I walked through the dark blue corridor. My footsteps echoed off of the walls. I pulled out my phone, the screen’s light illuminated the walls. I sat down on the bench next to the room labeled, “103b.” I had been here many times before, but today was different. When I first came here it was with my brother, a scientist working for Elda Corp. He had shown me what he was working on, it had to be kept a secret. If anyone had known he was working on it there would be a public outcry. It was… a time machine.
“Ding,” a little speech bubble appeared on my phone, “See you at 8?” It was my brother.
“Of course,” I responded. I glanced at my watch, it read 6:30. I had to be quick. I got up and walked to the door. Instead of a handle though, there was a keypad. I expected this, and I input the number: 47029.
“Click,” and the door swung open, revealing to me a disarray of electronic parts, strewn over tables, and on the ground, in the center of the room, stood the time machine. It had the text “Property of Elda Corp.” inlayed on it. I picked it up, it wasn’t like any sort of time machine you would see in a sci-fi movie, it looked sort of like the first portable phones (car-phones). It had a few buttons and a small display. I had been waiting for this moment ever since I heard about the time machine. I decided to test it. I entered “-10” and pressed the minutes button, then I pressed enter.
“Schlink,” the time machine’s screen flashed 6:47, and then, 6:37. I had done it, I went back in time! Just then I heard a shuffle outside of the room,
“Oh no!” I thought, and I ran under a table to hide. A second later me, but not me, walked through the door and picked up the time machine. The other me entered a few buttons and then disappeared. I was safe. Just then it occurred to me, while I was going back in time, there was a me hiding under a table watching, I had just started a paradox.
I decided to do one more test, this time I would go back a lot further than ten minutes. I got out from under the table, and looked at the time machine in my hand, this time I would go back twenty years. I entered -20, and pressed the years button. Carefully, I pressed enter.
“Schlink,” the now familiar sound of the time machine echoed off of the walls, the screen flashed 2047, then 2027. I looked around the room. It still had the same concrete walls, but all the tables were gone, the room was completely empty.
I went to the door, and tried to open it. It was still locked in the past, but not in the future. I needed to go back, to the future! No, not that movie. I entered +20 and pressed years, then enter.
“Bink,” the screen flashed 2027, then 2027. I looked around the room, nothing had changed. I knew I couldn’t start to panic, that would just make things worse. I tried it again, +20 years, enter.
“Schlink,” the screen flashed 2027, then 2007.
“No!” I thought, it had pushed me back further. I looked around, I wasn’t in a room anymore, I was standing in a corn field.
“Quack,” I looked around. Ducks have been extinct for nearly ten years. Then I looked up, a huge flock of ducks flew above me. If only my brother could see this, he was really into birds. But I shook that thought from my head, it was too painful to think about my brother now, after I had betrayed his trust.
I took my phone out: I needed to see if I could connect to any sort of network. I pressed the “scan for networks” button next to my phone, and then I put my phone in my pocket. I took another look around. Apparently I was in some sort of corn field, it also seemed someone had cut a path in the corn, maybe there was a way out.
I decided to follow the path, it seemed to be the only way to get out of the corn field. Just then I heard someone talking from a different area in the corn.
“So what are you doing for your halloween party?” the person said. I couldn’t let them see me, I needed to get away. I jumped into some corn just before they turned the corner.
“What was that?” the mystery person said.
“Oh probably just a rabbit.” the mystery persons’ accomplice said.
“There are rabbits in corn fields?”
“Probably.” They now had their backs to me, I decided to slowly walk out of the corn.
“Crunch!” I had stepped on a corn husk.
“What’s that?” the mystery person said, turning around. “Oh, hi! I’m George” the person said, waving their arm side to side. I didn’t know what to say, so I tried waving my arm too.
“Nice halloween costume, you totally look like someone from the ‘80’s,” George said.
“You mean 2080?” I responded, confused.
“I mean 1980,” George stated. How could I look like someone from 1980? I was wearing the newest 2047 fashion trend. What’s wrong with bright orange pants and a plaid purple shirt? “Do you need any help getting out of the corn maze?” George asked, handing me a piece of paper.
“What’s this paper for?” I inquired. Why did I need a piece of paper? Apparently it was necessary to get out of the maze, maybe it was a key of some sort.
