The Problem with Time Travel

Today is pretend to be a time traveler day. On this wondrous occasion, I thought I would publish the first chapter (rough, rough chapter) of my sci-fi novel that is, in fact, about time travel. Enjoy!


“A test?”

“A test,” he said.



“Want me to test your time machine?”

“Well I can’t hardly expect you to make it work while I’m inside, can I?”

Marc looked at the small, silver platform that stood in front of him. It didn’t look like a time machine, at least any time machine that he’d seen before, but that number wasn’t very high to begin with. It looked more like a hay scale: a grate surrounded by a cluster of tiny flashing lights.

“You want me…” Marc pointed to himself, “to test your time machine…”

“Look,” said Dr. Rosco, “It’s very simple. You just stand here in the center, like so, and well… That’s about it.”

“You have a time machine?” asked Marc.

“Oh yes,” said Rosco, “a rather nice one in fact. See the shiny lights?”

“And where will you be?” Marc asked.

“Me?” Rosco looked at him puzzlingly. “Oh! Yes! I’ll be over here monitoring your progress from behind this temporal wall, see?” Rosco hopped about 20 feet away to the corner of the room and pushed a small button underneath his desk. A green… force field is an ugly word… plasma field engulfed him and his desk and he rose slightly off the ground.

“I sho…uld eeeerrrkkkk t…o weeeerrrrrrrrrrkkk your progress fro…m sssssshhhhhhhrrrrrkkkkkkk and if anything goes wrong arkhhhhhh okay?”

Marc rather unamusingly looked at the Doctor. “I’m sorry,” he said, “but all I got was feedback.”

This, of course, was not any kind of feedback he was familiar with. It was feedback from the temporal distortion that he was just a part of.   As everyone knows, the radius of a distortion field takes about 500 meters to fully disperse. This long dispersal rate causes some rather nasty problems, especially for those at the edge of the distortion. One such event occurred in 1972 when a man standing right on the 500-meter line in an instant went from wearing some rather snazzy business attire to a flapper’s dress from 1907. This, of course, caused quite a problem for the man, who was in the middle of an important multi-billion dollar corporate merger, but more of a problem was caused for the woman in 1907 that ended up wearing some rather snazzy business attire from 1972.

On this date, the date of Rosco’s experiment, a young man was miraculously changed from wearing his pants halfway down his bottom to a Vandal outfit from the second sacking of Rome in 455 CE.

Rosco reached down under his desk and tapped the button once again. The field surrounding him disappeared with a slight “woosh”.

“Terribly sorry, sport,” he said, “but I could hardly hear you. Something about snot and greenbacks?”

“Nevermind,” Marc sighed, “I really don’t think I’d like to participate in this.”

“Oh but there’s no danger at all my boy! You just stand…” Rosco pulled Marc by the arm and flung him over on top of the platform, “over here like so, and I’ll be monitoring your progress…”

“From your little safety bubble?” said Marc. “I still don’t see why you can’t be the one to test it.”

“Oh but I have!” Rosco shouted. “About ten minutes ago I became nostalgic about a rather beautiful woman who I spent some time with back in Cambridge in my younger days. So! I built a time machine.”

Marc looked confused. “In ten minutes?”

“Well, time travel is a rather troublesome thing,” said Rosco. “It actually took me quite a bit longer than that, but that’s not important. What is important is that it’s here now and in rather good shape.” Rosco leaned down, hitting the metal pad with his fist. It rang out with a PLUNK. He noticed that upon doing so, one of the screws holding the top to the bottom (or vice versa) fell to the floor. He quickly kicked it aside as to not alarm Marc.

“It’ll be some good fun,” he said. “You’ll be back in no time.” As he said this, he ran back to the safety of his desk, pushed the button, and the greenish-grey field surrounded him once again. Rosco looked up at Marc, gave him a not too assuring smile, and the weakest thumbs-up that Marc had ever seen.

Marc wasn’t too excited by this, but he had an hour to waste before his next lecture on “The Decline and fall of the Roman Republic”, so he decided to give it a shot. Before long, he began to feel a slight tingle in his hands and feet that slowly crept into the rest of his body. Marc was enveloped by a flash that completely blinded him. He fell to the ground instantaneously.

“Good heavens!” screamed Rosco. He ran over to Marc’s body lying motionless on the ground, knelt down, and began slapping his face over, and over, and over again. The face slapping quickly turned into water throwing, but he didn’t have any water on hand, so as the cold liquid landed on Marc’s face, he rose to find that he was covered in Diet Dr. Pepper.

“Marc, my boy, you’ve made it! Ha haaaa!” The doctor let out a massive laugh. Marc wasn’t quite sure if it was a laugh of joy or of relief, probably both. “Where have you been, old chap? We’ve been waiting for months!”

A tired mumble came from Marc’s tired mouth. “Haba lamba grubb…” He stopped.

“Temporary paralysis is merely a side effect of the plasma field. You should regain most of the feeling in your body by the end of the week,” said Rosco reassuringly.

Marc mumbled again. “Shy da dunda bluh speek?”

“Oh look at that! It’s getting better already!” Exclaimed Rosco. He jumped up from Marc’s side and ran to his desk. He began furiously writing something down on a large yellow legal pad. “Fascinating…” he said. “Simply fascinating…”

“Crush vabalatine?” asked Marc.

“Oh nothing, my friend, nothing at all. At least nothing that concerns you at the moment.” The doctor ran over to Marc, grabbed him by the shoulder, and lifted him up off the ground. “What you need now is some rest! You’ve had quite a trip, old chap. Here!” Dr. Rosco had one of his graduate students rush in with a wheelchair. “Lets go and get you washed off. Maybe something to eat?” The doctor and the intern plopped Marc into the chair. Marc struggled to keep his head up. He felt like he had been inside a black hole, and he looked like it too.

Rosco ran back to his desk and began scribbling on the notepad again. “Go ahead and take him to the washroom and get him fixed up,” he said to the intern. “You’ll be right as rain in no time! We’ll get you rested and fed and then we’ll have plenty of time to talk about this adventure you’ve had.” The doctor stood patiently as Marc was wheeled out of the room. He waited a moment, ran to the door, and stuck his head out, making sure that no one was going to return. When he was sure of this fact, he ran back to his time machine, sitting as sleekly and pristinely as the day he’d built it. He leaned down once again and began to inspect it, looking top to bottom, corner-to-corner, and side-to-side. He couldn’t find anything too interesting about the silver pad except for the small screw that he had completely forgotten about from three months earlier. The screw had made its way from underneath his desk back to its rightful place in the machine. “Fascinating…” the doctor sighed. “Simply fascinating…”

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