Tag Archives: time travel

Arraignment

FF213 Dale Rogerson

copyright Dale Rogerson

“How do you plead?”

“Not guilty, your Honor.”

“You were caught stealing 200 feet of wiring from a house.”

“I’m an electrician. I went there to install it, but I have this unusual problem. I sometimes get caught in a reverse time wave. I’m seeing a physicist about it.”

“You were caught trying to steal $150,000 from a bank fifteen years ago.”

“I was there to deposit it. Inheritance from a rich uncle.”

“Sure. The trial is set two weeks from today, no bail. If you’re telling the truth, you’ll walk out of the jail long before then, I’m sure.”


Factor-E

old factory

The rust-toothed hole in the factory wall smiled a tetanusy smile, hinting of adventure and rebellion.

“I’m going in.”

“Don’t do it, Mike,” Aaron said. “You can’t cuz—” Reasons escaped him, all but a lingering fear that showed as clear as neon on his face.

“I won’t be more than a minute. Relax.”

“There’s probably tramps in there,” Aaron said.

“Naw, this is the only way in, you know that. And grown-ups couldn’t squeeze in here.” They had spent the last forty-five minutes circling the ramshackle building, chucking rocks at the few remaining panes and beating sticks on rusty oil drums to hear the ghostly boom.

“Raccoons then. Maybe. Rats definitely. Definitely.”

Mike ignored him. Of course there’d be rats inside. He’d be disappointed if there weren’t. He squatted down and peered inside the holes, careful not to touch the tetanusy edge. He shucked off his pack filled with the last of the snacks his mom had packed for him when she thought he was going to Aaron’s to play down by his creek. Maybe he should bring that last apple and peanut butter sandwich in case he needed to distract any rats. He picked up a stick instead.

Aaron caught hold of Mike’s ankle just before he started into the hole. “Hey, careful!” Mike said. “I almost clipped my ear on the edge. You want me to get blood poisoning?”

“What if it’s haunted?” Aaron said. His face showed this was the ultimate terror, the one hiding behind all the excuses of tramps and raccoons and rats. Everybody knew this factory was haunted. That’s why the two boys had been drawn there, why they had spent forty-five minutes looking for a way in, even if neither said it out loud, even if Aaron had not admitted it to himself.

“It’s not haunted, stupid,” Mike said. He turned back to the hole and a small shiver went down his back. He hoped it was haunted.

Over twenty years before, when the factory had been recently abandoned, a girl named Katie had crawled inside, maybe through this very hole. There’d been witnesses. The other girls had waited for hours, crying and shouting Katie’s name into the hole over and over until they’d run and told their parents. The police had searched every inch of the factory, but no Katie. All the entrances had been sealed. Mike liked to think that even this hole had been welded shut, that it had opened up on its own after decades of slumber to show its rusted teeth once more.

“Look, I’m going in,” Mike said again. “Come if you want or stay here. I’ll be back in a second.” He ducked under the rusty teeth and eased his body inside.

“You’re stupid, Mike. Stupid!” Aaron smacked his stick off the side of the building, and the metal around Mike boomed and reverberated back and forth, fading off into eternity. Mike pushed forward, trying to ignore the damp mold that squished around his hand and knees.

He came out a moment later into the factory’s main room. Rays from the late afternoon sun invaded the room through the high western windows. The room was a gloomy graveyard of covered machinery and stacked crates. There was no sound from outside—Aaron had evidently stopped whacking on the sides of the building. Nothing moved inside the building. It was as if time had stopped.

There was a crash from nearby, and a stack of pallets fell over. Mike jumped. He took a step towards the hole when a flashlight beam fell on him.

“Who are you?” someone asked. Mike couldn’t see the speaker between the flashlight beam in his eyes and the cloud of dust that the falling pallets had kicked up. He put his hand up to shield his eyes and the beam dropped to the floor.

“Sorry.” It was a girl, Mike could tell. When his eyes recovered from being dazzled by the flashlight, he saw that she was about his age, with curly permed hair and a colorful jacket.

“Who are you?” she asked again.

“I’m Mike.”

“How’d you get in here? Through that hole?” She pointed to the small hole Mike had just come out of. “Are Tammy and Deborah still out there?”

A jolt of fear and exhilaration shot through Mike. He stepped back before he could stop himself. “Are you Katie?”

