0S8 The Future Shock - Part Five - The Father Time Loop

December, 2005

The morning of the 10th quickly arrived, and once again I found myself on a plane headed towards an unfamiliar destination. Father Time had let me know the previous night that a resistance member, the great warrior Leyzon, would be meeting me at the airport baggage claim at 1pm. In addition to Leyzon, a guy named Dave who was a security officer at the airport had seen my story, and was also meeting me to watch the events begin.

Zane Confronts the World Warriors

The baggage claim area was empty when I arrived, but it wasn’t quite 1 o’clock yet. After a few minutes of standing, I noticed someone heading in my direction. “So, when’s this going to go down?” he said as he came up to me.

“Hey, Dave?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he replied.

We chatted for a while about the future, and his job as a security officer at the airport. He let me know that there was a group of CIA and security guards that he had told my story to. They were apparently sitting in the monitor room, with all the security cameras focused on me to watch what was about to happen. Time ticked by, and soon it was 1:15, and still no sign of Leyzon. “I’m going to go out for a smoke,” Dave said, and walked out to the entrance area.

I stood waiting for a few minutes, until Dave hurried back in through the doors holding up two fingers. “There’s two of them… one with a camera, they’re coming now.”

Zane Confronts the World Warriors

At that moment, two figures turned the corner, as well as the heads of everyone near them. Leyzon looked straight out of the Matrix, with a black vinyl overcoat, patterned vest, flared pants, and a tiny mini-afro. Walking next to him was a figure holding a videocamera, wearing a bright red jumpsuit and white helmet. A mask cloaked most of his face, and he had an elaborate series of ties that attached a laptop to his chest, which was connected to the camera. They quickly approached me.

“Velocity Gnome!” exclaimed Leyzon. “It is an honor to finally meet you!” I extended my hand for a handshake, and he fell to his knee and clasped it. “I, as you know, am Leyzon, the warrior.” He pointed to his jumpsuit-clad companion. “This is The Observer, the documentarian and navigator. He does not speak.” I looked over at The Observer, who was slowly shuffling around our small group of people to get a good angle.

“This is Dave,” I said, motioning back towards him. “He is trustworthy.” Leyzon looked skeptically at Dave for a moment, and then moved to go shake his hand as well.

“We must depart, Gnome,” Leyzon said as he turned back towards me. I nodded, said goodbye to Dave, and took my place next to Leyzon as we headed out the way they came. The Observer trailed slightly behind, still filming. “Gnome, it is truly great having you in our presence,” Leyzon said as we rode down an escalator. He radiated a quiet aura of cool, that was definitely aided by his outfit. We made the usual slightly awkward future smalltalk while traversing the airport, heading to the garage. “Our vessel, I believe you will be pleased,” he said as we walked down rows of parked cars. He turned left, and opened the door on a large blue Dodge Minivan. I grinned, remembering the extremely shoddy Lincoln Towncar from Minneapolis, and agreed that yes, it was a step up!

I got into the extreme back seat, as the middle row had been taken out. The Observer sat on the ground near me, with his camera still watching my every move. He would randomly flip the lid of his laptop outwards, and move the mouse, doing something unknown. Leyzon was quite cordial, and expressed great concern that I was comfortable during the first stage of my journey.

Zane Confronts the World Warriors

We set off down the highway towards Dayton, Leyzon and I still conversing. I was having trouble hearing him due to my being so far back, so I switched up to the front seat. He then told me the story of his fall from grace as a warrior, when an enemy snuck up behind him and severed his beard. He lost much of his power that day, but I let him know that I was still honored to have him fighting on my side.

After nearly fourty minutes of driving, we came up on a large mall. “Keep low, Gnome,” Leyzon whispered. “We don’t want to reveal your location to the enemy. We are headed to a training facility, where you will view a training video. Another operative will meet us there, and headquarters has let me know that you must speak his name, ‘Ultra’, to gain control of him.”

“Why would I want to gain control of him?” I asked.

“I apologize, for I do not know,” he said solemnly. “I was merely told to pass this message along to you from headquarters.”

Zane Confronts the World Warriors

The car eventually came to a rest outside of a large Regal Cinema theater. We got out, and strut into the lobby of the theater, much to the amusement of everyone there. “Two tickets for ‘Derailed’, please,” Leyzon told the man at the counter. The Observer obviously wouldn’t be allowed in the theater with a camera, and he wandered off while we were buying the tickets.

Leyzon and I continued into the theater playing Derailed, which was completely empty. After a few minutes, I commented that I wanted to go get some popcorn. “You stay here, Gnome,” he said. “I will get the popcorn.” He got up and left the theater, leaving me alone. A minute later, a small girl with wild hair wearing a skirt, pink fuzzy cape, and boots came wandering in and up to me.

“Kolin Pope?!” she yelled in a bit of an angry tone. “What are you doing here? You are Kolin Pope, aren’t you?”

“Yes, yes I am.” I replied. “Are you a member of the resistance?”

“Aren’t we all? Why are you here? You’re my 3 o’clock, and it’s 3:15. You’re late, you’re late for your haircut!” She produced a scissors out of her cloak. “We had an appointment, and you’re here! Come, now, let’s go!” she said, motioning for me to leave.

I hesitantly rose out of my seat and followed her. “How do I know I can trust you?”

“Well, I’m human, aren’t I?” she sarcastically replied.

As we stepped into the hallway, a name tag fell out of her cloak, and I caught the word “ULTRA” written on it. “Ah, Ultra!” I said, happier to know that it was in fact a member of the resistance.

She absentmindedly flipped around her scissors in her hand as we walked down the hallway. “Yes, yes, that is my name. So what style do you want? You really could use a haircut. Do you have any idea?”

Zane Confronts the World Warriors

“I’m not sure..” I hesitantly said, fearing a butchered head of hair at the hands of a lunatic hairdresser from the future. We passed the ticket-taker arriving back in the lobby, and I saw the observer had returned. I quickened my pace over to him, eager to reunite with Leyzon. Strangely, Leyzon was nowhere to be found, and Ultra caught up to me with haste.

