100 Words: How Can You Still Be Living?

The assassin drops to the floor and strikes swiftly. Any weapon would be detected coming into the hospital, so he pulls the pillow out from under the target’s head and slams it onto his face as he awakens. The old man flails, but after a minute… uh…

…he keeps flailing.

And flailing…?


Die! Why won’t you…

The door opens. Guards pour in with tasers and the assassin jerks once, twice, falls. How did the target hold his breath so long?

The old man leans into view, chuckling: “Porous foam core. Breathe right through it. Hey, asshole: Do your research.”

For consideration: "You must honor and respect the older fellow / Even as you suffocate him with a pillow / Though you're strong / He. Was. Wise."

100 Words: "We all got a space 2 fill"

“Sorry, babe. She’s more what I need. Long-term, I mean.”

He knows he sounds like a dick, dumping me for her, but he doesn’t care enough to be nice about it.

“It’s not like I was ever going to introduce you to my family, right?”

What he doesn’t know is, I set them up together. She stays married just long enough to strip the estate off him in the divorce. I get ten percent afterwards, and don’t have to put up with fucking him in the meantime.

And I have seven other new-money douchebags just like him in the pipeline.

For consideration: "Did he put your million dollar check / In someone else's box?"
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Fiasco: “Herr Streichland’s Very Long, Very Bad Morning with the DaVincis”

This was a three-player game on the evening of Thursday, January 9th 2014 using the "Clockblockers" playset by Rob Wieland.


During setup, some initial randomness is used to generate the elements that will be used in the game. We needed three Relationships and one each of a Location, an Object, and a Need. We ended up with:

Relationship: Noble ancestor & scummy descendant

- Needs: To get rich replacing historical person

Relationship: Work, Old maintenance hand and new recruit

- Object: Excalibur

Relationship: The one person who remembers you from the original timeline

- Location: The end of the world

Our three characters became:

Klaus Streichland, 8th generation Swiss watchmaker, who works at the Time Travel Museum in their Artifacts department. He bears a KronoTraveler 2000 that was built by his “father’s son’s father”. It has a floating tourbillon and a perpetual calendar. Klaus’ uniform looks like a 19th Century train conductor; his KT2K resembles a vest pocketwatch on a chain. One of his jobs is to travel back to “borrow” key historical artifacts, bring them to the Museum where they are displayed for some set window of space-time so that TTers can come see it, then return it to its native place-time microseconds after it was taken. If you ask Klaus when he started his time-travel career, he says “early this morning”.

Leonardo DaVinci, literally the Renaissance Man. As a young man, he accidentally ended up having a time travel experience involving Klaus (early in Klaus’ “morning”) and learned way more about time travel than he was supposed to. This has haunted him for twenty-five years, driving all his art and math and science experimentation as he tries to recreate what he once witnessed. Then, years later, now a man of 50 instead of 25, Klaus reappears to him and extends him an invitation: Partner with him as a new recruit of the Time Museum, under a non-disclosure and confidentiality agreement with appropriate damage and liability waivers etc. etc. Leonardo ignores all the bureaucratic details; all he cares is that he will have another chance to figure out how time travel works. He says YES.

Joey “Da Schlong” DaVinci, twenty-year-old Italian-American denizen of New Jersey and direct but distant descendant of Leonardi. He wears leather wristbands - one with the Lamborghini bull, the other the Ferrari stallion; he calls his biceps “The Barnyard”. Wears a t-shirt with a picture of himself lifting up his t-shirt to show off his abs. He routinely lifts up this t-shirt to show that his abs are even better now than in the picture. He works at the boardwalk t-shirt shop that made the shirt. But, more importantly, in that t-shirt shop’s lost & found, he discovered a misplaced time-tourist’s kronotraveler. Whoa, a clock on a gold chain? Hell yeah he’s going to put it around his neck with his other chains!

As part of Setup, Klaus showed up at the Jersey boardwalk (with his previous partner) to rescue the stranded tourist and recover their lost KT. But one thing about Klaus, it turns out, is that he can’t help but talk in very precise terms about time-travel equipment (he just loves it so much). Thus, in the process of telling Joey what he MUST NOT DO in order to avoid TRAVELING THROUGH TIME, he effectively tells Joey the precise steps that will activate the KT. So, of course, Joey does that and vanishes into time. The moment he does, clearly something got horribly changed, because the Jersey Shore begins to fracture and melt. The stranded tourist and Klaus’ partner are consumed by entropy; Klaus only barely gets away. But now he’s going to need a new partner. Since he already needs to approach Leonardo about getting disclosed for time travel, he decides he’s going to recruit him as well, killing two birds with one stone. But, perhaps flustered by his near-miss with Joey and the collapsed Jersey Shore timeline, or perhaps because of slight damage to his KT2K, he arrives late and meets up with 50-year-old Leonardo, not 25-year-old Leo. Still, gotta go with what you got.

As soon as he becomes a time traveler, Joey remembers all those T&A historical dramas on, like, Showtime and stuff - you know, Tudors and Borgias and Rome and Game of Thrones, right? Joey decides he’s going to go back in time and become a sexy famous King or Emperor or maybe even a Pope. How’s about them apples, eh, ma?


During the Scenes, players take turns opening scenes for themselves and each other, and in each case, it is eventually decided whether the Scene will go "well" or "badly" for the character. That is, at the end of scene, is the character's situation better or worse than before? By the end of the game, each character has a total of four scenes in which they are centrally involved, in which the outcome is primarily focused on them.

