No Second Chances
"Step right up, folks! Get your cheap fast food here at Ed-to-Go!"
These were the first words spoken on the morning of Friday, July 9 in the year 2005. The one who shouted them was Eddy, a rather young, vertically challenged pre-teenager who happened to be positioned behind a well-polished makeshift counter outside of his house in a small suburban cul-de-sac known as Peach Creek. On that particularly fine Friday morning, this spunky individual was making an attempt to cheat the neighborhood kids out of their money with a carefully-designed masquerade that was manifested (at least to his greatest ability) as a fast food "restaurant". No matter what the guise of his scheming was, the art of fleecing his peers out of their allowances was local bad-seed Eddy's most cherished pastime.
He paused before making another announcement, and realized he was missing a useful apparatus. "Hey, Double Dee!" he called in his signature aggravating, gravelly voice, still gazing out at the silent dawn that was blanketing the rest of the cul-de-sac. "Where'd you put the megaphone?"
Stationed several feet behind Eddy was his close friend (or rather subordinate) Edd, known to all as "Double Dee" due to the similarity between his and his friends' names. Though he was a friend of Eddy, Edd was a quiet young man who still flourished in his pre-teenager years, though his mental capacity had far surpassed those of other children of the time. Unlike most children, he abhorred violence and found great joy in undertaking tedious tasks such as chores. He was a scientist at heart, and always sported a characteristically mysterious black beanie that concealed unknown mysteries on his scalp.
"Well, I…I'm…not sure," muttered Edd, rubbing the back of his neck and glancing around, unable to spot the elusive device. "Ed, do you have it?"
Edd had turned to his right, addressing his and Eddy's other mutual companion who happened to be named Ed. Now, Ed was the same age as his friends, and while his mental capacity was a bit lacking (though "a bit" may be an understatement), his knowledge and love of science fiction was unsurpassable and his imagination roamed more freely than a wild falcon. His recognizable unibrow and great height made him stand out amongst his friends. At this time, he was childishly playing with the megaphone, running around and imagining it to be some sort of interstellar spaceship.
"Fire photon cannons!" cried Ed in an authorative voice as he swung the megaphone around, dodging imaginary warships. "Hit 'em hard! I am too good for you!"
Eddy let out an exasperated sigh, slammed his palms on the plywood counter, turned around, and stomped up to Ed, his teeth gritted - he was not amused. He had never been a big fan of Ed's constant fooling around during his precious scam-time. "Ed, give me the megaphone!" he growled, his short temper rising at an alarming rate.
Now, Ed was never one to listen to the spoken words of others, but today his behavior seemed a tad abnormal, for he promptly cooperated and gave his spaceship to Eddy. "Oh, sure thing, Eddy!" complied Ed, smiling, his mind now set on thoughts of pudding skin – a relic of enlightenment in his own mind.
Slightly perplexed by his friend's strange behavior, Eddy made his way up to the counter again, assumed a false welcoming grimace, and shouted loudly into the megaphone: "Step right up, folks! Get your fast food here at Ed-to-Go!"
Though his vocals were mind-gratingly distorted, the scamming commenced - and not a moment too soon, for within a minute, all of the neighborhood kids were lined up at the counter. A small militia, one would say.
"Our suckers have arrived!" Eddy snickered, his eyes squinting with excitement and his grin widening with gluttony. He quickly waved to Edd and Ed, whispering "Eds! To your positions!"
Edd had already hustled up to the counter alongside Eddy before whispering "Roger!" Of course, not all people are as comprehending as others, for Ed was dumbstruck. "Roger?" asked Ed, confused beyond the belief of all mankind put together. "Who's Roger, Double Dee?" His face flattened, assumed a horse-like expression, and compressed into space.
Eddy turned around and let out another, now-characteristic exasperated groan, irritated by his friend's moronity. "Ed, just…gah…go over there!" hissed Eddy through gritted teeth, pointing to the front door of his own house (the point was so full of force that he nearly dislocated his shoulder). Ed did as he was told with a grin on his face and a guffaw emanating from his windpipe.
