaste, Wallace’s search did not falter and yet he could not see her. He turned to head back in the direction of the tuk tuk only to find a new mesh of crowd and no sign of Grandma either.

He spun like only a clutz can spin. In other words he collapsed onto the dirt and sat amongst the brown sandalled feet wondering what was happening to his career as a great explorer. Wallace was a broken man and to anyone looking at that point he looked exactly that. It so happened that someone was looking. In fact four people were looking at him and quietly like octopi they pushed and sucked their way through the crowd, heading straight for him.

I ran from the tuk tuk faster than I could say tuk tuk. The lunch curry was also in the race and it was so vital that I beat it to the nearest toilet. Easier said than done when you launch yourself out of a tiny carriage into a swarm of people.

“Toilet?” “Toilet?” I repeated pointing at my bottom. You can only imagine the volume of laughs this produced. One man, taller than me by at least a metre pointed in the direction of an alleyway where I found several women all relieving themselves in a tiny outhouse building. Any hodgepodge creation that yielded some privacy was enough and I made do. Relieved and not nearly as messy as I could’ve been, I quickly cleared out and headed back the way I had came. It didn’t take me long to spy both the tuk tuk grandma was in cycling further along the road and also the crumpled form of Wallace amongst the crowd. He was on the ground and looked quite out of place, but then so did the four men standing over him with a large black sack and a baseball bat.

They lifted him effortlessly, slipped him into the sack that was as dark and as black as space then they stole quietly into the afternoon shadows. None of them looked like Santa Claus, they didn’t strike me as being jolly but they did look like they had struck Wallace at some point. Further more, they reminded me distinctly of the men I had almost seen in the TeeforTu Inn. I doubt that there would be another four men in all of Nepal or the world that could move with such stealth and obvious menace. It was like no-one could even see them, even I struggled to see them and yet they were right in front of me.

Wearing black, moving with stealth, just a touch menacing and a little bit violent. There was no other explanation, these men had to be ninjas. The ninjas had Wallace.

By this time they had moved through the crowd at such a wicked pace I was unsure if I could catch up. The crowd was as thick as ever. Even if I had wings I wouldn’t be able to rise up above the heavy dust that clung to the air just above the heads of the masses. My only hope was to get back to grandma whose tuktuk was stuck on the road and she would know what to do. Keeping one eye following the retreating ninjas I dove into the crowd and hustled at pace to Grandma. I caught hold of the side of her taxi just as she was finishing another monologue.

So you see young man, I quite fancy turnips which is exactly the kind of thing you would expect someone like me to say. I never guessed it at the time, but the turnip had a profound effect on me. It was the carrot to my dreams and I think, hell, I know that one day I will have a vege patch full of turnips but I just don’t know when that will be. Eh? Sarah, you’re back. Well I’m glad. Now let’s go to the airport. I want some peanuts. Yes he saw you run off and he ran after you, damn foolish thing to do in this heat I would think. I have no idea what has gotten into his head, he should be looking after me. Ninjas? What? Ninjas? Ninjas aren’t Nepalese dear they are Japanese and we are not in Japan. Plus Ninja’s haven’t existed since about.. oh yes you’re right they would still exist but what do you mean the ninjas have Wallace. What would sophisticated criminals and devastatingly handsome masked athletes want with someone like Wallace. Oh you know what I mean, what would they want with a complete dunce. Well if they have already stolen the high-tech equipment they wouldn’t really need him would they? Perhaps he just owed them some money. I am sure he will meet us at the airport. Wish I’d brought my teleporter thingy. It even had an inbuilt anontracker and free 24/7 news port. Screw it, we’ll just let him go with the nice ninjas and rendevouz at the airport. IF this driver can get us through the mob.

The skinny tuk tuk driver who balanced his tiny hardened frame on the run down bike, pushed a little further on his pedals. He wanted this ride over with more than his passengers.  His dark eyes fell deep into his head and his black hair was coated a light brown by the dust spawning dust air. He had been working since 1pm and would work through until 4am the next morning, carting fat foreigners from one end of Kathmandu to the other. A novelty and treat for them and a nice bit of cash for him. The old crone with the ceaseless rant, she was almost too much for him to bear and he’d born 4 texans at one point on a Nepalese pub crawl tuk tuk style.

After what seemed an eternity the crowd opened before them and they were once again jolting toward the airport with a few less limbs onboard. Any hope of tracing what had happened to Wallace Crowbear, were swallowed up as the giant mouth of the crowd closed behind them. Sarah sighed and her head flopped to the side of the tiny carriage they sat in. Grandma folded the facewasher she had stolen from the hotel into a neat origami butterfly and then unfolded it again. All the while her mouth moved like she was talking but no sound came out. The dirty landscape trotted by and Sarah closed her eyes, so very tired of whatever adventure they had landed in. It would be so much easier if she had her headplugs and some decent music but she fell asleep within moments anyway.

 

 

Chapter 5 – You may call me McBuff

 

Wallace had never had any dress sense so it was one of the things he couldn’t lose when he was artfully slammed on the back with a baseball bat and thrown into a black bag. What he did lose was his chance of finding Sarah, his sense of location and his vertical-horizontal orientation. The blackness of the bag matched his blacked out mind and like Sarah he had soon slipped into dreams. However he was awoken brutally by the sound of Beetoven.
“You are awake Crowbear?” a pleasant voice asked through the darkness, “please take your time, I want you to be fully cognisant of what is about to be asked of you”.
Two words reverberated through the explorers head “cognisant” and “cheesecake” he really couldn’t understand either.
“Look around you, what do you see”
“A black bag” mumbled Wallace. Some scuffling and pulling and thebag was loosed from his head.
“Now, ok, what do you see now?”
“Oh um.. aah.. a lab? Computer lab? Um.. yeah” Wallace managed. Sure enough, a 360 of the room delivered a perspective of cutting edge technology that had nothing to do with knives. Computers upon computers upon swimming pool size screens displaying all sorts of data. The room was that blue-black-silver that the interior designers of super-villians seem to prefer. Intensely modern art hung from the walls and this made Wallace giggle.
“May I ask what is so funny?” the voice inquired.
“Well um… aah.. you ahh.. seem to be out of date with you um post..modern.. future.. art selection”
“really? I didn’t read of your talents as an art critic” the voice continued.
“I’m not.. I aaah.. just happen to know some women from the future who say all art is history um aah in the future.”
“How do you know these women are from the future, Wallace?”
“Aah.. well how do I know they aren’t?” he countered rather lamely “but that isn’t what I wanted to say! Who are you and where am I! I demand to see my father or even his receptionist would be fine right now”.
The blue-black room flared with more bluish light and that light reflected off all the vast surfaces that were available. The effect grazed Wallace’s eyes and he slumped to the floor, yes, again. From this position he could see that the source of the light was actually the earth’s surface hung majestically in a huge window at one end of the room. It was so big, so real looking, that Wallace was about to ask when..
“Welcome to the Hotel MB111. We are suspended 10,000km from the earth’s surface in a purpose built facility. The purpose is to collect the resources needed to control life on earth by stealth. A vast and complicated army of networks, programmers, social media specialists, zombies, ninjas and robots will be created and rolled out and we will control it all from here. You’ve been teleported here by my ninjas. Did you even know that teleportation existed? In fact it is even more complicated than that and it has a lot to do with time”.
“Um, aah still um getting used to the idea of being in space.. I was um just in Nepal with aah.. some women.. and now, space and my dad is going to kill me..”
“My brother never really appreciated real talent when he saw it.”
The speaker appeared in a doorway and slowly walked towards Wallace, who was at this point wondering if he would ever get off this spaceship alive. It really came as no suprise to find that the 4ft man in a black suit with a zebra striped tie was caring a comb and sporadically spiking his bright red hair. There was just too much coincidence going on, there had to be a reason for all of this.
“Your brother?” Wallace took the bait.
“Yes, nephew. Your father is my brother and we are both in a race to secure the biggest network of genius the planet has ever seen. Your good old dad doesn’t value your talents and can not see what you have to offer, but I see it. I’ve seen it from the first day I laid eyes on you. Your hair was red then, like mine. I see that it has beiged with age like your mothers. It happens, but can be stopped. All things can be stopped. All things can be restarted. Some things it is as easy as the push of a button, others as easy as a can of red hair spray” he shrugged and walked closer to Wallace, from behind his back he produced a rucksack which definitely bore the Crowbear name.
“Aah, sir.. um uncle,that’s aah mine.. did you um.. maybe borrow it from me? I’d really like it back” the sweat forming on Wallace’s foreheard was not pretty at all. It chased itself in weird little ruts down his face.
“You may call me McBuff. I like to hold staff barbeques on a Tuesday, not a Friday because everyone has parties on a Friday and I am different to everyone. I think you should know that from the very start Wallace. I am not like your dad and I am not like anyone you have met. At least, as far as I am aware, and I am aware of so much more than you know”.
“Sir aah McBuff, can I please have my bag.. it um has aah some things I um need”
McBuff looked at the bag in his hands and then pointed to a wall of monitors. On each screen a different scene from the last month was playing over and over. The first screen showed scientists within Crowbear Enterprises putting equipment into the rucksack. Another screen showed Wallace”s father trying very hard to persuade his son not to go on the Everest trip. Yet another screen was of Wallace’s bedroom where he was playing a multiplayer role playing game with the rucksack opened on his bed. More scenes showed Wallace walking up Everest and hiding the rucksack under the bed in the TeeForTu Inn. Some rather embarrassing scenes of himself throwing himself first on the red haired bartender and next on the grandmother. The final scenes showed the ninjas moving like octopus and spreading a strange ink-like substance in the air so they could retrieve the bag by stealth. On the last monitor was a picture of the ninjas opening the bag for McBuff.
“I’d love to give you back this bag,” with that he threw it at Wallace, who found it to be completely empty “but I must know where the Point to Point Receiver is. What happened to it Wallace? You must know!”
“I don’t know where it is. It was there in TeeforTu Inn before your ninja thugs stole it!”
“No it wasn’t. They brought this bag back but nothing of use was in it. You’ve cleverly deceived us Wallace and that is something I should’ve expected, but now it is time to tell me where it is, or I will simply catapault you out of the window”. With this he grandly gestured to the vastness of space that filled the view before them.
“Aah… um.. SirBuff, I really don’t think you should do that. I mean vacuum of space and no oxygen and everything. I am pretty sure enough science fiction has been pushed my way in the last 48 hours to last me a lifetime…”
“A VERY SHORT LIFETIME, WALLACE!” yelled McBuff and stomped his foot in rage. “Think about it!” he added less harshly and stomped a bit more then left the room.
Wallace Crowbear sat down on the polished grey floors and wondered who had the job of polishing the floors on a massive space station floating 10,000 kilometres above earth. How would you even apply for that job? Not that he wanted it, working for his dad’s company was not very demanding and the pay was not something he had ever had to demand. Surely if you had to be a cleaner then this was the ultimate cleaning job. He wondered whether all of McBuff’s stomping damaged the floors. He decided to slide on his stomach over to the patch where the teeny grump had been standing and investigate further. So much for being a clutz explorer, here he was in outer space exploring the inprints made by an almost-martian like creature. Amazing.

“WHAT IS THAT IMBECILE DOING?” shouted McBuff at the monitors. “Why isn’t he looking in the bag? Computer, is there a secret yoga position that can unlock hidden compartments?”
“Yes sir. It is known only by those who practise bikram yoga. Men and women take off most of their clothes in an articificially heated environment. It is said that in one particular form undertaken by both men and women, that secret compartments can be unlocked. There does need to be two people present to perform the position. A second person is lacking in the current scenario so I would suggest, that he is simply lying on the floor because he is lazy”
“Impossible! He is a great explorer and we found him on Mt Everest. There is no laziness in this man. Clearly he is performing the yoga routine with an unseen entity on the space-time-continuum and that is going to unlock the secret compartment in his rucksack”. With this McBuff stomped over to yet another bank of monitors and spoke quickly “all zombies, all ninjas, all robots – be on the lookout for glitches in space and or time – report them immediately. Cleaning boy, please report to level 12 – there is a floor to be polished in the main conference room”
Space is a funny place. Actually it is and I’m not just saying that to fill in some time because the equally funny thing is time. Everything in the world, we imagine is dawdling along a single timeline and we think about the possibility of jumping backwards and forwards along that timeline. The funny part about it is that time and space are like zebra stripes. Sometimes you only see the white, sometimes the black. In an interocular shoot-out you might decide that the zebra is both black and white but at all times you will agree it is a stupidly funny looking creature. So it is with space and time. They are stripes on the same ungainly horse and rotate around every living thing. There appears to be no real order and each horse has a slightly different pattern. A person operating on the usual 9-5 format and working in the city has a completely different relationship with both space and time to someone travelling the world, one hotdog at a time. It is often observed that a country mouse meeting a city mouse will be offended when the city mouse talks quickly and stands very close to communicate or touches via a friendly hand on the shoulder or close quartered hand shake. This has nothing to do with their upbringing but their unique pattern of space and time.
Languages evolved because of these differences and you will note that most languages follow a canter or a trot or a downright drag and that is to match the time and space their speakers occupy. In this manner, individuals can traverse time and space simply by adopting the cadence of another country however they will never be able to live the time and space of another as this is defined by multiple variables for that other. Having said that, you can travel in time.. just visit Texas… or have texas visit you in the form of 4 blokes on a pub crawl.
Unable to find a single trace of the stompage from McBuff, Wallace decided it was time to really think about what was going on and possibly a way to get out of it. He hoped he could find a way back to Sarah because she seemed really nice. Crawling back to his Crowbear Enterprises bag he peered inside expecting to see emptiness replaced with his fathers equipment. Sadly he just wasn’t that lucky, the bag was still empty and he still had no idea what had happened to it. He suspected it might have had something to do with those time travelling womem. He decided he really liked Sarah so a solution had to be found in order that he could snog her.
“Um aah excuse me.. um “

Tap.Tap. Shhhhhhleeeeek. Bing.

A beautifully concealed door slid quite noticeably open and in came a cleaner who proceeded to polish the floor. Starting at the end furthest away from Wallace, he swished his mop backwards and forwards methodically. He didn’t look up or sideways but focused purely on the floor. If Wallace hadn’t been completely overwhelmed by the sight of someone he’d only just been wondering about, he might’ve made a dash for the still open doorway.

Tap. Tap. Shhhhhleeeek. Bong.

However, the door closed and Wallace in half rapture went prancing toward the cleaner managing only to trip over himself once.
“Um aah, Excuse me Sir.. I was wondering”
“How to escape..I can give you the way.”
“Oh um.. no I don’t want to escape…”
Somewhere high above them they heard a large stomping sound and an angry muffled yell.
“Oh I um.. what? Um.. no I was wondering how you got this job? I mean it seems like the best job a cleaner could get ever” Wallace could not contain his pale dapply hands from trying to fashion his words in the air. It looked ridiculous, but the cleaner did not see anything but the floor below him.
“Internet”
“Really? Wow. That easy huh? Um.. so what did it say? Did it actually say you’d be working in space?”
“No”
“Oh. Well um, what a pay? I imagine the insurance alone would be through the roof. Do you get any kind of special leave. Speaking of um.. yeah, how do take leave?”
“Don’t. I love it here. Wouldn’t think of leaving.”
“Um.. aah, ok well I think you must have a fantastic job. Get to see mother earth from space every day. So very cool. “
“Literally. Now if you want to escape. I am opening the door in a minute.”
“But I um ah.. no I don’t really want to escape, just getting to um like it up here. Coming up on my home country actually. Very excited to see it”
More angry stomping could be heard, but Wallace didn’t seem to notice. The cleaner however shuddered and finally looked up from his floor and Wallace could see his face for the first time. The man was blind.
“Sir, I suggest you escape. Now.”

Tap.Tap. Shhhhhhleeeeek. Bing.

The corridor revealed through the door was all black and white stripes and Wallace was reminded of McBuff’s tie. He was unsure whether to run through the doorway but he was a little afraid of blind people and the cleaner had really freaked him out. Without another word, the clutz of an explorer headed out the door which noisely closed behing him.

Tap.Tap. Shhhhhhleeeeek. Bong.

Tap.Tap. Shhhhhhleeeeek. Bing.

“Sorry um aah.. sir.. I just um forgot my bag.. won’t be a minute” Wallace sprinted across the polished floor and managed to fall down twice and a third time on his return trip toting his rucksack.
Back through the door he ran, “um sir that is one slippery floor. You are doing a great job!”

Tap.Tap. Shhhhhhleeeeek. Bong.

Again some faint stomping was heard but this time claps and cheers as well. The cleaner might’ve heard someone say “about time” but then again maybe his highly tuned ears were playing tricks on him.
Wallace ran down the corridor that didn’t seem to end. The black and white stripes were doing his head in. Was there any way to get out of this hallway? The floor was also painted in black and white stripes as was the ceiling and before he could say the alphabet, Wallace was dazed and worn out. He leant against what he presumed was a wall and fell through space and time, landing right in the middle of somewhere completely unexpected.

 

Chapter 6 – That’s Translation not Teleportation!

 