Scene 1: “Now THERE’S something you don’t see every day!” (goes badly for Leonardo)

Klaus is going to take Leonardo on a cakewalk introductory mission. They’re going to go retrieve (“fish”) Excalibur for a scheduled exhibit time at the Museum.

(“Why Excalibur?” “Because it’s next on the list.” “What order is the list in?” “In the order we need to retrieve things.” “Alphabetical?” “No.” “Difficulty?” “No.” “Who makes the list?” “The Museum does.” “How does it decide what order the list should be in?” “The list should be in the order that we need to retrieve things.” Classic Italian vs Swiss dialogue between Leonardo and Klaus.)

The plan is to borrow Excalibur while it’s still stuck in the stone in the church courtyard, but something is off (again) with Klaus’ KT2K and they arrive ten years too late - Arthur has already drawn the sword and is king and all that. So they tromp over to Arthur’s castle (well, wooden fort - this is like the 6th Century AD after all) and hope to filch it from its scabbard. Along the way, one thing we learn is that Klaus’s watch has a ten minute refractory period after being used, before it can be used again.

Unfortunately, when they arrive at the fort, Arthur is already running around the place with the sword out, swinging it like crazy, in a terrible rage. It seems a strangely-dressed man appeared out of nowhere and, shortly after, began fornicating with his wife, the Queen Guenivere. Cue the appearance of Joey DaVinci, pulling his pants up as he runs for a window. Arthur narrowly misses cutting him in half; then he wheels around and sees TWO MORE STRANGELY DRESSED MEN OUTTA NOWHERE. More demon seducers! Before they can say a word, Arthur runs Leonardo through the stomach with Excalibur, fully stuck through him. Hey! They have the sword! Klaus, thinking quickly and efficiently, reactivates his KT2K and he, Leonardo, and the impaled sword all vanish.

Unfortunately, the sword has to be put on display almost immediately and they don’t dare take it out of Leonardo because otherwise he might bleed all over the museum and perhaps die of blood loss so, you know, the best thing to do is just leave the sword in him while it’s on display. That’s right, it’s a 2-for-1 bonus event at the museum: A famous historical figure and a famous historical artifact together in a single exhibit! It proves monumentally successful, as time travelers flock from all over human history to see this famous man run through with this famous sword. Klaus might even get a huge promotion for such a clever and exciting idea! Leo, on the other hand, is already having second thoughts about the wisdom of this new career, and thinking about how he can get the time-travel device without needing the time-traveling companion.

Once the exhibit ends, the doctors check out Leonardo and confirm he’ll survive just fine for quite a while after the sword is withdrawn. Klaus blips them back to where the came from, in front of the angry Arthur, who draws Excalibur back out of the Leonardo without even realizing they’d been gone. Then Klaus and Leo engage in slapstick as they flee, just like Joey did, and have to stay ahead of Arthur for ten minutes until the KT2K resets. It’s a close call.

Scene 2: “Hey baby, you got some Italian in you? Would you like some?” (goes badly for Klaus)

This is the second time Klaus’ morning has been ruined by Joey. He decides to get pro-active and hunt Joey down, to take the Tourist KT back by force if necessary. Leonardo is armed with a Time-Taser and they use a tracking device to get a lock on Joey’s TKT, which is “currently” in Ancient Troy. (Whatever “currently” means here.)

When they arrive on-target, well, sure enough, wouldn’t you know it - Joey’s already going at it with Helen. “STOP OR WE’LL SHOOT!” shouts Klaus, and then tells Leonardo to shoot him. But the Time-Taser hits Joey’s Tourist Kronotraveler, it goes all fritztastic, and both he and Helen vanish from sight - just as Hector and the Trojan guards burst in to find Helen missing and two strangers instead. Not again! The refractory period being what it is, Klaus and Leonardo flee once more, through the tangled and confusing streets of Troy. The guards are hemming them in on this side, then that side - there’s only one avenue left for them to escape. Of course. They rush to the main gates of the city, throw the lever that lifts the bar and the gates swing wide open. Outside, of course, ten thousand well-armed Greeks look up from their campfires with sudden interest. They charge toward the now-open city. The Trojan militia alarm goes up. Both sides close on each other with Klaus and Leo in the middle - BLIP! The refractory period ends and they return to the Museum safely, but just barely.

There is a message waiting for Klaus from the Museum’s management. They’ve begun to become aware of the trouble his day has been causing - a random schmuck running around with a stolen KT, a tourist and a museum employee both potentially lost forever, a new divergent timestream where Troy was sacked way too early… what’s going on? Klaus, you’d better get this situation under control.

Scene 3: “ENGLISH! DO YOU SPEAK IT???” (goes well for Joey)

Cut back to Joey right after his original blip-out from the Jersey Shore with the Tourist Kronotraveler, before Guinevere and Helen and all that. After a couple of entirely random misadventures, he starts to get a feel for how to use the device but more importantly, he realizes he has no idea when any of those HBO historical dramas actually happened. Like, what year was the Borgias? No idea. That means Joey needs to find a library and learn up on this stuff. Fortunately, the TKT has a set of bookmarks for quick-reference travel and one of them is the Library of Alexandria. Joey goes there only to find, disappointingly, that it’s nothing but papyrus scrolls in long-dead languages staffed by only dudes who also speak only long-dead languages. No luck. It’s looking like a total bust but then Joey bumps into a nice older couple from Brooklyn - they have a timeshare in a luxury kronotraveler (whatever “timeshare” means in this case!) and are taking their around-the-world-history cruise with it. Joey seems like a nice young man (he puts on his talking-to-grandma face) so they show him how to really work the controls on his KT, recommend some good spacetime coordinates for far-future libraries that he will be able to actually use (“Wikimedia VI at Canopus B is really quite complete by about 2250.”), and lend him their spare copy of Lonely Planet’s Space-Time Guide (aka Chronotravel For Dummies) with built-in translator system. Suddenly, Joey is semi-competent to get started as a time-traveler - hence, his ability not long after to start dialing in exact historical times to chase the ladies.

