Robert Tolkien’s Revolution – A Team PCPB Original Story
I don’t know how it happened. In that moment, I wasn’t sure WHY it happened. But somehow Robert Tolkien had travelled through time. There are some things even I can’t explain, so I’ll just say it was all wibbly-wobbly timey wimey. How could I tell I was in the past – elementary, my dear Watson. Electricity wasn’t around yet… And everyone wore tri-corner hats. Good lord! It was 1776!
Being sent all the way back to Revolutionary times, there were a few things I realized I could do. I figured I could send a message to some of my future relatives. To my grandpa: Write “Stairway to Heaven.” To my Mom: Invest in Microsoft. To my future self: “Don’t forget to DVR The Walking Dead. P.S. Who’s awesome? You’re awesome!” But more importantly, I had a distant relative – Grant Tolkien – who died in battle during the Revolutionary War. That must have been why I was sent back. It must have been my duty to rescue him.
I walked the desolate streets of pre-historic America. I must have stood out like a sore thumb. Everyone was wearing rags and looked like they were crawling in disease. Everyone on the streets was somehow missing more teeth than can possibly be in the human mouth yet still had teeth (Think about that, junior). And then there was me – I was dressed in my modern garb, dressed sharply no less. Not to mention there were my devastating good looks which will attract attention in ANY time period. I had to act fast to find my ancestor Grant.
I pulled one of the common rabble off the street and asked them, “Excuse me, have you seen Grant Tolkien?” I figured in any era of mankind, a Tolkien would stand out as a champion among men, a name that would be recognized far and yonder. I figured wrong.
This Klingon had no idea who Grant Tolkien was. “What are you talking about? Go away, future boy!” I wanted to introduce this peon to the back of my hand, but I didn’t want to rewrite history. But I still had to solve a mystery. (Duck Tales, woo-hoo!) After all, this misbegotten miscreant could be a descendant of my beautiful Natalie, and I’d never forgive myself if I did anything to prevent her from being born.
Little did I realize I was about to witness not one – but two of the most important historical events. Paul Revere came barreling down the road. I always thought Paul Revere was that rock star who did songs like “Hungry” and “Good Thing”, but he was playing a completely different hit for these people. That hit was called “The British are Coming! The British are coming!”
He grabbed people off the streets to remind them. He graphitied it onto walls. He climbed the highest mountain of 1776 (because it was the past and mountains weren’t that big yet) and shouted “THE BRITISH ARE COMING!” He blared that message so loudly that the people carrying the Liberty Bell, dropped it. So that’s how that happened.
As Paul Revere rode away, I snuck up to the gaggle of troops that was forming. Hoping to meet up with Grant, I asked where they were going.
“We’re crossing the Delaware with George Washington. We’re going to the Battle of Trenton!”
Battle of Trenton? That’s where Grant died! Fortuitously, I chose not to say this out loud. “Gentlemen, I would like to join your motley crew and fight off that evil British Empire!”
They agreed and before, I knew it, I was on the same boat as George Washington. I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to show him a dollar bill to inspire him, but I was afraid that would freak him out. Plus, I wanted to hit up the strip club when I was back in my time. I successfully crossed the Delaware. George Washington then uttered the infamous phrase “Please let me sit down. This is making me sick.” Wow… That episode of I Love Lucy was completely right!
I could read the fear on these men’s eyes. I knew had to get these brave men fired up – Robert Tolkien-style. “Guys, I know this is going to be a tough battle. I know not all of us are gonna make it. But we need to declare in one voice ‘we will not go without a fight! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Gentlemen, today we celebrate our Independence Day!” They all looked at me weirdly. “That last part will make sense someday.” Actually, I realized it wouldn’t – all these guys would be dead before that movie would be made – or any movie for that matter.
As we approached the battle of Trenton, we saw the enemy. There he was, Benedict Arnold – the man people think of when they think of traitors. The man being a traitor was named after. The man we inexplicably named an egg dish after – a very traitorous egg dish I might add! He looked just like I imagined he would – fiery red eyes, Snidely Whiplash-style handlebar mustache, and a powdered wig. I mean of course he had a powdered wig. It was 1776. In the pitch black of night, like a wounded animal, Benedict Arnold bellowed out one of his trademark howls at the moon.
