In the darkness of his dorm, hidden from the rest of the world, Donny Prisket was on the verge of creating history. ?Donny closed his eyes, trying to control his nerves. He could almost see himself on the front page newspaper, shaking hands with a prominent old balding Swedish person while accepting his Nobel prize. ?After four years of weaving through papers on theoretical physics and space-time modules, spending sleepless hours creating complex equations and meticulously designing the machine from inside out right up to the last nut and bolt, Donny Priscet had done the hitherto impossible; he had designed an interface - through time.
There was only a small formality to be completed, but this one simple task seemed to stump the hell out of him. ?He didnt know what to call it. ?When it came to giving the brand new miracle machine a name, his immense genius failed him. ?Donny sat on his workbench obsessively scribbling potential names and scratching them out, getting himself worked up out of impatience. ?The sooner he christened her, the sooner he could take her for a test drive, the sooner he could bring home that Nobel with his name on it. ?So near and yet... he thought irritably.
Just then, the door burst open, giving Donny a start. ?It was Moe, Donny’s imbecile and inebriated roommate.
“Do not do that! ?For god’s sake, how many times do I have to tell you to knock before it pierces you thick skull?” said Donny angrily.
Moe scratched his head, looking around and barely listening. ?“What happened here? ?This place looks good as new!”
“I cleaned up today.”
“Oh yeah? ?So you’re finished with your fancy pants machine?”
“Yes. ?It’s ready.”
“Well then rejoice, my man! ?Why the long face?”
“I can’t think of what to call her.” said Donny gesturing towards a big glass case stretching from ceiling to floor in one corner of the room. ?It had a switchboard with a host of buttons, switches and knobs attached to it.
Moe chuckled. ?“That’s it? ?Dude, you’re losing your touch.”
“Oh yeah? ?Then why don’t you give it a shot?”
“Okay.” ?Moe went over to the machine. ?“Call her ?The Don’. ?After you.” ?He began to push buttons at random. ?Nothing happened. ?“What a piece of junk! ?Sorry to burst your bubble bro, but The Don doesn’t work.”
“That’s because I’ve switched off the mains, idiot. ?Thank god.”
“Whatever you say, dude.?
Much as Donny hated the name, he couldn’t wait any longer to watch his baby walk and talk. ?He got off his swivel chair and strode up to The Don.
Fine. The Don it is, then. ?Tomorrow, we launch. ?Moe, Ill need someone to operate her. ?Can I count on you to be sober tomorrow?
Sober as they come, sir! Moe stomped his foot and slapped the back of his palm on his forehead in a manner of a salute, but the momentum of the action, coupled with the spinning in his head caused him to buckle at the knees and fall on his back, knocked out cold.
When Moe opened his eyes, his head fit to burst open, he thought he was still dreaming. ?There stood Donny, genius, recluse, roommate and best friend, draped in nothing but a fine white cloth that fell till his knees, what looked like a dry twig twisted into a circle on top of his head and - Moe rubbed his eyes and looked again - ladies sandals. ?His usually morose face was plush with excitement. ?A faint hum was emanating from The Don from the corner of the room.
Ah, youre up!
Moe got up unsteadily to his feet, supporting his aching head with one hand and approached Donny with cautious steps. ?He noticed that Donnys skin looked different.. doughy.
Dude, is that make up youre wearing?
Just a touch of powder so I dont startle the Greeks with my foreign complexion.
You know, Ive been thinking about this for a while now, and Ive decided that it would be most instructive to visit ancient Greece circa 6th century BC. ?Centre of the world. ?Why, the place was brimming with philosophers and alchemists and other intelligentsia of the time.
But.. you dont speak Greek! stuttered Moe wondering which parallel universe hed escaped to.
On the contrary said Donny smugly, Ive been taking a course each in Greek literature, history and philosophy, not to mention language under a pseudonym over the past six months. ?In fact, I even applied for a job at the faculty of Greek philosophy just for kicks, and guess what? ?I got the job! ?Imagine their surprise when a certain Adrastob Liakos never shows up to work on Monday and upon further inquiry, doesnt even exist!
All this was too much for Moes poor head to bear. ?He tried to digest one piece of ludicrous information at a time. ?So youre going back in time.. to ancient Greece? ?Looking like that?
Donny caught the tone. ?Mock me if you will, but Im confidant Ill blend with the local populace like a chameleon. ?My research is immaculate. he said haughtily, pushing his glasses up over his nose.
And I suppose spectacles were all the rage with the ancient Greeks?
