How to build a time machine

Submitted into Contest #137 in response to: Write a story about a scientist.... view prompt


Fantasy Fiction Speculative

Ordinary people who lack imagination can't understand what a great idea is. They don't only can't think outside the box, they are trapped in a small, dusty box. And they expect the others to stay trapped as well. That's why geniuses were always considered crazy because no one believes something world-changing can be invented until that actually happens. I can't blame them though, some things seem so difficult to achieve you can only dream about it unless someone like me enters the game and prove fantasy can become our reality.

But it's painful when your own family and friends are questioning your gift. They think I have spent my last 15 years locked 14 hours almost every day in my laboratory playing Dexter but on the physics side. They all like to believe having boundaries is healthy. But the internet, the light bulb, or the phone wasn't invented by someone who had boundaries. Boundaries are the last thing you need when your biggest desire is for your grandchildren to hear your name in history class. However, that's not my biggest desire, it's just one of them. 

When I was 18, I have traveled all around the world with my family. They said I could take a year off before college. I wasn't fascinated by the idea, my eagerness to master quantum physics and be above the best didn't let me sleep well for a while. But because I was a people pleaser I conformed. So I have seen it all: the pyramids from Egypt, the Mayan and Aztec sites from Mexico, the Eiffel tour in Paris and the list goes on endlessly. But one thing I couldn't see and I became obsessed with was to see all these spectacular places while they were built. You might say: ‟Oh, just grab a history book and you will discover through it all you want.” But that's not what I meant. When I say I want to see it all with my own eyes, means that I want to be there. ‟You are crazy, that's not going to happen”, ‟I was dreaming last night I was sleeping with Marilyn Monroe, hahaha” ‟It's OK to dream big, but you have to keep your rationality intact if you want the rest of the world notice you. Otherwise, they will see like your a fool, a poor, delusional human being who desires what a 7-year old would desire.” I quoted only a part of what I've heard since I began to share my idea with my beloved ones. And I know they wished me well, I never doubt their good intentions. What did I  do after? I ignored them all and pretend to let the idea go. Honestly, it's the best I could have done.

So, here I am. Finally, I received today the small rock meteorites I was waiting for. They were extracted from the ocean, being older than 1 million years ago. Without them, my experiment doesn't have a chance to stand up. Needless to say, it cost an arm and a leg, but I am lucky I have a wealthy and generous brother-in-law who never asks uncomfortable questions. But I still need stardust to complete the process. And not any kind of stardust, I need precisely from a hotter star. Do you know how to tell apart a hotter star from a colder one? Hotter stars turn blue, while cooler and older stars turn red. Exciting, isn't it? Samples of cosmic stardust are not easy to find. I am also lucky I have the right connections, so I don't have to worry about providing material. Of course, no one knows for sure what exactly I am inventing here. Not even my own family. They never ask but I like to give ample and false explanations about what I am doing here. I like their face when they get bored and are pretending to listen to me. None of the things I say to them are real, I made up scientific stories. Funny, isn't it?

Oh, the petroleum part. I need the best of the best, not a random type. The one I am looking for lyes in the depths of the Black Sea. However, as long as you have money and connections, everything is conceivable.

If you look at the machine, it looks like a modern elevator.  The plain, yet adamant stainless steel wraps up the extraordinary from intrigued potential visitors. If you think about it, it is actually an elevator. But it's not intended to be a regular one. The journey will be out of this world, or at least out of this time.

Another month has passed, and I still can't figure out how to make the engine machine stronger. It doesn't reach the speed I require. Then suddenly hits me: I remember reading in high school about the power of mixing gunpowder with stardust. It could help the engine propel much further. If the machine stops working during its process, I could get suspended in an endless loop of time and never come back. That's another question that hangs over my head: I still don't know exactly how I do to come back to the present.

”You are so quiet, honey? What's wrong?”

