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Old 03-18-2011, 10:37 PM   #1
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Another Time, Another Place - Chapter 20 (final chapter)

Hello again... it's Saturday afternoon in Australia, and time to post the last chapter of ATAP.

We've had a lot of fun with this... I would like to thank Diane again for her co-authorship and many delightful crazy ideas, Jess for proof-reading and input, and all of you for reading and/or commenting. It makes it all worth while.

Because I've been watching a lot of Doctor Who lately (and because time travel is confusing), I'd like to share with you a quote in which the Doctor attempts to explain the nature of time to a bewildered human:

"People don't understand time. It's not what you think it is. [...] People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect... but actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly... timey-wimey... stuff."

Hee.

Anyway, the disclaimer: this chapter is just as silly and fictitious as the rest of it was.

And yes, we know it ends sort of abruptly, and some things are left unexplained, but this may not be the last we see of the time-travelling, mirror-ball lemon.

Onwards...!

From chapter 19:


"Clearly one of us has to put the idea in Larry Senior's head, because when we didn't intervene, it didn't happen. As for what Adam says, we will have to trust him to say the right thing at the right moment. It's happened before, so it can happen again. Adam can trust his instincts... and if it doesn't work, no doubt Pearl will show up and give us some more cryptic clues." Edge frowned slightly, but then went back to pressing buttons. "Are you all ready?"

"What?"

"Right now?"

"No time like the past," Edge said with a crooked grin. He pressed the green button, and the DUMASS put forth a burst of bass-heavy dance music as the special effects swirled into life on the view-screen.



Chapter 20

They landed in the dark, in a park close to Larry's old house in Artane. Edge made sure the cloaking device was still active, and hoped that no one would bump into them on such a cold, wet night.

Adam's wardrobe was adjusted, and the cupboard obligingly provided a heavy woollen overcoat, complete with wooden toggles for buttons. The bassist was nervous.

"You'll be fine, Adam," Edge said, looking into Adam's face. The bassist's eyebrows were each pointing towards the centre of his hairline. "Just have a casual chat with him, ask about his family, and with any luck the conversation will come around to young Larry's musical aspirations. Don't worry."

"Will I have to have a drink?" Adam fretted.

"Of course not, but it would look odd if you didn't have something in front of you. There must have been non-alcoholic drinks available back then," Edge reasoned.

"He'll have to give a different name," Larry realised. "He can't introduce himself as Adam Clayton, not when my dad's about to meet a much younger Adam Clayton."

Various alternative names were proposed, and finally Adam was ready to change history back to the way it was supposed to be.

"Good luck!" Edge called, as Adam descended the lemon's steps, huddled against the miserable Dublin night.

Adam made his way to Larry Mullen Sr.'s favourite pub, trying to hold everything he had to do in his head. He barely noticed the weather, but he was suitably damp and shivering by the time he pushed the door open.

Luckily, Adam spotted the elder Larry (who, in fact, was about the same age now as Larry Jr. was in the lemon) straight away, and even luckier, the elder Larry had just bid one of his mates goodnight, and there was a free seat next to him at the bar. Adam slid onto it nonchalantly and ordered a non-alcoholic cider. This earned him a sceptical glance from Mullen the Elder.

"You a tee-totaller or somethin'?" Larry Sr. asked the bassist.

"Or something," Adam said.

"Why come to a pub if you don't drink?" came the next question.

Adam looked Larry's dad up and down, as anyone might who finds themselves questioned by a stranger. "Why should I deny myself the pleasure of an evening in a public house just because I don't want to drink any alcohol?" he replied mildly.

Larry Sr. eyed Adam while he digested this, and then gave a sharp nod. "Fair enough," he grunted.

"A... Charles Baker," Adam said, holding out his hand and kicking himself internally.

"Larry Mullen," Larry's father said, shaking Adam's hand. "I've not seen you here before...?"

"I'm on holidays," Adam said. "I'm staying in a bed-and-breakfast nearby, and thought I'd pop in here. You're a local?"

Larry Mullen Sr. nodded, as taciturn as his son.

Over the next fifteen minutes, Adam extracted a halting conversation from Larry's father, although he became a little more talkative as he worked his way through another pint. Finally the conversation came around to family, although Adam's contribution was understandably brief. He learned that Larry had two children, a son and a daughter. Larry Sr. didn't mention the death of his eldest daughter a few years before, and Adam certainly wasn't about to.

"What sort of music does he like?" Adam asked, upon learning that Larry's son, also Larry, played the drums.

"He's in the Artane Boys' Band," Larry Sr. said. "And he's getting lessons from a jazz drummer."

Didn't quite answer the question, Adam mused. He sipped his cider and Larry Sr. sipped his beer.

"He listens to that modern music too, if you can call it that," Larry Sr. said after a minute. "I think he prefers that to jazz, although I don't know why. It's all noise." He sounded more baffled than disgruntled.

