A time travel story

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A time travel story

Post by theta_pinch » Sat May 09, 2015 5:00 pm

I was in my Ancient Human Civilizations Class. The cave was brightly lit, and warm. I was sitting in one of the desks. At the far end was the professor’s desk which had a myriad of relics on it. The professor picked up one of the relics—a thin, black, rectangular device. “This artifact was in widespread use, back in the 21st century. Data recovered topside indicates that people called these phones. They were primarily meant for communication, but seemed to be extensively used for entertainment as well,” the professor said. Interesting, I thought, it sounds a lot like DataTabs except hundreds of years older. The professor started to say something else, but was interrupted by someone walking in a door. The person was wearing a lab coat—ubiquitous in the sciences and engineering department of the university. The man was tall, with a long face, and short, black hair. He asked loudly, “Is Jake Walkers here?”

“Yeah,” I replied, “That’s me.”

“Ah, good, the head of the Advanced Research Projects wants you immediately.”

“Okay,” I said somewhat confused.

I got out of my desk and ran to the door. Why would they ask for me? I’m a history major, not an engineer; what could I possibly do for them? I thought. We started down the long path to the Advanced Research Projects building. As we walked through the immense cavern, past the trees growing in the artificial sunlight, I asked my big question: “Why does the director of the Advanced Research Projects want me?”

“I actually don’t know,” the scientist replied. “All I was told is to come and get you immediately.”

“So I’m just going to have to wait till we get there aren’t I?”

After a few more minutes we reached the large Advanced Research Projects building. At the front was a locked door with a security panel next to it. The scientist (who for some reason I never thought to ask the name of) pressed a thumb to the panel. The panel gave an electronic ding of approval and the door swung open. “Come on in. Don’t want to keep Stegman waiting,” he said walking in the door. I hurried up and followed him through the hall until we ended up at a dead end.

“Why did we come here? It’s just a dead end,” I asked.

“Actually there’s a hidden door here,” he replied, “see?” He pressed the wall and a section moved out of the way revealing a large chamber. Unlike everywhere else this was unpolished rock. A computer stood on a pedestal to the side of a large device. The machine looked like two large claws facing each other. On the outer surface large tubes that looked like syringes filled with a glowing, green liquid stuck into the machine. There were four generators behind the claws, with cables leading up to them. The weirdest thing about it however was a bright glow in the center. It was like a mini-sun that was floating in space. A technician was typing something into the computer. Another person walked up to me and shook my hand.

“Hello, you must be Jake Walkers, right? I’m Nicholas Stegman. I lead the Advanced Research Projects department at the university.”

“Yes, my name is Jake,” I said, “Why did you want me here? I’m not an engineer or anything like that.”

“Well, you see there’s a project that I want you to help with. I’ll explain more about it later once your two teammates get here.” Just as he said that there was a rumbling from the door and a boy and girl led by the technicians came in to the room. They appeared to be my age; unlike me both looked as if they were ready to cry with happiness.

“Who are they?” I asked.

“Wow, I can’t believe I’m actually inside the Advanced Research Project Labs. This is like a dream come true!” the boy said. He was tall, had brown hair, green eyes. He was wearing a typical uniform— a white shirt, and white pants. Over that he had a lab coat (seriously, what is up with the lab coats? They’re not even doing chemistry!) which held pencils, and a DataTab.

“I know, I’ve been dreaming of being in this place since I was five!” The girl said. She was slightly shorter than the boy, still a little taller than me. She had long blonde hair, and brown eyes. She was also wearing a uniform, but didn’t have a lab coat.

“Hello everyone. I doubt I need to introduce myself judging by your reactions, but my name is Nicholas Stegman. I’m the head of the Advanced Research Projects Lab. I’ve called you all here for a very important reason but first please introduce yourselves,” the Director said.

“Okay. Well my name is Jake.”

“I’m Hazel,” the girl said.

“My name is Barry,” the boy replied.