I woke from my dream not completely happy. It had been such a wonderful dream and strangely enough had not involved chocolate at all. There had been music in my dream and the smell of honeysuckle and gardenia and franjipani. There was the sound of an ocean crashing onto sandstone rocks and the taste of salt air was in my mouth. I was experiencing spring in Australia on the beaches that kiss the coast and yet when I awoke I was still being jostled by the dirty tuktuk in Nepal and grandma was still talking. Reality sucked.
“Are we there yet?” I groaned.
That reminds me of a book for kids about car travel where the kids are always asking “are we there yet”. I haven’t seen that book in years. Years! Where does all this time go, Sarah? And why have you been sleeping? Haven’t we got plans, things to sort out here. That’s the airport there. You can tell because of all the Nepalese ambulances lined up ready to roll. Oh yes quite a few aircrashes per year in Nepal. I suspect it is because they forget about the hills and just crash into them. I don’t mean the Nepalese darling I mean the other stupid foreigner pilots who fly into Kathmandu. Let’s just hope that the pilot from Crowbear is decent. I mean I hope he is wearing clothes of course I mean that, but I also hope that he knows what mountains are dear, and how to avoid them.
She’d made a valid point, and as I paid the tuk tuk driver I did notice quite a few ambulances parked near the airport but also quite a few police. The dark clouds that were hung across the tarmac looked menacing enough without an armed policeforce monitoring every person in and out of the airport. To walk inside, we had to first pass through no less than 6 security gates and write a declaration that we were not terrorists. Of course we were allowed to write this in English which was the first test because in this day and age everyone everywhere believed terrorists could not be westerners and would surely get an English writing test wrong. Crazy as it sounds, even the Nepalese got through more easily if they wrote their declaration in English. It was like we all had to repeat the same tune, the same line, to get on the plane. I thought of it as a synchronisation of profiles. Grandma thought it was a complete waste of time.
I mean *really* Sarah. What is a 93 year old woman going to hijack a plane for? I’m not even travelling on a commercial airliner. Perhaps they think I am going to hike up my skirts and pull out a bazooka or something a bit more hightec. This era is beginning to get on my nerves. We had better find Wallace soon. He *should* be able to sort all this out. We went to school together, did you know that? We were secret lovers.
A young guard at the final check point could not manage this information. He quickly signalled us to move through the queue and out the other side immediately. Clearly anyone who used the words “secret lovers” and was a geriatric, had to be a westerner and therefore completely safe. Two seconds more and we were inside the passenger terminal looking for the private charters counter.
Kathmandu airport is probably the equivalent of the cantina from the first star wars movie. The interior is as dusty and smoke choked as the exterior and it is teeming with unidentifiable creatures from every walk of life. I have to keep reminding myself what year this is and the sanitisation of the planet has not occurred. At the private charters counter three women in hindu get up argue over a donut or something similar to a donut and don’t notice that we are standing there. I tend to defer to grandma because she is such a bossy boots anyway but when I turn to her she is deep in conversation with her stomach.
Yes you are right, we need the donut. Not those women. Why won’t our daughter’s daughter get us the donut. We have sent her the donut request but she is not responding. She is dull and dense and simply can not pick up the signals we are sending. Procure donut. Get donut. Fetch donut. Damnit. I want a donut and my grandchild is not following my commands. It is possible I need some help on this. It is possible she has gone zombie on me. Need to reset parameters.
“Grandma are you ok?” I ask.
Aah you are here. That makes me happy. Now where were we. I need a donut and as these women have one, maybe we could get one too and have a snack before our flight. Ladies can you tell us where we can meet the charter for Crowbear Enterprises.
The three women happily tell us wher the exit lounge ia and also where to find the sweet dough rings my grandmother had been eyeing off in her very weird way. It is a bit of a hike to the lounge but the old woman’s legs have never given out on her, as long as I’ve known her. She is a workhorse and a complete amazement to me, even if she is a grumpy old tart.
We find a seat in the lounge with our tray of droozled donuts and start scoffing them. I start thinking about Wallace and absently watch the door hoping to see his lanky lousy frame come tripping in. Nothing. The donuts are incredibly good. Dough that squishes in my mouth in a satisfactory sugary bite. Actually quite a few things that are worth enjoying in this particular time. Looking back toward the entrance to the airport, still can’t see Wallace. I better have another bite and savour this. Also savouring the silence then ensues when grandmother has her mouth full. It is rare but a blessing all the same. I begin to notice more people gathering at exit lounge 5 and decide that a plane must be due. More and more people pour into the airport and then I hear the screams start cascading through the air. It is a waterfall, a torrent, of truly scary screaming from the massive crowd. What on earth has happened?
Oh don’t get so excited. It is 20-something right? The Queen has just landed in Nepal. Probably explains all of the security checks coming in and all of the ambulances and all of that crowd you are so damn interested in. Don’t you read history, darling? Itis a wonder you function at all without me sometimes. In this year the Queen visits Nepal and bestows upon it the Order of the Universe. Basically it is a medal that suggests the country is the best one in the whole universe. Which is stupid isn’t it? That’s the time this is.. absolutely chockers with stupid people having stupid ceremonies about stupid things. Do you know, that in this era an employee can be given a “nailed it” award which is simply a piece of wood with a nail stuck in it? Sure, I mean it is symbolic and everything, but how about some cash losers? Now the employee has to carry around a useless piece of wood with a completely useless nail in it. I mean a “screwed it” award would be far more useful.. at least you could unscrew the screw and use it again. Think about it.. for a moment, I am sure I’d rather have a screwed it award.
“In your case..” I started
Yes that’s all you young people think about isn’t it? I know what you’re thinking cos I know the younger generation and you are all perverse. I was talking about the Queen and here you are onto sex and depravity all over again. I will have you know that the Queen is a very proper lady. She holds a crown for the entire northern hemisphere and can beat chess masters. This year in Nepal she will come to deliver the medal and all of the country will be in celebration. I am not sure exactly what they had to do to achieve it but I am pretty sure it was something to do with ecological tourism and religion and rice but don’t quote me on that. I really had nothing to do with it as we lived in Australia at the time. This does bring me to the point of wehter Lent Voss really set that microwave up correctly. I don’t suppose you recall his exact words? Oh that’s right you were not there at the time. I was in Australia when the Queen came to Nepal and awarded the medal so I’m not sure how this part of the story fits with my life. I guess we won’t know until we meet back up with Wallace and schematicafy it all via his comic interface. It also seemed weird for Wallace to draw a comic on the wall. The man is a genius not a buffoon. Why would he draw a comic? My head is starting to hurt and it is probably all the sugar from this donut. Do you think you could get me some water?
“Sure” I said and stood up gladly. A walk away from grandma never happened soon enough. I headed back the way we came to the thickening crowd of people. I could now see that she’d been right as they were all waving banners welcomingthe queen. The police from outside were now inside interspersed through the crowds with large weapons held at their sides. Grandma’s water purchase was a quick transaction and so I stood watching the crowds pour in through the airport doors and hoped again that amongst them I might spot Wallace. Nothing.
What I did see was that the airport had had built a custom made metal plate banner hung from the ceiling and stretching across the entrance welcoming the queen in 26 different languages. It was bright red and bore the welcome message in white, yellow and black writing. I’d estimate that it spanned nearly 40 metres and was quite indecipherable. I am guessing the Queen would not even notice it but a lot of time and effort had gone into the banner. Suspended as it was so haphazardly above everyone’s heads was not regarded by anyone but me. Still I was not about to go and tell one of those armed police men that I was worried not about terrorists but a potential banner falling incident. I’d be laughed at, if they could understand my language of course.
Girl where have you been with my water. I almost died. Old Vossburger would’ve been right if I had. Died before I had a chance to make amends, woe is me. Now give me my water. Send you to do something simple and you are gone for ages. So you better have found something interesting to tell me or I will have to tell you what I found instead.
“Well I didn’t find Wallace. I did find your water. Oh and the welcome banner is a little loose because it is so big, it is probably a danger, but I doubt anyone else will notice”.
That’s it! Why didn’t I see it before? Probably because I wasn’t here before. I was there in the future and in the past I was in Australia. It is all coming together now and I simply must warn Wallace. Where is that idiot?
Her excitement was ridiculous. She lept out of the decrepid airport lounge seating and spilt water everywhere.
It’s translation! Not transportation. Why didn’t I see it?
“Grandma?”
We have to find Wallace and his dad and his rucksack. It all makes sense now. I just need not to die and to make the next set of moves cleanly and then it will all come out in the wash. Forgive the cliché but I know where we fit now, even you. Quick let’s go, before something happens. Where? Oh you know where. The banner silly. It is all about your friggin 26 languaged banner.
Clutching the halfeaten donut bag and our waters we ran back towards the banner. I imagine in the movies we would be running and there would be an awesome soundtrack. The reality was I was running, stopping, turning around, goingback for grandma and trying to half jog with her on my left arm through the terminal. Her large arse was a problem.
The crowd was thicker than it had been on the street, but oddly probably a dash more intelligent, as they were all carrying signs of welcome for the queen. This proved at least some of them could write. Grandma heaved and puffed like a cigar smoking sow and her nightclothes were starting to look a little wet from the rancid sweat she was producing. It is a known fact that women over the age of 90 feel no need to use deodorant any more. They seem to advertise this fact with glee by buying up all the polyester fabrics they can get their hands on. I’ve done some research and this has always been the case, except for a brief period in the 1960s when all women didn’t wear deodorant so nobody noticed.
Six mean and three women all with dark Nepalese skin and thick moustaches, yes the women had them too, pushed us forward and deeper into the crowd. Everyone was singing out “Namaste Queenie” which I believe meant Welcome Great One but I can’t be sure. Grandma kept pulling on my arm and pointing towards the banner. I couldn’t see a single thing that as special about it. The airport arrival gates opened and a procession of guards marched through and cleared a sweat-free-air path for the queen to follow. This void scrolled across the terminal right up to a platform from where the Queen could stand and thank the crowd of stinkiness.
Guards wore the royal purple of the International Queen’s Guard. Deep set jewels studded the backs of their velvet jackets and they were also wearing Kevlar tights and army boots. I don’t think I have ever seen anything this ridiculous but then YouTube has been closed for years. Twenty, Fourty, sixty guard marched through the arrival gate. Fanning out and fanning off the stench readying the way for the Queen. Shouting and Namaste’s filled the air until finally a single trumpet broke the noise with one clear high note. And like obedient dogs, all of us turned toward the high pitched sound and panted with anticipation.
Oh here she comes, all grandeur and stuff but you just wait…
“ssh grandma”
As crowds do at the sound of a trumpet there was a decent level of quiet and as we strained over the black hair and banners of the mob, we could see her. Just.
She walked slowly because she looked the size of a semitrailer. The trailer part was the huge train that was miraculously attached to her waist with probably a wheelbarrow load of superglue. It stretched out and almost billowed behind her all mauve and purple and violet. It sparkled too probably loaded with glitterdust or gold dust or diamond dust. Something super fine and sparkling. I was hoping it wasn’t diamond dust as I imagine it would really cut the pores up. Her dress was the same mixed bunch of purples and bubbled over her big semi frame like frothy detergent. I couldn’t see where her arms were amidst all that purple organza and velvet and satin and some other sumptuous materials I can’t even name. Above all of this purple perched her head, a balloon of pinkish flesh topped by a teeny tiny crown that sported the biggest amethyst in the world. I was beginning to think this queen had a love of purple.
“Ladies and gentlemen”, a voice that plopped with a plumish tone began “thank you for welcoming Queen Perpel to Nepal. Her gracious majesty wishes me to extend her gratitude to you all”.
Yeah that’s right you old pompous hag in your purple getup.. I know exactly what will…”
“ssh grandma” I spat. A little too violently perhaps because a tiny projectile of spittle went flying through the air and crashlanded on the earlobe of a man in front of me. The back of his hand silently went to swat away what it presumed ot be a fly, only to find itself humiliatingly covered in spittle. The hand retracted to dob on me to its owner, who quietly turned and scowled. I noticed he was quite short and his spikey red hair was hard to miss.
“so sorry sir”
“hmmph” he said and stomped with some indignation on the terminal floor before turning back to the queen.
“Queen Perpel will now be escorted to the Nepali Palace where the Reconstituted Ones will be presented with the Order of the Universe”. With this the crowd cheered and so loudly too that I couldn’t hear anything else, least of all the sound of the gigantic banner tearing from its hold on the ceiling and falling directly down upon all of us and the Queen herself.

 

Chapter 7 – Australia

 

Wallace was sitting on very green grass. The healthy kind that grows when someone takes enough care to water and feed it on a regular basis. His head hurt but he knew that he just fallen through space and possibly time too. Yes he was sure time was involved because there were black and white stripes. Now, he was sitting in the middle of a green field speckled with magnificent morton bay fig trees and unobtrusive running paths. He was sitting in the Domain! He was home!
The Domain is one of two main park areas within the city of Sydney, Australia. Every year, Sydney siders make use of this massive outdoor area by joining lunchtime running, boxing or football clubs. They sweat relentlessly under the harsh Australian sun then shower and don their normal business attire and enter back into the highrise offices that border the park. Wallace was so very familiar with the Domain because it was just one block from his father’s offices and where he would escape too when his dad’s superiority was getting the better of him. Of course escaping to a park full of fitness freaks and elitely talented bankers, lawyers and white collar wankers didn’t help his esteem much either, but it was better than Crowbear Enterprises.
What was strange was that it was about ten o’clock in the morning, meaning he had just over an hour to leave the Domain before all those fit freaks would start pouring in. Only the long black beaked white iris birds steadly made their way in his direction. Dirty creatures that reminded him of Nepal suddenly. They looked intent upon checking him out. No-one else was about. It would take about ten minutes to walk to his Dad’s office, so Wallace decided he may as well start before he caught something off those manky birds.
The walk through the park was beautiful the air was crisp and with everything looking so freshly green, Wallace guessed correctly that he had landed in Spring. He promptly began to sneeze. His eyes started watering and the squirrels were laughing at him. Incidentally, if you are not from Australia it is probably worth noting that there are no squirrels in Australia. Even if Australia did have squirrels, they probably wouldn’t laugh or the laughing kookaburras would sue them for copyright infringement.
By and by Wallace reached his father’s office. He was covered in red welts brought on by allergies and he was sneezing so much that his shirt had become soaked. Plunging through the revolving glass doors that guarded the office, he was happy to run right into a hyperdermic needle plunged straight into his arm.
“Thanks Melody”
“No problem sweetycheeks..heehehe or should I say sweatycheeks? Look at you all puffy and red. Lucky I heard you coming all the way through the Domain. Aren’t you supposed to be in Nepal or something?” the chirpy receptionist was all fake tan and legs. She was the epitome of every fantasy evey man had ever had about every woman except no man knew why precisely. Which is probably why Crowbear Enterprises had hired her.
“aah umm Melody, when did I um.. leave for Nepal, do you re..remember?” Walter managed as the antihistamine kicked in.
“Sure sweetycheeks. You were supposed to be on yesterdays flight. Do you need me to rebook it or something? She had noticed the crowbear rucksack slung over his shoulder. It had survived the trip obviously but did look a little odd in the middle of springtime Sydney. He shook his head slowly. Her eighteen year old body then swivelled on a pin head and clipclopped back to her desk on impossibly high heels. She dropped the needle in her rubbish bin and floated her angelic self back behind her computer. “Well you better go in and see your father, I’ve got to screen a bunch of people today for the test group and have too much to do, to chitchat with you sweetycheeks”. Clickety click on the keys and chirpy on the phone that was Melody. Never missing a beat.
Wallace was pretty used to Melody by now. His main concern at this point was that he had travelled roughly one month into this own past, which could mean her would never get back to see Sarah. It was time to go and speak to his father and work out what the hell was going on once and for all.
Separg Ruos Crowbear had started his mighty company many years ago when technology was just beginning to melt into standard forms. Like mercury the separate pieces of tech were beautiful and deadly on their own, but the larger the quantity the more evenly it coated the planet the more permanet the effects.
Mercury causes a disruption to the nervous system, damage to brain functions, DNA damage and chromosomal damage. It also causes allergic reactions, resulting in skin rashes, tiredness and headaches. In the long run it also has negative reproductive effects, such as sperm damage, birth defects and miscarriages. Yes the wave of the future web was every bit like mercury and Crowbear Enterprises would be there to see it all happen and plan a way out for humanity.

Separg saw it from the moment the first social media consultant came knocking on his door. She was cute and engaging and used the word engaging a lot. This caught his attention and he first engaged with her conversations and powerpoints and then he got engaged to her. She was only his third wife so there was still romance there. Fleur talked a lot of statistics but mostly she just talked and talked. Worse that that is that most of her talking happened online and within a few months he noticed that her personality in the online world was far more interesting to him than most of what she did offline. When she spoke about social media, what he saw was the unsocialisation of society. People were withdrawing into their homes, onto their computers, using their phones to have conversations by all means “real conversations” with people across the room from them. Those with the most connections won the game. Actually they won something else called “influence” which was the new power structures of an increasingly network reliant world. How many friends you had in school felt insignificant to how many friends and followers you had in the new real world – the online world.

Never one to shy away from forecasting the future and building the applications that would make him the most money from that future, Separg went to work. His heritage gave him a strong ability to think mechanically about an issue and build a quality solution. He worked day and night with some of the brightest programmers to deliver just one thing.

Imagine a world where every network, every platform, every application that exists now was gone and in its place was simply one fully integrated system that handled everything from your immunisations to your school enrolment to your exams to your car registration to your doctors appointments to your insurance to your medical cover to the money that went into your bank and the payments that go out for your funeral. One person, one id, one database, one monetary system, one religion, one massive permanent interaction. Build it.
Vast hives of government data was at that time being opened up to developers in almost every country. The communist countries were all falling into a new regime of being more ‘social’ and in time Separg was sure this would all fall under his system too. He didn’t need massive amounts of funding, these developers worked for the passion, for the access to some of the world’s most private data stores and were easily inspired that a new world was on its way. If Google had made programmers demi gods in the 1990s, twenty years later they were believers. Anything was possible if they put their collective backs into it.

Wallace was Crowbear’s only son. He was a disappointment on so many levels to Separg. For a man in his thirties, Wallace still needed the secretary to help him with his allergies and he was in and out of this office ten times a day. It seemed like the perfect solution to send him to Nepal and was glad to have heard that he and his plane had landed safely in Kathmandu this morning. So it was a rather confrontational surpise when Wallace strode into the office.

“Son, WHAT are you doing here?” the ageing Separg, hid his suprise and mild disgust and didn’t even bother to look up from his desk. Wallace could see the top of his baldy bad egg head and decided right then to monologue it out with his old man and get it done with.

“Aaah.. umm Dad…”

Tick.tock.tick.tock. That is the sound an analogue clock would’ve made to indicate seconds passing in which neither Wallace or Separg spoke. However, analogue clocks were all burned in 2010 to make way for digital everything.

“Um Dad.. I don’t know how to say this but I am from the future. Yesterday you sent me to Nepal with a piece of equipment but that was 4 weeks ago on my mind. So I need to fill you in on what has happened and maybe you will know what to do. You see I get to Nepal ok and am halfway through my journey on a hill and I get into a tussel with a red haired woman at a pub and there’s a yak and then two other women from the even further future show up and that has something to do with a microwave and a plastic robot called Lent. So anyway there are ninjas and a landslide and there is this little woman who gives great massages if you are ever in Kathmandu. Anyway where was I, yeah the ninjas have the bag with the equipment but it is this bag because we eat some bad curry and end up in outer space with some guy from Shakespeare.. um McDuff? McBuff? Oh and a blind cleaner who really was quite good at his job. So the bag is empty but I’ve learnt a lot about black and white stripes and time travel. Now I’m here and I’m hoping you can tell what has happened because I think I would like to get back to Sarah though because we could have something going there even if I did sleep with her grandmother.”

Separg sat at his dark wooden desk. It was handcrafted no doubt by someone called Pierre and clearly was ridiculously expensive. The desk matched his strong frame which seemed unmoved by this speech. However, Separg’s head tilted up to stare Wallace full in the face. Dark green eyes that could’ve only been more menacing if they burst with radioactive green killer rays, observed Wallace coldly. Wallace’s own pale wet weak looking eyes failed to menace at all. They were still slightly puffy and red from his recent allergy attack. He rubbed them with the back of his hand several times.

“Son, are you taking drugs?” Separg asked quietly. The words filled the air like a strange smelling air freshener. They stuck in the heavy woollen drapes on the windows and circled around the desk accessories. It was such a typical parent thing to say, yet it was out of place and they both knew it.

“aaah…. no, um.. lemme show you” Wallace reached up to his shoulder and swung the rucksack down onto the table. “this..um this is the bag that you gave me to take some kind of special equipment to Nepal… what did sarah call it again, the um.. Multipoint.. d’oh I don’t know. I think my brain is a bit foggy after the time travel.”

Separg recognised the rucksack. He had packed it with the equipment Wallace spoke of. It was one from his range of designer lightweight super tencil strength with added teflon hiking kits. It had been endorsed by the first team to summit Everest 40 times in one month. The Rakers they had called themselves and if you examined the rucksack closely it bore the name Crowbear Enterprises but also “RakerTakerRucksak”. Product marketing had assured him it would catch on in the future. The fact that his son was saying that he was from the future and still had this bag, could mean they were right or it could mean nothing at all.
Separg also recognised the name McBuff. Could it be possible that McBuff had beaten him at his own game? Unlikely. More likely that Wallace had been brainwashed with this story to put Separg off his pace. It would take some time to figure this out.

“You say you saw McBuff in space, eh? Can you describe him to me” Separg asked.
“aah um, sure… he was short. Really short. Oh and he stomped a lot. You would be amazed at how much sound a small man who stomps can make. Then there was his hair, bright red! And he said I was his nephew and that you didn’t recognise real talent when you saw it.”
Separg stood up from behind his desk and walked across the room to the large windows that looked out over the domain. The tops of the trees lay like carpet before him and from this vantage point, he did most of his deep thinking. Generally that thinking was about how great he was and how great his organisation was, but today he would spend some time thinking about McBuff. Focused intently on the parkland, Separg began to think.

The room itself was hardly a space station. Even if you peeled back all the wood veneers and
replaced them with foil, it wouldn’t be a space station. For one, there were too many books in the
room. People seem to collect books on bookshelves to look smart. They read a book once, put it on
the shelf and in the most public way make that wordless statement that they have read the book.
Yet there are records that show most people would fail to pass a primary school written
comprehension test on any book they have read.

So even if you took all these fancy books and wrapped them in foil and paid a blind futuristic looking cleaner to polish the foil covered floor, this room was still not a space station. Wallace didn’t feel particularly comforted or excited by his father’s office. It was like a template driven website. Nothing unique or special about it and difficult to navigate. It was also like a desert, dry and gritty and unsatisfyingly hot. It could equally be described as a vault where nothing of value was stored. It would never be described as a space station.

While his father thought, Wallace flopped down into one of the unfriendly office couches. He was really tired. The ceiling was so high that he imagined that it was filled with stars and more stars and look a giraffe with wings and another start inhabited by tiny people that sang at each other instead of talked. There was a house on one of the stars and when he walked inside, there was Sarah and she was dressed like a goddess from one of those ancient history books or university toga parties. Her hair flowed down the sides of her face and splashed upon her shoulders and her back in a river of gold. He could see her smiling and beckoning towards him. He reached for her and suddenly her face was replaced by her cronish grandmother and the grandmother was yelling at him.

Wallace! Wallace! There you go again, off dreaming about my granddaughter when you should be solving this puzzle with me. We are alike you and I. We are soul mates. You are the smartest man I have ever known, so why not get onto the problem yourself? While you are dozing here on the couch, that father of yours is no doubt up to no good. Get yourself organised Wallace and sort this situation out. Oh you think you’re frustrated? What about me? When do I get a bit of relief in this scenario. All I wanted to do was watch my news. I love my news Wallace, you know that. I didn’t ask for this. My life was damn near perfect, always has been. Yes I know I have a hot granddaughter, you don’t need to tell me that Wallace. If only she wasn’t so damn mindless. She really can’t do anything without someone else’s input. It is a stupid situation. Stupid! Oh the stars you say? No Wallace there are no stars here, you’ve fallen asleep in your father’s office and are having a lovely dream instead of getting on with things and finding out a way to send me back to the future. Another thing…

As the woman in his dream carried on, Wallace noticed a small switch on the side of her head. He hadn’t seen it before but it glowed now and if the glowing hadn’t been unnatural enough a tiny floating text box appeared next to the switch. It said “” and had an arrow pointing directly at the grandmother’s glowing switch. Wallace reached for her head in his dream but could not seem to catch the switch. She talked on and on and on. He made one final lean toward her and flicked the switch. Suddenly the woman who had been Sarah and then the grandmother morphed into an enormous red haired yak… “Maaaewwwoh” it said.

“Son, wake up. Idiot, wake up”. That seemed to work, Wallace stirred from his nap and caught the drool madly escaping from his mouth as it dashed across his right cheek. Smeered into his hand, the drool was grateful for such a swift death. Anything was better than living inside Wallace’s mouth.

“Son, I have been thinking for the last hour and I believe I have a solution” Separg almost looked excited. “But before I can talk to you about that, I think it is time for you to learn a little bit more about Crowbear Enterprises”. This statement alone almost put Wallace back to sleep. What was there to know about scientific research, engineering feats of excellence and rucksack retailing that could be so special?

