The most excellent Damon Lindelof (Creator of Lost, Watchmen, and The Leftovers) has kindly offered to share a serialized story with NextDraft readers to help us, and him, through the quarantine. The first 14 chapters are here.

Chapter 15: I Was Being Sarcastic When I Said They Were Dead The Whole Time

Every husband should prepare himself for this possibility that he will one day encounter a strange man in his bedroom. Nonetheless, George was still surprised to see one in his.

“Don’t freak out, dad…” said Alden, “He’s with me.”

“What year is this?” said the strange man with the phenomenal beard.

“Who are you?” said George.

“I’m Brad,” said Brad, who was extremely tall and not at all uncomfortable in a way that made George incredibly uncomfortable, “Seriously, bro, what year is this?”

There was only one possible explanation for a query such as this. George looked at his son. “Alden Rosenberg. Are you time-traveling right now?”

“Technically, no.” Alden responded, “But Brad is.”

“I fucking A am.” said Brad, holding up his hand for a high-five. Alden sighed and half-heartedly provided it.

“Dad,” Alden said, turning to George, “We are in the midst of pandemic and I have very serious concerns about our current leadership. Brad is going to help me make some necessary revisions.”

Brad turned to George too, excited that he had indeed traveled through time but also by the line of blow he had done at work before the kid showed up. Okay, more the blow, less the time travel, but the point was he was fucking pumped. And boy, did he have questions. “Is Hillary fucking Clinton seriously the President?”

George furrowed his brow. He did not like where this was going. Or where it had already gone. “Yes…” he said cautiously, “But despite my son’s “concerns,” I think she is doing as good a job as could be expected given the circumst—”

“–Yeahyeahyeah…” Brad interrupted, “Your kid said nobody’s listening to her about staying inside and so she turned off your internet and now you’re looking down the barrel of full-scale nationwide revolution, that about the size of it?”

“The… size of it?” said George, who did not see the world in terms of size because he was 5’9 and that was perfectly average even though he was actually closer to 5’8 and maybe if he was being really honest about it, 5’7.

“Hey… does she really have an eyepatch? How’d that happen?” asked Brad.

“Well,” said George, “It was horrifying actually… it happened on live telev—”

“—Gentlemen!” interrupted Alden, who knew that everyone reading this cared more about how Hillary lost her eye (horrifically) than anything else and wanted to make sure this was not revealed until the very end, “We don’t have time for this. Dad… just tell us where Mom’s C.G.S.P.P is so we can get this over with.”

“Heh.” chortled Brad, “You said peepee.”

George hesitated, then realized that the hesitation would be perceived as weakness, so he said much louder than a normal person would ever say, “Sorry, bud. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Dad.” said Alden, who liked being lied to only slightly less than he liked being called bud, “Tell us where the Chrono Genomic Sequencing Pharmaceutical Printer is or Brad here’s gonna beat you up.”

“Sorry, Mr. Rosenberg.” Brad said, politely cracking his knuckles.

George should have been surprised at this threat of violence from his own son, but he was not. Alden had embraced Oedipal tendencies from an early age. When he was six, George told him to turn off the television and Alden just looked at him and said, “How about I turn you off ?” George laughed nervously, but Alden made it clear that he wasn’t joking when he said, “I’m not joking.”

So George knew that Brad would indeed beat him up if he did not reveal the whereabouts of Elizabeth’s time machine (she hated it when he called it that) but he also understood that Alden must have already accessed it if Brad was already travelling through time and he was on the verge of pointing out this very paradox when the ceiling above them abruptly exploded and two adult panda bears fell into the room from above in a cloud of sawdust and insulation.

“Shit.” said Alden.

“GRAAAAAAAR!” said one of the pandas.

“…The fuck?!?” said Brad.

“MUHHHHHR!” said the other panda.

The door flew open and a woman burst into the room. She was sweaty, slightly drunk and most certainly fifteen years older than the last time any of them had seen her. She was brandishing a whip, which she cracked with brutal authority, bringing the pandas to attention, for she was clearly their master.

“Hi, honey.” Elizabeth Rosenberg said to her stupefied husband…

“Sorry I’m late.”

To be continued