“Yeah, so?” Katie looked unimpressed. “Did they send you in to find me? I just got here, you know.”

He had found the ghost. She was standing right in front of him, and she didn’t even know she was a ghost.

“What year is it?” he asked.

“What?” She stared him down, then snorted in derision. “1993. Duh. Hey!” Mike had stepped forward and grabbed her hand. She jerked back, yanking her hand free and glaring. “What are you, some kind of pervert?”

She was solid. He had been expecting his hand to go right through her, but she was as solid as he was. He had smelled something from her when she moved back, fabric softener or shampoo or something flowery. Ghosts didn’t have smells, did they?

“We have to get out of here,” Mike said. A thought had struck him, a terrible, impossible thought more horrible than any he had ever had because unlike all his daydreams of monsters and ghosts and aliens, he had a feeling that this one was true. He scrambled into the opening and looked back. Katie hadn’t moved. “Come on!” he shouted and something in his voice made her move to follow him, grumbling a little.

“Keep going,” she said a moment later. “Why did you stop?”

“It’s blocked,” he said. Katie clicked on her flashlight and shone the beam past Mike’s shoulder. The exit was blocked with packed dirt.

“Those jerks!” she shouted. “I knew Tammy was mad at me, but this is too much!” She pushed past Mike to claw at the dirt.

Mike helped her dig, his heart pounding painfully in his chest. This was bad, really bad. A moment later, Katie’s hand broke through into open air. Five minutes later, she pushed herself out into the open and Mike followed, birthing himself out into a stand of ferns.

“What is this?” Katie asked. Her bluster had been left underground. Now she sounded like a scared little girl.

“It was 2017 when I went into the factory,” Mike said. He showed her his phone, and the date it displayed. There was no signal now, not even a single bar. He stood up and looked around. They were in an evergreen forest that stretched as far as they could see in all directions.

“We gotta go back!” Katie cried. “We need to fix this!” She rushed to the hole and stuck her feet in. A moment later, she pulled them out and started crying. Mike saw why; the hole was only two feet deep now.

“Time must have moved differently inside,” he said. “You disappeared ten years before I was born.”

“So what year is this?” Katie asked. She scrubbed her hands across her face, leaving dirt smeared on her cheeks like tribal warpaint.

“I have no idea,” Mike said.

*   *   *

I originally thought of this story for this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt, but decided to do my own thing when I realized I couldn’t cram it into a 100 words. So what do you think happened? What do you think will happen to Mike and Katie? Should I continue it?


The History of a Future Solution

The Neanderthal didn’t know the word cylinder when he pulled one from the swamp. It was hard and light and he found a thousand usages for it. When he looked into it, the crystalline interior sparkled like heaven in the rain.

He gave it to his son, who passed it to his. It was lost and found a dozen times through the ages, resting finally behind climate-controlled glass, a light shining through its crystalline core.

Marcus saw the cylinder at the museum while wrestling with an intractable problem. His brain shouted “Eureka!”

He ran home and finished his time machine.

 


Quantum Parking: the conclusion (where things get even worse)

This is the second part of a story about time travel, valet parking, and an inexorable personality known as Bruno Brax. Part 1 is here.

Cosmic Orb Weaver

Terrible, horrible life experience

“At least I’ve never killed anyone,” I said to myself as Bruno’s phone number rang. I wanted to say it now while it was still true. I had just sent a man ahead into the far future, asleep in the back of a Hummer.

Bruno picked up at last. “Hello?”

“Hello, Bruno? Hello?”

“Hello?”

“Bruno, it’s Jimmy!” I shouted. “I’ve got a problem. Where are you anyway?” I had to repeat the question.

“Have you heard of a cock fight? Well, that’s not what this is.” In the background, I heard seals barking.

“You’re fighting seals?”

“They’re not fighting each other. What’s up?”

I explained the situation. “Yeah, that happened once before to a Chihuahua. It was fine. Pretty incontinent afterwards, but otherwise fine.”

“What do I do?”

“Bring the car back, of course.” Click. Bruno had a real gift for brevity.

I selected the Hummer in the computer and pushed the red button. It appeared as smoothly as it had disappeared and I opened the back door, afraid of what I might find.

The car was empty. I even checked under the seats. Nothing.

Just as I was starting to feel a hurricane of panic sweat start to build, Bruno strode in.