“So, Kolin, what style? What style?” she repeated with wide eyes, waving her scissors dangerously close to my face. Onlookers began to take notice of this bizarre scene playing out in the crowded lobby.

“I.. I really don’t know!” I stammered, not knowing exactly what I was supposed to do.

“THEN DIE!” she cried in a robotic voice, mechanically lunging at me near the scissors. I grabbed her wrist, forcing it away from my face.

“What is happening!?” I cried, trying to force her off me. Ultra pulled out a second pair of scissors with the other hand, and I quickly grabbed her other wrist as well. The Observer circled us, filming the awkward battle, while people stopped in their tracks to watch.

“KOLIN POPE… MUST DIE” she continued, struggling to gouge me.

At this moment, I recalled what Leyzon had told me in the car. “ULTRA!” I cried, and her arms instantly went limp. “K.. Kolin?” she quietly said, looking up. “You saved me.. you set me free… oh, it was terrible! The robots, they brainwashed me! I was powerless to do anything!”

“Ultra, we have to get out of here,” I said, and motioned for the Observer to follow me. We quickly left the theater, and ran back to the Minivan, where Leyzon was calmly waiting.

“You.. you must be Ultra, the resistance member?” he said with great interest as we walked up to him.

“Yes, I am!” she said, “And you?”

“Leyzon, the warrior. I see you have met the great Velocity Gnome.”

“Yes…” she said, trailing off. “Gnome.. I want you to cut my hair.”

“What?!” I said, confused at this comment out of nowhere.

“Please,” Ultra continued. “Cut it, as a sign of trust.” She handed me the scissors, and lowered her head.

“I’ll cut a small amount…”

“NO! Cut a large amount. As a sign of trust!”

“Large or small, the trust is equal to me.” I said, taking one small lock between the scissors and neatly snipping it off.

“Now, I cut yours.”

My eyes widened. “I….” I contemplated this for a moment, and then lowered my head, silently consenting. Ultra quickly cut off one of my curls, and then took her own hair from me, rolling them together in her fingers and then releasing them into the wind.

Leyzon, who was looking on, piped up. “Shall we?” All of us piled into the van, Ultra and The Observer sitting in the back, and I took my previous spot in the front. As we rolled out of the parking lot, I asked Ultra, “Do you always counter brainwashing by speaking their true name?”

“It’s different for.. everyone,” she said, finding words. “You have to find the one word that brings them back, reminds them of their humanity.”

Our drive continued for another five minutes before Ultra piped up again, letting me know that this would be my last chance to get a haircut. I figured “What the hell!”, and consented. She had me sit in the back of the van, and with the Observer still filming, gave me a small tidying-up-the-back haircut. “Looks good!” she exclaimed, finishing up and wiping some hair off my neck.

“Thanks!” I said, and climbed back into the front seat, checking out my trim in the mirror.

“Gnome,” Leyzon said. “For our next stop, I fear that you will have to put on a disguise. The enemy is all around.. and you must not be recognized.”

“I know!” yelled Ultra from the back seat. “I collect these articles.. will this do?” She pulled out a fake beard from her bag, and passed it up to me. I looked at the thing, a white, itchy-looking full beard with a strap to go around the back of the head.

“Yes, it is perfect!” exclaimed Leyzon. “Gnome, put it on quickly. We have arrived.”

I donned the beard disguise as the car parked on a small, store-lined street. Leyzon and Ultra walked towards a toy store that was up ahead.

“I’ll check to make sure it’s safe.” said Leyzon, cautiously creeping up to the window of the store. After a moment, he motioned for us to follow him inside.

Zane Confronts the World Warriors

The store was small, and the aisles were filled to the ceiling with all manner of toys and disguises. Leyzon stood aside near the entrance as I peered deeper into the store. A figure glanced at me from one of the aisles, catching my eye. Long black hair with white highlights flowed down past his shoulders out of a tall wizard hat. He had a matching black robe on, completed with a silver lightning bolt hanging from his neck. I slowly made my way around racks of toys towards him, and he shuffled up to my side, whispering, “Gnome, do you know who I am?”

“Father Time?” I answered.

“No, no.. I am Darwin Cinderthistle, the wizard. Do you know why you are here?”

“To defeat Maggie Hark.”

“Yes, yes, but *here*?”

“No. I do not.”

“You must find the… chalice. It is a mystical item, forged of pure dragon’s blood. You will know it when you see it.” Darwin said, as we walked down the aisles, The Observer following.

We rounded the corner to the back room, where my eyes eventually came to rest on a small semi-transparent red chalice set atop a counter.

“Yes! Yes, this is it!” Darwin whispered excitedly. “Quickly now, act natural! Place it into your bag!”

I looked around and noticed two men watching what obviously looked like shoplifting play out as I swiped the chalice from its stand and threw it into my backpack.”

“Gnome!” said Darwin. “Act natural! We must flee this place!” We strolled casually up through the store, passed the front counter, and made it to the door when the girl at the counter yelled at us, “Hey! You guys, stop!”

“YES? DID YOU SAY SOMETHING?” Darwin shot back at her, obviously flustered.

“I saw what you did!” she said in an accusatory voice. “I saw you take it!”

Darwin rose up to his full height, raised his hands towards her, and roared out a series of magic words. She cried out, and fainted backwards onto the counter.

“RUN!” He yelled at us. We crowded out the door and ran to the car.

“Gnome!” Darwin said to me. “Give me the chalice, I shall meet you at Maggie’s Lair!” I fished the chalice out of my backpack and handed it to him. “Good luck,” he said as he turned away.

“Gnome, I must go as well,” added Ultra, running after Darwin. “I will see you later!” The two of them ran down the street away from us.

Leyzon, myself, and The Observer got back into the van. “Now, we must go meet another resistance member,” he told me. “Keep your disguise on. The robots could be watching, they could be anywhere.”

