Author : David Stevenson

You had to have a hobby.

Sure, he had spent hundred of hours on this project, but at least he had built something.

You might as well do it right. He could use cardboard covered in metallic foil, but why bother? Far better to spend an hour or two at the lathe, cutting brass until you had the piece you wanted.

Finally it was finished. He had found the drawing online. Whoever had made it was another enthusiast. They had made it look like a genuine 19th century blueprint. If some Victorian mad scientist had come up with plans for a time machine then this is exactly what they would have looked like.

The attention to detail was astonishing. They even specified various supplies, such as gold coins, dried food, a pistol, that a time traveller might need.

And now the machine was done.

He would have to wire up some effects. Some humming, and an eerie blue glow; that sort of thing.

There was a hum, and an eerie blue glow illuminated the machine.

He looked over the machine. A minute ago it was still, but now brass wheels turned in polished wooden cages. Wires hummed, vacuum tubes glowed.

In the centre of the machine was a chair. He had used a green wing chair. It had been expensive, and he was not expecting to see it flicker and and disappear. When the chair reappeared the second most noticeable change was that it was now made of red leather. The first most noticeable change was the lady sitting in it.

“Greetings! What year is it please?”

He told her what year it was.

“Splendid! I was hoping for one hundred years, but almost one hundred and fifty is more than I had dreamed of.” She looked around. “Excellent work on the machine. I hoped that the plans I left were sufficiently detailed.”

He agreed that they were.

“Yes, the plans were mine. I could have made the machine better after building my prototype, but it was important not to change my plans. I don’t know if anyone else has attempted to build the machine over the years but if they did then it wasn’t sufficiently close to my own machine. I couldn’t test mine until you made yours.”

He asked the obvious questions.

“My theories predicted I could only travel to other times when the machine already existed. I could keep it well maintained for 10 years and then go back, but what would be the point in that? Going forwards would be impossible because, if I jumped 10 years into the future then I obviously wouldn’t be there for that decade to keep the machine working. Bit of a paradox, no?”

“So, the obvious thing to do was to draw up the plans and make arrangements for them to be distributed after my death. Arrangements which, from my point of view, I completed only a few minutes ago, before noticing the machine was operational. From your point of view, I assume that you have only recently completed the machine?”

He nodded.

“Good. I did regret leaving in the appendices, but then I reasoned that I would be able to travel forwards to the instant that the machine was finished, and that would be before the builder had collected the other equipment.”

He was still working his way through the implications of this sentence when she took her hand out of the carpet bag on her lap and revealed it to be holding a pistol which was pointing at him.

The rest, as they say, is history.


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