“The fight’s over?” I asked, as sarcastically as I could.

He nodded. “The robot won. Nothing?”

“Nothing.”

He went to the control booth and started typing things in. “You know, this is what I’m paying you for.”

“You’re not actually paying me anything,” I said.

Bruno pushed a button decisively, then nodded. “Okay, it’s set. The computer will scan for life in the area and automatically bring it back. Should get him back soon.” He typed in some numbers and hit the green button. The Hummer disappeared again.

“Where did you send that?”

“The future, of course. You can’t have the car here if something else comes back. Very messy. Very messy, indeed. Well, I’m off.”

“Wait! So this will bring back any life that comes into that area? What if it’s not him? What if it’s a dinosaur?”

“There aren’t any dinosaurs in the future,” Bruno called back, already on the street. “Probably. If there is though, catch it alive. I’ll pay good money.”

Another car honked its horn outside. My sociology dissertation, which had looked like a hopeless quicksand pit a few hours ago, was now looking like a quicksand pit with a silver lining and a great place to drown myself.

At that moment, there was a pop and a large rat appeared on the receiving pad, standing on its hind legs and waving a pistol. I ducked behind the control panel just as a shot rang out and the control panel exploded in sparks. By the time I gathered up the shattered pieces of my courage and crammed them back into my psyche, the rat was gone.

I called Bruno.

“You know, I don’t even know why I hired you,” he said, his voice almost drowned out by what sounded like metallic whale songs.

“You didn’t! You press-ganged me.”

He sighed. “I thought you’d be more grateful, considering. Look, I’m busy now but just push the black button, call in a gas leak, and go home.”

“Isn’t that illegal?”

He chuckled. “Ah, you’re cute.” There was an explosion in the background of the phone and a loud roar. “Oops, things just got interesting here. Gotta go.”

I tried to push the black button, but it had melted in the explosion from the gunshot. The other buttons didn’t work either.

Suddenly, what looked like a cross between a python, a millipede, and a Tickle-me-Elmo appeared on the receiving pad. At this point, calling in a gas leak was like turning down your thermostat in a forest fire. However, before I could react, a car also popped into existence on the pad, combining most interestingly with the abomination that had just appeared before it. The results looked like Jackson Pollock trying to cook a whale liver with a pile driver.

This last nightmare-inducing episode was enough to throw me out of the gravity well that was Bruno Brax’s hypnotic personality. I went home, threw the sociology dissertation in the garbage, then thought better of it and put it in the fridge instead. Then I started to drink and write fiction. None of it made sense, so I assumed I was on the right track, art imitating life and all.

By the end of the day, the restaurant district was cordoned off and sealed. The official story was a gas leak, but I knew better. There were also reports of a gun-wielding rat riding a small dinosaur.

Two weeks after my short-lived valet job, the phone rang and I answered it without thinking.

It was Bruno.

“Hey Jimmy. I found you a job. You’ll need your own harpoon though.”

Click.

It was me this time.

Ether Generator - Inverted


Quantum Parking

I always thought it was impossible to destroy the fabric of the universe while working at a parking garage. It was one of those comforting truths that I clung to when times got hard, one of those sentences you stick ‘at least’ on the front of, like: “at least rats can’t wield guns” or “at least I’ll never be eaten by a dinosaur.” Finding out these things are wrong is what I think is called life experience.

Cosmic Orb Weaver

Terrible, horrible life experience

Bruno Brax was a friend of mine, in the same way a black hole and a passing star are friends. He had a sly, Tom Sawyer-esque way of making you think he was doing you a favor when it was really the other way around. I’m still not sure what he did for a living, but if I had to guess, it was to be friends with people like me.

“Hey Jimmy,” Bruno said, calling me up one day while I was puzzling over my doctoral dissertation. “I found you a job.”

“I’m not looking for a job.”

“Not anymore. Cuz I found you one. It’s a valet job at La Fesse D’or. It’s a swanky place. The guy who worked there before made like, eight bills a night.”

“8000 dollars a night?” I asked, skeptical.

“Not eight grand, idiot, 800. What, that’s not enough?”

“How do you make that much parking cars?”

“Tips, of course. It’s high class. Anyway, I’m always happy to help. I’ll text you the address. See you in an hour.” He hung up.

I went to meet him. I was stuck on my dissertation anyway.

