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The Butterfly Defect.
It was hailing. It had hailed every day since Sheckels went back in time. It had occurred three weeks ago, or perhaps two months ago, or it could have been fifteen years. It all depends on whether you live in the Eastern or Pacific Time zones.
Sheckels walked into Time Expedition, Inc. the same way he would walk into a supermarket, backwards on stilts singing “La Cucaracha.” He walked past the chairs stationed in the lobby and made a bee line straight for the receptionist, who was sitting in a desk behind a plexi-glass window.
“Hi!” Bellowed Sheckels, with an air of apprehension, to the man behind the desk.
“Hello sir, have we spoken before.” Asked the man behind the desk.
“Yes we sure have,” replied Sheckels, “I go by the name of Travis Sheckels and today is my appointment.”
“Why of course Sheckels, I remember.” Cried the man behind the desk enthusiastically, “So I take it you’re here to go back in time.”
“Yes, yes indeed!” Retorted Sheckels
“Well everything is already set up for you Mr. Shekels, all you have to do is sign this piece of paper.” Said the man behind the desk. The man then reached into a cubby and pulled out an official looking document for Sheckels to sign. Sheckels glanced at the document from top to bottom. The heading of the document was the familiar slogan that Sheckels had seen in ads and billboards throughout the city:
TIME EXPEDITION INC,
WE CAN TAKE YOU TO ANY ERA IN HISTORY
AS LONG AS YOU PAY US
Having no misgivings about the form Sheckels signed it without trepadation. Now the only thing standing between Sheckels and time travel was the matter of payment. The man behind the desk had informed Sheckels that it would cost him $10,000, but Sheckels managed to haggle him down to thirty dollars and a coupon for two for one soda’s at Burger Queen.
“Well Mr. Sheckels our relationship ends here. You will now be under the supervision of Mr. Allen. Well goodbye.”
“Wait, before I go can you guarantee that I’ll come back alive?” Asked Sheckels.
“Mr. Sheckels I’m an existentialist, I can’t guarantee you’re alive now.” Answered the man behind the desk.
Mr. Allen had now walked into the lobby and motioned Sheckels to follow him. Sheckels had followed Mr. Allen into the room where the time machine was. The two men stood in front of it, Sheckels was in awe of its splendor. “It must be a Japanese made time machine.” He thought.
“Now before we go into the time machine,” said Mr. Allen, “I have to make one thing absolutely clear to you.”
“You’re not calling shotgun are you?”
“”No sir I am not,” said Mr. Allen, “Now sir I need you to listen very carefully when we are back in time it is imperative that you absolutely don not leave this time machine. I f you do so much as take one step into the past, it can have reverberating effects throughout the rest of history and can cause vast changes of unimaginable scale.”
“Are you saying that if I do so much as to step on a bug in the past that it can cause a profound change to the future, or our present?” Asked Sheckels.
“Yes that is precisely what I’m saying, this time machine is built out of anti-gravity metal; I say this onlyl to point out the strides we undertake in order to insure that every last detail of the era we go to, no matter ho minute, stays in tact. Explained Mr. Allen.
Now that Mr. Allen’s lecture had ended Sheckels was finally free to go into the time machine and embark on hi journey. Sheckels had told MR. Allen exactly what place and point of time he wanted to go to, and when both men were in the machine Mr. Allen shut the door of it and began punching some buttons indicating the year and time that Sheckels had requested. When the machine started Sheckels was dumbstruck by its power. Years went by like minutes, days went by like seconds, seconds went by like marathon runners from Kenya.
The finally with an abrupt halt, which almost caused Sheckels to fall over forward, the machine stopped. They were in the bedroom of what seemed to be a young boy.
“This is my bedroom.” Whispered Sheckels with a look of sheer delight upon his face.
Then a small child of about nine years old emerged from the bathroom adjoined to his room.
“And that’s me,” said Sheckels “Hey can he see us?”
“No,” answered Mr. Allen, “You had myopia as a child.”
“Yes of course, thank God they invented laser floyd eye surgery.” Retorted Sheckels. Boy Sheckels went on to take off hi pajamas and change into a nice button down shirt, and black pants. Boy Sheckels then sat down on the edge of his bed and grabbed two socks that were lying atop of it.
“Oh no! No, no, no! Now I remember why I wanted to come here in the first place. This moment, this precise moment in my life is what sent it all downhill. This This is the exact beginning of my infinite downward spiral. I have to get out there.” Moaned Sheckels.