Scene 4: “Pulling the Aggro Train” (goes well for Joey)

Immediately post-Helen, with her still along, Joey’s Tourist Kronotraveler (the TKT) is in trouble, sparking and freaking out from its Time-Taser damage. He and Helen flip through dozens, perhaps hundreds, of times in rapid succession, mere moments each, until finally his TKT goes into some sort of alert lockdown mode countdown and suddenly returns the two of them to the Museum. (In hindsight, I think this TKT must have been issued to the now-lost tourist by the Museum as a rental.) But as soon as he arrives in the Museum, objects and animals from all those numerous times he blipped through also show up - everything from little Egyptian scarab beetles to robots to velociraptors to, man, whatever. A huge chaotic mess erupts in the Museum - coincidentally, during the display of Excalibur-through-Leonardo. The TKT is still blaring an alarm and Museum guards are closing in on its sound amidst all the insanity, but Joey thinks quick - DaVinci’s are good with the sleight of hand, you see, so he quickly switches his dying TKT for some fully functional one off some random Museum patron caught up in the disaster. He and Helen then blip out, safely arriving at a Super-Dubai Space Elevator Hotel high above the Future Earth, in a comfortable suite that’s snowing flakes of gold and the sun is just breaking over the horizon. That’s the way we do it! Joey pulls Helen close - it’s you and me, baby, you’re the gal for me! (For now.)

Scene 5: “It Takes A Montage” (goes well for Leonardo)

Leonardo wants to go back to the origin of these kronotravelers, these portable time devices, and build one from first principles for himself so he no longer needs to hang around with Klaus and work for the Museum and such. So in a moment of distraction for Klaus (there have been many), Leonardo lifts the KT2K off him - we just pointed out that the DaVinci family line is adept at the sleight of hand, did we not? - and blips backward through time until he finds Klaus’ ancestor who built the first such unit - in fact, it turns out Leonardo learns about time travel while helping that elder Streichland perfect his first device, and so we have something of a paradox as the invention of the first time device is really only possible with the assistance of someone using a later generation of the time device… And then after having helped crack the problem in the first place with his superior inventor’s skills, Leonardo then bounces around time a bit to find the optimal places and times to forge all the components of his own, even better one - the DaVinci 1 Kronotraveler 3000. Better accuracy, smaller, lighter, and best of all - nearly no refractory period. This is truly his masterpiece. As soon as he has his own time piece, Leo blips back to Klaus’ side, slips the KT2K back into his vest, and throws a disarming smile. Now, whenever he feels like it, he’ll be able to blow this pop stand.

Scene 6: “You can make me do it, but you can’t make me care about it.” (goes badly for Klaus)

The management of the Museum calls Klaus in and gives him a stern talking to. The Museum is a mess of velociraptors and whatnot on the loose and this Joey DaVinci punk is fully amok now, spawning divergent timelines one after another that are turning out to result in the end of the human race. Klaus is given direct orders to get it cleaned up or face… unpleasant consequences. They’ve located Joey’s newly stolen KT finally, in an end of the world timeline fork where he’s conquered the world, had all the other men on Earth executed, and now rules over nothing but women of various ages from a mountain super-fortress. It doesn’t matter “when” or “where” or “how” this happened, just go there, Klaus, and eliminate him.

But it doesn’t go so well. Klaus and Leo are set upon by Joey’s Amazonian Guards and dragged before him to be executed. It is decided that the two intruders shall be made to fight each other to death after dinner. They are dragged away to sex-dungeon holding cells for the time being. Joey also makes sure Klaus’ KronoTraveler 2000 is seized. He doesn’t know, of course, that Leo also has one and the moment he’s thrown in the cell, Leo blips out - leaving Klaus, who he always intended to ditch as soon as he could.

As we reach the halfway point of the game, it looks like Joey has won: he has made himself the most powerful and important man on Earth (perhaps several Earths, if the other end-of-world timelines are similar conquering type situations) while his biggest threat is currently hanging from fur-lined cuffs on a leather wall somewhere downstairs.


During the Tilt, another round of randomness is used to select two factors at the halfway point which now come into play to change the situation and throw whatever is going on out of balance (or even further out of balance). As we've been playing Fiasco these past couple of years, we've generally felt like the Tilt works better if you get right to them as their own little mini-scenes, which are cooperatively constructed by all the players, rather than trying to make sure they somehow end up in one of the players' own scenes in the second half. Also, our Tilt mini-scenes often involve, center on, or even exclusively are about an NPC that has come along in the first half. It worked beautifully this time - at the mid-point of the game, Joey had effectively won, he had sort of fulfilled his Need. He was, by default, the richest, most powerful, most famous man in the world he inhabited, and the only person he really had to worry about as a threat - the Museum official who was the only person who really knew who he was, where he came from, how he got here - was his captive. And then, we rolled for our Tilt elements... and suddenly, there was everything we needed to turn the tables, literally start the flipping-over of the power struggle.

“Someone is watching, waiting for their moment.”