” It's Harry again. He got into a fight. Again. I don't know what to do with him. He doesn't listen”, Emily says, looking exhausted, as she got into a fight herself, not her son.”

”Did he win?”

”Are you fucking kidding me, Harold? You really don't care, don't you? All you care is about playing all day. Locked up there, with your toys.”

”If you don't respect my work, you don't respect me either. Dinner was delicious, thank you!”

Our argument was interrupted by the home phone. Who is still using it nowadays? I don't even know why I am holding a fixed line in our home. Must have been Emily's idea. And at 9 PM? What the heck?!

” It's for you, Harold!” she says to me in a pitched tone. I guess she wanted our late-night guest to know she is pissed off.

”Who is it?” I ask her in the lowest tone of voice I am capable of.

”I don't know, pick up and see!” and she slightly yells.

‟Good evening, Mr/Mrs...”

‟Good evening, Mr. Brooks! Sorry to bother you this late! My name is Dmitri Sorokin. I would have called you earlier, but I am aware of your busy schedule.”

‟I don't mean to be impolite, but you are also aware I own a personal phone, just like the rest of the planet, right?”

‟A personal device which is always unavailable. At least for me, Mr.Brooks.”

Damn, he is right. I forgot it's not working since yesterday.

‟Anyway, Mr.Brooks. I will go straight to the point. I know what you are trying to do in your lab. But guess what? Without me, it won't be possible. Because you also have to come back from your little journey. Unless you want to get rid of your wife for good. Just kidding, relax. I know women can be tough. I can help you, but I want something in return, of course. Meet me tomorrow. at 4o clock, Quest Cafe. I will recognize you, don't worry about that!”

When he hung up, the first thing I did was to look over my shoulder, check if anyone overheard the conversation. The second and only thing I did was sit down because the hallway started to spin around.

I couldn't sleep the whole night trying to find out how could someone discover my experiment. I didn't tell anybody. No one entered where the machine is. Even if it did, I know what to say to cover it all up. He said he could help me solve the problem that is haunting me even from the beginning. But will he stay quiet? If the wrong person reaches me, he could use my time machine in evil purposes.

Mr. Sorokin... It is a pleasure to meet you. However, you already mentioned my busy schedule yesterday, on the phone so please... go ahead.”

It is not a pleasure yet because you don't know me and you are scared. But I can ensure you of my good intentions. Here is the deal: I will create a system capable of setting the day of our departure and, of course, the day of our return. Think of it as an alarm clock, only incomparable more...sophisticated. And yes, I will stay quiet and won't tell anyone, not even to my wife, or yours, what we did. Ever. After coming back, you are free to do whatever you want with that monster. Destroy it, travel back and forth more your choice. I won't interfere. I repeat: this will remain our secret for an eternity.”

‟I still have to work on it. I lack part of the material. Without it, I can't go ahead.”

‟Your brother-in-law can endorse you. No one knows you are a secret genius. They think all the prizes you won are insignificant. Maybe they won't find out if you are not willing to share with the world your revolutionary invention. Anyways, you know how to put those pieces together and make it work. I will attach my little system to your machine, and boom...That's it!”

‟Pardon my curiosity, but where exactly do you want to land?”

‟When exactly, better say. I want to see my daughter again, right before the moment she passed away. I want to ask her forgiveness. I can't go on with my life if I don't do this.”

Departure day: 10:30 AM,  10.06.2025,  from Chicago to Settle,  arriving at 11:00 AM, on the same day

Return day: 12:00 AM., 11.06.2025, Settle to Chicago, arriving at 11:30, on the same day  

Aysha was lying on the ground. Dmitri was covered with her blood all over, and he was screaming. The ambulance has already arrived. Five people were around her, apart from her best friend, who seemed to be fine, and yet, no one gave Dmitri attention. Not even Aysha, who, despite being seriously injured, was conscious. They were all acting like Dmitri wasn't there.

March 18, 2022 22:40

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