“Okay,” the Director said becoming more solemn, “Now that that’s out of the way I’ll explain why I’ve called you all here.” “Now as you should know over a thousand years ago we moved underground because of catastrophic changes in weather. Nearly constant flooding, storms, tornadoes, hurricanes —they became so bad that people could no longer safely live on the surface.”

I recognize this story, I thought, but why is he telling us this? Everyone knows this stuff. I looked over at the others. Their expressions were unreadable.

“Until a few years ago we had no idea of the cause or the precise time when this happened because most records from that time were lost. However archaeologists discovered weather data stored and intact from that time. Using it our atmospheric scientists discovered a large anomaly above the Pacific Ocean that formed around 2014 and started disrupting weather. We realized that that we could build a machine to neutralize the anomaly and prevent the catastrophic changes.”

“But that was centuries ago! Building a machine to stop it won’t do any good now,” I replied.

“Exactly, which is why we built this machine,” he said gesturing towards the claws. “You see—it’s a time machine.

“But-but, time machines aren’t possible!” I said.

“Well that would explain why they chose this location for the machine,” Barry said. How that explained anything was a mystery to me.

“So the purpose of these machines is to generate a wormhole then?” Hazel asked him.

“No, yes, and not exactly,” the Director said. “First, Jake, time travel is possible. We’ve actually tested the machine, on some mice. Interestingly the older mice came back in a vegetative state, while the younger mice, proportionally your ages, were completely unaffected. That’s why I chose you three.”
“Wait, you want us to go through a machine that turned your test subjects into vegetables!?” I screeched.

Ignoring me he turned towards Hazel and said, “To answer your question Hazel, it does utilize wormholes but it doesn’t exactly generate them. That bright glow you see is a place where space-time can be… opened, for lack of a better word. There are numerous anomalies like this all over the planet, and when we use this machine, we can open it up and a wormhole is naturally formed between the anomalies.”

“Hmm, interesting,” Hazel responded.

“Again—isn’t this extremely dangerous considering the results on the mice?” I asked.

The Director sighed, and then said, “No. You’re nervous system development is still in the stages of the unaffected mice. In fact that’s why we couldn’t send anyone else: no one else has the knowledge and capability you all have, while being young enough to survive unaffected.”

“Okay, I guess…” I replied. In truth if it weren’t for getting to go to the 21st century I never would’ve accepted that explanation. The possibility that I could see it was just too appealing to resist. “So what now?” I asked. “None of us are exactly ready for this kind of trip.”

“Well you’re not going to be going right now. We need to get some gear ready for your trip before you go, and the necessary calculations will take hours to complete.” The Director said. He continued saying, “Come back at, say, 17:00 tomorrow.” “Oh, by the way, you have all agreed to go, right?” We all told him yes, and left.

“Wow, isn’t this great! We actually get to time travel!” I said excitedly.

“Yeah, I know this is going to be great,” Hazel said enthusiastically.

“Hmm. I wonder what it will be like to time travel,” in a completely neutral tone.

“Well, see you all tomorrow,” I called out as we went through the door taking our separate paths.

Today was a special day in Ancient Human Civilization class; today was one of the few days we got to go to the surface to search for artifacts. The professor led the way to a hole in the side of the cavern and said, "Okay everyone get a light, tool bag, and put on a breathing mask." Inside the hole was a staircase carved from the rock. It was cold, dark, and damp in there, due to neglect from the subterranean environmental engineers. The staircase is so sparsely used that no one ever bothered to add heating, dehumidifiers, or even lights. The staircase soon became brightly lit by twenty lights.

I carefully walked up the staircase making sure I didn't miss a step. It got damper as we ascended from surface run-off. The steps started getting wet as we got close to the top. I could hear the roar of the wind now. I saw a dim light ahead; it was the exit.