Adam made a sympathetic sound. "Does he play with any of his friends from school?"

The other man shook his head. "I don't think any of his school friends play an instrument."

In as offhand a manner as he could, Adam said, "I suppose he could always put up a notice at school, or something, if he wanted to find some lads to play that sort of music with."

Larry Sr. grunted again, but looked thoughtfully into his pint glass. Adam hoped desperately that the seed of his own history had been successfully planted - he didn't dare to labour the point.

The conversation meandered on for another ten minutes, but when Larry Sr. had finished his pint, he told Adam it had been nice to meet him, and excused himself in order to return home to his family. Adam bid his drummer's father goodnight, and a few minutes later left the pub as well. All the way back to the lemon, Adam hoped fervently that he'd been successful, and they could finally go home to their proper lives. The drizzle had cleared and the clouds had parted to reveal a smattering of cold stars looking down on Dublin.

When he arrived at the park, Adam remembered that the lemon was invisible, and he had no way of opening it himself from outside. He cast about almost blindly in the darkness, feeling his way around a group of trees he remembered they had landed near, and tried not to think about what would happen if he couldn't find it. Would he have to find that slightly earlier version of the lemon and the band that was even now sitting in a building site elsewhere in Dublin? If he couldn't find the lemon he knew was in the park, there was no chance he could find the other one.

Luckily, Edge had thought of this, and had been waiting outside the lemon for the last ten minutes. He came forward when he saw Adam approaching.

"How did it go?" Edge was almost bouncing on his toes out of anxiety. Several of his fingernails were shorter than they had been two hours before.

"I spoke to him," Adam said. "We talked about his son, and his musical aspirations, and I very casually mentioned how young Larry might post a notice in his school for people to play with," Adam said, wishing the interrogation could have waited until he was warmer. "Is the lemon around here?"

"Oh, yes," Edge said distractedly, and pressed his remote control. Adam heard the lemon whirring but could see nothing until a set of stairs appeared out of the darkness.

Shortly, Adam was in dry clothes and wrapped around a mug of hot cocoa that had appeared from somewhere, telling the others about the conversation.

"Are you sure you weren't too casual?" Edge said, worried. "I mean, could you have imparted a bit of destiny...?"

Adam stared at Edge. "What was I supposed to do, walk up to him and say 'Your Son Will Be A Great Man, But First He Must Post A Notice At School To Form A Band, And You Must Be The One To Tell Him To Do It'?' he said, affecting a carrying, Biblical tone. "If it hadn't seemed like a normal conversation, he would have thought it was odd. You told me to be casual!"

"Yes, yes, all right," Edge said. "Well, we'd better see if it's worked, hadn't we."

The guitarist looked at the control panel apprehensively. He took little comfort from the steady green light of the dimensional indicator.

The other three stood, and watched silently as Edge once again entered the co-ordinates for their point of origin.

"Um," Adam said.

"Yes?" Edge didn't look up.

"I was just wondering, would it help to use the guitar somehow? I mean, Pearl said..." Adam trailed off.

"I'm not sure if this is the best moment to experiment with new ways of guiding the DUMASS," Edge said.

"You bought it ages ago," Adam went on. "You said at the time that the lemon needed more coherent input, or something. Why did we work for all that time in 1963 if you don't really need… it..." The bassist stopped, suddenly remembering something. "She was at the march!" he exclaimed. "Pearl was in the crowd at the March on Washington, I saw her after Dr King's speech!"

"Really? Are you sure?" Edge asked. "I don't remember seeing her..."

"Of course I'm sure! We saw one another, and I thought..." Adam wasn't sure how to put it. In hindsight, it was clear they had both shared a special understanding of what they had witnessed, because they were the only ones there who knew what would happen afterwards. "It was definitely her," he said. "I think you should use the guitar, she said you would understand things better. She knew what she was talking about, Edge."

Edge looked at Adam, then at the Firebird, then at the control panel. He longed to ask the lemon what it thought of the situation, but he knew better. Besides, he would be happier not knowing if the lemon would actually answer him. When Pearl had spoken of the DUMASS not being able to make up its mind (implying that it had a mind to make up), had she been speaking metaphorically, or literally? It was an unsettling question.

"Try it, Edge," Bono said. "You're a genius at building time machines, and you're a genius at playing guitar. What could possibly go wr--"

The singer was cut off as Larry clapped a hand over Bono's mouth. "Don't jinx it!" he hissed. "Besides, you can use that green button as a back-up, right?" he said to Edge.

Pressing buttons had got them into this mess, Edge mused. This might be the most crucial journey yet, but maybe he should do something different; he hadn’t got to this point in his career by playing it safe, after all. Edge reached out and picked up the Firebird, and plugged it into the control panel.

"I'm not even sure how this is going to work," he said to the others. The guitar in his hands seemed to be humming with anticipation.

