“Alright, I’ve just completed my latest creation. It’s called a time machine,” I told the crowd.

Everyone seemed amused at all the lights and gizmos on the machine, save for one child, who was busy sucking down his milkshake.

“What this machine will allow me to do is freely traverse spacetime. Now tell me, where do you guys want to go?”

A cacophony of voices filled the room, along with a bunch of raised hands. I picked out one of them:

“Yes, you, in the sunflower dress.”

The room grew silent. The lady in the sunflower dress, who was around 30 years of age, had fair skin, and beautiful blonde hair that reached her shoulders, chimed in:

“14th century London.”

“Ah yes, Chaucer’s England. Absolutely beautiful. Come on up.”

The lady walked up to me delicately, so that she wouldn’t touch any of the buttons on the machine by mistake.

“Now stand still. I need to punch in the spacetime coordinates.”

My right hand was busy on the console getting everything set up. After a few minutes everything was set up. The console read: “Date: August 4, 1377, Location: London, England”. I then asked the lady:

“Is this what you want?”

“That’s perfect. Now one question before we head back in time: how do we get back to the present?”

“Well, I have this little remote right here in my pocket. This will enable me to communicate with this machine here, which does the transportation in spacetime. When I press this button here on the remote, the machine will know that we would like to return to the present day, and we will flash out of existence in the past.

Now, one more thing, please don’t interact with the people. Doing so may influence the future, such that we may not even exist.”

Reassured, the lady nods her head.

As I pressed the button to initiate the transversal, the kid that was drinking the milkshake decided he was done with it and threw it in the direction of the time machine. Now, if the container didn’t have any liquid in it, this would be no problem. Unfortunately, this was not the case. The container probably had a few fluid ounces of shake left. The container hit the machine, which popped the lid off. The shake then spilled all over the machine, which caused a short. As we phased out of the modern day, the machine exploded.


Thankfully, we were lucky - the machine managed to safely teleport us to 14th century London. Had the short been just a fraction earlier, we could have been stuck in the vacuum of space, where we would die essentially instantly.

“So here we are. Where shall we head first?” I asked the lady.

“Hmm… why don’t we head over to the Tower of London, and then get a drink at a pub before we return to the modern day?”

“Sounds like a good idea.”

We spent the day going around the city, which looks quite a bit different than in modern times. Cars, a mainstay in modern times, were not even a glimpse in the eyes of the citizens living in the city. Instead, people were bustling in the streets or riding carriages if they could afford it. There were no skyscrapers filled with corporate offices, nor cellular devices in the clutches of people’s hands. It was definitely a good sight.

After exploring the city, we made it to the Tower of London. The complex looks very much like it does now, albeit several hundred years newer here and without the expanded wharf. We were unable to go in to see the inside though, as the gate was closed and guarded, and the guards had no idea who we were.

After that we headed to a pub that was a block away from the tower. Upon entry, a gruff, shortish man greeted us in Middle English:

“Hello, and welcome. Howe can I serve ye on this fyne day?” (Modern English: Hello and welcome. How can I serve you on this fine day?)

We were able to answer this no issue:

“We would like some refreshment. Perhaps a stein of beer or spirit, and a bit of bread?”

The man, who we presumed was the owner of the establishment, was confused. I repeated our request, more slowly:

“We would like some beer, and some bread. We are quite famished and this would serve us nicely.”

Again, the owner was confused.

“Why is he not understanding our request?” the sunflower lady asked me.


I was lost for words for a moment, but then they came back:

“Oh, right. You see, in the 14th century, English was a lot different than it is in our time. The words and inflections are a lot different, and we won’t understand most things they say. The same is true the other way around: sure, a lot of words in our tongue appear in their language, albeit in a different spelling, but they have a different meaning here. So they won’t understand us.”

The owner walked away while I was explaining this to her, presumably because he was tired of waiting for us to answer. He eventually came back, with two small barrel jugs of beer. We then took the jugs and took a small sip of it. Immediately we spat it out in disgust.

“Eww, this is not how I envisioned medieval beer! Please, take us back!”

“Okay, okay!” I said in a panic. I grabbed the remote out of my pocket and pressed the return button. Nothing happened. I pressed it again, and still, nothing.


“Umm, what?”

“It appears that the time machine is malfunctioning. So, we are unable to return to the present at this time.”

The sunflower lady welled up in tears. They were not tears of sorrow, but rather tears of anger. She then slapped me hard, which initiated a brawl inside the pub. I managed to escape the pub, but my nose was bleeding and I could tell it was not straight anymore.