We came out greeted by the same sad and terrifying scene as always. The sky was a bloody red from the dirt kicked up by the storms. The ground was littered by rocks and sand from centuries of erosion. This was one of the calmer days. It was cold, and the air smelled foully of ozone. For once the winds were weak enough that they only almost knocked me over rather than forcing us to crawl around. There were some splotches of bacteria colonies and hardy mosses and lichens that managed to hang on. There were a few small insects crawling around. No mammals, or reptiles, or birds, were around; it was too violent for then too survive.

We ran over to the enclosed pit where the dig was taking place. As we got under the plastic roof, the wind died down and we could actually work. We all were working on excavating a concrete building that survived. I normally was enthralled by this activity but today I was distracted by the trip I was about to go on. I kept thinking about how I was no longer going to just be digging things up but actually seeing these artifacts and structures when they were use. I thought about how if we succeeded the skies would no longer be red, the dust and lifelessness all around would be no more, the frequent, violent storms would be gone. The world would be so different, but better. Soon, very soon, I had the, chance to change the course of history...

The clang of my chisel hitting a metallic object snapped me out of my thoughts. It took a moment for me to realize what had just happened and then I called out, "Hey I just found something!"

The Professor came over and asked "What did you find?"

"I'm not sure. It seems to be made of metal." I chiseled more of the rock away revealing a metal surface, and tiny gap between metal pieces. "It looks like some kind of hatch," I said.

"If you're right this could be an opening into the building," he replied crouching down to help me chisel the rock away.

It took some effort but we finally got all the rock cleared from the hatch. I opened it up and saw a ladder extending down. "Do you think we should go down?" I asked the professor.

“Of course,” the professor said, starting to climb down the ladder. “Let’s just make sure to keep our breathing masks on. Don’t want to get infected from some pathogen or mold that’s been hanging on for the past millennia.”

By the time he finished speaking he was already down the ladder. “Okay, I’m coming down now,” I called out. I hurried down the ladder and landed in a cloud of dust. I looked around at the room illuminated by my light. It was very dusty in here, but aside from the dust and cobwebs there wasn’t much in this room.

“Hey Jake, come down here!” my professor yelled.

I hurried down kicking up a big cloud of dust behind me. “What is it?” I asked. He didn’t seem to hear me. As I reached the bottom I noticed something on my shoulder. I turned my head and saw thin brownish bones on my shoulder. “AHHH!” I screamed, seeing the hand on my shoulder. I jumped back and saw the rest of the skeleton. A brown skull with the creepy, skeletal grin, attached to a grotesque decayed body, was stretched over a bed.

Once I had recovered from the terror, I looked around the room for my professor, and found him in the far corner of the room. He was kneeling over something. I moved in to get a closer look and saw another skeleton that was holding a book. “Do you think it could be a journal or diary Professor?”

“That’s exactly what I think it is,” he said as he carefully grabbed the book and slowly extricated it from the hands. He opened it up, revealing musty smelling, yellow, pages. The ink had smeared a little but it was mostly readable. He opened it up to the first page, and read aloud:
“June 4th, 2033. I decided to start keeping this journal because life has started becoming so weird recently. We’ve had over fifty tornadoes in just this county this past year. Until these past few years we never had a single tornado in living memory. Most of the houses have been destroyed except for mine and a few other concrete homes. I would have moved someplace else but almost everywhere else is just as bad…”

“Well that certainly does sound like a journal, though we should probably take it back to the archaeology lab before doing anything else with it. You know how fragile this kind of thing can be.”

“Ah, yeah. You’re right, sometimes I just get too excited,” he said. “We should go back underground and leave the rest of this place untouched until we can get better equipment up.”