Suddenly, we realize that, in fact, it is Helen who suggested that the two intruders be made to fight to the death after dinner, instead of simply being executed on the spot. It is Helen who makes sure Klaus’ KT2K is taken from him - and that it is handed to her, not to Joey. She casually slips it into her own pocket as she pours the already-pretty-drunk Joey another glass of wine. He blacks out and in the morning can’t even remember that he didn’t watch his enemies die. Helen - who has been a virtual hostage of Joey’s for countless ages, since he wore the time device and she did not. Helen - who has had to endure Joey’s loutishness in a hundred different ways on a hundred different timelines. Helen - who put up with his stupidity and abusiveness and cheating and all the other horrible stuff for as long as she has because she’s known, all along, that at some point she’d get her hands on one of these time devices herself, and then… well, then she’d have a thing or two to take care of. And now… now is finally that time.

“A stupid plan, executed to perfection.”

Some of Joey’s Amazonians decide to ferret Klaus away to a secret village where - being the only man on the Earth other than Joey Da Vinci - they want to use him to provide, uh, well, baby-making material. But Klaus takes no pleasure in it; he is solely, ruthlessly focused on building a new KronoTraveler and hunting down Joey and eradicating him at the earliest timeline point possible. His time with the Amazonians affords him the opportunity to eventually, over months, build a very crude preliminary system. He might also have saved the human race in this timeline, if there are enough viable male fetuses, but that’s entirely inconsequential to him. He finally has enough of a device to get him started - he uses it to escape, to jump to a few other basic spacetime locales where he can have a montage much like Leonardo’s, iterating on his design, working through improvements, replacing one prototype with another, each one better than the last, moving back and forth through time (and through his own family history!) until we see at last that it is, in fact, Klaus himself who finishes that very first KronoTraveler acting as his own first-generation distant ancestor - and working unrecognized by Leonardo in the previous montage!

Scene 7: “Me and My Best Friends. Who Are Also Me.” (goes badly for Leonardo)

DaVinci the Elder, having freed himself from both Klaus and the limits of space-time, goes on a tear through the years collecting more copies of himself from all phases of his own life, in order to build a research team that can push the boundaries of what is possible in time travel. They build a lab, do math, assemble experiments, and are working toward some truly magnificent breakthroughs - but suddenly, one day, one of the Leonardos vanishes. Just…. POOF! Then, not long after, a second one. And a third. The remaining Leonardos are trying to figure out what’s happened, what’s going on - and quickly they come to the terrible conclusion that their own experimentation is damaging the fabric of space time! They need to, I dunno, fix it. Come up with a patch. Develop some workarounds. They redouble their research efforts, but now they are focused on understanding how they can continue to push the limits of time travel without the rest of space-time unraveling. Will it work? It looks like they might have a solution! … But as soon as they come to this conclusion, a huge portal opens in their lab and a bunch of power-armored goons with energy weapons step through and just completely vaporize, or disintegrate, or de-rezz, or chrono-revert, every Leonardo except for one. “No,” they tell him. Then they stun his brain, take his DV1-KT3K, destroy his lab, and return him to his original life in 1502 with nothing, not even his memory of what he had seen and done. Or did they…? As all his other time-travel knowledge fades away, stunned out of his mind, he sees a strange emblem on these strange people’s power armor, and he focuses on it, commits it more fully to memory than anything else. And as he wakes back up in Renaissance, everything feels like a fading dream… but that symbol is crystal clear.

Scene 8: “The volcano’s still months away. What could go wrong?” (goes badly for Joey)

Somewhere in the tangled mess of criss-crossing timelines that Joey has left in his wake, a pre-Helen post-Library Joey is drunk in Pompeii. He’s done his reading up and knows he has plenty of time before the volcano erupts; he’s just here to carouse and debauch in one of history’s legendary resorts. He’s staggering around, completely ruined on whatever passes for wine in 70AD, his famous fitness visibly going to hell - his six-pack abs are more like a cardboard case of juice boxes, he’s slow and paunchy and just completely blitzed, staggering around a back alley vomiting periodically.

Suddenly, another Joey appears out of nowhere - BLIP. This second Joey is slightly but visibly older, back into some kind of better physical condition, but haggard, with some visible scars, frantic, unshaven, afraid. He grabs fat-drunk Joey, pulls him off to the side, tries to slap him into coherence. “Joey! Listen! You have to stay away from Helen, do you hear me? It’s Helen, that’s the mistake you have not NOT MAKE, do you understand? Don’t go after Helen! Dammit, you stupid asshole, can you even hear me?”

Then another time portal opens nearby and Haggard Joey freaks out and flees back into his own Kronotraveler, because that new time portal means Helen has arrived. Helen steps out to find the drunken Joey, a Joey who has not yet even met her. “Whoa,” drunk Joey says, falling back onto the only pickup line he knows: “Do you have some Italian in you? Would you like some?” Helen puts her arm around him, soothingly guides (leads, escorts, captures) him back to her own time portal while lifting his own KT off him, leaving him as time-stranded-dependent on her as he made her on him all those years. She gives him something to drink, he finishes passing all the way out… and when he awakens, he is in some kind of open pastoral landscape. He starts to look around when he hears a hunting horn. A squad of Amazonian-style huntresses - all of them women he has been bad to on one alternate timeline or another - bear down on him on horseback, wound him mildly with arrows and sticks, but leave him alive to flee. He runs, tumbles down a hillside into a river, looks up… and sees another Joey, another him plucked from some other space-time, running across a field being pursued by more women on horses.

