The AuthorBy Norman Turrell
It was 1924 in New York City and the Author knew that prohibition, the national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, was in place. It was a dark and stormy night, which felt very inappropriate, so he curled up in a doorway and waited for morning.
Stretching to greet the early sun, he felt refreshment. Someone must have spilt a drink over him while he slept. Brushing himself down, he strolled out onto the pavement, no, sidewalk. Catching his reflection in the glass of some building, maybe a skyscraper, he decided he must be wearing shirt, trousers and spats, nodding smugly at the period reference footware. A slapper walked down the street, frowning at him. There was a vague feeling he might have offended her somehow.
A black car squealed round the corner like a pig. Machine gun toting gangsters fired in every direction. Rat-a-tat-tat!!!! Rat-a-tat-tat!!! went their Thomas guns. They wore black suits and big brimmed black hats that he couldn't be bothered to find out the proper name for. He was very pleased to see they all wore spats too. As they skidded round the corner at the other end of the street and were gone, all was quiet again.
The Author looked around. The area was strangely grey, empty of the other things that this arbitrarily chosen setting might have contained to form a badly needed plot. It was becoming clear he was very much out of his depth. This city felt dangerously full of boring research stifling his creativity. It was time to leave. But how! He was stuck in a place and time that he didn't know or understand.
He considered the options. Access to all the money in the world, which was no problem of course, wouldn't provide him with an escape from history. A sneaky grin curled the corner of his mouth. He couldn't get away with that could he? The world began to shimmer and fade, seeming strangely unreal, like... a dream. It abruptly snapped back into focus. No, he couldn't.
Across the road was a mysterious looking shop called Twilight Timepieces, proprietor, a Mr. H. G. Wells. That looked promising. The bell above the door bonged as he opened it to a store full of clocks of all varieties. Conveniently, none of them were working so that the overwhelming noise wouldn't be a problem with his impending conversation with the owner.
'Mr. Wells I presume,' said the Author to the man with grey hair and beard (like that picture of Einstein) standing behind the counter, feeling relieved at the dialog breaking up the narrative.
'I feel quite relieved to meet you,' he added, to reassert that it was he who felt relieved and not his new acquaintance.
'I know exactly why you are here. You are looking for a way out this time,' said Herbert.
'That's another relief,' said the Author. 'Your mysterious knowledge is expected from this sort of genre I expect?'
'Oh yes, quite standard, don't worry.'
'Good! Let's get to it then!'
'I have a very good deal on Medieval periods or the Wild West perhaps?'
'I think I am just going to get into the same fix there as I am here. All these places require work to be convincing, not to mention the chance of getting it wrong.'
'Hmmm. You are right. What about the future? Beyond your time. You can do what you want then. Or a fantasy world where you make it all up as you go along.'
'That sounds good, but an awful lot of effort. I think I better stick to what I know.'
'A very good choice Sir. Walk this way please.'
As I followed him through a door in the back of the shop, the clear change in narrative stance became very apparent. I recalled the minutes I had spent hunched over my typewriter, which was actually a computer but I liked the idea of a typewriter, trying to work out complicated plots for my favourite character, the Author. He was older, but still at school, and he had lots of friends, but was a loner. He might be a vampire, that would be cool.
This confused distraction of thoughts about the protagonist (good word), myself and my insecurities were rudely interrupted as I entered a small room containing a marvellous machine, which I considered describing, but that was far too complicated.
'Here, this will take you wherever you want to go,' said H. G., changing his form of address to provide variety.
'I do want to thank you Mr. W., for this and for not talking too expressively. I really didn't want to see a variety of verbs enhancing your speech.'
'You mean adverbs.'
'Oh, yes, of course.' The young man blushed and switched back to third person to cover his embarrassment.
'No problem young Sir. I deal with writers like you all the time and know the rules.'
The Author climbed into the machine and looked incredulously at the arrays of lights, dials and knobs. He sniggered a little at the word knob.
'Enough of that. Here we go!'
The old man reached over and flicked a switch. As the scene around the Author shimmered and faded from view like a dream, he wondered to himself, what will happen next?
This page was amended on 01/12/2011
Love this quirky little tail!
Made me laUgh :)