Book 1. They don't like it when you say "Winnie"
Chapter the one
Being a science fiction reader made me feel déjà vu-y. I'm sure I've read this story beginning at least a dozen times. I don't recall the titles of the books it was in, but it was all just too familiar. I was walking down Market Street in the city of Brotherly Love, heading for 4th and Arch, where my office/lab is. I was slowed down by an unknown person who had grabbed my backpack and pulled me to a halt. He had a nice suit on. His green tie was a little strange, but I'm hardly a fashion critic.
He said, "I have four questions for you."
It sounded so familiar. I scowled at him for touching my backpack.
"One. Are you married?"
I just knew. If it wasn't a book it was a TV show. I knew the drill. Isn't that peculiar?
I said, "I'm not married. No (I lied), I have no living family like parents. No, I don't have children, and yes I enjoy a good adventure."
He practically jumped back, or would have if people really did such things, but people are only described as jumping back in books and short stories. He would have jumped back if people did.
"How did you know?" he asked.
"Nerd!" I proudly proclaimed. That only confused him.
"Come with me," he said.
I didn't worry about being late for work at this point because, according to this story in my head, he and his peeps would take care of making the call to my office, indicating that I would be late, perhaps very late. For some reason I worried about Rosemary, my Catalina 250 sailboat, docked not far from here in a marina on the Delaware.
He pulled me into a flower shop. (I see the look on your face. Of course there are flower shops in Philadelphia. OK, is - there is a flower shop in Philadelphia.)
"We're looking for someone to make a dangerous but important trip in time."
"Time travel?" I asked. "We've made an advance in that area?"
"You think?" he replied. "We finally figured out that time passes according to a clock, established by the speed of light. Change the speed of light and you can change the rate at which time passes."
"So you make light go faster and slower than the speed of light?" I asked.
"That's part of it, yes." Appearing bored with my questions, he moved on. "I have many other questions, of course. What is your highest degree?"
I told him I was a perfect choice, with a Ph.D. in Chemistry. He salivated (figuratively).
"Do this for us, please?" he begged.
"You must have millions of people who would like to travel in time. Why do you need to recruit a nobody off the street?"
"Well, we think it hurts really bad. We're not sure. Also, we do have some trained temporalnauts who might be required to be sent out for a rescue. We prefer someone who knows little about the details of it all."
"It all." I repeated. "Ugh." I followed up with a deadpanned, "temporalnauts, eh?"
He threw his little clipboard on the ground. (I guess I should have told you earlier, he had a clipboard.) "That does it," he said, "I refuse to use temporalnauts any more. Everyone makes fun of it. I told them it was a stupid word."
"I won't do it unless you call me a time traveler," I stated, not knowing whether I had any say in the matter, certainly not believing that much of this was real.
"I know, right?" he said. "Works for me, but its technically incorrect."
Being unable to elaborate on that last comment, he simply walked away from me, across the room, then came back to start a different conversation, like he'd just arrived.
"So what is it? Back in time to kill Hitler? Back to talk to Jesus?" I asked, warming up to the idea.
"Future." He said. "Five thousand years into the future."
"Why?" I asked.
Chapter the two
I stood on the "launch pad", having just been told that my travel uniform is "naked".
"We have no idea what people wear in the future. We don't want you to stand out," he explained.
"Naked won't stand out?" I asked.
"You'll find clothes," he said casually.
"What a typical government operation!" I snarled at him.
"Not really," he said casually, as he casually handed me a green file folder full of paper.
"I wear paper?" I smart-mouthed.
"No," he casually continued, "These are instructions for building another machine. So you can come back."
"Can't you send me with one already built?" I asked.
He paused and seemed to be thinking. "That's one for the suggestion box!" he said, as his eyes lit up. Apparently no one had thought of it before.
"So this hurts you say?" I asked, as he was positioning my feet over the correct markers on the floor.
"We think," he said.
"Well, when they return do they say it hurts or not?" I pressed.
"Return? . . . well . . ." And at that, he gently lunged for the big red button that said Easy on it.