The next ride was extremely short, and we arrived at a similar small street in front of a used bookstore. Again, Leyzon snuck ahead to make sure it was safe, and summoned us into the store after him. The member we were there to meet revealed himself nearly instantly. He was extremely tall and lanky, with long hair peeking out from under a brown beanie hat, and had on a vest, tight pants, and striped socks.

“Gnome!” he cried, loud enough for the whole store to hear. “I am glad you have arrived! I am Worm, the Scholar! I have studied your time for very long, and perhaps know more about than any other from my own.”

Like Darwin before him, he asked if I knew why I was there. I replied the same, “To battle Maggie Hark?”

“Yes! Yes, eventually. However, you are here to find a book. A very important book. Perhaps you should look to the history of your time, as I have. Such as here,” he said, pointing to a row of books on the history of South America. “The History of South America! And here! The history of Africa! Oh, oh! And here, the history of Ohio, where we are now!”

Zane Confronts the World Warriors

I scanned through this entire row of books, looking for something out of the ordinary, but nothing stood out. I looked up at Worm, and he was puzzling over a row of books high up. I followed his gaze, and found him staring at a row of books titled The Encyclopedia of World History. Sticking slightly out at the end of the stack was an extremely thin booklet. Reaching up, I took the booklet, and was shocked to see the cover. “Velocity Gnome in: THE FATHER TIME LOOP” read the cover of a comic book, with a dramatic picture of Father Time coercing a time vortex in his hands. Standing proud in the foreground was what I assumed to be me, Velocity Gnome. I flipped through the booklet, and immediately recognized the text. It was the entire history of the Father Time Loop that had been given to me at the Star Wars Episode III opening so many months ago, but fully illustrated as a comic. [Read the comic]

“Ah! Good, good!” said Worm. “Let us leave!”

We walked to the counter, and I was about to pass it when Worm stopped me. “Gnome, we must purchase this! Please, hand it to the cashier.” I handed over the comic book, and the cashier looked at it for a moment, confused.

“Uh, dude, this isn’t ours.. we don’t sell this. Just take it or something,” he said with an extremely disinterested voice.

“Why, thank you!” exclaimed Worm. “Come, Gnome!”

We left the bookstore, and as before with my past companions, Worm apologized for having to leave, but assured me he would reappear when I was most in need.

“Goodbye! Good luck!” he yelled, walking into the distance.

I turned towards Leyzon, and he motioned for us to start walking back towards the van. “Now, I believe we must get sustenance. You cannot fight Maggie Hark on an empty stomach.” People passing us stared as we walked down the street, some pointing from the distance.

Zane Confronts the World Warriors

Once back at the van, it was a quick trip to the restaurant. Amid confused looks from the waitstaff and patrons, we ordered our meals and sat down to eat. This was the first time I got to see The Observer’s laptop up close, and I realized that he had a wireless broadband card plugged into the side. Suddenly, it all made sense – they had been webcasting the adventure *live* ever since the airport. The Observer turned the screen towards me, and for the first time I saw what was happening. A plethora of video programs were open, for streaming and editing video. It was replaying some old footage from the airport. I glanced at the clock – it was 5:45.

“Don’t we have to be at Maggie’s lair at 6 o’clock?” I asked.

“Not exactly at 6,” Leyzon said. “We have to wait for word from headquarters.”

We sat around for a bit more before the awaited phone call came, after which we returned to the van and set out for our final destination, the Lair of Maggie Hark.

It had turned to night by that time, and everything was dark and snowy as we drove. As we came into the Antioch campus area, Leyzon slowed the van down, and The Observer hopped out the back, running over to a building to our side. Leyzon’s phone rang, and something was said to him that put him in a rush, because he immediately drove us around the corner into the parking lot of the building, which I could now see was the Antioch Theater. A guy came running out, making motions to come to him, and hurry.

“Go, Gnome!” Leyzon yelled. “GO!”

I grabbed my backpack and ran up the steps of the theater, and through the front doors. “Come on, quick!” said the guy, motioning for me to follow him. We ran through another doorway, and into a dimly lit corridor. As I flew by, I saw the walls were plastered with pictures of me and my adventure, from every part of the quest. Chants of “VELOCITY GNOME!” came ringing out through a final doorway that we were fast approaching. Music blared behind it, and I heard what sounded like cheering. The observer stepped out, his camera following my sprint to the doorway. “VELOCITY GNOME!” again echoed down the hall. As I ran through the doorway, into the next room, my mind momentarily stopped.

Zane Confronts the World Warriors

[Video on Youtube]Dancers circled a brightly lit stage wrought with steel beams and mechanical parts everywhere, with three massive screens suspended high above showing the live video of me that The Observer was taking. A massive cheer erupted, and I turned around to witness a completely packed theater of nearly three hundred people, all standing and yelling as loud as possible, and it dawned on me what was actually happening. The music flared as I stepped onto the stage in a daze, and the dancers encircled me, lights all focused on the ring. I tried to regain my senses, but all I could do was stand there completely dumbfounded. The song drew to a close, and the dancers fled off the stage.

The theater went dark, and I was left standing alone in front of the crowd.

A loud voice suddenly echoed throughout the theater. “My, oh my! I may not know my lips from a lighthouse, but I know Kolin Pope when I see him!”

I looked up, and in the corner on a circular screen, a large image of a man with a wild beard and goggles appeared, staring straight out at me.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “We haven’t been properly introduced! I’m Father Time, owner and proprietor of time itself. Tell me: how are you, young fellow?”

Zane Confronts the World Warriors

“I am well, Father Time!” I said in a loud voice, looking up at him. If I was going to be in this show now, I’d have to fit the part and play along. Luckily, when you know the story by heart, improving the lines is somewhat easier.

“Ha ha ha!” he replied in his slightly southern accent. “There are important matters to attend to! Such as… that eyesore over there!”

