CW/ Ableism, sanism.
Violet used to go on a girls’ trip to Bermuda every spring with some of her close friends, but no one wanted to go this year (y’know, COVID). She’d been good, barely leaving the house, working from home, ordering groceries to be delivered, but she just couldn’t take it anymore. She needed this. A change of scenery would be good for her.
Now that she was here though, and still socially distancing alone, it was just as depressing as being at home. The sun helped a little. It warmed her skin but couldn’t thaw her inside. She decided to go for a swim. The water was cold, and she could almost hear her friends telling her she was crazy.
Violet stopped and treaded water for a moment, looking at the shore, maybe a mile or so away at this point. She considered turning back. Before she could decide, a dolphin with a yellow hula hoop in its mouth leaped from the water to her left, trailed by a rainbow shooting out from its tail.
“Swim!” The dolphin shouted before it splashed into the water to her right.
“What the …” Violet spotted an ominous dorsal fin gliding through the water. She gasped before throwing herself into a frenzied freestyle.
The dolphin spun back, water glowing in rainbow colors behind it. It turned and held the hula hoop in front of her. She didn’t have time to avoid the hoop, so she glided through it. She kept pushing her body to move through the water, willing herself to outpace the shark.
“You can relax now,” the dolphin’s squeaky voice called from behind her.
“But the shark–” She swam a few more strokes before slowing. She looked around. “Where’d it go?”
“Nowhere,” the dolphin said. “It’s probably wondering where we went.”
“What do you mean? Where did we go?”
“Well, also nowhere.”
“You’re not making any sense. And you’re talking. Since when do dolphins talk?”
“Dolphins don’t talk, not like humans do, but I’m no ordinary dolphin. I’m the Rainbow Time Dolphin. And you’re welcome for saving your life, by the way.”
“What is that?”
The Rainbow Time Dolphin tossed the hula hoop into the air and caught it again. “Time and Relative Dimensions in Ocean. TARDIO for short.”
“It’s a teleporter?”
“You weren’t listening. I said time and relative dimension.”
“So … we’re in a different time?”
“Light dawns on Marblehead.”
“Hey.” Although maybe being called dumb wasn’t as bad as being called crazy.
The Rainbow Time Dolphin peered past her and she followed its gaze. Two wooden rowboats carrying five men headed their way. The men wore dark shirts with wide lapels. One wore a matching cap.
“I’d say early 1920s,” the Rainbow Time Dolphin said.
The men in the rowboats shouted, having spotted Violet and the dolphin. They pulled up on either side of the pair and one of the men in the two-man boat reached down to help her in. The other man pulled off his navy-blue shirt and handed it to her, averting his eyes. Violet realized bikinis weren’t a thing yet and slipped the shirt over her head.
“What are you and your dolphin doing out here?” the man who had helped her into the boat asked.
“I was out swimming, and there was a shark…”
“You out swam a shark?” The darker skinned man in the other boat laughed.
“Not exactly. What are you all doing out here?”
The men looked at each other nervously.
“Our ship went down,” the man who had given her his shirt said.
“Yeah! And we’re… going to get help,” the tall guy in the other boat added.
“Hans!” the darker skinned man scolded the man next to him.
“We shouldn’t use our names,” the third guy in the boat said.
“I don’t know what you think I’ll do,” Violet said. “But I’d feel a little better if I knew your names. I’m Violet. And he’s the Rainbow Time Dolphin.”
“It’s they, actually.”
“Sorry. They.” Violet said. “And you are?” She looked around at the men as they hesitated.
“I’m Alfred. This is Niels.” The man who had given her his shirt nodded to the other man in the boat. Then he pointed to the other boat. “Those are Hans, Christian, and Peter. We won’t hurt you.”
Hans gave a meek wave, Christian looked annoyed at Alfred, and Peter kept his eyes down.
“We need to keep moving,” Christian said. “We don’t want them finding us.”
Any comfort Violet found in knowing their names vanished.
“If you’re looking to disappear, may I make a suggestion?” The Rainbow Time Dolphin asked. “You’ll have to leave the boats, but I can get you far away pretty quickly. You just need to swim through this.” They swam a short distance from the boats and held the TARDIO out like a bullfighter holding his muleta for a bull.
The men looked at each other before laughing.
“You think some aquarium trick for fish is going to make us disappear?” Niels asked.
“Care to show them, Violet?” the Rainbow Time Dolphin asked.
She hesitated. She had already disappeared from her life. Did she really want to go back? She hadn’t finished musing before Peter leaped out of the other boat. The other men gasped as he vanished through the TARDIO.
“Where did he go?” Christian asked.
“He’s traveled back to our time,” the Rainbow Time Dolphin said.
