Hello you. If you’re interested, here is a continuation of the new book I am writing. I’m still rather proud, and would like to continue to share bits and pieces. This particular section follows on immediately after the one I published here.
Yan Poisson was, in my opinion, very attractive. His glossy hair fell in waves to his shoulders, dyed blonde at the tips, and he wore dark eyeliner, deftly applied with a well-practised hand; the height of fashion. He had abs that could grind flour. One smouldering glance from Yan Poisson could calm a yapping puppy, ease off the rain, and sweeten a cup of tea. Being beautiful wasn’t a prerequisite to being a Time Guide, but it certainly didn’t hurt your application.
The youthful Yan Poisson’s astonishing career trajectory was the cause of much jealous bar-room debate among his peers. Of course, he was reasonably intelligent, but the thing about having a renaissance masterpiece for a face is that, well, once you learn how to charm people, you never have to learn much else. One outrageous hair swoosh was often all it took for Yan Poisson to accelerate through life ahead of his less follicly-fortunate peers. It is through this strange loophole in the working world that Yan Poisson pirouetted on his ascension to Time Guidery.
Yan Poisson’s Time Guide application, which usually takes around five months of rigorous physical and mental testing, was replaced by a very different kind of test which took place behind the locked door of the examiner’s office and lasted approximately eleven minutes. You see, being a Time Guide meant adoration from all; the mystery that surrounds those rare individuals who travel through time for a living has an undeniable allure – and Yan Poisson only applied for the job for the girls, really. And the boys, if the opportunity arose. Gender and sexuality were of no concern to Yan Poisson. To dazzle was his only goal in life, and he was very good at that.
“Good morning, my dears,” spake the beauty, as he swept past the receptionists and down the unspooling red velvet corridors of Aeons Time Travel Agency. Large expensive screens lined the walls all the way down, with breathtaking footage of real-life Vikings pillaging real-life villagers in 9th century York, red-plumed soldiers patrolling the streets of Rome, and nautical captains standing tall on the prows of creaking wooden ships in the Caribbean. At the end of this corridor, which was in all honesty far too long for sense and seemed to be very much enjoying itself in showing off its own splendour, Yan Poisson entered a gilded elevator.
“The fifth floor please, Humphrey,” he beamed.
The trained golden retriever that worked as bellboy wagged its tail in response and pressed the button for the fifth floor, leaving a small wet nose print on the glass button, then looked up for approval.
“Thank you, my dear Humphrey. Who’s a good boy?” said Yan Poisson, ruffling the dog’s golden ears as it wiggled with joy.
With a polite bark, Humphrey announced their arrival on the fifth floor. As the silver doors parted with a satisfying ‘whoosh’, Yan Poisson stepped out into a very large hangar, ringing with the din of two hundred highly-caffeinated voices. A broad, well-buffed walkway ran the length of the hall, of which on either side were dozens of great gleaming machines, each adorned with a different sign in a whimsical font. ‘Athens, 405BC’ read one. ‘Nassau, 1716AD’ read another, etched into a wooden plank. Each of these great machines were buzzing with jumpsuit-clad technicians. Yan Poisson treated every familiar face to a free viewing of his teeth as he glided by.
“Good morning, Megan. Hello Aiden. Rajesh, it’s good to see you. Asami, I hope you’ve been behaving!”
Despite all of the aforementioned technicians rather disliking the office golden boy sweeping through their midst in a partially unbuttoned floral blouse, to their own annoyance they one and all found themselves unable to stave off the silly young thrill that they experienced every day as he passed by.
A hundred metres into the hangar at the opposite end from the lift, Yan Poisson passed through a large ornate oaken door that opened up into a large ornate oaken recreational room with a crackling fireplace. The room smelled of wealth. If you’ve never smelled wealth before, it is polished wood, leather, dust, a dash of stale smoke and the ghosts of a thousand long-perished perfumes. A cluster of five plush seats were positioned around the fireplace, and within each seat was sat a hippy; a tie-dyed, flare-legged, bead-strung jumble of luscious body hair and outlandish philosophies. And they all cradled tumblers of whiskey.
