== I == II == III == IV ==

It worked.

What worked?

Sarnaster the Great, Genius Adversary of the Thoughtless Masses (his birth name was Stewart Winfield, but he preferred that one) was holding a remote control in his hand. He had just done something with it. Ah, this was the control for his "quantum prognosticator" device. He looked around his room, which was dimly lit by a single desk lamp, which was in fact on his desk, in the far corner. Also on that desk was his digital clock. It was 12:01 AM.

"What's the date?" Sarnaster asked himself. He quickly leaped over a pile of dirty laundry and over to his computer. He checked the date. Thursday, September 8, 2005. He checked the clock on his computer. It said 12:02 AM.

"I think it worked!" he exclaimed. "I think I've already done September 8th. I think. What do you think, Jeeves? Have we already done it?"

Jeeves did not answer. This was most likely due to the fact that he was a little black toy monkey sitting atop a pile of smelly, crumpled up old McDonald's bags.

"Yes," Sarnaster said. "As a matter of fact, I think we've done it twice before, haven't we? I'm experiencing heavy deja vu. Yes." Then Sarnaster frowned. "But this means it didn't go well with Becky...AGAIN."

"Dude, you ever gonna clean your room?" Gary asked as he sat in his beanbag chair and flipped through the television stations. "The flies around here are reeeaallly starting to bug me, man. And of course then there's that smell."

"I don't have time to clean my room, I'm getting ready for my date with Becky!" Sarnaster hissed as he tried to run a dirty old comb through his thick, bird's nest brown hair.

"Aren't you gonna, like, shower, Stew?" Gary asked.

"I did shower!" Sarnaster replied. "And I've told you, my name isn't Stewart anymore!"

"No, I meant, aren't you going to shower today?"

"You don't have to shower everyday!" Sarnaster exclaimed. "That's the problem with the world, everybody showers every day! Look, I don't have time to discuss this!" he said as he buttoned his blue and white striped shirt in front of the cracked mirror hanging on the living room wall. "My date is in twenty minutes!"

Gary squinted his eyes. "You mean...your... third date with her? Right?"

"Technically the first," Sarnaster said. "But, you're right, it is kind of the third. But this time it will be perfect! I have analyzed what went wrong the first two times. Well, what I remember of them anyway."

"Dude, you gotta stop this," Gary said as he pointed to the TV. On the screen was footage of a massive downtown fire that had two buildings involved. "Even if the date doesn't go well this time, you can't do it again. You're fucking all kinds of shit up. This fire didn't happen the first time around. Um, the first two times. I'm just, like, seeing all kinds of shit in the news that's just...just wrong, man."

"I will do it however many times it takes!" exclaimed Stewart. "I'm nervous, I don't go out on dates very often as you can probably imagine, and I make mistakes! I have to get through it without mistakes so she can see the real me. If she sees the real me she'll fall in love with me."

"But isn't she, like, remembering the previous dates anyway?" Gary asked. "It's very fuzzy, but I kinda know that you're gonna come back very disappointed, flip your shit, and, like, go boot up your quadratic fornicator."

"Quantum prognosticator!" Sarnaster exclaimed "And, yes, she will have the deja vu! But, remember, it is ONLY deja vu at this point. You only know that your deja vu is true because I've told you it is and you are aware of my device and what it can do."

The device was actually quite ingenious. Exactly how it works is incomprehensible to most people. You see, Stew - er - Sarnaster the Great, Genius Adversary of the Thoughtless Masses, was a genius. In fact, and nobody else knew this, not even Sarnaster, that he was the most intelligent human being on the planet. Further in fact, he was actually the most intelligent human being ever on the planet. He had never had an IQ test taken, but if he had, it would have had the result of 456. He has read every single book, paper, and abstract published about quantum physics. Every. Single. One. There was even one written by a guy in Siberia that was only published in the local paper that was only read by fifty-one people (the town's fifty residents...and Sarnaster). That guy actually had some good ideas about string theory.

But enough about that guy. His IQ was only about 390.

Incidentally, the highest IQ ever recorded was 280.

The point is, Sarnaster was smart enough to, first of all, become the world's only unknown billionaire in the 1990's. During the tech bubble he started and made a profit off of no less than one hundred online businesses and got out of them just before the bubble burst (which he had predicted with stunning accuracy).

Sarnaster then went about spending three years and six hundred million dollars on building the world's most sophisticated superconductor and particle accelerator -- in his parents' basement. That's right, even with all the money he had made, he'd never bought a house, or even a nice car -- he still drove an old, orange, rusted, Volkswagon Rabbit that he could easily fix when it needed it.