Larry released Bono, and they all smiled encouragingly at Edge.

Edge fixed the time and place of their destination firmly in mind, adding another hour after their unsuccessful trip earlier. He struck at the strings, playing the riff of a new song that Bono had been calling Native Son. The view-screen came to life, abstract patterns swirling, but this time the only music was that made by Edge.

He watched the lights and displays carefully; he also paid close attention to the tone of his guitar that was coming through the speakers. It started to sound a bit fuzz-boxy, so he found himself extending the delay to compensate. Edge could feel the DUMASS's workings through he guitar in a way he never could have by pressing buttons. He started to understand what Pearl had been talking about...

All at once the guidance system display started flashing, the effects cut out of the mix, and the view-screen faded to darkness. Edge damped the strings and peered at the control panel. He hardly dared to believe what it told him.

Larry, Adam and Bono were in an anxious knot on the other side of the lemon. "Did it work, Reg?" Bono asked in a small voice.

"It's the 7th of February, 2004," Edge said. "Five pm; three hours after we left, or near enough. And..." he pointed one shaking finger at the dimensional indicator, which had never looked greener or steadier.

There was a collective gulp. "Are we home, then?" Adam asked.

Edge turned on the external camera, and they all saw the dim interior of Edge's cavernous shed on the view-screen.

Edge's phone, which had been charging during their trip back to 1976, rang suddenly, and startled them all badly. Shaking even harder, Edge picked it up, and saw Morleigh's number. He pressed the 'answer' button.

"Where the hell have you been?!" they all heard Morleigh's voice carry over the line. Edge held the phone a little away from his ear, but the relief was plain on his face. "I've been trying to contact you for the last two hours and I couldn't even get a busy signal from your phone! What's been going on?"

"I love you," Edge blurted, suddenly overcome.

"What does that mean?" Morleigh had calmed down a bit, and now only Edge could hear her.

"It means I love you and I've missed you," Edge said. "Where are you, in the house?"

"Yes," Morleigh said, understandably suspicious.

"Come out to the shed. I've got a surprise for you," Edge said.

"You mean the secret forbidden shed of secrecy that I'm not to enter on pain of death?"

"The very one."

Morleigh hung up, and Edge, still shaking, smiled a wobbly smile at his band-mates. "We're home," he said. Then he walked up to the cupboard, and started pulling another armload of fragrant flowers from inside it.

Adam, Bono and Larry were fighting over the phone charger in order to reassure their respective loved ones.

Edge looked at his band-mates. "Why don't you call the girls and we'll show them the DUMASS? I think we could use a nice relaxing holiday somewhere..."

An hour later they were all gathered inside the lemon. Ali, Suzie, Ann, and Morleigh's eyes were crossing as Edge tried to explain what he had done, and why the four men had been disproportionately happy to see them, after what seemed like an absence of only a few hours.

Morleigh, and the other women, were sceptical. "You really think this thing can travel through time?" she said dubiously.

Edge showed her a photograph of the dinosaur, and Jimi Hendrix's autograph from 1963. Morleigh still didn't look convinced.

"We can show you," Edge said, strapping on the Firebird again. "Do you fancy a holiday in an idyllic island paradise? Or pre-industrial Venice? Or..." and Edge's voice echoed strangely, "The Future?"

The four women blinked.

It was silent in the shed and then all of a sudden you could hear a chord coming from the lemon . One second it was there sparkling from the light coming in from the window, and the next it shimmered for a second, and was gone.


THE END.
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Old 03-19-2011, 08:06 AM   #2
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YEEEEEES! The last chapter was great... not hurriedly wrapped up, no crazy explanations of anything... no cliffhanger, (though it was a teensy bit anticlimactic at the very, very end) and I'm so happy the plan worked and they got home safely. And the guitar thing is COOL.
Oh, that quote is from the first episode of DW I ever watched... my sister forced me to watch it but I liked it. Good show.
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Old 03-19-2011, 08:15 AM   #3
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That was awesome!
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And if U2 EVER did Hawkmoon live....and the version from the Lovetown Tour, my uterus would leave my body and fling itself at Bono - for realz.
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Old 03-19-2011, 10:01 AM   #4
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I really enoyed this! So much fun!
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Old 03-20-2011, 09:12 PM   #5
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I read the tags before I looked at what you wrote at the top and was kind of wondering what you were inhaling at the time...

It's over! It took forever to write and it seems like it took 5 minutes to post.

Thank you everyone or reading/commenting.

Now...on to the next one.
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Old 03-20-2011, 09:31 PM   #6
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Doctor Who ftw. "Blink" is a great episode, your sister has good taste, Blue!
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Old 10-17-2011, 10:32 AM   #7
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I just stumbled on this story and wanted to say that you ladies did a wonderful job of writing it! It's so funny and yet also very heartfelt. Love it!
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