Monday, December 15, 2014

Monday, December 8, 2014

Time Bums #42

Monday, December 1, 2014

Time Bums #41

Monday, November 24, 2014

Time Bums #40

“So why would Nostradamus be so interested in where humankind started,” Jackie wondered.

“Scientific curiosity?” Steve suggested.

One of the Lumbras spoke. “No, he wishes to prevent humankind from populating the planet. I believe he intends to kill the earliest humans.”

“Oh, my god!” cried Jackie. “Didn’t you try to stop him? Can he do that?”

Another Lumbra joined. “It might be possible, but obviously he did not succeed.”

“Not in this universe,” added a third.

“This universe … ?” Jackie was bewildered.

“I’ll explain it later,” said Steve. “Maybe we have to go stop him. Maybe that’s why he will not have succeeded.”

“Yes,” Jackie agreed. “We must definitely stop him from killing the first humans.”

“AMNOZ, are you ready? Can we load those coordinates?”

“I will set your coordinates.” AMNOZ spoke matter-of-factly. “But I will remain here. I have little to contribute to your encounter with Nostradamus, and there’s so much to learn here.”

“Really?” Jackie said. “We’ll miss you!”

Another Lumbra filled in. “You can return one yoctosecond from now.”

“That’s true!” Steve realized. “In fact, we can leave tomorrow. Or next week. Or in 10 years.”

Jackie was impatient. “Let’s get this over with.”

But Steve’s finger was already on the button. The next moment was two million years earlier.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Time Bums #39

Jackie started. “So what makes this particular site interesting?”

The second Lumbra from the left was quick to respond. “As we explained to Nostradamus, this is the first place where cave painting and certain other evidence has been found. It’s roughly a million and a half years before anything remotely like it.”

“What other evidence?”

“Footwear.” This time it was another Lumbra, who had not previously spoken.

This got Steve’s attention. “Huh?”

“There are the usual indications of foot shuffling and movement at this site, but no sign of toes. It’s as if these … I think we must call them people … these people had fashioned some kind of footwear. Sandals, perhaps.”

“I like them already,” Jackie said.

“So what does this mean?” Steve was either asking about the site or the cave painting.

“This site has the oldest signs of what could unmistakably be called human. This is where it started.”

Monday, November 10, 2014

Time Bums #38

“So, this Frenchman …” Steve began.

“Nostradamus?” replied the nearest Lumbra.

“Yes, Nostradamus. Did he say where or when he was going next?”

“Not explicitly, but we inferred it from his great interest in the archaeological finds at Kenya and Tanzania.”

Another Lumbra spoke. “He did say he was coming from a big house where he landed on some furniture, fell over, and woke a man, who then died of fright on seeing him. He was pretty vague about the whole thing.”

“And you think he was going where?”

“Here,” replied the first Lumbra. “The site of the first humanoids … a woman and an overweight man. Look at the holoview. You can see the earliest cave painting.”

Steve gawked at the image. There, plainly on the wall, was simply a stack of horizontal lines, alternately long and short.

“The first abstract,” Jackie remarked.

“This reminds me of something,” muttered Steve.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Time Bums #37

As Steve and Jackie first stepped from the dark corridor into the light of what Lumbra called “the lab,” they had the sense of entering a cathedral. Tall columns rose from the floor and blurred together in the distance above. Rows and rows of workbenches were arrayed before them, each occupied by some collection of parts and assemblies. The din of many voices echoed and blended into the sound of a choir.

AMNOZ was already there, but scarcely looked up when they entered. He was with two humans, both very similar in appearance to Lumbra, bent over a particularly large pile of debris on one of the benches. It occurred to Steve that they were studying AMNOZ for ideas for building their own automated amigo. As Steve approached the bench, one of the Lumbra replicas looked up. “Steve, your robot is so quaint. We’re enjoying its retro design.”

“Uh, thanks,” muttered Steve. “Do I know you?”

“Of course, replied the replica. “I’m called Lumbra, as I’ve told you.”

Jackie interrupted. “I thought he was Lumbra.”

“Yes,” spoke the other Lumbra-like one. “We are Lumbra.”

“Oh, that’s … a family name?”

