The Business of Time Travel Tourism

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Chapter 3: A Tour to The Mall

June 19, 2014. Thursday.

George said with a bombastic tone, "Greetings, visitors from a distant time. I, George Bottlemore, welcome you to the past."

"Giarge," said the creature with the sunglasses.

"Gorrrg!" shouted the giant.

"Giarge," added the creature holding the bag, his eyes coming to tears, from what looked as joy and excitement.

George accepted the bag taking notice that the creature had only four creepy fingers, similar to a thin and long tree branches. While putting it on a table behind him, he peeked at its contents: whitish, shiny coins rattled inside. He found it difficult to suppress a grin.

With its hands empty, keeping tearful eyes stuck on George, the creature walked backwards and unintentionally bumped into the monster. It responded by lifting the poor thing up and slamming it to the ground, putting it back to the initial landing spot and position.

The strangeness of the visitors did not bother George least one bit. He had learned about even weirder specimen in the fictional stories on the net and in his games. He said, "Dear visitors, we are currently located in the cellar of my humble house. Tell me. Are you ready take a look at the world as it was many years ago? Are you ready to visit ancient Milltown and see the ways of ancient people?"

The fatty answered by spitting a lackluster blurb of saliva. The blurb landed on the shiny crumpled material covering its belly. It slowly slid and fell down.

The creature with the toy gun and sunglasses explained, "Oh, the ancient one, the Queen of the land of Kakamaqua acceptz yer hozpitality." He pointed at the giant, who apparently was a well fed lady. "I, Zoop, her minizter of science, speak on her behalf." He gently laid his hand on the shoulder of the Queen and went on, "I accept yer hozpitality az well. We ask yo to show uz the anzient world and explain itz myzteriez. Please instruct uz on how itz done. Her worthlezz idiot huzband, our shameful King, can zpeek for 'im zelf." He gave the evil eye to the punching bag who now was straightening his battered armor.

"Dear Zoop, before we start, I will ask you and your friends to remove the shiny clothes and leave them here. I want you to blend into the crowd so you’d have better experience. It's summer outside and you will have difficult time avoiding attention if you decide to take the tour with your current outfits."

"Zummer. Waz iz it?" The scientist asked.

"The season of warmth. It's warm outside."

"Ok."

Zoop whispered a couple of words to his companions, and together they removed their helmets to reveal grayish bold heads. They had many identical features such as thin brows, thin lips, and wide lidless eyes.

Scientist's forehead was wrinkled, his nose a little crooked. The moment he removed his glasses and helm, George noticed that the skin around his eyes and above the nose was pale. The queen was far from pretty. The little round nose and lips were barely visible in between the massive cheeks. Her makeup with the dominating colors white and dark blue was something in between the makeup of a clown and a polar camouflage. The face of her husband was soft, covered in barely visible bruises, which fit well with the black right eye.

The fatty and her representative turned at the king and spoke angrily in a tongue of what looked like a series of random letters and shouts. The poor creature nodded in acceptance and walked behind the queen to help her get out of the shiny vest.

They put their seemingly light armors and helms by a large cabinet and returned to the center of the room wearing shabby colorful trunks and oversized whitish T-shirts covered in dirt stains.

George had already started to picture aliens hiding beneath the shiny material and was happy to see that the trio was very humanlike and no tools for additional disguise were needed. Sure, they looked a bit odd, but people these days were used to seeing weirdoes walking the streets.

He walked up and outside showing the way for the guests, asking them to stop touching different objects, explaining that the true master of the house could make George's life miserable if anything got broken.

After stepping into the yard, the three stared at the sky, covering their eyes from the sun.

"Why iz it zo bright?" Zoop asked and focused on his handgun. For the whole duration of conversation with George, he mangled the buttons on the toy weapon in his hand.

"The sun you mean?" replied George.

"Ye."

"It has always been like this."

"Oh, ok." Zoop turned to the Queen and said a few words.

She panted for good ten seconds and let out a scream. It was followed by random letters spilling out of her mouth filled with panic.

The scientist explained, "The queen zays that she iz filled with joy. She sayz it iz a veryt different place from home and needz time to adapt. Give 'er time, please. Yo see, we're uzed to live in a darker environment. That iz why I carry thiz advanced device." He pointed at the sunglasses.

