I came up with the concept for Time Canyon during a period in which ridiculous forms of time travel fascinated me. It was pretty hard to write within the constraints I set up for the Canyon and I don't consider this one of my best Pork Pony stories, but it's still somewhat entertaining. My friends liked it, so I'm putting it up. (CL)
For years, human beings have sought ways to travel through time; machines invented, concoctions ingested, warped-glasses peered through, but to no avail. Mother Nature, however, invented time travel when she invented the mountains, fields, valleys, and rivers that dot the Earth. She hid her time machine well, but all that was needed was a mishap, an accidental stumbling upon, to discover the mystical powers of Time Canyon. No one really knows who discovered Time Canyon and no one really cares either, I guess. This is what is known about Time Canyon:
1. It is to be found somewhere in the mountains of coastal Southern California.
2. You can only use its powers once.
3. It only works backwards in time, never forward.
4. It does not transport people or items back in time. Instead, Time Canyon takes voices back in time and shouts them into the ears of one specified recipient.
5. Time Canyon does not make any guarantees, nor is it responsible for any misuse and/or byproducts of its powers.
Without further ado, I present to you a tale of a man and his yearning for vocal time travel.
EPISODE 1: The Office Girl
Saturday, February 19, 2000: Jim Vincent's heartbeat was nearing Ramones speed as he crested yet another hill. "When in God's name am I gonna get there," he thought as he leaned against a pine tree's trunk to catch his breath. Tree bark flaked off and sullied his Banana Republic chino pants. He quickly brushed the brown from his leg, leaving light dirt marks on his pants and hate for nature in his heart. Shaking his head, Jim pulled from his pocket a sheet of paper adorned with a crudely-drawn map. A big X marked a spot labeled "Time Canyon".
Trudging along the trail, Jim finally caught a glimpse of the canyon. It was pretty, like other canyons he had seen on TV. A small stream struggled to trickle through the rocks at its base and few gnarly-looking trees growing from the shaded rock walls desperately reached for the sky. The flowing water was the only sound to be heard, besides, of course, Jim's panting. He sat down on a boulder near the water and mentally prepared. He shut his eyes and reviewed the Time Canyon rules, which he had learned from the office janitor Hector, the same man who had drawn him the map. Feeling ready, Jim stood up and, eyes closed, shouted the following into the canyon:
"Cassie Reed, 908 Lincoln St. Apt. 4, Santa Monica, California. January 31, 2000, 8 PM."
Jim opened his eyes as the words he had just spoken echoed through the canyon. He let the echoes die and then continued:
"Start writing a journal about Jim Vincent. Make sure not to leave out any details. Leave the journal at work in your bottom right desk drawer, it will be safe there."
Feeling a bit silly, Jim looked around sheepishly to see if anyone had heard his shouting. No one else was there. Was all this Time Canyon nonsense just a hoax? The last lingering remnants of his echoing voice faded away as Jim contemplated the major pain in the ass it would be to hike back to his car.
Tuesday, February 1, 2000: Lying his headset on the table, Jim stood up to stretch. It was only 10:30 AM and he had already gotten two computer-support calls from people who forgot to turn their monitors on. Idiots. Tuesdays were generally slow days. A slow day sounded nice in theory, but usually a slow day just meant that a strenuous, tedious day became a seemingly-longer strenuous, tedious day. Jim yawned and, as he stared at the second hand on the clock across the room, he noticed one of the new girls, Cassie Reed, watching him. She was young and lithe, a girl weaned on sorority-party wine and palates. Her cute blonde ponytail bobbed up and down as she ran over to the cubicle next hers. She whispered something into Kevin Spector's (a long time level-one support tech) ear. Kevin glanced over at Jim. Noticing the exchange, Jim tried to inconspicuously monitor their conversation. Cassie and Kevin traded a few brief comments after which the blonde looked back at Jim and smirked. "Oh yeah, she wants to ride the Jimboat," Jim thought as he ran his fingers through his stiff, gelled hair.
Thursday, February 10, 2000: As Jim adjusted his headset and waited for the next call, the wall of his cubicle started to shake a little. He looked at it to see what the problem was and he noticed Cassie's little blonde head peeking at him from above the cubicle wall. She quickly hid her eyes when he noticed her. She'd been doing weird stuff like this for the past week. Staring, giggling, following. Jim thought that he'd be freaked if she weren't so hot. He figured a strange girl like that has got to be pretty good in bed.
