The Birth of Modern Merlin

By Scott Gordon MacLean All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Humor

Blurb

I am an American yet Scottish blood runs thick through my veins. My mother's family is from John O' Groats, the most northerly village in Great Britain. My father's ancestors immigrated from The Isle of Coll in 1830. So it was great fun being able to work these two places into the plot of "The Birth of Modern Merlin."

Chapter 1

Emergence. It’s jet lag on steroids while riding a roller coaster, standing up. The past, the present and the future… I was, I am and I will be… a personal mish-mash of space/time confusion; I hate it. Luckily, you only have to endure it once a century when it’s time to start work on Earth. My emergence date is scheduled for 2025 but…

WHOOSH…

What’s going on??? It seems to have come upon me early.

Excuse me. A time wave is coming; I’d better hold on…

WHIRR. WHOOSH. Zoggle, Zoggle, Zoggle.

The past…

Jameson Black was an overzealous intern in the Apprentice Time Keeper Division, a moron with an overflowing cauldron of dumb ideas.

“Mr. Cook,” he said, “You’re going to East Asia. When you emerge, you’ll find yourself in the bedchamber of Genghis Kahn. He’ll be in time freeze. Now, as you already know, you’ll only have 3 minutes…”

“Yeah,” I said, irritated this neophyte Time Pilot was wasting my time, “I know.”

“OK; I want you to brush his teeth,” he said, in all seriousness. “Here’s a toothbrush.”

I said nothing. I just stared at him the way a father glares at his 8 year old daughter when she says something monumentally stupid.

Ten seconds passed and I continued to stare him down. But his discomfort got the best of him and he was the first to break the anxiety.

“Are we co-ol?” he asked, his voice cracking like a nervous adolescent.

I could see the hatred building in his beady little eyes, a future antagonist growing into his dysfunction. This was not going to end well, I thought.

I had plenty of time to think up a devastating rejoinder and, in most cases, I would have laid him out, cold. But my brain’s neurons weren’t firing well that day, perhaps a few too many drams of the angels’ secret sauce the night before. But I was still annoyed at having to go through this whole little charade. So, on the spur of the moment, I decided to have some fun and play a little episode of a Time Pilot’s favorite game, Gullible Gotcha. I cast my line and hoped to hook this insignificant, little fish.

“So, he’s asleep, in time freeze and I brush his teeth,” I asked. [He nodded, yes.] “And THAT’s the activator?”

He nodded again, smiling now that I understood his creepy idea.

I paced the room while he waited, anxiety written all over his face.

“Is there something wrong?” he asked, biting hard on my hook, his voice, quivering.

“Just so I’m clear,” I continued, deadpan. “I’m supposed to…”

I stopped, mid-sentence, and plopped down in a nearby chair.

“No, No!” I exclaimed. I looked him directly in the eye with a wounded gaze as if this conversation just dredged up some deep, dark psychological scar I had repressed for centuries. “I can’t do it, I CAN’T DO IT! Don’t make me do it,” I wailed.

I planted my face in my hands and began to weep. [and the Oscar goes to…]

“Oh, Mr. Cook; Mr. Cook,” he said, trying his best to show empathy. “What’s wrong?”

I waited a few more seconds for the hook to set. It did. Now it was time to reel him in.

“I’m going to tell you something I’ve never told anybody before,” I began. “Not my family, not the Master Time Keeper, nobody.”

“It’s OK, Magnus,” he said, switching to my first name in an unearned expression of familiarity. “Your secret is safe with me.”

He patted me on the shoulder a couple of times as if he wanted to be a comforting presence in my time of deep emotional trauma. It came off as forced and insincere.

I took a deep breath, exhaled slowly, wiped a self-generated tear from my eye and began…

“During these in between times, when I’m waiting for my next emergence, I don’t have much to do. Many times, I imagined I could look forward in time and watch over my descendants, my children and their children, and I noticed one thing. Many of them grew up to become dental professionals. Some were dentists, some became dental hygienists, and I’d like to think they got that desire from me. But I never became a dentist even though I always wanted to. It’s been one of the great regrets in my life; I should have been a dentist! But now, with this amazing idea of yours, you’ve given me a great gift, even if it’s just for 3 minutes; I get to be a dentist.”

<<<Sniff. Sniff. Gulp. Blot tears of joy. Smile.>>>

He cooed like a bird, so proud of himself that he had, unknowingly, made my life’s dream come true.

“Oh, Magnus, I didn’t know,” he said.

I reeled him in. But now it was time to boat this fish so I looked him in the eye and feigned a painful acceptance of my unhappy fate.

“But I can’t do it, and that makes me sad,” I moaned. Then I cried and moaned some more. Good thing there wasn’t a theater judge nearby because I would have been found guilty as charged, convicted of gross overacting.

“Why?” he pleaded. “It’s what you’ve always wanted. It’s your big chance to be a dental professional.”