“Good morning campers,” said Yan Poisson, with a smile that would give a shark an inferiority complex.
“Yan! Look at what they’ve got us wearing!” called a barrel-chested hippy with a handlebar moustache and a red bandana. “So today is finally the day, ey?”
“That’s right Mr Potts. And if I may say so, you all look fabulous.”
A ripple of bashful gratitude ran through the group.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” purred Yan Poisson, “as of this morning you have made it through your History Holiday Induction Course. You’ve passed your cultural knowledge exam, and you’ve learned the customs of the year. You should be proud of yourselves. Every one of you is now safely qualified to enter the History Hangar, and from there head out on your very first History Holiday!”
The hippies celebrated this fantastic bit of news with the same unabashed, overpowering glee that polo-shirt clad patriarchs introduce their families on American game shows. They downed their tumblers, collected their rucksacks, and followed Yan Poisson back through the large oaken door into the hangar. Trotting along behind their Time Guide’s bold stride, the tourists’ eyes devoured the outrageous technology and the technicians that lovingly attended to it.
“Good lord, Sandra,” said Mr Potts, nudging his poncho-clad wife. “How much do you think all of this cost?”
“Heavens dear, I shudder to imagine,” came the well-practised reply.
Yan Poisson came to a halt before a machine midway down the hangar, and spun around to face his team. He performed a quick head count despite there being only five people present, checked everybody’s outfits and rucksacks were in order, then, though they’d already had it drilled into them several hundred times over their last weeks’ induction, repeated the golden rule of time holidaying. The exact lesson Yan Poisson repeated to his assembled tourist troupe is rather lengthy and convoluted, and so in order to save us all time I shall summarise thusly:
DON’T BLOODY CHANGE ANYTHING
Then with a clap, Yan Poisson bid the technicians to guide the Time Tourists into their machine, and followed them out onto the launch pad; a large purple oval on the floor that pulsated with a hypnotising, velvety light. They collected on the oval, standing shoulder to shoulder. Yan noted with satisfaction that none of their company seemed particularly afeared of their impending continuum-warping. The unlimited complimentary whiskey always did the trick.
With a nod from Yan to the technician, an incredibly large and exciting golden lever was pulled down (this lever could easily have been a mere switch, or the click of a computer mouse, but first-time history hoppers went bonkers for the spectacle). For seven silent seconds, nothing happened. Yan Poisson, determined not to lose face in front of his troupe, stared peacefully ahead and wondered what it would be like to make love to himself. Then, with a gentle thrum like the of a soaring golden harp, a mauvish mist crept up around the group’s legs, up to their chests, and over their heads, obscuring their vision. It smelled of lavender. When the mist dissipated, the group had vanished from the hangar.
As the purple haze obscuring their vision faded, the time tourists were startled to find themselves standing in the middle of a grassy field under a clear blue sky. While his group of time travel newbies were busy staring around and gulping down lungfulls of satisfying country air, Yan Poisson checked the device on his wrist.
Every Time Guide wears a Space Time Event Assurance Contraption, which was eventually shortened to STEAC, but because that is a bit rubbish as far as anagrams go, it was later bastardised into ‘STEAK’ (though in formal documents the use of the spelling ‘kontraption’ was largely avoided due to its being trademarked by a renowned gangster rapper in the year 2229). STEAKs were the sacred tool of all Time Guides that allowed for communication with the present, emergency evacuation, plus one or two other neat tricks should the shit hit the fan. The devices could be crafted in multiple shapes and sizes, in order to suit their wearer. Yan’s device had, at his request, been cunningly concealed as a fashionable wooden bangle. He tapped a quick message to assure Aeons Time Travel Agency of their safe arrival, and turned to his tourists.
“Alright my dears,” spake the pretty Time Guide. “Welcome to the world of yesterday. Please follow me this way. Hendrix takes to the stage in forty-five minutes.”
Yan Poisson smiled benevolently at his bewildered group, considered for a moment how wonderful he was at his job, and led the troupe of gawking neo-hippies away into the acidic mega-jam of Woodstock, 4th of August, 1969.