Yes, another story by me, but originally credited to Eli Lindy. I didn't remember this as one of my favorites, but upon rereading it, it's not so bad. It's a bit improbable, an element that seems to be lacking in a lot of fiction (mostly because so many people lack imagination). (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 another woman and her yearning for vocal time travel.
EPISODE 3: Mit for Pohotta
She called herself Captain Bastard, Carla Sumner did. In truth, however, she held no high-ranking military positions (or low-ranking ones, for that matter) and she was comfortably conceived in wedlock. A strange gal she was, that Carla, and her life only became more bizarre in the cruel hands of Time Canyon.
Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA October 10, 1999: They were all out on the Avenue that morning; the drifters, the gad-abouts, the trendy, the pierced. Carla didn't really stand out too much amongst this crowd, in fact, she appeared to be just one of the gang. Atop her head, covering her thick black curly hair sat an odd white hat. The hat, when removed from her pate, looked like a really wide, firm, white sock. But when she donned that sucker, its excess hatness fell forward. It kinda looked like the top of one of those vanilla tastee-freeze ice cream cones. I suggest you remember that because it's pretty important to another part of this story. Draped over her thin body was a purple cotton muumuu (she fashioned this out of a sheet she stole from her parents' house).
Carla had always been into curious things. A rubber-band collection she put together in seventh grade made the inventory at Staples look like a few office leavings. In high school, she ran track, which I guess might seem pretty normal. Thing is, she made a deal with the coach. Not only did she use the square root of 47 as her uniform number, but she also chose at random (from a hat) the events she was to participate in before each meet. She was a damn good long-jumper. I guess the point I'm trying to make is that people knew Carla was kinda freaky.
But back to the present, or the past, or, well October 10, 1999. Carla walked along Melrose, a babe in purple swaddling clothes, proselytizing about the Pohotta revolution. "It's a revolution and an evolution brothers," she called everyone brother, "and Captain Bastard is gonna show you the way to Pohotta." One time I stopped to ask her about this Pohotta nonsense and what it meant and she told me, "the hat brings us the life and leads us to Pohotta where we'll evolve and revolve with the high-voice god. Captain Bastard mits for the high-voice god." I asked her what the "mit" meant. "It means go on a mission. I mean if you submit you enter a submission. If you mit you go on a mission." This gal was just plain kooky. During the daylight hours she walked up and down Melrose passing out fliers while she mitted for the high-voice god. In that way, October 10th was a pretty normal day for Carla, but she knew that the 11th had to be different.
Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA October 11, 1999: The next day started off pretty regular. Carla had the stack of Pohotta fliers, she practiced her best prophetic gestures, and she was ready to spread the words of the high-voice god to her brothers. She slipped the muumuu on and then went to fetch her hat. It was soaking in lighter fluid. She took it out of its gas bath, wrung it out, and placed it in a Zip-Lock bag. It was time for the evolution and the revolution to begin.
The regular folks on Melrose were preparing to see a regular Carla, or Captain Bastard, or whatever that day, but there was a difference: she wasn't wearing the hat. People stared at her as she strode silently past. There was an urgency to her walk. She said nothing. She didn't wave fliers in faces. Then Carla saw it; the perfect intersection and the perfect situation. The light had just turned red. Carla trotted onto the street, climbed atop an SUV that was waiting for the light to change to green, and removed the hat from the Zip-Lock bag. Placing it on her head, she reached toward the sky and shouted, "Pohotta has chosen Captain Bastard and she will mit," she took out a cigarette lighter and put flame to her hat, "revolve, evolve!" Just then, a stiff wind kicked up. As Carla stood in all her glory on the roof of that big, ugly SUV, her hat was lifted from her head by natural forces. An obnoxious man talking on his cell phone and sipping his vente frap was the hat's landing place. The flaming cap touched his heavily gelled hair and set his scalp afire. Carla ran toward her hat, but it was too late. The man chucked the fiery cloth into the street. Coincidentally, it landed on the SUV Carla had used as her altar. The SUV caught fire and exploded, as did seven other SUV's that were waiting in traffic. No cars, vans, trucks, or motorcycles were affected. The shrapnel from the exploding automobiles (for some inexplicable reason) only injured pretentious black-clad fools drinking Starbucks coffee. Go figure. Carla knew she was in trouble. She fled instantly, accidentally crushing at least seventeen fallen cell phones along the way.
October 11, a little later in the day, Time Canyon: Do I really need to explain why someone like Carla knew about Time Canyon? Let's just say that in circles of the strange, word about stuff like Time Canyon spreads faster that herpes in a bathhouse. She moved her able body toward the place, the echo-laden place. It looked just as she pictured it, but there were birds. I don't mean a few birds chirping here and there. I'm talking flocks. Multiple flocks. There were more birds there than Carla had ever seen in one place at one time. It was enough to even freak her out, but she couldn't let it get in her way. She'd been saving her visit to the Canyon for an emergency and this certainly was one. The police would be after her. What would her parents think? She cleared her throat and began to shout into the Canyon, "June 1, 1999," that was the day before she began to mit for Pohotta, "3465 Vinton Ave, Los Angeles CA. Carla Sumner." Then something beyond odd happened. The birds, frightened by Carla's shouting began to fly and chirp. Startled, Carla watched the flocks lift off. The flapping and the singing produced waves of high-pitched sound. This sound was familiar to Carla. She listened in horror as from the cacophony English words were formed:
"Captain Bastard, Pohotta is the way," the cloud of birds said, "Wear Smurf hat and purple. It bring life. Light white hat on fire. October 11th. Prepare to evolve. Mit revolution."
Now I know, I've got some explaining to do. First off, the birds didn't try to talk. It was just coincidence. Secondly, science lets us know stuff like this is possible. Take, for instance, a tablet dissolved in water. If one were to stir that water, there is a possibility, although highly improbable, that the tablet's particles would take on their original tablet shape. Why couldn't birds accidentally speak English words? Lastly, this is fiction, dammit, and anything can happen in Time Canyon.
Don't you forget it.