Saturday, December 31, 2011

Dreamstate


Well by now you all know that I have the ability to goof up even the most basic of hu8man functions.
Sleep.
Seems like it should not be this hard to go to sleep, stay asleep and wake up feeling refreshed.
I, however, just completely jack it up on a regular basis.
I have a tendency to have, what I call, waking dreams.
Basically it is a matter where I am not asleep and not awake but in-between and my dreamworld bleeds into the “real” world.
Not really that rare and from what I have been told a real entertainment treat for those around me.
I have seen golden tentacles issuing from the bathroom door
I have sat up and stared with intent at the mysterious object hanging from the ceiling and gone back to sleep when told it was “just the ceiling fan”
I have screamed for help to assist the tiny lizard-tigers that are dangling from the power cords in the whole in the wall. They were so cute too but one was in danger of falling.
I have been frozen in fear at the dark shadow standing at the foot of the bed
I have even marveled at the intricacy of the baseball player snow globe on my end table. ( Obviously nothing was really there and I really don’t like baseball anyway.)

The other night I know I was asleep. My normal sleep state is real light. Even using sleeping pills I never seem to make it too deep.
I distinctly heard a woman’s voice speak directly into my ear. Not a whisper just a normal speaking voice.
It said
“I find you very attractive. Would you like to make out with me?”
So naturally I sat bolt upright in bed and vigorously shook my head back and forth to clear the sleep.
I looked around but the room was dark and quiet.
I glanced at my wife as she lay there sleeping the sleep that she sleeps so well.
I looked at the clock and it was 2:46AM
I was completely at a loss.
I wanted to make out!

I am 99% sure I was in my dreamstate and my mind was just fucking with me.
It does that.
It can be quite a dick most times.
Besides, who speaks that way? Stating all matter of factly in the middle of the night.
I have not heard any reports of some crazed sexual ring of woman androids breaking into houses to proposition the men folk for some vigorous tonsil hockey.
However, I am also quite convinced that there is some other presence in this house as well.
Maybe “IT” was using that to try and communicate?
Nah. Pretty sure my mind was just playing with itself.




Thursday, December 29, 2011

God's Job


I have seen just a fraction of God’s job and I don’t want it.

OK so you are God and this is what’s going to happen.
You will be given power over all things and you will create beings in your image with the singular hope for them that the very best will be in their life.
However as they grow, these creatures are going to hate you. They will ridicule you, blame all things upon you, even when your direct influence is apparent they will claim all the credit for themselves.
It doesn’t matter what you do for them it will never be enough.
If you let them make their own choices you will be regarded as cold and uncaring
Yet, if you pick them up and carry them they will be resentful of that as well.
They will beg for your intervention and help. They will come crying to you wailing and moaning about the unfair world they have created for themselves.
In this aspect I have touched and know the mind of God.
I have teenagers.



Monday, December 26, 2011

TradeOff


As I have stated before, I have little to no faith in your common practice doctor.
Every single time I have gone to the doctor they have failed to come up with anything I have not already figured out myself.
So, with that in mind, I have a theory and solution on depression that helped me. Oh and by no means am I a physician or anything so if you heed my advice do come trying to litigate on me. I have nothing so you'd get a big heaping helping of that.  
Now as I was saying,
With depression your mind wanders and dwells upon the worst of the worst.
In my case my mind was like an enclosed room with all the walls covered in 5x7 TV screens and each screen was tuned to a different channel
No matter which way you turned there was always something blaring out at you that just kicked you in the gut. You can set your mind to just spin and spin, never focusing on any one thing for long but that takes a lot of effort and self discipline. It is also quite tiring and actually being able to focus is a joke.
The depression medicine is fair.
I found that it basically turns you into a Vulcan (which would be cool if your ears got pointy)
It is just a leg up on the emotions that are rocking your foundations.
It is like climbing a mountain under a waterfall and the medication diverts the flood waters a bit.
All the medication does is give you that chance to get a firm handhold on the slippery wall.
I’m not knocking it as when the pit of despair has a hold of you anything is better then nothing.
You still have to make the climb back up out of the pit.
The one thing I found was that I was spending 1 day of the weekend asleep.
One whole day just shot to hell.
One whole day that I should have spent with my kids and family spent just wiped out.
Then one day something happened that changed everything.

You see, My son has ADHD. We were still playing with his medication levels trying to find the right dosage.
I wanted to see what his medication was doing to him so I tried one.
(Not the best thing to do I know but I figured our genetic makeup was close enough I could get an idea on what the medicine was doing to my son.)
OMG!
I felt a huge weight just melt away. I had “a good day”.
Not to be one who jumps to too many conclusions I anayalized everything that happened that day and repeated everything exactly over the next week or so. Nothing happened. Bleak, dull, depression still loomed above my head like the proverbial rain cloud.
I analyzed his behavior and compared it to mine.
I tried his medication again and achieved once again “a good day”. I did some research into the ADHD behaviors and knew that the condition was genetic and so forth.
I looked deep into my past and talked about my actions as a kid with my mother.
I ended up coming to only 1 conclusion.
I have ADD.
Of course while I was younger this term did not exist.
It was always just “control yourself” and “pay attention” etc.
(I think when I was younger it would have been classified at ADHD but smoking curbed the Hyper part.)
So armed with this knowledge I went to my doctor.
He concurred with my analysis and prescribed for me an ADD medication.
I have been on the road to recovery ever since!

The best way to describe it is the medication shuts down the wall of video.
I have gone from thousands and thousands of high definition LCD monitors screaming at me all at once to just 1 small 19” TV.
I have more energy and I am able to function again in the real world.
I am happier.
I am back to being a daddy again and I am trying ever so hard to make up for the time I lost.
Now, The downside.
I had to sacrifice a large portion of my intelligence.
You see I had gone so long with my ADD mind that I had adapted my thinking patterns around it and had trained it to serve me. I could easily have 6 to 10 widely different trains of thought going at once. I could read 4 different books at one time. I could carry on multiple conversations on varied topics at one time. My imagination was a wild untamed beast that would give me no end of entertainment. Bathed in the knowledge that I was a bright guy I was always interested in taking IQ tests and Mensa tests, blah, blah, blah
I was always running at an easy 145 IQ points.
Now it’s basically 1 thing at a time. I have to mull things over more carefully. I lose my train of thought rather easily. I bemoaned it at first as I was quite proud (arrogant even) of being smart and creative. It came so easily to me to be both.
Then I figured I would rather be here, in the now. Maybe not euphorically happy but happier.
I laugh more.
I love more.
I live more.
It was indeed a good trade.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

Abandon all Hope....

Well I have found my least favorite website of all.
http://notalwaysright.com
Oh please dont get me wrong the site itself is really nice.
It is well HTML'd and always seems SFW.
I have nothing against THAT.
It's just when I read through it I can hear the people I have to deal with on a daily basis.
The pure stupidity the just radiates out of the phone line can be heard on this site.
If you have to deal with a customer on any level, dont go here and read this. It'll make your butt pucker, muscle's tighten and blood pressure rise.
Or do go there....maybe you like that feeling
I dont know..
WHY ARE YOU JUDGING ME!!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

ScoobyDoo Where are you

I think there is a spirit in my house.
I have mentioned before about the scratches and odd music I have heard in the past but now I know more.
I have been sleeping in my daughters room for the past few months (she is having some minor health issues that she feels better sleeping with mom, so why not).
I can honestly say I have never had so many nightmares, voices and other random occurrences then I have sleeping in that room. I can't even count the number of times I have woken up and "hallucinated" where I have seen something menacing.
If I had a heart problem I would be dead now as I have felt my chest pounding and my heart thumping like I just ran a mile. I guess that this is good exercise for me as I lead a very sedentary life.
The issues don't scare me but intrigue me.
I have a kit so I can smudge the premises but I am holding off because I am quite interested in what this could be.
Maybe it's nothing.
Maybe not.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

What follows is a first person account of one of the greatest "pranks" ever pulled on someone.
To summerize really does it a disservice but basically 2 guys concocted a story about saving the future for a random person and then followed through with it to a delicious and elaborate conclusion. 

