The day was April 28th, 2011. I thought it was going to be an average Take Your Child To Work Day. I was only nine-years-old. Nine! No child should have to see the things I saw when my father took me along with him to his office.
7:30 AM – Dad dresses me for work. He tells me I need to wear something “shock-absorbent.” I didn’t know what he meant. He pads me in rubber. “Just in case,” he says.
8:25 AM – We enter dad’s office. It’s littered with various gadgets and gizmos, none of which I recognize as things people use on a daily basis. One thing looks like a canon small enough to fit in your hands. Another thing looks like a series of magnifying glasses protruding out of a grapefruit-sized ball made of rusty gears and cogs. I still don’t know what those things were.
8:37 AM – Dad tells me not to touch anything, adding “You might create a time anomaly that brings back the raptor-men. I detest the raptor-men –so whiny and petulant. Also, they like eating our interns. Interns don’t grow on trees. Although, the boys in the lab are trying to fix that.”
9:07 AM – Dad gives me the grand tour of the building. I wave Hello to other kids roughly my same age whose parents brought them along for the day. One of them, a boy maybe a year or two older than me, seems to be missing a soul. What he lacks in soul he makes up for in sticky green goo that coats his body. My dad says to the Goo-Boy’s dad, “Ha! The Paradoxer’s acting up again, huh?” Goo-Boy’s dad rolls his eyes in annoyance: “Damn thing tried to blink my kid out of existence. He’s lucky to have escaped with only a class-three soul-void. We’re looking for his soul now, so if you happen to find an amorphous blob of radiant energy lumped in a corner or something, let me know. It’s only been five-minuets and my kid’s already talking about nailing squirrels to tree trunks as a warning to the other squirrels or some such insanity. I can’t bring him home to my wife like this; she’ll kill me!”
My dad smiled, wished Goo-Boy’s dad Good Luck, and we continued the tour. Ten-steps later I heard the faint voice of Goo-Boy: “Father, I fear humanity is doomed to a life of anguish. We are the visage of anguish.” His father replied, “Aw, damn it. He’s getting all existential on me!”
9:30 AM – Dad walks me in to a large, grey-walled room. He says, “Want to see something cool? Well, not ‘cool’, necessarily. I’m sure in school they teach you that there’s nothing cool about giving rifles to sentient, acid-tripping bonobos. No? They don’t teach that? Well, after a few more years of research and development, I’m sure they will.”
9:50 AM – My dad shows me a prototype for what he calls the “Temporal Manipulator.”
9:50 AM – My dad and I watch my dad and I turn on the Temporal Manipulator.
9:50 AM – My dad and I watch my dad and I watch my dad and I turn on the Temporal Manipulator.
11:20 PM, 64 A.D. – My dad and I watch Rome burn. Nero did not play a fiddle. He was too busy being eaten by raptor-men. He made gurgling screams that I still hear in my sleep. “Piece of shit, Temporal Manipulator,” said my dad. “Sometimes it makes time and universes bleed in to each other in to one big cluster-eff of a mess. Don’t tell your mother I said ‘eff’. And don’t tell anyone about Nero playing a fiddle. They’ll be all like, ‘Fiddle? Don’t you mean raptor-men?!’ and they’ll think you’re weird idiot that doesn’t know basic Roman history.”
3:48 PM – The Temporal Manipulator drops us off a little later than my dad had hoped. “Three-forty-eight? If we’re fast enough, they might still have some meatloaf in the cafeteria. I hope you like raptor-men.”
3:57 PM – My dad and I eat raptor-men meatloaf. It’s pretty good, in a prehistoric/cannibalistic sort of way. I see Goo-Boy and his dad a few tables down from us as they finish off their plates. “The blood of dead things…it is wonderful, father,” said Goo-Boy, who had been cleaned and free of Goo.
“Yeah, yeah,” said Goo-Boy’s father. “Death, blood, murder, holocausts, agony, and fear impenetrable to even the highest concentrations of joy – I get it. Just – just let me eat in peace.”
“Peace is a human construct; a fairy tale. Peace is an unnatural element that is polluting the universe’s reserves of bleak nothingness and hate,” said Goo-Boy.
Leaning back in his chair with his hands behind his head, relaxing after a fine meal, Goo-Boy’s father said, “Man, I’m taking away your crayons, ’cause the shit you draw after today is going to be f*cked up.”
4:33 PM – Dad shows me the botanical garden. Employees relax and smoke cigarettes beside beautiful iridescent plants. One employee flicked out his cigarette butt in to a bush. The bush flicked it back. “Menthol? Ugh. God, you’re weird,” said the talking bush.
5:00 PM – My dad is walking me out of the building. He sat me in the car and fastened my seat belt.
“Did you have fun today seeing daddy’s work?,” he asked.
I looked out the window and saw Goo-Boy and his father. Goo-Boy was smiling. “Aw, you found his soul!” said my dad. “Where was it?”
“It got transported to the Infinity Labs,” said Goo-Boy’s father. “He’s alright now, but I think he might be immortal.”
“Eh, it happens,” said my dad.
He got in the car and we drove home.
The ride was silent. Eventually, my dad said, “Just so we have our story straight in case your mom asks, where does daddy work?”
“Good boy,” said my dad.