Martin’s eyes snapped open the second his alarm clock announced itself with nerve-jarring buzzing.
“Yah! What time is it? Oh shit, I’m late for…”
Then he remembered that he didn’t have to be at the office by 8 a.m. today or ever again. He didn’t work in publishing anymore. He was a time traveler in training.
“But then why…?”
Martin Fields hadn’t had to “punch a clock” in months. Why did he set his alarm?
“In case you were wondering Martin, I set your alarm.”
Martin hastily rubbed his eyes and sat up in bed. “What are you doing here, Isis? Don’t I get a day off?”
“Most of your days are ‘off,’ however, this one is ‘on’.”
She was standing at the foot of his bed looking as beautiful as the first time she’d appeared to him. She was tall, luxurious raven-black hair flowing over her shoulders, piercing green eyes. She seemed to be Eurasian, but considering she wasn’t even remotely human, her physical features was artificially constructed so she could have looked like anyone.
“Can’t you give me a little warning?”
“Here is your warning. Go through your morning routine and have breakfast. I’ll return with your assignment in one hour.”
Martin opened his mouth to reply, but she was already gone.
He got up, used the bathroom, put on a robe, and then went into the kitchen to start the coffee. He surfed the web on his laptop while waiting for it to brew, then had his first cup which would transform him from a surly troll into a human being.
Precisely one hour later, having devoured an omelet made from the leftovers of last night’s Thai dinner, he was standing in the middle of his living room wearing the powered up Temporal Jump Suit with the appropriate “costume” for the time period he was going to visit beneath it.
Isis appeared exactly one hour after she had left.
“When are you going to let me set the temporal controls, Isis?”
“Patience, Martin. You will be given more control soon. Take the suit’s case with you. You will need it.”
Martin had it sitting on the floor next to him. He picked it up and the next instant, he was somewhere and somewhen else.
“Welcome to the vicinity of Gold Bridge, British Columbia, Canada. The year is 1941 and it is slightly before dawn. For the duration of this mission, only you will be able to see and hear me. Remove the suit and place it in its case, then hide it behind those bushes. It will be safe here until you return.”
Isis sounded the way Martin imagined a Marine Drill Instructor sounded, all orders, no emotion, no consideration.
It was cold in the pre-dawn hours, but his antique clothing would keep him warm enough for now.
“What’s the mission?”
“I will inform you later today. For now, you will proceed on foot to the town of Gold Bridge which is several kilometers away from this wooded area.”
She pointed, and Martin started to make his way in the direction she indicated.
It took hours. The sun came up and the weather warmed considerably.
“Too bad they hadn’t invented sunglasses yet.”
“Reach into your right pocket.”
“The pair of sunglasses you have in your hand has been used since the 1920s.
“No kidding.” Martin donned his eye apparel.
Martin arrived in the small town of Gold Bridge in time to buy breakfast (which according to his stomach was more like lunchtime) in a rather quaint diner. He’d had enough experience traveling to other eras by now not to remark about how “cheap” the prices were, or how currency changes with the passage of time.
He paid his bill and left a generous tip, then listened to a voice only he could hear directing him to the South Fork Bridge, which was being reopened that day. He joined the crowd and waited.
Most of the people had arrived in cars, big, heavy, all-steel monsters compared to what Martin was used to. The bridge reopening ceremony began, proceeded, and then concluded. Martin could hear Isis saying, “That is all, walk back to where you left the jump suit and return to the present.”
“That’s it?” Martin said that out loud, drawing looks from several people standing nearby.
“You don’t have to speak aloud, Martin, and yes, that’s it. Your mission is terminated.”
Martin trudged the several kilometers back to the place where he had first arrived. It was early afternoon when he donned the suit. It powered up and immediately, he was standing in his living room in the present again. Isis was right next to him.
“So what was the point of that? I travel decades in time to the early 1940s to what…have second breakfast and attend some boring bridge ceremony?”
Isis waited while Martin returned the suit and his 1940s clothing to the carrying case and dressed in more contemporary apparel.
“Now please open your laptop, open a web browser, and search for ‘proof of time travel’.”
Martin sat down at the kitchen table. His Macbook was right where he left it this morning. “I don’t see the point, but…”
“Now click the first link in your search results and then scroll down.”
“Okay but…I’ll be damned. That’s me. I’m proof of time travel? But everything I was wearing fit the era. A hundred people must have seen me but nobody batted an eye.”
“That is correct.” Isis had taken a seat beside him. She sat so rarely, that the event caught Martin’s attention.
“The clothing you wore has frequently been mistaken for modern wear when people view this photo. A fact I’ve taken advantage of.”
“Five years ago, a sixteen-year-old boy saw this and other photos like it, and was inspired to major in physics at university. At first, he naively thought he might explore the possibility of time travel, but as he matured, he realized it was impossible to invent a time machine.”
“Little does he know.” Martin chuckled as the closed the web browser and then the laptop.
“He will, however, develop a process that allows for the mass production of cheap fusion reactors, making electrical energy highly affordable world-wide. That would not occur if he hadn’t chanced upon your photo.”
“So just by going almost eighty years into the past, standing around and having my picture taken, I did all that?”
“Sometimes, profoundly affecting the course of history is just a matter of showing up.”
“Okay, but tomorrow I really am sleeping in, Isis.”
“Very well. You have sufficiently affected your timeline…for now.”
While trying to figure out how to write a story based on the title, I Googled “proof of time travel” and opened an article at Express.co.uk, which was at the top of the search results. I saw the photo I’ve placed at the top of this story and read the explanation. While the clothes the young man (whoever he really was) were indeed contemporary for the early 1940s, to the casual eye, they could be mistaken for modern wear. I decided that even if someone really believed this was proof of time travel, it still might have real and profound consequences.
The first story in this seven part miniseries is On Wednesday the Time Traveler Got Wet.