Author : Susan Nance Carhart
“There’s no way to program my time machine remotely. Not really,” Solberg told his friends. “I can’t perform a unmanned test. I can’t even use an animal for the passenger. But the modeling works. It all comes down to me.”
The friends caught each other’s eye and shook their heads. Solberg’s private laboratories were in a separate wing from the rest of his facility, and even more amazing. Cool blue light suffused the shining interior. Before them was the device that Solberg had dreamed of for thirty years.
“You tell him, Royce,” muttered Julia. “He won’t listen to me.”
Solberg stared back at them, and then put up his hands. “What? What is it?”
“You always think it comes down to you, Jack,” Royce grunted. “Real science can’t be done by one person these days. And it should never be done in secret. You have a team to vet your ideas. Bring them in on this! You need free discussion. I don’t care if you have more money than God. If you had to look for funding, you’d have the challenge of informed analysis and constructive criticism—”
“I might as well send my research to the Chinese,” Solberg sneered. “This is going to revolutionize human life. I’m getting all the credit this time. Do you want to see the test, or not?”
“Yes, we want to see the test,” Julia shot back. “We want to know what happens to you. I think this is insanely reckless, but there’s no way to stop you now. What’s the plan?”
“A short hop, really. I’m going to go back in time one month exactly. I know that no one was in this laboratory at that moment. To prove I’ve been moving in time, I’ll scribble a message on that wall.”
He pointed to the white and pristine tiles facing them. “You’ll be here, and as soon as I’m gone, those words should appear on the wall. Then I’ll come back. It shouldn’t take more than fifteen minutes in absolute time. Don’t move into the space occupied by the device… that could be bad.”
“You are completely crazy, Jack,” Royce sighed. “You know that, right?”
Julia took him in her arms and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Good luck, you idiot.”
Solberg grinned at her, shook Royce’s hand, and climbed into his time machine. “I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “I’ll just be in this exact spot, one month ago.”
A crackle of light enveloped him, and he vanished.
They waited all day.
They waited until nightfall, with aching hearts and fading hopes. They called the Head of Research just after midnight. Doctor Philip Carmichael was at the facility in half an hour, and poking through his employer’s holy of holies in another ten minutes.
Balding and sardonic, he heard their story, and gave it some thought.
At length, he ventured, “You know what Galileo said to himself, when the Church forced him to swear that the Earth was the center of the universe?” He paused, and then told them.
“‘And yet, it moves.'”
Illumination. Each saw, in a mind’s eye of awe and terror, the time machine winking into empty space: in the exact position on the Earth’s orbit that the planet—and Solberg Laboratories— wouldn’t occupy until one month into that time’s future.
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