Harold took a shaky sip of his water, marveling at how wrinkled his hand had become. Just then a cardinal landed on the branch of the maple tree. The tree had died years back from a lightning strike, so the red bird stuck out among the dead branches. The cardinal was so full of life that Harold wanted to go climb the tree and sit next to the bird and ask of its adventures, but every time he tried to leave the alarms would go off. The only way to make them stop was to come back to his room and take another blue pill. As the bird flew off Harold compared his hand to the bark of the dead tree and waited.
Harvey looked at the amount of glassware in the room. This was a laboratory that defined the word, at least that’s how Harvey saw it. The blinking lights and the buzz of a lot of electricity flowing into the machines arrayed before him made Harvey want to squeal like a teenager at her first boy band concert. Harvey reached out to twist a knob on the nearest piece of equipment.
“Don’t touch that,” boomed a man’s voice coming from behind Harvey. The accent was extremely German, probably from the Black Forest region. At least Harvey was pretty sure about it. That region of Germany put out the best engineers, as evidenced by this amazing room.
“Did you have to import all this from Germany?” Harvey asked. He still wanted to turn a knob so bad. Any knob would do.
“Germany?” asked the voice. “Why do you say that?”
Harvey finally put his knob desire on hold and turned to the voice. The man was completely bald and had bushy white eyebrows that looked like they were trying to burrow into his face. He wore a pristine white lab coat with a pair of dark rimmed glasses that really screamed scientist. Harvey shrugged. “I assume since you were from Germany, then the equipment came over here with you,” Harvey said.
“I’m not German,” the man said. “I am Swedish by nationality, but born and raised in Brooklyn.”
Harvey laughed and turned back to the equipment. He reached for the knob and gave it a slight twist. The man’s hand slapped Harvey’s away from the instrument. “Please sir,” the man said, “Do not touch the machines. They are calibrated precisely. If you fiddle with them they will not work.”
Harvey kissed his hand to make it feel better. He looked at the knob, satisfied he had turned it at least a little. “Well Dr. Bjorkman, I just want to make sure these work the way you said they do. If I’m going to invest all that money, then I need to see something that will knock my socks off,” Harvey said.
“That should be pretty easy,” Dr. Bjorkman said as he pointed at Harvey’s flip-flop adorned feet.
“What do my feet have to do with time travel?” asked Harvey, suddenly becoming suspicious.
Dr. Bjorkman smiled. “Not time travel, but socks being blown off,” Dr. Bjorkman said.
Harvey looked at his flip-flops again. “I don’t get it,” Harvey said.
Dr. Bjorkman gestured at Harvey’s feet. “You are not wearing socks,” Dr. Bjorkman said.
“Of course not,” Harvey said. “I’m wearing flip-flops. Duh. You are not filling me with confidence in your ability to travel in time.”
Dr. Bjorkman smiled and gestured at the room. “You are a clever man,” Dr. Bjorkman said. “We shall see if we can instill that confidence. Look around, see for yourself. Just don’t touch. Time travel is a tricky and costly business.”
Harvey walked around the room. He leaned in close to a few of the more impressive instruments, but nothing was labeled in anything remotely understandable. “So this will let me go anywhere in time?” Harvey asked. “I always wanted to visit my grandfather when he was my age. He would tell me about his drinking buddies from then, and I think one of them sounded like it was me from now. I figure that is the first place I want to go back to. I want to make sure that I get born you know. I want to avoid the pair of ducks if I can help it.”
“That is paradox,” Dr. Bjorkman said. Harvey looked even more confused, so Dr. Bjorkman decided to drop the matter and moved on. “This machine can’t go into the past,” He could see Harvey about to interject, but Dr. Bjorkman quickly continued. “That’s not to say it won’t soon. I wanted to work out the kinks doing the easier part, traveling to the future, first.” Dr. Bjorkman adjusted the knob Harvey had touched back to its original setting. “So I suggest going into the future. Then in the future maybe I have the machine ready to go into the past.”