“Good plan,” I said walking over to the stairs. I made sure to avoid the skeleton this time and walked up the stairs. I looked on my DataTab to see what time it was. “Four fifty-seven! Already!” I exclaimed. “I’m going to be late!” “Sorry Professor, I have to leave now. It’s very important.” I told him as he emerged from the staircase. I quickly climbed back up the ladder, donned my gas mask, and ran out from beneath the plastic roof. The moment I stepped outside I felt the winds pushing me over. The winds were far stronger than before. “Whoa,” I said I falling over creating in impression in the sand. The rocks dug painfully into my skin. I rolled over, and crawled my way to the entrance like I’d been taught. I went down into the tunnel. The cool, still air inside the tunnel felt great after being out in the storm. It was a few minutes before I reached the bottom. I then trekked over to the Advanced Research Projects building, and made my way to the room with the time machine. The door slid open and I walked in while the Director was talking.

“Ah, Jake. Glad you could join us,” He said looking over to me. “Don’t worry, you haven’t missed anything; I was just answering some of Hazel’s and Barry’s questions. Now before you go we’ve got some gear for you to take with you,” the Director said. “First are these outfits. Your uniforms will look seriously out of place in the 21st century,” he continued handing each of us a new outfit. “You’ll also need these translators to understand their language” he said handing each of us two small earbuds. “Jake I assume you know Old English?”

“Of course, it was a very interesting language,” I replied

“Good, then you’ll handle speaking to people.” “We’ve also modified some DataTabs to look like ‘phones,’ so no one gets suspicious. They’ll also allow you to stay in contact with us while you’re in the past,” he said while handing us devices that looked just like the one I saw in class, but shinier and actually functional. “Finally you’re going to need this,” he told us, handing Hazel the backpack. “This contains a device that should neutralize the atmospheric anomaly that caused the catastrophic changes in weather. Using data from that time period we believe the anomaly is near an island called Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean. All you have to do is set up the machine and activate it at the epicenter of the anomaly.”

“Here you go Jake,” Hazel said giving me the backpack.

“Ak! It’s like there are rocks in here,” I said almost falling over. “Too heavy, you can have it Barry,” I told him throwing it to him. He lurched over to catch it, and put it on his back.

“Oh, fine you weakly interacting massive particles. I’ll carry it,” he said rolling his eyes at us.

The Director watching us, amused, asked us if we were ready. We all nodded yes, and he said “Okay, then we’ll open up the portal. This is going to get really bright so put on your safety goggles.” We all put them on. I was excited in anticipation of actually getting to see history. Studying it was great, but I never even dreamed I’d get to witness it, much less be a part of it! After everyone got there glasses on, the Director gave the signal to activate it.

The technician started speaking: “Preparing for temporal arc activation. Power-up sequence initiated. Activating in five, four, three, two, one.” Suddenly there was a large flash of light. I could feel it even through my goggles.

“Ahh!” I screamed, my eyes burning from the heat. The glow at the center elongated, into a strand of light. It was as if a crack had appeared in mid-air. Then the jagged strand of light, the crack—it opened up. It was like space was being ripped open revealing a glowing blue interior.

“The gateway is open, go!” the Director exclaimed. I think all of us were a bit dazed and it took a moment to register what he just said.

“Okay, here goes nothing,” I said, taking a running jump for the crack. No time to back out now, I thought as I flew headfirst through the glowing, blue portal.

How terrible is it? Any suggestions on improvements?

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Re: A time travel story

Post by Khas » Sat May 09, 2015 7:11 pm

Actually, this isn't bad at all! Could use a bit more polishing (seems a bit rushed in some places), but otherwise, this is a promising start.

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Re: A time travel story

Post by Praeothmin » Mon May 11, 2015 9:01 pm

Interesting, and as Khas said, it does need a bit more polishing, especially in the dialogues, but interesting still...
Want more!

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Re: A time travel story

Post by sonofccn » Mon May 18, 2015 7:22 pm

Interesting set-up. Dialogue was a little rough as Preao mentioned but the story itself was fine.

Don't beat yourself up.

And by all means please continue writing.


A time travel story

Post by Jeffreylix » Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:05 am

Mine would be a tie between Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson or Time and Again by Jack Finney.

Edit: also an very honourable mention to Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and its numerous sequels.

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