, Research Paper
The Man who Stepped into Yesterday
Once upon a time, there was a mountain which rose out of a vast, green forest. and in the forest there were birds and lakes and rocks and trees and rivers. the forest was also inhabited by a small group of people called the lizards. the lizards were a simple people and they had lived in the forest undisturbed for thousands of years in utter peace and tranquillity. once a year spring came, and the first blossoms began to show, the lizards would gather at the base of the mountain to give thanks for all that they had. they thanked the birds and they thanked the lakes and they thanked the rocks and the trees and the rivers; but most importantly, they thanked icculus. icculus lived at the top of the mountain, or at least everyone thought so, for no one had ever actually seen him. but they knew he existed, because they had the helping friendly book. icculus had given the helping friendly book to the lizards thousands of years earlier as a gift. it contained all of the knowledge inherent in the universe, and had enabled the lizards to exist in harmony with nature for years. and so they lived; until one day a traveler arrived in gamehendge. his name was wilson and he was quickly intrigued by the lizards way of life. he asked if he could stay and live in the forest; and the lizards, who had never seen an outsider were happy to oblige. wilson lived with the lizards for a few years, studying the ways of the helping friendly book, and all was well. until one morning when they awoke and the book was gone. wilson explained that he had hidden the book, knowing that the lizards had become dependent on it for survival. he declared himself king and enslaved the innocent people of gamehendge. he cut down the trees and built a city, which he called prussia. and in the center of the city he built a castle, and locked in the highest tower of the castle lay the helping friendly book, out of the reach of the lizards forever.
But our story begins at a different time, not in gamehendge, but on a suburban street in long island, and our hero is no king sitting in a castle, he is a retired colonel shaving in his bathroom. colonel forbin looked square in the mirror and dragged the blade across his cold creamed skin. he saw the tired little folds of flesh that lay deep beneath his eyes. fifty-two years of obedient self-restraint, of hiding his tension behind a serene veil of composure. for fifty-two years he had piled it all on the back burner, and for fifty-two years it had boiled, frothing over in a turbulent storm inside of him. it had escaped through his eyes, reacting with the smoke and the fluorescent lights and slowly accumulated into the nape of his neck and he thought again about the door.
he had discovered the door some months back on one of his ritualistic morning walks with his dog, mcgrupp. it had started out as a typical stroll with mcgrupp bounding joyously ahead of the preoccupied colonel. as they reached the apex of the hill, he saw it, and it caught his curiosity, and he knew it had always been there, and felt foolish for overlooking it, but he soon found that it was impossible to over look it anymore, and slowly his newly acquired knowledge transformed his dreary life into a prison from which there was only one escape. and on this morning, colonel forbin stepped through the door…
passing through the corridor i came upon an ancient knight who leaned against the wall in gnarly armor, he was on his way to see the king, wilson. he led me through the streets of prussia talking as he tried to crush a bug that scurried underneath his boot heel. he said there was a place where we should go, so he led me through the forest to the edge of a lagoon by which we wandered *till we reached a bubbling spring. the knight grew very quiet as we stood there then he lifted up his visor and he turned to me and he began to sing…
he said, “i come from the land of darkness, i come from the land of doom,” he said, “i come from the land of gamehendge, from the land of the big baboon. but i*m never going back there and i couldn*t if i tried, ’cause i come from the land of lizards and the lizards they have died.”
he told me that the lizards were a race of people practically extinct from doing things that smart people don*t do, he said that he was once a lizard too. his name was rutherford the brave and he was on a quest to save his people from the fate that lay before them. their clumsy end was perilously near. the lizards would be saved, he said, if they could be enlightened by the writings of the helping friendly book. in all of prussia only one existed, and wilson had declared that any person who possessed it was a crook. the helping friendly book, it seemed, possessed the ancient secrets of eternal joy and never-ending splendor, the trick was to surrender to the flow. we walked along beneath the moon, he lead us through the bush *til soon we saw before our eyes a raging river. he said that we could swim it if we tried. and saying this the night dove in forgetting that his suit of arms would surely weigh him down and so he sunk. and as his body disappeared before me, I bowed my head in silence and remembered all the thoughts that he had thunk.
