The time machine is just the same size on the inside as on the outside. The science fiction television shows have taught me nothing, but my training at ISAET definitely has.
Years of abandoned space junk crashing to Earth have informed us of the presence of alien life forms, and now this is our golden prize. Found in an abandoned field in France, the International Space and Extraterrestrial Technology program had identified its presence within twenty-four hours. My assignment was to get in, take some pictures, and get out.
But how am I supposed to resist? A real, live time machine, my life’s work, just sitting there with me in it. I swear I just touched one switch. Then I left.
I had closed the machine’s doors behind me–Audrey always nags me to “preserve the alien tech”–and now I left, expecting to step out into the wet, marshy fields of Western France. Instead, I stepped out onto a freeway bustling with cars. If they could even be called cars–no wheels, no defining car shape, just a round pod in different colors hovering a few inches off the ground.
“Get out of the way!” Something pulled at my shirtsleeve, tugging me violently out of the grasp of the flying cars, several of whom were honking loudly at me. “What were you thinking?”
I tore my eyes away from the cars just long enough to register a woman’s face, lined with age, but energetically framed by curls of brown, frizzy hair. I noticed she had a slight French accent, but her English was immaculate.
“I’m–I’m sorry, but who are you? And where am I?” I asked her.
The woman looked at me oddly, giving me an eye roll. “Where are you? Paris III, of course! Where else would you be?”
“I’m–I’m sorry, but I was just in Charente a moment ago,” I said. “And… and I have the sneaking suspicion that we did not have flying cars there.”
“Charente? The dwarf planet? No wonder you came here! It’s truly boring over there.”
“I’m sorry, did you just say dwarf planet?”
Again, the odd look and eye roll. “Of course! Where else would Charente be? Well, Charente II, to be accurate. Only new rendition since the Earth one.” The woman smiled and took a piece of equipment from her pocket.
It was a small orb, glowing a sickly green, which emitted a faint light over me. It beeped softly, a red light on what could be called the top blinking red.
Rendition? Earth one? Dwarf planet? Charente II? Paris III?
“I… I didn’t quite catch your name, sorry. Would you mind telling me again: who are you?” I said.
“Name? I never mentioned it,” the woman said, “But if you must know, the name’s Doctor Clara Stone.”
“Oh… Do you happen to be… famous, by any chance?” I asked.
Stone emitted a short, barking laugh. “Famous? Not quite yet.” She lowered her voice. “Don’t tell anybody, but I’ve traveled in the model 1000 Timespinner prototype. I know just what’s in store for me.” She winked at me. “Wonderful machine. Lets you meet past or future versions of yourself without changing a thing. Absolutely lovely.”
I nodded absently. “Timespinner… that a time machine?”
The odd look again. “Of course! What else would let you travel through time?”
I opened and closed my eyes slowly. This cannot be happening. This just cannot be happening to me.
“Just… might be an odd question, but… would you mind telling me… what year is it?”
“6047,” Stone said. “Hang on a second.” She stepped onto the edge on the freeway, just shy of the transport vehicles that have replaced cars. She held up her orb-shaped scanner, tapping it and muttering under her breath.
The time machine materialized into view, and the hover cars swerved to avoid it. Some of them honked their horns, just barely missing it. Its exterior was blue-gray, and there were soft dents where it had crashed into the Earth. The door looked as if were just hanging on.
Stone took a step back. “Oh my god,” she whispered.
“Doctor Stone…” The cars swerved to avoid her, too.
“Oh my god.” Stone took a step back and ran towards me. “Come on. You need to come with me. Right now.”
(c) Books and Bark Blog & Sabrina Wolfheart
The inspiration for this story was the Weekly Writing Prompt: Time Machine on the Daily Post: “We’re giving you a free ticket to the period and place of your choice: where do you go? Do you stay where you are, or venture somewhere far away? Do you go all the way back to prehistoric times, or relive a fun moment you just had last year?”
Of course I took a simple prompt about myself and crafted it into a complex and probably wrong-sciency plot. Not to mention the writing came out pretty badly. Oh, well. That’s me, for you. I actually really like how it came out for a half-hour story, unplanned, and only about 1,000 words. But alas, it isn’t proofread! Oh, well.