And so last-minute preparations had finally ceased, for bald-and-big-headed-happy-go-lucky-white-shirt-wearing Jonny 2x4 was at the front of the line, holding his best friend Plank, a 2x4 with a face etched onto it, in his hands. Jonny was a simple boy with a love of life and a happy-go-lucky nature; that and he was extremely naïve and had a wild imagination. He was also very prone to being weirded out, hence his growing confusion in his encounters with the Eds.
His best friend, Plank, was exactly what his name suggested: a 2x4 with two eyes and a mouth crayoned onto it in an attempt to give it personality. And somehow, it worked – Jonny supposedly could understand the inner workings of this wooden board and toted it around constantly as if it were a Siamese twin. Strange it sounded, and strange it was.
"Hiya, Jonny-boy!" greeted Eddy charismatically with an exceptionally cheesy and overworked TV-commercial-salesman voice. "What'll it be?" His own sleekness, or whatever he perceived it to be, brought tears to his eyes.
"Hiya, Eddy! I'll have an Ed-burger," answered Jonny jovially after a few seconds of careful contemplation (and after analyzing the terribly-crafted paper menu on the side of the counter). "And Plank here will have a…what?" A punch to the brain. Terrible shock. A development had occurred between a boy and his plank. Jonny stared at his wooden friend, astonished and appalled, his pupils shrinking in horror at the "telepathic" message he had received from his personal wooden board. "What do you mean you won't eat cheap fast food when you're on a diet? How am I supposed to afford a deluxe meal at a five-star restaurant with only…don't you talk to me like…!"
Well, so much for that, thought Eddy as he watched Jonny walk a few feet away from the counter waging a losing argument with a wooden board. But no matter – the other children had begun to shout their own requests at the "ed-ployees": an "Ed Shake" for big-mouthed Sarah (Ed's osprey-like, annoying little sister) and girly-boy Jimmy (Sarah's best and overly effeminate braces-sporting friend), the "Big Ed Burger" for foreigner-farm-boy Rolf (a true enigma hailing from the Alps), an "Ed-ka-bob" for neighborhood-dream-girl Nazz (a blonde with a charm that could liquefy the souls of any pre-teenage boy and make them melt on the spot like margarine), and a "How about a knuckle sandwich, you dork?" for slack-jawed, bike riding, punkster jock, Ed-hating Kevin (the arch nemesis of the Eds…especially Eddy, whose tolerance of him seemed to be relatively microscopic in magnitude).
This swift barrage of orders proved to be the miracle-grow that would fuel Eddy's seed of over-excitement. His heart raced as the thought of dull-green cash infiltrated his scheming mind. "Ed! Go get the food out of my fridge!" he shouted excitedly to his dimwitted companion, not even bothering to turn around and lose sight of his suckers.
Apparently unaware of it, Eddy had just unwittingly activated a metaphorical time bomb. "Sure thing, Eddy!" replied Ed in a booming voice full of enthusiasm to carry out (or at least try to fulfill) his task. Hence, he turned around a full 180 degrees and skipped merrily through the open front door and into Eddy's living room.
Now Edd, being the analyst and worrywart that he was, was rightfully concerned with the task that Eddy had entrusted Ed with – it seemed far too much for one Ed to comprehend. "Eddy, can we really trust Ed with retrieving all of that food? Or going into a house alone, for that matter?" He looked back at the open door, catching a glimpse of Ed shuffling his way into Eddy's living room. He began to perspire with concern, which added a "hygienic shower" to his mental list of things-to-do.
Eddy, who seemed to be quite preoccupied with the swarm of peers that stood before him and whose mind was filled with thoughts of cash-baths, did not seem to be worried, not that he would have cared in the first place. "Nah, he can handle it," was all that he had to say on the matter.
Hearing this, and knowing that it would be nearly impossible to convince Eddy that something would probably go awry, Edd decided to prematurely give up on the matter. However, he had worried for good reason – at that exact moment, for the first time in decades, a sudden but mind-bendingly tremendous earthquake struck the cul-de-sac with balance-obliterating force.
Panic immediately ensued as the neighborhood kids began to run aimlessly in circles, screaming in terror and announcing that they were planning on "getting the heck out of here". Eddy's only concern was that his makeshift counter had just toppled down in front of him, effectively ruining the authenticity of his scheme. He gritted his teeth, which chattered due to the trembling earth.