We stared across the board at each other. It was as if we were about to play chess on this battlefield, only instead of people who could only move in L-shapes, there was gonna be a whole lot more shooting, and shooting more often than not leads to dying. Then we got the order to CHARGE!
The battle was intense – guys stabbed each other with muskets. So many shots were fired. Only this was the seventeenth century so there was a whole lot of time between reloading. A pretty wise strategy was waiting for someone to reload and then smacking the crap out of them. The whole ordeal was bloody and gruesome – just like that movie Braveheart. Then I remembered guns and muskets were involved so it was more like that other Mel Gibson movie The Patriot. I still haven’t seen that movie so I’ll stick with Braveheart.
Now you may be wonder what your humble narrator was doing during this whole ordeal. I was safely watching the sidelines. Yeah, I know that SOUNDS cowardly, but look at things from my perspective – I had to ensure Grant Tolkien survived. Otherwise… Otherwise… Hmmm, I was born despite his death. But it was the principal of the matter! I watched Grant like a hawk.
Grant was a chip off the old block. He must have made so many of the red coats even redder. As it looked like Grant Tolkien was about to musketeered back to the Stone Age, I ran out to rescue him. Unfortunately, I was fast, but they were faster. What was meant to be a rescue mission had no other effect but me being an eye witness to his gruesome death. Blood splattered all over the place, and in his final breath, he managed to shoot someone square in the face with his sidepiece. Okay, all things being fair, he died a pretty badass death. The man was gunned down right in front of me, going down in a blaze of glory. I clutched Grant Tolkien as he lay dying and he asked me, “Who are you?” Son of a bitch…
We didn’t even catch that no good Benedict Arnold, uh… Benedict Arnold. (God, I hope my name never becomes slang for a thing.) He proclaimed, “You won this round! But you’ll pay for this, General Washington!” He then disappeared in a cloud of smoke and diabolical laughter.
Even if Grant’s final words were confused, I sat there with my deceased descendant. The battle may have been going outside, but that was nothing compared to the storm in my heart. I held the man for heavens knew how long, out of some vain hope that he’d wake up. The dust eventually settled, and one of Grant’s brothers (not an actual brother, otherwise he would have been one of my ancestors too) came up to me, and said “battle’s over, son.” I knew. Trust me, I knew.
With the vile British Empire caput, it was time for one of the most important events in history: We were going to sign the Declaration of Independence. It was a big event. Not only were we basically inventing concepts like Democracy and freedom in America – and most importantly, America itself! We even invited a very special guest… mostly so we could gloat in his face.
With the collapse of the Red Coats, we were greeted by their leader – the fattest man in history, Henry VIII. He oozed in with a body not unlike Jabba the Hutt. He had a crown on his head and a turkey leg in both hands. Of course, the leg was clearly the remnant of the entire turkey he had eaten. I’m sorry to say, it had appeared he had not cooked it. Regality was normally treated with rose petals. However, Henry VIII had a trail of chocolate bars that he could eat on the way. Henry VIII’s men set up the king’s throne in the center of the room, largely because Henry was too fat to sit in anything else. Henry VIII wanted to make this quick. He had to be back in time to marry and later behead a new queen.
“I’m Henry VIII, I am
Henry VIII, I am, I am
I surrender the Revolutionary War
You can be a sep’rate nation
And you can have all your liberties (Liberties)
You just won’t be protected by your king (by your king)
I leave you to your own – Henry VIII, I am!
Second verse, same as the first!”
We scoffed at this. The king really believed we wouldn’t be able to take care of ourselves. In a fit of rage, he pushed his then-wife off the balcony to her death. “You dare defy King Henry VIII? The man who ate the pope and created his own religion built on gluttony and wife-swapping? I defy you to create your own nation without me! Peacock!”