The queen screamed and extended her hand with four large long fingers towards her husband, who in turn placed his tiny hand over hers. Four of them continued into the street and along its sidewalk. They passed many houses, parks and schools, stopping at times to stare through the shop and restaurant windows. Zoop would often ask questions about what is being done inside and George would always give him honest and truthful answers.

The scientist found it surprising that the ancient people used papers as items for trade. He found the idea of paper money alien. How could pieces of paper be of the same value as a fruit or meat or a chair? George tried his best to explain the concept, but the cultural differences between them proved to be too large of a barrier.

Zoop was shocked after finding out that the fur on the heads of the ancient people was not just a decoration but grew from their skin. He gave his compassion as it must have been quite an inconvenience to live this way and praised George and his people for not giving up, for teaching young men and women to become doctors called hairdressers who devoted their lives to fight the annoying disease.

The most amusing part of the walk for Zoop was when he got to observe people eating with strange metallic tools. "Why don't they pick the meat and juzt put it inzide their mouthz? Why don't they lift the bowl with the warm liquid and pour it all at once? Your city has no walls, what if Jingo runs in and eats you with yer food? What then, eh?” he asked. George had to explain that his people had plenty of food and used rituals to enjoy the process of eating, and differently from the people of Kakamaqua they had no natural enemies. He also found out that jingos were not animals, but vicious cannibalistic humanoids that lived behind the walls of Wollmint fortress, the home of Kakamaquans. Its tall walls and transparent roof protected them from the threats of the outside world.

What annoyed George the most, was that Zoop always kept a watchful eye on non-human inhabitants, mainly dogs and cats, and did not hesitate to point his weapon at them. "Juzt in caze, juzt in caze," Zoop always said after being told that these animals posed no threat what-so-ever.

Before they got to the first object of the tour, the mall, George asked, "Is this world any different from the one you come from, Mr. Zoop?"

The guest replied, "Thiz world is az cloze to ourz az Giarge iz cloze to Kakamaquan."

"Weirdly different then, eh?"

"Ye. Different."

When the uncanny four got to the entrance of the Milltown's mall, George had to give courage inspiring speech to help his tourists take their first steps into the spinning door and then assist them in doing the heroic deed of passing it. Only after getting into the massive building George was beginning to understand that his new job was not going to be as easy as he had initially thought.

He finished the introduction of the place and turned around to find that no one was listening. Perhaps I'm keeping too tight leash on them, should let them roam a bit, he thought and decided to go to the second floor and get a cup of take-out coffee. He stood on the moving stairs seeing no signs of the three and remembered how glad he was that life was different from what it was a few days ago. He did not need to wait for the day to end, did not need to go to the hated job, all he had to do now was to live the dream.

He left the cafe with a paper cup in his hand and was about to take the first sip, when he noticed that strange things were going on in the burger restaurant far on the opposite side. People were leaving the place in a hurry.

George instantly identified the loud inhuman screams coming from the inside and sighed. The queen never gave him the impression that she would have an easy time socializing.

Keeping it cool, he slowly came to the place of the incident with a half-empty cup and saw the big woman putting the food from the tables into her mouth, each burger that could feed an adult looked only a small snack in her massive hands. She ate clasping her hands, and after swallowing, she screamed and shouted, "Me, me me!" The words were followed by a grotesque laugh.

George approached the lady. He reasoned, "Dear Queen, I beg you to stop, or we will be asked to leave. There are many wonderful things to be seen in this place. It would be most awful if we had to leave early."

Either something in his words made no sense, or the queen did not hear him. She continued her rampage taking no notice of George’s presence.

Luckily the awkward situation did not last long.

The queen froze for a moment. Her wide eyes narrowed. Signs of anger showed up on her face. Her stare focused at something far behind George.

George turned and saw the king having a conversation with two old ladies, holding their hands, smiling warmly. The monster grabbed a steel food tray and ran to her man hissing as a locomotive along the way. Four security guards tried to grab the queen as she left the restaurant, but got flown away by her effortless swings. They slid along the shiny floor on their backs until they hit a wall or a bench. She sped towards the unassuming poor thing and slammed him, sending him flying and rolling for tens of meters.

