Time Travel for Beginners - 1st Half

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is the first half of a two part story. The story involves time travel that is just been discovered. Or has it?

Submitted: October 11, 2016

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Submitted: October 11, 2016

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This story starts in a U. S. government research facility. The facility was located on a sixty acre parcel of land that adjoins a cattle ranch and two dairy farms in Riverside County, California.

The facility was nestled among a group of hills and there is only one dirt road leading in and out.

That road is constantly monitored by military personnel, in jeeps, and there were three guard gate checkpoints that one must pass through to gain entrance to the site. 

The year is 1962 and there is a race being ran between this country and the U.S.S.R., the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Actually, there are many races, some publicly known, some speculated, and others completely hidden; this story may be part of the last group.

This facility is studying a method of Time-travel that has already been achieved, but is grossly misunderstood and quite often dangerous.

It had been long speculated that time-travel, once obtained, would be a two-way street, but those ideas proved to be very wrong in many ways.

It was found that going back into the past was the only reolistic option because the future seemed to be an unfinished work. 

There were two attempts at "Into the Future Travel". In the first attempt the test subject had to be sedated immediately upon returning; he was delirious.

During debriefings, the subject stated that he observed that everything was constantly changing. Whole building, bridges, even hi-ways disappearing, then reappearing in a slightly different location, if at all. People seemed to be in a constant state of flux, sometimes they were in one location, then another. And often as not, they were different people, or were dressed differently.

In some scenes there were vehicles that seemed to be driving themselves, in other scenes there were no visible vehicles at all, just people floating through the air without walking.

In the second attempt a small mechanical 35mm camera was attached on the subject's jacket. It was to be operator activated and he would begin shooting as soon as he passed through the portal.

Sadly, the subject never returned, however, the camera and jacket did. 

After that episode, it was decided to focus on time travel to the past.

There were problems with travel to the past, too, it seems that one subject returned through the portal after an unexpected sixteen minute delay. He reported no unusual occurrences and stated that he had a great time roaming around a fair that had exhibits involving flight.

He said that he was finally able to relocate the portal after turning his location-finder off, and then reactivating it.

All went well with that test until they discovered that the test subject had physically disappeared. It seems that he vanished from the facility's housing unit two days later.

After an extensive nationwide search for that person's whereabouts, they found him living in Texas. He had a wife and two kids, and was a Helicopter Pilot for the Air Force. His service records showed training and service for the last eleven years. 

And when they checked employment files at the Timer Travel facility, there wasn't any paperwork showing that this test subject was employed by the agency. 

The scientist’s conclusion was that he had done something to change his own history, but for some reason it had a time-delay reaction. His present reality changed from his past reality in a gradual manner; it was not like flipping a light switch and, boom, you have a new reality.

They theorized that it was more like turning one light on while simultaneously turning another light off, using the same dimmer switch. One light dims and goes out as the other brightens and is sustained.

The theory was tested for well over two years, using multiple subjects, and the conclusion reach was that in most instances the theory held true.

Such revelations may explain the occurrences of people and objects vaporizing in full view of others, such as supposed ghost sightings.

Another thing that the tests seem to conclude, that when a test subject was given multiple things to change over, say, a week’s time, the subject may fade-out before the tasks were all completed. The order in which the subjects made changes seemed to be a critical factor in determining when and how quickly the new existence began.

At this facility there was a military unit that acts as security, three scientists, two electrical engineers, three structural engineers, two electricians, a dozen staff members, along with general maintenance, janitorial, and kitchen staff.

Commander Steward heads the military side and Dr. Heinz Strasbourg is lead scientist and project manager for the facility.

Dr. Strasbourg has headed this project sense its inception and he is the chief architect for many theorizes that explain what they have discovered.

However, Dr. Strasbourg is not one for holding security in the highest regard and that does not go well with the Commander.

The government's oversight manager, Handel Miller, has had to step in on occasion to mediate and to make a final ruling.

There are times when Dr. Strasbourg leaves things lying around, Classified files, scientific project notes, even his key-cluster.  He has left them on his desk, on the service table, near the time portal, and even near the coffee machine that is in the lunch room.