Helen has built an army of warrior-women somehow, and they are systematically collecting as many Joeys as they can from across all of space-time, capturing them and bringing them to this place to be cruelly toyed with for sport.

Scene 9:  “I’ll go, but you still can’t make me care.” (goes well for Klaus)

Klaus has effectively been disassociated from the Museum. They can track his “original” Kronotraveler 2000 - which Helen is “now” using, having pocketed it - but not his “new” one that he built as his own ancestor with Leonardo’s assistance, even though technically the “new” one is eventually going to be handed down through the generations to become the “original” one. (This is all still making sense, right? It was crystal clear during the game itself.) So anyway, Klaus spends a while just sort of staying out of sight, laying low in innocuous times and places in history, trying to decide what he’s going to do next. One day, while he’s hiding out in the Soviet Union of 1981, walking across Red Square, he is approached by two Red Army soldiers. When they draw close, they address him in flawless Swiss German and he realizes they are women. They are, in fact, members of Helen’s Neo-Amazonian force. Helen has gotten quite good at this whole time travel thing and successfully located Klaus to make him an offer: Return to the Museum, which Helen has now somehow managed to take control of. Be her direct-report lieutenant specifically charged with hunting down the last few, wiliest, most evasive Joeys that are still running around space-time. To aid in this, he’ll be equipped with the best, greatest, most insane equipment he wants and given carte-blanche license to do whatever he must in the space-time continuum to get all of Joey.

Scene 10: “We need your special math. Your… dare I say?… DaVinci Code.” (goes well for Leonardo)

Leonardo, his memory in tatters, tries to reassert himself in the life he led before all of this time travel madness but it won’t let go. The faint, dreamlike memories and the crystal clear recollection of that one mysterious symbol haunt him… until one day, he stumbles across a packet of documentation. Diagrams, journal entries, sketches - a bundle of information about time travel that he must have just set aside at one point during his montage sequence, not a lot to go on but enough to make him realize that his dreams were real, it really happened. He begins plans for rebuilding a new chronotraveler but there’s still technical know-how he lacks. He remembers that there is a man in Venice, a maker of automata and contraptions, who might be able to help him execute his designs.

When he gets to Venice, he finds the man’s workshop… and sees, perhaps not with much surprise, the mysterious emblem on the sign hanging outside. But he feels compelled to go forward with his plans. He hands over all that he has reconstructed so far to the contraptions man, who looks it over and nods. “Indeed, this is just what we needed,” he says. Suddenly, Leonardo realizes it is not a new time travel system he has been designing, it is something much more powerful - when the strange armored men zapped his mind, they implanted within him a psychological program to solve a very difficult space-time problem for them, one they could not solve themselves. The bundle of documentation, all of it, was simply material planted to help him execute the program they had loaded into him. Now he has completed that work and they are ready to enact it: a complete reboot of time, unlocked and seeded with DaVinci’s own mathematical breakthroughs. The workshop folds away, portal-like, to reveal a magnificent Time Command Center. More of the armored men approach, but this time they escort Leonardo as an honored guest rather than drag him as a prisoner. Together, they will all remake the universe in DaVinci’s artistic vision. They will undo all these other terrible spacetime errors that have been made.

All they need to do is put DaVinci’s completed vision into actual motion.

Scene 11: “Nobody escapes the Garden.” (goes badly for Joey)

Haggard Joey is fleeing further and further back in time. If he tries to go forward in time, Helen’s Neo-Amazonians are all over him like glue. But if he goes back, they go easier on him. There aren’t any other Joeys that he knows of that he can find to try and warn. He’s checked them all. All he can do now is go back in time, and then when Helen’s forces show up, escape them by going even further back. He has gone back to the earliest ancient times… the Bronze Age… then further, through the Neolithic, earlier than civilization, earlier than written language, earlier than spoken language, earlier than true human beings… A hundred thousand years? A million? He’s lost track. He just keeps going further back each time Helen shows up. Until, one time, he lands in a place and time that is just beautiful wilderness… and time passes, and no Helen shows up. Did he finally lose her? He wanders this pristine land, unwilling to let himself believe that maybe he’s really escaped to somewhere… some WHEN… that is safe.

And then he finds the remnants of a lean-to time made from native plant materials. And he finds evidence of a campfire. And he sees some shoe prints. And, eventually, he finds a dead Joey. And, not long after, another one. And some other camps. And some arrows stuck in trees. Hoof prints. Yes, Joey has finally been fully corralled - the “happy hunting grounds” of Helen’s Neo-Amazonians is the prehistoric past, a Garden of Eden. He wanders, bewildered, scared, until he encounters a wall. And eventually along that wall he finds a gate. And standing in that gate is a twelve-foot-tall woman with wings and a giant sword who tells him he cannot leave.

Joey decides to simply rush forward to death, but when he charges the angel angrily with his fists up, she simply, easily, casually flips him back on to his back with one hand. He attacks her again and again and each time she rebuffs him without apparent effort. Completely emasculating. She won’t even hurt him. Just forcefully but gently tosses him back into the soft grass of the Garden.

He feels the kronotraveler in his pocket. What would happen if he activates it to go even further back? The angel says no one can escape the Garden, and he believes it. They wouldn’t let him keep the timepiece if it wasn’t factored into their plans for him. If he tries to blip away, it will only lead to something worse.

There is nothing Joey can do but return to one of the lean-tos and hunker down, survive the night, see what the next day brings.