Chapter the third
Chapter the fourth
I "landed", still naked of course, on a red brick circular pad. A woman was sitting in a booth, and jumped when I appeared. (I wouldn't want that job - wait for an occasional time traveler to appear? Yawn.) She casually walked over to me, wrapped her hand around me, and slid a red furry sock sort of thing over my penis and testicles. (By the end of the last sentence, "wrapped her hand around me" should be clear.)
She was wearing a miniskirt and a long sleeve top that showed part of a photograph of her wearing a miniskirt. She smiled as I looked at her and she looked at me. She touched her wrist and started asking me questions.
"Not a temporalnaut?" She snorted. I saw no need to answer.
"Time of origin?" she continued.
I told her what had been today's date.
"Searching," she chimed.
"Well big boy, you may be the oldest we've gotten. Maybe one of the first group of time travelers. Are you here for a reason, purpose, any goals?" she asked.
"Ever seen a heffalump?" she asked.
"Isn't that some kind of elephant?" I replied.
"Bother!" she said, then moved on.
"Green folder?" She asked, holding out her hand.
I had none. (Did she think I had it concealed?) I looked around to see if it had dropped somewhere.
Pretty typical," she smiled. "Paper travels poorly if the humidity isn't just right."
"So I'm screwed?" I asked.
"Ah, I love old colloquialisms!" She purred. "Come with me."
"Taking me to your leader?" I inquired.
"You got it, tart!" She replied. "We're going to walk about half a mile to a silver building, then you can meet with some of the experts and the interested, if anyone is in."
I waited for her to start walking, or flying, or something, but she stood still. "Visitors first," she said, pointing in some random direction. So I walked. We didn't talk. She maintained her place about 6 paces behind me. I hadn't appreciated the "behind" part at the time. We walked and walked and eventually came onto a campus of sorts, with a silver building in the middle. (Note to self, buy stock in silver if you get back.) As I started passing people, I noted that all of the females had miniskirts and long-sleeve tops made of pictures of them wearing miniskirts. All the men were in coats and ties. Both men and women seemed very interested, staring and smiling at my furry condom, and other things.
I stopped and turned to her. "Why am I wearing this thing? I guess I assumed it was what men wear in this time. What's this all about?"
She deadpanned, "I enjoyed putting it on you, and I like to look at bottoms." There was no offer of a suit. She opened the silver door of the silver building and I walked in to find a desk where a girl was seated in a silver chairy thing. She was painted silver. (Or maybe not. Could be just a Goldfinger assumption. Anyway, she was silver.) She looked at my red furry and smiled.
"Oh, so you've met Melinda?" she asked, not waiting for an answer.
She held up a finger, which flashed. She asked me to turn around, which I foolishly did, and another flash bounced off the silver walls.
Chapter the five
Silver girl took me to an office where a man attempted to slap me, and then opened a side door filled with suits and lots of red ties. "What an idiot!" he proclaimed. "I can't believe you fell for that thing." Then as quickly as his mood flared up, it disappeared. "You look like a size BR," he said. "Please, act your age, you just got here. Nobody needs to parade around naked." He pointed to the suits.
I obediently found a suit, size BR, and put it on. I put on a tie too. After I went from furry to looking pretty good, I walked back out to Mr. Man and stood there.
"Whatcha wanna do?" he asked.
"Well, give me the tour!" I suggested.
He touched a cube and two bikes appeared. OK, they didn't actually appear, they were brought in by two people, but I'm sure they could have teleported them or something. We got on the bikes, and a side door opened, large enough for us to ride through. We entered the bike traffic on the street and in a few blocks we were, as he explained, downtown.
This is where there's supposed to be a paragraph about MacDonald's with 1x1034 burgers sold, but I just can't do it.
We stopped at the light (they're pink, cyan and an amazingly bright black now) and I looked over to a really big silver cube building on the corner. It said "The House of Pooh" on it.
"The House of Pooh," I read aloud.
"Oh, are you from the House of Pooh," he asked, eyes lighting up as much as eyes actually light up. Actually he raised his eyebrows.
"Is it like a rock and roll bar or something?" I asked naively.
"You'll find I just won't respond to sentences with too many words in them that I don't understand. We find it hard to answer questions here, or now, or . . ."
Apparently I'd crossed that line.
