How Will We Know if the Time Machine Worked?

“…he can call us.”

“No he can’t. I don’t think the answer is going to the future but, rather, the past.”

This debate has been going on for weeks. The three of them all arguing over where they should go, what time they should travel to, who would be the first one to risk their lives – after all mice and rats may have similar biological make-ups as human beings but there is no guarantee of survival.

“Why?”

“We’ve put targets on our backs. We haven’t been – exactly – quiet about what we are doing here and I think people are looking for any opportunity to fuck with us.”

It’s true, Paul, Josh, and Edgar weren’t afraid to brag about what they had accomplished and even went as far as picking fights because, to them, they could just evaporate into thin air and not worry about the consequences. That’s all well and good unless you believe in the idea that time travel is simply a cloning mechanism where your body is reproduced in a different time period therefore leaving you and your clone to live parallel lives – but getting into semantics is kind of boring.

“So?”

“SOOOOOOOOOOO if we tell people we sent Paul, here, – ”

“HEY! Why me?” Paul cut Edgar off.

“Because, let’s face it, you’re here for the laughs, we don’t give a shit if you actually survive. You’re the expendable one.”

“I have a Quantam Physics degree from Harvard and wrote my thesis that basically created the blueprint from which we created this machine!”

“Harvard, exactly.”

Both Edgar and Josh got a good laugh out of that.

“More like hardy-har-HAR-vard.” Josh attempted a joke that got a wink from Edgar.

“Good attempt,” Edgar said patting Josh on the back.

“Anywayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy, since we are going to tell people we are traveling in time if we tell them we are going to the future it’s open season on us. Technology is far too advanced and far too easy to manipulate to know for sure if Paul, here, is actually alive in a different time or if he dissipated due to the extreme physical toll this will put on his body.”

“Wait, what?” Paul questioned.

“Don’t worry about it, you’ll be fine.” Edgar rolled his eyes as he said.

“What the fuck was THAT?” Paul was getting more and more nervous about this experiment they were performing.

“An eyelash.”

“Nice save!”

“Jesus Christ, Josh. What the fuck is wrong with you!” Edgar snapped.

Paul was now pacing around the room in a panicked, cold sweat.

“Nope, no way.”

“Paul, listen, I know we just kind of decided that you were the one to go without consulting with you first, but what if it works? You can be the first human being to time travel – that we actually have proof of – and imagine how you will be immortalized!”

“I guess -”

Good ol’, trustworthy, Josh stepped in just in time to smack Paul in the back of the head with his black shoe. Most people expect him to use a blackjack, but no one really has those things and Hollywood over-dramatizes how often they are used.

“What was that for? He was about to comply!”

“Ohhhhh, he was just annoying me.”

Josh and Edgar began dragging Paul’s body toward the machine when he started to come to his senses.

“Whhhhhat is go ing onnnnnnnnnnn?” It was the kind of long, drawn-out speaking you would expect from someone who just regained consciousness and probably had a concussion. To be completely honest it probably wasn’t a good idea to make a guy with a concussion travel through time, but they remember he flew once on a plane with one and it ended up being fine – except for that weird twitch he has now.

“We’re sending you to New York City on New Year’s eve 1998.” Edgar then slapped Paul so he would pay attention to him, “you need to be safe though, there are going to be a lot of people making reference to that stupid-ass Prince song and you’re gunna want to punch them.”

He paused briefly.

“But you have to resist.”

Josh came over and put a piece of paper in Paul’s face, “Take this” and then followed by forcing a pen into his hand, “now write ‘I MADE IT HERE ALIVE’ we need to be able to verify it’s you.”

Paul was still kind of out of it but wrote the note Josh asked him to write.

Edgar and Josh strapped Paul into the machine and did a quick check of his vitals – they were perfect – and quickly read off the settings on the machine – they were correct.

“You’re going to be disoriented and confused when you arrive, take a few moments to recollect yourself and then write this note and mail it in this envelope.”

Edgar handed him an envelope with an address on it.

“It’s my childhood home. I’ve been dreaming of this moment for 15 years, I’ll know what it means.” Edgar said with a small smile forming on his lips.

Suddenly a flash of light flooded the room, both Josh and Edgar turned their backs to the light and covered their eyes and then silence. It wasn’t quiet, the room was completely devoid of sound. Josh and Edgar turned around and Paul was gone.

Completely vanished.

They hugged, then cheered, and Edgar knew that in a few minutes he would know if Paul made it or not. It wouldn’t be complete knowledge, but more a feeling of relief. A calming of nerves, kind of like knowing that your lover’s plane landed safely without actually knowing.

“What’s that?” Asked Josh.

“Fuck. That’s the pen he was supposed to take with him.”

“Yeah but he’s going to 1998, everyone will have a pen.” All the blood left Josh’s face and it was as if he saw a ghost.

“What is it, Josh?”

“Uhhh,” Josh laughed nervously, “why is there no minus sign next to the 15?”

Here’s the thing, despite their collective brilliance, for some reason they could never figure out how to replicate the coolest of all time machines, the DeLorean from Back To The Future. All they knew how to program was a dial that could either send you forward or backwards in time to the exact date they were living in, 12/31/2013.

Paul was standing amid a sea of people as far as the eye could see. He looked up and saw the huge screen advertising Coca-Cola, he knew exactly where he was. He patted his pockets, then frantically searched them but came up empty in his quest to find the pen.

“Excuse me, do you have a pen?” Paul asked a boy who appeared to be a teenager.

“A pen?” The boy paused to think, “what the fuck is a pen?”

Paul walked away not entirely contemplating why he felt so weird about that interaction.

“10 — 9 — 8 — 7…” a chorus of gatherers chanted as each second passed by. Paul then decided to take this moment in and he looked up at the ball slowly making it decent.

“…3 — 2 — 1! HAPPY NEW YEAR!”

While hoards of people around him were cheering, hugging, kissing, inappropriately touching, Paul could only stand there in awe of what he was staring at. A sign that read “HAPPY 2029!”

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