But rutherford and forbin weren*t alone, and suddenly an unexpected movement caught his eye. on the far side of the river he saw a shaggy creature standing in the weeds who stared across at forbin with an unrelenting gaze. a gigantic mass of muscles and claws, the hideous beast reared back and hurled himself in the water and swam toward the region where rutherford lay. in a flash the beast was gone, underneath the surface to the frosty depths below while forbin, bewildered, waited alone. the seconds dragged by in what seemed like hours *til finally the colonel felt it all had been a dream. defeated, he bowed his head then turned to go. suddenly, with a roar, the creature emerged before him and held the brave knights body to the sky. the creature laid the knight upon the shore and the colonel fell beside his friend in prayer that he*d survive, and rutherford, brave rutherford, was alive.
forbin and the unit monster were crouched over the soggy knight carefully removing his bulky helmet when the colonel heard a sound behind him. he turned and came face to face with an enormous, shaggy, horse-like creature covered from head to tail with alternating blotches of brown and white. it was a two-toned multi-beast, and atop the multi-beast sat the most beautiful woman the colonel had ever seen. after fifty-two years of undaunted bachelor hood, the colonel felt a feeling rush over him as he had never felt before…
the sky is burning in this lonely man, and i kneel by the river and i feel the sand and the wind. the wind from beyond the mountain. and she comes to me in this lonely land, and looks down from the multi-beast on which she rides like the wind…
tela was born in a vulgar crooked hut in the shadow of wilson*s castle. venomous scorn from the life of bitter toil, glory esteem fueled by her hatred it grew, swelling to the point where it would burst at the seems, there was nothing she could do.
tela, tela, jewel of wilson*s foul domain, a lullaby the breezes whisper. i look into her eyes and my frozen heart begins to thaw, and it burns, *til layer after layer melts away into a pool, a sky blue mirror of her eyes. my soul is made of marble, but in her gaze i crumble into dust and drift away on the wind.
tela grew strong, her struggle to endure, time touched her wounds and shelter proved the cure. each passing day seemed to feed the brazen serpent locked inside and liberate the spirit she*d concealed for so long. there was no place left to hide.
Tela reached out her hand and helped forbin onto the back of the multi-beast, and together they rode off into the forest. as they rode, tela explained to him about wilson and the helping friendly book. she told the colonel that she was part of a revolution to overthrow the evil king. the leader of the revolution was a lizard named errand wolfe who was out to avenge the death of his son roger. roger, she said, had been executed by wilson at the age of fourteen on suspicion of treason. he had been abducted from his home and hung in the public square.
the two rode on in silence, deeper and deeper into the heart of the forest until they came to the outskirts of a small community. tela explained to forbin that they had reached the base of the revolutionaries. the colonel looked up and there in the center of the clearing stood errand wolfe. he was a small man but his presence was overpowering. he seemed to emit a kind of violent energy that sent chills down the colonel’s spine. as the multi-beast moved towards him, he raised his fist in anger and his voice filled the forest…
oh, out near stonehendge, i lived alone, oh out near gamehendge, i chafed a bone. talk my duke a mountain, helping friendly book, in as far as fiefdom, i think you bad crook. i talked to my son roger, rutherford the same. when we had that meeting, over down near gamehendge. wilson, king of prussia, i lay this hate on you, wilson, duke of lizards, i beg it all trune for you. you got me back thinkin’ that you*re the worst one, i must inquire wilson, can you still have fun?
Meanwhile, in the main square in prussia, the state of the revolution was taking another turn for the worst. a crowd of people had gathered to witness the hanging of wilson*s account, mr. palmer. it seemed that palmer had been a revolutionary himself and had been exhorting wilson*s money to fund the revolution. palmer stood on the scaffold with wilson and the ac/dc bag, an electrified robot-hangman with a black bag over his head. wilson seemed pleased as he began to speak…
mr. palmer is concerned with the thousand dollar question, just like roger he’s a crazy little kid. i*ve got the time if you’ve got the inclination so cheer up palmer, you*ll soon be dead. the noose is hanging, at least you won*t die wondering, sit up and take notice, tell it like it is. if i were near you i wouldn*t be far from you i*ve got the feeling you know what you did. time to put your money where your mouth is, put *em in a field and let *em fight it out. i*m running so fast my feet don*t touch the ground, i*m a stranger here, i*m going down. let*s get down to the nitty gritty, let*s get the show on the road. i*ll so you mine if you show me yours, i*m breathing hard – open the door. brain dead, and made of money, no future at all. pull down the blinds and run for cover. who would*ve thought it, that*s where i am, no future at all, don*t sweat it, that*s where i am, whoa carry me down.
By that night, news of palmer*s death had traveled back to the camp. spirits were low and colonel forbin felt devastated.