The Time Travel Game


Image from the box top of The Time Tunnel board game

I’m putting this here mainly to keep track of it. I like the idea of time travel as a game, maybe like a scavenger hunt, but I’ve got too many other projects going to sufficiently develop this one now.

When I was a kid, I loved all of those Irwin Allen television shows such as Lost in Space and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. The Time Tunnel (1966-67) was high up on my list, even if it only made it two seasons. As an adult, I find all of Allen’s shows to be excessively cheesy, but I can tolerate some limited exposure.

I do periodically re-watch the Time Tunnel’s pilot episode Rendezvous with Yesterday, which introduces how our heroes get stuck jumping from one part of past and future history to another, and probably where a significant portion of the special effects budget was blown.

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Resolution by Time Travel

the time tunnel

Concept art for the 1966 television show “The Time Tunnel”.

“We cannot start over, but we can begin now and make a new ending.” -Zig Ziglar

Operation Tic-Toc physicist Dr. Anthony Newman couldn’t let Senator Leroy Clark shut down the Time Tunnel project. He’d devoted five years of his life working with an elite team of scientists and engineers to perfect time travel, but that was less important to him than the main reason he had struggled so hard to be selected to work here.

He’d lost both of his parents, his Mom to a car accident in 1940 and his Dad nearly eighteen months later on December 7, 1941 during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He’d been raised by his Mom’s sister June Landers in New Jersey but there was nothing she could ever do to fill the enormous gap torn in his seven-year-old life.

He’d been recruited by the government while still at MIT. The brilliant scholarship student who graduated with a doctorate in Temporal Mechanics was first assigned to a think tank outside of Arlington in what he thought was a project involving theoretical mathematics applied to the uncertainty principle and expressed in five dimensions. In other words, science for its own sake with no practical use.

Then on this twenty-eighth birthday, he received classified orders to report to a top secret government facility buried beneath a remote desert region of Arizona: Operation Tic-Toc. Time travel was real. Now he had to help make it practical.

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Not Enough Time


© Yinglan

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

Man Out of Time

the premonition

Pilot Jim Darcy (Dewey Martin) and his wife Linda (Mary Murphy) in the 1965 episode of “The Outer Limits” television show “The Premonition”

When the pilot and his wife ran from my shadowy, fluid form, leaving me standing in the NASA control center in the Mojave Desert, they placed a lit road flare just outside the door to keep me from following them.

They knew I was a being out of time, a man trapped in an endless limbo only they could see. Fire didn’t bother me just like anything else in normal time, but the pilot and his wife were out of synch with normal time, thrown ten seconds into the future and for them, time was passing thirty minutes for every one second of real time. The flare was also out of synch and was a real danger to me.

Of course, as a limbo being, I could have walked through any wall and followed them, even attacked them, but what’s the use?

I was greatly tempted to replace one of them when time resynchronized, leave one of them trapped in my place, in limbo, timeless, but I knew it wouldn’t work. Someone tried it on me before and it didn’t work. I’ll never know what happened to him.

Re-synchronization would only work with the living people who were thrown out of synch, those who still had a chance, those who hadn’t already been lost.

I knew I no longer had a chance. I was lost over five years ago. I’m not even still alive.

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