"My Great Nana is headed this way!" shrieked Rolf through a thick, impossible-to-pinpoint European accent, suggesting that his great grandmother, who apparently had a weight statistic that was in the high four-hundred range, was causing the earth to split open. "Run for your lives!"
Amidst the screams, Edd managed to grab hold of Eddy's shoulders from behind, supporting himself so as to not fall down due to the quaking ground. "Eddy! The earth is splitting open!" he shouted into his friend's ear. "We need to evacuate the vicinity!"
Eddy shrugged Edd's weak hands off of his shoulders and turned around with the intention of knocking him out for touching his signature yellow shirt, but was distracted upon seeing something relatively askew going on inside of his house. "What the…Ed!" he screamed upon seeing his oafish companion walk through the living room and toward the front door carrying the support beam of his house. "You idiot! My house is gonna fall down!"
As the hinges on Eddy's roof began to shoot into the distance and as the walls began to chip and crumble, Edd came to a sudden realization that both amused and horrified him beyond any conceivable extent. "Eddy…Ed mistook your house's support beam for a shish-ka-bob stick!"
Before Eddy could scream, cry, punch, run, or think, for that matter, the foundations of his house began to undergo its death throes – after a sickening terrestrial jolt and a gut-wrenching cracking sound from underground, Eddy's house, which had stood for many years and had housed his very ancestors, collapsed, sending dust, rubble, and soot flying in every direction. The neighborhood kids dispersed with all speed as the Eds were duly consumed by the falling structure.
Only after a great many minutes did Ed, Edd, and Eddy finally emerge from the rubble, the dust finally settled. They did not seem to be harmed in any way, miraculously, though their thoughts were not in such positive states. For one, Ed had forgotten what pudding skin looked like and could not picture it in his mind, causing him to grab his skull and run around in dismay. Edd was preoccupying himself with scanning the area, muttering to himself "messy, messy, messy…", heartbroken at the terrible lack of orderliness and cleanliness that lay before him.
Eddy was in a much simpler state, though. He was simply in shock. A constant, dull beating in his ears cut off his hearing and he viewed the ruins before him through blurred vision. He was sweating profusely, spotting an armchair, a lava lamp, a bed, a television, and even a car amidst the rubble. His house was standing before. He was used to it standing - so used to it that he never imagined it not standing. Now it was reality. He clenched his fists as his fury rose. His skin literally turned red as his temper skyrocketed. He had only one word echoing in his mind that he finally verbalized after a minute of standing there in fury.
All Edd saw was a relatively fast blur sweep across his field of vision, and then he heard a growl, then a crash, then a scream of anger and a laugh of confusion. He turned to his right and witnessed in horror what was happening. Eddy was sitting on big Ed's back and was clutching his friend's skull, repeatedly bashing it into the dust-caked ground, screaming "you destroyed my house, Ed! My stinkin' house is sawdust!" all the while. Even though Ed seemingly found such torture quite amusing, Edd still felt compelled to interject.
"Eddy!" cried Edd as he rushed over to the wrestling match that was taking place on Eddy's front lawn. "Stop it this instant! Can't you see you're hurting the poor man?" He already knew it was no use – Eddy's fury was inextinguishable.
This was proven when Eddy turned to Edd, still seated on Ed's back and growled "You stay out of it, Sockhead! Ed destroyed my house, not yours! Besides, he's laughing, so back off!" He then continued to smash Ed's cranium into the grass – this seemed ineffective, for Ed was openly enjoying it, shouting "This is fun!" all the while.
Edd sighed at the thought of his next course of action – he had not wanted to reveal his secret project to anyone besides the press, but it seemed he had no choice. "Eddy, what if I told you we can fix everything that just happened, and that we can attempt your scam once more…a second chance, you might say." He said this relatively calmly, trying to lighten the situation a smidge.
