The Neanderthal didn’t know the word cylinder when he pulled one from the swamp. It was hard and light and he found a thousand usages for it. When he looked into it, the crystalline interior sparkled like heaven in the rain.
He gave it to his son, who passed it to his. It was lost and found a dozen times through the ages, resting finally behind climate-controlled glass, a light shining through its crystalline core.
Marcus saw the cylinder at the museum while wrestling with an intractable problem. His brain shouted “Eureka!”
He ran home and finished his time machine.
I realize this is two letters home from children in a week, but they’re very different and apparently this is how my mind is thinking at the moment.
copyright Joe Owens
Dear Mum and Dad,
Greetings from the land of inter-dimensional hospitality! Well, my first week at the Nexus Hotel is over. It didn’t drive me insane but there were several points where I wished I’d never been born. Sorry Mum, you did your best and all.
It’s pretty brutal out here. I had a party of Neanderthals stumble in from some primitive dimension and demand the first floor suites. No credit card, of course, but I got half a gazelle as payment. They trashed the rooms and set fire to two of the beds. They also massacred half a Venusian furry convention that was meeting on the third floor. I comped the survivors their rooms. Hope that’s okay.
On Wednesday, we had a couple dark specters arrive. Didn’t pay, of course, just loitered around haunting the place. I got them exorcised finally. It’s fine now.
Some sort of space princess came two days ago. That’s when things started looking up. She’s pretty. I let her have the top two floors indefinitely. I’m redecorating for her, turning it into a castle.
Don’t worry about the hotel, I’m handling everything.
Winky’s father put down the letter. “Maybe I should go help him out. Just for a few days.”
“You’re retired,” his wife said. “You promised.”
Her husband noticed the way she was fingering her knife. “Right, right. I’m sure he’ll be fine.”