"Times Are A Changin'"

by Louder


The group made their way to Stan and Liza's grandmother's home. They quietly entered the backyard and climbed up the ladder to the treehouse. This would have to be their bed for the night.

"I'm gonna get in big trouble for not calling my mom!" Max said.

"You told her you were staying all night so you shouldn't have to check in all the time anyway!" Stan told him.

"So ... like ... what about something for me to wear?" Margo asked. She was still wearing the blouse that had been part of her outfit from earlier in the day. But that was all that was left and it didn't cover her 15-year-old body as well as it had covered her 5-year-old body. Her skirt, jacket, and shoes had all been casualties of her earlier youthening.

"I've got a plan and maybe we'll get you something tomorrow! You just need to hang on and don't let yourself slip too far back!" Stan replied.

"So, I'm gonna just keep, like, getting younger in my head or something? Is that how this works?" Margo asked.

"Yeah.... I guess so.... You just keep forgettin' stuff and the real Margo in this world or time or whatever gets it somehow!" Stan explained.

"Hmmmph! It's all your fault Nerd Boy!" Margo huffed.

"But won't it be cool being a teenager again?" Liza asked her.

"Totally," Margo replied as her mood quickly changed.

"Let's not rush things! It'll be a long time until morning!" Stan said.

Liza and Margo talked about clothes and hairstyles. Max and Stan talked over his plan for morning. They finally gave in to their worn out bodies and fell asleep for the night.

Stan awoke early to voices in the house below. It was Grammy and Margo talking. He looked over to make sure 2000 Margo was still in the treehouse and he was relieved to see that she was still there.

"Mom, I've been thinking and, like, ya know, I think I wanna go to college. I need to study harder and hit the books at school but I just don't wanna hang out in this town all my life, ya know?" 1980 Margo said.

"Honey, I'm glad to hear you talking that way! I want you to have everything in life that you can!" her mother replied.

"Yeah ... me too ... I just feel like I've really done a lot of growing up lately." 1980 Margo added.

Stan knew his mother hadn't gone to college and he doubted the thought much crossed her mind back then ... until her head filled with the knowledge and experience of a 35-year-old! He watched as Grammy left the house. She still looked young but not as young as she had looked the day before when they were in 1970!

"Mom ... mom ... wake up!" Stan whispered as he shook his youthened mother from her slumber. "Do you still remember us?" he asked as her eyes opened.

"Sure, I do ... you gnarly rat! Why don't you go bother somebody else? Let me sleep!" Margo grumbled.

"Ummmmmmm, just checking ... go ahead and sleep ... I'll be back," he said and then climbed down the ladder to the ground below.

1980 Margo was sunning herself in a backyard chair and reading a book.

"Ummmmmmmmmm, Mom, errrrrrr, ummmmmmm ... errrrrrrrrrrrrr, Margo?" Stan nervously said as he got her attention.

"Who are you?" she asked as she studied the somehow familiar yet unknown 12-year-old.

"Ummmmmmmmmmmm, well-l-l-l-l, I'm uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, your ummmmmmmmmmm, well ... ummmmm, Stan ... and I need a favor.... I want you to meet someone in the treehouse," Stan said hesitantly.

"In the treehouse? So, like, who's up there?" she asked. "Is this like some kinda joke?"

After some convincing Margo agreed to follow Stan into the treehouse. He was careful not to tell her what was up just yet. He preferred to show her. The others were all still asleep. 1980 Margo couldn't believe these people were in her sister's treehouse! "What're you all doing in here?" she asked Stan.

"This is kinda hard to explain ... uhhhhhhhhhhhh ... maybe I can show you...." Stan said as he approached 2000 Margo.

"Mom ... mom ... wake up...." he said to the sleeping girl.

"Ugh! Already?" he replied as she rubbed the sleep from her eyes. "Can't you bother somebody else!?"

1980 Margo could tell the girl was about her age but couldn't get a good look at her face ... how could she be this boy's mother she wondered?

"Look at her ... she's you!" Stan said as he cut directly to the chase.

"What? ...ohmigod! You look just like me!" 1980 Margo said as she saw the other girl's face.

"Uhhhhhhhhhh, she IS you!" Stan continued. "I made a - ummmmmmmm - time machine and there's been a problem"

"Huh?" 1980 Margo said.

"Tell her, mom ... or she'll think I'm crazy!" Stan implored his mother.

"What? What am I ... like ... doing here? Who are you?!" 2000 Margo said. "Why do you look like me?"

"Shoot! Well ... that makes my point too ... you guys look alike because you're both the same person! Kinda anyway!" Stan told 1980 Margo. "And I need your help to fix things!"

A confused 2000 Margo listened intently but 1980 Margo had questions. "You're crazy.... You're all crazy.... This is a joke or something! Oh.... Hey... is this like, uhh ... 'Candid Camera?'" 1980 Margo said as she searched for the camera. "Bloopers and Practical Jokes?"