“It’s a map silly!” mystery person said. “Oh, that reminds me, can I borrow a phone? I need to make a call.” George said.
“I guess,” I said, and George took the time machine from my hand.
“Wait! That’s not a phone!” I shouted.
“Of course it is.” George said, while typing in a number. I lunged for the time machine, but it was too late.
“Schlink!” and George disappeared, along with the time machine.
“What did you do with George?!” George’s friend shouted. I knew I couldn’t stay here any longer… I decided to make a run for it. It would take too much time to explain what was happening. “Come back here!” they shouted, but I kept on running through the corn. Once I got a safe distance away from George’s friend, I decided to stop and glance at the map, the map seemed to be a large waste of paper, apparently in 2007 people didn’t care about the environment very much. After looking at the map I came to the conclusion that if I went directly south, I could get out of the maze pretty quickly. I pulled out my phone, hopefully I could use it as a compass.
“Beep,” my phone went out of sleep mode, apparently it was still scanning for networks, although it hadn’t found anything yet. Hopefully Google Maps could still work without the internet connection.
“Bloop,” I guess it can, but it can’t give me very detailed data, although the compass feature still worked, so that was good… I started walking south, I needed to get out of this maze, I needed to get to some sort of city. Just some outpost of civilization.
I emerged from the corn maze, and brushed some leaves off of my clothes. In front of me was a long street.
“Vrrrsh,” a car passed me, the driver was facing forward, which was odd. But I dispelled that notion, I needed to keep my mind focused on the task on hand. I looked around, to my right I saw a sign, it said “The corn maze, entrance fee: $3” and an old man was sitting in the stand, admitting some visitors in. I was surprised it didn’t say “Ћ corn maze” as that would save space, apparently they hadn’t developed “Ћ” as “The” in 2007… Maybe the man knew a way to a city. I walked up to him.
“Do you know iras gxis city?” I asked.
"Hmm? What?” He responded.
“Do you know iras gxis city?” I repeated.
“What’s that?” He questioned.
“You knob, city iras!” I was growing irritated.
“Stop talking gibberish!” He said, apparently he didn’t understand what I said.
“Let me rephrase, do you possess a city location?” I said, maybe he would understand that.
“Uh, yeah. Although that’s a weird way to say it.” He responded.
“If you just drive a mile down the road that way,” He said, pointing west. “You’ll reach Chicago.”
“Ok, can you get me a car?” I said.
“Don’t you have your own car?” He responded. Why did he expect me to have my own car? I don’t have my own car, most people don’t, you can just use an online car service...
“I guess I’ll have to walk then,” I said.
“I guess, you will,” he stated. He seemed kind of annoyed by me. Then I turned around and saw why, there was a long line of customers.
After a long stretch of walking, I came to the edge of Chicago. There was quite a lot of those queer front facing cars, in fact I didn’t see any other kinds of cars. It seemed quite odd, but maybe people in 2007 didn’t have driverless cars. I never did really pay attention in history class…
I needed a place to sleep during the night. It’s a good thing I brought along some money, just in case. I decided to look for a hotel, it seemed to be my best bet. After some walking I found a place called “Hilton Hotel.” I entered the hotel and went up to the front desk.
“Hello, and how can I help you?” the clerk said.
“Can I have a room?” I asked?
“Of course, may I have your credit card number? “the clerk responded.
“Mhm,” I said while I held out my arm.
“What are you doing?” the clerk asked.
“You asked for my credit number,” I answered. Maybe they didn’t have hand vein scanners yet, no matter. “Never, mind can I pay in cash?”
“It’s unusual, but okay… One night is $327.” the clerk said. I looked in my bag, I had just enough.
“Here you go,” I said, handing the clerk $327.
“Ok, here’s your card, your room is 27A” the clerk said. I took the card, and went up to the door marked 27A. There seemed to be a receptacle for the card, so I tried to stick my card into the receptacle.
“Click,” and the door swung open, revealing to me a tan room. It appeared to have a bed and other necessities. It also seemed to have a display of some sort, I walked over and tried turning it on.
“Beep,” and the display turned on, apparently it was displaying some sort of news video, I sat down on my bed and listened.
“The archaeologists think it must have been a device of some sort, but no one knows for sure! On a side note, a man named ‘George Bently’ has mysteriously disappeared, if anyone has any information regarding this man, please call this number…” I reached over and turned the display off.