http://www.thefutureshock.com/

My name is Kolin Pope.
I am the savior of the future. Like most with the title of savior, I never went out looking for it. No, adventure found me. It began on a very unremarkable evening in August 2003. I was nineteen at the time and in my room, when the evening silence was suddenly broken by the sound of my dog barking from downstairs. Moments later, my Mom strolled in, telling me calmly,"There's someone at the door for you. He says he's from the future." Confused yet intrigued, I hurried downstairs to find a man of about twenty that I had never seen before in my life standing on my front porch. He offered me his hand and said, "Hello, my name is Zane Figiam. I am from the future. This is a package for you." Playing along, I replied, "Is this plans for a time machine?" "No," he responded, with a tone in his voice suggesting that I was the one making ridiculous statements. He held up his package; a small, flat object wrapped in newspaper. I pondered it for a moment, then put on my best "important face" and told him, "I accept the responsibility of the future." Zane shook my hand as he hurriedly handed off the package. He said a quick goodbye, turned, then fled out my front gate and out of sight. [a mysterious package!] I rushed back upstairs, eager to discover the contents of the package. Peeling back the newspaper, plastic gemstones and glitter sparkled as I fished a scrapbook out of the makeshift wrapping paper. Ornate decoration surrounded the title, "Gem Missile: A Tribute to Velocity Gnome". I was startled by its contents as I flipped through the pages. It seemed to be an entire scrapbook devoted to my internet alias "Velocity Gnome", as well as my friends, family, and dealings in cyberspace. As I delved further, I realized some of the information contained within was nearly half a year old, proving the scrapbook wasn't thrown together overnight as its look would have you believe. The final oddity was a paper CD sleeve affixed to the back cover. "Open in case of future" was written on it, which I blatantly disobeyed. Track after track of unfamiliar 80s music from the CD played as I spent the rest of the night thumbing through the book. No clues had been hinted at, no explanations left. The ordeal was effectively open and shut with no information on why I had been chosen for such a thing. I answered questions here and there about it for the next few weeks, and as things began to calm down, the entire incident slowly slipped from memory. I went about leading a fairly uneventful life (in regards to time travel, that is) for the time being. August rolled around, a year from the first encounter, and one morning I woke up to a message on the internet from none other than Zane Figiam. It cryptically foreshadowed an event that would require me to make a "small sacrifice of time" by traveling to Minneapolis, Minnesota. He wrote that the "portal" was closing and that I would be required to travel alone by the end of August. [Future Scholarship of the Future] Completely ignoring everything my parents taught me about talking to strangers, I checked into dates and let Zane know that I'd be able to come. The next Monday I discovered a manila envelope in front of the mail slot as I was heading out for work. To my surprise, it held not only a signed letter, a certificate of some sort, and photograph of me, but a round trip plane ticket to Minneapolis as well. Now, I am not one to turn down the offer of a zany adventure. In the coming days I got everything in order, took Friday off early, and flew to Minneapolis. As I stepped out of the gate, I looked around for a sign or clue. Nothing was obvious until I reached the baggage claim, where I spotted a man holding a large sign that read "VELOCITY GNOME". He was perhaps only a few years older than myself, wearing a large green sweater and a John Deere hat, neither of which looked to be from the future. "Gnome?" he asked as I came up to him, and I replied simply, "Yes." I asked him his name as we shook hands. "You may call me.. the Gatekeeper," he said. "Gnome, we are not safe here. We must leave immediately." He clasped his hands in front of him in a very unnatural way, and held them there as we traveled through the airport. We made small talk about the future until arriving at the garage. The Gatekeeper led me to a very run-down Lincoln Towncar. He held open the door for me, and I climbed in the backseat. The interior was nearly falling apart. Junk was everywhere; a MC hammer tape laying at my feet, empty Red Bull cans on the seat, a Dungeons and Dragons sticker affixed to the back window. The Gatekeeper clicked on a portable tape recorder that was wedged in between the front seats, and said, "They are evaluating us." I attempted to ask him questions about my upcoming quest during the drive, but he was quite evasive on that topic. I gave up for the time being, and just enjoyed the ride. [A Crossword Puzzle] About ten minutes into our trip, he began to rummage through junk on the passenger seat. He produced an envelope and handed it to me without taking his eyes off the road. I ripped the top with my thumb, and unfolded the paper within. It was entirely blank on both sides. Confused by this, I suddenly recalled that Zane had asked me to bring a blacklight. I fished through my backpack, pulled out the light, and shined it on the paper. "Gnome," it read. "Give this password to your driver: EARTHSLIDE. -Zane." I looked up at my driver and spoke, "Earthslide." His eyes flashed at me in the rear view mirror, then he silently opened his glove box and retrieved a second, thicker envelope. "Do not open this until you are inside the hotel. You have done well, My Gnome." Ten minutes later, we arrived at a Hampton Inn. "Punctuality is your friend," the Gatekeeper said. "Meet me at this exact place at 9:45 tomorrow morning, after signing out." I agreed and moved to shake his hand. Instead of returning the shake, he clasped my hand and bowed. I opened the envelope immediately once arriving at my room. It contained two papers: a hint sheet, and a crossword with cipher. With the help of friends on the internet, I was able to complete the puzzle in several hours. The result was a password of "001425", which I was to speak to my driver the next day. He would then, supposedly, bring me to Zane and his associates. [A Crossword Puzzle] The next morning was cheerful and sunny. I washed up, and checked out. The trusty Towncar pulled around the corner as I exited the hotel. The Gatekeeper stepped out, wearing a chauffeur's hat. "Did you have a good night's stay?" he asked. We left the hotel, and after relaying the password to the Gatekeeper, took the scenic route through downtown Minneapolis to our destination. "You will meet Zane there," he said. "As well as Shags, your right-hand man. Take this recorder as well, and record your conversation. I will wait for your return." I left the car, and headed to the restaurant while looking around for any sign of Zane. I told the hostess that I was there to meet a party under the name "Zane". She led me outside to where a kid my age was sitting alone at a table. "Zane?" we both asked each other at the same time. "No.. what? Zane told me to meet him here," I said. "Who are you?" "Shags, but my real name is Tyler. Zane told me to meet him here. Are you Velocity Gnome?" "Yeah. My real name is Kolin. So Zane is meeting us here? Are you with them?" "No.. are you?" "No. What the hell? What is going on?" We sat back down and proceeded to go over what had led up to us meeting at the restaurant. Tyler said that he lived five hours away from Minneapolis, in Clearwater. Zane had contacted him a week earlier, and he took the bus there, on a similar quest to mine. The only thing we seemed to have in common was both being members of the Something Awful forums on the internet, but that led to no more clues. After we had went over our stories, it was near 10:45, and Zane hadn't shown up. Halfway through our meal, though, the waitress came to our table and presented us with an envelope. "GNOME AND SHAGS #1" was written on the front. I opened it, and held it between us to read. The letter explained that we were to solve several puzzles that day. We would have to work together, and eventually reach a "treasure from the future". The first hint was that we would have to face a robot, with a clue hidden in its clothing. Finishing the letter, we were a bit more confused than before. "Why do I have to be the right-hand man?" Tyler joked. I was just glad to have company along on my adventure. [Future Scholarship of the Future] After breakfast, we headed back towards the car. The Gatekeeper recognized my new companion immediately. "Shags!" he cried. "I am glad you were able to make it!" "Uh.. Yeah.. heh," Tyler replied, less than enthusiastic. He didn't seem to want to play along, like I had been. Once inside the car, the Gatekeeper gave us gifts. To me, he handed a small memo book and a pen. He gave Tyler a small video camera, and two tapes. After looking these over, I told the Gatekeeper, "Take us to the first trial." "Yes, my Gnome." He said gently, and pulled out of the parking lot. Tyler was fiddling with his camera, and took some footage of the Gatekeeper and myself. "You look different than you do in the future," the Gatekeeper said to Shags. We spent the rest of the ride looking at the scenery, and glancing at each other, wondering where we were headed. As it turns out, the destination was a Chuck E. Cheese's in a mall. The Gatekeeper dropped us off, let us know that he'd be waiting on our return, and drove away. I turned to Tyler, and proposed the idea of doing small "introductions" on video for record, before going to find the first clue. He agreed. Tyler held up the camera, and I gave a brief introduction, and synopsis of what had led us to where we were. Afterwards, I did the same for him, from his perspective. Now satisfied, we continued into the Chuck E. Cheese. [Future Scholarship of the Future] We immediately got to work, scouring the building for robots. The most obvious was the variety of games, but the only one shaped like a robot not only didn't have clothes, but he also did not have the clue. We made our way to the back of the restaurant area, eventually, and found what we were looking for behind a curtain. Chuck E. Cheese is famous for its terrifying animatronic dancing characters, and sure enough, an envelope was sticking out of one of their pockets. "Let's go open this outside," I told Tyler. He recorded as I pulled several papers out of the envelope. The note, which I read aloud for the camera, was accompanied by a magic eye puzzle and graphic calculator instructions. The Gatekeeper, as promised, arrived as we finished reading the clue. "Good work, Gnome and Shags!" he said, opening the door for us. Tyler immediately got to work inputting the program into his calculator, while I tried to make out the magic eye picture. When executed, the program drew an apple with seeds, and a cake. After a bit of anagramming and puzzling, we figured out that this meant the next clue was at Cedar Lake, which we asked the Gatekeeper to take us to. As we headed towards our next destination, I was able to see an abstract figure with "SCULPTURE" written under it in the magic eye drawing. We saw the very same sculpture after a few more minutes of driving, and yelled "Stop!" as we were about to pass it. [Future Scholarship of the Future] Tyler and I ran over to the dragon-like sculpture. Nothing interesting was visible on the outside, but as soon as we ducked under it, we spotted a second envelope stuck to the underside. I pulled it off, opened it, and dug out the contents. Besides the usual note, a "Pirate Treasure Map" was also included. It detailed a maze-like trail with a big red X at the end. Coordinates were written at the bottom, to give to the Gatekeeper. "X: Awesome. Y: Square root of 9 times robot. Z: Ultra 64". Amused, I handed the paper to the Gatekeeper as we stepped back into the car. Without a word, he started the engine, and we pulled away from the lake towards our final destination. After the longest drive yet on our adventure that day, we pulled into a State Park in St. Paul. The Gatekeeper asked "Will you be needing a shovel?" as I exited the car. I said yes, because really, who doesn't need a shovel sometimes? We turned on the camera and walked towards the only discernable entrance