“You could think of it that way,” Lumbra 2 explained.

“So somebody can fix our time machine?” Jackie asked.

“We can,” the Lumbras answered.

Steve handed the control to the nearest Lumbra, who examined it while they all said “Hmmmm.”

“Was this device originally built for another purpose?” asked the nearest Lumbra.

“Yes,” said Steve. “It was a portable music player.”

“This is exactly like the Frenchman’s device. It appears to have a configuration called shuffle mode, and it is stuck in that mode.”

Monday, October 20, 2014

Time Bums #36 T.B.S.

At some point, Time Bums #36 will have appeared in this space, on this date.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Time Bums #35

“The Frenchman said he kept skipping around in time with no control over where or when he’d land,” Lumbra continued. “It turned out the fool who built his device had hardwired it into shuffle mode. That was an easy fix.”

Jackie glared at Steve, who muttered “Yeah, what an idiot.”

“Ours has the same problem,” Jackie announced to Lumbra. “Can you fix it?”

“Of course. How strange that two such poorly made devices should arrive here? It seems a very unlikely coincidence.” Lumbra mused. “Come. We’ll take it to the lab.”

“What about AMNOZ?” Jackie asked. “We can’t leave him out there!”

“We will rejoin him at the lab,” Lumbra answered, somewhat impatiently.

“What is this place anyway?” asked Jackie as they headed for the doorway.

Lumbra replied, “This structure is but the shadow of what was once called GeoSphere. It was a foolish project centuries ago to build an artificial planet enclosing the original one.”

“It seemed so perfect!” Steve remarked. “What happened to it?”

“What always happens.” Lumbra sighed with an air of resignation. “Humans create and then neglect.”

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Time Bums #34

“Who are you?” Jackie and Steve blurted. “How did you know we were there?”

“Call me Lumbra,” the man replied. “There are not many humans left in this zone. You were easy to detect.”

“Um … thank you?” Steve said.

“So why are you here and why are you speaking early 21st century American English?” Lumbra challenged.

“Well, for one thing, we’re from early 21st century America,” Jackie explained.

“Ah. You are time travellers.” Lumbra’s curiosity perked up. “Interesting. Is the box outside your vehicle?”

“The box outside is AMNOZ,” Steve answered, somewhat indignantly. “He’s a member of our party.”

“I should have known from the way you stepped on it to climb up here. So what device creates your openings?”

Lumbra seemed stunned as Steve drew the remote control from his vest pocket. “Astounding! That’s the second one of these I’ve seen recently.”

Now it was Jackie’s turn to be stunned. “The second?”

“Yes. The other was in the hands of a 16th century Frenchman.”

Monday, September 29, 2014

Time Bums #33

Steve, Jackie and AMNOZ had no idea what “shvoot” meant, but the approaching pack of wild dogs gave it a sense of urgency. That and the gestures from the man who had appeared in the hatch of the structure convinced them to climb up there. Unfortunately, the only way to get up was by climbing on top of AMNOZ. He was pretty complacent about it, though, of course, he could not climb on top of himself to reach the opening.

As the yelping and howling grew louder, Jackie bounded on top of AMNOZ and then into the access hatch on the underside of the structure. Steve was hesitant, but the arrival of the wild dog pack seemed to provide the motivational message he needed. Somewhat less gracefully, he clambered on top of AMNOZ and kicked and flailed as Jackie and the strange man struggled to haul him up just as AMNOZ was engulfed in teeth, fur, noses and … well, mainly teeth. Fortunately, even these near starving animals had little interest in the old office furniture and electronics that made up AMNOZ.

Inside the structure, Jackie and Steve regained their composure enough to regard the strange mix of sterile looking technology and jury-rigged gadgetry that surrounded them and their host. “Holy crap!” whispered Steve.

The strange man cocked his head slightly and drummed his fingers on his temple. “Sprechen sie deutsch?” he asked.

“Spre-what?” Jackie asked. “Who are you?”

The strange man poked his temple again. “Early 21st century? U.S. English?”

