Chapter 13: Canadian Tower
5.19.2002 Edited by , every Sunday.
Bjorn was tossed into the carriage, flying through the air with the grace and dignity of a penguin with Tourettes syndrome. He managed to avoid breaking anything too important by using some kind of kung-fu-esque manoeuvre he’d seen in the Ninja Convention to roll all his weight safely onto his head.
“Ow.” said Bjorn, who found himself prone to expressing himself aloud in moments of great stress. Still dizzy from landing on his head into the buggy, he stared up at the caged skylight on the ceiling of the buggy and into the somewhat Elizabethan skyline of this otherworldly version of Washington. He took stock of his situation… He was in a Shakespearian version of his beloved Washington, some 30-odd years into the future, and he was going to have his head cut off by order of the eccentric ruler of this place, the self-styled Dictator-for-life Mackenzie Larwill. Who owned a pair of bitchin’ pyjamas.
From his buggy further ahead in the procession, Bjorn could hear Dictator Larwill saying, “Have the traitors brought to the tower! I want to have them executed in a public and amusing manner. Now begone, lackey, before I have you flogged.”
Bjorn felt a jolt. The horses towing the buggy he was in began to move, undoubtedly towards this “tower” the dictator had mentioned. Bjorn looked around the inside of the buggy, at his fellow travellers. On one of the benches was a small blond-haired boy, who vaguely reminded him of the kid from “The 6th sense”, and was staring directly at him.
“What’s your name?” The boy asked. “Where are you from? Why are you here?”
“My name is Bjorn Lincon, and I’m from 30 years in the past. I’m running away from a bunch of historical figures that want to kill me for reasons that have not been fully revealed to me yet. I’ve been jumping randomly through time in order to keep one step ahead of my wily pursuers, but whenever I go they show up. I know it sounds preposterous, so I don’t think you’ll believe me, but my parents taught me never to lie. So, what’s your story?”
“My name is David. I’m a robot with feelings like a human that make me want to become a real boy so my mommy will love me. I’m looking for the Blue Fairy who’ll grant my wish and make me a real boy so that I can go home.”
Bjorn raised an eyebrow at the boy’s comments. “And I thought my story was screwed up” he thought to himself.
The wagon lumbered onwards, through narrow cobbled-stone streets with neon signs proclaiming such wares as, “Ye Olden House of XXX” and “Thine Right-Neighbourly Shoppe of Marital Aids and Accessories”, with smiling faces in the windows waving at the prisoners being hauled off to the tower for beheading.
“This is a most disturbing time period”, mused Bjorn as he tried in vain to figure out some mechanism for escaping.
After about an hour’s journey, Bjorn could see a building looming on the horizon. Looming, of course, being the only appropriate verb to describe the activities of a building of this particular level of gothic camp. The whole tower was crooked, leaning ever so slightly to the left. Ravens cawed on the battlements, and moss covered the walls. The windows were covered with rusty metal bars, and from inside could be heard distant sounds of moaning. But not the good kind of moaning, more like the kind of moan you make when you’re suffering from chronic diarrhoea.
“Now approaching the Dread Tower of Washington, abandon hope all ye who enter here!” Came the voice form the front of the carriage. Bjorn looked up at the tower, and the flags flapping above it.
“What the…” Bjorn was aghast. Had the world gone MAD? Of all the sights he’d seen since coming to this twisted version of Washington, this was definitely the most disturbing one yet. It was more disturbing than the men in tights, more off-putting than the porn-infested newspapers, even more unsettling than even the little crazy robot boy.
“Maple leaf flags! I always knew those Canadians couldn’t be trusted!” Bjorn was outraged to think that a bunch of back-bacon stuffed, beer-swilling hosers could ever conquer his beloved US of A. Bjorn vowed that as part of his time-travelling adventures, he’d make certain prevent Canada from taking over… however it was that they’d accomplished it.
The carriage pulled into a primitive loading dock. A stone ledge at the carriage’s height was already prepared to accept the latest load of prisoners, festooned with guards who themselves were festooned with blunt and painful looking weapons. Behind them was a pair of wood and steel doors, looking as though they’d been stolen off a medieval fortress. Of course, for all Bjorn had seen in the past few days, it wouldn’t have surprised him if they were.
One of the guards awaiting the carriage hollered out, “Alright you mangy buggers, the limo service is over. Get your hands on your heads, and come out in an orderly fashion.”
Bjorn followed rest of the prisoners out into the awaiting guards. One by one, they were put in chains and hauled off to the cells where they would await execution. A gruff old guard, whose age meant that he must’ve been around between Bjorn’s time and the future he found himself in, approached Bjorn.
Bjorn tried to wheedle information out of the guard so that he might be able to prevent Canada’s conquest of the US in the future. “Excuse me Sir,” he said, “But could you tell me how Canada ever took over America? I mean, it wasn’t something easily preventable, was it? Not that I could ever, ever try and change it, whatever it was.”
Bjorn smiled to himself. “I’m so clever. He hasn’t got a clue that I want to change history,” Bjorn thought, as he followed the guard up a set of stairs inside the tower that led to his cell.
The guard looked over his shoulder at Bjorn. “You want me to give you a history lesson, eh lad? Tell you how the world got this way?” The guard swung open the door to a cell marked “Political Prisoners, first names Ba-Cz”. “Step inside,” said the guard.
“Certainly. Now, could you possibly tell me how the world went crazy…?”
“No.” Said the guard, and he slammed the door shut with a deafening “BOOM!”
“What a bitter man,” thought Bjorn.
Bjorn looked around the cell he’d been locked inside. It was dimly lit through one barred steel window, about 10 feet off the ground. It was about 6 feet wide and 10 feet long, and the ground was covered in hay. In one corner was a pile of rags that Bjorn assumed must be either the bed or the toilet. Or both. Feeling tired, and willing to risk spending the night sleeping on a toilet, Bjorn went over to the heap of rags to lie down.
“Get off of me you boob!”
Unused to either talking beds or toilets, Bjorn leapt off the heap of rags. As it stood up, Bjorn realized that there was actually a man under those rags. He was encrusted with filth and it appeared as though a rat’s tail was dangling out of his unruly hair. He was wearing a soiled T-shirt on which Bjorn could vaguely read the words “Ultimate Frisbee”.
“So, you want to know how the world turned into a madhouse, do you?” the rag man asked, “Because it just so happens that I’m exactly the right person to tell you”
“Well, yeah… but who are you?” Bjorn could hardly believe the luck he was having,
“Me? My name’s Piper. Ben Piper.”
By Patrick Snider