"I'm from the House of Pooh," he offered.
"Swell," I replied, hoping that would deny a response.
"Pooh?" I asked, trying to figure it all out. "Winnie-the-Pooh?"
He jumped off his bike, and then did something that looked like placing a phone call. In a minute, an eight-seat bike appeared, mostly suit-occupied, and I was quickly whisked away to a Flower Shop. The sign said Market Street.
Chapter the 6
A florist-looking guy came out, from the back, into the shop, wearing only an apron and a red tie. He was different from those I'd met so far.
"What the fuck is your problem?" he inquired. "Are you from the House of Pooh, House of Eeyore? You can't be from when you say you are. What the fuck is going on here?"
"What the fuck are you talking about?" I asked, trying to get into the moment.
"You said the name Winnie. What a fucking troublemaker. Do you know who I am?" He screamed. Well, sorta screamed.
Guessing, I said, "Peggy?"
He nodded, but he continued. "And how did you know to say Winnie-the-Pooh, instead of Winnie the Pooh? How could you know?"
I didn't quite know the answer, but he was right.
Chapter the seventh
Weary of the trip already, even though I was surrounded with the most amazing sights and lights and moving things, my thoughts drifted to the last time I got a wrong number. They are always bill collectors, looking for someone who gave a random phone number on some credit card application, and now they start harassing me. Tired of spending an hour trying to convince them that I am not Fernando and did not know anyone of that name, I came up with a new response to callers. I found it more efficient to just agree to be whoever they wanted, agree to all of their demands, and tell them that I was repentant, had just gotten a job, and a check would be sent out today.
I don't exactly know how this relates, but I know that my phone escapades popped into my mind, and for some reason they prompted me to say, "I have a message from Winnie."
"Bullshit," the florist replied.
Chapter the eighth
A rose was held up to my nose. It was glossy and had writing on it but looked real. Following the natural response of smelling flowers when placed under your nose, I did. Oh!
I awoke strapped to a large piece of silver paneling with six men, always men, in aprons and ties, talking in low tones, standing about 10 feet away from me. One sprayed what I hope was water on my face to help bring me back to consciousness.
"Tell us what you know," the tall one said. He paced back and forth (and my view changed - apron, ass, apron, ass).
I decided that, since this was too strange to be real, I'd go into my secret agent mode. Bond, James Bond. WWJBD? I said, "No. Tell me about the House of Pooh. You tell me first, then I'll tell you what you don't know." I even said it in my best English accent. It went unappreciated.
He stopped mid ass-view and spun around. He walked up to me, his unshaved face inches from mine, and said, "OK."
He let out a long sigh. "Three hundred and twenty one years ago Silas Mariner, a resident of New New York, was digging in his back yard to plant some parapalangia, and he found a steel box. In that box was a paper book. It was a gift from the past, for the human race. It was a documented history of a most unusual place and time. There were living toy animals, who had the most amazing, although at times cryptic, things to say. They spoke to a single human. Their words, no matter who you follow, can be studied for years. We continue to learn. One hundred and fifty years ago, the search began for the location - where they lived, where it all took place. There were many hints in the sacred book, and many are confident that we have found that part of the world, and the area where the house and the stream and the trees all had been. We know the location to within 0.8 square miles. It's south of New New New London. Further refinement continues as things are found. The obvious response to such a gift is to follow Pooh's teaching, hence The House of Pooh. However some have reasoned that the important character is Christopher Robin - the boy to whom they spoke. Some have reasoned that the important character is in the background, which resulted in the House of Eeyore. So we do have other splinter groups, and facilitators for each one who present lectures and lead discussions on the words of each, and the conversations between each. It was just what our society needed, and while not everyone has a House, most do. It has brought the world together just in time."
"What do you know about the world of 5000 years ago?" I asked.
"Not much at all. Once everything had been digitized and we had the great magnetic storm in 2832, when a meteorite hit our sun, everything was erased. But long ago is long ago, you know?" I watched his ass walk away, pensive (He was pensive; his ass showed no emotion.).
A much shorter florist spun, much as did the first, and said to me, "your turn."
I raised my eyebrows. It seems like I had information that they didn't. Perhaps I need to save it for now.
