A FIELD GUIDE
FOR TIME TRAVELERS
What does it take to become a god? In A FIELD GUIDE FOR TIME TRAVELERS, a rogue colonel steals the army’s only functioning time machine, eliminates Yahweh in Earth’s early days and claims the planet as his own. Mona Petkovic, junior reporter for a Las Vegas paper, is asked to investigate the army’s time travel project and contacts this colonel with an appeal in the classifieds. The colonel asks her to join him in Paris. Failing to follow his directions precisely—as Mona never follows directions—she steps out of a Vegas changing room and onto a Parisian street dressed as royalty, which is more than a fashion faux pas as this is Paris of the French revolution. She’s promptly arrested, tried and condemned to the guillotine. Narrowly escaping with the help of a time-travel app on a credit card swallowed by Marie Antoinette’s dog, she stumbles through history with that dog as an increasingly annoying companion. She becomes Helen of Troy and the Mona of the Mona Lisa, and inspires Edgar Allen Poe’s most famous poem. She marries six times even while her initial interest in the unobtainable colonel grows into infatuation. He too is ultimately smitten, and leaves messages on a progressively larger scale that become planetary in size, yet impossible to see.
Falling from heaven
She come flying in and whap, lands flat on the roof. And I says to Andronkios, she’s put a hole in it for sure. Bloody girls flying in all the time. But the high priest says this one’s a goddess. And maybe she is. Looks like one, that’s for sure.
— Erastos of Sparta, roof maintenance
Mona didn’t fall fifty miles from the ionosphere, just a few feet onto the thatch roof of a pagan temple, which was remarkably lucky. Offsetting her luck was that accursed dog, which was still at her side and still barking manically. By the time she worked herself free of the hemp bindings, she was almost deaf. She stood and saw the object of the dog’s fury — a still growing crowd of Greek peasants looking up, evidently wondering how a dog had gotten on the roof. When they saw Mona rise above them in her gleaming countess dress of crimson and white satin with her golden wig draped over the brightly painted lunette around her neck, many fell to their knees in a state of religious intoxication. The dog, which did not share their reverence, slipped under the hem of her dress to bite her ankles. She kicked at it, then reaching down to retrieve Um’s cockleshell, lost the shell over the edge of the roof and lost her balance on a smear of cake, thus falling backward. The rotten roof gave way and Mona plunged through, stopping momentarily when the lunette snagged on a pair of joists — making her neck a half inch longer and giving it a permanent crick — then plunged once again. She screamed, which is the universal reaction to falling that does nothing to lessen the pull of the cosmic turtle that supports the globe, according to a local philosopher who studied the habits of cosmic turtles and the vocalizations of falling girls. No matter how fat or thin, Protogoatus observed by pushing them from the gallery deck of Sparta’s lighthouse, falling girls screamed just the same. Mona — neither fat nor thin — heard herself screaming to a blur of golden idol, yipping dog, rotten thatch, more yipping dog, a confusing blur that —
— cut instantly to black.
Colonel Um witnessed her arrival, but as he didn’t recognize the foolishly dressed tart on the temple roof, continued on his itinerary to oversee the building of the Colossus of Rhodes. The enormous sculpture represented Helios, god of the sun. As no one knew what this god looked like, Um had modeled it after himself in gilded bronze, holding a two-ton pistol over his head.