Donny was caught off guard. ?He hadnt thought of that. ?He had thought of everything, but that. ? A.. slight.. miscalculation, perhaps. he said his cheeks turning rosy in spite of the powder. ?Donny was practically blind without his glasses. ?But nothing could be done about that now.
Moe collapsed on a bean bag as nausea flooded his senses. ?Oooohhh he groaned.
Donny scowled Oh no you dont! ?Come on, man, I need you to be completely normal today! ?Youll be operating The Don! he grabbed Moe by the arm and lifted him up, dragging him to the switchboard.
“Okay Moe, listen carefully. ?I need you to switch on the vacuum ? this switch right here. ?Then press these three buttons together, and then turn this knob this way. ?Then do the exact opposite sequence in precisely half an hour so you can bring me back. ?Understand?”
Moe didn’t understand. ?He felt like his bodily systems were spinning inside a washing machine. ?
But Donny, excitement pounding through his blood, had already shut himself up inside the glass case, oblivious to Moes confusion. ?Now remember, the switch, then the three buttons and most importantly, the knob, counter-clockwise.
Moes eyes were swimming. ?He tried to concentrate on the switchboard which was swaying in front of his eyes. ?He pushed the switch. ?A loud sucking sound issued from The Don. ?Donny smiled at him encouragingly from inside the case. ?Hauling up all the hand-eye coordination he had left, Moe jabbed at the three buttons simultaneously. ?A thick white smoke rose inside the glass case, slowly enveloping Donny. ?Something in Moes stomach grumbled unhappily. ?He searched for the knob and caught hold of it.
Hey wait.. which way did you say I should turn this thing?
But Donny wasnt listening any more. ? He was going to become the mythical time-traveller, for the first time in the history of mankind. ??? ??????, ??????? ?????? ???; ????????? ??? ?? ??????, ?? ??????... ?(How do you do, my old friends? ?I come to you from the future, in peace...) he was muttering to himself, revising what he was going to say when in Greece.
Moe was struggling to keep himself together. ?His stomach was now churning, his head was clouded, his limbs were weak. ?The knob was expanding and contracting ?in front of his eyes like a kaleidoscope. ?Something welled up from the depths of his belly.
Donny closed his eyes, counting down the seconds. ?This was it. ?Moment of truth. ?Donny Priscet was going to go back in time. ?Soon the cloud of teleportation particles that was shrouding him would escape on the space-time current and whisk him off to another time, another world. ?The seconds ticked by. ?Donny opened one eye to see what was going on. ?Moe was leaning on the switchboard in front of him with one hand on the teleportation knob, looking quite sick. Moe gave a spasm, his hand slipping on the knob, sending it spinning uncontrollably.?
Wha..?..Nooooo! Pure horror gripped Donnys insides. ? The knob had spinned clockwise.
The last thing Donny saw before he disappeared was the spattering of yellow greasy vomit all over the glass case, and Moe collapsing to the floor.
The next moment, the heavy smoke in front of his eyes began to disperse and a busy street materialized before him. ?Cars honking noisily in rush hour traffic, people in grey and black suits crossing the roads hurriedly, buildings shooting up to the sky and large hoardings of Ikea and the latest Volkswagon model flashing forcefully at the crowd below. This wasnt ancient Greece at all. ?This was the 21st century in all its pride and glory. ?Clearly, something had gone terribly wrong.
Some people walking past Donny gave a start at his sudden appearance out of nowhere. ?One of them tipped him a quarter and said, Great trick, man! You got me there. ?Someone else guffawed, Nice costume! ?What are you supposed to be, Ptolemy?
Donny rushed to the edge of the pavement and slid into an empty alleyway, rubbing his exposed arms against the cold. ?What could have gone wrong? ?Instead of time, he seemed to have teleported through space. ?Thanks to his hung-over roommate, the aberrant knob turning must have sent the particles through a hidden space-time portal he had never anticipated. ?This discovery had got to be worth another Nobel, he thought greedily.
All he had to do now was to find a way to get back to his dorm. ?But where was he? ?And what was the time? ?How could he get out on the street dressed like this? ?Always preferring to be holed up in his room with his computer, minimizing human contact, Donny now felt like a caged animal left to roam in the wild.?
Engrossed in his own thoughts, Donny didnt notice that a policeman standing near the signal had seen him mysteriously appear and had been eyeing him suspiciously ever since. ?He had caught Donny slipping into the alley and decided to check him out. ?He followed the shady character cautiously, his gun at the ready. ? From experience, he knew that this one was probably just a local street artist, (a good one at that, he had to admit) or a rebellious college kid trying to get arrested, but you could never tell these days. ?In any case, he had disturbed the peace and given quite a scare to the passersby with his appearing act.
