THE PARADOX EXPERIMENT
Drew Liebermann stood in the room staring at the monitor, looking for the one flaw in his fabulous machine, the one reason that he and his team could not proceed with the tests. After the last malfunction, the Liebermann team was down three people, and the machine’s chief engineer had been Lost in the chaos. That meant that Drew would have to go in there himself, risking his life inside a malfunctioning TM-M8. The machine was Model 8, the latest endeavor in their ever-expanding business. Drew Liebermann was a scientist and engineer from Science City, the largest and most populated city in the world in 2070, and the largest in the world at the time. Liebermann’s biological parents were from the slums of New York, struggling to find work. So, they put him up for adoption in Science City. He was adopted by Peter Liebermann, the inventor of the TM-M1. Raised by a man of science and faith, Drew hoped to someday takeover his adopted father’s successful company after college. That he did.
Drew’s father, Dr. Liebermann, taught him all about the concept of time travel, how it could change the world and how it could destroy it. The mechanics came easy to him, it was the psychological part that troubled Drew. How it was possible to transfer the human mind into a period of time either in the past or future seemed unrealistic. His father wasn’t only a tutor; he was the best father anyone could wish for.
But that didn’t matter now. Peter Liebermann was dead, or, no one knew he was dead for sure. He was Lost, just like the three engineers that had disappeared in the malfunction, somewhere in time that made them impossible to be found. So, the people that had been lost within the thirty years of the company being in business, which topped-out at around fifty, had all been given death certificates. Drew would give anything to find his father, that’s why he continued his father’s work, in hopes that he would someday find him.
So he stared at the monitor, which showed him a color-coded layout of the inside of the machine. All Drew saw was green, which meant that Model 8 was functioning normally. But that made no sense. The machine, which was capable of transporting people through time, had not been functioning normally, as there had been a malfunction which had resulted in the deaths of a chief engineer and his two assistants. Drew looked for red on the monitor, which was a micro-thin glass that floated above the floor. As for the color he was looking for, he found none. But Drew didn’t give up. Model 8 was a prototype, an experiment. After all testing would be completed; seven Model 8 TMs would be constructed and shipped off to various time travel organizations around the world. But now they were behind schedule, and Liebermann Time Inc. did not want to lose its partners because of delay. Drew’s assistant, Clara, came over to him. She examined the monitor for a few minutes, and then Drew was curious.
“Alright,” he finally said, “What is it?”
“Nothing,” Clara replied, “Just wondering what you think could have happened.”
Drew sighed and looked at her, “You know, Clara, I honestly have no idea.”
She replied, “Model 7s were proven to have mechanical problems which make them discharge at any given time.”
“Yes, Clara, I know that. I designed Model 7s to do that, to emit Pulses. If they don’t, they’d run out of power, leaving countless Timewalkers stranded in who knows when? But, I didn’t design Model 8s to emit Pulses. And now Dr. Henry, Dr. May, and Dr. Gilsburg are dead!”
Clara looked at him with a cross face, “You think I’m not heartbroken? Cecelia May was my best friend. We grew up together in the place where Detroit used to be! I went to Cecelia’s wedding, Drew. How do you think John feels?”
Drew sighed once more, “Heartbroken.” Clara adjusted her nerdy eyeglasses so that they rested perfectly on the bridge of her nose, “Let’s just figure this out tomorrow when Dr. Lewis arrives.” Clara walked away, her clipboard held in one hand, a pen behind her ear and her frizzy red hair bouncing as she walked. Drew walked over to the glass monitor and pressed the power button, and went to the parking garage.
Drew drove the new 2071 Honda Accord, jet-black and fierce. No, cars didn’t fly, but cars had changed over the years. A lot of things had changed. Honda and Chevy were seemingly the only car companies that hadn’t gone bankrupt in 2032, which put Detroit under for good. Detroit and many other towns and cities had been abandoned completely and torn down, bulldozed. Clara had grown up in a little village that had no name where Detroit once stood tall and proud.
Companies like Google, Walmart, Mc Donald’s and Amazon seemed to rule the world, putting all of their competitors out of business and making profit like crazy.
The U.S., after being involved in two wars since 2020, was the most populated country in the world.
The creation of Science City was to blame for that. In 2016, the newly-elected President John G. Wray proposed a project that would change the world forever. He proposed a new city to be built, a place where young scientists, engineers, physicists and entrepreneurs from all corners of the world could go to live and work in an effort to solve humanity’s greatest problems. Hunger, thirst, war, disease and death. The project’s cost put the entire world into an uproar. After the city’s completion, Project Betsy went into effect, named after Betsy Hartman, the woman who invented the first time machine.
Project Betsy, his father had been a part of it. The project made the United States, and the world, the best it could be.
Drew turned onto Highway 1, which wasn’t too busy, considered driving to the little coffee shop near his apartment, and decided he’s rather just go straight home.
It was normal for people to live in apartments, even for those who could afford expensive houses. Science City had the tallest buildings in the world, skyscrapers which ranged from two hundred to three hundred stories tall.
Back home, Drew felt so relieved. Here, he didn’t have the stress he had at work. But somehow, it always seemed to follow him. Cecelia May, Clara’s best friend, he should have known better than to have send in an engineer who was an expert on Model 7s into a Model 8. The malfunction, the Pulse, was so sudden. Unexpected, unpredictable, unstoppable.
The others, Robert Gilsburg and Loretta Henry, were also key parts in the tests. They, along with Drew Liebermann, had designed the TM-M8 not to emit Pulses. A Pulse essentially was a malfunction in the time machine, when a sudden and unexpected burst in the space-time continuum would open a window that would suck in anything inside the machine at the time. The last Pulse, the first Pulse in the Model 8s case, had taken three engineers, along with vital resources and tools.
How the TM-M8 differed from the TM-M7 was that the TM-M7s Pulses could be predicted and were expected. They would emit Pulses every three days at 12:01 a.m., one minute after midnight. Not one person had been Lost inside a Model 7, never. It was a miracle that no one had been Lost.
Drew sat at the table, where stacks of notebooks and his father’s journals were thrown about everywhere. He regretted not going to the coffee shop when he started to look through the notebooks, reading his father’s notes as well as his own notes, reading them to make sure he hadn’t missed a certain detail which would explain why the machine was malfunctioning. Feeling tired after two hours of examination, Drew finally went off to bed.
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