“No! You can’t! Please sir we had an arrangement! Sir please no!” Pleaded Mr. Allen, but it was of no use. SHeckels had already loosened the hatch on the door and was bout to open it. Mr Allen tried to grab Sheckels but it was too late, Sheckels was already out of the time machine, standing on the carpet.
Sheckels as a boy saw Sheckels as a man and screamed.
“Please don’t be alarmed boy Shecke3ls. It is only you in the future.” Said Sheckels reassuringly.
“That’s what I look like in the future?!” Said Boy Sheckels, he then screamed.
“Ikn, Iknow, I’ve been meaning to get these lumps removed but listen take off your socks.” Said Sheckels.
“Why? What about them?” Asked Boy SHeckels.
“Just give them to me.” Ordered Sheckels. Boy Sheckels did as he had just sort of told himself to do.
“Look!” Exclaimed Sheckels. “This left sock is black with white dots and this right sock is a pomegranate. You were just about to show up to school picture day with mismatched socks!”
“My God you’re right!” Shouted Boy Sheckels, just think of the horror, the laughing stock I would have been. Would they have even let me in school like this? I’ve heard of people who were locked in the loony bin for committing atrocities like this. Thanyou, thank you mysterious man from the future, I am forever in your debt.” Said Boy Sheckels.
“You can star repaying me by buying yourself a chocolate cupcake and savoring the taste so much that you remember it fifty years later when your taste buds have been burned off as punishment for inappropriately whistling at a fire hydrant.”
“Will do.” Replied Boy Sheckels enthusiastically.
“Oh and one more thing,” said Sheckels, “Try to stop performing acupuncture on orphans against there will without a permit. I know you think you’re curing their back pain now, but in the future people will look upon you harshly and make you apologize to those half orphans half porcupines that you’ve created.”
“Okay, I’ll try.” Said Sheckels.
And with that Sheckels work had been done. Sheckels went back into the time machine to encounter Mr. Allen who was pointing a loaded gun at his face.
“You bastard do you have any idea of what you’ve done?”
Said Mr. Allen with his teeth clenched.
“Now come on lets not get carried away here,” said Sheckels shakily, “all I did was make myself change my socks. I bet you that there was absolutely no effect at all.” Sheckels said shakily.
“you bastard, you just have no idea do you. I’d kill you if this ugn didn’t only shoot silly string.”
Eventually the time machine took Sheckels and Mr. Allen back to Time Expedition Inc. Sheckels and Mr. Allen both walked out of the time machine and interrogated the receptionist. After the man behind the desk had answered some questions about current events, names of cities, and had assured us that the statue of liberty was still a woman we concluded that no damage had been done.
“WE were lucky this time.” Said Mr. Allen. If only he was right. After we finished questioning the man behind the desk I sat down and opened up the paper to the cross word puzzle and found out, to my dismay that my time travel fiasco had caused Batman to be replaced with Robin’s sidekick.
This simply could not be, because it meant I would have to return my Halloween costume and I had already worn it out (to a relatives Bar Mitzvah, in retrospect it was a poor fashion choice). Something had to be done, so suddenly wtiout warning I ran back intow the time machine. I entered the time and place I wanted to go to. My childhood bedroom, so I could meet myself and stop me from ever telling myself as a child to change my socks.
Then Sheckels took his hand gun out of his pocket. Sheckels always carried around a hand gun with hime so he could kill himself if he was ever mugged. “A life without my alligator skinned wallet is not one worth living.” Sheckels had once written on the Queen of England’s face.
Sheckels planned to use the gun if he was unable to stop himself peacefully. Then with another abrupt halt the time machine stopped. And just in the nick of time, because from out of another time machine emerged Sheckels from the past from the future. Sheckels in the present from the future who was in the past saw that he had no time and shot himself (his other self) in the knee. This wound up hurting Sheckels in the future-in the past-in the present as well as Sheckels from the past-from the future- in the present, which was the past. Then Sheckels from the present-future-in the past went back went back into his time machine and came back to stop himself from shooting his other self in the knee. Unfortunately he came back too late and was forced to shoot his other self in the knee in order to stop him from shooting the third him in the knee. After that all three Sheckels were in pain, then another Sheckels came and shot the third Sheckels in the knee. Eventually the room was filled with 17 different Sheckels all shooting each other in the knees.