Donny saw the policeman heading towards him and began to panic. ?The very last thing Donny needed was a run in with the authorities. ?He had broken the law more than once over the past four years in order to fund his pet project, hacking into confidential systems and shunting small amounts of money in installments from the pockets of the filthy rich. ?(He had always meant to duly return it to them with interest from his royalty and Nobel money.) ?He had made several aliases that the police all over the world were desperately looking for. ?Although his computer defences were impenetrable, he knew that his own tolerance to pain was zilch. ?With the slightest suggestion of use of force on him, he knew he would buckle and reflexively sing like a canary.?
How on earth could he possibly explain himself now? ?He had to cook up a story before -
Sir, do you have a permit to perform here? the policeman asked Donny.
“Perform?” Suddenly it hit Donny. ?“Eh.. ?yes, of course! I’m a ? a performer!.. er - I mean ? no I, er, don’t have a permit. ?But I am a street artist.. eh.. you see.. just trying to make a buck or two...“
The policeman had been in duty long enough to know when a man was lying - the shifty eyes, the nervous shuffling of feet, the verbal diarrhoea, the sweating, the fidgeting with the fingers. ?This particular specimen was lying through his teeth.
The next thing he knew, Donny found himself shoved inside a police van and locked up in dimly lit room, face to face with another mean looking police officer.
“What are you trying to pull, sonny?” growled the officer.
Donny couldn’t believe this was happening. ?He needed to get back and fast, before Moe could tamper with his beloved device any more. ?Yesterday’s sight of Moe playfully poking at random buttons kept rudely entering his consciousness.
The officer who had arrested him came in bearing a file.
“Chief, you won’t believe this. ?He had no ID on him, but we ran his mug shot through our database for a match. ?It was like we hit the jackpot.”
Donny sank in his chair. ?This was bad. ?He was in real trouble now. ?All the photo ID’s of his fake aliases were crude computer modifications of his own. ?He thought he had destroyed them all, but they seemed to have fished them out from somewhere deep inside the internet.
The officer read the file and grinned slowly like a shark spotting its bait.
“I want a lawyer.” said Donny curtly, turning away, thinking fast.
“You’re in no position to negotiate, Mr. ? Say, what did you say your real name was? “
“Well now’s a good time then.” sneered the officer.
The officer waved a hand and in came three burly men in the tightest T-shirts Donny had ever seen. ?They surrounded him, flexing their biceps menacingly. ?Donny’s knees began to quiver of its own accord. ?He was a goner. ?There was no way out now. ?His mouth turned dry, his voice dying inside his throat as he pictured himself in prison for the rest of his years, a penniless, bearded old man waiting for death to come.
The burly men closed in. ?It was too much. ?Donny broke down, spluttering and shaking involuntarily, tears flowing down his face.
“Come on, don’t make me let them lift that pretty skirt of yours.” came the officer’s voice from somewhere behind the men, who now filled Donny’s vision.
Say it!, said a voice in his head frantically, just say it and get it over with! ? But just then, out of nowhere, white smoke began to form around him, becoming thicker and thicker. ?And then, ?POOF! ..just like that, the nameless fugitive in the strange outfit disappeared; vanished into thin air, right before the officers’ eyes.
Donny Priscet found himself on the floor of the glass case of The Don, back in his dorm, ?sweating all over and mumbling incoherently. ?The glass door opened with a hiss and Moe pulled him out.
Wow. ?The Greeks are good. said Moe, observing his friends stupified state.
Slowly, realization dawned on Donny as he recovered from the shock. ?Moe looked nervously at him, wondering how to begin his apology. ?He had been completely down and out while Donny was surfing the time waves. ?He had to go out of the university for his antidote and ?had taken more than a couple of hours to return. ?Then, he had reversed the sequence of manuvres on The Don, bringing Donny back from the ancient Greece. Or so he thought.
Donny, before you kill me, let me ex-
But Donny had hauled himself on Moe, smothering him in a bone-breaking hug.
Sorry I was late. Moe managed to utter.
Donny shook his head dismissively. ?You were just in time, my friend.
We did it. said Donny, ecstatic tears streaming down his cheeks.
We did it Moe. he repeated solemnly. ?Moe returned the hug, confused as ever, but relieved.
The following day, the two friends, genius and drunkard, changed the course of history by unveiling to a stunned world audience, the revolutionary technology of The Don, and beginning a whole new chapter in the book of mankind.
Thus ends the story of Sir Donny and Sir Moe, best friends, roommates and double Nobel prize winners. ?Of course, they like to tell it differently.