Transtemporal Temperance

Submitted into Contest #154 in response to: Write a story featuring an element of time-travel or anachronism.... view prompt


Creative Nonfiction Fiction Science Fiction

This story contains sensitive content

This story contains brief discriptions of violence.

The lights brightened, revealing a light, lilac background and plain white floors. Around the set, there were two tables, one with chairs and one without. There was also a vacant area to the right for demonstrations. There were about one hundred seats on this television set, each one of them filled to see this fantastic new product that was just released. A tall, beautiful blonde woman walked out from behind one of the set walls in a pale orange pantsuit. It was perfect marketing, with the lilac background you could not take your eyes off this demonstrator- err- saleswoman. 

“We’re live in 5….4….3….2….” A man's voice rang out behind the big camera. Some music started playing over the speakers, the sound covering the entire studio audience and set. 

“Hello, and welcome to ‘Things I didn’t know I needed until today!’ I’m your host, Mary Sonningburgh. Ladies and gentlemen, today I have an incredible product that has been shipped to me to share with you all…. Before the official release!” Mary started clapping and giggling. The audience clapped, and mumbled quietly to one another amongst the crowd. 

“I am so excited to share this amazing piece of innovation and top of the line technology with you today!” She waited for more applause, and more applause flooded her way. 

“Before we get to the goods, let me ask you all a question.” Mary walked around the table with no chairs that were in front of her, and looked out into the crowd and even into the camera a few times. 

“Has anyone here,” Mary looked at the camera. “Or even out there watching from their own homes, has anyone ever said ‘man, I wish I could do that over.’ or ‘if I was only a few seconds later.’?” She waited, some murmuring came out of the crowd, but shortly after silence fell like bits of dust floating from the large lights above our heads to meet with the ground. Mary looked across the hundred seats and nodded her head. 

“Then, ladies and gentlemen, folks at home, I think this product may be for you.” Mary turned, a small piece of white material, perhaps cotton, was draped over a rectangular item on that table she stepped around a few moments before. She approached the table with both of her hands in her pockets, and was now once again positioned in front of the crowd, all eyes on Mary. 

“We have all come to know the company, ‘TechGenEx’ very well in the past five or six years. They have made our lives so much easier with their bots and technology that help with cooking and cleaning, even service and technician bots. Now, though, they have come out with a product that they are confident will save lives.” The audience oohed and ahhed. Mary had everyone’s attention. 

“It is my pleasure…. To introduce… The Transtemporal Remote!” Mary lifted the white piece of fabric, to not much amazement or astonishment from the audience. 

“I’m sure you’re all slightly confused. I'm sure you're all slightly confused, please allow me to explain. This four and a half inch long, half inch thick device is mankind's greatest and most coveted achievement. Decades of questions and possible theories have stumped and eluded scientists until now. This, folks, is the future wrapped up in some shiny metal and plastic.” Mary paused. “Ladies and gentlemen, this small TR device is nothing other than a time machine.” The audience gasped, each of their eyes widened, people started standing up to get a closer look. 

“It’s true, yes, this little device really is a time machine. There are a few key points to keep in mind though!” Mary picked up the remote and held it next to her face to show size reference. The remote was about four inches long as Mary described, and it was a dark gray metal material. It had one sole button on its face. It was dark red, and was protected by a plastic cover. 

“See, this little thing is about one-third the length of my face. That is tiny! So, scientists who developed this little gadget had to figure out a way to bend time from a device that can be small and handheld. There, they ran into a few speed bumps. You see, there really isn’t enough power in this tiny machine to completely take you to any other time point you wish. It can only take the owner back, ten seconds.” The audience started talking amongst themselves, Mary let them converse for a few more seconds before continuing on with her presentation to the world. 

“Now, the owner of this TR device will also find the packaging contains a bracelet. This bracelet is specifically coded and designed to work with its sibling remote. Once the owner puts this bracelet on, you cannot take it off. The device is constantly recording your daily life, the data stored in its vast memory. Until the time comes, of course, to use your TR device. Once the big red button is pressed, you, and you alone, will be transported back ten seconds into the past, where your remote will power down, and then your bracelet will become powerless as well.” Mary placed the remote back onto the table and walked to the side of it. 

