Author : Steven Journeaux

“It isn’t that simple!” Shelly couldn’t hide the exasperation in her voice.

Dr. Keroth was an impatient man, and understandably so. He needed this time machine to work to save his wife.

“Look, you need to stop thinking of this as a time machine. It’s a time and space machine. We can’t just say “let’s go back to 1st March 1393” and expect to arrive there. For one, it can’t work on dates. Calendars are a human invention, and have changed so much throughout history. Subatomic particles don’t understand leap days. They understand the underlying rhythm of the universe. But that’s not my point, we’ve solved that already and we can pinpoint the exact time we wish to send you back. It’s where you end up that’s the difficult part.

Earth is revolving. If I sent you back twelve hours to where you are now, because of earth’s spin, you’d end up on the other side of the planet, most likely in the middle of an ocean. Then, you have to factor in our revolutions around the Sun. If you go back one week, the whole planet will be occupying a completely different part of the solar system, and you’d emerge into the vacuum of space.”

“Yes, but..”

“Then, you need to remember that our solar system is also hurtling through space, as is our whole galaxy. Just working out the co-ordinates for exactly where the planet was twenty four hours ago is a mammoth task, and you are trying to go back thirty five years“.

The doctor was looking less and less confident. Shelley sighed.

“I’m sorry. I just don’t think you appreciate how difficult this is. The smallest miscalculation and you’re dead the moment you emerge on the other side. This is why it costs so much, and why it takes so long to configure. Now, I need you to sign this disclaimer. This states that you understand the risks involved, and that TimeCorp takes no responsibility for any miscalculations or problems encountered on the other side. It also says that you understand that this is a one way trip, and you will cease to exist in this timeline. Once on the other side, you will be in an alternative timeline. If and when TimeCorp is established in that timeline, it will hold no records of this transaction and will not be able to help you in any way other than to organise another trip for you as if you were a new customer, which you would be. The TimeCorp in that timeline, provided it exists after any changes you cause, has no connection to this one. It is an alternate timeline in its own universe.”

The doctor took the pen with a shaky hand and scribbled his name on the paper.

“Thank you doctor. Now, if you would like to step into the booth, all that remains is for me to wish you a safe journey, a happy life, and on behalf of everyone at TimeCorp, thank you for your business.”

Once the door was sealed, Shelly pressed the button.

On the other side, Dr Keroth passed out within three seconds of emerging. Just enough time to spot the city of Chicago a few miles below him, and to think one phrase as he hurtled towards it.

“So close.”

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