Author : Christopher Stewart

Everything was powered up, the switch thrown, and she stepped through, crossing the threshold out of nowhere. I remember everything about her so clearly. Not that she was remarkable, other than appearing out of nowhere, but shooting the instrument panels of the machine demanded attention, y’know?

She said, “You will not know my name. You will not know my era. You’ll never make sense of today and I’m sorry about that. You just can’t do this and we have to be certain you don’t.” As she spoke, the gun turned towards me. The rest of the room reacted like it was pointed at them, but no, she was looking right down the barrel at me.

I don’t know guns, but it looked like a normal gun to me. I was looking really hard, you see. And it worked pretty well apparently. She stared at me, just for a moment, then frowned and addressed the gathering of scientists and reporters. The gun stayed on me.

“You opened your door to strangers!” She looked at the project lead. “You! You were grinning like an idiot! You have no idea who I am!” He tried to remind her she hadn’t given a name, but she cut him off, “SHUT UP!”

“You were so keen to be first; you never wondered how many came later, did you, Let alone who controls them, when, and for how long. But what’s done is done. All we can do is contain the mess you have started until as late as possible. This door must be closed. I am not arguing with you, that’s pointless, I am just telling you because you need to understand today isn’t aggression, but desperation.”

Her eyes turned back to me, and with a small, sad smile said, “Being a science writer is not for you. You should write a book. I really love your book.”

I woke up a week later in a hospital bed on the other side of the ocean, three bullet holes in my chest, and a lot of people wanting me to tell you the story I just told you. She had shot me and I was whisked away. I was lucky they said. I thought about that a bit, got into a loop, and passed out. I don’t think about it anymore. Not sober anyhow.

After I had left the building, the machine was repaired relatively quickly and the demonstration was set to continue later that day. This we know because those in attendance said as much in phone calls, texts, so on.

No idea what happened to my fan after she shot me. She never left the facility by all accounts. The second time the machine was turned on, they sent a nuke instead of a person through the door, so one way or another she disappeared in a ball of physics along with a big chunk of France.

As far as I know, nobody has built a machine since then.

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