The phone rang and Jim took the call. As he began a conversation with his client, Jim stood up and looked at Cassie, who was still hiding in the cubicle next to him. Jim instinctively grabbed his crotch and scratched. Cassie giggled and fled the cubicle that was her temporary asylum.
Wednesday, February 16, 2000: Cassie leaned against the copy machine, black pants hugging her form. She stared unabashedly at Jim. It was a bit unsettling. At first, all this new attention made Jim feel pretty good. He read Esquire and Maxim, he knew how to dress, how to wear his hair, how to impress the ladies. But something about the way Cassie was acting seemed strange. Jim had never really been picked on or made fun of, even covertly, as far as he knew, but he figured this girl might be mocking him. Making things all the more bizarre was the fact that Cassie rarely talked to anyone. She spent the entirety of her free time casing Jim's cubicle.
When Jim had walked into work today, he noticed a bottle of imitation Drakkar Noir on his desk. A tag attached to it simply said "GQ?"
Thursday, February 17, 2000: As Jim walked into the office, he noticed that Cassie's cubicle was completely cleared out. Did this mean she was gone? Jim breathed a sigh of relief and then thought he might actually miss Cassie. "I mean, she's a weird girl," he thought, "but she's got a great can."
As he approached his cubicle, Jim noticed some activity in the one adjacent to his. He glanced inside and saw Cassie unpacking boxes and setting up. Seeing Jim, she chuckled, grabbed her crotch and said, "Hey man, sup?" in a falsely macho voice.
"What?" Jim laughed in bewilderment.
"We're neighbors now," Cassie clapped girlishly.
Jim was dumbfounded.
Friday, February 18, 2000: Hector, the office janitor, liked to tell stories. One of his favorites was about a place he swore was real; a place in the mountains called Time Canyon. According to Hector, Time Canyon would give anyone who found it one chance to send a vocal message back in time.
Jim approached Hector with his problem and his plan: "This girl Cassie is really bugging me out. She's hot and all, but she's acting like some kind of weird stalker. I don't know what she's thinking. Kev doesn't know what she's thinking. I figure I can go to this Time Canyon you're always talking about and send her message, back in time, you know, telling her to write down whatever the hell she's thinking about when she messes with me. Comprende?"
Hector changed the garbage bag, "Sure thing Jimbo. I draw you a map. Be very careful what you say. Only one chance."
Saturday, February 19, 2000: Jim went to Time Canyon.
Monday, February 21, 2000: Jim flicked on the fluorescent lights, illuminating the dark office. It was 7:30 AM and he was the first person to arrive. He surveyed the place, making sure no one was around to watch him. Eager nervous energy making him shake, Jim crept over to Cassie's desk and opened the bottom right drawer. Sitting atop the other files was a wire bound notebook labeled "The Jim Vincent Journal". It worked, God bless Hector, it worked! Jim opened the notebook and read the first few words: "START WRITING A JOURNAL ABOUT JIM VINCENT, this voice came to me at night. It was so real and so damn loud. I had to listen. I never really would have paid any attention to that cheesy grease ball Jim Vincent if it weren't for that voice."
"What?" Jim was amazed. He read more:
"Jim Vincent. I think he's the kind of guy who gets off when a car has really loud bass." He flipped the page; "He plays with his 'unit' at work. Most likely a 'big fan of the Internet,' if you catch my drift (and you do because you are me - he he)." This couldn't be, "All of my friends want to meet Jim Vincent. Not because he's hot, but he's to us what Bea Arthur is to the gay community." Jim skipped ahead, "I'll bet he calls his 'unit' the Jimbone." How did she know? "Kevin Spector says Jim only dates middle-school girls." And there was more.
Jim closed the book and looked at the ceiling. Tears started to stream from his eyes. Sweat gushed from his pores, softening the stiff gel that kept his hair in place. How could he work with these people? How could Kevin Spector think he'd break the ever-sacred eighteen line? Spector's sixteen-year-old cousin looked 21! Could he have won over Cassie if it had not been for his dabbling with vocal time travel? "Damn you Time Canyon, damn you to hell," he whimpered.