"I'm sorry that I'm moving slowly here, my friends. I'm just trying to assimilate. Let me say a few words, and you respond to them. Tell me what they mean. OK?"
Oddly, they all nodded eagerly.
"Apple," I said, starting off anywhere.
Hands went up. I was in second grade again. "Yes, you with the apron!" I snickered.
One in the front, who didn't see hands in the back responded. "It's a fruit. It grows on trees," he said proudly.
"Christian," I said.
No hands went up.
"Priest," I said.
No hands went up.
"Religion? Philosophy?" They were clueless.
"MacDonald's," I said. I may tell you the answer later if I have time.
Suddenly one of the florists exploded. They calmly cleaned him up as another one burst out at me. "Enough of this!" he screamed. "We have learned nothing. Why did you say you had a message from Winnie? You think you are clever. Those who are clever, who have a Brain, never understand anything," he proudly proclaimed. They nodded in unison. The way he capitalized Brain made me think it could have been a quote. "We work very closely with facilitators at the various Houses to dispense the word of Pooh but not the book. I don't think you have a message at all, but how on earth could you know the name of The Pooh?"
"The Book is called Winnie-the-Pooh," I stated.
Their faces went white. Well, not actually white but they did all look a bit sick. I was going to use "the blood drained from their faces" but that just isn't a possibility either.
A particularly saggy butt turned, walked up to me, and punched me in the stomach. It hurt. My hands and feet were restrained and the surface behind me was hard. An unusual moan came out of me, and I had a bad feeling that he'd broken a rib. He punched me again and again. He released my hands, which seemed like a good sign, but it was so he could swing at my head. Blood ran from my nose, a stark color contrast to the room as it dripped on the floor (my blood, not the room). It would have made a nice color for a rose, but apparently roses have moved on. He hit me and hit me, he battered my head, and I sensed that the aprons had gathered around to watch this animal beat the crap out of me. Fade to black. WTF?
Chapter the 9
I was cleaned up, apparently, and even had a fresh suit on when I awoke. Yes, I could barely move and the pain was substantial, but I was alive, and alone in a very big empty silver room. One could have easily stacked four or five basketball courts on top of each other to make this room. A single candle sat next to me. A candle! It was even burning. It wasn't bright enough for me to see what I just described to you, but as I became conscious the walls started to slowly emit light, illuminating the room just enough for me to see where I was.
Well, this little vacation, this adventure, was not going well at all. I had expected an exciting look into our future and so far I've been cock-furry humiliated, knocked out more times than I care to count, and now I'm . . . well, I don't know where I am now. Is this a prison? A holding cell? The lighting slowly crept up, intensity-wise, until I could clearly see the edges of the room. At a certain intensity it became clear that there was something for me to investigate. It looked like a ball, in the corner farthest from me. As the light continued to creep up, my rods, which only generate a black and white image for one's brain, allowed my cones to start working, and I could see color. In the far corner was sort of an orange ball. Well, it was a ball until it started to move. It looked like it was slowly unfolding, which it was, until it looked like it was standing up. It started to walk towards me. It was a funny wobbly walk, with arms stretched out to its sides. It lumbered toward me. It was difficult to determine in this room, so large, what dimensions we're talking about here, but as it approached I could see the orange furry body, the face. It was him. I smiled. He didn't. I quickly realized that there was a second creature, walking directly behind him so as to remain hidden from me, but I could see the shadow of some kind of four-legged animal hobbling behind - behind The Bear.
Book 2. If you're interested . . .
Hey, I'm home again and they're asking me to make another trip!
It's been two years - I've been describing to them everything I saw and heard and experienced, over and over. Just to fill you in, there are other time travelers who have stayed at that place in the future, and one is Pooh, which is still a bit confusing to me, but he had constructed a way-back machine and was kind enough to let me use it. Actually, he was the one who suggested that I return to my present (no honey in the future, you see, so he was ordering take-out).
