The Hubcap and the Time Traveller

‘Gearbox’ was working in a field in the KZN Midlands when he spotted a hubcap lying in the grass. He hadn’t seen it this morning and wondered how it had got there.

Short Story, circa June 2010.

Suddenly the hubcap coughed and flipped over. Gearbox got the fright of his life…

A tiny green fellow with a huge head no bigger than a blob of nasal waste gave him a jaundiced look with his one eye, sitting in the middle of the hubcap (the green fellow was sitting in the middle of the hubcap, not the eye).

“Hau !” said Gearbox.

“How indeed”, said the little green fellow, “time travel of course”.

“Time travel ?” asked Gearbox, “doesn’t that mean that you’re always late?”

The little green guy took a long hard look at Gearbox before he decided to skip the punctuality debate, being late was probably a cultural thing.

He asked Gearbox his name.

“Gearbox, my mother was mechanically minded” he said.

“Wow, Gearbox, my name is GeekPlex, we could be brothers”, replied GeekPlex.

Gearbox made a mental note to ask his mother if he had any short, green, one eyed brothers she had failed to mention.

So where are you from?” asked Gearbox.

“I’m from Mars”, he replied.

“Eish, from Ma’s, the shebeen at Nottingham Road, how come I’ve never seen you there?” asked Gearbox, clearly puzzled.

“No man, Mars, it’s right near Uranus”.

Gearbox was clearly offended that this little green twerp with the big head and the one eye, assumed that he wouldn’t notice a hubcap up his trouser leg. Anyway, there wasn’t enough space up his trouser leg for such a big hubcap. He had once managed to spirit a small pocket of potatoes out of the Spar supermarket, tucked into his shirt, claiming his stomach was severely distended with gas and that if they didn’t let him out of the shop immediately there was likely to be a gruesome accident.

“OK, if you want to sit in your hubcap making smart ass comments that’s up to you, I have work to do”, Gearbox stumped off to the other side of the field.

He muttered to himself as he walked “you’d think that if they were coming to watch the World cup they would be better mannered”.

GeekPlex was perplexed, he had no idea where he was, just that he was somewhere on Earth, probably Africa. He had deduced that from the style of architecture and the huge animals with very long noses and excessive flatulence.

He consulted his Garmin Goblin mark 3 Universal GPS system on the forward control flight deck – a disembodied voice intoned “you are out of range, please return to range immediately”.

“Oh piss off” he said rudely to the lady in the GPS box,” how can I return when I’m lost, and how can you speak to me if I’m out of range ?” he said.

The voice intoned “please to control your language. At 250 years of age I am embarking on my first mid life crisis and I am very sensitive”.

GeekPlex sat and thought awhile. The first time he had been to England was in 1942 and he remembered that the customary solution to a difficult problem when the bombs were falling all around was to brew up a pot of tea. Deciding that this was a good idea he turned to his instant boiler with the mind control switch, just 2 seconds passed and it was hissing and spitting nicely. He popped a handy sachet, tagless, into his cup and added some powdered Yak milk he had picked up in Tashkent in 2005. He settled down to consider his options. The first problem was how to get the tea bag out of the cup without burning his tongue. Time travel had its challenges.

After his calming cup of tea his single eyelid drooped and he decided to take a short nap. He woke with a start to find that Gearbox had returned, picked up his inter galactic space ship with the chintz curtains and the Laziboy recliner and was striding off towards the East.

After a while they came to a long black strip where Gearbox sat down and plopped the hubcap on his knees.

“What are you doing Gearbox?” asked a very perplexed GeekPlex.

“Just waiting for a car”, replied Gearbox.

GeekPlex typed ‘Car’ into his Googlegalactic search engine which came back instantly with a picture of a very vulgar looking chunk of plasti-metal with circular wheels. He wondered why Gearbox was waiting for a smelly, noisy, archaic piece of plasti-metal.

His question was answered when a bright red plasti-metal pulled up alongside them. Gearbox handed his spaceship to a similar being who gave him some paper and then slapped the inter galactic spaceship onto the side of a wheel of his plasti-metal and roared off.

GookPlex spun wildly inside his space ship for a couple of hours as if he was on an extended rinse cycle. At last they hit a bump and his space ship flew off into the bush.

“Good grief, where am I now ?’.

Suddenly he realised how much he was missing Mrs. Plex. On a whim, he decided to make haste back to Mars. Barring any distractions he should be there in a few months or less than 5 seconds if the time travel thingee was still working.

He wondered if he should pop in to see his brother in law ‘Perplexity’ who now lived as a confused garden gnome in Darling on the Cape West Coast. He decided against it as he was now in a hurry to get back to Mrs. Plex.

He had been away since 1976 and now it was already 2010. He was sick and tired of meals out of tubes and craved one of her famous roasted toad-snot pies with all the trimmings. He couldn’t wait for the wonderful warm welcome he always got from their 2 dogs and the cat. A single tear shot out of his single eye when he remembered how much fun he and Mrs. Plex had had giving the pets their names.

They had been watching the annual Mars Classical Music Awards on their inner eyelid screens in 1910 when it had come to them both simultaneously. They had ripped off their inner eyelid screens, and winked at each other. It was so obvious.

And thus the pets were christened Bach, Offenbach and DePussy.

Later that day Gearbox looked up from his labours in the field and saw what looked like a fiery hubcap whizzing across the afternoon sky. He was convinced that he saw a little green fellow giving him the finger.

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Peter Hall

Peter Hall – born in Belfast (N.Ireland). Supports the Blitzbokke and Sheffield Wednesday (who?). Part-time blogger or geek, part-time scribbler, reluctant part-time gout sufferer and occasional curmudgeon. Proud father of talented daughter (triathlete) and son (musician) who live in Australia.

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