This exchange woke everyone else up.

"No, no, no ... it's real," Stan replied.

"OK ... so, like, if it's so real why is your mom a teenager?" 1980 Margo asked.

"Because she's 15 in 1980 ... ummmmmmm, you're 15 in 1980 ... she has to be whatever age you are because that is how she exists in 1980." Stan explained.

"OK ... sooooooo? I'm listening...." 1980 Margo told him.

"Well ... see ... she gets younger when she stays in a certain time and all her memories start disappearing. Her knowledge disappears. Ummmmmm, not quite though cause the real Margo ... you ... you in 1980 gets 'em. Or somethin' like that! Haven't you felt different lately?" Stan asked. "Since last night?"

1980 Margo realized that she had felt different lately. "OK ... go on...."

"But we don't know if she can even exist forever in a time period where you ... errrrr, she ... errrr, whatever ... where you both are. Anyway we fixed one problem but it caused the machine to overheat and stranded us here for a while. She grew into a teenager and her knowledge started flowing to you. I haven't figured that out exactly but I guess all that knowledge can't just go away so the real, errrrrr, current ... Margo gets it. So while we were here in 1980 you changed and that changed our history cuz it made you act different in the future. When we got home it was GONE!" Stan said.

"She grew?" 1980 Margo asked.

Stan continued "Ummmm, I skipped that part cuz it wasn't important right now.... Ummmmm, she accidentally used the time machine in the first place and we didn't know it. She got real young in 1970 and so herself in 1970 changed and messed everything up. But then when she ... uhhh, you ... got all the knowledge she ... 1970 you realized what you had done and helped me fix it. Mom was just a scared little girl then. So 1970 you and her ... well ... I thought of a way to fix things so you went back to before you mixed stuff up and so probably don't remember any of that. That transfer thing where you get her knowledge or whatever is why you got so responsible! I bet you weren't responsible or thinking about school yesterday morning!"

"For some reason I believe you!" 1980 Margo said. "But it's crazy! How? You're just a kid?"

"Stan ... mom doesn't look good ... I think she's getting sick!" Liza exclaimed.

"Ummm, I'm not sure what that means but I bet it's not good ... Maybe it's cause she can't get any younger and you have everything. You gotta help us!" Stan pleaded.

"I dunno ... if you messed things up already ... even if this is all true ... like, what makes you think you can fix it now!?" 1980 Margo asked.

"'Cause! I know what I'm doin'!" Stan shot back. "I'm an inventor! Besides... if this wasn't true 'bout what happened to you would ya even CONSIDER helping us?"

"Some inventor!" Max added sarcastically.

"Yeah...." Liza concurred.

"What's happening to me?" 2000 Margo asked. "What's wrong with me? Who are you people?"

"OK ... you have a point. But what makes you think I want to be like THAT again?" 1980 Margo asked. "It seems like I might be better off this way. I used to think college would be hard but now it seems like it would be, like, a breeze!"

"Ummmmmm, YOU might be ... NOW .... but this isn't about now. This is about the future and what is right THEN. For us and you. Uhhhhhhh, see, you exist at two points in time right now I guess. And so it is like a fork in the road or somethin'. Once you change back here it changes everything down the road. We want our life back!" Stan replied, trying to convince the girl to help them.

"Well ... hmmmm ... BUT if you are from 2000 and you two are my children ... then I must be going to have a baby in, like, 4 years! Is that right?" a very perceptive 1980 Margo realized. "Why would I, like, wanna be pregnant and miss out on college after I've made up my mind to go? I even decided I ummmm, like, ummmmm, wanna ... ummmm, you know ... ummmmm, stay a ... ummmmm ... be a good girl until I'm married!"

"Well ... that's 'cause you got a bunch of new info in your head! But, yeah ... I guess so ... 4 years from now you'll be having a baby girl.... Well ... you would'a before we messed up and changed the timeline, anyway." Stan answered.

2000 Margo had been listening intently. "What a bunch of geeks," she thought! "You guys are, like, totally spaced out or somethin' if you think that stuff is true! That's totally crazy! I don't know who you are BUT you are NOT me! Quit acting like you are me, you BITCH!"

Stan saw that his mother was getting ready to leave the treehouse. "See? You gotta help us before it's too late! If she gets away...."

Liza grabbed 2000 Margo and held her as best she could. Margo resorted to hair pulling, trying to break free of her daughter's grasp.

"I'm sorry but I can't wait for you to decide!" Stanley said as he opened up a portal. "Get 'em in here. .. quick ... help me, Max!"

1980 Margo easily fell victim to the void, not even realizing what she was trying to avoid. Liza and Max pushed 2000 Margo in and Stan quickly followed.