After about five minutes of this anarchy one of the Sheckels, possibly the ninth one, went into the time machine and traveled into the future, which was the present, and is now the past. He went straight home and explained the whole mishap to his wife, who was now an egg and cheese omelet. This could not do either, and Sheckels for a third time went into the past in an attempt to turn his wife back into a future, or if not that, at least a tastier omelet.
I wasn’t quite sure where to go but I figured that Las Vegas before it was a labor camp would be a nice trip. I lost everything I had and then some. Some tough guys followed me back to my hotel room and demanded that I pay them back with one of my limbs. I managed to haggle them donw to just my liver and three of my noses (I had surgery three years ago, which at that time was 67 years into the future, which gave me twelve extra noses. I thougt that this would impress girls, but all it wound op doing was quadrupling my prescription of Zyrtec). When the two thugs had left my hotel room one of them accidently dropped a pen that he had been holding. I picke it up and put it in my pocket. This turned out to be a grave mistake, becuast it wound up causing the Grand Canyon to switch places with the President of Ireland’s nose.
When I came back to the future I happened to notice that God was standing at the top of a mountain, singing “Age of Aquarius” and was turning every one with a pet parakeet into salt. I figured that this was probably my fault. I couldn’t figure out quite what exactly it was I did in the past that caused this, until I remember calling room service back at my hotel and asking them to do things that seem inconsequential but would really alter the course of history and invoke God’s wrath.
So back to the past I went, I figured that if I purposely changed things in the past, as opposed to fixing what I did, then perhaps that may be just what would work. So first Sheckels went to prehistoric times and prevented the dinasaurs from all going on the hunger strike that wiped out their species. That caused everyone in the future to constantly hi five each other instead of breathing. Sheckels then went on Darwin’s world wide cruise and convinced Darwin to put on a winter coat. This caused Sheckel’s house to turn into stale candy. Sheckels then went back in time in an attempt to turn his house into fresh candy, but that just caused an aquarium to explode and this short story to sporadically switch from 3rd to 1st person narrative.
Then almost as if it were a gift from God (Sheckels new it couldn’t have been a gift from God because God was now a waiter at Denny’s, and he could hardly pay his rent let alone buy people gifts) the future (which was really the present) was exactly how it was before this time travel travesty ever happened. And as Sheckels was sitting on his living room couch awaiting his wife to bring him chocolate milk he noticed he was wearing mismatched socks. This simply could not be, and back into the past he went.
For some reason the time machine no longer took me to where I directed it, but instead it took me to the best places where it could get laid. Most of these places were in a distant future where I had messed things up so badly that the human race had died out and time machines were repopulating the earth.
Then for some reason the time machine took me to Spain during the inquisition where a large angry mob was trying to hang me for fraternizing with a Jewish timem machine. All seemed hopeless, I tried praying, but God couldn’t help me do his being imprisoned (He stole a mop).
I tried to think back to the advice my dad gave me on my wedding day, all those years ago in the future. “Son, if the men’s bathroom is full, just use the women’s.” My dad really was a stupid man. And it goes without saying that his advice only stopped the angry mob from killing me as a fluke (even though it worked 11 times)
When I had escaped the angry mob I was vengeful, and hungry. So I decided to kill everyone in my surrounding with my handgun, which due to some mistake I must have made in another time period, was now a foot gun.
When I returned to the future I was shocked. Almost everything was the same. Of course there were some differences but none of these amounted to much. For instance I noticed the American political system had changed. Instead of having one all powerful tyrant rule us for life, people now had the opportunity to chose a new tyrant every four years. The meanings of stoplights also changed, now red means go, yellow means stop, and a green light means four more weeks of winter. One thing which came as a surprise was that all of the plays I had written while in Elizabethan England were now attributed to William Shakespeare, my gardener. I thought he was a louse to double cross me like that, especially since I gave him my second best bed as a gift, but I decided to let sleeping dogs lie. There is also the hail, which someone else had mentioned, but you get used to that quickly. Oh and people no longer know how to manufacture time machines, sometimes I am tempted to tell people that all you need to journey through time is a microwave, a chocolate fountain, and three illegal immigrants, but I figure its best if no one else makes my mistake. Now that I can finally enjoy some piece and quiet, I will sleep.
And that’s the story of how Sheckels went back in time and returned 3rd person narration to this story.