This facility only has two key-clusters; the Commander has one cluster, and the good Doctor has the other.

These key-clusters lock and unlock the entrance to the lab, the control panel for the time-portal, and the time-portal security gate; so they are somewhat of a big deal and are supposed to be kept on ones person at all times. But the Doctor doesn't like keys in his pants pockets; so he lays them down from time to time.

Well, wouldn't you know it, one long-time electrician named William Roosevelt Duffy noticed the Doctor's habit  and decided to take a time-portal ride of his own, and of his own design.

Now Duffy was a man of some peculiar likings, hobby wise, he liked to attend flea markets and estate sales whenever possible. But he didn't collect the usual things people like to buy, he liked old defaulted barer-bonds, stock certificates, and sometimes stamps.

His passion was the beautiful lettering and the unusual designs that many of the depression era certificates bore; "works of art," he called them.

Duffy's wife, of 12 years, had passed away and they had no children. So he was feeling rather alone and had developed a withdrawn attitude.

Now Duffy was a curious kind of guy, so over the years he had been secretly studying Dr. Strasbourg's notes, the ones that the Doctor often left laying around. Duffy had paid particular attention to the launch proceedings when they happened; he noticed that one person could launch themselves into the past without assistance because no-one ever suspected that anyone would dare to do that.

So one morning, while Dr. Strasbourg was getting his coffee and pastry, Duffy took the key-cluster from a lunch table where they sat unattended.

Duffy immediately went to the lab and unlocked the lab door, as he entered the room he grabbed a wooden chair and placed it in the doorway so that the door could not close.

Then Duffy went to the control panel and unlocked it, pressing the power button. And as the panel powered-up to the appropriate power levels Duffy made adjustments to the dials; first the date, then the longitude and Latitude. Because the keys had no lock-in-place feature, he was able to remove them from the control panel without the power going off; so that enabled Duffy to unlock the gate to the portal chamber staging area.

As he entered the staging area he shut the gate behind him and placed the keys on a nearby table; accessible to whoever managed to find some wire and could fish for them through the chain-link fence. 

With all that taken care of, Duffy walked through the time-portal and disappeared.

 

A few minutes later a staff member came rushing into the lunch area and headed straight for Dr. Strasbourg. 

"Dr. Strasbourg," she said nearly out of breath, "The lab door is propped open and your keys are on a table inside the staging area; the portal is on!"

Dr. Strasbourg jumped to his feet, spilling coffee everywhere, and down the long hallway he ran!

After retrieving his key-cluster with a metal coat-hanger, Dr. Strasbourg gathered the one staff member and the two fellow scientists together and they had a little talk.

The Scientists had no idea what to do and they were not about to tell the military, or the government overseer, what had happened. 

They were afraid that Dr. Strasbourg's lack of security would result in the project being shut down, or even worse, that they would all be replaced.

The only solution was to keep quiet and wait, hopping that whoever it was that left, would return.

Or as the lab assistant pointed out, if whoever passed through the portal faded out then that would be even better because none of them would ever remember it anyway; they would just return to their normal routines without anyone knowing that it ever had happened. The problem would solve itself.

So they waited and told everyone else that there was a glitch and to take a few days of R & R. The ones that worked in the lab were happy to hear that, they had been working extra shifts for weeks. The remaining electrician just shrugged his shoulders and went to play some pool in the lounge.

During the lag time Dr. Strasbourg took a survey of personnel and found that the electrician, Duffy, was missing.

The Doctor also wrote a lengthy note to himself explaining what had happened, who went missing, and some of Duffy's personnel file history. He also noted the settings on the time-travel machine's dials; the ones that Duffy had set.

As he placed his hand written document in his lab coat pocket he thought to himself, "We will soon see what you have changed, Mr. Duffy. Or will we?"

 

***

Please see "Time Travel for Beginners" Last Half, or Final Chapter.


© Copyright 2019 D. Thurmond, aka, JEF. All rights reserved.

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