to the forest ahead. Some picnickers looked at us strangely as we passed, since two guys with a shovel heading into a forest isn't exactly a normal sight. We smirked, and continued down the path. [Future Scholarship of the Future] It stayed true to the map, and we eventually arrived at our destination: the big red X between two trees. Tyler put down the camera to scope out the area as I prepared to dig. I stepped down hard on the shovel, and it hit something hard. "It's here!" I yelled. I unearthed a large black metal locked box. Inspecting it closer, I realized that there was no key. "How the hell are we even going to open this?" I asked. I looked up to find Tyler pointing a phaser at me. "You've gone far enough, Gnome." "WHAT!?" I yelled back, confused and amazed. "That's right. Shags is dead. I killed him and took his place. You're just Zane's little errand boy. I'm Maggie Hark! I won't let you succeed." "You've gone far enough, Gnome." "You can't do this! You won't win!" I dramatized, trying to figure out what to do. "I will take THIS," Maggie said, grabbing the locked box. "You will not live to see tomorrow. However, in accordance with future code, you get a saving throw..." He pulled out a twenty sided die, raised it above his head for a moment, then threw it along the ground towards me. The camera still rested next to his feet, recording everything. I picked up the die, and asked him "...What is the saving throw versus?" "Versus phasers," he answered. I rolled the die around in my fingers, then tossed it towards him. He bent down to grab it, keeping the phaser pointed at me. "AAARGGH!" he screamed, looking at the die. "You live this time, but this isn't the end!" Maggie dropped the locked box, but grabbed the video camera. He let out a laugh, and ran away down the path. I stood there for a bit, alone in the woods in Minnesota, more confused than I had ever been in my life. After collecting myself, I picked up the box and shovel, and returned to the parking lot. Maggie was nowhere in sight, however the towncar was right where it should be, with the Gatekeeper standing tall beside it. He cordially opened the door as I drew near, and as I ducked to enter the backseat, I saw another figure already seated. He slowly began to clap. "Good work... Gnome." "Zane!?" I asked. "Yes, yes" "I assume you are aware, then, of what has transpired?" "Yes. Maggie has escaped, but not forever." I couldn't remember what Zane looked like exactly from a year ago, but I was sure it was him. He had a bit of a nerdy look, with longer-than-normal hair, and an ill-fitting green "Futurettes" t-shirt, which appeared to be a basketball team. We spoke of the future, Armageddon, and my role in preventing it as the car sped along the highway. He said I was the leader of the resistance in the future, and I had prepared these trials for myself in the past, to be better fit to lead all humanity. Maggie, as it turns out, was a cyborg that had supposedly murdered Shags/Tyler and taken his place for the adventure. I had been lucky, he said, to have escaped from such a deadly foe. [The Locked Black Box] Our car left the highway at the airport exit. We pulled up to the drop-off area, and Zane turned to me. "Gnome, you have done well today. You have saved the future. I must leave you now, but do not forget the things you have accomplished today. Goodbye... my father." The Gatekeeper helped me get my things from the trunk, and I turned around to look at them one last time from the sidewalk. Zane suddenly poked out through the window, and yelled "My Father!" while making a throwing motion. A tiny key flew through the air, and by luck landed in the crook of my arm. He quickly ducked back into the car, and they sped off. I walked into the airport, checked in, and sat down at the gate. As expected, the key fit in the locked box perfectly, and I swung the top open. Quite a few items were arranged delicately to let them all fit in the box; A VHS tape, a Robocop 3 Super Nintendo videogame, and several other small paper items. Most notably, however, was another scrapbook, similar to the original one from a year ago. Flipping through the scrapbook pages, it became clear that it was going to be just as confusing and bizarre as the original one. There were no hints, and no information as to who had planned the entire event. After the once-in-a-lifetime experience I had just been through, though, I was alright with that. All was quiet in regards to the future for the next six months. My retelling of the events in Minneapolis had spread throughout the internet, and I had many emails inquiring about it. Nothing from Zane, the Gatekeeper, or any of the other people I had met on my trip. Then, on the morning of February 19th 2005, I woke up to find a private message in my inbox on the Something Awful forums. It was titled "I found your future stalkers!" I quickly clicked the link contained within, and was shocked at what it displayed. "Reverse Engineers: There's Someone at the Door For You, He Says He's From the Future" was titled at the top of the screen, and a picture of me looking confused at Zane outside my doorway was under it, next to the text. My jaw dropped. It was an art exhibit. There was a synopsis of everything that had happened to me in Chicago and Minneapolis, and a description of the exhibit, made by two guys: Dylan Reiff and Joe Korsmo. The place it was being held was called the Carnegie Art Center, and was in a very small town called North Tonawanda, in New York. I became determined to track these guys down. [The End Day] Several days later as I was heading out the door for work, I nearly stepped on a CD on the floor. It had obviously been slipped through the mail slot. The words "FINAL DOCUMENTATION" were written on the front in large letters. I ran to my computer and played the video [Youtube] on the CD. Zangief and Maggie Hark walked in from the sides of the screen on a fighting game background. They exchanged blows briefly, before a third player, "Kolin", (My head was pasted on a figure) flew down and destroyed Maggie with laser eyes. My ongoing search for Joe and Dylan narrowed, and eventually I managed to find Dylan's mom's number. I called, and deviously left a message pretending to be one of Dylan's old friends who was trying to re-establish contact with him. The next day, she called back and happily gave me his current number. I was nervous dialing, not sure how the conversation was going to turn out. The phone picked up with a click. "Hi, Kolin!" "Hello, Dylan.." I responded, now recognizing his voice. We had an awkward conversation for about twenty seconds, then he asked if I could call him back. I began to ask why, and was interrupted by a sudden beep. I had been talking to an answering machine. This took me completely off guard. I was in awe of Dylan's scheming to accomplish something like that. I called again the next day, and received a similar, but still cryptic message which attempted to engage me in conversation. Wondering how long this would continue for, I called back a third time the next day, and to my surprise, Zane himself actually answered this time. "Hello, Gnome." He said. "The phones are not secure, so we cannot discuss details here." I asked him what he was talking about, and he let slip that I must travel to North Tonawanda, very soon. We discussed this briefly, and were able to settle on a date: Friday, March 18th, 2005. There was very little to prepare before going to New York. I packed a few things, including my trusty blacklight, and set out on that Friday. The ten hour drive was thankfully uneventful. I arrived in North Tonawanda in the middle of the night. The Carnegie Art Center was a large stone building, right in the middle of a residential area. Zane had told me to "shed light on the situation", which I assumed meant use my blacklight to find a clue, as I had in Minneapolis with the password. I armed myself with the light, and went to work scouring the perimeter of the building for any clues. After several sweeps resulting in nothing, I went back to my car to warm up and think. It was at this point that a police car slowly drove past, then swung around and pulled up right behind me. Of course - I had just been suspiciously prowling around the outside with a flashlight in the middle of the night. I was thankful that I was in my car when he got there, and not still running around the building in the dark. "Hello!" I said as the officer came to my window. "Hi. Were you just around this building with a flashlight?" "Yes, I was. This is a bit of an odd story, but I just drove here from Chicago. There's an exhibit on the inside of this gallery that's all about me, and there is some sort of clue hidden here that I need to find, that's supposed to be visible by blacklight." The officer gave me the most skeptical and puzzled look I've ever seen in my life. "Can I have your license please?" I gave it to him. "I'll be right back..." He walked off to his car, talking with his partner, and no doubt running my plates thoroughly. Another squad car arrived, pulling up next to him. They both discussed something briefly, and then strode over to me. "So you drove here from Chicago tonight.. huh. You know how weird that sounds.." "Oh yes, I know perfectly." "So explain this a bit more..." I attempted as best I could to give a short synopsis of my future story without sounding crazy. It seems that I succeeded though, since they let me go once I let them know of my website where they could read the story. Being the middle of the night, and since the clue was obviously inside the gallery where I couldn't get at it, I found the nearest hotel and fell asleep instantly. The next morning, I returned to the Carnegie Art Center bright and early. It wasn't open yet, but an art class for children was being held in the basement. I knocked, and briefly explained my situation to the teacher. She actually knew of my exhibit, and promised to take me up to the gallery once the class let out. A half hour later, she opened the doors to the main floor, and I stepped into the gallery for the first time. [The Exhibit] It was a very large room with many exhibits set up along the walls, and on podiums. Mine was towards the back, and I went over to inspect it. Memorabilia from the events hung on the walls, and sat on stands. The famous phaser, printouts of my original story from the internet, my plane ticket to Minneapolis, and more. I was drawn to a television standing to the side that was playing a video. I soon realized that the video was of the initial delivery of the scrapbook, from 2003. The video was obviously shot out of a car window from the street, and you can hear people talking as the event takes place. "OH MY GOD, is that really him?! I've never seen him in real life.. only in my dreams!" someone yells as I come to my front door. Obviously, I wanted a copy of this video. I was told, though, that I'd have to wait and ask the curator when he arrived. So, I decided to wait and make the most of my time. I pulled out my trusty blacklight and scanned the items in the exhibit. Nothing out of the ordinary, until I came to one framed picture on the wall. "WEN CHAPEL. FRIDAY, MAY 18 TH, 2005. BRING THE INTERNET." At this point, I stopped to realize the genius of the guys I was dealing with. They had left this coded message in the exhibit more than a month ago, knowing that I was going to show up someday. The curator eventually arrived, and surprisingly already knew quite a bit about me. He divulged the bit of information that this wasn't the first exhibit where my future story was featured. There had also been one previously, several months ago, which I hadn't even known about. I brought up the topic of copying the tape, and he was sad to say that he couldn't let me without express permission of the artists. Sadly, I took a few exhibit booklets, said my goodbyes, and went out to my car. I took out my laptop to check the internet one last time, for Zane had the odd habit of appearing in times of need, and this was no different. He messaged me instantly, and though cryptic, it became clear. The next meeting was not only a meeting, it was a battle. The Wen Chapel was in a virtual world, a video game, and "BRING THE INTERNET" meant I would need friends, warriors. Thanking him, I shut down my computer, started the car, and began my long drive home to Chicago. May 18th finally rolled around, and being