“What do you mean, it’s a bad idea? It’s a fantastic idea!”
“Winston, is it any wonder why this has been disapproved by the entire board. It’s not ready!”
“Blimey, who put your dong in a thong? They’re pessimists, Alfred, pessimists. The science is there. It’s the 23rd century, not the 22nd, we’ve ironed out all possible variances and chances of catostrophic failure. That’s what the project was for!”
Alfred tilted his head to the side, frowned, then started shaking violently, his hands going right up above into the air.
“You’re bloody mad!”
Winston raised a finger. “I prefer brilliant.”
The laboratory door to the left of them slammed shut and the smirk of a vaguely attractive brunette stopped the men’s annoying ritual of foreplay.
“Action Suit 56! Clause 20. Don’t forget Page 7 as well, clause 12 in the third ruling. I could go on,” she said mockingly, her tall figure sauntering over to both men. A look of shock on Alfred’s face but a look of annoyance on Winston’s.
Winston made to interrupt her. “I’d actually prefer if you wou-”
“-Instant dismissal! Arrest. Maybe even cryogenic containment. You know I hear stories about those jettisoned out wake up and spend the remaining days alive, drifting out into the nothingness of space, their screams unheard.”
Silence fell within the laboratory. Winston adjusted his jacket, smoothed his short brown hair, scratched his chin then made to speak.
Alfred cut him off.
“Harriet. Amongst many undesirable traits of which you are, stupid, regrettably, is not one of them.”
Winston smirked and Alfred stormed ahead with his speech.
“So, well, get the bloody hell on with it. What do you want. You know this is our career’s on the line.”
Harriet mocked ignorance and offered out her hands and gawked credulously. “I don’t know what you mean. But obviously, I mean to come along. I haven’t screwed over half the board and risked everything for this job just to sit at a desk checking data.”
“No, you haven’t,” Winston said. “But time travel is not reserved for the whims of an admin servant.”
Alfred swore under his breath and sat down. Harriet grinned wickedly.
“Still a ruthless flirt, though you’ve lost a bit of your edge, if I must say.”
“Oh shut up Harriet.”
“Come on, Winston, it was fun for a while, wasn’t it?”
He let out a deep sigh, as if there he bore an invisible weight on his shoulders. Turning to Alfred he smiled and then looked back at Harriet. “You really aren’t going to forgive me, are you?”
She cocked her head. Flows of shiny hair cascading over her slender shoulders. “Did you really think I ever was, my dear boy?”
A loud bang suddenly exploded in the lab. Smoke unfurled from Harriet’s hip and Winston crumpled to the floor with a carterised hole between the eyes. Harriet concealed the Laser Colt M-11, winked at a terrified Alfred his face as white as calcium and approached the controls of the machine.
Working furiously, Harriet engaged the mechanisms to fully calibrate the machine to time travel. Once pausing for a moment, then returning to adjust the scanning tools so that it would read the atomic composition of a human body nano-sceonds before being shot down the laser tunnel, she felt ready and stood back from the machine.
A much gentler voice cried whispered from behind her and Harriet turned, still smiling.
“Harriet. Did you always have this in you?”
She looked down at Winston’s dead body, inclined her head a little and then met Alfred’s eyes with a cold stare. “Well, of course. It’s why they call it cold-blooded murder. Are you ready?”
Alfred frowned, sweat beading at the top of his quivering brow. “Ready?”
“Yes, ready. Or have you pissed yourself?”
“Ready for what?”
Harriet took out his M-11 and pointed it at Alfred in annoyance. “For god’s sake, Freddy, I took you as the smarter of the two. You didn’t think I was going to offer myself as a guinea pig?”
“No,” Said Alfred. “No, you can’t be serious. Harriet, that thing isn’t ready. It could kill me. Send my matter to multiple instances in space. Across different moments in time.”
She shrugged. “A small misfortune us scientists must account for when running experiments.”
The time machine began to hum at a low frequency and the lasers within the main tunnel fired. The length of the tunnel ran through the complex at an impressive mileage which meant the coordinated diplomatic agreement between half a dozen countries. At this, Alfred really began to fall apart, standing up and begging.