For his quantum loopbacking device, he needed a quantum computer. He needed something that would crunch massive amounts of data, enough to melt the chips of the world's fastest, biggest known computers. So, he decided to build one himself, not wanting to wait around for the other scientists to get off their asses and do it.

With the quantum computer and his knowledge of quantum physics, he was able to build a device that would turn back time precisely twenty-four hours. He was not, however, able to build one that turned back time for the whole universe, just the solar system. He simply didn't have enough power. The 2004 power blackouts in New York and Ohio were caused from him testing the first device he had built. Now he doesn't cause power outages because he uses solar power only (by the way, he also built the most effective solar panels ever to exist using nanotechnology, plastic, and chewing gum).

Now that you know how smart Stew - er - Sarnaster is and how he came to build the device, let's continue on with the story.

"But if you activate your fornicator again," Gary said, "who knows how powerful the deja vus will be then? She could probably be totally onto you, man. My advice: no matter how the date goes tonight, I wouldn't activate it again. It'll only get worse.

"Plus, let's not forget that, like, a lot of people are dying that didn't die the first time around, dude. Like that triple shooting in Mooretown I read about on Yahoo! news, I have this, like, vague feeling that I didn't see that news article the first two times around."

"Do you think I care about people I don't know?" Sarnaster said as he put his fire engine red bow tie on.

"Well, I do. And Becky does, too. So if I were you, I'd start caring. You said so yourself, if she sees the real you she'll fall in love with you. If the real you doesn't give a rat's ass about people you don't know dying, that's not good, man.

"Oh, and by the way, losing that retarded bow tie would help, too."

"You really think so?" Sarnaster said, turning to Gary and pointing at it.

"Yeah, totally lose it," Gary said. "Hey, listen, just grab something from my closet. I got some cool duds."

"All right, thank you," Sarnaster said as he began to walk away. He stopped, though, and turned back to Gary. "You see, more people should be like you, Gary. This is one reason why I decided, ultimately, not to test my matter transporter on you. It was a very good thing that I didn't, too."

"Say what now?" Gary said as Sarnaster disappeared into his room.

When Sarnaster returned five minutes he was actually wearing one of Gary's most stylin' outfits, only the shirt was inside out and backwards and his fly was unzipped.

"Dude, it's all wrong," Gary said.

"What do you mean?" Sarnaster said as he checked himself out in the mirror. "I look perfect! One look and she'll be hooked to me, attracted to me like any atom that needs an electron in their outer shell to hydrogen atoms."

"First of all dude, don't say shit like that. Second, zip your fucking fly and turn that shirt the right side out and turn it around. You did that last time, don't you remember?"

"Oh," Sarnaster said flatly. "I see." Sarnaster took the shirt off. "Again, you've been very helpful. I don't know why I ever considered putting that antimatter I created in your bowl of corn flakes last year just to see what would happen when you ate it. Gary, you're the best!"

"Dude, what?!" Gary exclaimed.

"Oh, almost seven, almost time for her to be here!" Sarnaster exclaimed, looking at the black-rimmed clock hanging on the wall, which had inexplicably gotten some ketchup stains on it.

"Wait a minute, you're not picking her up?" Gary said. "She's picking you up?"

"Of course!" Sarnaster said. "What, am I breaking one of those idiotic dating paradigms?"

"Man, you're be, like, still a virgin at forty, like that guy in that movie," Gary chuckled. "Man that guy is funny. He's also funny in that one show."

"Specificity is NOT one of your strong points, Gary," Sarnaster said.

"Hey, I'm good at spiff, um, speci...er, specifitty... I can be specific!"

Four sharp, rapid knocks on their door rattled their attentions.

"She's HERE!" Sarnaster announced.

He ran to the door and flew it open. But standing there was not the short, cute little round-faced, black-haired young woman he had been expecting. Instead there stood a man, about his height, wearing earth-toned business attire, and looking at him with cold, blue eyes. Sarnaster thought the man looked like a college professor.

"Stewart Winfield?" the man asked clearly and loudly, as if he was about to announce that he had won a prize.

"No," Sarnaster said, "my name is Sarnaster the Great, Genius Adversary of the Thoughtless Masses."

The man looked down at a PDA that he had been holding in his right hand. "Um. So you're not Stewart Winfield?"


