Friday, May 13, 2022

Dawn of Time • Episode 6: “Tick tock, drip drop”

Written by Paul Celmer

Continued from Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4 | Episode 5

The story thus far: 32nd Century high school student Dawn Anderson is having a really bad day. Needing a better grade in History, she “borrowed” her father’s TimePak to take a short jaunt back to the 20th Century, only to make a perfectly innocent mistake involving a stolen handgun and a too-hot McDonald’s cherry pie. Now, instead of returning home, she is bouncing from disaster to catastrophe, each one worse than the one before. After being chased by clowns, narrowly avoiding becoming a tyrannosaur’s snack, jumping out mere moments before the Chicxulub extinction event, making a new friend and rescuing her from the Titanic, being found by her worst enemy and being forced to rescue her, too, from a robot uprising, the three of them have at last come face-to-face with… Aw heck, we’ll just let it speak for itself.

“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!”

I stared at the creature in the ice cave and tried to understand its strange language.

“Excuse me,” something squeaked. A furry creature the size of a cat with eight legs and eight eyes paced near my feet. “I speak Cthulhueese. What he’s saying is, ‘In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.’”

“Useful. Anything else?”

“I’ll translate the rest if you free me from these caverns,” the cat-spider said.

“Done!” I said.

“Cthulhu wants to gnaw your souls into pie paste.”

“Yikes!” I said. “By the way, where are we?”

“The caverns at the end of time, year 9999. Someone didn’t want to pay for the extra digit.”

“Use the pie,” Stella said. “It’s warm enough now.”

I tried but nothing happened.

“Some laws of physics don’t apply here,” the cat-spider said. “Oops.” 

“Uh-oh.” I turned to Becky. “Hey, remember that last lesson we had in Literature?”

A blank stare. “Huh?”

Why was I wasting time asking Becky anything? She only noticed boys.

“Never mind.” I said, and bent down to face the cat-spider. “See if Cthulhu will take two soles now, and a promise to bring more later.”

The cat-spider grunted and gurgled.

Cthulhu nodded.

“Quick, Becky, give me your shoes!”

“What? The best part of my cheerleading outfit?” Becky stamped her foot.

“Quit pouting and just do it!” I said.

 “Okay, but I won’t forget this.” Becky took off her shoes—and her socks, for some reason.

I cut the shoes with my pocketknife. I used the tongues to wipe the stinky green goo from my arm and pitched the bottoms into Cthulhu’s gross mouth.

“Take our soles!” I yelled.

The cat-spider translated.

Cthulhu roared, but slithered aside.

“It accepts homophones! Still, let’s not press our luck,” the cat-spider said.

Stella bent down to pick up the cuddly cat-spider, who purred loudly while Stella whispered something I did not catch into the eight furry ears arranged like a crown on the top of its head. Then we dashed down a long dark hallway with the flapping of Becky’s bare feet echoing between the moldy stone walls. The hallway was lined with paintings. Starry Night. The Mona Lisa. Campbell’s soup cans.

“Ick! A museum of cliché art,” Becky said.

“This is worse than that dorm room I saw when my parents dragged me on a tour of a fancy liberal arts college,” I said.

“Now you know why I had to escape,” the cat-spider said.

We stopped in front of some melting clocks by Salvador Dali.

“I don’t feel so good.” Becky put her hand on her stomach.

“Time itself is melting!” said the cat-spider.

I couldn’t move. My feet dripped into the floor. Soon we would be nothing but paint splotches…

Next week: “Episode 7: The dreadful secret of McDonald’s”


 When not traveling to parallel universes, Paul Celmer is a technical writer in Durham, North Carolina. His recently published flash science fiction includes “Spooky Action At a Distance” in Daily Science Fiction and “The Last Rosy-Fingered Dawn” in Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores.