Saturday, January 8, 2011



By Tomara Armstrong

“Are you getting dressed?” the transmitter buzzes.

“Uh…” you fumble and dump the contents of the drawer onto the floor. The blue-suited men on horseback haven’t noticed you, but they’re getting closer. You stir the clothing around, confused. “Uh, Thomas… Is this a dress?”

“It’s a workman’s smock,” Thomas Nubleman spits, “with coordinating breeches.”

“Breeches?” you drop the clothing and shudder. He has obviously put way too much thought into this. “I can’t wear that. I’m pretty sure I’m allergic.”

The horsemen are drawing nearer. While Nubleman attempts to exhaust his vocabulary bashing you, you decide to abandon the whole “getting dressed” idea and focus your thoughts on moving the time machine.

You quickly push out the door and begin to survey the landscape. The earth is soft from a recent rain and the breeze tickles your nether regions. There are a few trees in the area, and if you can somehow move the machine closer to one, it might shield it from view.

“I can do this,” you breathe.

“What’s the plan then?” Nubleman’s voice carries from inside the time machine. You left the communicator mingling with the breeches on the floor.

“I can do this.” The machine looks really sturdy, but you have a gym membership, and occasionally you go. Occasionally is, actually, rarely… never. The chances you can move this thing are highly unlikely, but what the hell. You crack your knuckles, loosen your shoulders and neck, and give the machine a good shove.


You glance over your shoulder to check on the progress of the men on horseback, dig your feet into the wet ground, and try again. Sliding in the mud, you grunt and it give all you’ve got.

Nothing. It’s built like a brick shithouse.

With a quick glance over your shoulder, you take several steps back, staring down the beast. You’re not afraid… much.

Barreling toward the machine, you lose footing and slam into its side. It wobbles—almost tipping, but the wet ground suctions it back in place.

“Ugh!” Throwing yourself onto the ground, you kick the damn thing in full tantrum mode.

“What’s going on?” the communicator buzzes. “Has disaster been averted?”

The irritating voice of Thomas Nubleman brings you back to reality. You roll onto your stomach and look for the horsemen. Something has gotten their attention and they are headed your way.

Think fast, think fast.

You roll around in the mud, covering yourself as the horses move closer. On your feet, you strike a pose. If you don’t move, you’re fairly sure they won’t see you.

The three horses move dangerously close, but you hold your stance, barely breathing. One of the soldiers dismounts and starts slowly toward your position.

They don’t see me. I am invisible. I am earth and air. They don’t see me.

“Qu'est-ce que c'est?” One of the soldiers on horseback says as he points at you.

“C'est un cochon couvert de merde,” the other spits, and they both share a laugh, most likely at your expense. You try not to smile—keeping very still.

No, they don’t see me.

The dismounted guard approaches you with musket in hand. The bayonet is extended and reflects the sunlight directly into your eyes. You’re blinking erratically when he shoves your right shoulder, and you stumble, “Votre nom, le cochon?”

They see me. Shit.

“Shit! Uh…” you search your repository of useless information. You took French in school, but somehow you’ve buried that under the catalog of movie quotes and trashy pick up lines. “Um… Les chinois et les chinoises ne sont pas grands.” Found it!

You smile.

He doesn’t.

With a swift move of his hand, his bayonet pierces you through the left collarbone. You fall to the ground, crying for your mommy.

When you finally open your eyes, all three men are standing over you—blades mere inches from your chest. You hear Nubleman still droning on about chronotons over the communicator in the time machine, while his French friends turn you into a pin cushion of temporal debris.

Ouch doesn’t even cover it.




  1. Absolute best line in this chapter...

    "The machine looks really sturdy, but you have a gym membership, and occasionally you go."

    Cracked me up!

  2. C'est magnifique, ma chere 2 :-)

  3. Thank you, thank you. Le seul français que je sais, j'ai appris par Google Translate :-)

    That was a lie... I know a few choice phrases. Thank you, Mr. McShane.

  4. Great opening chapter, 2! I laughed out loud at the whole cry for your mommy thing. :)

  5. Bayonets! Yes! I love that there were bayonets!