“I know, but I’m gripped with fear,” I said. “I have too much respect for the dental profession. I don’t want to screw up my first and possibly only patient. And who is my first patient? Just the most important man of the 13th Century, Genghis Kahn.”

“What’s to screw up?” he questioned unknowingly as this fish flopped into my boat, “All you’ve got to do is brush his teeth and POOOFFF, your emergence is finalized.”

“NOOOO!!!” I screamed, “That’s NOT all there is to it. I’ve got a RESPONSIBILITY… to the patient… To MYSELF… and [pause for dramatic effect] to this noble profession. I need to be a total professional, even if it’s just for 3 minutes.

It’s too risky. Nope; I won’t do it! It would be unethical. What would happen if he woke up before I had a chance to floss him?”

Thus began the Golden Moment, that short period of silence when the victim is confused because what you just said doesn’t make any sense. The longer it goes, the more satisfying the play. In this case, I enjoyed fifteen blissful seconds of silence, an eternity when you’re playing Gullible Gotcha. But then I lost it and broke into a wide, self-satisfying grin which finally let the young Mr. Jameson Black in on the secret…he had just been played.

Once most victims of Gullible Gotcha finally get it, someone buys them a beer, the whole room has a good laugh at their expense and all is forgotten. Not Jameson Black. His jaw dropped to the floor. Feeling shamed and gutted, his fishy entrails spewed everywhere as his face morphed into a mighty rage.

“Just brush his fucking teeth,” squealed the young, Mr. Hissy-Fit and he stormed off.

And that’s what we’ve called him ever since, Mr. Hissy-Fit. He’s much older now, presenting as about 70 years of age. But his demeanor hasn’t changed and though he’s now the Director of Terran Expansion, responsible for Time Keeper Central’s real estate development projects on Earth, the nickname has stuck all these years later. Rightfully so. He’s an unhinged, narcissistic, self-righteous asshole.

WHIRR. WHOOSH. Zoggle, Zoggle, Zoggle.

The present…

“Dark Matter and Energy make up 75% of the mass in the universe,” said Professor Delco in his boring monotone.

Wait! Things are becoming clearer now. This happened earlier today, back at Time Keeper Central. I was in the introductory meeting for the big project the Master Time Keeper was rolling out, right before those two, self-righteous thugs from Black’s goon squad grabbed me, put a sack over my head and tossed me into the emergence chamber.

“In the most simplistic terms,” continued the professor, “the universe of dark matter/energy is the realm of spirit, morality and ethics; it is the prime source of virtue within human beings.

On June 30, 1908, a large asteroid hit the Earth in the remote wilderness of Siberia, causing a HUGE explosion. Known as the Tunguska Event, it is the largest impact event in Earth’s modern history. The Tunguska impact introduced dark matter and energy into the Earth in ways we cannot fully understand. By inserting so much of it into this dimension, Earth’s system of ethics got flooded and the planet’s moral axis changed. Right became Wrong; Wrong became Right. It’s as if a tsunami of anti-virtue moved through the planet’s core. Eventually, this moral and ethical anomaly will play itself out, but it might take a few years, it might take billions; we don’t know exactly.

To be on the safe side, The Master Time Keeper ordered an intervention and as a proactive response, we created the Earth Ethics Reboot Program. Preliminary work has already begun...”

WHIRR. WHOOSH. Zoggle, Zoggle, Zoggle.

The future…

Another time wave came upon me. My past, present and future now mixed freely as my body began to get actuated to its new place in space/time.

“A moment ago you told Marcus I came from far away. Why did you say that?” I asked.

“Well; it’s true, isn’t it?” he asked.

“Yes,” I answered. “But how do you know that?

“I know a lot of things, laddie. Sit down and I’ll tell you a tale. But first, I want to show you something.”

Swede got up and went into his luxurious stateroom below. At the same time, Marcus arrived topside, delivering a beautiful plate of broiled Atlantic salmon, roasted red potatoes and a pint of cold, American beer.

“I thought I’d keep it simple,” said Marcus. “Fresh local fish. But I also heard your accent so I know you’re American. I assume you prefer your beer cold. If you’d like something else, I can take it back,” said Marcus.

“No, Marcus,” I said, amazed at his insight. “You got it right. Thank you SO much.”

Swede emerged from his stateroom with a large metallic object. A rich land lubber might think it was an oversized hood ornament from a one of a kind Maserati. But those of us with a maritime background know differently. It looked like the trident of Neptune or, as he was known to the Greeks, Poseidon, the god of the sea.

Swede sat down in the comfortable cockpit of his luxury sailboat and began.

“It was about 30 years ago, when I was a much more adventurous sailor. I dropped anchor near a small village in the Orkney Islands, in the Bay of Skaill…”

THUDD

Mind. Body. Spirit. Earth. Space/Time... Past, Present and Future, all in sync; my emergence, complete. I was in Dumbarton, Scotland, still in a bit of a mental fog, but that would pass. I arrived safely for the beginning of my 21st century lifetime yet I had no clue why someone felt it was so necessary for me to emerge, completely unprepared.

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