My name is Alan Berry, also known as Macroman, and my greatest enemy is not the Echo Emperor, Line Lag Lou, Colonel Coredump or even Mr. Shortcut. It's the calendar.
The year is 1980, early enough in the year that Ted Ken.net.y still thinks he has a shot at the nomination, and I know from my memories as a child in this era that my days are numbered. I'm living on borrowed time, doomed to die before the end of the year.
But that's not why the calendar is my enemy today. Y'see, today is February 14th, a day I've been awaiting with an odd sort of dread ever since I realized the implications of my little time trip. It's the only Valentine's Day I have to live through in this odd doubled state, for which I am incredibly thankful...but I still have this one to get through. Why do I dread it?
"Hi, handsome! Ready to go to lunch?" came a heartbearkingly lovely (to my ears, anyway) voice from the doorway of my office. Yes, I have an office. Back then, er, now...a computer programmer is a rare and valued commodity, unlike in the late 90s, so I was pretty high up the totem pole. No cubicle for me...not that many places used the idea then anyway.
The owner of the voice was my girlfriend, Glory Ellis, who I'd been seeing for several months now.
She was also my Aunt Glory, sister of my father. She didn't know this, and I didn't know if I had the right to tell her, since I knew I couldn't just say the one thing and not open the floodgates of all the future knowledge I had...including that of my own death.
Glory swaggered up to me and put her arms around me, leaning in for a kiss. Thanks to a little macro I'd written before I even "met" her, I was able to turn so that the kiss landed on my cheek, and do it without raising undue suspicion. Superspeed was a handy power.
"I thought for sure you'd let me get in a real kiss today of all days, Mister Berry," she pouted, pulling back and affecting a mock-hurt look. The twinkle in her eye was followed by a quick grin as she let go of my sides. "I swear, Alan, sometimes I think you're from another decade."
My heart caught in my chest, like it did every so often around her. I knew in my head that she had no way of guessing my secret, but the fear was always there.
"It's like you're straight out of the Fifties..." she sighed, then snapped her fingers. "No, not the Fifties that were, more like the Fifties that never were...the Fifties of the sitcoms. It's like you're someone out of Au.zie and Harri.net, or Leave it to Liefeld. Too whitebread to be true...maybe if I did housework in pearls that'd get a rise out of you?" she smirked. I hoped my face didn't show my obvious relief.
"Oh, you know me...MIA in the Sexual Revolution," I tried to force a grin. "I mean, you're surprised a boy from Net.braska is taking it slow?"
Glory snorted. "I grew up around plenty of boys from Net.braska, pal, and that whole Midwestern Purity cliche has got zero truth to it...except for you, I guess. Come on, I know it's hopeless to expect to beat the lunch hour rush with you in tow, but I wanna at least try... let's go."
Yes, a big part of this was the fact we're related. Face it, while I did some pretty deviant things during my drunken carousing in college... most of which I don't rememeber, thankfully...I'm like most "whitebread Midwesterners," I don't consider incest to be a good thing.
But the more I spent time around her, the more I realized that even if she were an alien in human form, unrelated even by species, I didn't want her to have her heart torn out on the day I die. She deserves better than that.
I can't push her away entirely...we have to stay reasonably close or I'll never meet myself and history will be derailed [see Dvandom Force #62 for this meeting - Ed.]. Things are too fragile already to risk that, I'd be pushing control of reality into the hands of Master Workload.
So I play the balancing game. Keep her close enough for the needs of history, far enough for the sake of her future. At least I keep telling myself that I stay near her to keep history on track...if I didn't believe that, I might not be able to live with myself.
"Well, ah...I thought we might go dancing?" I ventured. FAST dancing, I mentally added.
"Oh NO," she frowned. "Last time we went to a discotheque you wouldn't stop giggling. That was the most embarrassing night of my adult life, Alan. You should have told me you didn't like disco."
"Honest, I completely forgot about how silly I think disco is!" I protested.
"It's not like it's been decades since disco hit the scene, Alan. Anyway, a discotheque is out."
I took a bite of my sandwich to avoid having to talk for a moment. Then I ventured, "Not all dancing is disco, you know. There's a couple of nostalgia sock hops in town tonight, I hear Olivia Net.on-John is actually going to be singing at the one across the river in C|Net.ral."
Glory giggled, nearly choking on her salad in the process. After she recovered, she laughed. "You really *are* out of the Fifties, aren't you? Strange visitor from another time, fighting for truth, justice and the Boy Scout Way, right? Oh well, if a romantic evening is out, a silly one isn't too bad. Maybe I can get back at you for the discotheque...wonder if it's too late to rent a poodle skirt from the costume shop...."
Okay, maybe Valentine's Day wouldn't be so tough after all.
One of the cliches of time travel is to go back in time and marry your own ancestor, thus becoming your own grandfather or great-grandmother or whatever. These stories never seem to touch on how fundamentally creepy it can be to get involved with a time-separated relative (although Back to the Future did a good job of this), and when Mike suggested an all-romance issue of RACC Presents, I decided this tale would be a perfect fit. }-> Doubt it'll be the creepiest one in the issue, though, especially if one of those weirdo Omega writers gets involved.
"Love In The Time Of Disco":
Copyright (c) 1998 Dave Van Domelen, all rights reserved.
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