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BURTON SOUND BYTE XXI A Stones Throw Away
by David Ian
04/10/09
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BURTON SOUND BYTE XXI: A Stone’s Throw Away

(as published in Once Upon A World magazine 1997)

Three silvery moons reflected their radiance off the still surface of the small pool. The crimson ribbon of sunset turning into twilight backlit the distant mountain range, casting long delicate shadows across the valley floor. Two figures stood gazing into the pond, shoulders lightly brushing against each other in a silent reassurance of the other.

Off in the distance, the Swoonbirds began their nightsong, more of a sigh than a song, really, and the Virtuoso Crickets sawed violin arias with their faint sweet overtones drifting over the gentle breeze.

The bronze-skinned wispy blonde haired soul mate looked up into her partner’s sparkling eyes, speaking with a whispered softness matching the gentle night.

“Um, Burty, there aren’t any, um, like, frogs, or other gross things in these ponds are there?”

Burton Sound Byte, explorer, adventurer and captain of the Main Event Horizon, a Quasar Ion Light Star Cutter currently in orbit around the incredibly beautiful planet Swoon III – famous for its perpetual romantic sunsets – drew a huge sigh and looked out across the Reflecting Pool Twilight Park. Other couples were lost in each other, others were quite into each other, some artistic individuals were attempting to capture the unspeakable beauty of the park on painted canvas or holograph. One pool in the distance was being violated by a gaggle of Frats from the planet Sigma Epsilon Delta, laughing and hooting and skinny dipping. The Peace Police would take care of them in minutes. Swoon III relied too heavily on tourism and shore-leave to compromise its promise of a “peaceful experience you will never forget, but can never take with you.”

Burton was just beginning to understand the depths of their slogan, standing in front of “Ponderous Pool of the Ages #45” with a time-surfer girl whose name was/is/will be Trish, and feeling her slipping away like sands through an hourglass. It was a moment of silent desperation, knowing they were at a crossroads that extended into all directions of four-space.

“Uh, Trish,” Burton began, his mouth dry, a sharp contrast to her ever-moist and slightly parted lips that always gave his gut a small thrill, “would you, er, will you, I mean, have you, uh, this is kind of hard for me to say…” Burton fell silent as he stared into her dancing eyes.

The difficulty with keeping a relationship with any time traveler was trying to keep up with the changes. The next time you see them, they may be mad at you for something you did years ago (or another relationship you had, a particularly sticky problem Burton had to navigate through), or they may apologize for an explosive misunderstanding yet to be made. Simple conversation was also extremely difficult.

“What I’m trying to get at Trish, is, will you, uh that is I’d really like you, uh…” Burton stared down at the reflecting pool for inspiration. Unfortunately, all could think of when he saw the three bright moons staring back at him was how much they reminded him of a Solarian Triclops.

Burton drew in a deep breath. “In this great big universe, Trish, you’re the one person that I’d like to have for my—“ he looked for some sign in her face, some recognition of where he was going, but she was cheating looks over his shoulder and watching the Frats dunking each other.

“Trish, will you be my Chief Mechanic?”

“Um, wow, Burty, I like really know how much that means to you, um, totally commitment-wise,” Trish said brightly.

“’But’ here it comes,” Burton thought furiously, “theres always a ‘but’ to these things.”

“I’ve been, like, meaning to tell you, Burty, I’m like, you know, already someone else’s astro-navigator.”

“What?” Burton’s head spun like a Galvatron Gyroscope. “Who? What ship? Whose command?”

“Oh, no one you, you know, know. In fact, he won’t be around for another, like hundred and sixty years. He’s a really bitchin’ great guy, I’m sure you would, like, really, really like him if you two were on the same time line. Oh hey!”

“Now what?”

“The next time-wave is coming and I’ve got to, um, like catch it, you know.”

“Trish, don’t go. Take the next one.” Burton’s voice was trembling.

“Burty, you’d never get used to time hopping, would you? You’ve got your ship, your lounge act in New Las Vegas, your chewing gum smuggling into the Adolescent System. You’re too tied down.”

“I’d be willing to change—“

“But, like, I don’t want you to, Burty. If you did, I’m not sure I’d really like what you became.”

She pulled from her purse a glittering thin circle that resembled a data communication disc, and dropped it on the ground, where it grew into the size of a pizza pan. She stepped on top of it, drew Burton close and gave him one of her unforgettable kisses.

“Surf’s up!”

“Will I see you again?” Burton asked, helplessly.

Trish smiled cheerfully and gave a playful wink as the time-wave rushed over her and she disappeared in a shimmering, shining light.

As Burton gazed around the park, the indescribable sunset looked dreary, and the moons hung with a dull glow in the tattered velvet darkness. In the distance, the Frats were being escorted out of the park by the peace police, and the artist was cussing while taking down his easel, his putty knife rammed through the canvas in frustration.

Burton Sound Byte picked up a stone and stared into the inky depths of the pool. The glow of the moons washed gently up on the pool’s rim. With a sudden violence, he hurled the stone into the pool, the ripples shattering the moons’ reflection and rocking it with choppy waves.

“Bloody triclops,” he muttered, then trudged away.


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