Author : Richard Halcomb
The electrostatic bubble crackled to life around the travellers; two scientists, a politician and a pair of media photographers. Dr. Tim Bilcks, Team Leader of Project Tempus, held the controls of the Temporal Transport Platform, as the sphere of energy surrounded them. “My friends, we are making possibly the most astounding journey in human history; to the birth of Life on Earth itself!”
“Most previous time experiments failed to grasp that ANY Time Engine needs to be able to accurately navigate in the traditional three dimensions, as well as in the temporal fourth dimension. Destinations are constantly in a state of movement through time, and failure to consider this aspect cost us many great, pioneering minds.” Dr. Bilcks paused, to make sure that his genius was understood. “This device, the T.T.P., incorporates a navigational computer which ensures that you land on the coordinates of your destination, at the temporal coordinates of your choice. We also have a terrain scanner, to avoid appearing inside a rock, or a tree!”
“All very good, Doctor. How long will this take?” Science Magister Tompkins had an important meeting planned, with a blonde reporter of questionable morals. He had worn his best kilt suit for this journey, and hoped to be rid of it by 2pm.
“Technically, we won’t be gone at all. We arrive back a nanosecond after we leave. It’s all a part of the genius of the…”
“Excellent!” Magister Tomkins interrupted, “The beginning of life itself! I can’t wait to breathe the Ancient air!” Or, he thought to himself, to smell the cologne of that reporter, whose name he had momentarily forgotten. Steve? Sven? Something with an S…
“Ah, well… the air of the time that we are visiting would be highly toxic to our evolved lungs! My assistant will give you one of these filters to inhale.”
Bilcks’ long suffering assistant Penny Worthington handed out small, black marbles. “Once this lodges in your throat, it will filter out the toxins, and balance the remaining gases, to give you the air that you need.” she explained. Dutifully, the marbles were inhaled, feeling unnatural as they descended towards the trachea. Dr. Bilcks deftly flicked the transit switch; the T.T.P. crackled a crescendo, and flicked out of existence.
For the travellers, all they saw was a blur. Then their new reality solidified around them, the crackling subsiding. They had arrived. Primal Earth was strangely beautiful. Water covered most of the view around the rocky outcrop where the T.T.P had landed. Sol, Earth’s sun, was a deeper orange in this time, and the rocks reflected it as a red hue. The Magister admitted to himself that it had been worth the trip. He inhaled deeply, as the photographers stepped out to document the moment.
“Damn,” Magister Tomkins beamed, “I was saving this for later, but this seems much more auspicious!” He took the cigar and lighter from his sporran, inhaled deeply, and lit up.
The mainly methane proto-atmosphere flared around the Magister. None of them had time to feel a thing. The T.T.P. was torn apart by the force of the explosion, and the five temporal travellers were ripped into millions of their composite pieces.
Quiet resumed, Earth’s natural soundtrack. In the surrounding puddles, the small carbon-based molecules scattered around started to change. They had a very long journey ahead of them.