Harvey sat in a chair, and then spun himself around. “So I go into the future first, and then I go into the past?” Harvey said. “Sort of backwards then the way Dr. Brown did, don’t you think?”
“Dr. Brown?” asked Dr. Bjorkman.
“You know. Dr. Brown from the Back to the Future documentaries,” said Harvey. “They really were captivating. I was always trying to figure out how they got the camera crew back in time.”
“Of course, Dr. Brown. I can’t believe I’ve met someone who remembers the good doctor’s work,” Dr. Bjorkman said. “We have been trying to get his energy requirement much smaller. That many gigawatts are unsafe.”
That made Harvey sit up and take notice. “Really?” asked Harvey, “You’ve managed to get the number down below 1.21 gigawatts?”
“Much lower,” said Dr. Bjorkman. “We are now in the terawatt range.”
Harvey shook his head in disbelief. “That is amazing. You are doing some amazing work here,” Harvey said. “So you said in your ad that for ten large you will allow me the honor of being the first to use your device to go into the future?”
Dr. Bjorkman nodded. “That’s all it takes. And don’t worry about anything. I have tested it on mice and a chimp. The only side effect seemed to be a bit of dry mouth and a headache,” Dr. Bjorkman said.
Harvey reached into his pocket and took out a wad of bills. “It’s all here,” Harvey said. “You can count it if you want.”
Dr. Bjorkman hastily stuffed the money into his pocket. “No need. I trust you implicitly,” he said. “So when do you want to leave?”
Harvey took out the phone and checked for messages. Luckily six pm on a Friday was pretty dead for him. Harvey was so ready to put 2015 away for good. He put away the phone into his pocket. “Why not right now?” he asked.
Dr. Bjorkman clapped his hands together once. “Very good,” he said. He pulled out a blue pill from a drawer. “Here, take this. It will make you sleepy.”
Harvey looked at the pill. “Shouldn’t it be a red pill?”
“I am out of the red ones,” Dr. Bjorkman said. “Take it or leave it.”
Harvey took the pill and swallowed it right down. “What’s it going to do?” Harvey asked.
“It will make you sleepy,” Dr. Bjorkman said. “I have found it a lot harder to make things go into the future if they are aware of what is happening.”
“That makes perfect sense,” Said Harvey. His eyes began to droop. “How will I find you in the future?” he asked in between yawns.
“Don’t look for me. I’ll find you,” Dr. Bjorkman said. “Just remember to reads the note when you wake up.”
“What did you say?” asked Harvey. Or at least that’s what Harvey tried to say, but the drug made it sound more like, “Wajusy?”
“Read the note,” Dr. Bjorkman yelled as Harvey passed out.
Harvey emerged from sleep slowly. His head felt like he had head butted a jackhammer. He tried to whimper, but there wasn’t enough saliva in his mouth to do much of anything. Gently he opened his eyes to find himself lying on the ground. In front of him on the floor was a water bottle and a note. Harvey grabbed the water bottle and guzzled it down. He managed to maneuver himself into a sitting position.
Harvey was amazed at how much had changed in the future. The room was completely empty. Even the chair he had been sitting in was gone. Harvey wondered how far into the future he had gone for the lab to be completely dismantled. Harvey picked up the note and opened it. The only thing said was, “Welcome to the future.” Harvey smiled, enjoying his moment. “I wonder what amazing things I’m going to see.” Harvey said to the empty room.
Harvey gingerly stood up and felt his thigh almost cramp. He went to massage away the pain when he realized he had been lying on his cell phone. He took it out, and by some miracle it still had power. “The future is amazing,” he said to himself as he unlocked it. Harvey looked closer at the date. According to his phone it was now Sunday. Harvey got excited until he realized it was still 2015. He had only traveled two days into the future!
Harvey went from being pissed to laughing. You get what you paid for. The doctor must have counted what Harvey had given him before sending him into the future. “I knew I shouldn’t have tried to trick him. He created time travel for goodness sakes. I was just trying to save a couple of thousand for the interest,” he said as he shuffled to the door.
Harvey let himself out the door and into his cheaper future.