“Please! Harriet! It was Winston that made you suffer, not me!”
She ignored him, waving the M-11 in his face to get him to enter the machine.
“HARRIET! Listen to reason!! You don’t need to do this. Use something else! ANYHTING!!!”
Harriet ignored this too. Instead shutting him inside the chamber and going back to the control pannel to press a few glyphs that were now highlighted on the glass. A hologram now presented itself outside the chamber door, which she walked to and began making final calibrations and scanning Alfred’s composition ready for time travel.
She smiled through the hazy blue hologram at the face of a petrified old man she used to work for.
“Do let me know if it’s worked, won’t you?” And she pressed the final button, enjoying the final screams of the scientist, as his body was fired down the laser tunnel, his matter seeming to slow down as if frozen in time, before disappearing completely.
The emptiness of space is a myth. that it’s an endless void filled with space between things. Between the matter that has helped to build the universe. For in fact, those spaces between worlds and dimensions are filled with a great many things. A discovery that was made a few centuries after the discovery of dark matter and its’ properties. As such, this vital piece of knowledge was what Harriet had calibrated for. And it was for this reason, Alfred’s very body, down to the last atom, materialised in mid-air, not 2 feet above a cow pat in the middle of a field in China somewhere. The year, 1320 AD.
Alfred gasped, leapt to his field immediately from the fall, looked around confused and then immediately began to vomit violently into a nearby bush.
After wiping his mouth and taking in a deep breath, he noticed a few small rodents scurrying away from his mess, toward the safe haven of a small wooden hut of old 13th century Chinese design. Alfred knew nothing of when and where he was until he approached the house. From his expert knowledge he dated the building as between 13th and 14th century, and definitely Chinese.
“Why here?” He said. “Why now? What’s so significant about China in the…” Alfred paused the smell the air and eye the son in the air. The dew on the grass. “…late year sometime in the 1200’s or 1300’s? Good god, it’s worked though. Christ. It actually worked.”
Harriet took less than 4 minutes to completely vaporise the dead body of Winston, her former colleague and was soon back home with her feet up and the media interfaces all synced wonderfully. She wiped her hand through the air from the comfort of her coach, not a care in the world for what heinous crime she had committed. Carelessly perusing the media of the internet, current new developments on the Mars colony, before checking on the historical archives on pandemics.
A few minutes later, now stood in the kitchen blending a vegetable beverage, her hands now swiping at the same screen on the glass top of her kitchen counter, Harriet directed the glyph’s on the screen to the top, creating a hologram that floated a few inches above the surface, directly opposite her face for reading at ease.
“Ah!” She suddenly exclaimed, looking down to see a turtled shell cat with a white face and paws. “Hello Tidder, want to see if something I did worked?”
The cat purred unquestioningly.
Her well manicured finger manipulated the glyphs on the glass screen which caused a great chunk of text to appear in the hologram. A bolded title was superimposed over the top before the rest of the text loaded.
The Black Death – A devestating pandemic and its’ origins.
Harriet scrolled through the text, gave up on patience and entered in a keyword.
A result immediately superimposed itself over the rest of the text and Harriet, almost nervously, touched a glowing glyph on the corner of the glass screen.
She gasped. Then slowly re-read the text.
*It is still a mystery to scientists and historians, as to the origin of what appeared to be the remains of a skeleton of indo-european origins. In that the person that was excavated in China, would have originated from somewhere in East Europe. What was more puzzling about the discovery, as cited by (Klopp, 2032), was that new methods of carbon dating put the skeleton at over over 700 years old, despite have completely unique markers, giving evidence to the widly controversial theory that the man was in fact an alien.
The Alien of Death theory has perpetuated through British and now Worldwide literature and film for many decades since, due to the curiously advance and undecayed compisites found inside the male skeleton’s bones, including the ones in his teeth. It’s argued that it would be impossible, for a man of European descent, to be in China in the 1300’s, with cranial and dental implants, which far exceed the technological capabilities even of current science (Keller and Owen, 2050).*
Harriet’s face seemed to darken. She looked down at Tidder, picked her up and held her infront of her face.
“Tidder, my little sweet. We’ve got so much to do.”
© Jason R. Vowles 2015