Tuesday, January 25, 2011

By Way of Introduction

Time travel.  Norman Gregory, like most of Lutranea, was obsessed with time travel.  And who can really blame him?

What did it mean about the universe if time travel was possible?  First of all, it meant that all time was actually existing simultaneously, and that the flow of time was something of an illusion.  Second, and working off the first, it meant that Norman Gregory had always existed and always would exist.  Norman really hoped, for the good of the universe, that this second proposition was true.

He was a little discouraged that he had never met a time traveler.  If time travel were possible, he believed that someone would have rushed through time to tell him.  He had plastered advertisements in newspapers, on billboards, and on the sides of mountains to let all time travelers know that he was interested in meeting them:

To all time travelers,
In case my legend has slipped to mythical status and you doubt the reality of my heroics, I would like you all to know that I am very real and very interested in meeting you. 
Norman Gregory

But no time travelers had ever shown up.

Norman Gregory was also obsessed with aliens.  Space aliens.  He knew, in part, that his interest in aliens was vain ambition.  If aliens contacted Lutranean B, they could spread word of his many accomplishments and epic good looks to the rest of the universe.  But a visit from space aliens would also open new worlds that he could save and an infinite number of people that he could guide in grace and wisdom.  He knew the aliens would recognize his greatness and give him the love and respect he deserved, even if his own people took him for granted.

He had made some initial attempts to contact the aliens.  First, he put a message in a bottle and tried to throw it into space.  He was shocked to find that gravity would have the emboldened audacity to pull the bottle back to earth. 

Next, he and his engineers tried a giant crossbow which shot the bottle up towards the heavens.  The bottle disappeared in the distance and Norman thought it was only a matter of time until the aliens came to honor him.  A day later, though, a peasant boy found the bottle in a field and brought it to the castle.  The crossbow engineers concluded that the bottle must have traveled around the universe and then come back to Lutranean B unread.  The next day Norman shot off a dozen more bottles, and when 8 of them were not returned he knew it was time to prepare for alien visits.

The first thing he needed to do was rename the planet.  The Lutranea had earned the right to name the planet hundreds of years ago when they were chosen as the planet’s dominant species.  They campaigned for the position on the grounds that they had the world’s most complex sewer system.  No one dared compete with them on those grounds, and the Lutraneas first act as dominant species was to name the planet Lutranean.  They wanted to make sure that they wouldn’t be embarrassed in front of any visiting aliens by the planet’s lesser species.

Norman Gregory liked the name, but could not believe that such a remarkable species with such an inspirational leader and efficient waste disposal system could possibly have originated on such an ordinary planet.  Logically, he concluded that their ancestors had left a more edenic, but doomed, planet and made their way to Lutranean.  Lutranean, by presidential edict of Norman Gregory, thus became Lutranean B.

Norman Gregory died and was quickly forgotten.  Norman Gregory II was followed by Norman Gregory III and so forth.  Norman Gregory XLIII would learn that, despite what the crossbow engineers actually thought about Norman’s plan to shoot bottles into space, one had actually made it.  It was found by a young Ganderling three solar systems over who took it to his parents.  His parents believed it was an awfully funny joke and their son lived a life of luxury, enshrined as a comedic genius.  It was hundreds of years later that a young research assistant accidentally discovered that the note was from another planet.  Approximately 200 years later a note in a bottle was delivered to Norman Gregory XLIII.

To the great universal jokester and author of the Norman Gregory stories,
We regret that we do not have the necessary technology to visit you personally, but if you are capable of performing such a flight across space we would be honored to host you here.  Generations of Ganderlings have been raised with an illustrated version of your “Great Deeds of Norman Gregory.”  We have sent copies of the story to all corners of the universe, so that all may laugh as we have at Norman’s delusional heroics.
We hope that you will have other stories that you can share with us,
The Great Council of Yanglepoo 7

And thus, the name Norman Gregory is recognized across the universe.  As personally dictated to his rather sardonic clerk, this is his story.

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