extremely busy, I hadn't had time to prepare properly for the battle. In fact, I hadn't even played the game once before that day. Logging on to the trusty Something Awful forums, I asked for assistance, and thankfully, many pledged their e-swords to my cause. We gathered in the meeting place of the Wen Chapel, chatting idly as 7:30 PM rolled around. At that precise moment, Zane Figiam and the Gatekeeper appeared out of thin air. [Zane Confronts the World Warriors] Zane gave a brief overview of the quest that we were about to partake in. There were apparently several "Glyphs" that the Wizards of old had left, which would lead to the disembodied appendages of Maggie Hark (Shags, or "Tyler" from Minneapolis), which had been scattered about. He gave us the first clue, and we set to work, solving his word puzzles and scouring the world for these pieces. One by one, we collected the pieces of Maggie, and advanced through his virtual trials. The last piece was revealed to be in a locked chest. Zane told me that the secret would be found with, "Primitive anti-light through a second time". That could mean none other than "Use the blacklight on the second scrapbook". Shining it over the pages, I was once again struck by their genius. Sure enough, on a page near the end of the book I received nearly a year ago, a numeric password was scrawled in UV-sensitive ink. I entered the password and opened the chest, revealing Maggie Hark's ring. Overjoyed, Zane assembled the group, and marched us to where we were to dispose of Maggie's cybernetic parts once and for all. Holding the pieces aloft, he yelled "Treguna! Mekoides!! Trecorum Satis Dee!!!" Instead of vanishing forever into the abyss, Maggie Hark appeared before us, in all his cybernetic glory. We had been tricked. "So it is written, Gnome, and so shall your fate be sealed," Zane yelled. "Maggie, assemble... DESTROY THE WORLD WARRIORS!" We spun into battle. The Gatekeeper, still on our side, attempted to defend us from Zane's wrath. "Attack with all your strength, Warriors!" he cried. It was futile, however, and Zane made short work of all of us, vanishing instantly afterwards. Battered and hopeless, we discussed what to do next. It was at that moment that I heard a knock on my front door. [Midnight Showing of Star Wars: Episode III] I ran downstairs and swung open the door, but there was no one in sight. The door next to mine opened up as well, and the person who lives under me came out, noticing a box at his doorstep. He picked it up, looked inside, then realized it said "KOLIN POPE" on the top. "I'm not even going to ask," he said, giving me a look. I took the box, and ran back up to my apartment. I excitedly opened the box, and found three things: A small MiniDV tape, a movie ticket, and a piece of paper with "ALL WILL BE REVEALED AT EPISODE 3: PLEASE ATTEND" written on it in pen. The ticket, of course, was for Star Wars: Episode III, which just happened to be opening at midnight, that night. the tape would have to wait. I said my goodbyes online, and sprinted to the train. The L stopped nearly ten blocks from the theater. I arrived out of breath to the site of hundreds of people milling around, inside and outside. Being a Star Wars opening, many people were dressed up for the event. It was going to make it hard to spot anyone. As I crested the main staircase, a guy around my age who was wearing large goggles approached me. "Gnome?" he asked. "Yes, it is me," I answered. He handed me a cheap frame with enclosed papers. "There is still one you can trust," he whispered, patting me on the shoulder as he passed. I turned around to follow him down the stairs, but he was instantly lost in the sea of people. [Velocity Gnome, Circa 1952] With no one else visible that was involved, I figured I should go enjoy the movie. Nothing else out of the ordinary happened that night. It wasn't until the way back on the train that I took the papers out of their frame to read. "THE FATHER TIME LOOP" it was titled. It turned out to be a seven page backstory of the 'history of the future' detailing the past of Zane and how he had become a traitor, myself, and what lied in store. The next day, a friend converted the video for me, and I was very amused by what they had come up with. It began with cuts of various people introducing themselves as "Velocity Gnome". A caveman, someone in Star Trek clothes from the future, a dog, a soldier, all repeating the lines that I had recited in front of the camera to "Tyler", way back in Minneapolis. It was re-enacting my adventure through the ages, Velocity Gnome being reincarnated again and again to save the future, and failing each time. Father Time Loop on Youtube Come December 10th, however, I prepared to change that. The morning of the 10th quickly arrived, and once again I found myself on a plane headed towards an unfamiliar destination. Father Time had let me know the previous night that a resistance member, the great warrior Leyzon, would be meeting me at the airport baggage claim at 1pm. In addition to Leyzon, a guy named Dave who was a security officer at the airport had seen my story, and was also meeting me to watch the events begin. [Zane Confronts the World Warriors] The baggage claim area was empty when I arrived, but it wasn't quite 1 o'clock yet. After a few minutes of standing, I noticed someone heading in my direction. "So, when's this going to go down?" he said as he came up to me. "Hey, Dave?" I asked. "Yeah," he replied. We chatted for a while about the future, and his job as a security officer at the airport. He let me know that there was a group of CIA and security guards that he had told my story to. They were apparently sitting in the monitor room, with all the security cameras focused on me to watch what was about to happen. Time ticked by, and soon it was 1:15, and still no sign of Leyzon. "I'm going to go out for a smoke," Dave said, and walked out to the entrance area. I stood waiting for a few minutes, until Dave hurried back in through the doors holding up two fingers. "There's two of them... one with a camera, they're coming now." [Zane Confronts the World Warriors] At that moment, two figures turned the corner, as well as the heads of everyone near them. Leyzon looked straight out of the Matrix, with a black vinyl overcoat, patterned vest, flared pants, and a tiny mini-afro. Walking next to him was a figure holding a videocamera, wearing a bright red jumpsuit and white helmet. A mask cloaked most of his face, and he had an elaborate series of ties that attached a laptop to his chest, which was connected to the camera. They quickly approached me. "Velocity Gnome!" exclaimed Leyzon. "It is an honor to finally meet you!" I extended my hand for a handshake, and he fell to his knee and clasped it. "I, as you know, am Leyzon, the warrior." He pointed to his jumpsuit-clad companion. "This is The Observer, the documentarian and navigator. He does not speak." I looked over at The Observer, who was slowly shuffling around our small group of people to get a good angle. "This is Dave," I said, motioning back towards him. "He is trustworthy." Leyzon looked skeptically at Dave for a moment, and then moved to go shake his hand as well. "We must depart, Gnome," Leyzon said as he turned back towards me. I nodded, said goodbye to Dave, and took my place next to Leyzon as we headed out the way they came. The Observer trailed slightly behind, still filming. "Gnome, it is truly great having you in our presence," Leyzon said as we rode down an escalator. He radiated a quiet aura of cool, that was definitely aided by his outfit. We made the usual slightly awkward future smalltalk while traversing the airport, heading to the garage. "Our vessel, I believe you will be pleased," he said as we walked down rows of parked cars. He turned left, and opened the door on a large blue Dodge Minivan. I grinned, remembering the extremely shoddy Lincoln Towncar from Minneapolis, and agreed that yes, it was a step up! I got into the extreme back seat, as the middle row had been taken out. The Observer sat on the ground near me, with his camera still watching my every move. He would randomly flip the lid of his laptop outwards, and move the mouse, doing something unknown. Leyzon was quite cordial, and expressed great concern that I was comfortable during the first stage of my journey. [Zane Confronts the World Warriors] We set off down the highway towards Dayton, Leyzon and I still conversing. I was having trouble hearing him due to my being so far back, so I switched up to the front seat. He then told me the story of his fall from grace as a warrior, when an enemy snuck up behind him and severed his beard. He lost much of his power that day, but I let him know that I was still honored to have him fighting on my side. After nearly fourty minutes of driving, we came up on a large mall. "Keep low, Gnome," Leyzon whispered. "We don't want to reveal your location to the enemy. We are headed to a training facility, where you will view a training video. Another operative will meet us there, and headquarters has let me know that you must speak his name, 'Ultra', to gain control of him." "Why would I want to gain control of him?" I asked. "I apologize, for I do not know," he said solemnly. "I was merely told to pass this message along to you from headquarters." [Zane Confronts the World Warriors] The car eventually came to a rest outside of a large Regal Cinema theater. We got out, and strut into the lobby of the theater, much to the amusement of everyone there. "Two tickets for 'Derailed', please," Leyzon told the man at the counter. The Observer obviously wouldn't be allowed in the theater with a camera, and he wandered off while we were buying the tickets. Leyzon and I continued into the theater playing Derailed, which was completely empty. After a few minutes, I commented that I wanted to go get some popcorn. "You stay here, Gnome," he said. "I will get the popcorn." He got up and left the theater, leaving me alone. A minute later, a small girl with wild hair wearing a skirt, pink fuzzy cape, and boots came wandering in and up to me. "Kolin Pope?!" she yelled in a bit of an angry tone. "What are you doing here? You are Kolin Pope, aren't you?" "Yes, yes I am." I replied. "Are you a member of the resistance?" "Aren't we all? Why are you here? You're my 3 o'clock, and it's 3:15. You're late, you're late for your haircut!" She produced a scissors out of her cloak. "We had an appointment, and you're here! Come, now, let's go!" she said, motioning for me to leave. I hesitantly rose out of my seat and followed her. "How do I know I can trust you?" "Well, I'm human, aren't I?" she sarcastically replied. As we stepped into the hallway, a name tag fell out of her cloak, and I caught the word "ULTRA" written on it. "Ah, Ultra!" I said, happier to know that it was in fact a member of the resistance. She absentmindedly flipped around her scissors in her hand as we walked down the hallway. "Yes, yes, that is my name. So what style do you want? You really could use a haircut. Do you have any idea?" [Zane Confronts the World Warriors] "I'm not sure.." I hesitantly said, fearing a butchered head of hair at the hands of a lunatic hairdresser from the future. We passed the ticket-taker arriving back in the lobby, and I saw the observer had returned. I quickened my pace over to him, eager to reunite with Leyzon. Strangely, Leyzon was nowhere to be found, and Ultra caught up to me with haste. "So, Kolin, what style? What style?" she repeated with wide eyes, waving her scissors dangerously close to my face. Onlookers began to take notice of this bizarre scene playing out in the crowded lobby. "I.. I really don't know!" I stammered, not knowing exactly what I was supposed to do. "THEN DIE!" she cried in a robotic voice, mechanically lunging at me near the scissors. I grabbed her wrist, forcing it away from my face. "What is happening!?" I cried, trying to force her off me. Ultra pulled out a second pair of scissors with the other hand, and I quickly grabbed her other wrist as well. The Observer circled us, filming the awkward battle, while people stopped in their tracks to watch. "KOLIN POPE... MUST DIE" she continued, struggling to gouge me. At this moment, I recalled what Leyzon had told me in the car. "ULTRA!" I cried, and her arms instantly went limp. "K.. Kolin?" she quietly said, looking up. "You saved me.. you set me free... oh, it