"Once Upon a Future Past"

© 1999
J. Mitch Hopper

Time travel? Well, it didn't occur to the subject of this work of fiction. At least until it happened! Here is just a taste!
Doc had everything tucked in real close to the central area of the platform - just enough room for our chairs. He spent some time pulling this box in closer, stacking those little boxes on top of those big boxes and trying to make everything take up as little room as possible. We sat down in our chairs. I wouldn't have noticed the new additions to them, but Doc pulled up a seatbelt and buckled it. I also saw that our chairs had been bolted down to the floor. I snapped my belt on and didn't even entertain the notion of asking why. Doc poured the tea. I looked into my cup half wondering what was in it this time. Doc chuckled softly and traded cups.

"No foolin' now, m'boy. You need to ride the bubble awake this time. No matter what you see, trust me - stay in your chair. Y'er gonna' love this!"

In the whole world, throughout all time and in all places of the universe, known and unknown, there has never been a larger understatement. The generators started their upward pitch and before I could put my teacup down we were surrounded by a translucent bubble of swirling neon-glow and my shirt front took the full impact of my tepid tea. The colors danced and swirled and cycled and played themselves out on the thinnest of soap-bubble membranes wrapped around the platform. Through the ionization, I could make out the lab, but there was a perspective shift as if looking through an aquarium. The lab disappeared and the colors grew so bright they hurt my eyes, yet my pupils remained dilated and my eyes were open wide. I heard voices, saw voices - shimmering glass voices speaking from just beyond my perception. Doc seemed taller - shorter - thinner - flatter, nothing would remain focused or centered. As I turned, things just beyond my field of vision remained so - as if actively avoiding my notice. I'd taken a lot of LSD in my post high school days. I'd seen the wallpaper bleed and I heard voices from inside my brain but nothing, I mean nothing could have prepared me for what was happening now. As quickly as it started, it stopped. The bubble popped. Actually, the bubble banged and my ears roared. It was pitch black beyond, the kind of black that soaks up light. I felt everything being pulled toward it like some great hungry nothingness. Then the bubble began to re-form right where it had been a moment earlier. There was the faintest sheen to the bubble edge and soft, nearly invisible colors were still running around its surface. Then an image began to form beyond.

I was dumb-struck! What lay before me was clear countryside - grass, trees, cows, birds, clouds, bees, all of it! Yet like a soft video dissolve, through the quiet colored bubble, I could still make out the faintest image of the lab - everything in normal perspective. I just sat there suddenly aware that I hadn't taken a breath in quite some time.

"Well, m'boy?" Doc was on his feet near the surface of the bubble looking out into the countryside. He extended his hand and gently touched the colored surface. Music came from his fingertips and the static voices moved back and forth in my head.

"Where... when... where are we?" I asked, barely controlling a shiver.

"Humm. Dunno', Ah..." Doc's voice trailed off. He was staring at the colors as they swirled about his fingertips. He was clearly not in complete control of himself, either.

That is when I started paying attention to the image of the lab. It had grown brighter - more defined - clearer. I saw the racks of equipment, I saw the shine of ionized air around the mouths of the tachyon generators... and I saw the fire. Back in the rear of the lab, near the power generators, a small fire was becoming a big fire and the countryside was beginning to move about. What happened next only took a moment, just a second, yet it seemed to be playing out in slow-motion.

Any of these stories may be purchased: $4.00 each -- 3 or more at $2.00 each (postage included).
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