The night was no darker than any other, nor was it really what could be called stormy, but it was night nevertheless, which is the perfect time to begin a story. After a long day of thwarting a secret alien plot to take over the world, the Cyclone Rangers were relaxing in their secret base, (as indicated in brightly colored letters across the roof.) In honor of their recent victory, the team had decided it was time for “Samurai Movie Night”; a time-honored tradition where the “guys” on the team would all sit down eat Japanese steak and rice, drink Sake, and watch Samurai movies by Akira Kurosawa, (this was, at the time, decidedly “guy territory. “No Girls Allowed.” Things have since changed, and Samurai Movie Night is now open to any and all Rangers interested.)
Everyone was digging in, as intent upon their sumptuous meal as they were on Toshiro Mufume. Suddenly the Lego-phone, (the Cyclone Rangers direct line to Geneva and the local pizza delivery joint,) rang. Bryian turned in his chair and picked up the receiver.
“Mushi-Mushi” he said and waited, after a moment he looked at the others. “It’s the Deputy Secretary of Recreational Footwear Sanitation for INTERPOL.”
Daniel sighed, “Jeezus! Wouldn’t you know? It never fails, No sooner do we get involved in a movie, but someone calls.”
Tiny, small dog and heir to the throne of Finland sneezed in agreement and turned his attention back to his bowl of meat and rice.
Bryian hushed them and turned back to the phone. “I see,” he said after a pause. “Yes sir...No sir....well, you see sir....”
“Shhhh....” hissed Tomcat, “I can’t hear the movie!”
“Ummm.....Tom?” Keltic Tommy said and looked over at Tomcat, “The movie’s like... subtitled. You know, you don’t really have to hear it. You don’t speak much Japanese anyway do you?”
Tomcat quickly covered his blunder, “No....But Dan can’t hear! That’s what I meant,” indicating the Rangers resident Zen-videographer Daniel “The Fish” Trout esq.
“Tom, I’m reading the subtitles like everyone else,” said the Fish, peeling his eyes away from the screen, “I don’t speak Japanese too well either.”
Tom was flummoxed, “I thought you lived in a Shaolin Monastery/Video Production house in the Tibet for several years, where you studied martial arts and motion picture production from the Hong Kong and Japanese masters?”
The Fish nodded, “I did, and thank you for the exposition, but the members of the Mystic Brotherhood of the Sacred B-Roll never spoke.”
Tomcat instantly switched mental gears into Anthropologist-mode, produced a notebook and pen from thin air and began scribbling. It wasn’t often that The Fish spoke of his order.
“In-teresting!” Tomcat said while scribbling, “Was it some sort of Vow of Silence taken by the Acolytes in order to purify their spirits and elevate themselves to a higher plane of consciousness?”
Dan shook his head and took a sip from his tasty caffeinated beverage, “No, we just used really sensitive microphones when we were in production.”
“QUIET!” Bryian bellowed at a volume that would make Boeing jet engine feel inadequate enough to attend self-assertion classes. When all was silent, (save the ringing in his teammates ears,) he spoke quietly into the multicolored receiver.
“I’m sorry Mr. Deputy Secretary, please go on.”
Bryian listened closely to the phone, making agreeing noises every now and then. The rest of the group looked on intently. Finally, Bryian replaced the receiver and turned to his comrades.
“Stop the tape, we’ve gotta go!” He proclaimed.
“Is something wrong Bryian?”
Keltic Tommy asked. He knew what the answer would be, but always asked for courtesy
“Evidently,” Bryian said
and sipped at his ever-present, pitcher-sized, poly-hyphenated cup of coffee.
“The Deputy Secretary wouldn’t discuss the details of it over the
phone. We’re supposed to meet him at an ‘All-Nite Laundry’
in Boston in three hours.”
Keltic Tommy gave Bryian a look of
utter stupefication and Daniel, whose grasp of logistics was better than that
of his teammates, piped up.
“Bryian, we can’t get
to Boston in three hours. It’s impossible.”
The smile across Bryian’s face
made Daniel immediately wish that he hadn’t said that last sentence.
“Don’t worry about that,
I have a plan,” everyone present groaned and Tiny, Emperor of Finland,
put his paws squarely atop his head and whimpered loudly.
Bryian frowned, “just let me
worry about that and get your gear. You’ve got…” he paused
and looked at The Fish, “how long?”
The Fish did a quick bit of mental
calculation, “I’d say roughly thirty minutes, that gives us two-and-a-half
hours to get to Boston. That’s pushing it, but we should be able to stay
within the SOD Horizon with that.”
“Sod?” Keltic Tommy’s
eyebrows knotted themselves together.
“We’ll explain later,”
Bryian said and consulted his pocket watch, “Right now we’ve got
twenty-seven minutes to gear up and meet outside by the vehicles.”