Now I have a conundrum - I’m hurt, and we are in a time where medicine was much more primitive, the person that I time traveled with is in a brawl and will likely be thrown into prison, the time machine is broken, and I have little knowledge about the Middle English language. Also, the longer we stay here, the larger the change will be in the modern world. God only knows how much we have deviated already from just being here…

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(continued from two weeks ago)

“So how does one become the god of death?”

“I was hoping you’d ask that. It took a lot of research for me to figure it out, and it’s actually so random – you’ll never guess.”

Understatement of the century, and I’d love to see David’s google search history. “No, I don’t think I will ever guess.”

“You have to joust for it.”

Okay, he is definitely fucking with me. “Wow, guess you’re going to have to learn to ride a horse.”

David opened his mouth, but the words caught. He deflated right in front of me with that comment. His shoulders slumped and he chewed his lip while he sighed. “I hadn’t thought of that actually… damn, I really don’t want to learn to ride a horse. This is a problem.”

“So wait, you’re telling me that your new year’s resolution is to become the god of death and you have it mostly planned out, but the obstacle that’s giving you the most pause right now is how to learn to ride a horse?”

“Yeah man, horses really freak me out. I mean, look what happened to Christopher Reeves.”

I considered it. He had a point. This could quickly turn into a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. And I suppose we all have a tendency to agonize over the most approachable details when something otherwise quite complex lays ahead of us. My boss calls it bike shedding. Who wouldn’t bike shed a little over the details of becoming the new god of death?

Call me crazy, but I felt like I had to reassure him, “I dunno, David. I believe in you man. I think you can definitely become proficient on a horse in a few months if you really put your mind to it. Who do you have to joust with?”

“The devil.”

(to be continued)

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I have a really weird fascination with the plague. The symptoms. The rats. Those super weird masks with the long bird-like beak that they wore. It was believed that the disease spread through poisoned air, so the masks were filled with perfume so that the sweet smell would protect the smeller. Today it is known that the masks did not offer any protection, because the plague did not spread through the air. I think of the plague several times a year, even before Covid. Why??

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Aging is a process. It accumulates many different things. And it packs in different compartments of our body. Failures too. Repair mechanisms slow down even in our DNAs. The one once was working incredibly flawless. Cells choose to express theirselves differently. Or choosing is not the right word. But how come then everything was supposed to be to the advantage of living. Are random changes in the environment really random? If the fertility goes down therefore ones contribution to the reproductive fitness why castrated men live longer? What does all this testosterone to us? Is the future really female as once my chemistry teacher said?

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Hair coiffed not cut. Ruddy youth rupturing into an alcoholic’s red veins.

“It’s a witch hunt plain and simple. String up anyone that disagrees with you! They’d have us all in thumb screws if they could. It’s like being back in the Middle Ages. Fealty or death! Is that the sort of freedom so many have sacrificed for?”


A veneer of desperate happiness over a masochistic sense of health.

“All you need is simple fare from the land. I have here protein, grains and a few greens. Let’s return our diet to the Middle Ages, or beyond! Paleo, historic organic, homo sustenance, whatever you prefer, but let’s strip it right back to our natural state of uncorrupted health.”


Patronising facial hair. Body language tilted toward ‘comforting’, but leaning on ‘indulgent pity’.

“It is a simple truth to say they want to return us to the Middle Ages, in terms of women’s rights, the right to vote, the right to follow our hearts in love. The right to be human, in all the ways we understand that our modern sensibilities allow. It’s regressive medievalism, in which we would all be de facto vassals of their feudal ideology. These aren’t exaggerations! The parallels are a matter of historical record.”


Trendy, but as imagined by someone out of touch. Youthful, but only to those already bemoaning their loss of vigour.

“Join us today as we journey back to what the Middle Ages might have been like. Did Cleopatra once hold court, scantily clad but deadly, from these walls? Is it possible that this was the very trebuchet used to launch King Richard’s horse into his brother’s castle? Were these golden sword hilts once gripped by the child rulers of the House of Plantagenet? Find out, after the break.”


Although real, somehow still in the uncanny valley. Too nuclear. Too representative. Too pleased to exist.

“Dive in and dine like it’s the Middle Ages with our King Arthur’s Family Banquet. Joust away hunger with our 6 bread sticks sharing platter, now with our new spiced mead dipping sauce. Slay starvation with our slathered slices. Only $6.99. That’s a Lancea-lot of value!”


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