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Deal 1064: The Loose Page

The scrape of page was musty, and not made of the usual sort of pulp paper found in books around here. It was crumpled in the gutter among the other debris and detritus that remained as the flood waters receded. Something about it drew the eye. I snatched it up, smoothed it out, and began to read:

TimeScout Handbook

With your transit device in hand, we welcome you to this elite branch of Scouting.

You will learn to be good custodians of Time, balancing the urge to act against the need to know what action is best.

Of course, there are risks involved too. The obvious urge to mess with one’s own Grandparents is obvious, and easy to avoid. But how well do you really know your family tree?

Before embarking on the flow of time, you will take an oath to make only changes that you can justify to authorities.

While traveling you enjoy some perks. You will be harder to injure. You will have an emergency escape

I turned at looked at the scene around me. Somewhere, someone had to be responsible. Now I knew someone had been meddling. It was time to begin to lay my trap.

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Deal 1053: Caught one

Time to check my traps. Not necessarily for dinner, but you never know.

“Hey! Get me out of this cage, and we’ll talk.”

Great. I’ve caught something, and it is chatty. I did not see that coming. “I think we’ll talk for a minute just like this first, thanks.”

“But you must let me out?”

“Why?”

The trap is indeed sprung, and there is something fluffy in the cage. It turns slowly. It is the cat that has been fading in and out around our campsites and generally acting smug. “Not so smug now, eh, wise guy?”

“Call me Bruce. And let me out!”

“Ok, Bruce. You know I’m Sydney and she’s Gwen. Time for a little cooperation.”

After pumping him for all he was worth, we agreed he was acting independently, and was likely not connected to any of the mysteries. So we did let him out.

But did that ungrateful monster thank us?

Nope.

He faded out practically in my arms as I opened the cage!

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Deal 1021: Staged

The crowd has been well-behaved as dusk settles over the amphitheatre. The early warm up acts were fun for passing time until the main event, but may not be memorable. Except that one guy that… but I digress. Night arrives swiftly at this place, so it almost seems as if someone has simply thrown a switch and turned off the sky. Then, as our eyes adjust, we realize that he also turned on the stars.

Everyone quickly settles back into their seats as the amphitheatre plunges from navigable to one giant tripping hazard. We all quiet with anticipation.

The stage lights come up to reveal a contraption of some sort on an empty stage.

It fires bundles into the front three rows that turn out to be ponchos. Nervous laughter ensues, but the front three rows also don the ponchos.

The device spins around. As it turns, spotlights reflect off it and scan the crowd. It stops, with a pin spot reflected onto a single seat, near an aisle. The other spotlight operators turn their lights around and join in, The seat is empty. Which seems a little strange in an otherwise sold-out house. The lights go off for a moment, then on, as all the spot operators blink their shutters in unison. Now the seat is occupied.

The occupant is dressed a little more formally than the rest of the audience. After a moment, he stands, and the crowd begins to realize that this was his entrance. He makes his way to the stage.

From that beginning, the show got weird.

At one point, he was juggling kids borrowed from the audience.

He set up a series of gramophones, and attempted to identify which was producing live sound and not a recording with the help of a small dog.

He did a knife catching act with dull knives.

It was strange and wondrous. All the professional performers who saw him were green with envy at his management of the crowd’s attention.

He did things that every critic had panned with their typical poisoned pens. But it probably didn’t help that his final bit was designed to annoy critics. He even said so from the stage, pointing out that by and large most critics would have already filed their reviews of his show by that point, so it was perfectly safe to mock them.

When the house lights came up, the audience response was immense.