Monday, September 22, 2014

Time Bums #32

Jackie and Steve blinked at the black and white panorama before them … blinding sunlight alternating with impenetrably dark shadows. The massive crumbling structure overhead offered no middle ground between complete exposure and complete obscurity. The structure itself revealed only white or black surfaces, depending on their angle towards the sun.

The structure, supported by regularly spaced columns, seemed to stretch toward the horizon in every direction, but with jagged irregular gaps, peirced by daylight, throughout. Large and small chunks of what appeared to be the same material as the rest of this ediface lay on the ground, also limited to black and white faces.

As Jackie and Steve began to comprehend this high contrast landscape, they also became aware of the faint sound of distant creatures. It gradually became clearer, resolving into a set of overlapping barks and howls. “What is that?” Jackie asked.

AMNOZ replied. “It resembles the howls of pack dogs, and based on the Doppler samples, they are approaching at roughly 50 miles per hour.”

“What’s their ETA?” Steve asked.

“Did you mean ‘what do they E, A, T?’” queried AMNOZ.

“No, when will they get here? But for that matter, what do they eat?”

“In 47 seconds. 46. 45.”

“Shvoot” came an unfamiliar voice.

“Huh?” said Steve and Jackie, almost simultaneously. They looked up towards the the part of the shadowy black underside of the structure where the voice seemed to come from.

“Nasticle kron! Shvoot!”

Monday, September 15, 2014

Time Bums #31

Monday, September 1, 2014

Time Bums #30

Monday, August 25, 2014

Time Bums #29

Monday, August 18, 2014

Time Bums

Monday, August 11, 2014

Time Bums #28

Monday, August 4, 2014

Time Bums #27

Monday, July 28, 2014

Time Bums #26

Monday, July 21, 2014

Time Bums #25

Monday, July 14, 2014

Time Bums #24

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Time Bums #23

Monday, June 30, 2014

Time Bums #22

Monday, June 23, 2014

Time Bums: Our Story So Far

Jackie is on her way to class at Mass. College of Art when she is accosted on Huntington Ave. in Boston by a strange bearded man with a French accent. He demands that she take him to see Steve at MIT, but she doesn’t know any Steve. Reluctantly she agrees to help him and they go to MIT where, by a stroke of luck, they locate “Crazy Steve,” and a robot, AMNOZ, he built from discarded office supplies.

The bearded man brandishes a device that looks like a TV remote control, and complains that it doesn’t work. Steve is puzzled, but Jackie suggests that perhaps it just needs new batteries. Steve replaces the batteries in the remote, and the bearded man presses a button and disappears without a trace.

Steve tells Jackie that the device looked like a duplicate of his time machine which, after some rummaging, he finds on his workbench. Steve offers to take Jackie back to the time when she was stopped by the bearded man to pick up the portfolio she dropped in the street. However, due to a sticky Rewind button on the device, Steve, Jackie and AMNOZ wind up in the in the late Cretaceous period.

After narrowly escaping a tyrannosaurus rex, the trio find themselves in the forum of ancient Rome with another click of a time machine button. However, they are recognized as Steve, Jackie and the “talking box,” by a Roman citizen, who has them arrested by orders of Our Lady.

In captivity, they meet Our Lady, who turns out to be the same bearded man who first accosted Jackie in Boston. He plans to detain them to prevent any interference with his plans to unmake everything, but, again, they escape by jumping through time.

They briefly visit the GeoSphere, a structure which encloses the entire planet, and contains the wherewithal to provide food, water, air and other necessities artificially. (The Forward button also sticks.) The GeoSphere is too depressing, so they again leap, this time landing in mid-16th century France.

Here, to their amazement, Jackie, Steve and AMNOZ again run into the bearded man, Our Lady. This time, however, he introduces himself as Michel de Nostredame.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Coffee Break

Back next week!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Monday, May 19, 2014

Monday, May 12, 2014

Monday, May 5, 2014


Time Bums will not appear today. A new episode will appear as scheduled on Monday, May 12.

We regret any global disasters that may arise as a result.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Monday, April 21, 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday, April 7, 2014

Time Bums #13

Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday, March 17, 2014

Monday, March 10, 2014

Monday, March 3, 2014

Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Time Bums #4

Time Bums #3

Time Bums #2

Time Bums #1