Scene 12: “We can go back and straighten this out at our leisure. We’re time travelers. That's sort of the point.” (goes well for Klaus)

Klaus has been helping devise and execute the hunting and trapping of all the loose Joeys. Now that the last one is corralled in the Garden, Helen has one last task for him: there is one last Joey, working with his ancestor Leonardo and “some new enemies” in an attempt to reboot all of time, to beat Helen and her plan by unmaking everything that ever led to it. Helen will be able to open a portal to their Time Command Center; Klaus is to go in and stop them from rebooting. In the Command Center, DaVinci’s reboot code is being started, but when it comes time to turn the key… surprise! Klaus is there disguised as one of the armored guys. He turns the key - but not on DaVinci’s reboot routine, but rather on some code of his own. The Time Command Center is cut free of the rest of all history, encapsulated in its own bubble, and Klaus rewrites his own “bad morning” pretty much from scratch… or so he thinks.


In the Aftermath, there is one final roll by each player, with dice based on how well or badly their previous scenes have gone. The bell curve being what it is, though, really no matter how well or how badly the game has gone for you up to this point, the Aftermath roll can give you an ultimate fate ranging from getting away scot-free and better than ever, all the way to "worse than death". The players take turns, round-robin, walking their own character towards his or here ultimate ending as determined by the dice. Joey and Klaus got humiliating, horrific, degrading, miserable but ultimately survivable fates. Leonardo... got much worse.

1. In the Time Command bubble, Klaus gets away in the chaos as the reboot plan falls apart. He goes to activate his KT to return to the Museum but it doesn’t work! Helen replaced it, or sabotaged it, or something. It was never her intent to let him come back - all her loose ends are tying up here.

2. We flash back to Joey being Joey during all his “years” of time traveling, stealing stuff, banging every girl he can that the “do you have any Italian in you” line works on. ("Hey, she's from 200 BC, nobody's ever used that one on her yet!") Often, Helen is with him, forced to listen or watch or even participate because, lacking a chronotraveler, she is basically his hostage.

3. Leonardo, in the Time Command bubble, sees everything coming undone. He grabs a chronotraveler from one of the armored dudes (those DaVincis and their quick fingers!) and blips out before the bubble fully separates from the rest of reality.

4. Klaus fixes his nonfunctional KT2K with stuff he pulls out of the hardware running there in the Time Command bubble. It will sufficiently bridge the gap between the bubble and the rest of reality. He blips back to the Museum… where Helen and her guards are none too pleased to see him return.

5. Another flashback as we see, one by one, every lady that Joey ever mistreated or wronged or abused or just plain took advantage of - throughout all of history - is found and recruited by Helen. Methodically, systematically, over years of her own life and across millennia of human existence. Some need more convincing; others, much less. But Helen recruits them all. That is where her Neo-Amazonian army of huntresses has come from.

6. Leonardo travels back to 1475, to a time in his own life just before his original time-travel misadventure, before he ever met Klaus, “before” any of this stuff “happened” to him, where he meets up with his much younger self to have a conversation about what has happened and what they will do about it.

7. Klaus, back in the Museum, surrounded by Neo-Amazonians, is getting dressed down by Helen, who really would have preferred that Klaus disappear along with all the rest of it when the Time Command was severed from reality. “This was all your fault. All of it. You let all of this happen, thinking you’d have all the time in the world to go back and fix it if you needed to. So you let it get out of control, wrecking all of these lives, including - especially! - mine and then when you realized it was out of control because of you, you ran and hid like a whipped dog. I came after you not to redeem you by having you tie up all the loose ends. I came after you so I could tie you up. You’re the loose end.”

8. Haggard Joey, in the Garden, is allowed to live, but never well, never comfortably. He subsists as a hunter-gatherer, but the vegetation is never allowed to have so much fruit, so many vegetables that he ever has an easy time staying well-fed for days. He catches animals once in a while, but any time he makes better more effective traps, those are taken from him. If his shelters get too sturdy and effective, they are knocked down in the night. This goes on for months until one morning, a single Neo-Amazonian warrior comes down the hill to him with a bundle in her arms. It’s a baby, which she hands over to him. “You will raise this boy,” she says, “until he is old enough to be hunted.” Without another word, she departs.

9. The two DaVincis - one in his early twenties, the other in his mid-fifties - rethink their entire approach to time travel and develop what they believe is a new, safe approach - one that won’t create dangerous instabilities, one that won’t have refractory periods or create problematic paradoxes, one that will be consistent and reliable and quick and cheap. By 1476 they are ready to fire up their prototype.

10. Klaus is allowed to live and even stay at the Museum, but only as a menial janitor, mopping floors and cleaning the glass on display cabinets after the amazing artifacts have been removed from them and returned to their native times. He is not allowed to see recovered artifacts on display; he is too busy punching tickets for actual time-traveling tourists who are paying to see. He is never allowed to touch a KronoTraveler of any sort again. Helen’s forces watch him continually; if he even thinks about attempting time travel again, they will kill him... or worse, they'll erase him. Even if he were able to get his hands on a device, Helen has already shown that she can find him anywhere, anywhen. Perhaps someday Klaus will figure out a way to slip away, to escape, for real and forever. But for now, all he has to look forward to is the rest of his long, terrible, empty morning.

11. More boys are brought to Joey over the years. All of them are his own sons, of course. There will be dozens, scores of them; Joey knocked up a lot of ladies across history. All of them will be brought to him, given to him to be raised and then, someday, hunted. The difficulty of life in the Garden is carefully tuned to make sure it is possible, but never easy. As for Joey's daughters - well, they are of course also taken by Helen, to be cared for, nurtured, educated, and trained… to hunt. When they are old enough, they will stalk their own half-brothers in the Garden for sport. Perhaps someday Joey will figure out a way he and his sons can escape the Garden, for real and forever (however big it may actually sprawl across space and time - Klaus built a magnificent trap, after all). He still has his chronotraveler and it might even still work. But for now, all he has to look forward to is one day after another, all exactly the same, in this terrible Garden of Eden.

