“This wretched time machine!”
I wrung my hands in frustration, giving the thinking computer another emotion to puzzle over. “OUT OF MEMORY” flashed in bright red above its monochromatic display. Ha! I’d finally beaten it at its own game.
“Howdy!” someone barked from the shadowy shrubbery. A cowboy! In the 21st century? What farce was this?
“Who are you?” I asked, resting my good hand on the machine’s polished frame. My bad hand plotted against me, studying my wrist for potential weaknesses.
A man in a turtleneck emerged from the brush. He took out an ID card and gave me a salute. “Barton Buggler, professional juggler. Don’t believe me? Then I’M A BEAR! GRRRR! MOOOO! Ha. I briefly became a cow.”
Not knowing quite what to say, I grabbed a flaming bowling pin from the trunk and tossed it at him. Nimble as a thimble (tee hee!) he began his mystifying acrobatics.
Now, I’ve been to the party halls of ancient Rome, the Wall Street hootenannies of the 1980s, and the Ultimate Dynamite-a-thon of Space Rome. I’ve seen some astounding entertainers. So many in fact, that the average viral video leaves me crowing in boredom.
So trust me when I say this gentleman juggler was truly captivating.
Grinning like a giddy schoolboy, I jostled the machine once more. With a buzz, it clanged to life! The screen flushed neon green: “MEMORY CLEARED — FOR AWESOME JUGGLING”.
Zounds! The stranger’s fantastic juggling had revived the computer!
“I must return now to my own time,” I called, jumping into the cockpit, “for several personal reasons.”
He laughed, but didn’t stop juggling. “Tell them, then! Tell the future of Barton Buggler, professional juggler!”
“Oh, I intend to.” With venomous quickness I aimed a ray-gun at his head.
“What’s all this about?” He asked, genuinely shocked. Yet he didn’t stop that infernal, infernal juggling.
It took all my nerve not to pull the trigger. “When my machine broke down, I was afraid that I’d miss my primary target — Baton Buggler, professional juggler… and genocidal madman.”
He arched an eyebrow quizzically, as if daring me to connect the dots for him. A challenge I’d relish.
Decades of disgust and bile spilled from my lips: “When I was your age, you were already dead. But my grandfather told me horrible stories of your reign; of the nights lit up by flaming chainsaws; the dissidents forced to juggle their own children. Before I end it, I must ask you: why?”
He kept juggling. And that was the only answer I ever got from him.