You Never Have To Wait For A Time Traveler

time travel

Image: BBC News

Pamela had an unusual job; she was a time traveler. She worked on contract for the Department of Temporal Affairs. She was one of a dozen or so time workers who traveled up and down eternity detecting and correcting potential rifts in the time stream, events that, if left unchecked, would threaten the static history her society depended upon.

Every weekday morning at precisely 8:01 a.m. and 10 seconds, she put on her time harness, kissed her husband Morton good-bye, and left for work, vanishing from the center of their living room…

…only to reappear one to five seconds later. Her work days might be an hour or several days long, but she always returned to Morton as soon as possible after her departure.

“I love you, Mort. See you in a few seconds.”

“I love you too, Pam. Have a good day at work.”

They kissed, Morton stepped back several feet so as not to become caught in the harness’s temporal field, and watched his wife of six-months wink out of existence…

…only to wink back in three seconds later.

“Miss me?”

“You’ve hardly been gone, Pam.”

She deactivated the harness and shed it onto the sofa. Pam leapt at her husband, and while they embraced, she whispered, “I was gone over four days this time. Tough job. I had to manipulate an election in a major country 200 years ago to keep a dictator from becoming President.”

Day after day, week after week, it was the same. Pamela donned her harness, kissed Morton good-bye, vanished, and immediately returned, regardless of how much time she had been gone from her perspective.

That’s the great thing about time travelers. They never keep you waiting.

Job number 451, quell a revolution in a third-world country almost four centuries into the past so that legal elections could be held and a benign Prime Minister would come into power.

It was just like any other morning in Pamela’s and Morton’s living room.

“I love you, Mort. See you in a few seconds.”

“I love you too, Pam. Have a good day at work.”

They kissed, Morton stepped back several feet so as not to become caught in the harness’s temporal field, and watched his wife of nine-months wink out of existence…

…only to wink back in three seconds later.

“Pam! Pam?”

It was Pam’s harness, but not the clothes she left in, and the woman standing in the middle of the room was 30 years older than Pam.

“I’m sorry, Mort. It’s me. It is Pam.”


Pam slowly removed her harness as if just moving was painful. She looked nearly 60 years old, grey, disheveled hair, rags for clothes, bruises and scars over the parts of her skin Mort could see. She smelled terrible.

Mort forced bile back down his throat as she carefully embraced him. “I’m sorry. They captured me the second I materialized. It was just a fluke that I arrived in the middle of the rebel camp. Intelligence said it should have been several clicks to the south.”

She released him and collapsed into an easy chair. “Can I have some water? I don’t think I could keep down any food right now.”

Silently, he walked into the kitchen and came back with a glass. She took it from him and had a small sip, and then a little more, testing to see how it would affect her stomach.

He sat on the sofa next to the time harness and regarded her with love and pity.

“They tortured me. It was relentless. The rebels took power. I was in the hands of a dictatorship.”

“How did you get back?”

“After 30 years, someone finally got careless. They shut my cell but the lock was old and didn’t completely engage. I had to kill three men and two women, but I finally found out they kept my time harness in what passed for a museum. The power supply is perpetual so it still worked. Good thing they never figured out what it really was.”


“No, darling. Sending another time worker to rescue me or even prevent me from being captured would cause an anomaly much worse than the ones I’m supposed to stop. Now that I’m back in the present, the past, that part of the past, can never be changed.”

“Then this is who you are from now on.”

“Yes, my poor darling. I am so sorry. I know we both thought we had all the time in the world. I realize you never thought it would run out this soon. Soon for you, that is.”

Morton and Pamela were deeply in love with each other. They believed in their vows, “for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, til death do you part.”

Thirty years of torture and starvation took its toll. Pamela died of several different types of cancer three years later. Morton cared for her day after day until she died, and then he mourned her for the rest of his life.

Earlier today, I wrote a small piece of flash fiction about a boy waiting for a mother who never came (don’t worry, his Grandpa came instead). Since I’ve been writing so many time travel stories lately, I was surprised at myself that I didn’t respond to the photo prompt challenge by writing yet another time travel tale.

Then it occurred to me that you never should have to wait for a time traveler. This story evolved from that thought.


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