Wednesday, 7 August 2013

A couple of rejected stories


The Time machine

I opened the door noting how it was already slightly ajar, a dusty footprint in the centre of it, the flimsy lock broken open. The house was in darkness but the light from the streetlamps was enough to see the bundle on the floor. My heart in my mouth I seemed to go from standing at the door to kneeling by my wife with no transition. I saw the blood, such a lot of blood. And a knife dropped a few feet away from the body. Did they come for the machine? Did my wife disturb them?

I spoke to the police, told them I saw the body first, then the blood, then the knife. They said they’d send someone. I needed to check the machine. My hands shaking I opened the cellar door. The familiar smell of ozone, burnt electrics, fuel oil and damp assailed my nostrils. I flicked the switch and descended. The machine was still there. Untouched.

There was a lot of unpleasantness to deal with before I could get back to the machine. Police, reporters, forensics, uncomfortable questions. Eventually though I was left alone. Left to brood. I went mad for work, spent hours on the machine, went without sleep, existing on a diet of caffeine and nicotine until some days later, spent, I dozed next to the machine.

Later I covered the walls in equations, working through the probabilities. I was unshaven, unbathed, manic with caffeine, working non-stop. I ignored the doorbell, neighbours, relatives, whoever, I didn’t want their sympathy, their consoling words, their pity. I fell asleep with a spanner in my hand, woke to equations going round in my brain. Hours bled into days which haemorrhaged into weeks. I was nearly there. It was nearly ready.

The machine stood proud of the cellar, sparkling amongst the debris, as if a reverse explosion had taken place. It was finally ready. I was finally ready. I gave silent thanks that the money hadn’t run out, that the electricity still ran, that I was still (mostly) whole, in health and mind. No time to waste. The parameters were set, the dry runs and experiments had gone without a hitch. Time and tide wait for no man they say. Now, now I would prove them wrong.

I press the button, the machine whirrs, light flashes past. It will work, it will be well, I will get her back.

I saw the body first, then the blood, then the knife. Did they come for the machine? Did my wife disturb the intruder? Did they come for the machine? I saw the knife then I saw the blood and then the body.

I will get her back, it will be well, it will work. The light flashes past, the machine whirrs, I press the button.

 

 

The Light

We are standing in the planetarium contemplating all the star stuff, spread across the false sky like dandelion seeds flying across the face of the universe. Light reaches us from dead and dying stars, in time travel. We see their light even though some of the stars we see were extinguished before the earth was born, you, me, everyone else that has ever lived or will ever live on Earth, sees mostly the same stars. The light turned on.

We are standing in the planetarium contemplating all the star stuff, spread across the false sky like dandelion seeds flying across the face of the universe. Light reaches us from dead and dying stars, in time travel. We see their light even though some of the stars we see were extinguished before the earth was born, you, me, everyone else that has ever lived or will ever live on Earth, sees mostly the same stars. The light changed colour.

We are standing in the planetarium contemplating all the star stuff, spread across the false sky like dandelion seeds flying across the face of the universe. Light reaches us from dead and dying stars, in time travel. We see their light even though some of the stars we see were extinguished before the earth was born, you, me, everyone else that has ever lived or will ever live on Earth, sees mostly the same stars. The light turned off.

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