12. The DaVincis fire up their new Time System prototype but as soon as it starts, Leonardo remembers a terrible secret that had been buried subconsciously: All of this new time-travel ideology was nothing more than another, even more deeply planted program from the Time Rebooters. They knew Helen would get wise to their original plan so they let her get away with stopping that one. But this time, it’s going to activate before she even gets wind of it. It’s already activated, in fact. In an instance, the Leonardos are unmade, along with everyone and everything else in 1476. The entire rest of human existence after that moment, on every subsequent timeline, is whisked away and rebooted, unmade, never happened, never *will* happen. What becomes of the Earth from that moment on is all new, the quantum possibility dice being re-thrown from scratch. Perhaps someday someone will arise again in this new course of human history who builds a chronotraveler, a time-travel industry, a Museum of Artifacts and all of these terrible things will inexorably and inevitably happen yet again. In fact, perhaps this is not the end of all things yet to come, but in fact, the inciting incident that created the universe in which the Streichlands were possible. Perhaps this is actually not our point of termination. Perhaps it’s our point of origin…


When the first jaguars began to rain from the sky, it seemed impossible. Most of them did not survive, of course, but the ones that did were insanely tough and really pissed off. Furry Terminators, every one. And the rain of big cats kept going. Still going. Cities buried. Canyons filled. Rivers and lakes clogged and overflowing. Bulldozers, heavy lifting helicopters, incinerators - we can barely keep up with the incoming rate. Jaguar landfills. The oceans rising from dead jaguar displacement and being held back by dikes made of fallen jaguars. Don't dare go outside. You'll never hear the one that gets you. But really, even the fear and the horror have worn off at this point. It's just inevitability now. It'll never end. We can't even tell where they form; somewhere in space, coming in like slow meteors. Already cleared all the satellites out, and the space station. This is the new way of things. Oh, did you hear that? That was one just now, out in the street. Giant wet smacking sound. Hope it's not still alive. Guess I'd better get my flamethrower. Stupid Mayans.

January 27th is Rabbit Hole Day

Let's face it. You're in a social media rut.

Most of the time, you post more or less the same sorts of stuff that you usually post. Day-to-day pictures. Topical thoughts. Joke tweets. Shared links. LOLCAT porn. (Hopefully not LOLCAT porn.) On Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest… It's what your comfortable with, I know...

…but why not try something different for a day?

Lewis Carroll, author of ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND and THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, would be 181 years old tomorrow. When Alice chased that White Rabbit down a hole, she found herself having a day entirely unlike the ones that came before or after. It was a day when anything could happen, and nothing normal did.

Alice got well and truly out of her regular life and to celebrate Lewis Carroll's birthday, we should do the same.

Wherever you live your online life, tomorrow - January 27th - try living it down the rabbit hole. Instead of the usual work and school and politics and friends and church and relationships and stuff that you have every regular day, go down the rabbit hole and experience the work, school, politics, friends, church, relationships, and stuff that you find there instead. Travel through time. Turn into an animal. Flee from assassins. Talk to your goldfish. Conquer Greenland. Sprout some extra limbs. Learn how to walk on water. Marry an insect.

In your Twitter feed. On your Tumblr. On Facebook. With Instagram. In your Google+ circles. On DeviantArt or LiveJournal or MySpace. In your own personal blog. Anywhere and everywhere, take a break from the Every Day and find your Rabbit Hole Day instead.

Your normal life will be waiting for you when you get back.

If you decide to come back.

Doodlebugs (1)

It’s not much to look at; a stubby collection of sheet steel and plywood. A resonant tube on its ass pushes it along at nearly four hundred miles an hour. In its nose, a spinning propellor winds a counter down. Between them sits two thousand pounds of explosives. When the counter reaches zero, the ungainly bird will dive sharply down, engine silenced, and then the explosives will do the rest.

Der Führer wants it to be called the “may beetle”, even though they didn’t deploy until June. The scientists who built it called them “cherry stones”. The launch teams lovingly refer to it as their “crow”. The English civilians who are its intended victims, hearing the distinctive fifty-Hertz tone of its pulse jet engine, know it as the “buzz bomb”. But to the R.A.F., the V-1 has become the “doodlebug”.

This particular doodlebug is one of nearly a hundred that the Germans will send towards the south of England today. It comes in over the Channel at about two thousand feet, on the low side. If nothing stops it, it will probably drop short of London - in Greenwich or Croydon or Dartford. It might land in a field, or a street, or a block of flats. It might kill dozens or harm not a single soul in the least. If nothing stops it.

Someone’s sure as hell gonna try, though. They come up as a pack of six: Spitfire XIVs of No. 91 Squad out of West Malling, set right in the bugger’s path and forewarned by spotters on the coast. They float a thousand feet higher while the buzz bomb, and a pair of companions, pass below. Then, three and three, they pinwheel to drop from above, picking up speed their propellors wouldn’t normally reach to match the doodlebug’s.

You can’t shoot the bomb from behind. It’s a pretty easy target but you’ll be too close; that blast debris will take the front end right off your plane just as sure as if you’d been hit by anti-aircraft fire. Some crews - the Tempest Vs out of Newchurch, for example - try to time a shot from the side, so the blast is already moving away from you when it happens. Safer, but tricky timing; you only get a split-second to make it or fail.