As Henry VIII rolled out of the grand hall, the building suddenly readjusted itself from the slant caused by Henry’s colossal size. It shook all of us and knocked a whole bunch of things down. I guess that royal fatso did have the last laugh. But we would laugh loudest. We were able to get back to making history.
We were all about to sign the Declaration of Independence. I was faced with a crucial decision. To sign or not to sign. On one hand, having my name on one of the most important documents in history would give me a shitload of bragging rights. Oh, you scored the game-winning touchdown? My name’s on the Declaration of Independence! Then again, I don’t remember ever seeing my John Hancock – Hey, he was there! I suddenly get that reference! Either way, I don’t recall ever seeing my autograph on the Declaration. And I just didn’t want to tamper with history (more than I probably already had).
So after that important document was signed, we all celebrated with quiet solitude… Nah, I’m just messing with you, we got drunk! Ah, the things politicians could get away with when they didn’t have to answer to the media. Wanna know the rest? Hey, buy the rights!
Unfortunately, I had a distant ancestor to answer to. General Washington asked me to swing by Grant’s widow to deliver the news. Figuring it was my fault, figuring it was my ancestor, it was necessary. True, Washington knew NONE of this, but he still asked me: “Robert, will you take up this duty?”
“Duty!” I snickered. Ugh, I laughed immaturely right in front of the father of our country. On a positive note, I met the Father of Our Country. How froot was that?
As I rode the stagecoach to Grant’s homestead, I began thinking about the possible consequences of Grant Tolkien surviving the battle. What if he voted for the wrong guy in the first presidential election? America may have proven to be the fad those despicable Brits predicted it would be! What if he survived and prematurely invented the atom bomb and blew up the Earth? What if he killed the wrong Englishman in battle and Keith Richards was never born? Oh, who am I kidding? Keith probably would have survived his parents never giving birth to him. I once saw the man get shot in the mouth and just spit out the bullet.
I did get to meet another distant Tolkien relative (I hope that excuses me from going to the next Tolkien family reunion.). Grant’s widow saw me and I could tell something was up. Maybe she knew what I was about to tell her. Maybe she recognized her distant relative. Maybe it was a combination thereof.
I was hoping to keep my words simple. I didn’t want my complex future speak to confuse my great grandmother. “Mrs. Tolkien, I’m afraid to tell you that your husband was killed at the Battle of Trent.”
She seemed heartbroken. I understood. She didn’t need to be a distant relative. I just needed to show a little empathy toward a fellow human being. I hugged her as she cried in my arms.
Soon we were joined by two other fellows – another man and woman. The man was still wearing his uniform, but was bandaged. “Hi, I understand you’re Grant Tolkien’s widow?” My great grandmother replied in the affirmative. “This is my husband Robert.”
“Hey, that’s my name too!” I blurted out. I shut up after that.
“Anyway, I know losing Grant in that awful battle can’t be easy for you, but I thought maybe it would comfort you to know that Grant died while taking a bullet for my husband here.” Wow! That was certainly a surprise even to me! Grant was a hero! I never knew that. “Look at that, both are kids are playing down there.”
All of us turned to watch as the young Tolkiens and the young’uns from their family played together in the yard. One group of kids was gonna grow up with a father. My great grandparents weren’t. Maybe that’s why I was sent back in time. Maybe I was there to learn Grant was a hero who saved someone’s life – that his death wasn’t in vein. Then again, it didn’t entirely make sense to me. Grant had kids, this fellow had kids so why did my great grandpa have to die? Who knew? I guess that’s the way these things work – sometimes one man lives and another man doesn’t. The pain of those young Tolkiens meant those other kids would know THEIR father.
Having learned my lesson, I… Well, I guess I guess I quantum leaped. I leapt from life to another after making right what once went wrong. And hopefully, the next leap will be the leap home. It was. Not gonna lie, I was a little worried I tampered with SOMETHING. I was afraid I’d come home and find out we were still under British rule. Luckily everything was cope and steady. I debated whether or not to tell the guys about my adventures through history. I figured they’d NEVER believe me. Then again, they never believed anything I had to say. So why should this be any different?
Copyright 2015 Alex deCourville