was terrible! The robots, they brainwashed me! I was powerless to do anything!" "Ultra, we have to get out of here," I said, and motioned for the Observer to follow me. We quickly left the theater, and ran back to the Minivan, where Leyzon was calmly waiting. "You.. you must be Ultra, the resistance member?" he said with great interest as we walked up to him. "Yes, I am!" she said, "And you?" "Leyzon, the warrior. I see you have met the great Velocity Gnome." "Yes..." she said, trailing off. "Gnome.. I want you to cut my hair." "What?!" I said, confused at this comment out of nowhere. "Please," Ultra continued. "Cut it, as a sign of trust." She handed me the scissors, and lowered her head. "I'll cut a small amount..." "NO! Cut a large amount. As a sign of trust!" "Large or small, the trust is equal to me." I said, taking one small lock between the scissors and neatly snipping it off. "Now, I cut yours." My eyes widened. "I...." I contemplated this for a moment, and then lowered my head, silently consenting. Ultra quickly cut off one of my curls, and then took her own hair from me, rolling them together in her fingers and then releasing them into the wind. Leyzon, who was looking on, piped up. "Shall we?" All of us piled into the van, Ultra and The Observer sitting in the back, and I took my previous spot in the front. As we rolled out of the parking lot, I asked Ultra, "Do you always counter brainwashing by speaking their true name?" "It's different for.. everyone," she said, finding words. "You have to find the one word that brings them back, reminds them of their humanity." Our drive continued for another five minutes before Ultra piped up again, letting me know that this would be my last chance to get a haircut. I figured "What the hell!", and consented. She had me sit in the back of the van, and with the Observer still filming, gave me a small tidying-up-the-back haircut. "Looks good!" she exclaimed, finishing up and wiping some hair off my neck. "Thanks!" I said, and climbed back into the front seat, checking out my trim in the mirror. "Gnome," Leyzon said. "For our next stop, I fear that you will have to put on a disguise. The enemy is all around.. and you must not be recognized." "I know!" yelled Ultra from the back seat. "I collect these articles.. will this do?" She pulled out a fake beard from her bag, and passed it up to me. I looked at the thing, a white, itchy-looking full beard with a strap to go around the back of the head. "Yes, it is perfect!" exclaimed Leyzon. "Gnome, put it on quickly. We have arrived." I donned the beard disguise as the car parked on a small, store-lined street. Leyzon and Ultra walked towards a toy store that was up ahead. "I'll check to make sure it's safe." said Leyzon, cautiously creeping up to the window of the store. After a moment, he motioned for us to follow him inside. [Zane Confronts the World Warriors] The store was small, and the aisles were filled to the ceiling with all manner of toys and disguises. Leyzon stood aside near the entrance as I peered deeper into the store. A figure glanced at me from one of the aisles, catching my eye. Long black hair with white highlights flowed down past his shoulders out of a tall wizard hat. He had a matching black robe on, completed with a silver lightning bolt hanging from his neck. I slowly made my way around racks of toys towards him, and he shuffled up to my side, whispering, "Gnome, do you know who I am?" "Father Time?" I answered. "No, no.. I am Darwin Cinderthistle, the wizard. Do you know why you are here?" "To defeat Maggie Hark." "Yes, yes, but *here*?" "No. I do not." "You must find the... chalice. It is a mystical item, forged of pure dragon's blood. You will know it when you see it." Darwin said, as we walked down the aisles, The Observer following. We rounded the corner to the back room, where my eyes eventually came to rest on a small semi-transparent red chalice set atop a counter. "Yes! Yes, this is it!" Darwin whispered excitedly. "Quickly now, act natural! Place it into your bag!" I looked around and noticed two men watching what obviously looked like shoplifting play out as I swiped the chalice from its stand and threw it into my backpack." "Gnome!" said Darwin. "Act natural! We must flee this place!" We strolled casually up through the store, passed the front counter, and made it to the door when the girl at the counter yelled at us, "Hey! You guys, stop!" "YES? DID YOU SAY SOMETHING?" Darwin shot back at her, obviously flustered. "I saw what you did!" she said in an accusatory voice. "I saw you take it!" Darwin rose up to his full height, raised his hands towards her, and roared out a series of magic words. She cried out, and fainted backwards onto the counter. "RUN!" He yelled at us. We crowded out the door and ran to the car. "Gnome!" Darwin said to me. "Give me the chalice, I shall meet you at Maggie's Lair!" I fished the chalice out of my backpack and handed it to him. "Good luck," he said as he turned away. "Gnome, I must go as well," added Ultra, running after Darwin. "I will see you later!" The two of them ran down the street away from us. Leyzon, myself, and The Observer got back into the van. "Now, we must go meet another resistance member," he told me. "Keep your disguise on. The robots could be watching, they could be anywhere." The next ride was extremely short, and we arrived at a similar small street in front of a used bookstore. Again, Leyzon snuck ahead to make sure it was safe, and summoned us into the store after him. The member we were there to meet revealed himself nearly instantly. He was extremely tall and lanky, with long hair peeking out from under a brown beanie hat, and had on a vest, tight pants, and striped socks. "Gnome!" he cried, loud enough for the whole store to hear. "I am glad you have arrived! I am Worm, the Scholar! I have studied your time for very long, and perhaps know more about than any other from my own." Like Darwin before him, he asked if I knew why I was there. I replied the same, "To battle Maggie Hark?" "Yes! Yes, eventually. However, you are here to find a book. A very important book. Perhaps you should look to the history of your time, as I have. Such as here," he said, pointing to a row of books on the history of South America. "The History of South America! And here! The history of Africa! Oh, oh! And here, the history of Ohio, where we are now!" [Zane Confronts the World Warriors] I scanned through this entire row of books, looking for something out of the ordinary, but nothing stood out. I looked up at Worm, and he was puzzling over a row of books high up. I followed his gaze, and found him staring at a row of books titled The Encyclopedia of World History. Sticking slightly out at the end of the stack was an extremely thin booklet. Reaching up, I took the booklet, and was shocked to see the cover. "Velocity Gnome in: THE FATHER TIME LOOP" read the cover of a comic book, with a dramatic picture of Father Time coercing a time vortex in his hands. Standing proud in the foreground was what I assumed to be me, Velocity Gnome. I flipped through the booklet, and immediately recognized the text. It was the entire history of the Father Time Loop that had been given to me at the Star Wars Episode III opening so many months ago, but fully illustrated as a comic. [Read the comic] "Ah! Good, good!" said Worm. "Let us leave!" We walked to the counter, and I was about to pass it when Worm stopped me. "Gnome, we must purchase this! Please, hand it to the cashier." I handed over the comic book, and the cashier looked at it for a moment, confused. "Uh, dude, this isn't ours.. we don't sell this. Just take it or something," he said with an extremely disinterested voice. "Why, thank you!" exclaimed Worm. "Come, Gnome!" We left the bookstore, and as before with my past companions, Worm apologized for having to leave, but assured me he would reappear when I was most in need. "Goodbye! Good luck!" he yelled, walking into the distance. I turned towards Leyzon, and he motioned for us to start walking back towards the van. "Now, I believe we must get sustenance. You cannot fight Maggie Hark on an empty stomach." People passing us stared as we walked down the street, some pointing from the distance. [Zane Confronts the World Warriors] Once back at the van, it was a quick trip to the restaurant. Amid confused looks from the waitstaff and patrons, we ordered our meals and sat down to eat. This was the first time I got to see The Observer's laptop up close, and I realized that he had a wireless broadband card plugged into the side. Suddenly, it all made sense - they had been webcasting the adventure *live* ever since the airport. The Observer turned the screen towards me, and for the first time I saw what was happening. A plethora of video programs were open, for streaming and editing video. It was replaying some old footage from the airport. I glanced at the clock - it was 5:45. "Don't we have to be at Maggie's lair at 6 o'clock?" I asked. "Not exactly at 6," Leyzon said. "We have to wait for word from headquarters." We sat around for a bit more before the awaited phone call came, after which we returned to the van and set out for our final destination, the Lair of Maggie Hark. It had turned to night by that time, and everything was dark and snowy as we drove. As we came into the Antioch campus area, Leyzon slowed the van down, and The Observer hopped out the back, running over to a building to our side. Leyzon's phone rang, and something was said to him that put him in a rush, because he immediately drove us around the corner into the parking lot of the building, which I could now see was the Antioch Theater. A guy came running out, making motions to come to him, and hurry. "Go, Gnome!" Leyzon yelled. "GO!" I grabbed my backpack and ran up the steps of the theater, and through the front doors. "Come on, quick!" said the guy, motioning for me to follow him. We ran through another doorway, and into a dimly lit corridor. As I flew by, I saw the walls were plastered with pictures of me and my adventure, from every part of the quest. Chants of "VELOCITY GNOME!" came ringing out through a final doorway that we were fast approaching. Music blared behind it, and I heard what sounded like cheering. The observer stepped out, his camera following my sprint to the doorway. "VELOCITY GNOME!" again echoed down the hall. As I ran through the doorway, into the next room, my mind momentarily stopped. [Zane Confronts the World Warriors] [Video on Youtube]Dancers circled a brightly lit stage wrought with steel beams and mechanical parts everywhere, with three massive screens suspended high above showing the live video of me that The Observer was taking. A massive cheer erupted, and I turned around to witness a completely packed theater of nearly three hundred people, all standing and yelling as loud as possible, and it dawned on me what was actually happening. The music flared as I stepped onto the stage in a daze, and the dancers encircled me, lights all focused on the ring. I tried to regain my senses, but all I could do was stand there completely dumbfounded. The song drew to a close, and the dancers fled off the stage. The theater went dark, and I was left standing alone in front of the crowd. A loud voice suddenly echoed throughout the theater. "My, oh my! I may not know my lips from a lighthouse, but I know Kolin Pope when I see him!" I looked up, and in the corner on a circular screen, a large image of a man with a wild beard and goggles appeared, staring straight out at me. "I'm sorry," he said. "We haven't been properly introduced! I'm Father Time, owner and proprietor of time itself. Tell me: how are you, young fellow?" [Zane Confronts the World Warriors] "I am well, Father Time!" I said in a loud voice, looking up at him. If I was going to be in this show now, I'd have to fit the part and play along. Luckily, when you know the story by heart, improving the lines is somewhat easier. "Ha ha ha!" he replied in his slightly southern accent. "There are important matters to attend to! Such as... that eyesore over there!" I swung around and looked to the side of the stage. A massive contraption sat in the dark, covered with gears and buttons, looking quite ominous. I walked over to inspect, but as I drew near, spotlights suddenly lit up a figure standing above the audience. "FAAAAAAAAATHHHHEEERRRR!" he yelled in dismay. Looking up, I