The little boy followed his Mom around the corner as Tony Lange materialized near a reconstructed fossil. His clothes were torn and soiled, his hair and beard matted with three months growth.
“I’m back. Got to warn them. It isn’t the answer. We’ll all die.”
He struggled to his feet and then he saw the wall painting and screamed.
“Mommy, what’s wrong with that man?”
Security guards kept the crowd back as an ambulance crew arrived.
“Take it easy,” the first medic said. “You’ll be fine.”
“No,” he murmured half-conscious. “You can’t save humanity by sending us 100 million years back…too hostile. We end up as prey, not colonists.”
As he was loaded onto a stretcher, the boy nervously fingered his transistor radio turning it on.
“President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot and killed by an assassin today. He died an hour ago of a wound caused by a rifle bullet fired at him as he was riding through downtown Dallas.”
Tony’s eyes widened. “I didn’t get back all the way. I’m seventy-two years too early!”
I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge for the Week of December 19, 2017. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for creating a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.
When I saw the image, I thought of time travel (of course) and of someone coming forward in time about 100 million years (the middle of the Cretaceous period) into the present. Two ideas popped into my head.
The first was the original “cliffhanger” for the pilot episode of The Time Tunnel starring James Darren as Tony Newman and Robert Colbert as Doug Phillips. In the pilot, Tony uses the Time Tunnel to send himself back into history proving that it actually works in order to keep the project’s Congressional funding from being cut. He ends up on the Titanic mere hours before it is destined to be sunk. In an attempt to rescue him, fellow scientist Doug Phillips goes back. They are unsuccessful in preventing the ship’s destruction, but the team in the time tunnel manage to switch them to a different time period.
The show always ended with a teaser scene from the next episode which in this case was an encounter with Halley’s Comet in the early 20th century, however for the pilot before the show was picked up, the teaser had Tony and Doug appearing in a steaming hot jungle and then encountering a dinosaur.
The second thought was of a show I’ve never watched but thought might be interesting. Terra Nova was a short-lived series (December 9, 2011 to March 5, 2012) about people on an overpopulated Earth in the year 2149 who were sent back to colonize the Cretaceous Period. I thought this was kind of crazy for a few reasons, the first being the “butterfly effect,” since they’d have no idea how their actions even so far back in history would affect their present, and the second being that there are freaking dinosaurs out there and they were the dominant species on the planet at that time. What makes anyone think that even with advanced weapons, they wouldn’t turn into anything more than prey?
So what if a colonist managed somehow to project himself forward in time to warn everyone that the project didn’t work? However, as you have just read, he dropped out of the time stream 72 years too early, specifically on 22 November 1963 in Dallas, Texas at a Natural History museum just hours after President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed. Horribly tragic in many different ways.
To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.