TRANSCRIPT: This story is written by Ben McCauley. As a child, Ben was told he could be whatever he wanted to be, and so, he decided to be an airplane. When that didn’t pan out, he went into theater. Ben has been writing stories and plays since his middle school days. Most, if not all of his writings have light hearted and comedic tones to them because he is terrified of reality and tries his best to ignore the darkness of the world by fighting it with a little bit of light. Born in upstate New York, Ben moved to Chicago in 2016 after the world around him came shattering down, and decided to take comedy classes to hide the pain of existence, as one does. You can currently see him performing monthly at the Playground Theater with his Improv Group “Phantom Pilots”, at the Bristol Renaissance Festival with his show “The Brothers Blackquill”, or you can listen to his voice and writing on the podcast “Starlight Radio Dreams”. This is ‘Unsinkable”
It was a dark Spring night. A large ship gently traverses the Atlantic Ocean. Its passengers; barons and businessmen, dandies and debutants, the richest of the rich, and the not quite as rich but still wealthier than you. In an empty cabin room, a buzz of electricity begins to form, growing larger and larger with every passing millisecond. Soon, the entire room is covered in light, and in an instant, the light dissipates, leaving behind a slightly less empty room. For now, in the center of the cabin, stood a man. A man out of this time. A man with a mission. A man known only as ‘Kevin, Time Vigilante’.
“Hector, status report.” Kevin spoke aloud. A device strapped to his wrist began to whir and buzz as the machine powered on. A robotic voice responded.
“The date is April 15, 1912. The time is 11:25. Location; North Atlantic Ocean.” spoke the device.
“Hector, you gotta stop cutting these things so close.” The device spoke again.
“I determined this was the optimal time to do what must be done without raising suspicion.”
“We’re here to prevent one of the greatest tragedies in human history. 15 minutes is barely enough time!”
“Then I would suggest you had better get moving.” The whirred once more and fell silent.
“Hector? Hector?! Stupid Time Computer.”
Allow me to explain. In the year 3033, a new division of law enforcement was created. A specialized team of Time Police, trained with only one mission; traveling through the ages to prevent criminals from changing history as we know it. These agents were skilled in the art of preserving the past, making sure to leave no evidence of the attempted time crime. However, there we some agents that believed they should be doing more. Why only stop time traveling criminals? Why not stop the crimes of the past? Why not prevent some of history’s greatest catastrophes? They had the power, but the laws forbade it. And so, a small team of rouge Time Police separated themselves from the bureau and began their own work, altering the past to save the future. Ever heard of the St Swithins Day Bombing of 83′? You’re welcome.
“It looks like the bridge is two floors up.” Kevin said, checking his wrist computer. He patted down his vest, adjusted his period-appropriate bowtie, and rolled down his sleeves, covering his device. The halls were mostly quiet. The passengers, asleep or speaking quietly as to not wake the sleepers. Kevin reached the end of the hallway and began to ascend the staircase. As he made his way up the stairs, the once silent sounds were replaced with raucous energy and music. With each step, his view of the next floor became clearer. First he saw the piano, and then the dancers, and finally, the bar. Kevin felt a sudden dryness in his throat. He rolled up his sleeve to check his time. “3 minutes wouldn’t hurt.” he said to himself. His wrist device began to whir.
“Kevin, you were the one who was worried about not having enough time. I do not think it is in your best interest to-” the device began to say until Kevin pressed the mute button and rolled his sleeve back down. The room was filled with joy and laughter. If only they knew. Kevin pulled up the bar. The bartender, a kindly looking older gentleman approached him.
“You look like a man who could use some whiskey.” He said.
“You’d be right, old timer.” Kevin responded. The elderly barkeep ruffled his mustache.
“Well hey now, I’ve still got plenty of years left in these old bones.” The bartender defended. He poured a rocks glass of whiskey and slid it in front of Kevin.
“Don’t take it personally, everyone is an old timer to me.” Kevin picked up the glass and took a sip. The immediate burn caused him to cough it right back up.
“A little strong for you, kiddo?” The old bartender smirked.
“Harsh stuff. What’s the ABV on that?” Kevin asked.
“The what now?”
“It doesn’t matter. Any chance you can water this down a bit for me?” The bartender gave him an odd side glance and took the glass over to the sink. Suddenly, Kevin felt a hand gripping tightly to his shoulder. Kevin sighed but didn’t turn around.
“What do you think you’re doing here, McKlusky?” A stern but quiet voice from behind him murmured.
“What? A guy can’t have a drink on an Edwardian Age cruise ship without being hassled?” The hand released Kevin’s shoulder and the man attached to said hand sat down at the bar next to him.
“You know damn well you’re not supposed to be here.” The man said, never looking over at him. The bartender returned with the watered down whiskey and handed it to Kevin.
“Anything thing for you?” The bartender asked the other man. He shook his head and the bartender went to take care of other customers.
“You know we can’t do this. Time has to stay the same, for the sake of the future.” The man said, semi-pleading. “I know this will be a great tragedy, but preventing it could radically change history, and that’s against the rules.”
“It’s against your rules Jason, not mine.” Kevin sipped his whiskey again, which was now much more palatable to his constitution. “And I still can’t believe you went back to the force.”
“What we were doing, what you are doing, is wrong.” Jason pleaded more. “You still have time to change your mind.” Kevin’s wrist whirred to life again.
“Warning; only 4 minutes left.” The machine spoke in static. Kevin stood up from his chair, finished his whiskey, laid the money on the table and turned to his former friend.
