Flash Fiction Month 2015, Day 22
Doctor Doomenschwarz peered at the instructions one more time, screwdriver at the ready.
Thankyou for purchase neutron sky chariot with world dominations. For safety attention, remember observe many directories enumerated the following:
- Apply in the orientation not face yourself.
- Not install in the location where humidity or temperatures extoll 35 dungarees or 22 percent irrespective.
- Contents radiation and hazardous material scatter under pressure. Not suitable childrens under 3 years.
- If leave unattended without use long time remove store batteries and separate.
Okay. That all sounded fairly straightforward. Just the usual “This orbital death ray is not a toy. Don’t stick it up your nose. Yadah-yadah-yadah.” You didn’t need an advanced degree in maniacal diabology to work that out. But then things got confusing:
- Always do in all cases every time except when not do warrant doing the exception undone not do towards the done doing precaution already done previous. Wait minimum 20 minute.
- Observe polarity of raynozzle when install focussing lenz forward of back foresupport beside left.
Was item five part of the safety precautions, like the four before it, or was it part of the assembly instructions, like item six? Doctor Doomenschwarz used the tip of his screwdriver to scratch beneath the rubber strap of his thick science goggles. He supposed it didn’t matter: it was gibberish either way. He inched the screwdriver forward, careful not to touch the sides of the quantum containment casing as he prepared to calibrate the ontological chrononomnomnomitron.
Doomenschwarz felt a tap on his shoulder. “Ja, hi.”
He turned around to find himself face to face with himself, only with a gigantic rainbow afro.
“So this is awkward.” Rainbow afro Doomenschwarz tapped his fingers together sheepishly. “About three minutes ago, you bolted a small scaffolding type thing to this big reactor thing.”
Regular Doomenschwarz picked up the instructions once more. “Ja.” He pointed. “It’s in the diagram.”
“Mmm.” Rainbow afro Doomenschwarz nodded. “The thing is, you’ve got to turn that bolt six times to tighten it, then half a turn back. Otherwise the pressure on the graphite control plates causes a build-up of high-energy disco radiation.”
“Oh.” Regular Doomenschwarz stared at the diagram. “Are you sure?”
Rainbow afro Doomenschwarz rolled his eyes and pointed to his rainbow afro. “Ja, dummkopf, I think I’m sure. You’ve got…” he checked his watch, “sixteen minutes to fix it.”
“Ah.” Regular Doomenschwarz picked up his spanner and corrected the mistake. “Thanks.”
“Don’t mention it.” Rainbow afro Doomenschwarz began to dematerialise. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I think the autological timestream is transporting me to the 1970s.”
Returning to his work, Doctor Doomenschwarz slotted the screwdriver into the ontological chrononomnomnomitron and set it a quarter turn anticlockwise.
There was another tap on his shoulder. “Ja. Roaring Twenties Doomenschwarz here. You’re going to want to turn that back.”
“Wait, really?” Doomenschwarz looked up to see another version of himself, this time wearing a flapper dress and rayon stockings.
Regular Doomenschwarz set the chrononomnomnomitron back to its original position, and Roaring Twenties Doomenschwarz disappeared in a puff of big band music.
Giving up on the barely comprehensible instructions, Doctor Doomenschwarz looked about the pile of parts littering the linoleum of his evil lab floor. There had to be some way of making progress without tearing holes in the space-time continuum. He settled on the plastic cup holder, screwing it into its clearly marked bracket near the operator’s console.
Doctor Doomenschwarz looked up from his work, satisfied with this one tiny portion of a job well done.
A dinosaur in a powdered wig shook its head disapprovingly.
Doomenschwarz unscrewed the cup holder.