Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Time-Traveler's Lament

                Sometimes as a writing warmup, I write whatever stupid thing i feel like writing because it makes me laugh. It's not always "good" but it's a warmup, and i don't stifle myself during the warmup. This one turned out kind of funny, so I saved it to post today, on the fourth day of Anniversaganza. Enjoy!

                Jim and Brenda slowly opened their eyes. As much as they wanted to watch the trip in front of them, the bright flash was too much, and they had to shield them. Just as technician Ted had predicted. They called him Tech Ted. However, Tech Ted’s name was Bob, but somewhere along the line Brenda had referred to him as Tech Ted, and it stuck. The debate was on whether she was joking or she had forgotten his real name.
                Once their eyes adjusted, they began to examine their surroundings. It looked as if the time machine had worked. Brenda and Jim were no longer staring at the cold metal confines of their laboratory in 2015, they were now on a very important date.
                “We did it!” Brenda said excitedly, “we’re here! We get to watch a piece of history!!”
                Jim held up his hand and fiddled with the watch Tech Ted had given him before he left, “Tech Ted,” he said into the device, “Can you hear us?”
                A disappointed voice came over the watch, “it worked?”
                “You tell us. When are we?” he said, emphasizing the “when” as he practiced many times.
                Tech Ted let out an audible sigh, “The date is November 19th 1863 and you’re currently at the Soldier’s National Cemetery. Enjoy the Address.”
                “Which address?” Brenda said, grabbing Jim’s arm.
                “The Gettysburg Address,” Tech Ted replied, wondering if he’d be arrested for kidnapping or murder if he didn’t press the sequence of buttons to get them home. “I’m out.”
                Brenda and Jim looked at each other gleefully, then slowly walked through a set of trees and towards a grassy hill. The air smelled… different. It certainly hadn’t been saturated with chemicals. They were so excited they didn’t notice they were being stared at by just about everyone who noticed that their clothes were just slightly out of style, and extremely clean.
                “I can’t believe we did it!” Jim said, “we managed to time travel!”
                “We’re going to get a Nobel for this!”
                “Forget Nobel, they’ll name countries after us!”
                “Fame… fortune… we can go anywhen in the world we want!” Brenda hadn’t rehearsed hers as long as Jim had, but was proud of it nonetheless.
As the pair continued to the spot where Lincoln would be giving his address, Jim couldn’t help but pull out his phone to take one quick picture. Brenda helped him glance around conspiratorially and he quickly snapped a few shots, the last one setting off the flash. After a moment of panic looking, they figured no one had seen.
“That was close,” Brenda said, “You can’t do anything to disrupt the time stream!” she said the last part because it sounded cool in movies.
“I know, I just couldn’t resist,” Jim replied. “It’s just something for posterity. History will want to know about our trip!”
“Jim!” Brenda hissed.
“They’ll remember you, too, I’m sure,” Jim replied, admiring the photos on his phone.
“NO, JIM, LOOK!” Brenda hissed again, pulling Jim’s arm.
That was when Jim saw him. A tall black man, wearing a dirty Union uniform standing next to them, staring angrily at Jim’s phone.
“Let me handle this,” Jim replied, “sir, we are not witches. I did not steal your soul with my magic glowing device. No, sir, this is science.”
“I know it’s science you moron. If you’re going to mess up and bring out a cell phone into 1963, you should at least do it more subtly,” the man said, pulling the phone out of Jim’s hand. “Wait, what’s this? You’re from 2015?”
“Yes,” Brenda shook her head.
“No, way! Dude, I’m from 2012. My name’s Marcus,” he held out his hand.
“Time travel was invented in 2012?” Brenda said.
“Yeah, I’m a scientist for a small company in Idaho that was working on it as part of DoD research. We found a way to do it with Jet Engines. How about you?” Marcus replied.
Brenda and Jim stared at each other.
“We used solar energy,” Brenda said shakily.
“Aw, man, we tried that but couldn’t stabilize it. Hold on,” Marcus turned to a blonde woman in a large hoop skirt, “Katie! Katie, guess what? These guys are from 2015!”
Katie walked over, “Time travel was invented in 2012, and then again in 2015? Now you’re just trying to make me feel bad.”
“When are you from?” Brenda said, the time travel pun novelty now wearing off.
“2020. Most of humanity was taken over by the robots, so I tried to escape to the past to prevent it. Killing Lincoln is the only way to do that.”
Jim and Brenda stared at her in horror. Marcus and Katie started laughing.
“She tells everyone that,” Marcus said, covering his mouth.
“Yeah. Actually some friends of mine and I are back here for Spring Break. We’re all history majors so we get extra credit for coming back and watching.”
She gestured over to a large group of young people, easily in college. Most of them had half-assed their way into a costume, and at least four of them were taking video with their cell phones. Even in the past, some things never changed.
“what… about… the time stream?” Jim said.
“What about it?” Katie replied. She started skipping over to her friends.
“There were only like, four people at the original Gettysburg Address,” Marcus said, “People were bored of political speeches even back then.”
Jim looked out at the large group of people, “So then…”
“How many of them are from before 2015?” Brenda asked.
“I think 1975 is the earliest, but I’m fairly certain that one was an accident,” Marcus replied. “Hey, I have to go, I’m going to miss my favorite part!”
“Favorite part? Like you saw on a Holo-recording or something” Brenda said hopefully.
“Naw, I’ve been back to see this, like, four times. I’m waiting for myself over there.” Sure enough, four other Marcuses were standing there, waiting to be joined by the fifth. He started to walk over. “But you’re more than welcome to join us.”
Jim sighed and started to slowly turn around. Brenda put her arm around him. They started to make their way back to the coordinates to be picked up by Tech Ted, unaware that he’d decided that he had enough abuse, and they could learn to enjoy a few extra hours in the past. As they walked, there was a bright flash of light, and a man in full Victorian garb stood in front of them.
“Greetings, world of the future!” the man said, “I’m Cornelius, I’ve travelled from 1833!”
“Shut up,” Jim replied.
“Hmph.” Cornelius replied, “Is everyone in the future so rude?”

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