“Baxter there is a call for you on the kitchen table. Would you like to take it?” George says to me.
“Who is it?” I ask.
“I’ll take it.” I say, getting up off the couch, and going into the kitchen and looking at the kitchen table.
“Duke, what’s up man?”
“Baxter! I remembered your number. Called you on the phone back then but anyway, this works. Listen. We went to Volt’s grandparents’ place and Mr Spoon told us everything. He has time travelled. And he said you are time travelling right now. Can we come see you now?” Duke sounds desperate.
“Yeah. Remember where my parents live?” I ask.
“Yeah. Carlton right?”
“We’ll be there in two minutes. Catching a car. See you soon.”
“See you soon man.” I end the call, with George standing behind me. Rosie comes downstairs.
“Duke and Volt are on their way here.” I tell her.
“Really… hmm… so they’ve seen Mr Spoon then?” She asks.
“Yeah. They know everything. Duke sounded rushed.” I say.
“He’s probably just shocked.” Rosie goes over to the kitchen wall, taps on latte and strawberry and white chocolate scone, pulls these out of the printer and then sits down at the table to eat them while she reads Cosmopolitan magazine on the table.
There is a knock at the door, and I already know who it is. George begins to walk toward it, but I tell him I’ll answer the door and he can go into the living room with mum and dad and watch them watch a movie. I open the front door; Volt and Duke walk in past me, and make the walk down the hallway into the kitchen where they each pull out a chair and sit opposite Rosie who switches the table off.
“We had to come straight away. Baxter, what my grandfather is doing to you is not right. You have the money. He cannot dictate who is allowed to buy it, and who isn’t.” Volt says.
“He shouldn’t be able to but he is.” I say, straight-faced.
“I want to help you. I’ll get two pills from him, and tell him they’re for someone else.” Volt says, earnestly.
“You could try. Won’t he be suspicious now though? Seeing as I’ve already asked him for them?”
“He might be. But it’s worth a try. If I’ve had the money, he hasn’t refused me Proxy in the past. I’ve been getting these pills for loads of people over the years.” Volt says.
“Including me.” Duke says. “My parents started showing symptoms when I was 36. Volt helped me. They are fine now. More than fine. Fit and healthy.” Duke says.
“Want me to transfer the money back to you?” I ask Volt.
“No. Wait. Give it a few days. I’ll ask him for two pills and say they’re for someone else. Let’s play it by ear.” Volt says.
“Ok. I’ll wait for you to call me then. Thank you Volt.” I say, and then two men get up, push in their kitchen chairs, kiss Rosie twice goodbye, kiss me twice goodbye, and I follow them down the long hallway and out the front door, closing it behind them.
We visit Rosie’s parents, but we don’t stay very long. They don’t remember who she is, and they are confined to their beds. She’s too upset seeing them in their affected state. I must admit, I haven’t spent much time with mine either since being back in Melbourne and it’s because I can’t deal with them and I don’t want to have to. I’m their only child. It’s my responsibility to look after them. If that means forcing a Proxy pill down their throats, I’ll do it, but until then, I am not coping with the way they are and I’m not managing. It’s easier to let George look after them, and to focus on the task at hand.
Duke calls me a few days later with some bad yet expected news. Mr Spoon has announced he isn’t going to hand out any more Proxy pills to Volt. It has come to the stage where he is suspicious of his own grandson.
Over the next six months Gyliptin time, mum and dad decline at a rapid pace. They can no longer walk or talk and they must sit in wheel chairs all day. Watching them deteriorate has me slowly going crazy. And then I’m wondering if I’m showing early stages of Lobadantriosis myself. Rosie says that I’m not, that I’m just stressed, but every day I see them, I am reminded that if I don’t get my hands on some Proxy pills soon, they will die. Rosie’s parents are near to their deaths already.
“If only there was a way to go back and fix it all.” Rosie says to me, one morning, whilst eating breakfast and reading a novel at the table.
“There is a way, but you remember what happened last time. Our bodies are still strapped to those beds. We need an escape plan and snorting coke is not the answer. It’s impossible while we’re strapped down to fucking hospital beds.” I mutter.
“Didn’t Mary once say that Reflactin makes you go back in time?” Rosie asks me.
“Yeah. But not back back. Only to where your body currently is.”
“If we took enough of it we could go back to way before that.”
“I don’t think it works like that.”
“We can find out.”
“Get Volt to help us. He could steal Mr Spoon’s research.”
“Like that’d work. They’re not even on speaking terms anymore.”
“All the more reason why Mr Spoon won’t be expecting his research to go missing.”
“His lab is locked by screen codes. Volt would never get in.”
“Do what they do in the movies.”
“What do they do?”
“Cut the power.”
Know anyone who can do that without being electrocuted?”
“Yeah, I know someone who could help us. George?” Rosie calls George in from the front room.