saw none other than Zane Figiam, my future son, and traitor to humanity. He wore little besides a red cape and boxerbriefs, and was looking downright furious. "Zane!" I yelled, shocked. "To tempt fate is ill advised, Father! As *I* am now a man and *you* are a boy, I take it upon myself to responsibly usurp your paternal duties as I offer you these gentle words: go home, wretch. There is nothing for you here. I have made my choice, fully prepared to suffer the consequences. What say you!?" Thinking for a moment, I took a cautious step towards Zane. "What I think, Zane," I said in a loud, clear voice, taking slow dramatic steps after every few words. "..Is that I'm going to stop this Doomsday device, stop Armageddon, and stop *YOU*." This sent the crowd into a frenzy of cheering. "A man much wiser than I once said "Time heals all wounds," Zane said solemnly. "But, wise men are fools, Kolin. There was a time when I was your son, your flesh and blood, but you took my heart, and you chewed it up like so many family dinners left half eaten in your rush to the drycleaners before close." Father Time suddenly spoke from his post up in the corner screen. "Every father has choices he must make, Zane Figiam!" "STAY OUT OF THIS, OLD MAN!" Zane snapped back. You meddle enough in the affairs of men. You speak to me as ungrateful for despising a father who chooses to toss his own son to the CyBears." "Zane Figiam.. you know it wasn't as simple as that," Father Time replied. Kolin Pope knows what he must do, and sometimes must live with the regret his responsibilities force him to shoulder." Zane put on a scowl. "Do your duty today and repent tomorrow, then, is it? Look at you, Father, rushing to the rescue. I loved you.. Father..." "KOLIN POPE!" Father Time yelled. "IT IS NEVER TOO LATE!" "NO!" cried Zane. "It *IS* too late! TOO LATE FOR YOU! Too late for us. For *all* of us." He put his arms out, referring to the audience. A laugh rang out from offstage. "It's him..." Zane whispered. "The End Day is close, now." A figure strolled out of the darkness and into the spotlight, and I recognized him as none other than Maggie Hark, the arch nemesis of myself, and all humanity. I had met him originally in Minneapolis, when he was in disguise posing as the human ' Tyler'. True to Maggie's usual outfit, he was clad in brown suspenders, with his trademark metal arms at his sides. He stared directly at me. "YOU! You... you bothersome, meddling, insignificant CHURL! You, for whom I have traveled through time, space, and death to destroy, how do you still manage to..." He suddenly became calmer, and a smile passed through his lips. "You're after this," he said, holding up a large yellow key that was hanging from his neck by a string. "But it's late, too late. Remember THIS?" Maggie's hand reached to his side, and he pulled out the phaser that I was all too familiar with. It had been drawn on me before, in the forest preserve of Minneapolis, and I had barely escaped by making a saving throw with a d20, as per Future regulations. "You won't manage to interfere with me this time, Gnome," Maggie continued, letting out a small chuckle. "I'm afraid, this time, NO DICE! BEHOLD, THE DOOMSDAY DEVICE!" The Doomsday device sprung to life, with wheels spinning and clicking, gears turning, and moved itself slowly out onto the stage, its top segment rotating a gigantic metal protrusion towards the audience. "Kolin Pope! Do not be rash!" Father Time warned. Maggie let out a great, maniacal laugh. "You know, I've done this all for you, Gnome. Take a bow, wave goodbye to your precious human race I hate so much... and say hello to THE END DAY!" He erupted in laughter, and looked around the room at the audience he was about to destroy, but then his gaze came to rest on the one figure he had not intended to be there - Zane. "You!" Maggie yelled. "I know you... you're the one who took my dear, dear championship! WELL, NOT AGAIN! Humans.. you're always working together, to take.. my championship belt... my key, my password, there's no need. Beautiful implosion! Bang! Boom!" He said his last words with a crazed tone in his voice. "Take note, Father whom I despise," Zane said, turning to me. "Maggie Hark - humanity's greatest enemy, and my creation - is a madman." Maggie became furious. "I AM NO HUMAN!" he yelled back at Zane. "Yes, you are." Zane replied. "Only a human could possess such evil. I didn't know how far you'd go.. and as I witnessed the construction of this accursed machine, I realized that my revenge was being overshadowed by utter chaos." "You see it then, the perfection?" Maggie asked, somewhat sarcastically. "Oh yes, Hark, I see it. Your 'perfection'. There was a time when I entertained thoughts of stopping you. All I would need is that key hung round your neck, and it would be as simple as entering your maintenance override code during the final countdown..." Maggie, becoming extremely furious at hearing this, screamed, "WHAT? A SPY? A MOLE IN MY MIDST!? You know *entirely* too much. You've gone and learned my password without.. my permission. It would be lovely if you were breathe your last breath.. why, I believe now is as good a time as any!" A sad look passed over Zane's face. "Why not?" he said. "I might as well perish along with this chaos.. This is the revenge I asked for. I have nothing left to lose. I've already lost.. all I once cared about." He looked over at me. "Yes, ah yes!" Maggie exclaimed. "Well, just as a little extra "insurance policy..." He removed the key from his neck, dramatically stuck it into the doomsday device, and turned it. A siren blared throughout the theater, and a female voice spoke. "Final countdown initiated. End Day will occur in two minutes, zero seconds. All space and time within an infinite radius from the Doomsday device will cease to exist. Please ensure that all your affairs are in order." Maggie let out another laugh, then threw the key to the ground. It broke to pieces. "And that, as they say, is that! Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to pop off to another era for a better view of the implosion. TTYL!" The audience got a huge kick out of the TTYL. A large gate to the right of the stage constructed out of steel rods was marked "FUTURE". It lit up, and Maggie ran through it while the sirens continued. "Kolin!" Father Time yelled. "The Machine.. see what you can do!" I ran over to the Doomsday device, but the key was broken. I could do nothing to stop it. Father Time piped up again. "The power to weave time is at my fingertips, Kolin Pope! You must stop him from destroying your life's work... life itself! Follow Maggie Hark! In you go, boy, through the portal!" [Zane Confronts the World Warriors] The Future portal was no longer lit, but one on the opposite site of the stage labeled "PAST" had activated. In a split second, I made up my mind, and sprinted through the gate. "Do not change much, but do not forget your mission!" Father Time called after me. The stage went dark. A guy who had been sitting to the side of the stage came up to me, and quickly took my backpack and coat. "Now there, Kolin, let's just put you over here, and don't worry about a thing..." He directed me back out onto the dark stage, which was buzzing with the activity of people changing the set. He sat me down at a table with some bowls on it, and shortly after, a woman and man sat down besides me. There was a door frame to our side. The lights lit up again, and the new scene began. The man was reading a newspaper. "Ho ho ho! I see the circus is coming to town! Beth, get in here, the circus is coming to town!" My Mom's name is Beth, and this made me instantly realize that I had traveled to the past, and was replaying through the night that I first met Zane Figiam. A dog barked wildly, and my dad Kerig yelled, "Alex! Settle down!" The doorbell rang. "I'll get it!" said my Mom. She walked over to the door, and opened it. Zane stood there, acting much like he had when I originally met him two and a half years ago. "Good evening grandm.. er.. madam. My name is Zane Figiam. I am here to see the one they call Kolin Pope." "Well," she replied. "Kolin is my son. Do you know him?" "Yes. Well, no, not yet. He will know me in the future." My mom stared quizzically at him, and then turned around to me. "Kolin, It's for you." I got up out of my seat and walked over to the door. "Hello?" I said with a bit of a confused face, trying to replay the events exactly as I had remembered them. "Hello, Father," Zane said. "My name is Zane Figiam. I have been sent form the future to aid you, and give you... this." He handed me a small package wrapped in newspaper, just like the first time. "This book will help prepare you for your destiny. All shall be explained in time. Do you accept these responsibilities, young Gnome?" "I accept the responsibility of the future," I said, echoing my old words. The audience erupted in cheers. "Learn well from the book, Father," Zane continued. "And.. farewell." I looked out the door frame for a moment longer, and then shut it, walking back to the table with my parents. "What was that?" my Dad said. "He said.. he was from the future," I answered, opening the package. "Kolin!" Father Time interrupted suddenly. "We've got no time! You must jump through that portal and follow your timestream further on down." I held up the book. "Interesting!" said my Mom. "Mom, Dad, I have to leave for now, I'm very sorry." "Oh, alright!" said my Dad. "Just don't forget the Father/Son picnic on Saturday!" The Future portal once again lit up, and I ran through it. The same guy from before took the book from me, and directed me back out to the stage again, where the scenery was being changed. I was placed at yet another table, but this only had one other seat besides mine. Maggie sat down opposite me. It became obvious the next stop on my journey through the timestream was meeting Tyler/Shags at the restaurant in Minnesota. The lights came back on, and I could see that something was obviously different from the actual event. Tyler had a large key hanging around his neck, the same that he did earlier in the show before it was broken. "Oh, hey.." he said. "Are you Zane?" "No," I replied, acting confused. "I'm not.. uh, who are you?" "My name's Tyler, are you supposed to meet Zane here too? Do you have any idea what's going on?" [Zane Confronts the World Warriors] The scene played out exactly as it did a year and a half ago, with us discussing how we were both lured to that spot. The waitress eventually came over to take our orders. "Are you ready to order?" she asked. I looked down at my menu, and realized that it said "Belgian Waffles" over and over. That was, indeed, what I had ordered. We told the waitress what we wanted, and she left. Tyler casually took the key off his neck, and stuffed it into his backpack. "I have to go to the bathroom, I'll be right back," he said, getting up and leaving the stage. It was obvious what I had to do, now. I quickly bent down and rummaged through his backpack, fishing out the key. "Fantastic!" Father Time yelled. "Now, quickly, put the key 'round your neck so you don't drop it, you clumsy Ebeneezer! Hide it in your shirt!" I did as Father Time asked, and Tyler returned to the table moments later. "So!" he said. "Is Zane here yet? That guy is really getting on my nerves! Haha!" The waitress walked back onto the stage, and came over to us, giving a very accusing look. "This.. was left for you," she said, holding out an envelope labeled Gnome and Shags #1. "What the...?" Tyler said, but didn't get to finish. The lights cut out, and Father Time said excitedly, "I can't hold you in this time, Kolin Pope! You're time-shifting! Don't worry, I'll catch up to you!" I ran to the Future portal, and was again turned around as the stage changed. A woman dressed as a scientist and holding a clipboard was standing next to where I sat, while two soldiers manned the towers, scanning the area with turrets. She jot down some notes on her pad, and said, "Let's see.. continuing on with Zane's favorites list: we have his favorite painter, Georgia O'Keefe, favorite actor: Bill Pullman, and favorite food: S'mores. Am I correct, sir? "Yes.." I replied, not entirely sure what was happening in the scene yet. "That should be about it, sir," she continued. "We've completed the schematics of Zane's psycho-physical profile. I have to say, sir, I admire the time and care