La Fesse D’or stuck up like a crystal needle in the middle of the restaurant district, poised to lance the boil of the heavens. It was so narrow that there was only one table per floor but the restaurant went up thirty stories into the air, like a space-age middle finger to anyone who couldn’t afford to eat there, which was pretty much everyone. I drove but had to park four blocks away. Bruno was waiting outside, looking impatient.

“You’re late. I wanted to train you but your shift starts in fifteen minutes, so there’s not much time.”

“What—?”

“Come on, I even got your size uniform. Hurry up and change.”

There is a certain point, just like with black holes, when you pass the event horizon and struggling becomes pointless. Bruno had this weird gravity about him that sucked you in and compelled you see his point of view. And his point of view was invariably that you should do what he said.

“Okay, so this is all there is to it,” he said once I had changed into a uniform two sizes too small and was standing out front with him. “The customer drives up and gives you the keys. Then you drive it around the corner and onto the receiving pad. Then you go into the control booth and push the green button and the car disappears. Simple as that.”

“Where does it go?”

“It goes forward in time,” Bruno said, as if this was obvious. “A guy I know set it up since the owner’s a friend of mine.”

“You send them forward in time,” I repeated. I thought the collar might be cutting off my oxygen.

“To the year 5400, I think. Trust me, it was cheaper to do it this way than rent parking space in this neighborhood. Now, it’s important to send the cars at least four hours apart, or they might appear on top of one another. That’s bad. The world is a blasted wasteland at that time, so there’s no problem with future people messing with the cars. To get them back, select them on the list in the computer and hit the red button. Got it?”

I don’t absorb new information well so for the next quarter hour, my brain was curled up in the fetal position in the corner of my skull. Bruno took my frozen expression as a good sign and left me with a hearty “Good Luck!” and a slap on the back. “Oh, by the way,” he said, poking his head back in the door. “Never let the customers know about this, okay? For all they know it’s a normal parking garage. Got it?”

I got it eventually and after the shock wore off, I started to get excited. An hour before, I had been mired in an ill-conceived sociology dissertation and now I was sending cars forward in time. I went into the control booth.

There was dried blood on the floor. I called Bruno.

“Oh, that’s from the last guy, Charley. He fell asleep and spun the dial to send the car back into the distant past. A small dinosaur came back with the car and bit his leg off. He died.”

“The dinosaur or Charley?”

“Charley. I don’t know what happened to the dinosaur. Listen, you’re not allowed to bring a gun to work, but it might be a good idea to bring a large knife when you come tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?” Bruno had already hung up.

Someone honked outside and from just the tone and duration, I could tell he was a jerk. It turned out to be a she, a very well-dressed she in a Hummer. She dropped the keys into my hand and walked off without a word. A moment later, the Hummer was on the receiving pad. I wiped the sweat off my palm and pressed the green button.

Bruno wasn’t kidding. The Hummer just popped out of existence, no flaming tire tracks or anything.

Just then, the phone rang and I picked it up. “Hey, buddy, there’s a woman here who says you just parked her Hummer. She said her brother is asleep in the back seat, so just tell him to come in when he wakes up.”

Click.

Crap.

Crap crap crap.

Crapcrapcrapcrapcrapcrap.

I had to call Bruno.

Ether Generator - InvertedTo be continued tomorrow…


What Does This Button Do? – Friday Fictioneers

First of all, apologies to all the Fictioneers whose stories I didn’t get  a chance to read last week. I’ve been doing a lot of traveling and it’s hard to read and comment on my phone. However, this week I’m going to make up for it by reading all of them.

Also, this story may seem a bit confusing, but stick with it to the end.

copyright Claire Fuller

copyright Claire Fuller

What Does This Button Do?

Just before the bombs struck, Patty pressed the button.

The high-pitched whistle above meant imminent death.

As she reached the workshop, she heard the dreaded drone of bombers above.

There it was, half-buried.

Penny scrambled over wreckage, biting back the scream that kept trying to rise.

The workshop! Was it still untouched?

She peered out of a burning hole into a hellscape littered with bodies and burning cars.

The next day, the bombs fell; Patty woke to heat and smoke.

“Ok.”

“It reverses the flow of time,” her uncle said. “Don’t touch it.”

“What does this button do?” Patty asked.