This time I prepared my own "stuff" to take. The way-back machine® plans were printed on silk and soaked in water as I was about to leave, so they would accompany me for sure. I went to a fabric store and bought some red faux/fun fur, and made some shorts out of it (hahah - Melinda!). I decided to almost stay out of the Pooh-is-fiction discussion since I wasn't sure I had anything to contribute. Also I know that religions (philosophies?) can keep some people "good", or "better than otherwise". Still, I mean WTF, this Pooh thing shot my fiction theory all to hell. I was constantly thinking about every step I took, everything I saw, and I had a long list of things I wanted to take. Then I had to do the hard work of paring it down. I bought some new white Nikes, remembering that the first walk was a long one. I packed a solid green tie, to contrast with the red ones (Merry Christmas!). I took some LED flashlights, a box of Tastykakes, and my iPod, loaded with books and tunes and movies. Why I only had shorts, shoes and a backpack on, I don't know. I could have worn a suit! I think it meant that they didn't have great confidence in the system and pin-point/time-point accuracy. Ugh. My launch pad operator smiled at me, not looking authentic in the least.
Brick landing circle.
Melinda, with the dick warmer in her hand, looked very disappointed.
So we went through the routine.
"Take me to your blah blah."
"Put on a suit, will you blah blah."
I opted to keep the Nike Airs, even with the suit, and did put on my green tie as planned. I walked out of the sweet suit closet. Mr. Man started to say something but stopped short when he saw the tie. I think he did a most peculiar thing. It was almost like he dropped to one knee, "before me". It was hard to tell since, as soon as he got "down there" he "looked at my feet" and "fainted dead away".
OK. Awkward. A passed out guy, big office. What am I to do?
Well what was there to do besides the obvious. I rifled through the compartments in his desk - nothing but (possibly) food, office supplies and a box of Melinda furries.
Section number four
OK, now I'm really bored.
It was pretty apparent that Mr. M was thrown for a loop over the tie and/or the shoes. I'm guessing both. I sat on the floor next to the breathing body and my foot fell close to his. It looked like he had a similar shoe size. I swapped shoes with him, anxious to see what would happen if and when he comes to.
I had my iPod ear buds in and was listening to some Green Day, watching "him", when he first groaned.
"What happened?" he said, rubbing his head.
"Donno," I shrugged.
He sat up and stared at my green tie. "Why all the deception?" he asked. "And why now?"
Shit. Times like this I hate being such a smartass. If I tell him I don't know what he's talking about I'll lose whatever edge I may have over this guy. "Why now?" he'd asked. How do I fake a response to this? I rambled, searching for some kind of confusing high road.
"Now is my decision, not yours, and not for me to explain but for you to accept," I stated.
He became small. Well not really small but if he could have he would have. His dimension seemed to sorta change - actually it felt like we just changed places. He was quiet, almost looking at me for guidance on what to do next.
I'll take it.
"Get up," I said.
He started to, and realized he had my shoes on. He froze. It seemed like forever that he stood there, like a statue. (Well, without pigeon poo (not Pooh!).) You get the idea.
He shyly bounced a little on his feet, my shoes. If faces could talk he would be saying "springy!" Without warning he jumped into the air.
Big smile! Big laugh! Overly long hug. Awkward hug.
"Why me?" he asked as he slowly lowered his grinning self back to the floor, where I still sat.
"Whatever," I replied, deciding I didn't understand the words. At this point I feel like I'm at a bit of a dead end - probably just digging a hole for myself. However, in a what-the-hell move, I tried something else to extract information from him.
"All right," I said slowly, "I want you to tell me your version of everything that happened since I walked in. Every observation, every thought. Leave nothing out."
And so he did. He was very good at it, so as I watched the sun lower in the sky, he went into hour number four. He had a very good memory of details. Boring!
I did, however, learn bunches. Red is sorta the school color of the planet, except for some group of wise ones, decision makers, behind the scene societal members who, when appropriate, allow themselves to be noticed, with a green tie. Ooh! I'm in good company! I'm the man!
Second thing I learned is that these people in the future are in sucky shape. Bad bones, sore muscles, they live in pain, and when he wore my Nikes there was no pain. They were some kind of cloud for him. Apparently they lived with constant discomfort but had never thought to do anything about it. Hence, the hug.