“George, have you ever broken into a science lab before?” Rosie asks him.
“No, Rosie, I have not. Why do you ask?”
“Baxter and I may need your help breaking into Mr Spoon’s lab.”
“What would I have to do?”
“Steal the screen code off the robot for the doors.”
“I could do that. If I get caught though you know what will happen to me don’t you?”
“We know George. I’m sorry about it, but you are our only hope.” Rosie says.
“I will help you. I want to help you. Just promise me one thing.”
“If I get caught, you must not let them switch me off.”
“I promise. I will not let them switch you off.” Rosie says hugging him.
“So, you do have an off switch?” I am amazed.
“Yes, sadly, Baxter, I do. I just didn’t want you to know that. I like living with your parents too much to be switched off.” George looks sad.
“How does it work? How would I switch you off?” I ask, interested.
“Where you have a belly button, I have well, just a button. This needs to be pulled out with surgical tweezers. If it is removed, I shut down and my computer goes to sleep.” George says, speaking of his own mortality.
“I thought that was just your belly button.” I say, impressed.
“It is my belly button. It is also my on and off switch.” George says, glumly
“Oh George. Don’t you worry my friend. No one will ever hurt you. I promise.” Rosie says, feeling sorry for him. During this conversation, something flashes across my mind. When Rosie and I snorted the cocaine and returned to 2026 and I found myself naked and strapped down in that black walled room, the robot who administered more Gyliptin into our drips had a belly button too. Maybe, just maybe, Rosie and I could escape after all. I am hoping that if I ever see him or her again I will be able to test the on and off switch theory.
“Rosie. Come on. We’ve gotta go to The Gazer.” I say, pulling my leather jacket off the back of my chair, stuffing my arms into its sleeves and leading the way out the front door. We jump on a gliding tram and get off outside The Gazer.
Volt lets us inside as it is after hours and we follow him down the narrow wrought iron spiral staircase into the cellar where he and his coterie are drinking, laughing and doing lines.
“Alright. Plan A. Have some coke, wake up in 2026, kill the robot watching us, escape from your grandfather’s lab and fix this whole mess. Plan B. If that doesn’t work and we find ourselves strapped to the beds and given Gyliptin again we’ll get George to cut the power in your grandfather’s lab, override the screen code system, steal some Reflactin and go further back in time to before any of this even started.” I say.
“You really have thought this one out.” Volt says.
“Impressive. Let me know if I can help you.” Duke says.
“If I need your help, you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about and I doubt you’ll even believe me mate.” I tell Duke.
“I believe you now, don’t I?”
“That’s cos it’s 2046 and people’s belief systems have changed in twenty years.” I say.
“Point taken. Who wants a cherry for their cocktail?” Duke asks the group getting off the sofa and going over to a dimly lit bar.
“I’ll have some to eat.” Rosie says.
“You can have as many as you like sugar. All yours. Here, take them.” Duke hands the whole bowl of cherries to Rosie, and she picks one up and eats it, taking the pip from her mouth and dropping it into the pip bowl on the coffee table in front of us.
“So you want to start Plan A now?” Volt asks me.
“Yeah, if you don’t mind.” I say, sheepishly.
“Sure, go ahead.”
“We will disappear man. And if all goes well, you won’t see me again.” I tell him.
“I will.” Duke is happy about that.
“Time to go Rosie.” I say.
“Oh. I was enjoying these.” She puts the cherry bowl on the table. “Well, Volt, if we don’t see you again, it was lovely knowing you. I love you. But I must leave you now. Thank you for the cherries. Thanks for the coke too. It’s our only ticket out of here.” Rosie says, leaning down and giving Volt a kiss before hugging Duke affectionately. “Oh crumpet, I am going to miss you.” She tells Duke.
“You’ll see me again soon darling. The younger, more glamourous me. Mwah!” Duke replies.
I take a straw off the table, kneel down, and inhale a line of white powder. Rosie follows suit, and we both fall to the ground, and disappear right before their eyes. They aren’t high this time.
I wake up in the warm room in 2026 where my body is naked and being fed Gyliptin. I immediately turn my head. Rosie is looking at me. Any moment now, and the robot will be in, like last time. I am waiting for it.
“What are we gonna do once we kill it?” She says.
“No idea. Get the fuck out of here I suppose.”
I hear the glass sliding doors open. The robot is on its way.
“You must keep finding Reflactin. You are malfunctioning Mr Breckeridge. And you too Rosie Feather. Why do you keep waking up? Mr Spoon is not happy about this.” The robot says.
“Rosie. Bobby pin now!” I yell, and Rosie digs her bobby pin into the robot’s belly button, pulls the little metal belly button out and throws it on the ground. The robots eyes close, the lights in its head go out, and it falls to the ground.
“No idea.” I say.