A Sneak Peak at “Giselle”

Well, my story “Giselle” is finally out. Thanks again to Amy at the Bumble Files for the inspiration and Sorina at Chosen Voice for the awesome cover. Here is a sneak peek at the story:

Giselle

1. September 5, 2008

Rashid

The Lebanese restaurant and bar, Al-Diwan, was a place where strange characters would appear from time to time. No one knew this better than Rashid, the bouncer. The bar was located between the docks and the warehouse district and besides the regulars, sailors and lonely weirdos would often come to drink a quiet glass of arak and ogle the belly dancers. As long as they paid up front and did not bother the dancers, Rashid didn’t mind.

It was a Tuesday night and business was slow when a man walked down the road from the direction of the warehouses. He wore a jacket and jeans, with a bulky knapsack slung over his shoulder. He looked to be in his 40s, and the bouncer was surprised to see a thin plastic tube snaking out of the backpack and into his nose. The guy must have smoked ten packs a day since elementary school to be on oxygen this early in life.

“Excuse me, what’s the date today?” the man asked.

“It’s September 5th,” Rashid said.

“You sure?”

“It’s my mother’s birthday tomorrow. I’m sure.”

The man nodded vaguely. “Today’s Friday, right?”

“It’s Tuesday,” Rashid said. He was beginning to suspect there was more than just oxygen going through the tube into the man’s nose. “You wanna know the year too?”

“No, no, that’s fine. I’m pretty sure it’s still . . . 2008. Still, do you have the time, by any chance?”

Rashid sighed and glanced at his watch. “9:23. And fifteen seconds. You coming in or you got some more questions for me?”

“No, no, I’ll come in.”

“You gonna eat supper or just go to the bar? There’s a two drink minimum if you’re not eating.”

“I won’t be eating or drinking, thank you, but I’ll go to the bar. Here.” The man pulled out a fifty-dollar bill and handed it to the bouncer.

Crackpot, Rashid thought as he pocketed the money and ushered the man inside. Some loser thinking that the dancer was his own private show. Sure enough, the man went to the bar and sat down close to the stage. He waved off the bartender’s inquiry and didn’t even touch the complimentary peanuts—just sat and looked up at the dancer.

The man had good timing. Giselle was dancing tonight and Rashid had to admit she was one of the best dancers he had ever seen. The sinuous way her body flowed with the music seemed almost magical. It was mesmerizing. Rashid would have asked her out in a second if he wasn’t already dating one of the waitresses.

The man with the backpack seemed entranced and barely took his eyes from her. That was nothing strange—Giselle was gorgeous, but the oxygen tube, and the way he didn’t eat or drink anything made Rashid keep an eye on him. Half an hour later, the man went to the bathroom and never came out. Rashid finally went to check on him. The bathroom was empty. The man was a damned magician.

Later that night, when Rashid was counting his money, he found that the fifty was missing. He searched everywhere, but it was gone. Damned magician indeed.

2. February 19, 2024

Isaac

Dr. Isaac Chu stepped off the steel platform with shaky legs. He unhooked the oxygen tube from his nose and took a deep breath. It had worked. After all this time, it had worked. This would make history and make him the most famous man on Earth, if he dared to tell anyone.

“Computer: record video, start.” A small camera moved to track his face and a green light came on. Isaac looked up at it. “Personal notes, 02:45, February 19, 2024. I have made the first successful journey back in time, arriving at 19:44, September 5, 2008, as corroborated by a local source. Energy required was 1.9743 gigajoules.”

He paused. He needed to document everything while it was fresh in his mind, but she kept crowding out all his other thoughts. He saw her face in his mind and the way her body had moved. Giselle Guerin. It was like that line from Casablanca: of all the Lebanese bars in all the towns in all the world, he walked into hers. It was like fate.

It had been a shock to step into that darkened bar and see someone from his university physics class dancing on the stage. And not just anyone, but Giselle. He had had a crush on her all the first year and just when he had built up a critical mass of courage to ask her out, she had disappeared; dropped out of the physics program and out of the university, never to be heard from again. It was hard to believe that she had quit school just to become a belly dancer. No normal person would throw away a chance at studying at MIT to dance in bars. He felt bad for her, but also he suddenly had the desire to find her.

***

If you liked that and want to find out what happens, click on the link or on the cover below to read the rest. It only costs $0.99 so please, go check it out.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/348796

Giselle cover


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