you've put into creating your son from the womb up... and yet you still manage to responsibly maintain your duties for the Resistance each and every day. Really, it's quite admirable. We are truly blessed to have you as our leader." I gave a bit of a smiling laugh, unable to respond to a compliment like that. "As you requested, sir, we've collected a list of potential egg donors. We have over 15,000 volunteers already, and have narrowed it down to seven based on your parameters." The male scientists came running over suddenly, and spoke in a bit of a worried tone, "Sir! Excuse me, but we're having some fluctuations in the central portal hub. Will you come take a look?" I got up and followed the scientists over to a control panel type area that had many knobs and dials. "Take a look, sir. As you know, we pride ourselves on having the most sophisticated portal network in the Resistance, but none of us can hold a proverbial candle to your understanding of the complex inner workings of the technology. Could you show me again how to realign the nodes in a situation like this?" "Of course!" I replied. I bent over the panel and began to work with the knobs. "Set this to nine... flip this switch off, and flip this off as well." The scientist looked positively overjoyed. "Marvelous sir, truly marvelous! Miriam, come over here and look at this technique!" The female scientists came over and crowded around the panel as well. I had just begun to explain to her what to do when an explosion came from the right side of the stage. One of the soldiers yelled, "RED ALERT!" A siren started whining, and lights flashing. The soldier came up to the portal and readied his gun. "What's happening, Sir, the portal!?" "But this can't be right!" The scientist said. "It looks like we have a tunnel breach.. I checked the Y-grid myself this morning!" "SOMETHING'S COMING THROUGH!" yelled the soldier. [Zane Confronts the World Warriors] A lumbering robot made up of boxes and silver wrapping came stomping through the portal. The soldier braced and shot his laser, but it did nothing to stop the robot. It brushed him aside with his arm, and the soldier went flying. It next turned its attention to the turret firing on him and shot a laser at the soldier manning it, killing him. Unsure of what do, I grabbed the gun from the fallen soldier and fixed it on the robot. "Kolin Pope!" Father Time said, appearing in his usual spot on the screen. "At last, I've found you! You're a hard fella to pin down, quite the ramblin' rose! Oh my, it looks like you're busy... " "SIR!" The female scientist yelled. "We have to evacuate!" "She's right," Father Time said. "I'll adjust the portal.. you jump through, Kolin Pope! In you go, to faraway times and high adventure!" Evading the robot, I ran through the future portal, and the lights on the stage vanished. The usual guy came and took my gun, then turned me right back around to the stage where Zane was now sitting in front of a capsule of lights that looked like a fire. Cricket sounds played in the background, with the fire crackling softly. "Ok, dad, I guess I'll see you later! Don't work.. too hard.. " Zane said, looking away towards the opposite side of the stage from me. Father Time suddenly piped up, "Remember Kolin, he must know how you truly feel! But be wary, creating a time paradox will thrust you into an alternate timeline from which you cannot return. It will destroy the entirety of your timestream's history!" I approached Zane, and he looked up at me, shocked. "Dad?! What are you doing here, I thought you just left.. you look younger, did you shave?" "Zane..." I said. "That was me, but I am also here. I have something to tell you..." "Father.." Zane said softly. "I really wanted to talk.." Zane rose from his log, and picked up a microphone. The band on the stage behind us began to play, and Zane burst into song. [Zane Confronts the World Warriors] "FATHER... DON'T BOTHER, I UNDERSTAND! YOU HAVE THINGS TO DO, YOU'RE AN IMPORTANT MAN..." Video on Youtube I sat on the log warming my hands by the fire as Zane serenaded me, the song detailing his discontent with me as a Father, and how he thought he meant nothing to me. The song ended, and I rose from the log, letting him take his seat again. "I get it.. now," Zane said. "You're a busy, important man. You do great things for so many, but why.. was I born if you weren't going to have time for me?" "Zane," I said. "I'm so sorry... I do care about you." "COME ON, Dad, you don't know anything about me. Who's my favorite painter?" "Bill Pullman," I said, mistaking his favorite actor for favorite painter. "NO! No, Dad! Come on, I thought you knew..." The audience started whispering to me, remind me of the answer. "Georgia O'Keefe?" I said to Zane. "I can't believe it!" he cried. "Maybe you do know.. well.. ok, what's my favorite food?" "S'mores!" I said, confident. "You're right!" he said, overjoyed. "You do know me, dad! I'm so happy! Let's go celebrate, I'll go pick the graham crackers and marshmallows, you forage for chocolate. We'll have s'mores, after all!" Zane ran off to the side, and I crouched down around the set, pretending to search between branches for chocolate. Father Time appeared once more. "Kolin, it's time, any more of this and you'll cause a time paradox! The future would be shattered into a million and two ways west of Eden, my boy!" Zane returned to his log, preparing s'mores. Figures came out of the set behind him, whirring and making robot noises. They were the CyBears that had mauled him in the original timeline. "There's nothing you can do, Kolin Pope!" Father Time spoke, sensing my concern. "Some things simply must be! You must leave him - the portal won't hold much longer!" The CyBears grabbed Zane and began to maul him, and I looked back sadly one last time as I ran through the Future portal. The stage was quickly cleared, and the Doomsday device rolled into its spot. I was ushered back out. "Kolin Pope! You have arrived! Again, that is," Father time added with a wink. "My oh my, I may not know my lobes from a lantern but I know Kolin Pope when I see him! Welcome back to what's left of the present. Tell me: Are you prepared this time, young fellow?" "I am, indeed!" I said triumphantly. "There are important matters to attend to," Father Time continued. "Such as that eyesore right there." I looked over at the Doomsday device, and once again, the spotlight rose to Zane standing among the audience as he yelled, "FAAAATHHHHEERRRR! HOW DID YOU GET HERE? To tempt fate is ill advised! Go home.. there is nothing for you here." "Zane!" I yelled. "I must talk to you!" "There was a time when I was your son," Zane said angrily. "But you took my heart, a heart filled with nothing short of complete loyalty and devotion, and you chewed it up like so many instant breakfast noodles en route to the boardroom! I am living proof of your failure as a parent, and as a friend! I loved you.. Father. Why weren't you there? Why didn't you stop the CyBears?" "Kolin Pope!" Father Time yelled. "It is never too late!" "Zane.." I said. "I'm.. so.. sorry.." I didn't get to continue, for familiar laugher floated in from the back of the stage. Maggie strolled out, just as before, with the key around his neck. "YOU!" he said, noticing me. "You bothersome, meddling, insignificant churlist CHIPMUNK! You, for whom I have traveled through time, space, and death to destroy... how do you still manage to..." The events unfolded as they had previously, with Maggie unveiling the Doomsday device, and then noticing Zane. Again, they bickered, and again, Maggie turned the key of the device, initiating the countdown. Sirens rang out. "Bricks for bread, moss for meat, Kolin's powers CAN be beat!" he screamed, typing in a code to the machine and stepping back towards us. "As a little extra 'insurance policy," he continued, raising the key and again throwing it to the ground, smashing it to pieces. "Oh, I almost forgot!" Maggie raised his phaser at Zane. "Just so you don't get any tricksy ideas of getting my password from your bouncing baby brat!" He fired, and Zane gasped, falling to the ground clutching his side. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to pop off to another era for a better view of the implosion! ROFL...MAO!" The audience once again got a kick out of his internet abbreviations, and Maggie ran through the future portal, vanishing. "Now's your chance!" Father Time yelled down to me. "We won't get another!" I ran over to the machine, took the key off my neck, put it in the Doomsday device, and turned it. The audience cheered. "Now, Kolin, the password!" The audience was whispering for me to turn around. I looked back, and saw Zane crawling down the center of the aisle towards me. He looked up at me as I ran next to him, crouching down. "Zane!" I said, worried. "We have to get you to a medical center!" "Father..." he said, sadly. "I see right through you, through your eyes. You see the world with such clarity, all the human beings that inhabit it. You fight for them, love for them. You care for them so much. So why, why then do you not care for me?" I lowered my head, and put my hand on his shoulder. "I *do* care for you, Zane." He coughed, cringing. "You care about getting the password, yes, that's why you're giving me attention now. But where was the attention when I was growing up? It was always the Resistance first, your son last. Humanity at the forefront, the boy behind the backdrop. "Zane.. I'm so sorry." I said, trying to assure him. "Do you even still know anything about me, Father? Do you even know your own son? Do you remember the night at the campfire? You seemed to know more about me that I ever knew.. even now.. can you remember still?" "Yes," I said, still crouching next to him. "If you know so much about.. your son.. then tell me, who is my favorite painter?" "Georgia O'Keefe," I said, without hesitation. "You, do know!" he said, coughing again. "But she's everyone's favorite, I have to be sure. Tell me... do you remember my most very favorite food of all?" "S'MORES!" I cried, and music began to swell in the background. "FATHER! Kolin... you *do* care. All this time I thought I was merely an afterthought, a postscript, a forgotten child. Oh Father, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry for causing all this!" Zane painfully sat up and embraced me. "I'm sorry too, Zane." "It means so much to hear these things. For the first time... I'm proud that you're my father. I... I love you, dad." "I love you too, son," I said, hugging him tight. The music roared and the audience broke out in applause. It was cut short though, because the Future portal suddenly lit up. "Touching," said Maggie, strolling slowly and angrily back onto the stage. "How disgustingly, skin-crawlingly, gy-rodingly *touching*." He the noticed the key sticking out of his Doomsday device, partially deactivating it. "NO! By the fires of East Leinster.. this is not possible!! What perversion of the fourth dimension has occurred to my beautiful MACHINE?" "Oh dear," chimed in Father Time. "Looks like you're really in for it now, Kolin Pope. Don't be rash... you can't beat him alone. Maggie looked at me, fires burning in his eyes. "SO! You want to be a hero?! I am the most powerful cyborg that will ever be, Velocity Gnome! So by all means.. BE A HERO!" "Father!" called Zane. "We... have to stop him! I will help you.. agh." He tried to get on his feet, but collapsed. "Father, come closer... the password... is..." Zane leaned in close, and whispered the password so quietly that only I could hear it. "Control... Alt... F2..." He then collapsed on the ground. I tried to shake him, but it was no use. I stood back up to face Maggie. "HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" he cackled. "The mighty Zane Figiam! Dead! And now, YOU will die! All alone, Gnome. ALL ALONE!" he raised his phaser at me, and I braced for the worst. A light flashed, and instead of hitting me, Maggie let out a cry and the phaser flew out of his hand. He grabbed his arm in agony, and swung around. "YOU'RE NEVER ALONE, KOLIN!" Darwin the Wizard had his arms outstretched towards Maggie in a spellcasting pose. The music changed to a more triumphant tune. "Not while you've got me!" Leyzon suddenly ran out onto the stage and stopped next to Darwin, drawing his sword. "And me!" "AND ME!" yelled Ultra, as she ran in and took her place next to