Four incredibly bored students sat around the table in the library very quietly. Every topic of conversation had been tried, every prank played out, every assignment completed. There was nothing to do but sit and wait for the bell to ring. That is, until Bob pulled out his time machine.
It looked a lot like a calculator except the buttons were marked differently. When Bob turned it on, there was a low hum which attracted the attention of the others. He began to punch in a sequence of numbers.
“What’s that?” asked Jon from across the table.
“My time machine,” replied Bob casually.
Darrin did a double-take. “Your what?”
“My time machine,” repeated Bob, “I can go anywhere in the past or future.”
Greg was doubtful. “Let’s see you go somewhere,” he challenged.
“Somewhen,” corrected Bob. “All right.” He finished the sequence and pressed a button marked in red. There was a flicker, or so they thought. It happened so fast, no one was sure. Greg blinked twice, checking if his contacts had slipped somehow. Darrin did likewise and Jon sat unbelieving. They looked at each other, unsure of what to say. Greg looked back at Bob who seemed to be expecting something.
“How was it?” asked Greg finally.
Bob looked a little unsure himself. “I made it there, but I only have enough power to stay for a second. Then my mind must be clear when I start back.”
“Why do you have to clear your mind? What difference would it make?” asked Jon, rather unclear on the subject of time-travel.
“I went backwards in time, a time that’s already happened to us now. Any thoughts I have in my mind on the return journey are somehow imprinted on the fabric of space-time…” Bob’s words faded away with the thoughts of his ‘accidents’. It had been very hard to correct them. Each time, a part of him had died along with those alternate realities. It was interesting meeting oneself. He had been a monk of sorts when math had become a religion. And the other time when –
“I don’t really believe you went anywhere,” said Darrin. Bob looked up, shocked.
“But I did.”
“Can you prove it?” asked Greg. Bob rummaged through a folder and pulled out a worn sheet of paper with a number of calculations scribbled on it. Greg grabbed it and inspected it closely. His forehead screwed up in deep thought. Jon peered over his shoulder.
“What is it?” he asked.
“I’m not really sure,” admitted Greg. He scanned the page again. It mentioned something about tachyons, mysterious particles that go faster than light. Electrically manipulated they seemed to force things to move independently through time.
That was the theory anyway.
Greg gave the paper back to Bob. “This doesn’t prove a thing,” he finished.
Bob nodded and returned to his thoughts. After a few seconds of figuring in his head, he spoke.
“Where, I mean when do you want to go?” The others stopped for a moment. The shock wore off quickly and the answers came tumbling out.
“Back in time.”
“To the beginning of time.”
Bob began punching in a new sequence. “All right, hold on to the table. We’re going back to creation, but we’ll only be there a moment. When you feel yourselves regressing, clear your minds.” They still didn’t believe that it would work, but they nodded their approval and braced themselves.
Bob pressed the button and something happened.
Their bodies were immaterial and flimsy, almost gaseous. Perhaps it was like death. A strange light permeated them, a light that could be smelled and tasted as well. Colors spun out of nowhere and everywhere like a painter gone mad. They felt themselves being stretched into infinity. Then it was over. There was blackness. For an instant, creation was upon them. There was heat and pressure.
Then there was light. Creation began.
They felt a tug and the universe began to dissolve once again. What had been Bob seemed to scream at them, clear your minds. The others could see his words and they smelled insistent. Three succeeded in erasing the beauty they had witnessed. One did not.
They returned, but not to the same place.
It was dark and the wind was cold, making goose pimples rise up on their arms. They still gripped the table.
“Does everything look a little different?” asked Jon. They looked around. The library, the school, the world was gone. Some kind of luminescent fog permeated the air surrounding everything in a greenish glow. There were rocks, large and formidable.
“I’ll ask that man where we are,” said Greg pointing at a shape near him. He stood up to speak, but never finished. The shape extended three tendrils and Greg’s words turned to screams. They echoed off the rocks and cut into the fog. the creature disappeared leaving the four strangers alone.
Their old life had ended, but a new one was just beginning.