"Well, is he?" the man asked, pointing over to Gary.

"No, he's Gary Thornton." Gary waved at him.

"This is apartment 5C, is it not?" the man asked, studying the PDA again.

"Yes," Sarnaster said. "Perhaps you have the wrong apartment."

"Maaaayyyybe," the man said, a puzzled look on his face. "Hm. All right." He continued to scrutinize the PDA. "Thanks." Then he slowly wandered away. Sarnaster slammed the door.

"Was he that alien or something that you said would be showing up here?" Gary asked.

"Yes," Sarnaster said. "Not a very smart one, apparently.

"Wow, that's pretty weird," Gary said. He looked back to the television. Arial footage of yet another massive highway pile up was jiggling on the screen. It was the fifth one that day. There were three during the morning rush that had left thirty-four dead, and there were two now in the evening rush, another sixteen dead. "Man, I hope this date goes good, dude."

"As do I," Sarnaster said. Knocks came to the door again. He rushed to the door and opened it.

"Gary Thornton is your roommate!" yelled the man, pointing at Sarnaster.

"He's really more of a permanent housegues--"

"I won't be duped!" yelled the man. "You don't know who you're dealing with, buddy!" He pulled a gun from a holster than had been concealed by his jacket. It was certainly no ordinary gun. It looked like a silver metal tube with a handle and a hole at the end of it.

"What's that?" Sarnaster asked. "Did you get that at a Star Trek convention or something?"

"No, this one's REAL!" the man said. "And I'm going to use it to kill you. You've caused far too many deaths - that didn't happen the first time! - to let you continue to live."

"Gee," said Sarnaster, "could you wait until after my date? I've been really looking forward to it. I've been working very hard to get it perfect."

"This was all to GET A DATE PERFECT?!" he bellowed. "A DATE?! This was all over a WOMAN?!"

"Yes, they're very tricky," Sarnaster said, backing away. He counted his steps. One... two... three... He counted the man's steps as he advanced into the apartment. One... two... three...

Quickly, Sarnaster jumped to his computer and pushed a command on the keyboard. Two shaded lamps on either side of the man suddenly came to life. He looked at one of them, then the other, then tried to move further forward.

He couldn't.

"What?!" he exclaimed. He tried to move backwards, too. Nothing doing there, either.

"Your race is familiar with force fields aren't they?" Sarnaster asked. "Yes, I know who you are. You're known to us as Frank McMillan, right?"

Gary chuckled. Frank sneered at them both. "How did you--?!"

"I've been monitoring your transmissions," Sarnaster said. "I always scan for extra terrestrial communications. Here..." He hit a few keys. An audio file began playing.

Well, the temporal loopback is probably the culprit. Somebody on the planet has caused the day to repeat for some nefarious reason I could not even guess at. We've been trying to pinpoint its origin so we can find who did it. So far all of our data indicates it was somewhere in North America…

"I recorded that one this morning," Sarnaster said. "This one I recorded two hours ago."

Zou'ssshhock, we are all very pleased that you and your Frank McMillan counterpart are still living. We have pinpointed where the loopback originated from. It's on 594 Green Street in Syracuse, New York. Apartment 5C. The occupant there, his name is Stewert Winfield. Our scans indicate that his brain is producing an unusual amount of bioelectrical activity. He must be extremely intelligent. Approach him with caution.

"Guess you should have listened to him, dude," Gary said, smiling. Then he went back to watching TV and picking at his belly button.

"I concur," Sarnaster said.

"Well, shit," Frank said, dropping his arms to his sides in dejection. "If I had listened to him, I probably would have brought one of our devices that easily disperses any feeble human-created forcefield." He paused for effect, then continued. "No, wait, I do believe I DID!" He produced a small, metal disk from his jacket pocket. He pressed it. The lamps blew out.

"Oh shit, dude," Gary said. "This guy's gonna totally own you!"

Frank aimed his weapon -- again -- at Sarnaster.

"All is not lost!" shouted Sarnaster. He ran to his computer again and hit a few keys. "There!"

Frank laughed as a blue beam from a hidden laser in the coat closet hit him in the chest. "We know about every device you've built. Did you not record that part of our conversation? Oh, that's right, you didn't, because, you see, that part took place after we'd discovered that you were monitoring our transmissions and we switched channels to a frequency inaudible to the human ear. Anyway, this laser is doing nothing more than giving me a little tickle!"

"Foiled again, dude!" Gary said.

"Shut up!" Sarnaster whined.