As hopeless as it had seemed, Eddy promptly let go of Ed's head and sprung to his feet, staring at Edd in disbelief. "No way," he muttered. "You gotta be kidding. If you are kidding, I'm gonna knock your teeth out, Sockhe-"
"Time machine," interrupted Edd. He had revealed it, though he had tried to avoid doing so for many months. However, it did work very well – it had garnered both Eddy and Ed's attention…and then some. They stared at him in disbelief, wide smiles stretching across their faces (Ed's face seemed to be quite grass-ridden and covered in dirt). "I have been working on a time machine over the past few months and had planned on revealing it to everyone later on, but I suppose using it now would not be such a…"
The next thing he knew, he was being dragged across the cul-de-sac by his ankles at a grueling pace by Eddy, screaming as his chin and chest scraped against the cold concrete, the sidewalk, and the lawns that they subsequently crossed. Eddy's excitement was unsurpassable – he now had a chance to restore his house and make money simultaneously, among other things that he could potentially do in the future through some clever time-machine-manipulation. His mind was racing, and so was he, keeping a firm grasp on Edd's ankles as he ran. Ed followed after them in hot pursuit, unbelievably eager to see what marvels Edd had been working on that he did not know about.
They were headed to Edd's basement, where the world's first time machine was being produced.
"Thank you Eddy, now I have to get a new shirt…"
"What'd you say?"
"Haha, I'm hungry…"
Edd had been preoccupying himself with brushing off his now-filthy orange shirt while trying to balance on aching ankles after being dragged across the cul-de-sac, through his house, down the basement stairs, and into the main underground chamber. Eddy was standing impatiently, tapping his foot and checking his watch, muttering to himself as Edd did this, while Ed looked around, marveling at the perfectly white walls and the laundry baskets scattered randomly amidst the cobwebs and washers.
"Okay, okay, where was I…" muttered Edd to himself after rubbing the last clod of dirt off of his shirt as he walked over to the seven-foot tall, blue-sheet draped, cylindrical object located in the northeast corner of the basement. He let out a deep sigh, regretting that he was prematurely revealing what was possibly his greatest work to date, and grasped the blue cloak tightly. "Gentlemen, I give you the Time Transport 3000!"
Edd quickly (and perhaps too dramatically) flung the blue sheet away, revealing what was perhaps the most technologically-advanced marvel that Ed and Eddy had ever laid eyes on. This chrome-coated, glistening apparatus was relatively colossal in size, sporting a wide array of colored buttons, receptors, antennae, and a plethora of other scientifically-oriented gadgets and doohickeys on both its exterior and its visible interior. It was cylindrical in shape and magnificent to the eyes.
"Holy cow…!" cried Eddy in awe, marveling at the science-surpassing sub-structure that stood before him as well as the beaming, five-and-a-half-foot pre-teenager who stood beside it. "You built this, Sockhead? How did you…" The words escaped even his characteristic loud-mouthedness. He was stricken with pure, unsaturated amazement.
Ed was already inside the contraption, marveling at the cramped quarters that were packed with as many terminals and apparatuses as the external shell of the machine was. Before this moment, even he, with his wild imagination, could not fathom the thought of the existence of time machines in reality – what he was seeing now was a dream come true. Thus, he took action. "Double Dee!" he cried in delight, jumping high into the air to manifest his joy. He turned a full 180 degrees and galloped toward both Edd and Eddy, a wide grin on his face and a fire in his eyes. He grabbed his friends and held them under his arms, exposing them to the putrid odor that extruded from his armpits (hygiene was a non-existent term or practice to Ed), made a U-turn, and ran full speed into the time machine, ignoring the protests and screams of his pals.
Placing them down, his excitement was too great to pay attention to the brunt of Eddy's insults and scoldings – he simply stared at the marvels around him. Which button should he press? Which button would produce intergalactic space mutants? Or summon equipment that could be used at his disposal in order to reenact the Space Outlaw adventures he read about in comic books of yore. He urinated once again, his teeth digging into his lower lip with excitement.
Edd, dusting off his already-torn-apart orange t-shirt, paid little attention to the obvious praise that Ed was offering him and instead focused on locating the apparatus that would send him and his friends back in time. "Now, where did I put that…?" he muttered to himself as Eddy yelled at Ed for "chafing his sides". He mentally kicked himself for not knowing the location of a button in his own invention. That was when he spotted a hexagonal blue button adjacent to a mini-keyboard to his left: the time-setting apparatus. "There you are!" he sighed in relief as he set his fingers on the keys, preparing to type in "one hour ago" – this would send him and his friends back in time in order to re-attempt Eddy's scam and save his house from eventual ruin.