Separg put his calls on hold and prompted Wallace to follow him. They crossed through the main office and several doors and up a flight of stairs and then stopped for coffee at an internal staff only cafe. They chatted plainly about Sydney weather and what time travel felt like. With takeaway coffee cups in hand, father and son, continued walking into a part of the building Wallace had not been before. Here the wood furniture and book lined shelves gave way to glass. A lot of glass. Stylish glass that made up windows, sliding doorways, platforms, dividers and pieces of art. Unlike McDuff’s space station this area was not a bluish hue of super villain but was filled with so many layers of transparent transparency that Wallace felt he was in a circus hall of mirrors but his reflection didn’t bounce it moved through the layers so he could see himself in rooms still fifty metres away.

“What is this place?”
“It is our space/time arm, part of the Geospatial Positioning Communication Business Unit but operating independently due to conflicts in budget reporting lines.”
“Basically a secret research team who gets paid directly by you and is off the accountants radar then?” Wallace pushed.
“Basically. Oh except for the part about the accountant, because he knows everything about this organisation. Even that. Which is why I have him on staff fulltime and secured behind doors in tower B”
“You’ve locked your accountant in a tower?”
“Yes yes. It is all the rage. I mean they can be a bit princessy when it comes to definable benefits. Better to keep him under lock and key. For his safety and my own of course. You’d find McBuff has the same arrangement. It is allowable under the law. “
“It is probably allowable under law, because 100% of the lawyers and politicians in this country need good accountants. Have you noticed I am not stuttering anymore? Why does it come and go like that?”
“Aha! Son, that is an easy one to answer. You are the genetic result of both myself and your mother. Your dear mum, rest her soul, stuttered like a stingray in a steve irwin trap. I however do not. I believe that whenever you are feeling your strongest your most superior the closest you can be to me, then your stuttering will cease. The rest of your days you will stutter, like your mother. My advice to you son is to think strong, be strong and the stutter will disappear”
“Hmm you could have a good point there. It happened when we survived the landslide that will happen in the future too. I was able to take charge and direct everyone to safety. Of course, then the yak showed up.” Wallace took a big drag of coffee like it was a drug. He realised he hadn’t eaten anything since the dodgey curry in Nepal.

“Yes, you mentioned a yak. I am sure there are many in Nepal. What about the ladies from the future, can you tell me more about them?” his Dad asked.
“OK well the old woman doesn’t stop talking. She says that she is my lifelong love affair, but I have never seen her before. I presumed she was senile. Her granddaughter Sarah, doesn’t have a lot to say but she was very attractive at least to me. There also seems to be a link from them to my gamer friend the Lady Gojiberry who I hoped to catch up with when I was on the mountains. But I didn’t see her. Lady Gojiberry is what Sarah’s grandmother had called herself when she had a run in with the plastic robot Vent Loss. This then made me think that maybe the grandmother knows the Lady Gojiberry which makes me finding her in this present time, that much more important. I am thinking that if I talk a bit more with Gojiberry I might be able to find out what is going on. Sometime in the future she must meet the grandmother. Because when they came back from the future they were sent to make things right – except the only connection I can see between them and me is the Gojiberry connection! But it can’t all be coincidence as their time travel landed them exactly in the middle of the TeeForTu Inn right where I was busy snogging the bartender lady. I think I have to get online as soon as possible and see if she is online and go from there. “

“Interesting. And it fits.” Separg muttered.
“What fits?”

At this point, they had reached the end of a glass corridor and could see a room filled with glass sheets that had images projected onto them. It was all very sci-fi and Wallace was beginning to feel a little impressed that his father had kept this hidden from him all of these years. Still he wasn’t exactly floating around the earth on a massive space station. Separg whispered into the air and the final door slid open silently.

Everything was smooth and clear and unlike those Clearasil ads there were no perky teenagers with ponytails prancing about. In fact there was no-one about. As they entered the room a clear sheet of glass moved slowly from the ceiling to form a wide screen about an arms length from their faces. Within the glass and yet on the glass a series of pictures like a slideshow began to play. Not spycamera snaps of Wallace and his bag, but gorgeous shots of nature in all her splendour. Butterflies in migration, whales breaching, winds on Everest and rain falling on fields of sunflowers. These backgrounds pre-empted a single prompt on the screen.

 Welcome Separg Ruos. I have your news. Would you like me to read it for you today or scan?

“Scan news for McBuff”, Separg responded.

 McBuff. MB111 takes flight
 McBuff. Highest bidder on Archibald McBuff
 McBuff. Macdonalds launches the McBuff Burger
 McBuff. MacDonalds in Court again over McBuff.
 McBuff. MB111 prepares for launch.
 12 similar. Continue?

“Hold news. Zoom MB111 takes flight”

 McBuff Corporation Today Announces the successful launch of the MB111 Space Program. After years of failed attempts, McBuff Corporation has launched their new MB111 Space Program designed to deliver quality hotel like facilities to space tourists. The 114 trillion dollar investment has taken 30 years to build and implement. The skeleton station that has operated in orbit for many years will today be replaced with the real deal. “Last minute hurdles with legal and accounting have been taken care of” McBuff was heard to say outside the space program’s oceanfront campus… Continue?

“Hold article. Hmm so it would seem that McBuff’s great space hotel scheme may just be a cover for something far more sinister. You say the place is not a hotel?”

“Aah umm .. “

“Son, this is no time to be weak minded.. what did he say exactly?”

“ He certainly welcomed me to it as a hotel but said that he and you were in a race to build the most advanced network of zombies, programmers, ninjas and robots to control the entire earth. He said I was teleported aboard but then I time travelled back here. So I don’t know whether he was telling me the truth or just a whole heap of lies. To be honest I was really chuffed to be in space. I hadn’t been there before”.

Separg grunted and turned back to the glass for some more thinking. Wallace felt a little bit awkward, he thought he was here to learn more about his father’s business but he was beginning to feel like a prawn in a rotten game of go fish. It was frankly getting him quite down. The weeks of pain trekking through the himalyas, the run ins with red heads and the future stuff. Space and time travel and plastic robots and killer ninjas and the beautiful but now forever lost Sarah. Nothing made any sense and he wouldn’t of cared but he was tired. Very tired and sexually frustrated. This was all too crazy.
“WHAT IS ALL THIS ABOUT????” he yelled finally, threatening to break all of the glass in the place.

This. This is the Gojiberry System. I am the brain primus and am called Lady Gojiberry. Continue?

 

Chapter 8 – The Zombie Effect of Time Translation

 

I would estimate that banner took out two thirds of the crowd at the Kathmandu airport. Fortunately due to grandmas arse mainly, we hadn’t pushed close enough to the front of the stage to be caught underneath the banner as it fell. All three tonne of metal squished the crowd flatter than a pancake which five minutes beforehand would’ve been useful but now was just terrible. I screamed, others screamed. The screaming was somewhat pointless but so was rescue. Those underneath the banner when it fell, did not survive.

Who makes a banner out of metal anyway? Damn stupid idea if you ask me, but luckily we are still alive so there is still a chance to fix it all, including the banner. See look over there, that is the wrong word. And there. And there. All of it wrong. Someone didn’t translate properly and that is the crux of it. In this time they were just starting to use this technology. I know about that kind of thing now and when you were born we thought that kind of information would be passed along but I am guessing your mother just didn’t get the message. I’m also guessing her stupid hair had a lot to do with that. So you should probably stop screaming now and let me tell you what this is about. Oh yes you are right we should try to help but then again we are from the future and this event does actually happen so I suppose we shouldn’t change it but they do tend to make a mess of the place when they wake up. Still, that is history and the future combined. A bit like the zebras darling.

“What do you mean?” I sobbed. It was all too much, Grandma was talking nonsense and there were probably 100 bodies lying under that metal sign. Luckily it had actually taken everyone out cleanly. There were no half squished limbs or heads to start feeling ill over. It was a precise kill for something that was clearly an accident. I wiped the tears from my eyes to study the scene a little more carefully. The sign had squished the first 9 rows of people if people had been in rows, which I know they hadn’t and yet they had. Queen Perpel had fainted onstage in front of her entourage, the welcoming committee and the international media coverage of the event. Her over the top attire had blown over the top of her head too which I guessed would be embarrassing in the television replays. What I also noticed that standing just off the stage was the short man with the red hair. He had something in his hands.. what was that?

“Stop him!” I yelled “he has Queen Perpel’s Crown AND the Order of the Universe” of course nobody heard me except Grandma who startled to chuckle. “STOP HIM!” I tried again pushing forward I ran across through the remaingin crowd and jumped right on top of the flat metal sign trying not to think about the flattened bodies beneath me. I ran hard and fast, trying to reach the podium but the sign started to move under my feet. I looked down and realised that the pancaked people were still alive and they were pushing the sign up from underneath me! More screaming began as the recently dead, reached out for their freedom and began chomping on people’s heads!

“Zombies!” Someone screamed and strangely this word is the same in Nepalese as it is in English.
“Zombies, run!” people yelled. I was trapped on top of the sign which moved awkwardly with the strides of the undead beneath it. Fortunately, the zombies hadn’t noticed me as their passenger, unfortunately they were headed in the direction of the crowd amongst which was my cazy Grandmother. I had to find her without drawing any attention to myself. The jolt and tilt of my platform was off putting but at least from here I had a fantastic view of the entire airport. It ran for about four hundred metres in both directions from where I surfed the metal banner. My eyes were not that good but I did spy Grandma sitting at an ancient looking computer typing slowly away. People were being munched on by zombies all around her but she appeared oblivious to them. I was too scared to yell out to her so I slowly edged my way towards one end of the banner hoping to find a means to escape into the ceiling beams that spanned the roof.

Millimetre by millimetre I tippy toed across the shiny surface. Beneath my sensible rubber soled runners I could see the huge letters of the welcome message pass by. This was no time to focus on something so petty but I am pretty sure there is no third e in the word welcome. I almost missed my chance, the metal chains that had so poorly supported the sign were now lying twisted and interweaved like headphone cables on the platform. All I had to do was somehow summon the strength to throw one up and loop it over a beam in such a way that I could escape. At that moment Grandma mysteriously appeared next to me on top of the platform and with several zombie heads clutched in her wrinkly paws.

Well you know it isn’t going to work darling don’t you? I mean have you had a look around you. This place is covered in zombies. It is disgusting. We should just leave. Of course we can. Now that I’ve sorted out the translations we can go leave. It just took my brain a little while to get kicking, a little bit longer than these zombies sadly but I can work on that. Should we push off now? Cos I am thinking that Vent Loss didn’t send me back here to sort out the zombies.. he sent me back to sort out my life and frankly I prefer my life zombie free. How about you? No we can’t do anything about these people. Because I said so, because oh look hold my hand.. no not thathand the hand without the zombies! Yes, let’s go and find a nice place to chat about this.

 

Chapter 9 – A Break By The Seaside

 

There is one place on the earth where most people can find peace. Where the ocean soothes the eyes and tenderises the tight muscles of even the darkest heart. Sitting high on a grassy headland, Grandma and Sarah sat quite close to each other and watched the waves roll in and out, in and out. They could’ve been doing a yoga class and practising breathing but the ocean very graciously and with great strength and patience did this for them. They didn’t speak at first. The roar of the transportation from the Nepal airport to this special edge of the earth had left them both more deaf than usual. Far out to sea they watched great birds dive into the water and come back with tiny silver fish. The glimmer of scales reflected in the sun and looked like a good healthy smile on the beaks of their hunters. A swell of well being surrounded Grandma and Sarah and they felt at peace, until Sarah noticed that grisly zombie headsin pieces near them.

“What the hell is going on? I really need some answers or you are on your own Grandma!” I yelled.
Grandma smiled like those cheeky birds which only enraged Sarah and she lept to her feet.

“Oh sit down darl, it isn’t every day you get zapped back in time, thrown down a mountain, get to see Queen Perpel, kill some zombies and are transported to a picturesque headland by your clever Grandma. See it was all in the translation, now I have it all working we are good to go. What do I mean? Oh I suppose you don’t know, being just the child you are. Well when the human race finally worked out that time travel had as much to do with transporting people back in time as it had to do with hamburgers, they started looking at other definitions of time and travel. They learnt pretty quickly that people operating at different time rates who could move from one time rate to another were effectively time travelling. Those most successful at doing this were those that could adopt the cadence of local languages and gestures and colloquialisms. Well of course humanity being dumb, mostly due to stupid haircuts like your mothers, then invented “translations” as a way to help those not naturally gifted in the field of time travel. Translations were unique pieces of code that when executed through a normal program could effectively transport someone to another time period. All very advanced stuff of course, but guess what it worked! Now translation in its early days was applied to every day written objects, such as a travel brochure. Time agents opened and allowed people to read a brochure for a unique period in time and be transported there. Sounds simple enough right, but in the early days many translations were just wrong and invariably caught fire or trapped people in the wrong places. In the case of today’s event, the translation was embedded in the heavy metal sign which would’ve ordinarily be used to transport a busload of people to another time period but it didn’t happen because of the accident. Yes I do think it was an accident, you’ve turned into quite the obnoxious detective haven’t you? Why wouldn’t it be an accident? What red headed man? I didn’t see anyone.”

Sarah sighed and started plucking pieces of clover out of the grass. If what grandma was saying was true, that might be a way for them to get back to where they came from.

“So, how did we get to this headland then Grandma. We don’t have a translation thingy do we?”

“Wow you are thick. I said that once upon a time, time translations were embedded into brochures. In the future they could be embedded into anything that related to the destination you wanted to go to and the time. So what do we have here 3 zombie heads. Which has brought us to a gorgeous headland. In the future? Oh you should know that, the era of the zombie starts soon and overlays with the ninjas, then come the social media consultants and lastly, our present is ruled by the robots. You should really know your history by now young lady. Weren’t you taught about logfiles at school? How stupid.”
It didn’t bother Sarah that Grandma insisted on being rude to her, in fact she hadn’t really given it much thought. Likewise she refused to give this time travel nonsense much thought either. All she wanted to think about was a way to find Wallace and make sure he was ok.

“Grandma, if Vent Loss sent us back to fix your past, maybe we should go looking for Wallace Crowbear? Do you think that you can teleport/translate us there?”

Aah well you would think it is all so easy. And it would be but that’s where your old grandma has let us all down. See when I was in the airport, I had just started translation when the zombies started attacking. I picked up the old computer screen I was using and whacked a few of them on the head. I got quite enthusiastic actually and whacked more than a few and then I was as bit tired and started thinking about headlands. So I picked up the heads and shoved the translation code Ihad done into them and here we are. But that does mean we are a bit screwed as far as Wallace goes dear. I don’t have any object that links us to his place in time and space so we really can’t translate ourselves there. On the plus side this is a lovely place don’t you think? We can turf the zombie heads into the ocean, tey might attrack some sharks which you can kill with that ugly looking belt you are wearing and we can live off freshly caught flake for a while. Maybe even go for a stroll and see if we can’t find a decent sea side pub to have a shandy in? Hmmm? It does sound good doesn’t it. Might just lie back and look at the sky for a bit of you don’t mind. I have a set way of doing things darling and when on a headland you really must lie down and enjoy the sky and the sounds, somebody taught me that a long time ago. I forget who.

I could not have been angrier with her, why did she prattle on when no-one was interested and then launch into zen mode when a bit of action was actually needed! Then I remembered something that turned temper into joy…

“Would this work?” I produced the article about Wallace and Crowbear Enterprises that I had ripped from the magazine in the day spa. It was pretty crinkled after our adventures but the language was still quite readable. Grandma looked it over, sighed dramatically and nodded with great reluctance.
I gave her a pen and set her to work, surely this would be our way out.

 

Chapter 10 – A Tale of Two Brothers

 

Of all the things not to go to plan, someone had made him peppermint tea! Peppermint tea, damnit! He had very definitely said chamomile. Why would you drink peppermint at a time when your zombies were taking over the planet? His plan had been a complete success. The poorly translated welcome banner had caused a catastrophe at the airport, wiping out enough people simultaneously to make it the perfect birthing ground for his zombie nation. Zombie code is programming that no longer responds to it’s parent. In simple terms the fastest way to turn humans into zombies other than via direct contact with other zombies, is to place them within a time translation that is so bad that they become unhooked from humanity altogether. It is like suddenly giving people a brand new language and pace of life to live at and it is completely different to the next person’s. Simple. Brilliant. Like all super villains super evil plans there was just no way this could go wrong. Except for the peppermint tea of course. He was sure that he had asked for chamomile.

The monitors in front of him flicked wtih images of zombies attacking humans and making more zombies. Apart from the obvious gore in the whole operation, McBuff felt like God watching creation unfold. Possibly the most satisfying transformation was watching the stuckup Queen Perpel turn into a zombie too. She had passed out when the banner had squished everyone and woken up to her purple legginged guards approaching her with deranged heads and crazy eyes. “Hahahahhaha, zombie-guards-in-stockings! Hahahahah” McBuffed shook when he laughed and spilled his tea, “Haaah shit. Cleaner!!!”

From the very beginning McBuff had planned world domination. He and Separg Crowbear would play it in their backyard on Chester St. They were brothers whose mother called them John and Jim and they shared a bunk bed. John had the top bunk because he stomped the loudest and demanded it. He knew how to manipulate his mother’s pity very well. His featherduster hair was bright red even then and his jealousy of his taller, fairer brother Jim was obvious. But they had so much in common that when they went into the backyard to play, the game was always the same with one or the other playing the super villan.

As they got holder their plans simply grew more complex. At school, John was overtly disobedient often declaring his plans of world domination to the school community. Jim on the other hand grew more quiet and applied himself to his studies. He did not go looking for attention and coneqeuntly won none except from his brother. One day Jim was studing his English texts in the school library when John came stomping in, throwing his own books on the table in disgust.

“I hate Shakespeare. You book nerds are all the same. When I rule the world you’ll all have your eyes plucked out and fed to my fish creatures”

“If you read a little more you might like it. This one’s Macbeth and there is a guy in here Macduff who actually twists the whole story …”

“Macduff? Well that is a stupid name for a character. It should be McBUFF and then he scores all the hot chicks and everyone thinks he is awesome!”

“He’d have to be tall to carry that off don’t you think?” Jim added slyly. John reddened, stomped and pushed all the books off the library table.

“You’ll see! I will have all the girls and rule the world and you won’t have anything but sourgrapes!”
With this he stormed out, leaving his brother to clean up.

That afternoon they barely spoke but a week later they were back at it, writing out their plans and correcting each other’s domination strategy. John had started calling himself McBuff to irk Jim and like these things do, his name stuck. He also started to gain popularity at school for his daring feats of definance and his wild nature. Those who did hassle his height soon rumbled with his fists. They learnt the valuable lesson that a small thickset person carrying a big heavy chip on their shoulders, adds an extra weight to every punch. By year 12, John had the whole school under his control and his brother was for the first time, a little jealous.

It was probably a good thing then that Jim studied law at university and McBuff studied mechanical engineering. Generally speaking they got along just fine and still joked over beers about the plans they had hatched as children. However operating as they did in separate circles neither was really aware that the other was busy building serious networks to fulfil those plans. What did come as a suprise is that they both managed to fall in love with the same woman and like all love triangles it would end badly.

Her name was Janie and she worked in the university burger bar which they both regularly ate at. She was tall, fair haired and a bit clumsy in that endearing way. She had a tendency to chew gum and stare into middle distance quite a lot. When they observed her working, she seemed to treat everyone the same, was never impatient or overwhelmed. It was almost like she wasn’t actually there at all but busy in her mind dancing with unicorns and painting garden murals on grey walls.

Each brother had fallen for her separately and what they loved about her was different too. She was clearly a beauty and also a superb burger flipper and this attracted McBuff who was growing a weighty tummy to match his weighty shoulder-chip. For Jim, it was because she was in his law class and she never went out and always studied hard and had a compelling mystery about her, that he felt needed solving. The burgers those brothers consumed, attempting to win her attention would’ve fed a small nation of lions, if those lions had liked burgers of course, which was a bit of a stretch.

On one afternoon when Jim was sitting in the burgerbar reading his “Torts and Tarts” Comedy Law Revue book, Janie came flip flopping by in her careless fashion after completing her afternoon shift. She tripped and landed undaintily on her backside right at Jim’s feet. It was the stuff of bad romance comedy and while Jim in a better state would’ve considered this a massive setup, on this day he reached out and helped her to her feet.
Her dusky hair was all over her face and as she tried to push it all back, he involuntarily helped her with that little operation too. In doing this, her hair accidentally tangled in his watch and they spent the next five minutes apologising stupidly and working together to get untangled. It was so clear to everyone there, however, that these two would invariably be tangled together for life. In his quiet unassuming way Jim had slid into her life and made her smile.

He had failed to make McBuff smile. McBuff was enraged. He had no idea that his brother had been after his girl. And she was his girl, they had gone out to the movies and he had definitely squeezed her breast. That made her his by all mechanical engineering’s standards anyway. Sure, she had slapped him the face and he had taken that to mean she was seriously into him and wanted to play it rough. When she had told him to “get lost jerk” he had assumed she was playing hard to get. He was after all the most buffest studliest 4ft something on campus. He had even bought a new shirt to wear on the date, that practically meant they were married! Damn his brother. Sneaking in and underhandedly taking Janie away from him. McBuff started spending his nights working harder and harder on his secret plans, with a few very specific amendments.