“And you still have time to stop me.” Kevin turned and made his way back to the stairs. Jason looked back, but did not follow, and ordered himself a drink instead. Up one flight of stairs, and there is was, the bridge, navigation room for the entire ship. He began to approach the room, but suddenly his device whirred again. Kevin rolled up his sleeve.
“What is it now Hector?”
“Attention; Life forms detected inside.” the computer chirped. “ I believe one of these life forms is the captain of this vessel.” Kevin peered around the corner. Within the room was indeed the ship’s captain, dutifully overlooking their transit path as the helmsman steered on.
“We’ve got to change those navigation plans before it’s too late.” Kevin said to his wrist computer. He began to pace up and down the hall. “We’re going to need to distract the captain somehow.” As if by fate, or dramatic irony, Kevin felt another hand on his shoulder. He turned around and was met with the elderly bartender. His face was beat red with anger.
“You! I don’t know what you said to that fella, but he got real ornery when you left. Started a fist fight with another customer. You need to go calm him down.” Kevin stared back at the old man, silent. “Well, if you ain’t gonna do nothing, we’ll just see what the captain has to say.” The bartender pushed past Kevin right onto the bridge. The elderly man shouted, fuming. “We’ve got another drunk and disorderly downstairs, captain.” The captain brought his palm to his face.
“Walter, I’ve told you before you can’t just burst in here every time someone gets drunk in your bar.” The captain responded.
“This is different than last time. You see-” Walter was saying as him and the captain stepped off to the side to have a chat. Now was his chance.
“Thank you Jason.” Kevin said to the ether. Kevin dropped to the ground, and using the stealth training he received in Time Police Academy, made his way unnoticed over to the navigation plans. Making sure he was not seen, Kevin held his wrist up to the documents marking the steering path. A green light beamed from the wrist device and onto the coordinates, altering the plans to such perfection that no one would ever be able to tell the difference. When the rewriting was completed, the green light retracted back into the device, Kevin rolled down his sleeve, and made his was out of the room just as slyly as he entered.
“Congratulations.” The device whirred. “The plans have been successfully changed.” Kevin remained by the door, still watching intently. The plans had been changed, but the captain only had a minute to give the helmsman the new orders.
“I will send down security in a few minutes. In the meantime, you’d better get back downstairs.” The captain said, patting a slightly less red-face Walter on the back. “Last time you left the bar, 14 bottles of Cognac went missing.” Walter made his way back down to the bar while the captain made his way back to the navigation panel. “Wait there Henry, it looks like we’re a little off course. Bring us about 15 degrees to starboard.” The captain commanded. The helmsmen shurgged and followed the captain’s orders.
“Well Hector, we did it. We actually pulled it off.” Kevin smiled and sighed a sigh of relief. “Now this boat will never reach New York, and the bomb built into this ship will never cause the Pier 59 explosion. We just saved 6,000 American lives.”
“And what of the passengers on this ship?” Hector whirred. “Do you worry at all for them?”
“I’m sure they’ll be fine. There are plenty of lifeboats.” Kevin responded. “And if not, the doors on this ship are huge. I’m sure each of them could hold at least two people.”
“Very well. Assignment completed.” The machine beeped. “I have detected that Officer Jason Earnest has vacated this time period. Shall we vacate as well?” Kevin looked out the window to see the towering ice giant in the ship’s path coming closer with every second.
“Lets.” Kevin said. “So where to now? Any other assignments lined up?” The computer buzzed and beeped.
“My readings show the man who will go on to cause the Milan Massacre had a little known residence in 79 A.D. in the Roman City of Pompeii.” Hector explained. Kevin punched the coordinates into his wrist device. “Any ideas?” He pressed the activation button, and electricity swirled around him.
Rob Southgate is a professional actor in commercials and films, a professional podcaster, and a professional public speaker. He is currently celebrating the release of his first book and busily booking a national tour of the SMG Podcast Marathon. Rob loves sharing ideas with others and creating opportunities for his creative associates. Along with his wife, Martha, Rob started Southgate Media Group as a creative outlet and a way to incorporate all of their interests and their past experiences. SMG is home to over 100 podcasts, blogs, and video channels. If you think Rob has a lot going on, ask him about his amazing daughter, Molly.
Alex B Reynolds began their acting career as Sherlock Holmes in the second grade, and has since been seen around Chicago in such roles as Gandalf the Grey, Luigi Mario, and Skeletor. They are so grateful to return to the Gateways Reading Series, and can otherwise be heard on the “Meet/Cute” sitcom podcast, the Filmthusiast “Final Cut” podcast, and on whatever customer support line is paying their bills this month.
Kate Akerboom is a multi-creative individual living in Chicago. She loves telling stories, especially about the past, and considers it an honor to tell new ones that people come up with. By day, she talks about animals at Shedd aquarium. By night she creates as much as she can. Kate is a proud graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay holding degrees in Theatre Performance and History.
Josh Ballard’s work has been seen all over the Chicagoland area for the past 11 years. From Ren Faires to radio, pantos to photoshoots, he is an actor that can, and will, do anything. A grad of Columbia College Chicago, Josh is excited to be a part of this unique series with one of the fastest growing theatre companies in Chicago!
John Weagly has been heard as the voice of HarperCollins/ HarperKids Publishers, Wendella Sightseeing and on multiple podcasts including High Country Drama and Lumpy & Sasquatch. Some of his favorite stage roles include Stefano in THE TEMPEST, Brother Matthew in MONASTERIES, Curley in OF MICE AND MEN, Marlowe in FORGET HIM and touring with Authorized Personnel: A Comedy & Improv Team. He can be heard in the upcoming animated film WOULD YOU RATHER I WAS DEAD?
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