Ed was paying absolutely no attention to Eddy's rantings about his sides, and was instead shaking with anticipation; they were in a time machine! As he thought about it more and more (though the word "thought" can hardly be applied to this young man), he came to realize that his experience in such an apparatus was not to be limited to a trip to one hour ago. Unacceptable! Thus he acted upon this realization, pushing Eddy aside and rushing toward the control panel that Edd was situated at. "Let me help, Double Dee!" he cried with surprisingly frightening enthusiasm as he grabbed Edd by the arm and threw him to the side, sending him sliding on the ground and crashing into Eddy.
Eddy had no idea what was going on, but all he knew was that Ed was being stupid again. Edd, however, was fully aware that what Ed was doing could have life-threatening effects. Thus, he shouted "Ed, stop! Don't touch that!" Though even he knew that Ed wouldn't heed his words – the lummox was pounding away on the keys, pressing buttons, turning dials, and activating switches at random, laughing all the while out of sheer curiosity. He was not a bright boy.
Amidst the confusion, Eddy rose to his feet, brushing off his shirt before pointing at Ed in a threatening manner. "Ed, you idiot!" he barked, his forehead wrinkling as his eyebrows tilted as part of his angry expression. "What is it with you and ticking me off?"
His following sentences were lost from memory as the time machine began to quake violently and spontaneously. Edd rose to his feet, struggling with all his might to maintain his balance, and looked over at the terminal at which Ed was stationed. "Ed, what have you done?!" he shrieked in terror, clutching his head, his eyes wide open in shock as he stumbled his way to the terminal. He promptly shoved the guffawing, dumbstruck Ed to the side and stared at the screen on the "dashboard" in horror, his jaw hanging open, slowly emitting a horrified scream. "Ed, no! You've…"
Eddy now shifted his attention from Ed to the horrorstruck Edd, wondering what was going on and why Edd's entire basement was now trembling as his house had earlier. "Um, what's going on, Double Dee?" he asked, his worry growing exponentially. "Did Ed break the stinking time machine?!"
Edd promptly turned around and faced Eddy, ignoring Ed stupidly laughing on the floor beside him. Sweat was dripping down his face, his eyes open wide with terror, and he was respiring at an extremely rapid rate. Something was wrong. No, something was more than wrong.
"Eddy, you're not going to believe this," started Edd, staring at Eddy in the eyes, thinking of a way to reveal what horrors he had just learned of. "Ed…Ed just…set the time machine's coordinates on a dimensional scale relative to the universe's gravitational grid!" He cried out in horror – he expected Eddy to do the same.
However, Eddy just gazed at Edd, completely dumbstruck and feeling uncomfortably like Ed. Although he was significantly more intelligent than Ed, he could never comprehend the intense vocabulary that Edd commonly utilized. "Say it in English, Sockhead!" he yelled, his fists clenched in both annoyance and fright. "I hate it when you-"
"The time machine is warping us ten-thousand light-years into outer space!"
It did not even take three seconds for this news to register into Eddy's mind – as soon as Edd had finished pronouncing the word "space", he screamed in terror. However, his screams were drowned out by the cataclysmic trembling of the time machine and the electrical jolts streaming all about. Edd's cries of horror were also submerged beneath the noise as he attempted to reverse the cycle in vain.
And Ed simply lay on the aluminum floor laughing his face off, almost completely unaware of what he had done – all that was on his mind was the thought of dancing chickens (a thought that always provoked laughter within him).
Before any of them could escape or propose a solution to the terrible situation at hand, Edd's entire basement spontaneously flashed with a brilliant crimson light; five times to be exact. The foundations of Edd's house began to tremble as the time machine began to quake to the point where bursting would not have been an illogical occurrence. Then there was one, final flash of blindingly bright sapphire light, and the time machine was gone. Gone from Edd's basement, gone from Peach Creek, gone from North America, gone from Earth, gone from the Solar System, and gone from the galaxy.
Three young men named Ed, Edd, and Eddy were now traveling ten-thousand light years into space, where the unknown was anxiously awaiting their arrival…