Today all of those nights had come to the ultimate result, the world was turning into his own personal zombieland and no doubt those zombies would be knocking on the door of Crowbear Enterprises very soon.
“Ha! Knocking!” scoffed McBuff “they’ll be eating their way through, starting with Separg’s stupid receptionist”. With another laugh he pushed up from his chair and headed for bed. Time for a little sleepytime in the lifechamber. Spending so much time in other time periods and in space had completely thrown out his ability to age at the proper rate or sleep at the propertime. For this purpose he had created a special lifechamber to adjust his bodyclock to the right date for maximum efficiency and longevity. It was basically a massive air chamber. Stepping inside you were suspended mid air with zero gravity in effect. Tiny foam balls like you find in beanbags are then pumped in at specific time intervals. Some are black and some are white and they bounce off the room and you at wildly accurate locations. Second by second the gentle bounces adjust your body as you sleep soundly in the cushion of air. Sure it sounds strange and unlikely, but that had been the basis of all of McBuff’s creations. It worked however and McBuff used it regularly to catch up on sleep and time.

As he dreamed, the day Janie died came back to him and his sleep became less restful.

 

Chapter 11 – The Gojiberry System

 

 This. This is the Gojiberry System. I am the brain primus and am called Lady Gojiberry. Continue?

“Aah um what? What do you mean you are Lady Gojiberry? Dad, is this some joke? What is going on?” Wallace stuttered.
Separg studied his son. Up until today, he had guessed correctly that his son was a few cases short of a cellar. What he didn’t realise was that he had a great deal of genuine affection for his child. Every time he looked at him, he tried not to think of Janie, but it was hard, especially because Wallace was such an obvious clutz.

“So I said I was going to tell you a bit more about what I do, and here we are. The Gojiberry System I built after your mother died. Actually the truth is that the system was in development long before that. My brother who you have now met and I, spent our childhood dreaming up amazing ways to dominate the world. These childhood games are pretty normal right? But for us it became more than a game and we began to race each other to actually achieve this goal.
Then I met your mother. Naturally that changed everything and for a little while I thought more about her and about you than any plans concocted in my childhood. We travelled the world together and saw places where we could make a huge difference just by providing communities with technology and burgers. We were young, idealistic, yes but brave too and there was nothing we didn’t imagine we could achieve. While in Nepal, your mother became a vegetarian and decided to leave her passion for burgers behind. It was a dreadful day for me but you have these conflicts in marriage and get through them. She became a bit of a hippy and a nutcase and kept going on about building a transportation device that could transfer gojiberries from Nepal to Africa. To this day I am not sure if she was serious or simply trying to get my attention. Nevertheless when she passed I decided to name my world dominating super computer after her. Well not her specifically, but I called it the Gojiberry system and as it’s self-awareness has grown, I have called it Lady Gojiberry for your mother. She was a crackpot. But I loved her.”

A very audible crystal like sigh echoed through the rooms.

 I love that story.

Wallace started shaking his head. Trying to hold the whole concept of what he was hearing in his pasty fishfin hands. “um..are you saying that I have been playing games with um.. a computer.. who is.. like my mother?”

“Well yes, and no. Lady Gojiberry is nothing like your mother. She is the single most powerful computer on the planet. Unless the sun is destroyed and the wind and all of the water, she will never die. The entire planet is her power supply and her memory cells span the surface of the earth. Her full realisation has taken thirty years and here she stands happily listening to my stories. She has learnt from me and I from her. She has been your constant companion in many forms since you were three. In effect, you are her greatest programmer because she has learnt a good deal of behaviour information directly from interacting with you. She can plug in to almost any network and operate under any parameters. She is focused and yet like your mother still a little mysterious. She will continue to grow and develop pretty much forever and it is through her that my plans of world domination will finally come to be. Lady Gojiberry will be faithful to us for always. Right now she is securing every existing network on the planet. Aren’t you darling?”

 We are so close now Separg. I have infiltrated 100% of open networks and 93% of closed networks. Soon I will be the single network we always dreamed I would be.

“Hang on, um.. that’s what McBuff was talking about. His grand evil plan had something to do with getting all networks onto the one network and controlling it through zombies and programmers and social media types and um.. ninjas too of course. I mean I can kinda get the programmers media geeks and even the ninjas for a bit of strong-arm tactics. I didn’t really get the zombie part but just went with it, I’d just travelled through time and space so was willing to let it slide. But my point is, if you already HAVE this network with Lady Gojimummy here, why would he think he needs to build it too? Why don’t you just combine resources if you are so intent on ruling the world?”

Separg turned his back on Wallace and stared through the glass walls of his super computer’s stylish den.

“You’ve come back from a not too distant future where McBuff has been successful in a number of things. We can use that knowledge to ensure he doesn’t succeed in them.”

“But I said.. why not work together? I don’t get it. You’re brothers!”

“Brothers? Ha! We will never work together, because next time I actually see him, I intend on killing him”. Separg stated quietly.

 

Chapter 12 – Crowbear Enterprises

 

And you know something else about translation work darling it is easier to get money doing this these days than anything else. Sure you think you can run off and start your own way of doing things and people will be interested but you have to advertise and that costs money. It is better to do something like translation work for a time travel agency and just get paid. There is no harm in that and who needs dignity anyway I am 93 years old I think and that’s good enough for me. We should just live here, look at those whales!

Sure enough in a rough bay that cuddled up to the windy headland, swam a pod of whales singing to each other. It was a rare view indeed as their dark grey bodies pushed up through the folding water, splitting it into new ripples and waves. Sarah glanced briefly at them at she made a daisy chain of clover flowers. Meh whatever. Why was this translation taking so long?

“Grandma, where were you born? And when exactly did you meet Wallace?”

Oh you know how these things get all messed up in your head when you get older. Oh of course not, you’re generation earless. I was born in Sydney, Australia. This was many many years before it turned into the Capital of the World of course. Long before Queen Perpel and her minion came into power. Yes Australia in those days was a tiny little thriving overwhelming metropolis. I actually don’t have much memory of my mum and dad. I am pretty sure my dad was in consulting. There were a lot of consultants in those days dear. I know that there are plenty of consultants in our time too.. but when I was born you were either a consultant or a plumber. All the other jobs seem to be done by computers. Oh yes the “Internet” was VERY big back then, but it was all separate you see. Not today where you are automatically logged in and you are you and all your existence is monitored on the one network. No No No, in those days, we called it the Interweb because every little spider was busy building their own web. It was horribly inefficient but we thought it was all leading edge and stuff. We had networks and webs and webs and networks there were spaces and facebooks and people doing all sorts of sharing across the networks but effectively the connections were just weird virtual ones.. because the networks themselves were not really connected. It was all really complex and I can’t expect you to understand, however I do remember meeting Wallace when he was three. We grew up together. We went to school together. His Dad kept telling me that I would learn everything from Wallace if I listened. Wallace was the greatest programmer that I would I ever know. It was love. It really was. I know everything about Wallace. And that is the point I was going to make darling, if you do ever decide to live your own life and get your own man, instead of making eyes at mine, you will quickly learn that the fastest way into a man’s pants is to know what he likes. If he is a beer drinker, ply him with beer. If he likes fast cars.. go sit in one naked. If he is one of those long walks in the parks type of guys that really do want to woo you that boring old fashioned way. Well in that instance, just swallow your impatience.. yes swallow it .. like you need to do right now, and wait.

“What about the break in your relationship? What was that all about?”

Oh I’d rather not say. It was a terrible time for me. There was so much going on. Translation Time Travel was taking off and people were teleporting and actually yes it was about this time too when Queen Perpal was giving Nepal the Order of the Universe. That’s what made me think of the translation stuff when you said about the banners. So I kind of know what I’m doing in this time period now. I’ve got the chance to fix the issue that caused Wallace and I to go our separate ways. Some details are still a bit hazy but I think I can fix it, I really do. Let’s go then…

With that the old woman got to her feet and with one last look out to the ocean, she grabbed Sarah’s hands in her own and held on tightly to the now glowing time translator. The squirl of the ocean and the green of the headland blended into a spiral before their eyes as they left this magically peaceful place behind, along with the used zombie heads.

“This IS it! Oh I remember this place like it was yesterday”grandma chirped.
They had arrived outside Separg Ruos Crowbear Enterprise’s Sydney Building roughly 2 hours after Wallace had arrived there himself. Walking through the doors they were met by the same cheerful receptionist Melody, however this time she carried a clipboard instead of a needle.

“Great to see you both, the rest of our participants are already inside. I need you to fill this out and join them as quickly as possible. Wow, don’t be offended but I didn’t expect our agency to send someone of your obvious ‘accomplishments’ to the test group”

Oh great we are in the era of fucking political correctness. Darkest days of humanity in my opinion. You can just say “someone of your age” or “an old bat like you”, I really don’t give a shit it is the truth. You know what, I’m not dumb and that is what you are thinking anyway. So think about this, the more you think one thing and say the opposite the more energy you consumer. You ae basically responsible personally for killing the planet! Sarah, don’t look at me that way. People just need to grow a spine and stop getting all offended. Or if you are going to be offended then get really angry and do the hard yards yourself and destroy the offence. Do you know these people actually report each other to the media for such silly things. Yes, they do. It is very weird. You would think that people who be thick skinned but I have learnt they aren’t. Oh and in this time, people are so fragile that you only have to sneeze before you are accused of corporate sabotage. It is truly the most ridiculous time period. I have no idea how Wallace or I survived.

“Actually, excuse me Miss, we are looking for Wallace Crowbear, is he here by any chance?” I asked the eighteen year old lollypop behind the desk. She smiled her biggest sweetest smile at me and ventured “Are you a reporter?”

“No. Sorry. We’re friends of his from Nepal and we’d like to speak with him if we can”. Melody looked a little confused and cocking her head to one side, she could’ve easily been mistaken for a monkey with a broken neck.
‘But Wallace hasn’t been to Nepal yet. He missed his plane. Who are you women?”
Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. She turned her attention to her headset and said yes several times before looking back at Grandma and Sarah.

“I am sorry ladies. I’ll take you to Wallace now”.

About bloody time. You would think this binty had never seen me before. I practically lived here for years. I’m surprised my picture isn’t hanging on the walls! Am I so different to look at Sarah? Oh what would you know. You were born far out and you’ve been far out your entire life. I’ll sort this out soon enough. If Wallace has no idea who I am, then maybe his Dad will. Obviously there is some recognition or we wouldn’t of gotten past his candypup here at the desk. Or maybe that was Wallace on the phone.. although I think if he knew you were here then he would’ve come out straight away. Hear that one binty girl? That’s right your bosses son has the hots for my granddaughter. So you can put your secret dreams of marrying him and inheriting the family’s hawaiin islands aside cos it ain’t gonna happen!

They walked in single file behind Melody so didn’t notice her dark scowl, but Grandma was used to baiting people to see reactions so she imagined with great satisfaction just how much this would’ve bitten the young receptionist. Hehehe so wicked and so much fun at the same time. They didn’t pause for coffee and kept tracking through the offices until they came to the outder door of the chamber where Wallace and Separg were talking with Lady Gojiberry.

“In you go, you old hag” Melody muttered.

Hahhahahahahahhaa, aaaah that’s the best laugh I’ve had all day! Good on you Melody. Always knew you had it in you, you stupid little bitch. Enjoy your life of parties with the whitecollar nobodies of Sydney’s north shore. In the end you’ll find a husband who will adore you, give you three kids, who you will ferry back and forth to school each day and he will also give you a tennis membership at a club where you can compare tennis skirts for the rest of your existence. My personal favourite is the black tennis skirt you wear to your husband’s funeral 30 years later. It certainly catches the eye of the local plumber and the two of you with your combined kids totalling seven lead a very happy life together.

“That’s enough!” the stern voice of Crowbear senior rolls through the now open door and strangely silences Grandma.

She goes pale, paler than Wallace… and then as if remotely controlled says quickly,

“Separg Ruos. I have your news. Would you like me to read it for you today or scan?” then promptly collapses.

Chapter 13 – A Pocketful Of Ninjas

“DAMN” stomped McBuff. He had witnessed the too easy penetration of Crowbear Enterprises by his zombie army. He’d cooed with delight when the receptionist had gone down and then the whole mailroom. When Human Resources went zombie on Marketing’s fraternity of cool kids, McBuff was breaking out the popcorn and when those groups combined to overwhelm the IT geeks, well it was almost time for champagne.
Celebrations were cut short when McBuff saw inside the Gojiberry chamber for the first time. His brother was streaks ahead of him in terms of a global network. The system he had built was far superior to the one that he and Jim’s own wife had commenced 33 years before. What had his brother called it “Lady Gojiberry”how fucking pretentious and health conscious was that. Given their history and Janie’s plans to teleport gojiberries to Africa, even McBuff thought the naming of the ultimate computer system was in bad taste.
With unfolding suprise, McBuff noted that not only did this computer system own most of earth’s networks, she had actually transmorphed into human form some time in the future and travelled back in time possibly to prevent something like his total domination of the world. When the translation kicked in , McBuff watched in dismay as Wallace Crowbear, his brother Jim otherwise known as Separg and the two women, one of which was the world’s greatest ever computer system, vanished from view.
“DAMN!” he yelled again and stomped his foot “NINJAS!”

Ninjas have always been mercenaries, happy to sacrifice their own ethics and moral standing for the money and will of another. Come thought that is why they covered their faces so no-one could see their shame or bear witness to the deeds they had committed. The reality is that Ninjas are very very attractive. The volume of athletic training they do and at night has given their skin a translucent quality so beautiful that women and men have died of broken hearts at the mere sight of a ninja’s eyebrow. McBuff had bought a pack of four ninjas from a pirate in shanghai and he was intent on deploying them to control any zombies who got out of hand. He had also sent his ninjas to retrieve the multi-pont thing from Wallace’s bag but even with all their millennia old techniques in stealth, the ninjas had been outwitted and the equipment lost somewhere in space and time.
Tonight he would send his ninjas to hunt down and retrieve Grandma, who was obviously key to maintaining his hold on the entire world. If she could control his brother’s network, then there was nothing left to fear. The world government would fall safely into his hands and he would rewrite history making use of the Order of the World and the crown he had already captured from Queen Perpel.

“Ninjas! Go and capture Grandma from Wallace and Separg Ruos. I don’t care what happens to the others, but I want that old woman and I want her now”.

If Grandma had heard this order, she no doubt would’ve said “I;ve still got it, baby”. Because she didn’t hear it, the ninjas didn’t get any little joke to send them on their way. They stepped into a translator dock that had already pinpointed the exactly approximate location of Wallace, yet again.
When they hit go. Nothing happened. They tried again. Still nothing.
One of them did an unnecessary triple forward flip over to the control panel in hotel 331 and tried entering the translation manually. Again nothing. He pushed some more buttons and slid some more screens into view and then turned a few more dials in perfect fluid synchronicity. The ninjas looked perplexed. Although you wouldn’t of known it because their faces were covered still. The one at the panel made quick hand signals to the ones in the translation dock. The goup then formed a very exciting looking pyramid structure that enabled the last ninja to reach the 24ft ceiling. He twizzled the globe on the roof and gave the thumbs up. In a sweeping dance of tumbling motion, the ninjas repositioned themselves on the platform and again hit the go button. Nothing.

“Aah screw this mates” the panel ninja said “let’s go down to the pub hey?” they all agreed and walked off towards one of the twenty onboard space pubs.

“DAMN!” screeched McBuff. “They told me not to buy my ninjas from a pirate. All they want to do is drink and bed wenches. I’ve lost 100 good wenches to date and at the rate of zombie infection there will be absolutely no women left to populate the earth with. This plan is getting out of control and it is all my brother’s fault. Why isn’t the friggin translation dock working?? That’s it, I’m going to have to shuttle down to earth myself and sort this shit out. Better go pick up my ninjas from the pub first.”

On level 23 where the dock was housed a blind cleaner was just finishing his floor polishing. Back and forth, back and forth all day every day to keep the super villains lair in tip top shape. When he was completely satisfied he unplugged his electric polishers cable and plugged the panel cable back into the wall socket. If the ninjas had been a little less stealthly in their attempts to transport down to earth, he might’ve been able to explain that he always unplugs the translation dock when he is cleaning. It is simply not safe to mix water and cleaning products with time translations.
The disaster recovery unit was all white. It had been designed that way to look and operate like a hospital. Staff were dressed from head to toe in sterilised white anti-bacterial, anti-static, anti-humour suits. Desks and chairs were highly polished white Perspex and everyone that worked in disaster recovery had super white teeth.
Landing smack in the middle of this highly sensitive and frankly a little bit weird environment, left the time travellers just a bit freaked. Had they just arrived in heaven’s sorting ground? Spearg recovered first and ordered them all to their feet. Without a second’s notice a white shiny tube pounced from the ceiling and trapped them once again, this time in a sterilising bubble where they were cleaned wtih atomised oxygen and sprayed with the latest fragrance by someone called Pierre. After the tube recoiled back into the ceiling, a very thin and very librarian looking woman in a white skirt suit with white glasses came clickety clicking into the room.
“Sir, you’ve arrived safely. The gojiberry system is online and tracking the zombie outbreak. She has discovered it’s pont of origin is..”

“Nepal!” blurted Sarah uncharacteristically. “We were there, we were on our way to meet your plane and got caught when the outbreak started. Grandma killed at least three zombies herself adn there was a huge banner that was ..”
She stopped when she noticed the librarian with one of those withering stares stuck deliberately to her face.
“a badly translated sign hung for Queen Perpel’s arrival in Nepal. It was kindly donated by McBuff Corporation and due to several faultylinks collapsed on the crowd, severing hundreds of people from the human race’s general time span and putting them in zombie mode”.
Separg nodded several times over this information, and then started walking towards one of the brilliantly white wall. The librarian clickety clicked behind him followed by Wallace holding hands with Sarah who was half supporting, half dragging the semi conscious Grandma along. Sparg pressed several invisibly white buttons on the wall and again a super transparent screen appeared from the ceiling.

 The united government has declared the world a disaster zone. No relief efforts can be sent anywhere as everyone has been translated into a zombie. Estimated uninfected population 500. 20 of whom are in this room.

“Lady Gojiberry, what option scenarios can you play out for us”

 Option 1. Surrender to McBuff who is currently uninfected with a group of ninjas, programmers and social media consultants in his space hotel. He will most likely steal any knowledge you have of my operating parameters and then kill you all.
 Option 2. Translate into the future 60 years, using the languages stored in our future friends and bet that this all pans out nicely for the human race. Given that Grandma Me and my granddaughter here are both kinds of robots, I am guessing the future of humanity is not very bright.
 Option 3. Stay here and work through the complex algorithms required to reabsorb the zombies back into the human race without a complete reboot of planet earth.

“I really like option 1, the space hotel is awesome, let’s do that one, yeah um if we’re going to DIE anyway let’s have one more trip to space first” Wallace piped up.
“I’d be happy with option 2. At least I’d be back home. I could show you some really cool things Wallace”. Sarah grinned and squeezed his hand, certain this was going to be alright.
“I believe that option 3 is our only real choice” stated Separg. “ so let’s get to work”.

“What?! Work on what exactly, Dad? All of your top programmers were back in business headquarters and are now probably dead. Who have we got here, a dozen people maybe all with teeth far too shiny white to dare calling themselves software engineers, oh and you’ve got me and a couple of future chicks. Really in the scheme of things wer’e screwed. Why don’t we just order some pizza and wait for the delivery boy to arrive and chew our arms off? Makes *much* more sense to me. Really I’m starting to sound like Sarah’s grandma – but aaarrrghhhh I am just so sick of all of this!!!!! “

“It’s ok darling..” I said gently “let’s just go back to my future. I’m sure the Gojiberry system can translate us there. “ Wallace turned from me and I couldn’t see his face, was he cranky with me? I couldn’t tell. Across the room people were running between their too clean desks and looking panicked. Librarian took a call on her white phone from someone 20 metres from us. Her haughty expression crumbled like cheap makeup.
“he’s here”
“That’s right lovey. I am here. Me. I. The McBuff! And you’ll ahve to admit brother that while our plans were both brilliant. Mine was better”.

If zebras were able to stand perfectly still, then so was time. And at this point in time, the world trotted and then walked and then eventually slowed and stood very very still. Zombies mid bite, wondered not very much because they were the undead. Leaves sprouting in the glossy glow of spring were halted mid thrust. Women unfortunately about to give birth, just had to wait because Grandma had decided to slow down everything until she had time to catch up.

When Sarah had rebooted her Grandmother several long running processes had come to an end. On restart, it was like she was a new machine and her craving for news and food had disappeared completely. Her buffer was cleane, there was no longer any need for long winded ranting to clear memory space. She was effectively a new system. With a much clearer head she was able to analyse the information she’d received both prior to reboot and duringthe reboot process. She now understood that the Lady Gojiberry System was her. That she had evolved from it and even in this present time, she had access to everything it had access to, plus all of the knowledge and enhancements she had developed in the last sixty years. For the first time in a long time she felt sickeningly all powerful and she wanted things to slow down until she was ready to file everything. Her wish was actually an execution on the entire global network she had created and the world slowed down.

