Time Travel Experiment

Submitted into Contest #101 in response to: Write a story about a character who always repeats themselves.... view prompt

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Science Fiction Suspense Thriller

Even though it was long past midnight, Blake was still in the lab. He was anxiously checking their program for the next day’s experiment. It was once a lifetime experiment. If it was successful, it would change the world as we know it today. It could rewrite history. Blake imagined a world that had never experienced a war, a world without world wars one and two, a world that had never seen black death, Spanish flu, or other pandemics.

Blake Appleton was an experimental physicist, and the next day’s experiment was his lifelong dream. Tomorrow, they would test the first-ever made time machine. Yes, finally, humanity’s knowledge reached a point to make the time travel dream possible. And Blake was proudly the brain behind this noble project. As far as he could remember, maybe from when Blake was just a teenager, more accurately from when he lost his grandfather, whom they were very close, he dreamed about time travel, to go back in time and see his late grandfather. Tomorrow’s experiment was humanity’s first time travel trial. On their first trial, they just wanted to turn the clock back for only twelve hours, so he would not see his grandfather. But it was the first step, the beginning of a new chapter in human history, as Neil Armstrong said when he stepped on the moon- that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

Blake ran the last simulation. Its result was precisely as he had expected. All his calculations and simulations showed him tomorrow’s experiment would be successful, and he shouldn’t worry. But Blake had a butterfly in his stomach, and his mind was overwhelmed by crippling anxiety. That was the reason he was still in the lab, compulsively re-checking every program and protocol. Above all, time travel was his long-time dream, and he didn’t want to fail this opportunity for just a simple mistake in the written computer codes. By 3:00 AM, the exhaustion dampened his productivity to nil. Therefore, to avoid making mistakes and jeopardizing his long waited dream, he called it the end of the night.

At his place, after a quick shower, he went to bed and tried to sleep the last few hours of the night. But his wandering mind, and the anxiety caused by his anticipation, scared the sleep away. Eventually, by sunrise, he left the bed weary and unrested. A mug of espresso and a bowl of sugar-saturated cereal masked his drowsiness and gave him the needed energy to start the day. The day he had been dreaming for a very long time.

All the staff were present at the lab and were busy adjusting and calibrating several types of equipment involved in the experiment. The experiment’s time was initially set for 12:00 PM, but a few trivial issues, mainly caused by human errors, delayed the experiment by two hours.

Finally, everything was ready. Blake, who volunteered for the experiment from day one, entered the time machine, which resembled a glass dome. He laid down on an inclined chair, which was at the center of the dome. The chair itself was more like a hybrid between a fighter jet’s pilot seat and a dentist’s chair. Two colleagues helped him with straps and connecting life sign sensors to his body.

At 10 seconds to 2:00 PM, Dr. Tom Hardy, the experimental physic department director and the time travel project manager, started the countdown. A machine voice that was loudly pouring out of the speakers filled the air and began counting in descending order, ‘Ten, nine, eight,…, two, one. Go.’ Precisely at 2:00 PM, with a deafening humming sound, the time machine fired up.

For the spectators, for the first twenty seconds, nothing significant happened. Blake was still in the chair and looked calm. Then, suddenly, the dome filled with a blinding blast of light that lasted just for a fraction of a second. When viewers gained their vision back, there was no sign of the Blake in the glass dome. Blake had traveled back in time. But there was no way to test their experiment’s success or find about Blake’s well-being. The plan was to send him back in time for twelve hours, only for half a day. But there was no way to check it. He could end up at a different time or even lost his life during the experiment. Their arrangement was for Blake to enter the lab immediately after the experiment if the time travel was successful. Therefore, everyone was looking at the lab’s entrance door, waiting for Blake to enter.

A minute passed, and then more minutes passed. Then, minutes became hours, and the day turned to night. But Blake didn’t show up. A week after the experiment, in honor of their lost friend and colleague, they rename their lab to Dr. Blake Appleton Experimental physic Laboratory. The time travel experiment was deemed unsuccessful and dangerous. They banned the project and sent all the equipment to a storage room.

For Blake, he felt nothing different during the initial twenty seconds of the experiment. Then, suddenly, the glass dome filled with a blast of light. The intense light, like a beam of laser, was irritating his eyes. Even with closed eyes, he couldn’t escape that excruciating pain he felt in his eyeballs, as the light could easily penetrate through the thin skin of his eyelids. Though the blast lasted just for a fraction of a second, it felt like an eternity for Blake until he lost his consciousness.

Even it was long past midnight, Blake was still in the lab. He was anxious about the next day’s experiment. He was overwhelmed by checking their program for the next day’s time travel experiment. It was once a lifetime experiment. If it was successful, it would change the world as we know it today. It could rewrite history. Blake imagined a world that had never experienced a war, a world without world wars one and two, a world that had never seen black death, Spanish flu, or other pandemics.

July 06, 2021 11:52

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2 comments

Alex Sultan
13:16 Jul 10, 2021

I like the loop ending. Great way to finish a time travel story. Nice work.

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Johana Htwe
09:02 Jul 15, 2021

This is an interesting story, Susan. I love how you told the story.

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