everyone, drawing her dual scissors and assuming a fighting pose. "I'm here, too!" said Worm, casually strolling out and taking his position. [Zane Confronts the World Warriors] "GREAT CEASERS SALAD!" exclaimed Father time. "The Time Warriors have assembled! Kolin Pope, you've really outdone yourself this time. On your quest today, you have aided each of these brave adventurers: To the Wizard, you gave hope. To Worm the Historian, you gave knowledge. To the hairdresser Assassin you gave clarity of mind. And to Leyzon the fallen Warrior you gave.. wait, what did you give Leyzon? "BAHAHAHA!" screamed Maggie. "Oh, this is UPROARIOUS! I stand corrected, Gnome! You won't die alone, you'll die with a group of clowns!" Ultra took a step forward and said back defiantly, "NO, MAGGIE! Kolin Pope is a great and humble hero.. he is the purest example of uncorrupted leadership and unstoppable justice. And justice will ALWAYS defeat pure evil!" "He is a beacon of hope, and mercy!" said Darwin. "Hope that can never die!" Leyzon tilted his sword forward towards Maggie. "I'm ready to fight again for you, Kolin! I think I am.. it just doesn't feel right without...." Everything went dark, and the big screen lit up with a video. Leyzon was stalking through a futuristic battlefield, flying around like some sort of ninja and destroying robots. He had a long, black, braided beard that hung down past his waist. As he creeped over the bodies of fallen robots, someone snuck up behind him, and knocked him out with the hilt of his sword. The mysterious assailant grasped the beard, and severed it. Leyzon awoke shortly after to find his epic beard laying at his side, and he held it up, yelling "NOOOO!" Video on Youtube The video faded, and the lights came back on, returning us from the flashback. "The day you lost your..." Father Time sadly said. "It's ok, old man," said Leyzon. "Go ahead, say it." "The day you lost your confidence." "The day I lost my BEARD! But the Gnome has helmed me so much today. He has reminded me that I truly am capable of courage.. However, it's just not the same without my powerful whiskers as they once were. Kolin! Can you help me??" I swung my backpack around from my shoulders, reached in, and pulled out the beard disguise from earlier. I raised it above my head to display to all, and the band played the Final Fantasy "winning a battle" melody. The audience cheered, and I handed the beard over to Leyzon. His face lit up as he accepted the hairy treasure. "YES!" he shouted. "Thank you, Kolin Pope! I am reborn! I am Leyzon, mighty warrior for the Resistance! Together, we will defeat you, Maggie Hark!" "You must be joking!" laughed Maggie. "Oh, you are TOO MUCH! I AM THE MOST POWERFUL BEING IN THE UNIVERSE!" "Two minutes and counting until total Universe Implosion," said the automated woman's voice over the loudspeaker. Tense music began to play. [Zane Confronts the World Warriors] Maggie looked up and grinned. "You hear that? Come on, then! TIME TO DIE, HUMANS!" He started towards me, but Leyzon and Darwin intercepted his path. They began to trade blows, while Ultra circled, and I hesitated in the back for a moment before charging into battle with them. Unfortunately, a well placed blow by Maggie sent me flying back into the control panel for the portal. Flashes and bangs rang out from their scuffle, indicating magic was now being cast, and the battle was heating up. "Kolin! Over here!" yelled Ultra, and motioned for me to come hide under the stage with her. I ran over and took cover, watching the battle begin to turn unfavorably. Maggie stuck a devastating hit against Leyzon, and he fell to the ground. Ultra skirted the underside of the stage, and crept over to the control panel, where she removed the laptop portion, and slowly headed back towards me. Maggie chased Darwin around the side of the stage, scoring another killing strike. He went limp. Ultra ran out to the center of the stage, and yelled to me, "Kolin, over here! ENTER THE CODE!" I quickly got out from under the stage, and ran to the laptop. Maggie saw me, and began to head towards me, planning my doom. I raised my hands to the keyboard, and yelled as I pressed the keys: "CONTROL! ALT! F2!" The audience roared as all the lights began to flash wildly, and 'UNIVERSE SAVED" flashed on the huge screen. The woman's voice once again came over the speakers. "Maintenance override code accepted. Powering down. Initiating program memory wipe. Total core explosion initiated, good night!" "EXCELLENT!" yelled Father Time. "We have control! Now, I will send this accursed machine through the portal and into cyberspace, where it will be destroyed once and for all!" The machine began to make an increasing humming sound as it slowly started to roll backwards towards the active Future portal. Maggie ran after it, yelling "GNOOOOOME!" as he passed through the portal with it. The large screen came back to life, and Maggie was spinning through cyberspace. "GNOME," he said. "I... will.. not... perish.. as long as there is evil in the hearts of men, humanity will destroy itself.. with its hatred... hahahahahHAHAHAHA!" He exploded in a burst of flame, and the screen went dark. Father Time reappeared in his usual spot, and addressed me. "Oh! My, my, I didn't see you there. Now, I may not know my tongue from a turkey leg, but I believe you've done it! You've really, truly done it, Kolin Pope! The Father Time Loop has at long last ended, and not a moment too soon!" A cough came from the aisle. Zane moved slightly, and brought himself up to his knees. "Zane!" I yelled, running over to him. In the background on the stage, Ultra had produced a mop and was sweeping away the bodies of Leyzon and Darwin. She looked at me, and said, "Kolin, go to your son. I'll take care of these... nasty bodies." [Zane Confronts the World Warriors] I kneeled down besides Zane, and he spoke to me. "Father.. It.. it is truly over! Please, come with me." We stood up, and he took me to the center of the aisle, below a large web-like mechanical dome, with screens affixed to either side. "I'm sorry, Father. I'm sorry for the hatred I had in my heart. I cannot forget the past.. some things you did, or rather did not do, have hurt me. But our future is bright! Let us start this day anew. Time warriors, Father.. thank you for showing me the way. Now.. let us return to where we belong. Father, will you join me?" "Yes!" Yelled Worm from the stage. "Go, Kolin, and see the Future you have saved for us all! I will stay here.. there is so much history to learn from this place!" Ultra walked back out next to him and added, ".. And I will remain to atone for my sins.. and give these mighty heroes a proper burial. Farewell, Velocity Gnome." [Zane Confronts the World Warriors] "Now, Father," cried Zane. "To the future, to start anew!" The dome slowly lowered over us, and in a flash, everything went dark. The audience got to their feet and applauded louder than anything thus far that night, and as the lights came back up, all the characters slowly came back onto the stage. Happy and triumphant music was playing, and the dancers had come back out. "Come, Kolin," said Zane. I followed him up to the stage, and everyone, including some audience members, had run up and started to dance around me. "Please," he said. "Take a bow! We couldn't have done this without you." I stepped forward to the center of the stage, and bowed low in front of everyone who had just witnessed the once-in-a-lifetime event. The next half hour was one of the most bizarre i've experienced. After the dancing settled down, for the first time in the entire saga, I spoke to my friends from the future out of character. "Thanks, Kolin.. we couldn't have hoped for it to go better." One after another, people I didn't know from the sides of the stage and the audience came up and shook my hand, telling me how amazing the show was. I was still in a bit of shock, and took a quick trip back to the hallway where I had seen the pictures of myself earlier. [Zane Confronts the World Warriors] A large robot made out of steel beams and video cameras loomed over the center, watching everyone as they passed. As I went back in towards the stage, a girl came up to me holding a copy of the Father Time Loop comic book. "Can you sign this, please?!" she begged. I laughed, and obliged her. However, this opened up the floodgates for everyone that witnessed the transaction to ask me to sign their programs and comic books. It felt so strange to be a celebrity of sorts for the moment, with one person after another asking me to sign things for them, "Could you make it out to..." As the crowd cleared out, I got to chat a bit more with Dylan (Zane) and Joe (Maggie). They were all going out to dinner with their families after, and I was cordially invited to go with them. They also gave me a complete copy of the script, which proved to be quite an interesting read. There is a lot of amusing stage direction, as well as placeholder text for my lines. We all headed to a Chinese restaurant not too far from the theater, and after settling in and ordering, I finally got to ask the questions that I, and everyone else who had read the story always wondered. The first thing I asked, of course, was "How and why did you choose me?" [Zane Confronts the World Warriors] The answer was that it was kind of an accident at first. They had been good friends with one of my friend's brother, and were searching for pictures of him on the internet. I host a small community gallery with my group of friends, where we post pictures and comment and such, and a search had led them to my site. This is when they realized, "Hey, there's a lot of information about this guy on the internet! Maybe we should go and pretend to be his friend or something, and make references to personal things that he may have let slip online." It went farther than that though. They began to watch my away messages, scour my site looking for interesting details, and planned a story where Dylan (Zane) would come to my door, and give me a scrapbook from the future. It would be a one-time thing, and they would never contact me again. Originally, it was, too, until after it had been done they decided to take it a step further. The story began taking more shape, now, and they devised the real-life adventure for me, sending me a ticket to Minneapolis, and having me solve the puzzles and "save the future". This, too, was going to have been the last act, but as before they couldn't stop. I found out about the show in New York, and they planned to have me travel to it, to gain a hint to the final showdown. The date I received there was May 18 th, 2005. At this point they had the ideas of doing the show, but it was still taking form, and there was obviously a lot to plan out. The time drew nearer, and they realized that it was much too early to actually perform the show, so they improvised the cyberspace battle and trip to the movie theater. For months and months, they slaved away working on planning every little detail of the day, from the airport, leading me around, and eventually to the entire rock opera performance. [Zane Confronts the World Warriors] Dylan's parents and others told me that it was amazing to finally meet me, since they felt they already knew me because of how much they heard about my quest through the years. It had become quite a big deal on Antioch campus, and apparently Dylan had been hyping the show for well over a year. After the dinner, we went to the end-of-term party, and people I didn't know would pass me in the halls saying "Hey, Kolin." I'd see others conversing with friends, pointing at me from across the room, and had probably a hundred people come up and talk to me that night. The minor celebrity was extremely odd, but not entirely unwelcome as I had never experienced anything like it before. Joe and Dylan were also enjoying it, as I watched them get congratulated on an amazing job over and over. It was a huge relief for them, the culmination of an event three years in the making. The night went on and the crowd began to thin out. I got coaxed into playing a small game of late-night snow tag, but soon grew sleepy and headed back towards Dylan's place to settle down for the night. Because I was leaving at nearly 7 in the morning the following day, I said my goodbyes to those still with me, and turned in. I shut my eyes, and ended the most incredible night in my entire life.