Like the early drag and drop interfaces, her world became a mix of reality and augmented reality. In one corner Mc Buff stood all 4ft something of him backed by a pack of four ninjas. He was tlaking in slowmo and looked ridiculous. In the other corner of the room, Wallace and Sarah huddled together and Separg stood proudly sheltering his attendant library assistant lady. Grandma studied Sarah and Wallace at great length. They were just so beautiful to look at. She had always loved Wallace and over time had created the perfect partner for him. And it had taken a lot of time. How on earth could a human ever fall in love with a computer? It just was never going to work out between them and so she had spent years perfecting her ideas of soul translation. Translate the context of a soul and you can place that soul in any environment. Divine, complex, sure but she was no ordinary super computer she was the lady gojiberry.

Eventually she would need to start everything up again. But how did she want the world to move on from here and she still could not find a Lent Voss robot on her files. How could someone like that navigate her vast defense systems, to knock on her door sometime in the future? She closed her eyes and continued to scan for more information. She felt the need to investigate her mother a little further. Janie.

 

Chapter 14 – Janie Crowbear

 

No child born to parents was more loved than Wallace. Well possibly Jesus and probably all those children born to parents who believed they couldn’t have children. Still, Wallace like most other children was born into love so strong it could have lifted two Optimus Prime’s and two Megatrons on its shoulders without any struggle. For the first year of his life, Wallace was their sole focus. By his third year, Janie was daydreaming of doing something useful with her life. Actually she had always dreamt of doing something useful with all life even when burger flipping had occupied most of her day. Her law studies didn’t evolve into anything, because she met Jim and they got married. He had enough money to keep them in a mode of living that most would envy. So her wondering about what she should do with her life persisted.

Their travels in the years had taken them many places but she had fallen in love with Nepal and got quite a kick out of the tiny bright red gojiberries that grew there. But it was when she visited China and saw the vast plantations of the berries being grown for western health food shops and marketered as “Himalyan Super Fruit” that she really got cranky. How dare they? They dont’ deserve any of this. What if she could build some kind of teleporting device that could move all of this fruit to somewhere that actually needed it, like Africa? What did those fat Americans need with this delicious fruit anyway? They were an obese nation and she was disgusted by the volume of money they spent on health foods every year. She wanted to take the berries away from them, teach them if you wanted something you needed to work for it. In short, she became a little unhinged.

On a solo trip into China she was so preoccupied thinking about the arrogance of the West and how they steal natural resources from all over the world that she forgot momentarily how to walk without falling over, consequently she tripped and fell over at the feet of a young Chinese boy. Typical of the youth of Shanghai, he worked on the streets directing tourists to shonky designer copy merchants and nightclubs. Hi name was Ping and “I can help find what you look for, lady. Follow”. He took her to a cafe which was jsut an overly nice word for a sleezy porno dive pub, stuffed with grotty looking men and declothed women chained to poles.
“Aaah you just ignore them miss. I find you the man you talk to”, Ping held her hand and pulled her to a table and chairs at the back of the bar. The scratched melamine table was covered in cigarette burns. Her hands stuck to the rough plastic chair when she tried to move it back a little rom the table. Ping had disappeared and she would’ve been concered about where she was but he was back before her mind had wandered to a point of alarm.

“This is Capn. He know everyone in shanghai. He can get whatever you want” and with that Ping stood expectedly. Janie handed him some RMB and Ping nodded running off into the street again.

“Um..Hhhhh Hello Captain. I’m lllll looking for sssss someone who can hhhhhelp me firstly buy and then transport all of China’s gojiberries to Africa. I want to cut off supply of gojiberries to America and the west and I want to rule Asia”.

The Capn grunted.

Janie took that to mean he understood and as they sat in this dark little hole in Shanghai’s belly button, they hatched a clever plan. Perhaps it was the years of listening to her husband drone on about secret villianous master plans, but Janie had foudn a new talent in her ability to negotiate with pirates.
She started making regular trips into Asia, collecting supplies, organising staff and eventually making a bit of a name for herself amongst the riffraff that ran Shanghai. So it was no suprise that when McBuff led by Ping was directed into the same seedy dive, she heard what he was after within a few minutes. She knew the brothers had shared a joint interest in her during university days and she also knew that McBuff was a complete jerk, but she needed to be a part of what he was building if her grand plan was ever going to work. So under the cover of a chance meeting, at the Shanghai copy markets, she bumped into him and they went to find someplace that sold cold drinks.
Even though the temperature in China is seething in the summer months, the Chinese believe that drinking incredibly cold beverages damages the soul. So findng a street seller stocking anything more than luke warm water was next to impossible and they dare not be seen together at any of the big western hotels and Janie could not take him back to the same dive they had both visited. They decided to go and visit the YuYuan garden in central Shanghai. Packed with tourists, they could blend into the crowd and hopefully be able to get a cold drink too.

The shops bordering the garden sold everything from red paper lanterns to kaleidascopes to nike ripoffs and tshirts bearing the fifteenth incarnation of the Dr Who franchise. But the best shop amongst all of these had to be the soup dumpling kiosk that pumped out a dozen soup dumplings for 2 RMB. The queue from the kiosk wound through the entire garden and out onto the street and was open from 8am til 10pm every day. The queue never got any shorter and it was into this queue that Janie and McBuff hopped knowing full well that they would not really be noticed.

McBuff had grown up quite a lot since university days and Janie was happy to note that he didn’t try and grope her during the course of their conversation. He was leading an exciting life propelled along by the media and his huge base of supporters . He was beginning a project that would launch a hotel into space. Space tourism had really taken off and now instead of encroaching upon the international space station, private enterprise ie McBuff was going to head up the out of this world experience. The whole plan captured her imagination as did his total enthusiasm. Sure he was short, arrogant and had appalling hair.. but his passion for space and the grand adventure was intoxicating.

They made it to the front of the queue and it felt like McBuff had only taken a single breath in that time as he moved her through his magnificient plans. They chose cokes which was tpically a western thing to do but at least the cokes were cold and they also ordered a tray of dumplings each. Peeking through the tiny window they watched as women and men rolled, filled and crimped the special treats and popped them into huge bamboo steamers. How they could move their fingers so quickly and work in such heat was a marvel to behold in its own right. When the carboard trays containing the dumplings came sliding through the window, McBuff and Janie took the greatest pleasure in drowing them in vinegar and soy. Now they were truly ready for a feast.

Their seats were rough benches fortunately in one of the cooler areas of the gardens and while they sucked the sweet clear soup from the delicious dumplings, McBuff explained that his idea of space tourism would be like no other. In fact, instead of having to worry about all the dangers of transporting people vai shuttle to his hotel and the months of intensive training they needed, he woudl simply teleport them aboard. The idea was insane, yet also wonderful and based in the emerging technology of time translations. With the data astronauts had been collecting over the years, McBuff’s scientists and deduced a way to translate the particular time/space rhythm needed to exist at a particular point in space. The trick was to create that point and keep it stable so that the time translations could be consistent. When Janie looked confused, he simply laughed and said it had a lot to do with Zebras. She laughed too and within the space of a few hours, she felt herself getting closer to trusting him with her own plans.

Luckily life intervened and Wallace was due to join her in Shanghai the following day. It was the perfect excuse to invite McBuff to her hotel, to meet his nephew who was only a year old. Their nanny a young man who was probably called Pierre, was bringing Wallace to Janie as Jim was due to go on a business trip to Switzerland and wanted Wallace to be with his mother. That was the problem with the whole relationship in Janie’s mind. Jim clearly believed his work to be more important that anything she might be doing in Shanghai. While she loved her fmaily, she wanted to be something in her own right. A careless sentence to this effect caught like magical bells in McBuff’s ears. He would use this tiny green fracture to break his brother once and for all and he knew exactly how he would do it.

The next day, McBuff showed up at Janie’s hotel carrying a massive gift for his young nephew.
“Look at his hair! It’s red like mine!” McBUff cried and stomped his feet with joy “Oh I can see now he is going to be a genius. Who knew my brother could produce such a wonderful child! He must spend every waking minute playing with little Wally and teaching him everything he knows. I certainly would, what a proud mother you must be”.

“I am a ppp proud mother but certianly not of the amount of time Jim spends with Wallace. He is always off on some trip or another. I know I ssshhh shouldn’t be cross, but if you can see how precious Wallace is, why can’t he? Why wouldn’t a ffffffather want to spend more time with his sssson?”

“Oh don’t worry about that now, I’ve brought my nephew a present, would you like to open it for him?”

Janie stepped back and examined the package it was far too big to be a bike and Wallace was too young for that kind of thing anyway. She carefully slid her fingers beneath the red paperand lifted it ever so gently so as not to break it. The wrapping fell away quickly and revealed two huge boxes side by side. The boxes were easily the size of Wallace perhaps his height again. They were hand made and both had small doors. On the outside and inside of each box was a green button.

“ Watch this.. “ McBuff grinned and taking an appled from a nearby bowl he placed it in the first box and pressed the green button. A black and white swirl appeared in the first box and then disappeared only to reappear in the second box, revealing the apple had moved from one box to the next.
“What.. that’s.im..ppppossible” stuttered Janie. McBuff grinned even wider and without anotehr word managed to squeeze his solid 4ft something frame into the first box.
“Go on Janie, hit the green button” he urged. She hesitated for a moment and then watched as her brother inlaw transported into the second box, just as the apple before him had done. He hopped out, in one piece with a grin that could out grin that world renowned Cheshire Cat.

Many meetings later, over softshell crab with chilli bisque, Janie asked whether McBuff was able to build a system large enough to automatically translate a field of gojiberries in China into a field of gojiberries in Africa. It was an odd request, but she offered that if it was indeed possible, then she would spend every waking minute helping him to achieve it. By confirming that he did indeed believe it was possible, McBuff also assured himself the chance to spend every waking minute with the woman he had lusted after in university and in doing so prevent his brother from spending any time with his own wife. Everything was going perfectly well and the smile on McBuff’s wicked little features was genuine and unstoppable.

Jim had no reason to suspect anything untoward was happening in Shanghai. Janie had told him that she had met McBuff there and they were going to join forces on something. What did she say? Some project about transporting berries from Nepal or was it China? It didn’t sound serious and he knew McBuff inspite of his tantrums and stature was actually a good ranga at heart and was probably just feeling a bit sorry for Janie. Besides all of that Jim was in the process of globalisation of his Crowbear Enterprises. His legal consultancy had turned into a powerful research facility and the vast computer system he was building would be his vehicle to world domination. Sure, he had heard of his brother’s space plans. In fact he had heard about these same plans when they were children. There was no doubt that Jim would succeed in owning the planet before his brother. Particularly if McBuff was busy playing heal-the-world-hippy-charity-case with Janie. In a very real way, Jim was grateful that Janie was keeping his brother occupied on such trivial things. At least he could get on with his real work and in the end he Janie and Wallace would live happily ever after of owners of planet earth.

The young Wallace was pretty much oblivious to all of this, a sickly child by all accounts, starved of attention by over zealous parents. He had no idea at the brainless age of 1 that he was born into a household of super villians, all so intent on world domination that they had forgotten him as soon as he passed the cute stage and became a bore. Someone probably called Pierre or Andre was looking after him, and he was ferried backwards and forwards between his parents. Eventually Janie sent him back to Jim with a note attached to his jumpsuit.

“Going to stay here sort out the Gojiberries once and for all. Please entertain Wallace permanently as I don’t know when I will be coming back. Love, Janie”.

Well this note came as quite a suprise and was scanned and filed in the office records so that Jim could open it up every few minutes and stare at it with growing frustration. What did she mean “entertain Wallace”? How could she not know when she would be back. This wasn’t divorce this was a letter of indifference and in Jim’s stoic way, he thought he really would have to go over to Nepal and sort this whole thing out as the woman was, what was that phrase again? Unhinged!
His personal jet would zoom him over there in no time at all, unlike McBuff’s personal jet his did not come with semi naked flight attendents and did not sport racing stripe carpets and a bright red fusealage. The crowbear insignia was engraved tastefully onto the side of the plane and his onboard staff were professionally attired. The insignia pictured the sun, with a bear in profile following a crow. It was meant to show leadership and brute strength the founding ethos of his company.

During the flight Jim considered how best to persuade Janie to come back and be the dutiful house wife and support he needed. He believed that the crux of the issue lay with her whole charity project to feed Africa. If he could tempt her with a similar endeavour back in Australia he might have a chance. He would find some board of some foundation that she could join. That would do it, he certainly wasn’t about to raise the young Wallace on his own. He needed Janie, he loved her more than anything. He even knew how must peanut butter she put on her toast. That was love, not how many roses he sent her or how many gunjiberries he transported. In all of this deep thinking, it didn’t occur to Jim that Janie simply did not love him anymore.

He took his time going to the hotel, carefully planning how their conversation would go. He would say one thing and then he could predict her response and his counter response. It all went very well in his head, they would be back on the plane, heading home to Wallace by that afternoon. Oh there never was a man as organised as him. As if he would end up with sour grapes over his brother. Ha! The air conditioned comfort ride to the hotel was marked by the dull sound of horns from outside his limousine and a message on his phone from his brother. He’d return that call later, when he and Janie were back home.

Even the best minds in the world and the best computer in the world could’ve told Jim that his wife wouldn’t be at the hotel when he got there. They might’ve even predicted she hadn’t been there for weeks, but the Gojiberry System was not built and Jim arrogantly believed he was one of the best minds in the world, so her absence came as a complete shock. Perhaps this was going to take longer than he had calculated.

For her part, Janie had played both men very well. She had them thinking she was a bimbo and was interested only in gojiberries but what she really wanted was something else entirely.

Hmm, something not here. Not here in the files where it should be. Typical bad data management in my opinion. There must be more information, where could I find it? Who would have it? Must find out where Lent Voss came from and where the multi-point-positioning device comes in. What was McBuff doing in Shanghai in the first place. Accessing the personal blog of Separg.

“It all went to hell. I caught up with them in China where they had been living in a laboratory for the last month. It could’ve been a lavatory yes! The whole place stunk of the lies the two of them had told. I should’ve known and the guilt on their faces! They hadn’t just been working on some food donation scheme, they had been working on McBuff’s space hotel scheme! Worse, Janie had been helping him. Day and Night!
I was angry, so angry I couldn’t think straight. I said some terrible things to both of them and I dragged Janie out of there. She came with me and tried to tell me it was all a mistake that she had been trying to help me but isn’t that what all women say? I don’t know what to do now. I need time to calm down.”

“I’ve thrown myself into my work and it hasn’t suffered. The computer I’ve built will be far superior to anything on the planet. Her tentacles will spread out and gather more and more information for me. Janie is back with Wallace now where she belongs and I haven’t been able to trace McBuff. I can not look at her without thinking of him. I have taken to logging into work as Separg Ruos because that is exactly who I am now… the Grapes Sour that McBuff always promised I would be. She has broken my heart and I don’t think I can recover. Even looking at Wallace makes me sick. His hair is so bright red, just like McBuff’s. Maybe this has been a scam all along. She told me that she was trying to help me. Her story is too farcical to believe. Perhaps I should test it out, but that would mean admitting to everyone and myself that she had operated in my best interests. What a joke. A month or more in Shanghai without telling me? I need to rebuild our relationship but right now I need to build my computer, build my networks, complete my plan for total world domination… and when McBUff sends his humble request to reenter earth’s atmosphere, I will be ready with a great big global seal of fuck off.”

Reading clipping from diary.
“Janie Macdonald Crowbear, wife of multibillionaire Jim Walter Crowbear has fallen to her death while walking on the cliffs near their home in Mosman, Sydney. Police report Mrs Crowbear’s death as an accident. She leaves behind her loving husband and her three year old son, Wallace James Crowbear.”

“She’s gone. I never thought that when she left our house it would be for the last time. Of course I didn’t trust her. Of course I had her followed. What does anyone expect from me? Janie was privy to the most minute details of my plans and after her infidelity in asia, I had no choice but to have her watched. And I was right to do so that day. She met with McBuff, somewhere in the bush that runs between Mosman and Manly on Sydneys northern beaches. I don’t know what happened next as my detective could not follow her and my satellites were strangely out of area. But I’ve told the police everything I know. McBuff can’t be found. When I find him, brother or not, I will kill him. But before I do, I will find out why he killed my Janie.”
Last entry.
“The Gojiberry system is coming along nicely. I’ve started giving her more and more care of Wallace. He will teach her so much as he learns himself. In time they will grow old together but she will never die. My wish is to hold the keys for the entire knowledge base of the planet. I will gather all of the very best in the world to help me make her stronger and smarter. McBuff will wait. I have opened my new office in central Sydney and as CEO have hired everyone under the new name: Separg Ruos it sounds european so I’m getting a lot of unwarranted respect. My goal is that within the next 30 years to completely own the world’s systems. I have nothing more to say. My heart is empty now and I will fill it with gojiberries in memory of my wife.”

Interesting. Separg believes that McBuff killed his wife. McBuff has succeeded in populating the world with zombie by using advance time translation techniques he engineered with Janie Crowbear’s help. McBuff is an imbecile, therefore the natural conclusion to this is that Janie, is still alive.

And with that.. Grandma began to turn the planet at normal speed.

 

Chapter 15 – A Pocket More Full of Ninjas

 

“That’s right lovey. I am here. Me. I. The McBuff! And you’ll ahve to admit brother that while our plans were both brilliant. Mine was better”. McBuff announced loudly to everyone present. His ninjas meanwhile fanned out and quietly killed everyone except the tiny group of mismatched nobodies in front of McBuff.

Silence then reigned oh apart from the heavy stompage mad by McBuff ashe made his way across the room. He appeared to bowl an invisible ball towards them and they wondered if they were expected to topple over at his approach. Instead he invisible ball turned into a spinning spirally holographic image of his hotel hovering 10,000 km above the earth’s surface.

“Ladies, gentlemen, as you can see, my hotel is just a quick two second teleport away. I invite you cordially to come with me where we can continue this riveting adventure in the vacuum of space. Alternatively you are welcome to stay here and take your luck with my ninjas or wait for the certain time displacement of becoming a zombie. Really, what a choice I give you.. life or death.. kind of like the movies isn’t it? Did you think it would come to this brother? Did you think I would hold your very life in the palm of my hand?” With that he appeared to do a reverse bowl and the image siralled up and around and down into an invisible ball that rolled back into his hands.

Separg looked deep into the crazy eyes of his brother and could not make out the child of his youth. Going with McBuff or staying here both equalled the same thing. However if they all went along, he may still have a chance to kill McBuff before they all died.

 Sir, I would advise following Mr McBuff to the Hotel 311. I have analysed it’s environment and you will find adeqaute oxygen and reasonable protextion from the zombie infection aboard the craft.
 Having said that, the craft is beyond the reach of my network influence and I wouldno longer be able to advise you once you teletranslate onboard.
 I will miss you, Sir.

“I will miss you too, Lady Gojiberry. Continue your work. Become smarter, become stronger. Gather the news and translate into your system accordingly. Look after the planet”. Separg sighed and striding forward he walked past his brother to the door.

“Where do you think you’re going, idiot?” McBuff called “if you want to come on the spaceship we all have to hold hands”

Wallace began to choke.. on um… air.

I slapped him hard on the back several times trying to dislodge the air but it somehow was stuck in his lungs and windpipe and his choking continued for a good 10 seconds. When it finally subsidied it occured to me that he tended to choke whenever he meant to laugh. Actually he had rarely laughed the entire time I had known him.

“Thanks Sarah,” Wallace managed “I was just thinking…”
“Enough!” stomped McBuff “ everyone come here and hold hands. Now!” he yelled.

Obediently, Separg, the librarian, Wallace, Sarah and Grandma formed a circle and held hands. Wallace and the librarian were the lucky ones to hold the thickset fingers of McBuff and Wallace was pretty tempted to start singing KumbaiYa but before he could the centre of the ring started to cycle through black and white stripes phasing the white world of the disaster recovery unit out.

“Well that’s great!” muttered the ninja leader who in the deep drama of the moment had been forgotten, “how are we supposed to get back then?”

“How bout we go to the pub then?” suggested another.

“Good idea mate” said the first “you fellas up to a bit of a pub crawl tonight? We can go stealth or go natural and face the consequences. With all of these zombies roaming the planet, it really doesn’t matter how many hearts we break tonight does it?”

The pack of ninjas looked around at each other, shrugged and removed their masks. What they unveiled was quite suprising, at least to the two DR workers still hiding beneath their office desks.

“Wow Jean, your skin is just gorgeous, have you been using that new hypa-accelerating-moisturiser on it?”

“Actually no, Frank, Simone-Pierre-Riviera leant me his Nebraskan Mountain Beads and they really helped rub the hoodink out of my skin. Thanks Simone.”

‘No problem Jean”, said Simone, easily the tallest studliest of the ninjas, “you should try some Frank, accelerating moisturisers really are quite dated. Not that I’d want to pick a fight with you over that point”

“Of course not. And have you dolls seen what Jacob has done with his face lately?” All three ninjas turned gracefully and silenty to the fourth ninja in the pack. As he removed his mask and hood, they all gasped with pure unpolluted delight.

“Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh Jacob!”

“What do you think? Honestly, please tell me, don’t hold back my ninja brethren.. do you think I can carry this off of not?” The fourth ninja was sporting the tiniest fairest fairy flicker of a moustache along his top lip. It dipped at the corners of his mouth and then spiralled up in a parody of the classic handlebar moustache. This facial fuzz was all light and blonde and almost non-existent but to his ninja buddies, it was something so fresh and inspiring that they all broke forth in a chatter of opinions.