These West Malling Spitfires, though, they prefer a different tactic. The first trio catches up with the three ugly bombs, coming down right above them. Then, shift over one side or the other and before you lose too much airspeed and start falling behind, bring your own wing down right on top of the bomb’s. Just a few seconds is all it takes to disrupt the airflow; the bomb’s wing tilts away and then the whole thing flips and goes down.

“Tipping the doodlebug,” that’s what they call it. It’s not foolproof, of course. Numbers one and two each drop in gracefully enough and dispatch their bugs, but number three’s dive was too steep and he falls in behind the V-1 too low, too slow; the thick trail from its pulse engine washes over his cockpit window.  Ahead, Maidstone suddenly becomes visible through the summer haze, right in the remaining bomb’s path.

If its counter drops in the next few minutes, it could splash right in the town center. Right now they’re over wide open fields; a minute from now they don’t dare knock it down. It has to go now. Number three has a fine cannon shot, if he wants to take it. Should he take it? There is chaotic back and forth on the radio for a moment before a voice, higher but clearer than the rest, chimes in: “Don’t worry, I’ve got it.”

It’s number Six. The second trio of Spitfires made their dive one minute behind the first set, as backups. Six is coming down right on mark, right alongside the bomb’s right side, but there’s no time for the delicate line-up and gentle air-foil trick. With a sharp wiggle of the stick, Six smacks its own left wing directly onto the bomb’s right: a distinct swat, a slap of the metal glove that sends the doodlebug reeling hard.

Too hard: the bomb flips over on its right and its left wing catches the Spitfire’s striking wing as it goes over. There’s a puff of torn metal as both aircraft lose bits of alloyed aluminum and steel. Then the buzz bomb is down and out; seconds later it is a spectacular but harmless fireball on the English countryside. Six’s Spitfire has lost aileron control on the one side, however. Its stick has gone syrupy.

The squad wheels around for their return to West Malling. Six refuses to mayday, adamant that it’s nowhere that grim, but it’s a struggle to line up on the runway. The Spitfire is rudder-twitchy on its best days; the bent aileron wants the plane to roll left and the nose keeps pushing off. The tail sways this way and that as the plane comes down on the runway too fast and too hard.

The screech of wheels down, then the plane makes one last hard push to the left. It’s too much hold back; off the flightline and into the grass the Spitfire careens. But it’s down and now it needs a bounce and jounce to come to a halt. Not even a fire - but you wouldn’t know it from the number of emergency crew that rush to the plane’s side. The first responders to arrive are in a near panic for the pilot’s well-being.

The cockpit glass pushes back. Worried field personnel clamber onto the wings. “I’m fine, fellas,” the pilot reassures them. Then, a head shake - maybe to clear thoughts, or just to get her hair out of her eyes. She waves away all the helpful hands trying to reach for her. “It’s okay. I can get out of my own plane, you know.” She does accept a helpful hand as she slides over the wing down to the ground, out of politeness not need.

Charlie Banks, chief of airfield operations, is there looking worried. “The plane is fine, Charlie,” she reassures him. “And so am I.” Charlie wrings his hands: “It’s not about the Spit, or about your Royal Highness’ self, though I’m glad for both.” He pauses, and suddenly Elizabeth Windsor, heiress presumptive of the United Kingdom, knows what’s wrong: “I’m pinched, aren’t I? Somehow Father found out...?” She sighs. “Bugger.”

For consideration: an idea that's been kicking around for a while in my head, shaken loose by HWRNMNBSOL's return to daily writing

  • Current Music
    "God Save the Queen"
  • Tags

Apologies to Peter Gabriel

Cover it

while it runs

Cover it

through the night

Gotta keep it nice and neat

When you're in its heat

Cover it

Darling please

Hottub, hottub, hottub

Don't you know you gotta

Shock the hottub

Raise pH

Test the strip

You can brominate

Watch the drip

There's one more test you must get 'round:

Bring the hardness down

What's the hubbub with the hottub?

Hottub, hottub, hottub

Don't you know you gotta

Shock the hottub

Hottub - Chemical's doubling

Hottub - Something's bubbling

Hottub - Sure do like it even though it's troubling

Shock! Watch the hottub get clean, hottub!

Cover it

While you sleep

Cover it

So it keeps its heat

Throw your spoonfuls in the swirl

Then invite your girl!

Cover it

Darling please

Hottub, hottub, hottub

Don't you know you gotta

Shock the hottub

Hottub - Submerge your backs

Hottub - Jets behind relax

Hottub - Feel the heat it packs!

Shock! Watch the hottub get clean, hottub!

Shock the hottub

Shock the hottub

Shock the hottub tonight

For consideration: at least it's not a whole swimming pool to take care of
  • Current Music
    Peter Gabriel, "Shock the Monkey"
  • Tags

Apologies to Christmas

Well the pressure outside is zero
But our pilot, he's a hero!
So as long as our nations race,
get to space, get to space, get to space!
The Cold War won't last forever
'Cause our science is so clever.
For atomic war, we must brace:
get to space, get to space, get to space!
When we finally drop the Bomb,
How we'll hate what we've done to the Earth
But when I'm floating way up there
I can see how much it's worth...
Diplomacy starts to fail
And the sirens start to wail.
There's one final rocket in place:
Get to space, get to space, get to space!

For you consideration: "Jingle Bells, Laika smells, Khrushchev cut a fart..."