The essence of time-travelling is a good TGPS. Mine wasn’t good. I’d tried talking ot the bosses about it but all they did was invoke the usual excuses. The technology is only as good as the technician using it; financial constraints; not to mention – although they did mention it – the thrill of the unexpected adventure when things went wrong. It was easy for them to talk, they weren’t being hurtled from one century to another with only a 50% chance of ending up where you wanted to. Which brings me… but no. I haven’t explained yet who I am or what I’m after.
John P. Cutting at your service. Researcher and general dog’s body for the management at Encyclopedia Systemae Omnitempae. Yes, it was me you saw materialise before your very eyes. Come all the way from the Golden Age didn’t I. That’s why it’s such a shock to have landed here. You see, contrary to what you might think you really are the backwater of civilisations. All that stuff about upward evolution, well it’s just not on. But I’m wandering off again.
The Encycopedia Systemae Omnitempae have given me the task of researching their new Everyman Course, “Treasures Of The Universe.” I’m researching into all things artistic. That’s why I’m here. Or better, that’s why I’m travelling. The only reason you find me here in the twenty-first century, is because that bloody TGPS cocked up again. Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t like you 21C guys. You’re okay. I had a great time when I was last here and partied with some really nice people. But, I have to be blunt about this, even if you don’t like what I’m telling you: you’re not really very artistic. Sure you’ve got people who create. I read one guy who actually created over 100 new words in a 500 word short story. Impressive. But art is not only about creation it’s also about content. Art has something to say, but you guys have nothing to say. Nothing whatsoever.
Let’s take a case in point. Last time I was here I hung about with a whole bunch of whispering Chinese guys. Writers they were one and all. So they set up this virtual museum where anyone could come and write anything they wanted. And they called that innovative, futuristic. In fact, just at the time I was here, the future was what they were talking about. And what a load of drivel it was too. Future, you haven’t a clue, none of us have. At least, none of us have a clue about their own future. But as my present is your future I know enough to know what to think about what you don’t know.
But enough ranting. It’s time for me to get to work. Maybe I can find some remnants of 20 C stuff that’s worth… Hello, who’s that coming just now. It looks like the Friar I was… But it is him. Now that’s what I call a stroke of luck. Or maybe our scientists really have started to get their act together and created a TGPS that brings me to where I need to be even if I didn’t know it was where I needed to be. But I forget myself. Permit me to introduce you. This is Friar John, the very guy I want to interview. Surely, you all know Friar John. He appears in one of the greatest works of literature ever penned. That’s why I want to interview him for our course. You see, it was his great mistake that brought about all that tragedy… Now look what you’ve made me do. You’ve got me in tears again. I can’t think about those lamentable happening without…
Now what’s going on? I don’t like the look of that. What would Friar John be doing meeting up with one of the universe’s greatest artistic forgers. Nothing good can come of this. If Friar John failed his maker once, he must be capable of doing so again. Let’s see if I can catch what they’re saying.
“It’s dead simple mate. With this ‘ere telephone, you can call up anyone you want whenever he happens to live. This device can change the course of the world.”
“Gods be praised. You mean to say I can call up Friar Lawrence, I can tell him my mission’s failed?”
“Now why would you wanting to do a thing like that for. Look Friar, I know your church is in a pretty poor state. But if I put the word out, my friends ‘ll come along and sort things out for you. They already done a few raids yesterday for the materials. All they waiting for now, is for me to give’em the go ahead. And all I’m waiting for is for you to make that phone call I told you about earlier. You just call up that Romeo chappie back in the sixteenth and tell him what’s going on. Telll him not to believe anyone who says Juliet is dead. That’ll put the kybosh on the whole play. And without that ending it’ll never get written. And as I’ve got the text, this little bit of sabotage ‘ll play right into my hands. I’ve already got a publisher and he’s willing to pay me nicely for it. But first, you have that phone call to make. And be quick about it right, cause I forgot to charge the batteries before leaving this morning. Don’t want it cutting out just when victory is in my grasp.”