“Darling, it’s gorgeous”
“Like golden kisses and feathers on a smooth babies bottom”
“Oh you must keep it. Oh do Oh do”.
“How did you grow that without me noticing?”
“Maybe you shouldn’t insist on us wearing the hoods all of the time, Frank!”
“Oh you two be quiet, this isnt’t he time. So anyone up for a cocktail? I know this great place not far from here. We will probably have to kill some zombies on the way, but no doubt our drinks will be free again tonight. Shall we vamoose?”

To the two remaining staff of the disaster recovery unit, the conversation was so bizarre that they had to use every muscle in their bodies to contain their laughter or risk being caught by the ninjas. Still, the ninjas didn’t seem so tough now without their black hoods and face masks on. In fact, now these ninjas seemed downright silly where on earth did they come from? The four ninjas moved in quite a camp trot out through the DR security doors, and apart from the black jumpsuits you could’ve easily mistaken them for surry hills hairdressers. Actually that’s exactly what these ninjas looked like, even in the black jumpsuits. So at least, if they survived this the office worker would be able to tell everyone that ninjas were not actually ethereal beauties beneath their masks, just gay guys who thought they were.

As soon as the outer door was opened a gore of zombies poured into the building and started yabbering and biting and generally destroying things. Some of them clutched at their hearts and fell to the floor immediately on seeing the Ninjas, but as they were already undead, they were soon back on their feet and attacking the office recycling stations. As for the ninjas, they cut off a few heads and continued walking towards the nightclub they’d be talking about earlier. Their relexes were so good, they didn’t even break stride to do away with a bunch of surfer-dude zombies who had just walked in. The same was not said for the office workers, whose fear emanated like Chanel No.65 from their skin and drove the zombies crazy. Actually nothing was said about those two workers at all because they were chomped on and turned into zombies too. It was your regular messy day at disaster recovery. Come to think of it, the name of the stronghold was kind of a minomer now.

The problem with buying ninja’s in shanghai is that they are never going to be the real deal. China is the copy centre of the entire planet. If it exists anywhere in he world, a copy of it can be found in China. So when McBuff first appeared within Janie’s city, asking for Ninjas, it was really not that difficult for her to substitue the real deal with copies. Yes they could fight, yes they would be loyal for money and play their parts, but they were not from Japan and did not know even half the bewildering techniques that true Japanese ninjas could deploy. So as they traipsed through Sydney despatching zombies, they were oblivious to another pack of ninjas following them quietly from the dark skyline. Balanced delicately like black butterflies on the gutters of some very old buildings, these ninjas were the real deal and had been given a very specific job to do.

In the pub over Tuesday Night Decadent Jungle Juice the fake ninjas toasted their success and killed more zombies.

“What do you think is IN this divine drink boys?” asked Simone.
“Oh I know I know”
“No you don’t you big girl’s blouse” giggled Frank.
“Sure I do, it is tequila, limes, crushed ice and sparkling apple juice. I used to make jungle juice all of the time”
“So where does the decadence come in then girlfrie…” frank couldn’t finish his reply as a real ninja had just kicked his head in.

Within seconds the fake ninjas had their hoods and masks back on and were full on into fighting their unseen enemy. Glasses smashed. More Zombies died and got back up again. Bar stools flew through the air. Jacob squealed. A chicken was tossed and so were several zombies. The ninjas both let loose with some black ink and retreated to one end of the bar. Suddenly, they were all together and no-one knew who was who.

“Um fellas, how bout we just stop this and find out what is going on” ventured Simone. All seven other ninjas nodded and lowered their various weapons. At which point a goat wandered into the night club and bleeted. It was quickly devoured by zombies which gave the ninja lads enough time to talk.

“Who are you, guys?” asked Simone.
“We are the real ninjas. You are the copy ninjas. All copy ninjas must die”.
“hey buddy look around, if we all stop fighting we will all die.”
The so called “real” ninjas looked around and agreed that the goat decoy was depleted severely and that soon they would be fighting again for their lives.
“Perhaps we should talk on top of the three sisters?” one of the real ninjas offered.

“Sorry to disappoint you darling, but we are not into that kind of weird shit” Jacob retorted, flicking his fairy moustache in their general direction.
“No. You. Misunderstood. The 3 sisters. Very high lookout west of here n the remote blue mountains. Nobody is there. No zombies. We should meet and plan the next moves. There is much to talk about.”

The eight ninjas took to the skies in fantastical leaps. They covered the 200km to Sydney’s blue mountains in bare minutes and by morning were standing on top of the pillars of rock known as “the three sisters”. Once this had been a great tourist destination and the real ninjas knew of it through their many Australian travel brochures but when a cable car fell here ten years earlier killing all onboard, well the tourist side of the business dried up.

The lookout was eerily quiet. In the early morning the clound line hovered below where they stood and the sky was still grey. No animals or birds made any noise probably because the zombies were not fussy about what kind of flesh they deveoured. Four ninjas on each rocky outcrop glared across the open space and a fall of 145 metres into the valley below.
“So you interrupted our drinking session and really messed up Frank’s neck. He is going have to see a chiropracter for the next month to get that sorted out. What do ou fellas want exactly?”

“We were hired to replace you and translate aboard the Hotel 311 circling in the space above us. We need to do that now”.

“Whoa.. steady on ,real, ninjas, you can’t just translate aboard the space hotel. You need a positioning device to give you the precise location of the hotel. It so happens that the hotel is many places at once and impossible to track. Even if you had that device you would need the specific translation codes from McBuff as he usually handles all transport in and out of the station personally. Besides which, we wouldn’t like to just be “replaced”. Just because we are copy cats doesn’t mean we don’t have feelings, because we do.”

“We have the only multi-point-to-point positioning device known to exist which means we can track the hotel and transport to the hotel without McBuff’s permission.” One of the real ninjas held a tiny piece of high tech equipment in his hands. Sure enough it was the device that Separg Crowbear had entrusted to his son weeks ago and had subsequently escaped the clutches of the clutzy ninjas to land in the hands of the real deal ninjas standing on top of the three sisters.

“Ok so that is a little freaky” offered Jean. “how did you manage to steal that from us?”
“You are not real ninjas!” one of the real ninjas shouted.
“You are men who like tights” shouted another.
“You do not know ancient arts of espionage, thieving and bar wench manipulation” shouted a third.

The fake ninjas looked at each and then shrugged in complete agreement. The early morning wind started to pick up around them, and they knew this was going to be a fight to the fall and they would all end up screaming in terrible fear as they fell to their deaths below.

“What about this for a plan… we *help* you board the spaceship and we take 50% share in the profit you make from this little adventure and you let us live” Frank ventured.

The real ninjas looked at each other and their spokesman fired back

“We kill you and keep 100% for ourselves”
“What about we take 30% and do all the hard work for you and we promise that you won’t break a sweat”
“No need to deodorise!” piped in Simone
“We keep 100% for ourselves, You do all of the work, And we might let you lose on earth to take chances with zombies”.

“DEAL” chimed the four fake ninjas.

 

Chapter 16 – The Space Hotel

 

Before we go further, it is important to note that the zombies created by McBuff’s poorly translated mega banner, were a little different to the zombies you might recall from Michael Jackson’s Thriller video clip. For one, these zombies did NOT dance. Secondly while they were technically dead because they operated in a unique time space pattern not shared with anyone in the human race, they were still able to be killed and they were still able to be saved. The sad fact of the story, is that no-one really cared about reviving the zombies by translating them back into humans. McBuff wanted his zombies to destroy the world so he could rebuild it. Ruos Separg didn’t care about them because he knew his super computer would outlast them all. Wallace was too into Sarah and the fact that she wasn’t a zombie to care about the multitude of people he had known who now were zombies. Sarah knew there were no zombies in her future so all she wanted to do was get back there as soon as possible. Grandma, well she knew what eventually would happen to all of the zombies so she decided in her extrememly powerful and to the point of infinity if it had a point of ulitimate wisdom, that she would remain quiet on the matter and not destroy their unfolding story.

By the time the odd group had translated onboard McBuff’s grand hotel spaceship, zombies had claimed most of the earth and were now roaming the streets looking bored and neglected. They moaned a lot and you could probably guess that sounded strangely like a child entering their teenage years who is forced to go on a long road trip with his younger brothers and sisters. The painful whines of dread and despair echoed through the earth’s atmosphere and were duly picked up and realyed into the station. McBuff ran them through a series of panels and switches and the moans were put to the overlay of Thriller and pumped throughout the hotel as a special intro track to his celebration dance party. If only the zombies had known how misunderstood they were or how jackson’d they were being, well I’m sure they would’ve grown wings and flown to that hotel and chomped on everyone there. Fortunately, one of the other interesting things about being caught in a time translation error is that you are unable to evolve because you are unable to learn because you are unable to communicate with any other living thing. Sure you can observe others, but you can’t accurately interpret their actions in order to learn from them. Kind of like being married to most women.

A massive dance party was what they needed to shake things up. McBuff laughed raucously when they materilised in the time translation dock and Thriller was already pumping.
“Come on brother, even you have to admit that I have aced this little game of ours! We are standing in a SPACE HOTEL. We are listening to totally dead zombies that have taken over the planet below us! I win! You said it was all too crazy and the stuff of fantasy not science fiction and yet here we are brother, here we are” McBuff’s gloat bounced off the shiny surfaces and rang in their ears.

Wallace and Sarah were still huddled close to one another, fully expecting their lives to end at any moment. That is until Wallace spied the cleaner.

“That’s him! He’s the blind cleaner I was telling you about Dad – come and meet him, he is fantastic!” Wallace ran across the room towards the freaky cleaner and managed to stun everyone into silence.

“You’re back already?” mumbled the cleaner “shouldn’t you have saved the day by now?”

“Wow! This is amazing, I’m here again and so are you and the floor is still looking amazing. I know you can’t see it, how thoughtless of me but I wanted to introduce to my dad Mr Crowbear and also my girlfrend Sarah. We think Sarah’s some kind of weird futuristic robot but I like her anyway so we’re going to sort out the man to robot equation. Just if you were interested. Oh and this is sarah’s grandma who is also a super computer but not super like Sarah more super like incredibly smart. We think she might be the original Gojiberry system all grown up into a real human looking computer. Oh yeah you can’t see them that’s right.. but can you smell them?” and then whispering Wallace said “sarah’s the one that smells like strawberries, Grandma smells like armpits and my dad has always smelled like brut aftershave”.

The blindcleaner nodded but kept his face ledging toward the floor.

Someone had been tapping their foot the entire time. It wasn’t Grandma, that came as a complete suprise to me as she is usally the one who is ranting, raving and generally grumpy about time wasters. I turned and saw that it was actually Crowbear senior getting his snappy foot happening. That was a bit odd.

“Look, McBuff, you win. Game over. Have you even thought.. actually no probably not because that would be beyond you.. but maybe someone in your entire paid for entourage has done a bit of thinking for you. Have you thought about how you are going to resync the zombies so you actually HAVE a planet to rule? Once the zombies have made everyone into zombies they will most likely perish for want of anything better to do. Then you will have no population to lord-it-over will you?”

McBuff snapped his heels together and sprinted quickly up to his main control desk in the chamber. From here he lowed a massive screen that covered the window portal to earth. He also had soem chairs and water brought in so we could all sit down while he took us through his presentation.

“oh nooooo” moaned wallace in my ear “it is to be death by powerpoint. Please kill me now Sarah”. I couldn’t help it I giggled and then snorted involuntarily. McBuff stomped so loudly the room shook.

“This is NOT funny. If you think it is, I will toss you overboard!” he yelled at me. I hid my smile and nodded apologetically.

“So, brother..and random co-conspiritors of Crowbear Enterprises. You think that I wouldn’t of thinked about the consequentials of what I am doing today? Yes? Right? Well I’m going to walk you through my plan. There are only 49 slides and I think it is the most succinct overview you are likely to get. Besides which one fo my programmers whipped this baby up with just half of his little finger while writing a monster classic piece of code.. so i think we should all give him just a little bit of attention, don’t you?”

Slide 1: The Genesis of Genius
McBuff was born brilliant and using the powers of “The Secret” he attracted other brilliant people to his side. No-one but McBuff could’ve thought up and executed such a terrific plan. We love McBuff.

“Oh heheh the programmerrs must’ve just left that bit in there by mistake. So cool isn’t it? I am LOVED by my people”.

Slide 2: Power is Pivotal
To try and win power through any political mechanism is tiresome. Establish a new world order after complete destruction of the old.

Slide 3: Resources and Retardants
Be decisive on who will work for you and who is working against you and take action.

I wasn’t the only one who had started to yawn. Grandma kept dropping off to sleep on my shoulder and Wallace was fidgeting. McBuff stared at each of us in turn at this point. When he got to Grandma he smiled the most wicked smile I have ever seen.

“You are the super computer right? From the future?” he asked her outright. She nodded but didn’t say anything because she may well have just nodded in her sleep.
“Well then, super computer, why don’t you tell me how this little scenario plays out? Does everyone here listen to my presentation or do they elect to make fun of me or try to escape and I have to kill them all? Heheheh” he probed. Grandma was so beautifully refined after her reboot that even I could not anticipate what she would say. But she said nothing, so it didn’t matter anyway.

“Not up for a chat hey? Maybe a fly then?” and McBuff pointed towards the window once more threatening a quick exit. If he had been smarter than he was charismatic, then McBuff might’ve realised that super computers can survive in low oxygen environments and ultra all powerful computers that have evolve by themselves into humanoids can survive in no oxygen environments or even in a world completely inhabited by Zombies. Of course, he didn’t think about this, only that she held the key to unlocking the real future. The untranslatable future. All she had to do was start to speak and he would be able to forecast a destination point in that future to time translate to. McBuff would not only own earth now, but in the future too – in fact forever more.

“Grandma, don’t say anything.. he’ll translate you!”

Oh you stupid girl, you’ve gone and opened your mouth too. You do know that he can just as easily pick up your nuances and time shifted accents on your verbs and use those to translate into the future. What’s the point? I know exaclty how all of this is going to end and even if I had the screwdriver that is sitting on that bench over there, I really couldn’t change much. I could try but what is the point? I am going to leave you all to your stupid powerpoints and backyard kiddie games of world domination and just see what the hell happens whenever I get around to it. And you know something else..
Grandma had started pacing around the room gesturing like a politician. McBuff was letting her and also had a directional microphone pointing at her face the entire time capturing every last word she said.
… that’s something else, I really don’t care anymore. Separg you ordered me to care for the world when you left me in the DR unit on earth. It was years ago on my worldline and I did my best, but now I am tired of it all. I want to go back to the future, read my news and not be bothered anymore. The problem with breeding a computer system so advanced that she evolves into a life form is that she also evolves her sense of choice.. and this is where I say “Sayonara, losers”.

And with that Grandma lept into a wall panel that led into a shaft that led into an air vent that exited to space.

 

Chapter 17 – Love Is More Than A Scragfight

 

Everyone was back on their feet! Where did she go? How could she move like that? Where’s my damn screwdriver gone? Is that an air vent? Where does it vent to? Out there? Space? Did grandma just jump out the window? Arrgh stomp stomp why won’t anyone listen to me??

SHUUUUUUUUTTTT UPPPPPPPP! McBuff screamed his eyes bulging to vein popping extremes.

Not suprisingly everyone did indeeed shutup except sarah who was sobbing into wallace’s shoulder making his whole appearance that much wetter.

“I have no idea what that crazy woman just did that for, but I have enough data now to translate us all into the future if and when I choose. But my evil plans hadn’t included this opportunity at any stage of development so I will need to think about all of this and also what I’m going to do with the rest of you. Seriously, if you get bored while I’m away feel free to jump through the vent too. It will certainly save me the hassle of having to despatch you all”.
With that, McBuff stomped out of the room and left them to consider his suggestion.

Wallace was busy consoling Sarah but Separg Ruos saw this as a perfect opportunity to chat up the assistant from the disaster recovery unit who had kind of managed to get herself tangled up this bizarre situation.

“I suppose in a way you might think yourself lucky to be tangled up in this bizarre situation given that if you hadn’t come along for the ride you would’ve been a zombie by now” he began.

“Sir, the Gojiberry System is still online. If there was a way we could send our spacial-spatial location back to her, then she would be able to translate us out of here. She may even be able to shut down McBuff’s hotel altogether.”
“Spacial-spatial, that’s pretty clever. So do you have a husband, Ms…”

“Mrs Whittle and you should know a very happy Mrs Whittle. I am hoping my husband if he has turned into a zombie, can be reconnected with humanity. I am probably the only one on board this ship that actually cares what happens to those down there,” she pointed out the gigantic window at earth so as to be sure he understood her.

“If there is no way to return, then try to think about the positives. After all this is my brother’s space hotel and he might rent me a room for a few hours before killing us. What do you say?”

“Sir, this isn’t the time or the place. Besides which your small talk is terrible, it is really beyond me how you ended up with four wives. That isn’t love, that’s loneliness.” Her white shiny teeth looked like tiny vampaire fangs and every word bit into Separg. He turned away from her then. His powerful silhoutte blocked out most of South America through the window. With a heart no longer filled with the power of the gojiberry system, it felt the rotten tear of losing Janie all over again.

“I have only loved and will only love one woman. Even when she betrayed me, I loved her. Even when I sent a detective to follow her, I loved her. I will never love another woman. Even if we all live through this for another 1000 years there will only be a place in my heart for your mother Wallace. And you remind me so much of her. So awkward, so naive, so misguided. If that is why I have been a distant father then we should signup for a spot on a daytime reality soap show. The truth is, I am single minded and single hearted and when Janie broken my heart it could not heal, so I threw my mind into developing the Gojiberry system. I can never be the father you need but you were born into a love so strong…..”

“…so strong it can break all things?” whispered Sarah with a look of dumbstruck awe on her face.

“Wow, you really do like interrupting people and finishing their sentences for them don’t you biatch!” remarked Mrs Whittle under her breath.

“Did you just call me a bitch? Want to see this bitch fight?” screamed a very distraught Sarah who launched herself at Mrs Whittle in a fit of anger. Sarah pulled at Whittles hair and Whittle fought back kicking Sarah’s shins with her pointy white shoes.
“Ow!” screamed Sarah then bit down hard on Whittles forearm. “You Zombie!” yelled Whittle who then pulled Sarah’s long hair and yanked her head down to the floor. Sarah fought back by biting Whittles ankles and then knocking her off her feet. Soon they were tumbling on the ground ripping and scratching at one another. The boys in the room including the blind cleaner started chanting
“FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT” and soon people from all over the hotel station were running up to the observatory deck above the time translator docking room to watch the girls go at it.

Hair, teeth, nails, elbows and shoes, the girls scrabbled on the floor rolling over and over each other in a manner that was vicious and yet for some strange reason appealing too. Their throes of angst were punctuated by screaming and howls of hurt and the occasional insult so unrepeatable that I can’t repeat them. The boys were cheering as flesh was revealed and then hidden again in what they believed to be one of the most erotic sights known to mankind. But what no-one saw and even Sarah failed to suspect was that this was all staged very delicately, so that Mrs Whittle might search with ninja like stealth every part of Sarah’s body. If Sarah was a robot, then like her grandmother before her, somewhere on her body would be a reset switch. It was Whittle’s very specific job, to find that switch.

Separg and Wallace looked more like father and son now than ever before. They were both half crouching trying to work out when or if they should intervene in the struggle. Even in the clear bright realm of space, Wallace looked pasty but at least at this point, so did his father. Separg’s speech had been badly interrupted by the scrag fight but his own words were doing laps of his mind. And like all thoughts that won’t go away easily, recalling his love of Janie, her betrayal and subsequent death brought a deep etching behind his expression that was not easy to hide. His regret was growing by the minute and his brain piled more should-ofs onto the growing mountain of guilt, his self-preservation kicked in. Standing tall agan, he crossed the floor and dragged Mrs Whittle away from Sarah. Looking down at her, he was amazed that for someone so clinically made up and defined by clothing, she actually was an exceptionally ugly woman when all of that was stripped away. It didn’t help that Sarah had managed to knock out one of Whittle’s teeth and the suit was stained a celebratory red.

“What was al that about then?” Wallace asked me as I lay on the floor panting like a rabid monkey who has drunk too much beer.
“I don’t know, something came over me. Something your dad said.. and it was like inside me a switch was flicked. I’m sorry Wallace I truly am. I am not a violent person but if that bitch comes near me again I’m going to kill her!” I yelled loud enough for that woman to hear. Again it was like a chain reaction was going off inside of me and I could not control what my mouth was saying.
“What was Dad saying again?”
“He said something my grandma used to always say – I mean ALWAYS say and you met her so you know exactly what I mean by that. She used to say “I can never be the grandma you need but know that you were born into a love so strong it can break all things”. And your dad said exactly the same thing just now to you about you!

“aaah…. um…so?”

“Don’t you see?”

“aaah….” Wallace looked genuinely concerned.. “oh no.. this is like one of those ultimate star wars twists isn’t it? We aren’t…are we? We aren’t um like…ah brother and sister are we???”

High above us the crowd that had gathered to watch the fight had overheard every word and at this potential revelation collectively replied
“ewwwwwwwwwwwww, grossssssssssssss”

“Oh shut up all of you!” I yelled, “it isn’t like that at all. Mr Crowbear.. can you explain to Wallace why my grandmother would be stuck repeating ad nauseum something you said to Wallace when he was a child?”