I swung around and looked to the side of the stage. A massive contraption sat in the dark, covered with gears and buttons, looking quite ominous. I walked over to inspect, but as I drew near, spotlights suddenly lit up a figure standing above the audience.

“FAAAAAAAAATHHHHEEERRRR!” he yelled in dismay.

Looking up, I saw none other than Zane Figiam, my future son, and traitor to humanity. He wore little besides a red cape and boxerbriefs, and was looking downright furious.

“Zane!” I yelled, shocked.

“To tempt fate is ill advised, Father! As *I* am now a man and *you* are a boy, I take it upon myself to responsibly usurp your paternal duties as I offer you these gentle words: go home, wretch. There is nothing for you here. I have made my choice, fully prepared to suffer the consequences. What say you!?”

Thinking for a moment, I took a cautious step towards Zane. “What I think, Zane,” I said in a loud, clear voice, taking slow dramatic steps after every few words. “..Is that I’m going to stop this Doomsday device, stop Armageddon, and stop *YOU*.” This sent the crowd into a frenzy of cheering.

“A man much wiser than I once said “Time heals all wounds,” Zane said solemnly. “But, wise men are fools, Kolin. There was a time when I was your son, your flesh and blood, but you took my heart, and you chewed it up like so many family dinners left half eaten in your rush to the drycleaners before close.”

Father Time suddenly spoke from his post up in the corner screen. “Every father has choices he must make, Zane Figiam!”

“STAY OUT OF THIS, OLD MAN!” Zane snapped back. You meddle enough in the affairs of men. You speak to me as ungrateful for despising a father who chooses to toss his own son to the CyBears.”

“Zane Figiam.. you know it wasn’t as simple as that,” Father Time replied. Kolin Pope knows what he must do, and sometimes must live with the regret his responsibilities force him to shoulder.”

Zane put on a scowl. “Do your duty today and repent tomorrow, then, is it? Look at you, Father, rushing to the rescue. I loved you.. Father…”

“KOLIN POPE!” Father Time yelled. “IT IS NEVER TOO LATE!”

“NO!” cried Zane. “It *IS* too late! TOO LATE FOR YOU! Too late for us. For *all* of us.” He put his arms out, referring to the audience.

A laugh rang out from offstage. “It’s him…” Zane whispered. “The End Day is close, now.”

A figure strolled out of the darkness and into the spotlight, and I recognized him as none other than Maggie Hark, the arch nemesis of myself, and all humanity. I had met him originally in Minneapolis, when he was in disguise posing as the human ‘ Tyler’. True to Maggie’s usual outfit, he was clad in brown suspenders, with his trademark metal arms at his sides. He stared directly at me.

“YOU! You… you bothersome, meddling, insignificant CHURL! You, for whom I have traveled through time, space, and death to destroy, how do you still manage to…” He suddenly became calmer, and a smile passed through his lips. “You’re after this,” he said, holding up a large yellow key that was hanging from his neck by a string. “But it’s late, too late. Remember THIS?” Maggie’s hand reached to his side, and he pulled out the phaser that I was all too familiar with. It had been drawn on me before, in the forest preserve of Minneapolis, and I had barely escaped by making a saving throw with a d20, as per Future regulations.

“You won’t manage to interfere with me this time, Gnome,” Maggie continued, letting out a small chuckle. “I’m afraid, this time, NO DICE! BEHOLD, THE DOOMSDAY DEVICE!”

The Doomsday device sprung to life, with wheels spinning and clicking, gears turning, and moved itself slowly out onto the stage, its top segment rotating a gigantic metal protrusion towards the audience.

“Kolin Pope! Do not be rash!” Father Time warned.

Maggie let out a great, maniacal laugh. “You know, I’ve done this all for you, Gnome. Take a bow, wave goodbye to your precious human race I hate so much… and say hello to THE END DAY!” He erupted in laughter, and looked around the room at the audience he was about to destroy, but then his gaze came to rest on the one figure he had not intended to be there – Zane.

“You!” Maggie yelled. “I know you… you’re the one who took my dear, dear championship! WELL, NOT AGAIN! Humans.. you’re always working together, to take.. my championship belt… my key, my password, there’s no need. Beautiful implosion! Bang! Boom!” He said his last words with a crazed tone in his voice.

“Take note, Father whom I despise,” Zane said, turning to me. “Maggie Hark – humanity’s greatest enemy, and my creation – is a madman.”

Maggie became furious. “I AM NO HUMAN!” he yelled back at Zane.

“Yes, you are.” Zane replied. “Only a human could possess such evil. I didn’t know how far you’d go.. and as I witnessed the construction of this accursed machine, I realized that my revenge was being overshadowed by utter chaos.”

“You see it then, the perfection?” Maggie asked, somewhat sarcastically.

“Oh yes, Hark, I see it. Your ‘perfection’. There was a time when I entertained thoughts of stopping you. All I would need is that key hung round your neck, and it would be as simple as entering your maintenance override code during the final countdown…”

Maggie, becoming extremely furious at hearing this, screamed, “WHAT? A SPY? A MOLE IN MY MIDST!? You know *entirely* too much. You’ve gone and learned my password without.. my permission. It would be lovely if you were breathe your last breath.. why, I believe now is as good a time as any!”

A sad look passed over Zane’s face. “Why not?” he said. “I might as well perish along with this chaos.. This is the revenge I asked for. I have nothing left to lose. I’ve already lost.. all I once cared about.” He looked over at me.

“Yes, ah yes!” Maggie exclaimed. “Well, just as a little extra “insurance policy…” He removed the key from his neck, dramatically stuck it into the doomsday device, and turned it. A siren blared throughout the theater, and a female voice spoke.

“Final countdown initiated. End Day will occur in two minutes, zero seconds. All space and time within an infinite radius from the Doomsday device will cease to exist. Please ensure that all your affairs are in order.”

Maggie let out another laugh, then threw the key to the ground. It broke to pieces. “And that, as they say, is that! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to pop off to another era for a better view of the implosion. TTYL!” The audience got a huge kick out of the TTYL.

