Say Again?

Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

The waitress took their order reflexively, their speaking the words were just a formality after so many visits, their orders never deviating.

‘All day over easy, bacon, white toast. And coffee. Please.’

‘Same.’

Emma would just nod and smile, and return in short order with two heaping plates of breakfast.

It was this plate that Bradley was focused on now, liberally salting and peppering the eggs, and slathering steak sauce on the home fries.

Stan busied himself pouring packets of sugar and the contents of creamers into his coffee, before stirring madly and leaning over his plate, and in a voice just loud enough to reach his friends ear, he spoke nervously.

‘I think I’m onto something really, really big.’

Bradley barely looked up from his plate and grinned before breaking the first of three perfect eggs, watching the yolk meander into the mountain of home-fries.

‘What?’ he said, making Stan wince at the loudness of his voice.

‘Shh!’ Stan looked around furtively. ‘Shh! I think I can travel through time’

Bradley stopped eating, put down his fork and paused only to wipe his mouth on a paper napkin before he began to berate his fidgeting colleague.

‘Say Again? Time travel? Is this like your foray into ESP? Or your biofeedback machines, or your faster than light propulsion? Seriously, at least those had some basis in real science, but time travel? Stan – if you don’t come up with something your backer can actually use, your capital is going to evaporate and you’ll be on the street.  Even the university won’t have you back now.’

Stan sat back shaking his head. He was used to this, he’d stopped submitting to the journals, stopped attending the university functions, and lost contact with most of his friends. He absently folded the frayed cuffs of his oxford several times before shoving them up to his elbows. Brad knew him, and though he always talked like this, Stan knew he was just worried about him.

‘This is the culmination of all of that. Everyone’s been trying to figure how to accelerate a mass past the speed of light – right?  Tachyons looked promising for a while, but they’re already moving faster than light, so they’re really no good. We need to accelerate a stationary mass beyond the speed of light in a controlled way, and then slow it back down without destroying it.  Generating energy is hard enough, and the amount of energy we need to push anything meaningful into the past is, well – huge – so to get enough energy means a huge reaction of some sort, not very practical. But what if we don’t need to generate energy, what if we just use the objects’ own energy, not create or release it, just reform it for a time, then let it return to it’s natural state?’

Stan paused for a moment to push his glasses up the bridge of his nose, and Bradley, still intent on clearing his plate, just grunted around a mouthful of bacon, eyeing Stan warily but letting him continue.

‘The ESP study, and the biofeedback machines, we had kids that could actually manipulate the energy in tangible things, solely because they really believed they could. They just, I don’t know, had the faith in their ability to control things. We could show them the effect they were having, we helped them to push harder, focus more intently. We validated their belief in themselves, and the gains were incredible.  I think we’d have made a huge breakthrough then if the parents hadn’t got scared and had us shut down.’ Stan paused, and pushed his bangs away from his eyes. ‘Anyways, I’ve been working with those same machines, working at manipulating my own energy field, changing my own frequencies and I’m making my own solid gains.’ He lowered his voice, but his excitement remained palpable. ‘You’ve got to try it, it’s amazing, when you’re tuned in, you can feel the change in your mind, your body – everything just starts to hum, and the buzz – jesus, the buzz is incredible. I can feel I’m right on the edge, every-time, it builds, and builds, and builds and my focus intensifies, and the feeling – Christ Brad, you’ve got no idea what it feels like… it builds until it’s like…’ His voice trailed off.

‘What?’ Bradley broke the silence, making Stan wince at the loudness of his voice.

‘Shh!’ Stan looked around furtively ‘Shh! I think I can travel through time’

Bradley barely looked up from his plate and grinned before breaking the first of three perfect eggs, watching the yolk meander into the mountain of home-fries.

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