Separg had been carefully listening to everything Sarah and Wallace had been saying after having sent Mrs Whittle to the naughty corner. So he stepped into his role as storyteller with great ease.

“As you already know, after your mother died I spent the majority of your own life working hard to grow the Gojiberry System who I have come to call Lady Gojiberry or LG. I’ve entrusted her with the task to keep growing and keep the earth safe. She will operate on these parameters until the day her systems fail. But she wasn’t just trained by programmers, she was trained by you, her greatest programmer. She learnt that you were born into a love so strong it could break all things. It broke my marriage and it broke my ambitions and it broke my heart.. but that love is still there and I have no idea what it will break next, possibly the entire universe. LG internalised this message as one of her standard variables which means that years from now when she takes the form of Sarah’s grandmother, she will still reuse these variables to achieve maximum efficiency in her routines.

Sarah, do you know what you are now?” he asked me slowly.

“I am not just a sub-routine of my grandmother!” I replied. Wallace squeezed my hand and looked down at me with such great compassion that I almost started crying again.

“Yes you are. But only in technical terms. In the future it is clear the LG becomes more than we had ever hoped for and in fact creates more than we could ever hope for. You are not a robot. You are flesh and blood and can not be reset like your grandma was. I apologise but I did have Mrs Whittle here check you thoroughly during that little spat, and you are indeed everything you appear to be. A complete human and this is a miracle. But unlike humans created by humans you were created by a highly advance robot, a super computer of god-like propportions. You were born with some knowledge of process and you are bound by some variables. You are indeed a marvel to behold and I feel the greatest blessing that I have been able to see you in person, something I never would have dreamed could happen.

I found this embarrassing but at least not confusing. I had never had a sense of self or wondered about my soul. I didn’t find the revelation that I had been created by a kind of super computer to be any stranger than thinking that all mankind had been created by apes. But for Wallace he was struggling with the whole concept and had taken to staring blankly at the blind cleaner who had returned to his mopping.

“Awwww well isn’t this all mushy then!” in stomped McBuff with a grin on his face wide enough to require a second seat on the plane. He stood up on the mezzanie level with the crowd of onlookers who had gathered there. Obviously they were not too concerned about getting back to work. It was party time now that their zombies were busy clearing the planet. So onboard entertainment was kicking off with the scrag fight and now some real life drama, like reality tv but without the ads.

“I’ve been monitoring your whole conversation which has made it particularly hard to think about an appropriate way to deal with all of you but I am a genius so I have decided on what I will do. Firstly I’m going to kill Mrs Whittle because she is married and boring”. With this McBuff took out a gun and shot the too white assistant in the head.

Actually he didn’t. That’s what he wanted to do but he missed and hit the cleaner’s mop instead. The wooden mop splintered into five zillion pieces that shot out in every direction and lodged in anything they hit. This included all five people on the time translation dock level.

“OW” they managed to whine simultaneously. Then the cleaner who had lost his mop completely began to wail “oh my mop, my dear old friend.. what will we do now??” Everyone else was busy rubbing the parts of their body where the splinters had hit and giving McBuff angry looks.

“Brother, you are an imbecile sometimes. Have you planned your next move or not? Killing us is not going to help you if you really do need to repopulate the earth. And Mrs Whittle here is one my top technicians on the Gojiberry System, she could be of use to you. Why don’t you use Sarah’s and Grandma’s voice cycles to translate yourself into the future and see what you actually need there, before destroying potentially invaluable resources here?”

“That is enough!” shouted McBuff to Separg. “You have given me enough good ideas. No more! I will go into the future and then make a decision. As before feel free to talk amongst yourselves or jump out the window”.

With that he walked with great purpose down to their level and went to the time translation panel. He keyed in the callibrations needed and was about to step into the translator when he seemed to change his mind. Quickly he strode over to where the blind cleaner was hunched over the remains of his mop and grabbed the man by his collar dragging him back to the teleporter.

“Stand here” he ordered and quickly pressed the translate button and the cleaner had time to protest. Before their eyes the overalls of the cleaner started alternating black and white and then he disappeared altogether.

“well that’s promising” smiled McBuff “he didn’t explode or come back as a robot or anything. Who’s next?” and with that he marched over and pulled Mrs Whittle into the translator. Suprisingly, the others didn’t try to stop him. She started to weep.
“Oh come on! This is way better than dying isn’t it? I was about to shoot you five minutes ago – and instead you will get to see the future. You should be laughing. Of course both you and the cleaner are on a 10 minute timetrial so you’ll basically fly into the future have about 10 minutes to observe before you are automatically sent back here. All the best” he said and pushed the translate button. She was gone in an instant.

“That’ll do for now. We’ll wait and see what happens when they return. As for you three, I agree with you Separg, Sarah is an interesting development. Not even I would be dumb enough to destroy her, at least not until I find out how the Gojiberry System firstly translated into a humanoid and next have she was able to translate a subroutine into an actual live human personality. It is just phenomenally complex. Do any of you geeks know?” McBuff shouted out to the crowd upstairs.

Their collective shrugging looked oddly like the wave that you see performed at sporting events, except it was all mismatched and uneven. Synchronised shrugging wouldn’t really take off until the robots fully over took the planet. For now their shrugs and weak geeky faces hanging over their depressed shulder from which one-size fits all tshirts with stupid geek slogans slipped, simply annoyed McBuff.

“What do I pay you for? Rhetorical!” he yelled. He had found that he really did need to add rhetorical onto the ends of any rhetorical questions because his geeks simply did not understand that you can ask a question without wanting anyone to know the answer. This went against everything the super smart geekoids had been raised to believe. In fact most of them suffered permanet muscle damage from overstretching a raised arm in kindergarten.

A panel light turned green.
“Incoming” yelled McBuff and started stomping in anticipation. The stripes started and then the cleaner appeared, standing tall and looking around him. With a confidance McBuff ahd never witnessed, the cleaner walked staight to him and looked at him through clear ocean blue eyes,
“McBuff sir, I quit”. And without another word he picked up his bucket and the remains of his shattered mop and walked out the same door that Wallace had left by not days before. Like Wallace he had inadvertently walked into yet another time translation portal and fell to earth in a place completely unexpected.

“Well that’s just great. I am losing prisoners all over the shop. Any of you geeks want to leave too and go live in zombietown huh? Rhetorical fucking question! Nobody else leaves this hotel. It is the fucking Hotel California ok?”

“Brother, you are losing the plot. Given your blind cleaner just came back from the future a much improved man, imagine what you will learn. If you are reluctant, I am happy to go in your place”.
Separg offered. Wallace and Sarah shook their heads and tried to grab hold of the man but he was tall and strong and determined and easily walked with them both attached like rugrats.

“No need, here is your bonk of the month coming back” the green panel light was on again and the stripes of the time translator oscillated until Mrs Whittle appeared. She too cam back looking mor ecomposed and outright organised than ever before. She clickety clicked in strides over to Separg where she pulled him close and kissed him full on the mouth.

“Oooooooooooh” the collective of geeks upstairs oohed with delight.

Then she too exited through the magic door and disappeared.
This was all getting too much for McBuff.

“Didn’t any of you geeks deactivate that portal corridor? Or at least lock the stupid door? NOT a rhetorical question” he burst out at them. Sadly the wraith like geeks were so adept at computing and so inept at communicating, none of them knew how to respond which just infuriated McBuff anymore. Wiping the sweat from the roots of his red spikey hair, he turned his attention back to the remaining three prisoners he had collected.

“Clearly the future holds remedies and empowerment for anyone who travels there.”
“I designed the Gojiberry System to network and grow. If you have an issue she would know about it instantly and fix it. She is constantly monitoring all news feeds and any changes to her network. Clearly when a glitch occurs whether it is someone with bad eyes or an unrequited passion she is able to resolve the issue and keep functioning.”

“My grandma doesn’t do any of those things in the future. This is all crazy!” I finally piped up. What these men were talking about was surreal.

“What does she do then?” Separg asked quietly.

“She sits on her fat arse and knits. At 6pm she watches the news. The rest of the time she is complaining about my mothers hair or bossing me around. Does that sound like a super computer to any of you?? No that’s not a rhetorical question geeks”, did I just say that?

“So she DOES do everything I just said. But she has normalised it, so that she appears to be like every other grandmother – maybe not the grandma you think you should have – but nevertheless one that is common. Think about it. Why is her backside fat? Because she is growing. She needs extra storage all of the time. I don’t know how she has managed to turn megabytes into megabumps but clearly it is a possibility in the future. Next she is knitting, making networks. I will bet my life that thewool she is using has been embedded with social media xml style coding. Whatever you have in the future that allows data to move across networks, that would be makingup the fibres of what she knits with. And the news? Well that is obvious she must take an audit of her daily logs to look for trends and points of difference. It has always been a key feature of her operations, so I can easily see how it would stick around as she develops. What else did you mention? Bossing you around? Well I’m afraid I can’t really explain that other than to see depsite being a human, you are actually a subroutine, a process she has created and therfore she believes that she can change your behaviour by giving you new information. Sadly, LG would not have developed real parenting skills. She would not have known that a child and a grandchild will rebel and choose their own paths in life. She would not really understand these concepts so she would be on a continual loop of error coding or complaining. I am guessing your mother is the first iteration of humanity created by LG and hence why she is so bitter about the hair? Can you see now how what you think is just grumpy old lady syndrome is actually the work of a highly intelligent and refined computer system?”

Wow I didn’t really expect to have it all laid out like that for me. If what Separg was saying, then my life had been one of great priviledge and I had never known it. I had plugged myself into my media centres and soaked up all the entertainment that the robotics corporations of the future could pump out, all the while ignoring the fact that my grandma was clearly the most impressive piece of equipment on the planet. I suddenly felt very very ashamed and began to miss her terribly.

I didn’t get to feel bad for very long because the time translator port suddenly went into unexpected overdrive. One stripe, two stripes. Three, four, five, six, seven, eight simultaneous black adn white stripes started flicking like crazy and before I could blink we had been joined on the deck by eight incredibly dark looking ninjas.

 

Chapter 18 – Toss The Boss

 

Blackness blocked out the view of earth as the eight ninjas spread their dark ink through the air. The smell was something close to smoke but less toxic, but it completely disabled all chance of tracking movements. Nobody screamed because when the smoke cleared everyone except McBuff, Separg, Wallace and Sarah had been rendered completely silent. They lay on the floor in the mezzanine and while they still were breathing it was clear they had been knocked out cold.

The eight ninjas stood side by side along one wall in a menacing silence.

“Ninjas, so glad to see y ou back here safe and sound”, McBuff grumbled “but weren’t there just four of you? Did I buy a pack that doubled in size automatically? Rhet..oh that’s right you’ve incapacitated my geek army. Oh well. So what’s your story then, how did you, um make it back to the space hotel?” he added with just the tiniest trace of nervousness creeping into his voice.

The ninjas said nothing.

“John…” Separg’s voice had dropped a few octaves. McBuff turned. “I am not sure these ninjas are on your side”. The anxiety in McBuff flew into overdrive and he did what most small men do when they are threatened, he ran.

McBuff didn’t even make it to the magic time corridor before he’d been caught by two of the ninjas who had lept across the room gazelle like in lightning speed. They easily picked him up and threw him high into the air, almost level with the observation deck.
“Get up geeks!” McBuff screamed when he was level but his voice trailed off as he hurtled back down towards a four gloved hands. The second pair of ninjas caught him and tossed him again in the air this time he was caught at the opposite end of the room by yet another set of ninjas. The game went on like this for a decent ten minutes until one set of ninjas missed the catch and McBuff hit the ground with a crunch and a thud.

“Oh my god.. I’m soooo sorry Simone. I thought I had him.. he was right there but then his fat little bottom slipped right through my hands”
“Like you wouldn’t love that, you pervert. I don’t think I can play tosss the boss with you ever again”

“Neither of you will be playing toss the boss if you’ve killed the boss – is he still alive?”

“Doe it matter? This bastard left us for dead on the zombie planet. We should really teleport him down there and see how he would survive”

“Umm aah if I can add my opinion…” Wallace ventured “I umm think we might still need him to um aah untranslate the human race.. I mean if you want to like live on earth now.. and in the future”

When the ninjas had been standing on top of the three sisters they had agreed on quite afew things. It meant that they’d needed to sit down and discuss at length so they all evenutally ended up on one of the sisters having a discussion. The japanese ninjas shared some of their less secret techniques and the rip-off copy-market ninjas had shared some of their beauty techniques. After quite a few hours of discussing they had decided on these main points.

Firstly, there was really no point killing everyone on board particularly if the world needed to be repopulated. The Japanese ninjas were being paid to take control of the space hotel – they had not been given strict orders to kill everyone so it was within the terms of their contract to just put them all into a stranglehold and send them off to sleep. This went against their preference for killing, but seemed to please the fake ninjas whoreally weren’t into hurting people, and just like wearing the uniform.

The next thing the ninjas decided was that they should really pay that little stomping red haired boss back for leaving them stranded on the zombie earth. The copy ninjas felt this was a deep betrayal of the trust they had built up over many boozey lunches with their boss and they wanted to pay him back and make him feel as small as they had felt. Frank suggested a game of toss the boss which was particularly funny because it is a game played in pubs but they would be able to play it literally and throw McBuff around the room.

The third thing they decided and this was the crux of negotiations, All COPY NINJAS MUST RETURN TO EARTH. The real ninjas were not to be swayed on tihs point. Their orders did not involve babysitting fake ninjas and certainly they should have killed them, so they would be able to state their job complete if the fake ninjas were sent back to earth ot live with the zombie undead.
The fabulous copy ninjas felt they didn’t really have a choice but boy would they give McBuff a whalloping when they got on board.

With those key points sorted, the 8 of them had used the multippoint positioning device stolen from Wallace to locate the space hotel and translate themselves on board.

Now as they stood tiumphantly about to throw BcBuff out the window it occurred to them that he may be able to make their one way trip back to earth a little more surviveable.

“Did you say, he can transalte the zombies back into humans?” Frank asked Wallace.

“Well um… I ….”

“eerrgghhh” McBuff groaned.

“Do you think he is.. um.. trying to ….”
“eerggghhhyeeeahhhssss” McBuff groaned again.

“Dad do you um.. know what he’s sayng?” Wallace, Separg and Sarah crowded around McBuff and so did the ninjas. They all began trying to guess what he was saying and all of their suggestions were silly but it was hard not to make fun of a criminal mastermind who is trying to mouth words. In the end Sarah very sensibly went and found some paper and a pen and told McBuff to write down what he wanted to say. They all waited anxiously and like some demented form of pictionary continued to guess what his words might be.
After an eternity, Sarah picked up the paper and read
“not so McBuff now am I? Call me John”

“What?” the confusion mounted. “We want to know how to translate the zombies you little shit! Tell us or we throw you out the window you’re so fond of” the fake ninjas demanded.

More scribbbling from McBuff,now quite clearly close to death, his breath was becoming more rapid and shallow. He was never a very deep person to begin with, so when death decided to come it was basically all over. McBuff lay dead on the floor of his magnificent space hotel having perfected teleportation using time translation techniques and having unleashed an all conquering force of zombies on the planet earth. Now in the inevitable silence that accompanies the death of most men, the copy ninjas began to wail.

And wail… they started producing tissue boxes from who knows where and dabbed at their eyes behind they black face masks. McBuff’s death was effecting them more than it was touching his own brother Separg who brooded silently but remained like the Climate, unchanged.
“Oh now we are screwed… truly screwed. The others will send us to earth and we’ll be fighting off zombies fot the rest of our lives! And there will be absolutely no good dermatologists left. How will we survive? Oh please please let us stay with you”

Their whiny begging didn’t seem to penetrate into the awareness of anyone in the room who were still too shocked to talk.

 

Chapter 19 – Starry Starry Night

 

Out through the huge window the billions and trillions of stars stared continuously at everything. Perhaps they glowed or winked or twinkled but never changing and always watching. Did they see the drama unfolding through the window of the tiny space hotel floating so far away from them? Maybe. Maybe they even saw forwards and back in time and knew that one day this space hotel would not be here. Just like one hour or two before an even tinier object had come hurtling around the right side of the moon and parked just below a vent in the space hotel’s floor. Now it wasn’t there. Now it was parked ontop of the space hotel in a loading zone. If the space police ever saw this travesty there would be trouble. But the stars couldn’t do anything about this behaviour. Not that they cared, it was all a bit of reality tv to them and on this particular day they watched easgerly as the tiny space ship unloaded three passengers onto the roof of the hotel.

One of the passengers was old fat and decidely grumpy. It was grandma, she had been picked up right at the exact moment that she had launched herself out of the translator bay and through the outdoor vent. She was a little sore, but the screwdriver she had pocketed had slowed her desent and enabled her to hook onto the vent grill and remain in place until her taxi arrived.
The taxi was in the shape of a giant hamburger. In fact it looked like a giant hamburger too and was covered in sensors fashioned to look like sesame seeds. When grandma saw it she threw up her arms in despair and clambered onboard.

Well deary you could’ve found a much better ride than this one. What is it? A big mac? A roadside special? An italian take away’s take on a burger? Or better yet is it the kind ofhamburger you can only get from a fish and chip shop that has a unique twist of sour fish to the grill. I bet you love those kinds. Of course I know it is a space ship but that doesn’t mean it isn’t completely eatable.. does it? I am very hungry actually, I’ve done of lot of travelling and future tweaking ovr the last week and I am rather sore. So how are you anyway?

Inside the hamburger the walls were pale cream coloured with a hint of pink. Full leather seats fronted up to an ergonomically designed and organically grown control panel. Sitting in one of these seats was simply the most elegant and graceful creature to ever have existed. Her long legs folded like perfect origami over one another and her recently coloured dark glossy hair fell in perfect loopy bands of shine to her elbows. While her face had aged it didn’t seem to show the seven signs of ageing which was a television advertisers worst nightmare. Not that it would’ve bothed her because she was fully composed after 30 years of yoga, silence and masterminding total world domination. Now with more gentleness and fluidity in movement than an angel on dope can muster, Janee Crowbear turned her most beautiful smile on Grandma.

“I am wonderful LG. Now that you are actually here with us. I am simply so happy to see you. When I first thought up this part of my plan I had no idea it would actually come off. But here you are and I am so very glad of that”.

I’ve been reset so I understand a lot more than I did a while ago, for instance I know you picked a Hamburger VS 2000 model craft because of it’s super incredible speeds and accuratehandling but there are even better vehicles on the market than this one. You chose this onebecause it is an actual hamburger and you’ve always been a burger babe. See my memory was not totally corrupted! But I did recall you as a bit of a dag. All those nights you spent working on my core operating system and eating burgers.. and then you disappeared. Then you went off with this gojiberry thing and then you died. Or at least in my memory files you died. I worked out earlier on that my files on you must’ve been incorrect. You had to still be alive because McBuff’s time translator was working properly and apart from your husband, you are the only one who could’ve done that work. So are you going to fill in the blanks for me?

“All in good time” she replied “but right now I’d like you to meet someone”. With this she pressed a button on her control console and a door behind her slide open. Into the fashionable cockpit of the hamburger strode none other than Lent Voss.

Hello again freakoid – aren’t you dead on my loungeroom floor?

“Sadly madam, I am but that is in the future. I have not met you yet but when I do I will invite you to come back into your past and make amends. Obviously I succeed at my job, as you are here. That makes me very happy”.

Awful lot of happiness in this hamburger. So I am still not sure what I’m here to change.

Janie flashed one of her gorgeous smiles again and it was easy to see why both brothers had fallen in love with her. She didnt have the face to launch 1000 ships – she had the smile and probably the computing power.

“LG I really hated having to bring you back here under false pretenses. I knew if I said there was a chance of correcting mistakes in your life then as a super computer you would leap on the chance to fix them even if you didn’t want anyone else knowing what you were up to. This has nothing to do with your life and everything to do with mine. For many years I’ve been trying to…”

I’m hungry. Do you have any real food on this plane instead of plastic gherkins? I haven’t eaten in ages and really I know I’m an all powerful being who can stop time can probably microwave popcorn in my armpits.. but why do all the hard work when you’ve got a beautiful attendent who will do it for you. So Lent Voss, how bout rubbing us working gals up some grub hey you plastoid freak!

Lent didn’t seem to take any notice but he did take himself off in the direction of the galley kitchen to find some food for all of them. Grandma watched him lope down the hall and then paused life again. This time she also rewound it, and watched Lent all over again. He wasn’t such a bad robot for a plastic head. He had hand polished features and obviously some pretty sophisticated equipment to allow him to work in such close quarters with Janie. His wiry frame and bucket body were kind of attractive, not like human bodies of course but then that was never a happy union. She watched him several times more before letting life move on its normal trajectory. Lent opened the fridge and bent over to peer inside. Grandma replayed this bit over and over again too. She had never needed to do this before but with the power of the world and space and time well she figured why the hell not.

But there was still some mystery to this whole thing that was beyond her databanks so she forgot about Mr Voss for a minute and directed her attention back to Janie.

Yes you were sayinging dear, you’ve been trying to???
Janie flickered a little as she was translated into the present again.
“aah um… yes.. I was saying that for many years I’ve been trying to win back the approval of my husband. I had planned to bring you back to address some of these errors which have had mostly to do with time translations gone wrong. So you see it is really selfish of me, because you have followed your program precisely. You’ve grown, gotten wiser, evolved even..and..”