A large gate to the right of the stage constructed out of steel rods was marked “FUTURE”. It lit up, and Maggie ran through it while the sirens continued.

“Kolin!” Father Time yelled. “The Machine.. see what you can do!”

I ran over to the Doomsday device, but the key was broken. I could do nothing to stop it.

Father Time piped up again. “The power to weave time is at my fingertips, Kolin Pope! You must stop him from destroying your life’s work… life itself! Follow Maggie Hark! In you go, boy, through the portal!”

Zane Confronts the World Warriors

The Future portal was no longer lit, but one on the opposite site of the stage labeled “PAST” had activated. In a split second, I made up my mind, and sprinted through the gate. “Do not change much, but do not forget your mission!” Father Time called after me. The stage went dark.

A guy who had been sitting to the side of the stage came up to me, and quickly took my backpack and coat. “Now there, Kolin, let’s just put you over here, and don’t worry about a thing…” He directed me back out onto the dark stage, which was buzzing with the activity of people changing the set. He sat me down at a table with some bowls on it, and shortly after, a woman and man sat down besides me. There was a door frame to our side. The lights lit up again, and the new scene began.

The man was reading a newspaper. “Ho ho ho! I see the circus is coming to town! Beth, get in here, the circus is coming to town!”

My Mom’s name is Beth, and this made me instantly realize that I had traveled to the past, and was replaying through the night that I first met Zane Figiam. A dog barked wildly, and my dad Kerig yelled, “Alex! Settle down!”

The doorbell rang. “I’ll get it!” said my Mom. She walked over to the door, and opened it. Zane stood there, acting much like he had when I originally met him two and a half years ago.

“Good evening grandm.. er.. madam. My name is Zane Figiam. I am here to see the one they call Kolin Pope.”

“Well,” she replied. “Kolin is my son. Do you know him?”

“Yes. Well, no, not yet. He will know me in the future.”

My mom stared quizzically at him, and then turned around to me. “Kolin, It’s for you.”

I got up out of my seat and walked over to the door. “Hello?” I said with a bit of a confused face, trying to replay the events exactly as I had remembered them.

“Hello, Father,” Zane said. “My name is Zane Figiam. I have been sent form the future to aid you, and give you… this.” He handed me a small package wrapped in newspaper, just like the first time. “This book will help prepare you for your destiny. All shall be explained in time. Do you accept these responsibilities, young Gnome?”

“I accept the responsibility of the future,” I said, echoing my old words. The audience erupted in cheers.

“Learn well from the book, Father,” Zane continued. “And.. farewell.”

I looked out the door frame for a moment longer, and then shut it, walking back to the table with my parents.

“What was that?” my Dad said.

“He said.. he was from the future,” I answered, opening the package.

“Kolin!” Father Time interrupted suddenly. “We’ve got no time! You must jump through that portal and follow your timestream further on down.”

I held up the book. “Interesting!” said my Mom.

“Mom, Dad, I have to leave for now, I’m very sorry.”

“Oh, alright!” said my Dad. “Just don’t forget the Father/Son picnic on Saturday!”

The Future portal once again lit up, and I ran through it. The same guy from before took the book from me, and directed me back out to the stage again, where the scenery was being changed. I was placed at yet another table, but this only had one other seat besides mine. Maggie sat down opposite me. It became obvious the next stop on my journey through the timestream was meeting Tyler/Shags at the restaurant in Minnesota.

The lights came back on, and I could see that something was obviously different from the actual event. Tyler had a large key hanging around his neck, the same that he did earlier in the show before it was broken.

“Oh, hey..” he said. “Are you Zane?”

“No,” I replied, acting confused. “I’m not.. uh, who are you?”

“My name’s Tyler, are you supposed to meet Zane here too? Do you have any idea what’s going on?”

Zane Confronts the World Warriors

The scene played out exactly as it did a year and a half ago, with us discussing how we were both lured to that spot. The waitress eventually came over to take our orders. “Are you ready to order?” she asked.

I looked down at my menu, and realized that it said “Belgian Waffles” over and over. That was, indeed, what I had ordered. We told the waitress what we wanted, and she left.

Tyler casually took the key off his neck, and stuffed it into his backpack. “I have to go to the bathroom, I’ll be right back,” he said, getting up and leaving the stage. It was obvious what I had to do, now. I quickly bent down and rummaged through his backpack, fishing out the key.

“Fantastic!” Father Time yelled. “Now, quickly, put the key ‘round your neck so you don’t drop it, you clumsy Ebeneezer! Hide it in your shirt!”

I did as Father Time asked, and Tyler returned to the table moments later. “So!” he said. “Is Zane here yet? That guy is really getting on my nerves! Haha!”

The waitress walked back onto the stage, and came over to us, giving a very accusing look. “This.. was left for you,” she said, holding out an envelope labeled Gnome and Shags #1.

“What the…?” Tyler said, but didn’t get to finish. The lights cut out, and Father Time said excitedly, “I can’t hold you in this time, Kolin Pope! You’re time-shifting! Don’t worry, I’ll catch up to you!”

I ran to the Future portal, and was again turned around as the stage changed. A woman dressed as a scientist and holding a clipboard was standing next to where I sat, while two soldiers manned the towers, scanning the area with turrets. She jot down some notes on her pad, and said, “Let’s see.. continuing on with Zane’s favorites list: we have his favorite painter, Georgia O’Keefe, favorite actor: Bill Pullman, and favorite food: S’mores. Am I correct, sir?

“Yes..” I replied, not entirely sure what was happening in the scene yet.

“That should be about it, sir,” she continued. “We’ve completed the schematics of Zane’s psycho-physical profile. I have to say, sir, I admire the time and care you’ve put into creating your son from the womb up… and yet you still manage to responsibly maintain your duties for the Resistance each and every day. Really, it’s quite admirable. We are truly blessed to have you as our leader.” I gave a bit of a smiling laugh, unable to respond to a compliment like that. “As you requested, sir, we’ve collected a list of potential egg donors. We have over 15,000 volunteers already, and have narrowed it down to seven based on your parameters.”

