November 2013 – this time – A Terrible Idea by Simon Evans

A Terrible Idea

by Simon Evans

So, let me get this straight. You’ve been sent from the future to kill me?

Yes, yes, that’s right.

But you’ve changed your mind?

Hmmn. Yes.

And why’s that?

Why have I changed my mind or why was I sent to kill you?

Er…why…why have you changed your mind?

Because my heart’s not in it and you seem like a nice chap. But mainly because just now you seemed to suggest that you weren’t going to carry on developing the Neurotranscontinentavapourtravelator.

Well, not if it’s going to cause so much trouble. I’m really not that bothered about it. How many people did you say it would kill?

There were approximately five million fatalities over the first five years of widespread use.

And how did that happen?

Problems with the tracking of the barcode server. It wasn’t talking to the graphic equaliser.

Bugger…. Well, thank you.

What for?

For not killing me. So, are you off now? Back to the future?

I think I’d better stay with you for a bit. Just to check.

Check what?

That you don’t invent it anyway. Plus I’d quite like to see it. I’ve become quite interested in the Neurotranscontinentavapourtravelator since I was given the job of travelling through time to kill you.

That’s fine. I’ll blow up the airbed and you can stay a few days. You can help me to dismantle the Neurotranscontinentavapourtravelator prototype. What’s your name?

Ring-ring 21.

Ha! That’s a funny name!

Not in the future it’s not.

Well, I’m Brian Foth.

I know who you are.

* * * *

Over the next like, few weeks or whatever, the odd couple carried out what they said they would do in terms of dismantling the Neurotranscontinentavapourtravelator. Once this had been completed Ring-ring 21 stayed living with Brian and got a job in a nearby field, picking vegetables, so that he could pay his way. Brian would sit on the arm of his sofa, waiting for Ring-ring 21 to get home. Brian had started to grow very fond of his house guest from the future. They would stay up late, watching TV, playing word games and talking about the past, the present and of course – the future. Often they would discuss the merits of the Neurotranscontinentavapourtravelator and how damned frustrating it was that so many millions had perished due to the technical problems with the tracking, as previously mentioned.

The Neurotranscontinentavapourtravelator was an amazing invention which could transport many people at once across continents incredibly quickly. Cargo and people would zip around the world, willy nilly, which was good. But loads of them died, which was bad. This was also the reason that Ring-ring 21 was sent back to kill Brian but he changed his mind, as you know.

This story has two twists. The first one is that it turns out that Brian and Ring-ring 21 were both gay. One night they got drunk on the sofa watching the Eastenders box set and ending up kissing. Their teeth clattered together awkwardly and they both made silly grunts. But they both had a jolly good time. I do realise that this isn’t really a twist. Or is it? Let me know.

The other ‘twist’ is that Ring-ring 21’s obsession with the Neurotranscontinentavapourtravelator grew and grew. He would spend hours reading through the early design material while stroking Brian’s happy, sleepy head. He began to think that the design faults could be corrected with a few changes to the design of the remote beam module. This germ of an idea grew and grew until the incompetent time travelling assassin began creeping into Brian’s cellar at night to tinker with the prototype Neurotranscontinentavapourtravelator, which he had secretly rescued from the recycling bin.

One night Ring-ring 21 was remodulating the Neurotranscontinentavapourtravelator flash player by torchlight when the big cellar light flickered on. Yep, you guessed it – it was Brian. He had bed hair.

What the hell’s going on Ring-ring 21?

It’s the Neurotranscontinentavapourtravelator – I can make it work properly this time.

There won’t be a ‘this time’ Ring-ring 21.

Please Brian! I’m dead confident. This is my destiny.

No Ring-Ring 21. It’s too dangerous – you convinced me of that. Let’s turn our back on this intercontinental mass transportation device and live a life of love by the sea in Suffolk.

What’s that in your hand Brian?

It’s a Ray Gun Ring-ring 21. I’m an inventor. I can’t stop inventing. Now that my days are no longer filled with thoughts of the Neurotranscontinentavapourtravelator I’m really keen on the Ray Gun, or the Ray Gun 1 as I call it. It kills many people at once using compressed air and atoms.

But that’s even worse than the other one Brian you bloody idiot.

No it’s not. This one works properly.

But you’re just inventing another mass killing device.

Yes but the Ray Gun 1 is supposed to be a mass killing device, that other thing is a piece of shit, it’s embarrassing – so stop reinventing it.

But I love the Neurotranscontinentavapourtravelator Brian, it’s my destiny – like I said earlier.

I love you Ring-ring 21 but I won’t let you do this. Put the Neurotranscontinentavapourtravelator down – it’s a mistake. The Ray Gun 1 is my new life’s work thanks to you – it’s my destiny. And you’re my destiny too. Now let’s go back to bed before we both catch a chill.

OK Brian. You’re right.

Yes. This is our time, this time.

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