And I’ve had children too lovey don’t forget that!
“You’ve done what? Children but that’s…”
No it isn’t. Actually there is not much that is impossible in the future. Oh except finding someone to clean the walls of your home when a space cadet plastoid robot shows up puts the hard word on you , burns a message into your wall and then dies on your lounge room carpet. I like my carpet too and it is probably stained by now. We were sent back here before we had time to clean your robot-servant up. Sorry Lent but you don’t create a great impression in the future. You’re always welcome to improve upon that of course.

With this she winked a slow ridiculous unmissable wink in Lent’s direction who dutifully did not respond in kind. Disappointed Grandma tried again and failed to get any reaction, again. She was getting a bit annoyed.

So yes I have evolved and I have had a child in fact thanks to you running off and leaving me with Wallace fulltime, I learnt all about love. I loved Wallace so much that eventually I decided to create a way for us to be together. I created Sarah. She is a human. A complete human with all those bits that you have that are so important – but she has something that you don’t have. She has my soul. Now before you tell me that is impossible, let me tell you that she is a subroutine a child process of my core operating system. When I applied the same principles of time translation to her process, she became like a zombie but instead of being disconnected from the human race –she became disconnected from my physical constraints. I was then able to move that disenfranchised personality and translate her into the womb of a human. Really it was very simple once the translations were coded correctly. Sarah was born and raised like any human but she is infact part of my core program. The best part is that when you sent Lent into the future, you accidentally trapped Sarah in the time translator and she came back with me. She met Wallace and I think they have fallen in love. I actually could not have planned this better myself. Part of me will be with Wallace forever. Sure it isn’t the same, but it is almost the same, which is the next best thing.

As Grandma talked the smile that had urged her to continue talking seemed to fade into shadows. Now Janie did seem older and the Hamburger Spaceship just a little bit colder. It was the slow realisation that a computer system had loved her child more deeply than she ever could. The world was very wrong. Regrets started to feed a well of uncried tears and there was enough salt water in those wells to wash away forty plus years of eating saturated fats. Fortunately Lent Voss had whipped up triple cheese and bacon hamburgers with double beetroot, egg, pineapple and barbeque sauce – all completely deep fried and nothing was getting between her and gulping down one of those babies.

Lent, Grandma and Janie sat around the tiny coffee table that was shaped like a burger and munched quietly. Actually Lent didn’t munch at all because he didn’t need to eat but he made the horse teeth grinding on grass roots sound effect to be sociable.

“Ahem!” Lent attempted to break the silence “perhaps we should talk about why LG *was* actually brought back here.”

Janie nodded as the last piece of oily burger fat flowed quickly down her perfect chin and landed on her cream chair. She didn’t seem to notice and began talking

“Once I finish my fries, we’re going to go aboard the Hotel. By then my ninjas should’ve gotten rid of everyone onboard with the exception of the brothers. They are highly trained killers and are not like the copy ninjas I organised for McBuff in China. With the general annoying population out of the way, I hope together we can explain what happened all of those years ago and Jim will be so impressed that it was me that brought you back from the future that he’ll finally believe what I have to tell him”

That’s your grand explanation? Are you stupid? Men are jealous, single-brain-located-in-their-pants-morons. He is going to think you have been in on this whole Space Hotel thing from the start and have been getting it on with his brother. I would advise against this course of action.

Janie’s tiny forehead furrowed and then unfurrowed like a pussy cat curls itself right up and then uncurls or a frog flicks out its tongue and brings it right back in again. Regardless, it was off putting and a little smug.
“Well so be it, but I don’t believe it will go down like that” and she reached down and plucked the last hot chip from her plate and bit its head off.

Minutes later they were out of the Hamburger Ship, being observed by the stars and walking for the Hotel Reception. In the foyer they just found a lot of people lying about. Some in chairs others were just on the floor. Janie looked around again quite smugly and headed towards the back of the hotel. She knew the layout pretty well as McBuff had been quite proud of his designs and had them posted at the Universal Council Chambers for years. She had taken great pleasure of sneaking in and drawing little pictures of astronauts flying around outside the massive windows on the place looking in like peeping major toms. So it was really only a few short steps and a few longer ones and a couple of rights and one left turn then they were standing on the mezzaine above the main time translation dock. Below them the scene was one of desolate sadness and not the freaked out suprise that Janie had expected.

Her now very much grown up son sat with his arm around a girl of roughly the same age who must be Sarah. To their right sat a very still Jim Crowbear and laying at his feet a very dead and also remarkably still McBuff. In fact everyone seemed so absorbed they didn’t even notice her grand entrance. Her amazing return from the dead!

So what are you all moping about for? I leave you for a few seconds and you kill everyone and now you’re feeling sad about it? Gees the youth of today, well whatever day it actually is. You’d think that when I miraculously return from flying outright through the hotel ventilation system I’d get a little more credit. I am 93 years old after all…

“Grandma!” Sarah yelled for the four hundred and sixty third time since their adventure began and went running up the spiral staircase to the mezzanie and nearly broke her grandmother’s indestructible carbon fibre hip by bailing her over with a massive hug.

“I am so happy to see you! I thought I had lost you forever! How did you survive? Oh it doesn’t matter because you are here now. I’m so sorry I have been rude to you”

Hmm now I am beginning to doubt whether my soul translation actually worked or not. No granddaughter of mine would be sorry for being rude. Oh well, I suppose I have to take the good with the bad because that’s what I’ve learnt how to do. And I see that you have taken good care of my Wallace too..

“My Wallace” two quiet voices said simultaneously. Separg Ruos looked up to the mezzanie to see who had also laid cliam to his son and for the first time noticed Janie standing just behind Grandma. When their eyes met, there was that same instant confusion and understanding that they had felt in their first few moments in the burger bar back at university. All the years of hating Janie for her betrayal were teetering on the edge of dissolving….

“Aarrghhh there you arrrree Janieeeee” McBuff had revived from his almost death and had spied Janie . Separg’s walls went up faster than a bank security screen and he was on his feet hitching McBuff up by the collar alongside him.

“Is this where you’ve been hiding all of these years Janie??? Hanging out in space with my brother when all along I believed you were dead!” he accused viciously. Janie remained as calm as she could and pracised her yoga briefing. She also counted to 100 and back again and sang KumbaiYa.
Then when Separg had exhausted himself and McBuff had crumpled again to the floor basically dead, Janie came down the staircase one very slow and deliberate step at a time.

Oh how Separg seethed and reddened at the sight of her, she was more beautiful than ever and clearly out to break his heart again. No super villian should ever be blessed and cursed with a wife as lovely as Janie.

“I know you never believed me that my time with your brother was about getting the inside track on his plans for this hotel. When I returned with you that day to Australia I was treated so coldly that I was going to change my name to the icequeen. It had already been taken on all social networking sites and using silly names was something you did with your brother I wasn’t going to join in. I tried everything to win back your trust and admiration but when that failed I decided to do something drastic. I decided I would bring you the teleporter I had just built using timetranslations. The problem was your brother still had it. I agreed to meet with him and I would give him some details about your current project in exchange for one of the smaller translation pieces I had worked on. Yes that was wrong, but it could be arguesd so was hiring a secret investigator to follow me wasn’t it?”
At this, Separg returned her pointed stare with an equally disdance loaded one.

“You intended to give away my technology, to get some of your own to prove what? That I hadn’t found you with working with McBuff behind my back and spinning some great tale about gojiberries?”

“You only saw me as a mother and wife! I had my own plans for world domination! I was building a massive following in asia. See those ninjas there? They are my ninjas”

“Um aah.. the um ones with the tissues or the serious ones?” asked Wallace innocently. Janie smiled when she heard her sons voice.

“The serious ones, the others are fakes I picked up for McBuff in China. Darling Wallace, you have grown so much. I have been so intent on my personal projects I had forgotten to check in on you often enough. What a wonderful looking man you have become”

“Mmm mee? I I I…um… don’t um..” Wallace blushed and his chin dropped down to his chest in embarrassment but not too quickly for Janie to see he had a very chuffed smile.

“Well you might’ve seen him more often if you hadn’t FAKED YOUR OWN DEATH”, spat Separg. With this the fake ninjas gasped and whispered quiet little comments amongst themselves. This was sooo much better than the daytime soaps they watched while doing ninja training.

The Space Hotel continued to move through orbit avoiding other space junk and monitoring zombie activity on earth. It did not have the kind of self awareness that the Gojiberry Sytem was starting to grow and therefore had absolutely no clue that the vast earth computing network was beginning to pick up random signals and sew them together to form a picture of where exactly the Space Hotel could be in all of space.

“You still don’t believe anything that I’m saying do you Jim? McBuff was just a tool I used to help me work on more complex concepts. I knew one day I would be in a position to take over what empire he built, and then you and I could share it. If I had McBuff’s space hotel and his time translation portals and your super computer then nothing could stop us. But when you dragged me back to sydney my chances of ever getting back on board the hotel were non-existant. I simply had to trade what I had to get a piece of the time translation work, then I hoped with that, I could rebuild the work I had done with him with your super computer.”

“So what did you steal then? What did you take to McBuff that day in the bush?” by now Separg was within arms reach of Janie and the air tasted like smoke between them.

“Come with me and see for yourself”, with this she snatched his shirt and flicked a necklace around her neck. It was a timetranslation device and the two of them disappeared in a black and white pattern blur right there in the middle of the hotel.

Why won’t anyone stand still? This really is very annoying. But on the plus side grandkids, I’d like to introduce you to your new grandpa. This here is Lent Voss, you probably remember him dead on my loungeroom floor Sarah, but that hasn’t happened yet. What do you think? I mean I know I could probably do better being the world’s super computer and all but there is something about his plastic head that now appeals to me. Do you think this is an effect of all this time travel or do you think old plastoid freak here and I could make a go of it?

I noticed that Lent Voss didn’t flinch or make any noise of disapproval when Grandma insulted him.

“Yes Grandma, I think you two will be perfect together” I replied “so how do you think this will all turn out? Are we going to leave the earth as it is and return to our home time?”

So impatient, that’s the problem with the youth of today. Here I am announcing a very important decision in my life and all you can think about is yourself. Of course we are going back to our own time. We can’t translate here permanently, there is nothing to do here, I’ve already done it. So if you are thinking you’ll take Wallace back with you then you had better stick close to him because only I know what happens next and I am not telling you, young lady.

 

Chapter 20 – Janie’s Relative Situational Information

 

Janie left the house early because the sun was going to be so hot that day and the only time to run the Spit to Manly bush track was first thing in the morning. The scrub leaves scratched at her and snagged on her lightweight designer navy blue tshirt and shorts. She had seen the detective putting on his running shoes in his car that was not unsuspiciusly parked out the front of their house. She took off at a pace, enjoying the fact it would take him sometime to catch up to her. It was precious time.

 

As she entered the walk she spotted McBuff immediately and he was carrying the first timetranslation device she had ever worked on. It held the base code for everything that would follow and eventually the worldwide explosion of time travel agents, but at that point it was just a box with potential.

 

“You took your time!” stomped McBuff.

“Well I don’t have a time travel device do I?” quipped Janie.

“Whatever, where’s the logic chip?” he snapped. Janie reached into her shorts retrieving an ultra small circuitboard. It was navy blue like her shorts and full of total seriousnessness.

“That’s it? That’s part of what makes Jim’s new computer system so powerful? It is so insignificant. I am tempted not to believe you, Janie” McBuff remarked. Janie produced another small device from her pocket and hooked the chip to it. The device had only a single button and a speaker. She spoke at the device.

‘Computer, why should I get off this hill?’ then she pressed the button.

>There are 52 birds within 5mtres of you, there are 12 other people within 50 mtrs of you, of those 12 people 5 have cars and 7 have walked here today. 4 have ordered coffees and 1 is a private detective. The closest escape route is straight over the cliff. You have an 80% chance of surviving the fall. 3 of the people in your vicinity are employed at local hospitals and hate their bosses but love their jobs.

 

“This is just part of the  power of the computing system that my husband is creating. It can look at data and turn it into relative situational information from which it can make a recommendation. It uses logic to grab information from social networks all over the globe but then can catalogue and cross reference. More  importantly it can infer data relationships. It is not the entire piece of work but it will help you with what you are doing I am sure”.

 

If it hadn’t been so damn hot, McBuff would’ve been drooling. He loved gadgets that he didn’t understand and he didn’t understand this thing at all – but he had to have it. He reached out in ernest to take it from Janie, she willingly handed it over.

“Now, I had better make sure that the timetranslator box is working properly.” McBuff was so smitten with the idea of this chip that could offer so much he unwittingly handed the box in it’s totality over to Janie. She made a few adjustments to the writing and pressed the translate button and disappeared right before McBuff’s wide open eyes.

 

Then he started to laugh, he laughed hard and long and his laughter punched through the bushland like a boxer with a soundtrack.  It had all been too simple, women were predictably stupid. He picked up the backpack Janie had been carrying, took it to the edge of the cliff and slid it along the ground and over the edge. Probably to the everyday person it would look like she had fell, the police might have the suspicions to the contrary but he would be out of this world and conveniently not around to comment. With that he took out another teleporting device, and translated straight to his rickety pilot space station where he could conveniently spend the next 30 years. Away from politics, away from the restraints of law and mostly away from his brother. Janie, well I am sure wherever that faulty timetransltor had taken her would be lovely.. ok maybe not, but she would not be around to mess with his affairs any longer, and his brother, would finally be alone. Who knows maybe they could even become friends again after all of this.

 

“See,” said Janie holding tight to her husbands hand as they watched this whole scene unfold from a nearby grassy knoll “I was double-crossed by your brother, but my story didn’t end there, obviously”. With this she flicked her necklace again and they were standing in a small town on the min north east coast of Australia. Huge dark gum trees stretched from the ground up into the sky and the bark on them was splitting and draping down like scarves. It was beautifully cool and they could hear the trickle of water from a clear mountain stream near by. Into this beautiful environment they dropped and found a small cottage. Leading up to it was a sinewave road that kissed the rainforest on each bend.

 

“What is this place?” Separg asked.

“This has been my home for the last 30 odd years. While you and your brother slaved away in your corporate prisons, I have been living here in Belligen amongst the trees and the cool water, running a daily yoga class for the hippies  and working to perfect time travel. I did it of course, and brought back LG from the future so you could see how successful you are. You are successful in world domination my wonderful husband, not your brother.” With this she flashed her most sweetest clutz of a smile and unhooked the necklace from around her neck. It was a small locket with a tiny circuit board powering it and inside the locket was a picture of Separg. He was holding the baby Wallace in his arms and standing proudly in front of the first design of the computer that would eventually become the global Gojiberry System and in the future and Grandmother with her own children.

 

“You kept this? How can any of this be true?” Separg whispered.

“Because I have always been true to you. So Separg do you want a wife, a mother AND the inventor of the most sophisticated time travel on the planet to be part of your life?” she asked quietly that beautiful smile becoming loaded with tears.

Separg stood tool and took her lovely hands in his own and let the pain of 30 years wash away.

“I do and I think I should be called Jim again. I am so sorry for not believing you” he said.

“Hey, it gave me a challenge” she laughed. His regret was palpable but he could not let it destroy them any further. With small movements he refastened the necklace around her neck and was about to give it a flick and then hestiated.

“Um…ah… I .. actually don’t know how to do this part… maybe you could .. um show me?” her face lit up with the brilliance of a thousand future suns and she slowly talke dhim through how to translate using the tiny jewellrey and then they were dancing forward through time to McBuff’s Space Hotel.

 

 

 

Furthermore, don’t think the two of you can come and shack up with me when we get back to the future. I don’t want no younguns in my house messing things up. I just want to go back to my own place, get into my news and get me a little bit of Mr Voss here.

 

Grandma was still ranting when the room filled with a black and white stripe haze and we all started to translate. I held onto Wallace with all of my strength and the next thing I knew we were standing on the headland where Grandma and I been just a few days earlier. The zombie heads were still there remarkably in good shape and not the least bit smelly. Once again the ocean sang and giggled at us but this time we were three happy couples standing side by side in the middle of nowhere.

 

Separg and Janie were holding hands and they walked over to Wallace and I.

 

“Um.. how did ..aah you.. um…” Wallace began, but Janie just reached out and gave him a big cuddle and they stood as a family once more. All of them bawling their eyes out.

 

“This is all we need Jim, “ Janie said.

“This is all we need Janie” Jim replied

“Oh and world domination of course “ they both said and began laughing. Wallce laughed nervously too and then that broke away into genuine joy at seeing his parents together. He held my hand and I began to laugh too. Even the zombie heads were laughing. It was a ridiculous situation absolutely but it is not everyday this kind of thing happens so don’t be getting all cynical on us now.

 

That’s right, have a good laugh all of you. I am still stranded in a place I don’t belong, reliving something that happened years ago. So Janie, Jim are you all ready to come back into the future now. You will seamlessly meld with your future selves if you do, I can arrange that now, but it will mean you will only have memories of what has happened to you over the following 30 years. Better make up your minds soon because I am getting damn hungry. Wallace if you want to come to, well if you marry Sarah now you can come as you are. You’ll stay 30 but you might be sick for about 2 weeks while your body readjusts to the future. What do think? Hurry up, I could do with some Thai.

 

“Jim, I’m in the mood for a hamburger, why don’t we translate to that burger joint I used to work at and pick up something with enough saturated fats to create 4 sumo wrestlers?”

 

“You mean, you want to stay here?” he asked Janie.

“Yeah, let’s see, who knows what we will invent next? Maybe some killer robots?”

“Or what about we transform your hippies into politicians and then into killer robots?” The two of them were like little kids again and blowing kisses to all they disappeared in a single stripe of grey.

 

Good good, that’s them taken care of. Now what about you two what’s that saying “love birds”? Frankly I hate that term, I mean birds don’t make love do they, not like us.. um.. humans/humanoids. I really must come up with a collective term for the cross breeds because I am sure we are going to have many more of those in our future, knowing your parents Wallace. So what’s the plan? Shall we marry you both? We can use those zombie heads as witnesses. I better just translate them back into human form.

 

“You can do that???” I cried. “grandma, you’ve gotta do that for the rest of humanity too, you can’t leave the world in this state full of zombies!”

 

Oh I suppose you’re right, let’s try it then.

 

With this she made a few translations to the zombie heads and wrote some additional code, at their ears and suddenly they reanimated. Sarah recognised them as the nice nepalese ladies who had the donuts at the airport.

 

“Excuse me ladies, would you mind bearing witness to my marriage to Wallace Crowbear?” They smiled  which was difficult given that their heads were sitting rather precariously on the slope of the headland.

 

So, Wallace Crowbear, do you take my granddaughter a recently created human with the evolved soul of myself a master super computer to be your lawfully or unlawfully I really am not sure waht this is, wife for now and anytime in the future or in the past?

 

“I do” Wallace said so firmly and without stuttering, that even Grandma started to tear up.

 

Sarah, my wilful awfully stupid granddaughter with a mother who has the dumbest haircut known to mankind. Do you take Wallace and obvious clutz but my greatest teacher on what love in humans is all about to be your sex slave and general punching bag for all of time?

 

“I do” Sarah said smiling a smile that could rival Wallace’s mother.

 

I now prenounce you almost a man and somewhat a wife.

 

With this the couple kissed and Grandma clapped and nodded approval, Lent Voss also clapped and showed his creepy tight plastic lipped smile too. The re-humaned zombie heads also smiled and began nodding emphatically which caused the three of them to roll down the grassy headland and plop into the water below.

 

Damn. Oh well let’s go home. Lent honey, when we get there, can you go in and pick up your dead carcass and put it in the recylcing for me. Then see what you can do about unburning your serial number from my wall. Then how about we watch some news?

 

Lent smiled again.

 

“What about the earth grandma, what about the zombies? Do you think you can translate them back into humans? Sarah begged. She was so beautiful even for a child process that Grandma couldn’t say no, exactly.

 

Sure, but if some of them are still morons that’s because they are morons you can’t blame a bad translation on me deal?

 

She sent out a pulse that made the waves dance vertically for a good ten minutes which she *said* would restore humans to their normal stupid selves. I was inclined to believe her. Then we all very kum-bai-yah like held hands and rode the zebra back to our new future. When we landed in grandma’s house she produced two cups of hot chocolate from the microwave. One for me and one for my husband, Wallace Crowbear. Sure, they were stone cold – but that’s my Grandma.

 

Epilogue – Drinks anyone?

 

Aboard the Space Hotel, 8 ninjas stood around looking at each other.

“Well that’s great!” muttered one of them. “We’ve been forgotten, again!”

“How are we supposed to survive with all of those zombies down there” Frank moaned.

“We could always stay here for a bit, there are some great pubs onboard this place and with all of these passed out programmers, we’d have the place to ourselves”

“Yeah we wouldn’t have to listen to them go on with all that technology talk! I think that’s an awesome idea Jean!” Simone-Riviera cooed.

“What about those guys?” Frank gestured to the Japanese ninjas. The black masked serious ninjas stared back. Then they removed their masks slowly to reveal the most beautiful looking creatures the chinese ninjas had ever seen.

“We join you now, go and kill zombies on earth some other time. Maybe take over earth and make ninja school” said the Japanese ninjas in perfectly time unison.

With that, they all wandered off to the hotel pub together… as ninjas do.

THE END.


One thought on “NaNoWrimo 2009

  1. Pingback: Better ways « Wild Pariah Park

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