The male scientists came running over suddenly, and spoke in a bit of a worried tone, “Sir! Excuse me, but we’re having some fluctuations in the central portal hub. Will you come take a look?” I got up and followed the scientists over to a control panel type area that had many knobs and dials.

“Take a look, sir. As you know, we pride ourselves on having the most sophisticated portal network in the Resistance, but none of us can hold a proverbial candle to your understanding of the complex inner workings of the technology. Could you show me again how to realign the nodes in a situation like this?”

“Of course!” I replied. I bent over the panel and began to work with the knobs. “Set this to nine… flip this switch off, and flip this off as well.”

The scientist looked positively overjoyed. “Marvelous sir, truly marvelous! Miriam, come over here and look at this technique!” The female scientists came over and crowded around the panel as well. I had just begun to explain to her what to do when an explosion came from the right side of the stage. One of the soldiers yelled, “RED ALERT!” A siren started whining, and lights flashing. The soldier came up to the portal and readied his gun. “What’s happening, Sir, the portal!?”

“But this can’t be right!” The scientist said. “It looks like we have a tunnel breach.. I checked the Y-grid myself this morning!”

“SOMETHING’S COMING THROUGH!” yelled the soldier.

Zane Confronts the World Warriors

A lumbering robot made up of boxes and silver wrapping came stomping through the portal. The soldier braced and shot his laser, but it did nothing to stop the robot. It brushed him aside with his arm, and the soldier went flying. It next turned its attention to the turret firing on him and shot a laser at the soldier manning it, killing him. Unsure of what do, I grabbed the gun from the fallen soldier and fixed it on the robot.

“Kolin Pope!” Father Time said, appearing in his usual spot on the screen. “At last, I’ve found you! You’re a hard fella to pin down, quite the ramblin’ rose! Oh my, it looks like you’re busy… “

“SIR!” The female scientist yelled. “We have to evacuate!”

“She’s right,” Father Time said. “I’ll adjust the portal.. you jump through, Kolin Pope! In you go, to faraway times and high adventure!”

Evading the robot, I ran through the future portal, and the lights on the stage vanished. The usual guy came and took my gun, then turned me right back around to the stage where Zane was now sitting in front of a capsule of lights that looked like a fire. Cricket sounds played in the background, with the fire crackling softly.

“Ok, dad, I guess I’ll see you later! Don’t work.. too hard.. “ Zane said, looking away towards the opposite side of the stage from me.

Father Time suddenly piped up, “Remember Kolin, he must know how you truly feel! But be wary, creating a time paradox will thrust you into an alternate timeline from which you cannot return. It will destroy the entirety of your timestream’s history!”

I approached Zane, and he looked up at me, shocked. “Dad?! What are you doing here, I thought you just left.. you look younger, did you shave?”

“Zane…” I said. “That was me, but I am also here. I have something to tell you…”

“Father..” Zane said softly. “I really wanted to talk..” Zane rose from his log, and picked up a microphone. The band on the stage behind us began to play, and Zane burst into song.

Zane Confronts the World Warriors


I sat on the log warming my hands by the fire as Zane serenaded me, the song detailing his discontent with me as a Father, and how he thought he meant nothing to me.

The song ended, and I rose from the log, letting him take his seat again. “I get it.. now,” Zane said. “You’re a busy, important man. You do great things for so many, but why.. was I born if you weren’t going to have time for me?”

“Zane,” I said. “I’m so sorry… I do care about you.”

“COME ON, Dad, you don’t know anything about me. Who’s my favorite painter?”

“Bill Pullman,” I said, mistaking his favorite actor for favorite painter.

“NO! No, Dad! Come on, I thought you knew…”

The audience started whispering to me, remind me of the answer. “Georgia O’Keefe?” I said to Zane.

“I can’t believe it!” he cried. “Maybe you do know.. well.. ok, what’s my favorite food?”

“S’mores!” I said, confident.

“You’re right!” he said, overjoyed. “You do know me, dad! I’m so happy! Let’s go celebrate, I’ll go pick the graham crackers and marshmallows, you forage for chocolate. We’ll have s’mores, after all!” Zane ran off to the side, and I crouched down around the set, pretending to search between branches for chocolate.

Father Time appeared once more. “Kolin, it’s time, any more of this and you’ll cause a time paradox! The future would be shattered into a million and two ways west of Eden, my boy!”

Zane returned to his log, preparing s’mores. Figures came out of the set behind him, whirring and making robot noises. They were the CyBears that had mauled him in the original timeline.

“There’s nothing you can do, Kolin Pope!” Father Time spoke, sensing my concern. “Some things simply must be! You must leave him – the portal won’t hold much longer!”

The CyBears grabbed Zane and began to maul him, and I looked back sadly one last time as I ran through the Future portal. The stage was quickly cleared, and the Doomsday device rolled into its spot. I was ushered back out.

“Kolin Pope! You have arrived! Again, that is,” Father time added with a wink. “My oh my, I may not know my lobes from a lantern but I know Kolin Pope when I see him! Welcome back to what’s left of the present. Tell me: Are you prepared this time, young fellow?”

“I am, indeed!” I said triumphantly.

“There are important matters to attend to,” Father Time continued. “Such as that eyesore right there.”

I looked over at the Doomsday device, and once again, the spotlight rose to Zane standing among the audience as he yelled, “FAAAATHHHHEERRRR! HOW DID YOU GET HERE? To tempt fate is ill advised! Go home.. there is nothing for you here.”

“Zane!” I yelled. “I must talk to you!”

“There was a time when I was your son,” Zane said angrily. “But you took my heart, a heart filled with nothing short of complete loyalty and devotion, and you chewed it up like so many instant breakfast noodles en route to the boardroom! I am living proof of your failure as a parent, and as a friend! I loved you.. Father. Why weren’t you there? Why didn’t you stop the CyBears?”