“We must sink the boats,” Christian said. “Can’t have them finding the logs.”
The remaining men agreed. As they got out of the boats, they rocked the vessels enough to take on enough water that they started to sink.
As the men swam one by one through the TARDIO, Violet again considered remaining behind. If she made it to land, she could start a new life. No one knew her here. She could be whoever she wanted to be.
“Coming, friend?” the Rainbow Time Dolphin asked. “Want to see what post-COVID life is like?”
“I thought we were taking them back to 2021.”
“I must have set the TARDIO wrong.” The Rainbow Time Dolphin grinned. “It looks like we’re going back to 2025.”
She didn’t know how she’d explain her disappearance, but she’d get a second chance with the life she’d already built. Violet smiled at her new friend and swam through the TARDIO.
In 2025 four years early, Violet was disappointed there wasn’t a drastic difference to tell her things were okay again. She didn’t know what she was hoping for (A bluer sky? A brighter sun?), but things seemed kind of normal.
Except for the guy on the boat. His captain’s hat and suit were normal enough, but he was wearing a horse head mask for some reason. Peter stood on the boat, watching as the captain helped the other men up.
“I’m eGeorge. Nice to meet you. Welcome aboard.” He looked past Violet. “Oh, the Rainbow Time Dolphin. That explains how you got here. Hi, friend.”
eGeorge and Alfred helped Violet onto the boat.
“Anyone want a Bang?”
“Excuse me?” Violet felt he had skipped a couple steps in getting to know everyone.
“It’s an energy drink. The apple crisp is the best.”
“Suit yourselves.” eGeorge shrugged and removed his horse head, placing the mask on a seat by the door and putting the captain’s hat on his own head. He ducked into the cabin. While he was inside, something hit the side of the boat with a big splat.
They all looked to see what was happening. A nondescript man stood at the shore end of the dock, throwing balloons at the boat. A thick pink splatter dripped down the side of the boat as the man threw another one, hitting the cabin window.
Hans reached out and wiped a finger in the mess and tasted it. Violet cringed.
“It’s strawberry yogurt.”
eGeorge pushed through the men and stood next to Violet, green and red can in his hand, looking at the assailant. “Damn you, iGrig! You know I’m lactose intolerant!”
“Eat this, non-dairy boy!” iGrig threw another balloon. It exploded on eGeorge’s chest.
Violet wiped yogurt splatter from her cheek and grabbed the can from eGeorge. She hurled it at iGrig, nailing him in the stomach. iGrig doubled over, dropping his remaining balloons. Christian and Niels strode down the boarding ramp onto the dock. iGrig saw them coming, turned, and scurried a few steps away. He looked back to the boat.
“Don’t think this is over! I’ll bring friends next time, and you’ll be sorry!” He scurried out of sight.
“Thanks for that,” eGeorge said to Violet. “Though I would have preferred you use the throwing rock.” He pointed to a fist-sized rock on the seat next to where he’d put the horse head.
“Why do you have a throwing rock?” Violet asked.
“In case I need to throw something. Rocks are cheaper than Bangs.”
“Sorry. Do you think he’s really coming back?”
“Definitely. iGrig is my nemesis. He won’t be satisfied until I’m off Twitch and he gets my entire audience.”
“So what do we do?”
“First, I gotta change my shirt.” eGeorge said, heading for the cabin.
“Could we maybe change into some dry clothes?” Hans asked.
“And get Violet some pants?” Alfred said.
“I have some spare clothes. Hang on.” eGeorge disappeared into the cabin again. He emerged a few minutes later, wearing a fresh captain’s jacket and gold sunglasses shaped like a crown, carrying an armload of colorful duds.
Once everyone had changed, Violet looked at her companions and laughed. Besides the formerly horse-headed captain there was now a sunflower, a Mexican wrestler, a neon-orange cowboy, Randy Savage, and Darkwing Duck. And there was Violet, in a swashbuckling costume. She felt a little ridiculous, but at least she was in good company.
“What now?” Niels asked.
“We could pull up anchor and sail somewhere iGrig won’t find us,” eGeorge said.
“Or we could fight back,” Hans said.
“I don’t want to see anyone get hurt,” eGeorge said.
“We don’t have to hurt anyone,” Violet said. “We can just scare them. Like the A-Team. We can set booby traps for iGrig and his friends.”
eGeorge took off the sunglasses and put his horsehead back on.
“Forget the A-Team. We’re the Neigh Team!”
Violet rolled her eyes, and they started planning their traps.
Violet finished with the trap she was setting and went to see if she could help Christian and Hans with the snare they were setting up on the dock.
“Who’d you rather sail with, Wormell or this guy?” Hans asked Christian.