So you've read stories like this before where an ordinary person whose "stuff" looks extraordinary in some situation is recognized as some sort of a god by a certain civilization. I know the stories. It's always a white guy walking into an isolated area of Africa where the locals are amazed. It never works out well in the end. The white boy almost always almost dies.
But I feel sorry for these pathetic people. If Pooh was providing philosophical support, no one appeared to be providing physical support. Maybe someone other than a bear would be more appropriate.
Reader, did you ever see the planet that the Enterprise stumbled over on the original Star Trek? The people had become so advanced they were mostly energy fields or something, and thought mighty fine thoughts, but their physical plant started to fail, like planetary air conditioning, and no one remembered how to fix it, so they were dying. Well if you don't remember, you should. I felt like I was there. It made me wonder if Gene did a little time travelling for some of his story ideas.
I told him that we were going to make a difference, and that through him, the world was going to be a better place. I gave him a list.
1. Thou shalt not tell anyone about me and the things we do (heheh).
2. Thou shalt get me a nice place to live and provide all reasonable needs to live.
3. Thou shalt get some engineers or scientists or something together and show them your invention, my Nikes. You give them permission to disassemble them, and start making them in mass quantities for everyone on the planet.
4. Thou need not constantly thank me.
5. Thou shalt be humble in all of the accolades, being aware that there will be more to come.
It's been more than a year that I've been here. It's been an amazing time. Even Winnie is wearing Nike's! Looking out my penthouse window to see suits walking by, all with white shoes on, feels pretty good. Along the water front (we're on water, somewhere - they don't have maps) there are dozens of little fabrication facilities building parts for me, based on drawings provided to them via Mr. Man. I should have paid more attention in my normal life, but when I realized we were on water I walked out, on a balmy summer kind of evening, to look around, and saw there were no boats! I was hoping to see what a sailboat from the future looked like! So that's my big project. No one knows what we're doing, and even though there is a hull on land, no one knows what it may be. I thought I knew how pulleys and other things worked, but I realized there were some more components that I didn't really understand well, mechanically. These people are pretty good at inventing stuff that performs well-defined functions, so I think we'll make it.
In the past year I've also been making a list of all the crap these dodo birds need. Pencil and paper - now long gone! I want it! They'll liked it/them! This is going to be fun. I'm thinking pretty seriously of getting a second worker to introduce and produce amazing inventions. There's this girl I met. Actually, it's Melinda. She really is a sweet girl and has a nice touch, and she's the reason why I decided to stay. If I can find time to write more, you'll understand why. Sex in the future is, well . . .
(Yes, that big smile actually did light up my face.)
Book 3. Like it actually matters to you . . .
Four years - four years I've been here. We did shoes, pencils and paper, boats, calculators, algebra, toothpaste, hats, chairs with backs, bow ties, movie theatres, movies for movie theatres, crappy actors, watches, a sense of time, days of the week, and calendars. It was good. They were accepting without discussion.
My life with Melinda was good. We had a lot to teach each other and both saw the benefits in a simple life. This was truly an enjoyable experience, although I felt bad for leaving my parents without warning or explanation.
I was (seriously) trying to teach Melinda how to moan on a lazy Radday morning when the front gate opened and six gentlemen, all wearing green bow ties with their suits, impolitely walked in. They looked around and, apparently trying to generate a tough-guy appearance, pushed over some furniture with their feet. It was then that I realized that I hadn't seen my iPod in some time. Apparently they had been watching some of my movies. It was mildly entertaining, mildly annoying, but their attempt at "bursting in" did squeeze a pretty sweet moan out of Melinda.
They awkwardly tried to manhandle us, until I told them to just tell us what they wanted us to do and we'd cooperate. Confused, they handed me a red furry cock cover and her a short skirt with a long sleeve shirt made of a picture of Melinda wearing a short skirt. I looked at the cock cover and scowled at Melinda, who shrugged. They all shrugged, not expecting cooperation from us, and escorted us outside to a 10-seater bike, which quickly whisked us off to (I know this is becoming less believable by the page) a flower shop. Never a good thing, I'd learned.