“Kolin Pope!” Father Time yelled. “It is never too late!”

“Zane..” I said. “I’m.. so.. sorry..”

I didn’t get to continue, for familiar laugher floated in from the back of the stage. Maggie strolled out, just as before, with the key around his neck. “YOU!” he said, noticing me. “You bothersome, meddling, insignificant churlist CHIPMUNK! You, for whom I have traveled through time, space, and death to destroy… how do you still manage to…”

The events unfolded as they had previously, with Maggie unveiling the Doomsday device, and then noticing Zane. Again, they bickered, and again, Maggie turned the key of the device, initiating the countdown. Sirens rang out. “Bricks for bread, moss for meat, Kolin’s powers CAN be beat!” he screamed, typing in a code to the machine and stepping back towards us. “As a little extra ‘insurance policy,” he continued, raising the key and again throwing it to the ground, smashing it to pieces. “Oh, I almost forgot!”

Maggie raised his phaser at Zane. “Just so you don’t get any tricksy ideas of getting my password from your bouncing baby brat!” He fired, and Zane gasped, falling to the ground clutching his side. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to pop off to another era for a better view of the implosion! ROFL…MAO!” The audience once again got a kick out of his internet abbreviations, and Maggie ran through the future portal, vanishing.

“Now’s your chance!” Father Time yelled down to me. “We won’t get another!”

I ran over to the machine, took the key off my neck, put it in the Doomsday device, and turned it. The audience cheered. “Now, Kolin, the password!” The audience was whispering for me to turn around.

I looked back, and saw Zane crawling down the center of the aisle towards me. He looked up at me as I ran next to him, crouching down. “Zane!” I said, worried. “We have to get you to a medical center!”

“Father…” he said, sadly. “I see right through you, through your eyes. You see the world with such clarity, all the human beings that inhabit it. You fight for them, love for them. You care for them so much. So why, why then do you not care for me?”

I lowered my head, and put my hand on his shoulder. “I *do* care for you, Zane.”

He coughed, cringing. “You care about getting the password, yes, that’s why you’re giving me attention now. But where was the attention when I was growing up? It was always the Resistance first, your son last. Humanity at the forefront, the boy behind the backdrop.

“Zane.. I’m so sorry.” I said, trying to assure him.

“Do you even still know anything about me, Father? Do you even know your own son? Do you remember the night at the campfire? You seemed to know more about me that I ever knew.. even now.. can you remember still?”

“Yes,” I said, still crouching next to him.

“If you know so much about.. your son.. then tell me, who is my favorite painter?”

“Georgia O’Keefe,” I said, without hesitation.

“You, do know!” he said, coughing again. “But she’s everyone’s favorite, I have to be sure. Tell me… do you remember my most very favorite food of all?”

“S’MORES!” I cried, and music began to swell in the background.

“FATHER! Kolin… you *do* care. All this time I thought I was merely an afterthought, a postscript, a forgotten child. Oh Father, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry for causing all this!” Zane painfully sat up and embraced me.

“I’m sorry too, Zane.”

“It means so much to hear these things. For the first time… I’m proud that you’re my father. I… I love you, dad.”

“I love you too, son,” I said, hugging him tight. The music roared and the audience broke out in applause. It was cut short though, because the Future portal suddenly lit up.

“Touching,” said Maggie, strolling slowly and angrily back onto the stage. “How disgustingly, skin-crawlingly, gy-rodingly *touching*.” He the noticed the key sticking out of his Doomsday device, partially deactivating it. “NO! By the fires of East Leinster.. this is not possible!! What perversion of the fourth dimension has occurred to my beautiful MACHINE?”

“Oh dear,” chimed in Father Time. “Looks like you’re really in for it now, Kolin Pope. Don’t be rash… you can’t beat him alone.

Maggie looked at me, fires burning in his eyes. “SO! You want to be a hero?! I am the most powerful cyborg that will ever be, Velocity Gnome! So by all means.. BE A HERO!”

“Father!” called Zane. “We… have to stop him! I will help you.. agh.” He tried to get on his feet, but collapsed. “Father, come closer… the password… is…” Zane leaned in close, and whispered the password so quietly that only I could hear it. “Control… Alt… F2…” He then collapsed on the ground. I tried to shake him, but it was no use. I stood back up to face Maggie.

“HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” he cackled. “The mighty Zane Figiam! Dead! And now, YOU will die! All alone, Gnome. ALL ALONE!” he raised his phaser at me, and I braced for the worst. A light flashed, and instead of hitting me, Maggie let out a cry and the phaser flew out of his hand. He grabbed his arm in agony, and swung around.


Darwin the Wizard had his arms outstretched towards Maggie in a spellcasting pose. The music changed to a more triumphant tune. “Not while you’ve got me!”

Leyzon suddenly ran out onto the stage and stopped next to Darwin, drawing his sword. “And me!”

“AND ME!” yelled Ultra, as she ran in and took her place next to everyone, drawing her dual scissors and assuming a fighting pose.

“I’m here, too!” said Worm, casually strolling out and taking his position.

Zane Confronts the World Warriors

“GREAT CEASERS SALAD!” exclaimed Father time. “The Time Warriors have assembled! Kolin Pope, you’ve really outdone yourself this time. On your quest today, you have aided each of these brave adventurers: To the Wizard, you gave hope. To Worm the Historian, you gave knowledge. To the hairdresser Assassin you gave clarity of mind. And to Leyzon the fallen Warrior you gave.. wait, what did you give Leyzon?

“BAHAHAHA!” screamed Maggie. “Oh, this is UPROARIOUS! I stand corrected, Gnome! You won’t die alone, you’ll die with a group of clowns!”

Ultra took a step forward and said back defiantly, “NO, MAGGIE! Kolin Pope is a great and humble hero.. he is the purest example of uncorrupted leadership and unstoppable justice. And justice will ALWAYS defeat pure evil!”

“He is a beacon of hope, and mercy!” said Darwin. “Hope that can never die!”

