Thursday, July 6, 2017


Kansas City Time

"Look here." His stubby finger poked the map on her knee. "This is old KC. There's the shuttlecock. One of these buildings must be the Nelson."

She blew stray hairs out of her face and gazed doubtfully at the crumbling ruins. "We have a problem Bil. KC wasn't wrecked till the teens. In the city we're looking for, the Nelson hadn't even been built. Your numbers were wrong." At this rate, they'd blow through their grant money and find nothing worth a dissertation. No degree, no tenure.

"Well, let's try again," Natale said. "Use my coordinates. Your numbers seem to be off by at least a century." Bil keyed in their destination and pushed "go." Everything outside dissolved into a sparkling mist.


Something was vibrating her rhythmically, like a giant heartbeat. "Ohhh." Natale hurt all over, especially the small of her back, where Bil's head had apparently ended up. They had not landed well. She sat up and looked outside. A low marsh fronted a quiet sea. "Crap! I'll never get my Ph.D. now."

"We have more things to worry about. For instance, lunch."

"Your lunch?! We're sinking into Jurassic mud!"

"Cretaceous. I'm not worried about eating lunch." The time machine was shaking harder now and a huge carnosaur, all teeth from this perspective, was bearing down on them at a dead run. Bil scrambled to the controls, punched go. Outside, the monster dissolved in mist.


"What coordinates?" Natale asked. "We've been heading the wrong way -- deeper into the past."

"I didn't have time to set any. We were about to be eaten."

"Sh*t, Bil!" She opened her mouth, closed it. Only thing to do now was wait—would they reenter spacetime at all? With no endpoint set, their battered vessel hurtled back to time's beginning. When next the mist cleared they appeared to be floating in space, with one brilliant "star" so close it showed a disk. Nothing else could be seen. Air whistled out through cracks the time machine had picked up on its journey.

"Where are we?" Natale asked fearfully. "Where is the Earth?"

Bill was trembling. "If my guess is right, it's right there." He nodded at the "star." "We need to get out of here." He started entering the coordinates for their initial point of departure. Before he finished, the "star" underwent a sudden transition.


Publ. Daily Cabal, 2008

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