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It's Not a Monkey, It's a Time Machine

Updated on April 8, 2011

Is time travel actually possible? My mother seems to think so. She gave me a list of things to look for in a future wife. What we should name our future kids. I didn’t think at the time that marrying someone from the future was even an option, but then I saw the advertisement in the newspaper. Some guy was looking for someone to accompany him through time. I thought it was a joke at first, but then my mother called me right when I was reading it and asked me if I’d picked up that morning’s paper yet. I said I had. She mentioned the ad. I said I’d read it. She told me she’d already packed a suitcase. Why? I asked. Because I’m going with you, she said. The ad says it has to be tonight, I pointed out. Don’t you have other plans tonight? She said it was time travel, so she’d be back in time to do whatever it was she was doing. I asked her if she was sure. She nodded her head. I know she nodded, because she has a habit of holding the phone between her head and shoulder, so she nodded and the phone fell and hit the floor. The phone must have been damaged, because the call ended and she didn’t immediately call me back. I stood there on the corner of the street, waiting for the signal to turn and send me across. A stray dog ran between my legs, just as a bus was passing. I jumped in front of the bus and grabbed the dog by its tail, yanked it to safety, and accidentally swung the animal at a stranger’s chest. The guy's coffee splattered the front of his shirt and the dog latched on to his collarbone, bit down, and refused to let go. Both of them were really startled. I saw that the signal had turned, so I crossed the street. I came across a homeless man that was selling dead rats, so I bought one, because I felt bad for him, even though the rat seemed overpriced. It cost me $4. I wrapped it in the newspaper and stuck it in my pocket. I had no idea what I was going to do with a dead rat. Maybe give it to a homeless cat. I think the man sprayed it with perfume, because it didn’t smell half bad. When I got back to my place, my mother was waiting there on the front steps, a suitcase beside her. Are you ready? She asked. I said I had to grab a few things. I went inside and tried to pack what I’d need for the trip, but I couldn’t think of anything. I still didn’t think it would actually happen.

So we went to the place that was on the advertisement. We were met at the door by a one-armed man holding the hand of a monkey. You’re late, the man said. The monkey said nothing, just glared at both of us. How can we be late for time travel? I asked. We went inside and the man showed us his time machine. It looked like a couch. The three of us sat down and the monkey sat on my lap, stared at me. Your monkey is very friendly, I said. It’s not a monkey, the man said. It’s a time machine. I was confused, and then the monkey suddenly burst into flames. The lights went out, even the light from the burning monkey. I gripped the cushion underneath me and tried not to scream. When the lights came back on, everything was different. The three of us were still sitting on that couch, but the couch was sitting outside and overlooking the ocean. We’re here, the man said. Get this damn monkey off me, I told him. I jumped off the couch and ran over to a wooden railing, puked off the side and into the water. I turned around and realized we were on a wooden ship. One with sails. I went over to stand beside my mother, who was taking pictures, and some guy wearing an eye patch said we were stowaways. I was too stunned to fight off the 20 pirates that surrounded us. Our monkey was surrounded by 5 or so pirate monkeys. All four of us were quickly subdued. Loose lips sink ships, the pirate captain said, so we were all gagged. They stuck us in a small room below deck and they moved the couch to the captain’s quarters. I took off my gag and pulled out my cell phone, but there wasn’t any service. What do we do? My mother asked. I asked if she’d gotten a picture of me with the captain. She said she had. Turn on the monkey, I told the time traveler. We had to have a group hug in order for it to work, and then the monkey jumped on my back and burst into flames again. We wound up in a jungle somewhere. I grabbed the time traveler and shook him by his one arm. What’s going on? I demanded. We’re supposed to be traveling into the future. He said we had been traveling into the future. I didn’t understand, but then he explained. We have been traveling into the future, he said. He was just repeating himself. That wasn’t an explanation. It all makes a full circle, he added. The water covered the earth, and then it went down and the trees grew back. This apparently was the city where I once lived. The very living room of the time traveler’s house.

How far have we traveled? I asked. He said 100,000 years. I’ve missed a lot of house payments, I realized. They’re going to take away my house. Your house is already gone, he pointed out. I had a goldfish, I said. Your goldfish is dead, he told me. I started to cry. And then that monkey took my hand and leaned its head against my thigh. I wiped the tears away and stared at the monkey. Beat it, weirdo, I told it. The monkey started to pout. This is too much, I said. Can we go back now? My mother took some pictures and then we had a group hug and the monkey, or whatever it was, burst into flames. We didn’t end up back in the present. We ended up in a desert. Where are we now? I asked. The same place, the traveler said. What time is it? He looked at his watch and said 7 o’clock. I was getting frustrated. I figured he didn’t know what he was doing and we’d never be able to go back to the present. It was hot in the desert and I was starting to perspire. I took the dead rat out of my pocket and wiped my forehead with it. It still smelled pretty good. We’re going to die here, I said. My mother took a picture of a human skull that was sticking out of the sand, and then she stuck it in her suitcase as a souvenir. Send us back to the present, I said. We have one more stop, the traveler told me. Another group hug, another burst of flames, and then we were back in the city. Something was different, though. The buildings were taller and some of them were floating. The four of us were standing in the middle of a street and large marble things were rolling around. A marble would stop and someone would get out. It was apparently their form of transportation. Whatever it was, it was dumb and made me dizzy just watching it. We’re 900,000 years into the future, the traveler informed me. How much is a cheeseburger? I asked. They only eat human flesh here, he said, and that’s how I lost my arm. I wasn’t impressed. There aren't any animals? I asked. He shook his head. Can we go back now? I asked. This was a waste of my time, and I do mean time. You’ve wasted almost a million years of my life.

My mother sighed and said she had to confess something. What is it? I asked. This is where you were born, she told me. What do you mean? I asked. I’ve traveled here before, she said, with this man and his time machine. It’s a monkey, I argued. No, it’s a time machine, she said, and this is where you were born. I was pregnant with you when we first traveled and you were born in this city, in this time. The time traveler is your father. Are you saying I’m from the future? I asked. My mother nodded. Do I eat people? I asked. No, she said, we raised you right. Now what? I wondered. Can we go back home? You are home, they said. This is dumb, I told them. Take me back to when cheeseburgers were still available. I don’t want to stay here. But this is where you belong, my mother said. So they left me there, hugged each other and that monkey thing burst into flames, and then they disappeared. What the hell? I wondered. This is crap. What am I supposed to do? I took the dead rat out of my pocket and stared at it. I’d been abandoned in a futuristic city full of cannibals. But then my mother and the traveler popped up again with that monkey, only they looked really old. Hello, they said. What happened? I asked. We wanted to see you one last time before we died, they said. You’re both really old, I said. It’s only been ten seconds. How’d you get so old so fast? They said it’d been forty years for them. And then they asked me if I’d gotten married yet and settled down. It’s only been ten seconds, I said again. They said they would travel a little bit further into the future and see me there. They said goodbye and disappeared once more. What the hell? I wondered again. Time traveling sucks. I tossed the rat in disgust. It was the only rat in existence and yet it was dead. How sad was that? And what was I supposed to do? I walked around, looking for a future wife to have future kids with. I used to think I was normal. Now I'm just a futuristic guy from the past, looking for a future wife in the present. It's the dumbest thing ever. And the last time I'll answer an ad in a newspaper to go time traveling.


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