“That’s right, one use. One chance to save your life. The price of this new device is, I’ll admit- not cheap. However, the power and possibilities this item holds is incomparable. There is a catch, though! There’s another way to earn a “jump” - well, that is- buy another jump! That’s right, you can essentially subscribe to their service which will earn you a discount on a purchase of a jump. The catch is that only one jump is possible a month, so choose wisely. ” Mary let the audience sit with that information. She walked over to the vacant part of the set where a young woman was standing with her remote and bracelet. She was about a foot shorter than Mary, she had dark brown hair and was wearing a pair of dark washed jeans with a blue and white flower blouse. 

“Now, we’ll hear from Jennifer, who was one of the very first people who got to try the TR device after it was cleared for mass production!” Mary started clapping, as did the audience. 

“It’s so nice to meet you, Jennifer!” Mary greeted the young, visibly nervous woman. 

“It’s nice to meet you too, Mary. Thank you for having me!” Jennifer smiled. 

“Jennifer, you seem a bit nervous, can you tell us why that is?” Mary crossed her left arm under her right elbow, her right hand holding her chin in fascination with Jennifer. 

“Well, I’ve never been on TV before.” Jennifer chuckled, “Despite the fact that I’m  demonstrating how to use a time machine!” The audience laughed along with Mary, Jennifer smiled back. 

“Okay, well, Jennifer, I think we’ve made you wait long enough.” Mary turned to the audience. “Imagine with me for a moment, a scenario in which you might need just a few more seconds to spare your life. A car wreck, a shooting, a few seconds to get away form an attempted murderer, the list truly goes on without an end. For Situations where the button cannot be pushed, the bracelet will know when to signal for help. Since the bracelet monitors your daily life, it also records your vitals, too. So our sweet Jenny here,” Mary held out her hand toward Jennifer, presenting her to the audience and viewers. “Will push her button to save her life.” Mary walked off stage. 

Jennifer took the bracelet, secured it over her right wrist, the bracelet making a clicking noise, confirming its locking mechanism had succeeded. She walked back to the very back of the set and started walking forward towards the audience. Once she reached the edge of the stage, just an arms length away from Mary and her production crew, Jennifer held out the remote and flipped up the clear plastic protective cover and pressed the red button. A loud cracking noise broke out, as Jennifer was whisked away in a strong gyrating clasp of air and time. Jennifer appeared in the back of the room almost immediately after pressing the button. Mary ran back onto stage, visibly excited.

“There you have it, folks! The Transtemporal Remote! Isn’t it great?” Mary smiled as the audience went crazy screaming. 

“Wow! Did you see that?” 

“Mary, you’ve done it again!” 

“Oh my goodness I absolutely need one of those!” 

“Now, folks please calm down a moment, as I started earlier, these devices are very spendy. Each remote comes with a bracelet and is being sold for $999. The refill jumps, a bit more affordable, of course- run at $550 a jump for non members, $399 for subscribers.” The susurrations coming from the crowd were slightly overwhelming to Mary. She was worried she would lose people on the initial price. 

But!” Mary continued. “Because I was so lucky to be able to showcase this outstanding invention ahead of time from TechGenEx, you all will qualify for a 30% off coupon for your first TR device!” The crowd roared, applause and chats of Mary’s name were filling the air. 

“Those of you in my studio audience, don’t go home without receiving your coupon!” Mary looked into the camera. “And those of you at home, make sure you’re subscribed to my daily newsletters so you, too, can get your 30% off coupon for your first TR device!” Mary paused while the cameras panned over the audience jumping up and down and hugging each other. 

“Thank you all for joining me today on…” 

The crowd and Mary in unison shouted; “Things I didn’t know I needed until today!” Mary waived at the cameras and hugged Jenny before walking off the set floor and into the Audience to meet some of her guests.

The Transtemporal Remote was officially available on the open market. 

July 14, 2022 14:44

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