As I sat on the floor they spent a while randomly pummeling Melinda, demanding to know what was going on. "How are you coming up with these brilliant ideas of yours, Miss?" one barked, after he stripped off his suit, down to his tie and apron. He hit her hard. She looked at his bow tie and then gave him a sweet look of superiority.
"I'd suggest you stop now," she said. "You still don't understand everything about that thing around your neck."
They stopped. They thought. "You win," a short one said.
I was surrounded by idiots. Didn't the population know time travelers were showing up? Don't they keep records or anything? How could they not know it was all about me? Jesus!
"Same with your foot clouds," she added.
They scowled at her in unison. What a beautiful sound!
"How far in the past did you come from?" an asshole hunk asked her.
"Why?" she replied.
They all agreed that hers was a legitimate question, and the answer was of no use.
"Why are you giving us these things? Is it a plan for world domination?" two chimed in together.
It was clear; they again had picked up a phrase from one of my movies.
She glanced at me and I nodded so she said, proudly, "Yes!"
I got up and paced back and forth amongst them, stroking my chin stubble, of which I had none. They stared at the gesture, perplexed as well.
"Gentlemen, why are you worried about your lives becoming better?" she inquired.
They looked at each other and decided to all sit on the floor, leaving me standing. A look of sadness swept over the bunch.
"Pooh," one said. "Pooh has left us."
"Well, no surprise," I replied. "You guys are just boring."
"No, no, the Pooh has died. Passed on. We have no one."
Hmmmm. Serious stuff. I demanded to see him right away, and they actually took me to him! I had no idea how you check vitals on a stuffed bear, but he seemed to be merely a stuffed bear at this point, so apparently they were right. I hope he liked the honey.
"Did people know he actually existed here?" I asked.
"Oh no, no. It was his wish." One had finally stepped up to talk to me.
"But he was very interested in the House of Pooh, and the other houses, and contributed to their evolution." he explained. "Now there is no more. No new contributions. No direction."
He attempted his best puppy-dog eyes as he looked into mine. "But you, now it will be you, yes?"
For once in my life I'd thought ahead. Thank me!
I'd spotted my iPod sticking out of one gentleman's suit pocket. I snagged it, and turned it on. It was fully charged! They had been working hard. While I was home, I'd downloaded some audio books. I'd found on the Apple store web site some very nice unabridged recordings, read by Peter Dennis, of the four Pooh books. They were still there - When We Were Very Young, Winnie-the-Pooh, Now We Are Six, and The House at Pooh Corner.
I waved my contact close to me, slid the ear buds in his ears, and started up the first book.
"I am here to do Winnie's job," I said for some reason.
"Is this the message you said you had when you first arrived?" he asked? Apparently they had kept records.
I nodded. So did Melinda.
Then I lost his attention. He was staring at my iPod screen. It was an audio book but it did have a thumbnail of a happy Pooh, laughing in his red t-shirt. He smiled a big smile, and said he understood. Too bad I didn't.
I'd said earlier that such stories rarely end well. I decided to take that chance. They were a nice people, just not bright enough to figure things out. If they need an occasional new Pooh line, I think we could distribute them for at least a decade, maybe long enough to introduce some new characters! Maybe it will turn out that Christopher Robins will have a friend - me! Then finally a conversion from Pooh-speak to people-talk can begin. Jesus. It felt like a big job, but I wasn't doing anything anyways. Plus I had Eeyore to help make the future a better place (I hoped). As a plan formed in my little brain, someone rushed in to tell us there was news from the south of New New New London. They'd found what? Who?
After talking to the guy holding my iPod for a bit, much of my future became clear. A few of the drawings of Pooh had been released, but they were all line drawings in black and white. I had something new for the masses - a color picture, and Pooh isn't just wearing a t-shirt, it's a red one. I decided that it would be symbolic, allowing me to transfer philosophy from something owned/taught by the few to something owned by the masses. They'd learn. Maybe for the first time - find a way to think a bit more on their own.
I told them all that things were going to change, going to be OK, going to be better than OK. I only had one request. If there was anyone else from the past, like Pooh, in another room, another secret, I really don't want to know.
At my request, a 20-seat bicycle appeared, and 18 suits took me to wherever I needed to go to be transported to an hundred acre forest south of New New New London.