George, the man I met in the maze, must have gone back in time, died, and left the time machine. But I need a full night of sleep before I could get it back.
I woke up with light streaming through my windows, I hadn’t closed the blinds… I glanced over at the clock. It read 7:23. I got dressed and then went downstairs, there were some other people down here too, eating breakfast… I decided that I needed some nourishment too… So I got a plate of eggs and sat down at one of the tables. I put the first bite of eggs in my mouth, and then spit it out immediately. Where do they get these eggs? I thought, outraged. I didn’t really feel hungry at that point, so I decided to gather up my stuff and leave.
I walked out of the hotel, the world outside was so different from yesterday, everything was brighter. The world of the past was so different, cars spewing smoke sped across the road in front of me. As I looked around, I heard a beep. I took out my phone.
“Network found. Connecting to ‘xfinitywifi’.” was displayed on the top of the screen. Yes! It finally connected to a network! This was perfect, I needed to get online and see if anyone had discovered the time machine.
“This network uses the old ‘IPv6’ protocol, continue?” Popped up on my phone. I tapped ‘yes’.
“Beep! Connected.” Finally! I launched my browser. I typed in “duckduckgo.com” and hit enter, hopefully this would work.
On the screen a totally unrecognizable version of DuckDuckGo appeared, but it worked, and that was all I needed. I searched “news” in the search bar, hopefully it would give me something useful… I clicked the first link that popped up, it said “Google News”. It showed me a list of articles, I scrolled down, there was lots of useless news here, such as: “Are pancakes really tasty, or is it just our brains tricking us?” and “The new senator resigned after devoting his life to finding the most sticky lollipop in the world.” After scrolling for a bit I found it: “Archeologists find unrecognizable device in Chicago, Illinois.” That was it! I needed to find the time machine before anyone figured out how to use it, if it was even usable. I clicked on the article, I needed to get a better idea of where the time machine is. Here it was, “This device is on display at the museum of natural history, in Chicago.” I launched my map app, I needed to get there quickly. I typed in “Chicago Museum of Natural History.”
“Beep!” It found the museum, it was almost half a mile from me. I could easily walk.
I opened the doors to the museum and walked in. It was the first time I’d ever been in a real museum, I always used some sort of virtual reality program whenever I wanted to get a better look at history. I went through the admission process and looked around. If I wasn’t trying to get back to my own time, I would want to get a better look at this place. I walked up to someone who appeared to work at the museum.
“I heard something about a new discovery here, do you know where it is?” I asked.
“Of course, here’s a map, you’re here,” they said, pointing at a location on the map. “And this is the display you want to go to,” they stated while pointing at another location.
“Thanks!” I responded. I was really getting the hang of using these paper maps, so it wasn’t that hard to find my way to the display. There were a lot of people gathered around it, I couldn’t try to take it now, I needed to try during the night. I decided the best way to do this would be to hide in the bathroom until the museum closed.
“Five minutes until closing time!” went over the PA system. I had been hiding in the bathroom for a while now, hopefully I would be able to leave soon. I waited ten minutes just to be sure, and then I came out. There didn’t seem to be anyone around, but the time machine was in a locked glass case, I would have to break the glass and the act quickly. That was my only option, so I ran up to the glass.
“Smash!” Shards of glass clattered to the floor, and an alarm went off. I grabbed the machine. It was still working, apparently no-one could figure out how to turn it on.
“Hey!” I heard a security guard shout behind me. I rapidly typed in -60, I needed to go back an hour, I was about to press enter when I fell to the floor, I was tackled by the security guard. I tried to press enter again, this time it worked.
“Schlink!” The time machines screen flashed 6:32 and then 5:32. We were on the ground in the middle of a crowd of people, and the security guard let go of my legs. I couldn’t think of anything else to do, so I typed in -100, clicked years, and then clicked enter.
“Schlink!” The time machine flashed 2007 and then 1907. I was standing in the middle of a field. I had done it, I had escaped. I needed to get back to my time though, so I typed in +120, which would take my back to 2027, when the time machine first glitched. I clicked enter.
“Schlink!” The time machine flashed 1907 and then 2027. It had worked! I looked around, I was standing in the middle of a street. I looked left, but I didn’t have time to look right.