The Cyclone Rangers sprang into action,
systematically amassing, checking, and stowing their gear. Twenty-Five-point-two
minutes later their gear was packed, prepped and ready to go.
“OK, Bryian,” said Daniel
as he gave Bry a look that was half skepticism and half shear terror, “what
is this cunning plan?”
“Yeah,” Keltic Tommy
nodded, “What’s this ‘Sod’ thing?”
Bryian looked at The Fish who was
tinkering with several small black shapes, “It’s not really my idea,
and I only vaguely understand the theory behind it. I just assisted The Fish
in building the units.”
Tomcat cocked his head to one side
and grunted a “huh?”
“It’s really quite simple,”
The Fish fell into professorial mode and began to hand out the black shapes
to his teammates, “you’ve seen movies that take place over a span
of weeks, months, even years,” all nodded, “but the actual movie
itself lasts only ninety to a-hundred-twenty minutes. How is that possible?”
“Well,” said Daniel,
who’d had a few more film classes than any of the others, “you don’t
see all the action, just what pertains to the plot. It’s sort of condensed
like a Reader’s Digest novel.”
“Exactly!” The Fish shrugged,
“I figured, why couldn’t we do the same thing, so I designed these.”
He held up one of the small, black boxes.
“What exactly are they?”
said Tomcat, turning the one The Fish had handed him over in his hands.
“They’re Convenient Plot
Devices. I call them ‘CPD’s’ for short.” The Fish said
matter-of-factly, “They’re roughly based on the Maguffin Drive that
Hitchcock theorized back in the 1950’s. They allow us to create a jump
cut into a sort of a Continuity Warp; a ‘celluloid hyperspace’ of
sorts in which we sort of cut the extraneous space between the scenes. Our travel
time still exists, but is easier to manipulate the continuity of how much time
actually passes. It’s kind of like faster-than-light travel except you
don’t have the icky problem of becoming an electromagnetic wavelength
or getting to your destination before you left.”
Keltic Tommy regarded the black box
in his hand and spoke slowly, “meaning we can get to Boston in two-and-a-half
The Fish nodded.
“But what was that ‘sod’
The Fish nodded again, “I was
getting to that. The limit of Continuity Warp technology in any application
is the SOD horizon. S-O-D; Suspension Of Disbelief. If we travel instantaneously
from here to Boston, the Disbelief Envelope collapses and we’ve lost all
credibility for the rest of the adventure.”
“Too late” Tomcat mumbled.
The Fish was nonplussed, “…so
we have to calculate the minimum plausible mean time that it will take to get
us to Boston to meet the deadline that is still a believable amount of time
for travel. You see?”
Daniel put his fingers to his temples
and massaged slowly, “You know Dan, you’ve just filled our technobabble
quota for the next year, but we really don’t have the time for this! Can
we just go now?”
Keltic Tommy ran to his heavily armored
assault vehicle cleverly camouflaged as a giant lime jellybean of a mini SUV,
“Oh wait,” he called as he opened his door, “how do they work?”
The Fish had already climbed into
Tomcat’s Blazer, lovingly titled, “The Great White Falling Down
Thing, (an interesting collection of engineering-gone-wrong itself, but that
is another story,) “it runs on DC, just plug it into your cigarette lighter!”
he called out the window, “they’re slave linked to my camera’s
editing deck. I control them all from here!”
Tiny, Emperor of Finland, was strapped
into the back seat of Keltic Tommy’s assault vehicle. He glanced up at
his teammate and once again whimpered and scratched his left ear.
“You’re right Tiny,”
Keltic Tommy interpreted His Majesty’s language and sighed, “we’re
The convoy pulled out and vanished.
MONTAGE OF SHOTS.
-CRANE SHOT OF THE CONVOY DRIVING
ACROSS THE MIDWEST
-SHOT OF CONVOY PASSING ROAD SIGN
READING “WELCOME TO MASSACHUSETTS.
-INT OF TOMCAT’S BLAZER NIGHT
TOMCAT IS DRIVING WHILE THE FISH OCCASIONALLY ADJUSTS A NOB ON HIS BATTLECAM
And the windshield wiper switch doesn’t really control the windshield wipers. It secretly controls the headlights; so let anyone try to steal…Hey…Wait…What happened to the clever banter of the narrative?
TOMCAT shrugs to himself
and looks back at the road.
-SHOT OF CONVOY PASSING A ROAD SIGN SAYING “BOSTON 2 MILES”
The convoy reappeared two-and-a-half hours after departure outside an “All-Nite Laundry” in Boston. Everyone got out of their respective vehicles.
Daniel angled his watch to catch the light, “Well, son of a gun,” he grinned, “it actually worked.”