Leyzon tilted his sword forward towards Maggie. “I’m ready to fight again for you, Kolin! I think I am.. it just doesn’t feel right without….”

Everything went dark, and the big screen lit up with a video. Leyzon was stalking through a futuristic battlefield, flying around like some sort of ninja and destroying robots. He had a long, black, braided beard that hung down past his waist. As he creeped over the bodies of fallen robots, someone snuck up behind him, and knocked him out with the hilt of his sword. The mysterious assailant grasped the beard, and severed it. Leyzon awoke shortly after to find his epic beard laying at his side, and he held it up, yelling “NOOOO!”

Video on Youtube

The video faded, and the lights came back on, returning us from the flashback. “The day you lost your…” Father Time sadly said.

“It’s ok, old man,” said Leyzon. “Go ahead, say it.”

“The day you lost your confidence.”

“The day I lost my BEARD! But the Gnome has helmed me so much today. He has reminded me that I truly am capable of courage.. However, it’s just not the same without my powerful whiskers as they once were. Kolin! Can you help me??”

I swung my backpack around from my shoulders, reached in, and pulled out the beard disguise from earlier. I raised it above my head to display to all, and the band played the Final Fantasy “winning a battle” melody. The audience cheered, and I handed the beard over to Leyzon.

His face lit up as he accepted the hairy treasure. “YES!” he shouted. “Thank you, Kolin Pope! I am reborn! I am Leyzon, mighty warrior for the Resistance! Together, we will defeat you, Maggie Hark!”

“You must be joking!” laughed Maggie. “Oh, you are TOO MUCH! I AM THE MOST POWERFUL BEING IN THE UNIVERSE!”

“Two minutes and counting until total Universe Implosion,” said the automated woman’s voice over the loudspeaker. Tense music began to play.

Zane Confronts the World Warriors

Maggie looked up and grinned. “You hear that? Come on, then! TIME TO DIE, HUMANS!” He started towards me, but Leyzon and Darwin intercepted his path. They began to trade blows, while Ultra circled, and I hesitated in the back for a moment before charging into battle with them. Unfortunately, a well placed blow by Maggie sent me flying back into the control panel for the portal. Flashes and bangs rang out from their scuffle, indicating magic was now being cast, and the battle was heating up.

“Kolin! Over here!” yelled Ultra, and motioned for me to come hide under the stage with her. I ran over and took cover, watching the battle begin to turn unfavorably. Maggie stuck a devastating hit against Leyzon, and he fell to the ground. Ultra skirted the underside of the stage, and crept over to the control panel, where she removed the laptop portion, and slowly headed back towards me. Maggie chased Darwin around the side of the stage, scoring another killing strike. He went limp. Ultra ran out to the center of the stage, and yelled to me, “Kolin, over here! ENTER THE CODE!”

I quickly got out from under the stage, and ran to the laptop. Maggie saw me, and began to head towards me, planning my doom. I raised my hands to the keyboard, and yelled as I pressed the keys: “CONTROL! ALT! F2!”

The audience roared as all the lights began to flash wildly, and ‘UNIVERSE SAVED” flashed on the huge screen. The woman’s voice once again came over the speakers. “Maintenance override code accepted. Powering down. Initiating program memory wipe. Total core explosion initiated, good night!”

“EXCELLENT!” yelled Father Time. “We have control! Now, I will send this accursed machine through the portal and into cyberspace, where it will be destroyed once and for all!” The machine began to make an increasing humming sound as it slowly started to roll backwards towards the active Future portal. Maggie ran after it, yelling “GNOOOOOME!” as he passed through the portal with it.

The large screen came back to life, and Maggie was spinning through cyberspace. “GNOME,” he said. “I… will.. not… perish.. as long as there is evil in the hearts of men, humanity will destroy itself.. with its hatred… hahahahahHAHAHAHA!” He exploded in a burst of flame, and the screen went dark. Father Time reappeared in his usual spot, and addressed me.

“Oh! My, my, I didn’t see you there. Now, I may not know my tongue from a turkey leg, but I believe you’ve done it! You’ve really, truly done it, Kolin Pope! The Father Time Loop has at long last ended, and not a moment too soon!”

A cough came from the aisle. Zane moved slightly, and brought himself up to his knees. “Zane!” I yelled, running over to him. In the background on the stage, Ultra had produced a mop and was sweeping away the bodies of Leyzon and Darwin. She looked at me, and said, “Kolin, go to your son. I’ll take care of these… nasty bodies.”

Zane Confronts the World Warriors

I kneeled down besides Zane, and he spoke to me. “Father.. It.. it is truly over! Please, come with me.” We stood up, and he took me to the center of the aisle, below a large web-like mechanical dome, with screens affixed to either side. “I’m sorry, Father. I’m sorry for the hatred I had in my heart. I cannot forget the past.. some things you did, or rather did not do, have hurt me. But our future is bright! Let us start this day anew. Time warriors, Father.. thank you for showing me the way. Now.. let us return to where we belong. Father, will you join me?”

“Yes!” Yelled Worm from the stage. “Go, Kolin, and see the Future you have saved for us all! I will stay here.. there is so much history to learn from this place!”

Ultra walked back out next to him and added, “.. And I will remain to atone for my sins.. and give these mighty heroes a proper burial. Farewell, Velocity Gnome.”

Zane Confronts the World Warriors

“Now, Father,” cried Zane. “To the future, to start anew!” The dome slowly lowered over us, and in a flash, everything went dark. The audience got to their feet and applauded louder than anything thus far that night, and as the lights came back up, all the characters slowly came back onto the stage. Happy and triumphant music was playing, and the dancers had come back out. “Come, Kolin,” said Zane. I followed him up to the stage, and everyone, including some audience members, had run up and started to dance around me. “Please,” he said. “Take a bow! We couldn’t have done this without you.”

I stepped forward to the center of the stage, and bowed low in front of everyone who had just witnessed the once-in-a-lifetime event.