George closed his eyes the moment the tray hit the face. He felt too young to see a person get murdered in front of him. After peeking with one barely opened eye, he felt relieved see the creature standing as if nothing had happened. The husband walked to the queen with his head bowed, and began to mumble, what seemed as excuses, in their weird language.

Zap came out of the assembling crowd dragging a microwave by its wire. He approached the arguing couple and calmed them down by smacking king's face a few times and shouting some random letters at his face. He then glanced at the crowd and asked George, "Iz zomething wrong?"

He replied, "Not really, but we should leave this place. Go elsewhere perhaps."

"Ok. Zo I thought."

Zoop turned the side of his weapon up, pushed a couple of buttons with his thumb and pointed it at the Queen. He pushed the trigger and after a barely visible beam hit her, she disappeared. He did the same to the king and then directed the weapon to George. Who said, "Wow, wow, hey—" before vanishing into thin air.

———

They all stood outside of George's house. A lone phone rang far in the background. The couple continued their argument. Zoop held his weapon and microwave wire tightly in his hands, and George for once in his life was speechless.

"Yo, Giarge, wat iz it?" Zoop asked, poking the round end of his gun to George's leg.

George let out a stuttering, "H-how?"

"The dizzpearator." The scientist waved his weapon in front of George. "Don't yo have those?"

"No."

"Ok." Zoop stared at George for a minute. "I think we should leave. They're not going to ztop." He pointed at the couple. Taking a step toward the house, he added, "I, perhaps, would like to ztay, but thoze two would not handle more adventuring."

"What's up with the microwave?" George followed the scientist. The arguing couple lagged behind.

"Oh, that—" Zoop glanced the device and pulled it through the doorstep,"—iz why I came 'ere. I want to re-invent it. The minizter of food iz gonna eat me if I don't. Found one in the cellar back home, but it waz too complex to figure out."

"And how did you know where to find one?" George asked as they passed the ringing phone.

Zoop explained, "Ah, Giarge, in my time everyone knowz about ye and the mall, and mysterious objectz inside it. It iz all we ever talk about. Your story is much more fun than the one in the Book of Orders. We learn about ye at school. And Zoop is more clever than he appearz to be. He knowz thingz."

"Huh?" George slowly drowned into the world of thoughts. How could these creatures know him? Was he going to get famous or rich some day? Perhaps even both? Was he ever going to get that awesome tropic island with a sandy beach and a pet turtle he often dreamed about?

When they got to the cellar, half here and half there, he stared at the scientist as he approached the queen, put the shiny helmet on her head, lifted her shirt and pushed something; she disappeared, distorting space around her as she did. He did the same to the king and returned back to George.

"Goodbye, Giarge, thankz for the tour," he said.

"But I still had things to show you."

"Don't worry I will come visit ye again zomeday."

After they bowed to one another, Zoop tucked the weapon under his belt, put his helm on, touched the three amours lying by the couch with his hand, tucked his hand under the shirt and vanished.

*******

Smiling like a crazy person George grabbed the bag and went up to the ringing phone.

'10 missed calls' blinked on its screen. He picked it up. "Hello."

"Thank God, you answered," said a man on another end, his voice slightly distorted by an interference in the phone line.

"Huh, who is it?"

"It's me John."

"Oh, you never call me."

"George, I need the money back," he said hastily and hearing no reply from George, added, "Please don't say that you have spent it."

"Got something like two hundred bucks left."

"Geez, George, I can't go home without the money, you need to help me, no one else can."

"Strange."

"What?"

"Nothing. Get here, I'll figure something out." George hung up.

Sitting on the stairs of the house with the bag by his side, George waited. A silver coin in his hand moved awkwardly through the clumsy fingers. It was not similar to those he had in the wallet, no fancy pictures on it, no letters or dates, only tiny teeth marks on its smooth surface.

John ran into the yard and stopped to catch his breath. All sweating, wearing a black 'Metallica' shirt, ‘NY’ baseball cap and black crumpled shorts, he approached George, who was eager to hear why a man unspoiled by money would suddenly need them so bad.


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