“Wormell?” Violet asked.
Christian glowered at Hans. “You talk too much.”
“What’s going to happen?” Hans asked. “Anyone who was looking for us is dead by now. Surely the Deering is long forgotten.”
“Deering?” Violet stared. “The Carroll A. Deering?”
Christian grunted and walked back to the boat.
Violet laughed. “I guess we’ve figured out how you all disappeared.” She watched Hans finish with the snare before they both went back to the boat. “What happened to the anchors, anyway?”
“That’s a long story.”
Violet and four of the Deering crew sat around, waiting for iGrig to return, while eGeorge paced across the boat, rocking it.
“Cut that out!” Violet chided. “You’re making me queasy!”
“Sorry. Do you think this will work?”
“I don’t know. You know this guy better than any of the rest of us.”
“Could you say yes anyway? I hate to think what iGrig would do to my Twitch followers.” He shuddered.
Alfred ran down the dock from his lookout close to shore, sidestepping the traps they had set for iGrig. “He’s coming.”
“How many people did he bring?” eGeorge asked.
“I don’t know that it’s a person.”
“It?” Violet asked.
Armed with objects they found lying around the boat, the guys stood around the boat, looking menacing. Violet drew her plastic swashbuckling sword and watched.
iGrig appeared at the dock with someone in a weird gray costume. He looked kind of like Marvin from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but with a smaller head and glasses.
eGeorge laughed. “Gene?” he shouted. “I thought you were bringing friends!”
iGrig clenched and released his fists. “I couldn’t find any.”
eGeorge kept laughing as iGrig stormed along the dock toward the boat. After three angry strides, iGrig tripped and an air horn blared.
He flinched and motioned for Gene to go first. Gene scurried past, almost immediately getting caught in a snare rigged up on a lamppost that must illuminate the dock at night.
As Gene swung, his black hair just brushing the dock, iGrig picked his way toward the boat, wary of what else lay in wait.
The Deering crew threw their makeshift missiles. They didn’t do more than slow iGrig down.
“Ha ha,” iGrig stood, arms akimbo, at the top of the boarding ramp. “Your random junk won’t stop me.”
“Eat this, weird guy!” Hans reached for a pile of dirty socks.
eGeorge stopped him.
“You don’t want to do that. Those are my dog’s socks.”
“Why does your dog have socks?”
“You don’t want to know.”
iGrig had stopped his questionably timed gloating and closed in on Violet, who stood, clutching her sword, wondering how to stop him.
“Stop!” The Rainbow Time Dolphin cried, leaping from the water to get everyone’s attention. “I know how to settle this once and for all.”
“How?” iGrig asked.
eGeorge approached the side of the boat and looked down at the Rainbow Time Dolphin. “Go on.”
“You can face off in a game of Trivia Murder Party. The loser deletes their Twitch account and never streams again.”
eGeorge yanked off the horse mask and put the crown glasses back on. “You don’t stand a chance, you Bidiot.”
“You wish, you … you … Gene!” iGrig sputtered.
“I heard that!” Gene cried as he dangled upside down over the dock.
“Let’s do this.” eGeorge rolled up his sleeves.
Neck and neck in the final round, iGrig’s avatar bounced off the barrier blocking the exit. eGeorge’s slid through.
eGeorge leaped to his feet and took out a slide whistle.
“See you, sucker!” He played a decidedly unsympathetic tune.
iGrig stood, fists clenched. He reminded Violet of Marvin the Martian from Looney Tunes.
“If you think I’m going to listen to some dumb dolphin …”
Violet stood. “They’re not a dolphin, they’re the Rainbow Time Dolphin!” She shoved iGrig as hard as she could.
iGrig lost his balance and fell backward overboard. There was a large splash as Violet, eGeorge, and the others ran to the railing and peered down.
The Rainbow Time Dolphin looked up at them, TARDIO floating on the water, iGrig nowhere to be seen.
“I don’t think you’ll need to worry about him anymore,” the Rainbow Time Dolphin said.
“Thanks guys,” eGeorge said. “Who wants to celebrate with a game of Champ’d Up?”
“What’s that?” Peter asked.
“Here, I’ll show you.” eGeorge helped get them set up before turning to Violet. “Room for another. You want to join us?”
“Sure.” Violet peered down at the Rainbow Time Dolphin. “Thank you for saving my life.”
The Rainbow Time Dolphin winked at her, threw the TARDIO in the air, and leaped up to catch it.
As the rainbow glowed in front of her, Violet thought maybe the sun was a little brighter, after all.
This story was inspired by a Civic Doodle drawing made by viewers of eGeorge’s Twitch channel. He streams Jackbox Party Packs on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday nights. Check out his stream and give him a follow!