Frank pushed something on his disk. The laser disappeared. Once again, he pointed his weapon at Sarnaster. "Goodbye, Mr. Winfield."

He fired it. Or, rather, he didn't fire it. Nothing happened. He looked at the weapon, puzzled.

"Did you forget to turn the safety off or something?" Gary asked.

"No, he probably didn't know about the device around my doorway!" Sarnaster said. "You see, they only scanned the devices inside my apartment! They didn't see my modified metal detector that deactivates any hyperspatial weapons that come through."

"I hate that thing," Gary said. "It really fucks with my cell phone."

"Yes, you are pretty clever!" Frank said, putting the now-useless weapon away. "I'll give you that. But does it deactivate THESE?!" He flung his arm out. A blur of something shot at Sarnaster. He stumbled backwards, his hands out, stuck together in a prayer position. In between them was the knife that Frank had just flung at him.

"Whoooaaahhhh," Gary said.

"That unusual brain activity also gives me excellent reflexes," Sarnaster said, grinning.

"You're really annoying me," Frank said flatly. :"Even more than that car dealership guy." He straightened his jacket, moved his neck from side to side, popping it very loudly as he did so.

Two small knocks rapped at the door.

"If you're done trying to kill me now, my date is here," Sarnaster said, putting his hands down. He tossed the knife to Gary and walked towards the door.

Frank shot his leg up in an attempt to kick Sarnaster in the chest. He barely dodged it. Frank tried a few punches. Sarnaster dodged one, got hit in the face with the other.

"It's on now, dude!" Gary yelled, grinning from ear to ear. He turned the TV off and flung the remote away. This was so much better than television!

For several minutes, they fought each other, both of them displaying better martial arts skills than Gary had ever seen in any movie or TV show. They managed to break every piece of furniture in the apartment, including the television. At that point Gary had retreated to his bedroom doorway so he wouldn't accidentally get hit.

"What the hell's going on in there?!" yelled a muffled voice from the other side of the front door.

"You're gonna ruin my date!" Sarnaster yelled, swaying back and forth, blood spewing from his nose, his eyes swelling up. Even with his almost superhuman reflexes, he still was not as fast or as strong as Frank.

"I was here to ruin more than THAT!" Frank exclaimed. His only wound was a slightly bloody lip. "DON'T YOU GET IT?!"

Sarnaster growled and sprinted to his bedroom...where his device was. "No!" shouted Frank. He ran after him. When he got to Sarnaster he already had the control in his hand.

"Got to do this day...over...again!" he grunted as Frank grabbed his arm and tried to force him to drop the control.

"If you repeat this day again the results could be catastrophic!" exclaimed Frank.


"Oh, he's fighting with an old friend," Gary said, who had taken the liberty of finally answering the door. "He said for me to go ahead and take you out instead. You like Chinese?"

"I LOVE Chinese!" Becky said, grinning. "Got any place in mind?"

"I know the perfect place," Gary said. "By the way, you're pretty cute." Becky giggled.

They left.

Back in the apartment...

"Oh, wait," Frank said as he was twisting Sarnaster's arm, "I forgot, we deactivated it." Then he snapped Sarnaster's arm in two and made him drop the remote anyway.

Sarnaster howled in pain.

"Now, I say to you again," grunted Frank as he grabbed Sarnaster's mess of hair, "GOODBYE."

With lightning quickness - SNAP! - he broke Sarnaster's neck.

When Gary returned to the apartment at 1 AM he and Becky were banging the door open, faces locked together in a slurpy, kissing embrace. If he hadn't been so into getting Becky's clothing off, he would have noticed that the apartment was spotless, cleaner than it had ever been. All the destroyed furniture, he would have noticed, had he not been sucking on Becky's nipples, was fully restored to looking like new.

Gary might have also noticed the note on the coffee table written by Frank had he not been busy removing Becky's panties:

Mr. Thornton
We have left you all of Mr. Winfield's possessions except all the dangerous devices he'd built, and we have transferred all of his money to you, all $611,345,678.54 of it. We took his devices with us, and his brain, for further study. Enjoy his money and the rest of your life, as I'm sure you will. We'll be enjoying his mind. We may find some use of it. (If you've ever seen one of those silly movies where somebody has a brain in a jar, alive, hooked to things, believe it or not, it's actually kind of like that).

Also, if Gary hadn't been busy in his bedroom sticking his penis in Beckys' vagina, he would have also noticed that -- finally -- it was September 9th.

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