Once in the void both Margos fought to escape. The chorus of voices and seemingly slow motion of their actions made everything a painful incoherent blur. Stan tried to set the controls of his machine to accomplish its multiple tasks. As expected he saw the image of 1970 Margo traveling back in time again. He had set the machine to a slightly different time in order to not erase that part of his first repair of the fabric of time. Next he saw the adult version of his mother as she moved through time on her way back to 1970 for the first time. The wall of echoing sound grew even louder. He could hardly think as he fought to follow his theory and plan. He needed 1970 Margo to complete her journey just as before; and then in the window of opportunity he hoped to change the destination to 1980 and hopefully send 1980 Margo to her proper space in time. His theory was that with the 3 Margos in the void at the same time that time would be 'righted' there. He couldn't send 1980 Margo back to when they first arrived in 1980 because she would then be existing with herself. She had to arrive back just at the point that they had left 1980 with her! But she had to time travel also in order for the different Margos to be in the void at once.

"Nooooooooooooo!" Stan yelled, only adding to the crescendo as the adult Margo slipped past him. "Too fast!!!!! Help...."

He reached out for her. Her image seemed to shimmer as he reached for her. 1980 Margo had to be ahead of her and travel back to 1980 for his plan to have any chance of working! 1970 Margo should be about returned to the proper point in time but adult Margo was fast heading there too! Stanley adjusted his overtaxed machine for a new date hoping to slow the process so that he could get everyone to their proper place in time and hopefully with their restored knowledge of their own time. The void seemed to buckle and twist. Stan grabbed the adult Margo. Max pushed 1980 Margo into her. Stan set the machine for the proper date of 1980. He was sure 1970 Margo was back at this point. The machine was growing hotter! 1980 Margo suddenly fell into the current of time heading to 1980.

"Almost there!" Stan shouted as his plan seemed back on track.

Liza collapsed to the ground no longer able to stand the forces of the void as time twisted in violent waves. Teenage Margo collapsed as well. Max fought valiantly as well as did Stan to stay awake. The machine grew hotter but it was still too soon to enter the final destination. Time shifted violently in the void as they were jerked forwards and back. Stan was asking much of his machine!

The machine began screaming with a high-pitched tone. Still, it wasn't time. Stan moved it from hand to hand trying not to burn himself. It was growing warmer! It was like a 'hot potato.' He dropped it! "Noooooooooooo...!" he screamed as he reached out for it. The time for the next phase of his plan was ticking down! He grabbed it just before it was too late and hit the button to engage the new destination. The screaming stopped but the heat buildup continued. Both Margos appeared to merge and change as their images shimmered but he couldn't tell what was happening. The sound was nearly unbearable. The LCD image on the machine began to show random characters. "C'mon! Just a little more! Just a little further...." he implored of his machine. Exhausted, he also collapsed.

"Stanley.... C'mon ... you said we'd do something fun today!" a girl's voice said to him as he awoke to find himself lying in the grass of a sunshine-filled backyard "Now you're napping! C'mon!"

It was a young Margo, 12 or 13, tugging on his arm!

"Wait ... what happened...? Hey...?" he said as he rubbed his eyes.

"Don't be silly! We're going to the pool today and then to the arcade! We got permission and everything!" Margo told him.

Stan quickly realized that his theory must've been wrong or else the machine had malfunctioned. Now Margo was his age and obviously time had changed again! Did she think she was his sister ... or his girlfriend????!!!!! He jumped up and realized that Max was nowhere around. Nor was Liza! Margo somehow now had on different clothing. The oversized blouse was gone and she had on cut-offs, a T-shirt, and flip-flops. He was in a large yard and the house looked like a combination of his grammy's and his own.... At least the home that he had lived in before his time machine experiment had changed everything! But why did he remember things and Margo seemed to not remember anything? Would he forget things too? He couldn't stay here!

"Get your stuff, silly, and let's go. I got somethin' I wanna tell ya - but not here!" Margo said.

Stan's eyes popped wide open! He looked to see his machine nearby. He was going to take it somewhere ... anywhere ... but not here. He had to figure out what went wrong! It was still warm. Stan hoped it still worked. He looked at the screen to see if it could give him any clues as to what had went wrong and what time it was. Suddenly it started screaming again. A piercing tone! He frantically tried to press the reboot button when he felt an arm grab him.

"Dammit boy! You musta hit that snooze button 10 times this morning! Damn thing's driving us crazy at the breakfast table! You trying to get out of mowing the yard? You know it's your turn!"

Stan looked around. He was in his bed. His own bed! His dad was looking over him. "I don't know why you even bothered to set that damn alarm clock of yours if you are just gonna keep hitting the snooze button!" his dad told him.

Stan's eyes darted around the room. His TV flickered images of the Sci Fi channel, still on from the night before. His computer was still logged onto the internet and was logged onto the AR Archive. He still had his clothes on from the day before. He had fallen asleep in them.

"You know, boy ... I know you like to invent stuff but the alarm clock has already been invented! You did a good job on it and all but you should try to be a little more creative.... Don't you have anything better in that imagination of yours?" his dad said as he left the room.

The End


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