24 July 2009

"Fly Like an Eagle"

By Curtis C. Chen

"Turn it on!" shouted the man holding the gun. "Now!"

His voice rang off the stone walls of the vault. Jerry checked his distance to the shield platform, where the gunman stood with his female hostage. It would take four steps for Jerry to get there—at least half a second too long. He could see Alex on his left and Phillip to his right. They were also too far away.

Alex said, "I don't know what you think this place is—"

"I know what this is!" the gunman said. "I'm standing on a time machine, and this bracelet controls it!"

"We call it the gauntlet," Phillip said quietly.

"Whatever!" The gunman thumped the barrel of his revolver against the woman's head. "Start pushing buttons or I blow her brains out!"

The woman must have been a graduate student from one of the labs on the surface. Her eyes were red, and she looked angry. Jerry had to do something before she tried anything stupid.

"I'll do it," Phillip said.

"No!" Alex said.

Phillip turned his head and lied. "The gauntlet can only take one person. If we let him travel, he'll have to release her."

Alex glared for a moment, then said, "Do it."

Phillip stepped onto the platform and pressed two fingers against the round gem in the center of the gauntlet. It began glowing white.

"T minus thirty seconds," Phillip said.

The gunman shoved the woman away. Phillip caught her and helped her off the platform.

"You're making a big mistake," Alex said.

"Right," the gunman said, grinning. "See you nine days ago."

The light from the gauntlet crawled over the gunman's entire body, enveloping him. The shield below him flashed, and he was gone.

"Get her out of here!" Alex shouted.

Phillip rushed the woman out of the vault. Jerry and Alex drew their weapons and aimed above the platform.

Alex counted down the seconds. "Four, three, two, one..."

They heard a soft popping noise. The gauntlet appeared by itself in midair and fell to the platform with a clatter. Alex and Jerry lowered their weapons.

"How the hell did he get down here?" Jerry wondered out loud.

"I don't know," Alex said, "but somebody is going to burn for this!"

He left the vault, muttering profanities. Jerry holstered his weapon and picked up the gauntlet.

The gunman had been right about the shield being a time machine, but he had been wrong about how it worked. It didn't send people into the past. It sent them into the future.

Whoever was wearing the gauntlet would travel nine days into the future and remain there for twenty-four hours. Then the gauntlet would return to its starting point in space and time.

The catch was that you had to be wearing the gauntlet to travel back with it. And nine days from now, there would be a full tactical assault team waiting to meet the gunman.

Jerry smiled as he put the gauntlet back in its safe. What the gunman didn't know was definitely going to hurt him.


Audio: "Fly Like an Eagle"

Four character voices this week. I don't know if that's a record high for this podcast, but I think I did a decent job of making each person sound different.

Music: Keyboard, Bass, and Indian Banjo stems from "Mandelbrot Set" by Jonathan Coulton, licensed under Creative Commons.


Time Keeps On Slippin', Slippin', Slippin'

Into the future. You see? Hey, you should be glad I didn't use another stupid pun for this week's title. "Knowledge is Power?" "Knowing is Half the Battle?" "Yet Another Effects-Heavy B-Movie Starring Nicolas Cage?" It could have been much worse.

The shield-and-gauntlet time machine premise is something I came up with for my 2007 Script Frenzy screenplay, The Gauntlet. The current draft is not fit for human eyes, but I will share with you the page which includes my favorite gag...

Hollywood producers: call me.