In relative obscurity, a one manned probe winks into temporal synch with the flowing timestream of Autumn 2011. Officially the small time-travelling craft is a minor level D.A.T.E. (Delay Assessment Temporal Explorer) made with a sturdy frame suited for the task yet, completed in a hurry, lacks polish. The probe detects no bystanders upon arrival but initiates invisibility cloaking protocols to avoid any surprises. Landing safely with other things on his mind, namely the details of his latest charge, the pilot doesn’t care. He simply confirms date, time, and geographic location with contemporary satellites, and gives a proverbial sigh. Compared to handling the complexities of time, place has always been simple, so of course the GPS works fine. Internal flight logs flash across the screen of his heads up display, indicated entry has indeed undershot the intended target date of late summer. Mercifully, mission control allots a large margin for such delays.
Junior Envoy Horatio loves how his job affords essentially all the time in the world, and more important to him, a sense of contributing to something culturally significant. Despite his small role, and the often minor status of the artists whom he investigates, he likens his work to that of the Film Foundation reclaiming classics for new audiences. With a thoughtful eye, he opens the dossier for this latest excursion, and skims the files: talented author struggles in early stages of blogging; prone to delays and increasingly aware of these tendencies; diverse interests and easily sidetracked online, such as stumbling upon a review of procrastination research by psychologists Chu and Choi; fan of time travel stories, including the Doctor Who tv series famous for episodes like “Vincent and the Doctor,” a meeting with artist Vincent Van Gogh; subject under review for slow, inconsistent progress towards notable science fiction tale “The Active Procrasti” which is eventually cited among inspirations of several founders in their genesis of the PRINT Project (Procrasti Reclamation Initiative) … All irrelevant if the candidate otherwise fails to qualify for help. Enough dallying, on with the scan of the premises!
Last year’s addition of a walkway lays across the yard, well intended yet ill managed. Few visitors ever use it. For now, as recent trick-or-treaters found, each tile is more a stumbling stone. Unseen from the street, bags of leveling sand intended for this purpose instead line the base of a wall in the garage, awaiting proper placement, best achieved in warmer weather. The stack is easily avoided when parking, though passengers must exit the vehicle first as no room remains for opening a second door. A constant oil stain mars an area of the cement floor reserved for the aging, used, family car. Just beyond this void stands the components of a wheel barrel, half assembled, with some bolts slightly rusted over the last year. A rake hangs with other implements next to this. Together these might be useful if the leaves in the backyard will ever be removed. Then again, so could the lawn mower’s collection bag, which lays unattached on the long shelf built across the far wall. A marvelous folding aluminum ladder rests against that shelf too, still in its cardboard packaging, undoubtedly meant for cleaning more of those leaves from the gutters outside before the approaching winter.
Inside, the home proper seems quite different, at least, at first glance. Two playful, roaming kittens look well cared for and equally well cleaned after. Food fills the cabinets, refrigerator, freezer and bakers rack. Streak-free tv screen, neatly wound video game cords, pristine counters, brilliant floors and vacuumed carpets all attest to the Lady of the House. As do the cute knickknacks, empty sink, folded laundry, and indeed every carefully placed item. Proper clothes and diversions are clearly provided for the young men living in the smaller two bedrooms . Yet more tell-tale signs of unfinished business show under closer inspection. The walls are bare, shelves and decorations yet unhung. Truth be told, they await a promised coat of paint. Tape holds the Lazy Susan turntable against prying paws in the kitchen. The family room has a latch-hook rug loom with pointy screw tips similarly cat-proofed. Some lopsided, adjustable shelves on a beautiful oak bookshelf look oddly as if someone has left off during the reconfiguration for the real heights of its latest contents. Indeed, the home library has a sizeable collection of well read, slightly dog-eared manuals and handbooks for a roleplaying game which, by the haphazard records in the accompanying notebook, is as yet unplayed. The pull out keyboard on a matching scrolltop computer desk is missing its fold up cover. Software update records on the computer seem nearly random. A variety of games, that range from the complex Guild Wars (a Competitive/Cooperative Online Role Playing Game) to simple pursuits like flash versions of classic board games, also get used sporadically. Checking emails and online access of gradebooks for the school age child looks hit and miss as well. The down time since the last blog entry, Hiatus, has been far too long and unproductive.
He stops the scans at this point and saves the recording with his notes. Clearly a man with undeniable Procrasti traits lives here. These finding are enough to confirm his eligibility for the program. This paves the way for authorization of the official interaction and likely offer of unique help in the form of time travel sequestering sessions designed to allow this author extra time to make things right. So now, feeling rather like one of the ghosts from Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol,” he prepares to leave his charge to the next, higher ranking envoy. As the array of lights on the dash begin to blink, and Junior Envoy Horatio feels the tug of the cockpit shrink and expand on exit, the philanthropic pilot whispers, “Good luck, Stoney.”