Author : Asher Wismer

“I invented a time machine,” said Professor Rudnicki morosely. The whiskey in front of him glinted, a cylindrical crystal promising amnesia.

My hands moved on their own, needing no guidance, wiping a glass that would never be clean. I looked skeptical. “Isn’t time travel impossible, except to the extreme relative future?”

“That’s what they say.” Rudnicki gulped the shot and motioned for another. I poured it.

“Time is relative to our senses, space doubly so. What we perceive to be real is in fact the simple accumulation of expectation; we expect the glass to hold the whiskey, and we expect the whiskey to get us drunk, but only AFTER we drink it.”

“That’s deep, professor.” I hear stuff like this every day; hard not to, when you tend bar near MIT. You pick up the odd scientific fact, and one of the ones I knew about was that time-past was a fixed animal; nothing could penetrate that which has already passed.

“Oh, they want you to believe that, but it’s not true. All you need is to be able to see past Newton, past the expected… so I did. The human mind is the ultimate time travel machine; it sees into the past without leaving the present. All I had to do was replicate that function. And it worked! I never thought it would go so wrong.”

“What went wrong, professor?” The second shot sat untouched; he kept reaching for it, then pulling away.

“I tested the machine yesterday, multiple times, setting it for no more than hours past. It worked perfectly; the memory of the machine and its contents appeared in my memory right when it should have.”


“When something appears out of nowhere in my past, I expect to remember it,” he said irritably. “Anyway, I showed it to my colleague, Doctor Smith, and he insisted on giving it a test run with himself as the subject.”

“What happened, did it explode or something?”

“I do not create machines that explode! That pastime is reserved for the likes of Nobel; all my work is for the human good.”

“So what went wrong?”

“In my haste to perfect the time matrix, that which allows a physical object to recreate itself in the past, I ignored Newton entirely. Conservation of mass and energy, the laws of inertia. Reaching the past is one thing; reaching the past and remaining on Earth is another.”

“You mean…”

He grabbed the shot now, threw it back like a man just in from a convent. “Yes, exactly. The Earth is in constant rotation, the solar system in constant movement. A body at rest tends to stay at rest, a body in motion stays in motion… and our motion today is in a different physical spot in the universe than it was fifty years ago.”

My hands failed me for the first time in my career. The glass shattered. Rubnicki smiled grimly.

“He must have appeared right in empty space, in the same relative spot that the Earth would occupy fifty years in the future.”

He stood, no signs of intoxication in his stance, and dropped a ten on the bar.

“Keep the change.”

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