“Hello Rose!” a voice called out to me, shocking me out of my mind and back into the train. I was on the Metrolink, on my way home from work in Los Angeles. I would take this train to Baldwin Park, then drive a few blocks away to my house. Turning to the man that had called out to me, I noticed it was Michael, my good friend that I had met at a coffee parlor a few years back.
“Hey Mike. How’s it going?”
“Oh ya know, it’s going. What’d you do today at the office?”
“Mike, I told you, it’s not an office, it’s more of a lab.”
“Fine,” Michael raised his hands, admitting defeat, “What did you do at the lab today?” He put an extra emphasis on “lab,” as if to tease me. I took a deep breath.
“Well, we just finished the big Biomimicry project, and it should be ready for release in the next couple months. Everything at this point is up to marketing now.”
“Really?” Michael always was so excited by my engineering projects. It made me smile, “So do you think it came out alright?”
“It could have gone better. I don’t like that we couldn’t figure out a way to account for pregnancy well, but we have future iterations to fix that in. What I’m really excited for is my side project.” I looked off into the distance, past the woman struggling to keep her child still, at the sunset. The clouds were this beautiful hue of orange-red from the sun’s light on them. It was so peaceful.
“What project is that? This is the first I’ve heard of this.” Michael looked at me with curiosity, then smiled deviously, “is it a love machine? You can’t just compute someone into falling in love with you.” He laughed and I slapped his arm playfully.
“No stupid, I’ve been working on this thing that will help change the world,” Michael’s face settled on an expression somewhere between happy and tired. I leaned in toward him and lowered my voice to a whisper, “I’ve been working on a time machine. Well, it’s really more of a time displacement machine, but it works like you would imagine a time machine to work.”
“And you are doing this how…?” Michael got very serious as his voice trailed off. I blushed in embarrassment.
“Well the science still has a bit of a way to go before I can safely change when I am living, but I think I am close to breaking through. I’ve got all the math finished. It’s a long story that you aren’t going to understand if I go in depth.”
“Try me.” Michael boasted. I looked at him sarcastically.
“Ok, so the quantum mechanical theory is that you take the change in oxygen density to create a time zone, and then use that baseline to create and track the oxygen of other time periods, lock on to one, and then-“ Michael cut me off.
“Ok I was lost after quantum. But this is my stop, I’ll see you later.” He grabbed his bag, and stepped down the stairs and out of sight. I sat in silence for the remaining 15 minutes of my ride, before eventually reached my stop: 3825 Downing Avenue. I got off the train, walked straight to my Civic, and drove home. What I hadn’t gotten to tell Michael about was that tonight was the first dry run for time travel. Or that I had been working on this project at home. Or that I was going to be going to be aiming straight for George Washington’s timeline to get to know our first president. With all the orange-faced re-election talk, I thought it might be valuable to check in with one of our premier leaders in history.
I pulled into my driveway, hopped out of the car, and climbed the stairs to my front door. The old, wooden door creaked as I stepped into my little house, as it always did. I walked over to my fridge, poured a glass of milk, downed it, then poured a second glass for while I worked. I carried the glass with me over to the makeshift workshop I had put together. All in all, the machine wasn’t actually that big. In fact, once I realized how simple it was to move through time, I refined my original design so that the main device would fit on a table. I took another sip of milk, then set the glass on a well-worn coaster, and examined at the device.
It was about the size of a backpack, with silver and blue panels on the exterior to cover the grotesque mess of wires and lights on the inside, as well as a big red button. Everything was all in place. I turned it on, and a low whir started emanating from the middle, and I could feel the table vibrating with it as I set the machine down. It lit up like a snowflake reflecting in the sun, which was beautiful. To the left of the main machine was the most important part of the device—the anchor. I had designed it as a bracelet that was fashionable and subtle at the same time. It, like the machine itself, was blue and silver, except it was a bracelet, with stones that looked quite a bit like sapphires. I slipped it onto my left wrist, the reached over to the machine itself and adjusted the date to April 15th, 1757. I figured I should talk to Mr. Washington before all hell broke loose in the colonies. Then, I punched in “MOUNT VERNON” to the keypad on the device.
I realized my hands were shaking with excitement, and I took a deep breath. It was going to be ok. Sure, if my calculations were off I could go spiraling back to who knows what year, but at least I had set up a fail safe to pull me back after 7 days. My hand hovered over the big red button, which seemed almost ominous. I guess it was also possible that because of how I was dressed I might be thought of as a whore, or worse. I mean at least I’m wearing jeans, right? Or maybe I hadn’t calibrated the machine right, and I would end up 6 feet underground…no. I was definitely right. I had over compensated. If anything, I would end up a few feet off the ground. I took one more deep breath, closed my eyes, and hit the button.
Suddenly, my who body was twisting and turning. It felt like I was being squeezed into a tiny box and pulled apart from each limb at the same time. My breath left me in a hurry, like someone had punched me dead in the stomach, and I thought for a second I would pass out. Then, suddenly, I opened my eyes and I was out in a field, in broad daylight.