Sep. 12th, 2011

Oops, late.

The name's Troy, Troy McKee, named after Troy State which my father had loved. But the name on my locker at the fire station said, simply, ANCHOR. It was a mark of respect. Great-grandfather had been part of the ladder company in 1966 that innocently went into the basement below the 23rd Street fire, only for the building to collapse in on them. My grandfather, meanwhile, had been working a routine blaze at the Waterloo Apartments in Queens when a beam fell on him, freak accident, broke his spine – dead on arrival. And then my father, my famous father, Doug McKee, was one of the first responders during the 9/11 attacks. He had run into the south tower of the World Trade Center fifty-six minutes before it collapsed. Doug McKee was decorated for valor posthumously, having helped rescue a number of people in the minutes before he perished in the tower. Now I was a fireman too, with three dead relatives ahead of me. I was the fourth, the anchor leg. ANCHOR.

Of course, my family had been firefighters long before that. Titus McKee was one of the original members of the reorganized fire department after the terrible Triangle Shirtwaist fire in 1865. Firefighting was in my blood, and I was good at it. I had my share of decorations too, and I hadn't even had to die to get them. This had, I knew, something to do with why I was sitting in the office of a billionaire.

I sat in the expensive sling chair while Terrell Rucker looked out the window. "I had family in the towers, too, you know," he said. "My uncle, Ron Shearson. That was when the firm was Shearson Hamblin, only a hundred million dollar outfit. They never recovered from the attack; got bought out. But I bought 'em back." He nodded to himself.

"So I got mine back," said Terrell, turning away from the window. "But you never got yours. Can I ask you a personal question?"

I said nothing, and Terrell Rucker took that as assent. "You miss your dad?" he asked.

I looked Terrell Rucker squarely in the eye. "What does that have to do with anything?" I asked.

Terrell Rucker waggled his eyebrows. "Because we can get him back," he said.

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The Director of Marketing called Timmers into his office. "We need something," he said.

"Okay," replied the genius behind 99.4% of Arclight Industry's profits. "Is it a machine to switch the direction of Earth's rotation? Because if so, I am way ahead of you."

"Um… no." The director peered at Timmers to try and figure out if he was joking, then decided he'd rather not know the answer. "No, I'm looking to address a consumer need that focus groups have identified."

"Okay. That's cool," said Timmers, scratching his stubbly beard. "I like consumers. They eat things."

"Specifically," continued the director doggedly, "people are tired of being scared…"

"Drugs!" interrupted Timmers brightly.

"… and confused…" added the director.

"Drugs!" said Timmers, spreading his hands.

"… and generally feeling like they've lost their way in the world."

"Oh," said Timmers glumly. "Well, how about religion? Everybody likes a nice God. I could grow you one."

The director frowned. "One what?"

"A God," said Timmers. "Could be a Lightning God. Chicks dig that."

The director grimaced and massaged his temples. "Timmers," he said, "what we want is the ability to send people back in time. The world has changed a lot since 9/11; things have become more complicated, and people perceive that they are in greater danger. Everybody has a generalized low-level feeling of anxiety that they can't shake, because it comes from living in these times. So, we have determined that we could realize substantial profits by making it possible for people to emigrate, one-way, to a time fifteen years in the past. This will be highly attractive to those especially sensitive to the aftermath of the attacks in New York City and Washington D.C."

"Huh." Timmers leaned back thoughtfully and put his feet up on the director's desk. The director hated that. Timmers knew and didn't care.

"Okay, I'll do it," he said after a moment's consideration. "I'll need two million dollars, five hundred megawatts and a lot of beef jerky."

"How much beef jerky?" the director wanted to know.

Timmers leaned forwards. "Do you think," he asked, "that there might be some beef jerky on the shelves of the Walmart down the street?"

"Yes," replied the director.

"Then you haven't given me enough beef jerky," said Timmers triumphantly.

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September 2012

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