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General

It was Monday, Monday meant non-fiction. Donna had set a genre a day to make sure she saw everything in the expansive book store. Non-fiction wasn't her normal haunt but she'd finished her last book so, coffee in hand, she headed to the first bank of shelves.

By the time she reached the dregs of her cup she'd made it to the self-help shelves still empty handed. 

Wedged awkwardly between a book about success and one about the importance of positive thinking was a small brown book, the prim golden title looking more handwritten than mass printed.

She pulled it out.

The cover was worn around the edges like an old notebook and looked more like it belonged in a high schoolers backpack than on a bookstore shelf.

'How To Change Your Life By Manipulating The Time Vortex' was scrawled across the front I'm the same gold script.

There was no author listed but there was a small $10.95 sticker on the back.

She tucked it under her arm and kept browsing.

"Don't normally see you in the nonfiction section." The cashier said an hour later as she scanned Donna's single book.

"Figured it was worth a look, like a new years resolution!" 

"Looks like it belongs more in sci fi than self help based on that title." 

"That's what I figured but either way should be a good next read."

The computer made a disappointed beep and the cashier frowned slightly before typing at the computer.

"That's odd, doesn't seem to be a record…" she typed something else. "Honestly I've never heard of it either…" She tried a third time, carefully copying something from the back cover. "Well the ISBN worked but it's coming up as a cookbook." She shrugged, "Well the price is right so I won't argue." 

Donna handed over cash and the cashier handed back the book and her change.

Donna headed to the bus stop, and upon realising she'd just missed her bus opened the book.

The cover had the cardboard feel of a composition notebook and the pages were handwritten, mostly over gridded pages.

"Hope I didn't just buy someone's journal." She mumbled before turning to the first page.

The first page was laid out like a question and answer for the author, with the questions nearly mass printed and the answers scrawled in messier writing than the rest of the book, but obviously the same writer.

She glanced down them quickly. Birthday, nickname, favourite book...she paused and went back. 

Favourite book- Neville Longbottom series.

She brushed it off as a joke on the authors part but read more carefully.

Favourite tv series- Firefly seasons 2-5 and 7.

She flipped the page, both more interested and more convinced it was fiction. 

A small piece of paper fell to her feet and she picked it up.

'Beware changing time is irreversible. Something's I wish I'd left alone. I lost more than my favourite show and changed way more than the Neville Longbottom series.' 

Three buses passed before she turned the last page and looked up from the book. Another passed while she stared uncomprehending across the road mulling over what the book contained. 

She pulled out her phone.

"Hey Max, I'm coming over. What do you know about time travel?"


"You really believe this?" Max asked the book open between them.

"I mean I don't know. At first I thought.it was a joke, like who would joke about more seasons of Firefly. But the science looks sound and the math seems to all add up...that parts I can follow at least. That's why I'm here you're better at math than I am."

"Oh sure come to the math teacher because you can't figure out a math problem." Max said rolling her eyes sarcastically.

"You know that's not what I mean. You're also the sci-fi geek out of the two of us." 

"That means I'm also the one who knows time travel is bad news. You can just build a machine and change your life."

"Why not? How is it different from building an exercise machine?"

"Messing with the time stream is way different than buying an elliptical. It's a ripple effect. It's not like Bill & Ted."

"Okay fine I know that…" Donna sighed. "But what about little nudges. Like away from my ex, or towards an actual elliptical?"

"You can still tear the space time and create a paradox."

"I'm not going to go become my own grandfather."

"No but what if you create a time when you don't find the book? Then you'd create an infinite loop or a branch of time."

"Or nothing would happen. It clearly worked for whoever wrote this." She motioned for the book.

"And according to them changed things. What if you made things worse?"

"What if we made them better?"

"Oh it's 'we' now?"

"Okay okay. What if we just observe?"

"Observe what?"

"I dunno anything. Newton discovering gravity, the discovery of the atom." She watched Max who finally hesitated. "Observation wouldn't mean interference."

"And if we get stuck? Or interfere just by being there that we cause a ripple effect?"

"Would we even know?"

"Well...there's varying thoughts on that...judging by the things the author listed in here." Max poked the book. "we probably would. Unless they only remember because it was written down."

"Okay but what if we just try to build it? We could go back in time like 2 days or something...maybe play the lottery and not live in crappy apartments anymore?"

Max sighed, defeated.

"Fine. I'll help you try. But no interfering. And if you win the lotto you're getting me a nice apartment at the very least."

"Deal."


It didn't take long to get the parts together. Most came from car wreckers, some took a little time but everything came together in a few months. The instructions in the book succinct and easy to follow, even offering suggestions on where to get some of the harder to source parts. Whoever the original author was had kept meticulous records.

"The power unit looks pretty self contained. As long as nothing damages it you should be able to get back. Better than having to find a power source. Except you better not go far enough to have to worry about that."

"I still think you should come. Half this stuff I couldn't have figured out without you. What if I get stuck?"

"Yet another reason you shouldn't go far."

"Well what if I don't plan to go far but we did something wrong?"

"I still think all we did was build a very expensive modern art piece."

"I guess it's time to find out." Donna said wiping oil off her hands onto a rag.

"Just for posterity sake I'm going to say again that this is a bad idea." 

"Posterity has noted you saying so." She climbed into the old rickety car seat and adjusted the makeshift time set.

Max shoved her hands in her pockets crossing her fingers and toes.

A small crinkled piece of paper slipped into her hand and she pulled it out.

A lottery ticket she'd never bought unfolded itself in her hand as Donna and the machine blinked out of existence infront of her.

January 25, 2020 00:10

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5 comments

Yoomi Ari
22:37 Jan 29, 2020

My kind of story! Well done. Writing is your strongest link.... so keep on writing! And keep on smiling!

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Nikkianne Spaans
00:54 Jan 30, 2020

Aw thanks so much! <3

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Yoomi Ari
07:20 Jan 30, 2020

👏🏻

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Leroy Z
10:59 Jan 29, 2020

Great work Nikkianne

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Nikkianne Spaans
21:42 Jan 29, 2020

Thanks :)

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