The Accidental Traveler

snow

© Mara Eastern

He’d been surprised by the snow when he woke up this morning. It wasn’t in last night’s weather prediction, but as Marty McFly says every time someone watches “Back to the Future,” “Since when can weathermen predict the weather, let alone the future?” Then he chuckled to himself as he remembered why. Last night he’d fallen asleep on Friday, July 24, 1970. This morning when he woke up, it was Thursday, January 9, 1986.

Phil Morton was just a few days shy of his sixty-fourth birthday when he became unstuck in time and place. Fortunately, he was in good health both physically and mentally, so he was able to endure the shock and stress involved.

The first time it happened, he woke up at home less than a year in the past and for a whole day, he thought there was something wrong with his memory. How could he remember the first seven months of 2018 when it was only July 22, 2017? He had awakened in his own bed. His wife was with him. The grand kids were visiting. Everything was normal except he recalled living almost another full year that for everyone else, hadn’t happened yet.

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Forgotten Hero

ute petraglyph trail

© gjhikes.com – available for non-commercial use.

The explosion at the house he rented in Cascade would keep the cops off his back long enough for him to hike up Palisade Rim Trail. He told the locals he wanted to study the Ute petroglyphs when there weren’t any tourists around. It was an easy trail and just about anyone who wanted to see them could. That was the beauty of it all. No one suspected the secret.

Wasn’t dawn yet and damned cold but he made it. Large number of petroglyphs probably meant this was a frequent camping area. The real reason the Utes visited here often didn’t survive into the modern age. He’d failed this time. The Sun Lords weren’t in this version of reality. Richard Hunter activated the time gate using the Moreira device and stepped back into 1959 to try again. He and the Forgotten Heroes had to find them before they conquered the multiverse.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to take a Google maps location and image and use them to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today the Pegman takes us to Palisade Rim/Ute Petroglyph Trail, Colorado. I had a tough time with this one. Seems like a nice place to visit, but where’s the action?

The trailhead is just a few miles away from Cascade, Colorado but while the area has a few interesting stories, none of them grabbed me. I tried looking up current news articles for Cascade, but the closest thing I found was a house explosion in Colorado Springs.

I looked up the trail itself and found a couple of reviews including one from GJHikes.com and another from Colorado West Outdoors. Finally, I tried to find out how old the petroglyphs were.

I had some sort of time travel story in mind and at first, I was just going to use one of the character names from the original Rip Hunter, Time Master comic book which first appeared in issue 20 of Showcase in May 1959. Then while reading the history of the character, I decided to adopt some of the elements from the mid-1980s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” story arc.

The “Moreira” device is named for Ruben Moreira, the original “Rip Hunter” artist in 1959.

I know it’s ridiculous but it’s the best I could come up with, especially when I haven’t had breakfast yet (as I write this).

Since I read the trail ends at a high cliff, my only other idea was a suicide, but that seemed pretty grim.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

The Man Over the Far Side of the Moon

Apollo 15

Photo of the Apollo 15 command module above the Moon piloted by Al Worden – Photo credit: NASA

Air Force Major Ezekiel “Zeke” Johnson watched the LEM drop away from the Command Module as he approached the terminator that would take him over the far side of the Moon.

“Hey, Zeke. You hearing what I’m hearing?” Colonel Clay Philips, the mission’s commander sounded like a kid on Christmas morning when anyone else would have at least been a little bit worried.

“I sure do, and I remember the briefing. It’s just interference.”

“That’s right.” Captain Brian Osborne, sitting in the LEM’s number two seat chimed in. “It’s caused by VHF radio interference between the LEM and the Command Module. Really does sound like alien music, though.”

Zeke laughed. “I’ll try to keep that in mind when I’m out of radio contact with you and Earth for the next hour or so.”

“Not scared of those nasty old BEMs, are you Zeke?” Philips was laughing with him or was that at him?

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10AM

sun moon tattoo

Found at tattoosboygirl.com

John had timed it all perfectly. Renee was at the front reception desk talking with Brian when the flowers were delivered. He watched through the large windows that showcased the lobby as the vase with a dozen long-stemmed red roses (a classic) were placed on her desk. He couldn’t tell what they were saying, but he could guess.

“If you could just sign here, Ms. Stewart.”

“Sure.” She was grinning, convinced that they were from Brian. She didn’t even bother to look back up at him to see the bewildered look on his face.

“Here you go.” She handed the pad and pen back to the delivery guy.

“Thanks. Have a nice day.” He had a good job for the most part, always making people happy.

“Thank you, Bri…” She’d started to stand to give him a kiss and then stopped when she saw his expression. “What’s the matter?”

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Footprint

footprint

© Yinglan

“My suit readout says it’s just over 88 degrees Celsius, Martin.”

“That’s about 177 degrees Fahrenheit, and people worry about climate change in the 21st century. Welcome to the Cretaceous, NaCumbea.”

Martin Fields and NaCumbea were time travelers working for a group of extra-dimensional entities and they used the provided temporal suits to correct timeline anomalies.

“Here’s where the footprint will be made, Martin.”

“The paleontologists who found it can’t match it with any known dinosaur species.”

“That’s because I’m not an indigenous lifeform.”

The pair looked up to see a three meter tall figure step around a non-existent corner.

“Time traveler?” Martin hazarded a guess.

“Extraterrestrial with time scanning capacities. I will leave my footprint as a clue.”

“Clue to what?” Though more experienced than Martin, the alien still frightened NaCumbea.

“The extinction of your dinosaurs was engineered so your species could rise.”

“You sent an asteroid to collide with Earth?”

“Yes, and we seeded your world with…you”

“Why?”

“You’ll find out when your species makes first contact with mine in your time frame of 2019.”

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge for the Week of February 6, 2018 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 174.

The image reminded me of a fossilized dinosaur footprint but not of any dino that I’ve ever heard of. More like an alien footprint.

So I sent my two time travelers, Martin Fields and NaCumbea, last seen in the short story I’m Leaving You For 1966, Dear, to investigate (why invent new time travelers when you already have a couple on tap?). I decided to make aliens responsible not only for the dinosaur extinction event of 65 million years ago, but also for seeding the biosphere with the basic template for modern human beings (I’m sure this idea must have been used before).

In order to understand what Martin and NaCumbea would experience, I looked up the climate for that period in the article The Beastly Climate which details climatic changes in Australia (where my adventure takes place) from 145.6 million years ago to about 20,000 years in the past. I also looked at Happenings During the Cenozoic (65 Million Years Ago to Present) and What is the Average Global Temperature Now? to get a comparison between what the climate was like 65 million years in the past to the present.

As it turns out, it’s a good thing the temporal suits can be set to isolate the wearer from the local environment since it seems the dinos liked it hot.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

The Long Way Home

shrine

© Sue Vincent

His great-Uncle Ian told him everyone in Glaston knew about the Shrine but no one would say much about it. Terry Walker had only met Uncle Ian once before and that’s when he was only six. His mother’s uncle had made a rare trip across the “pond” to visit the last remaining member of the family. Mom couldn’t have any more children, so whatever legacy Ian Lawrence possessed would go to Terry.

When Terry graduated from UC Santa Barbara, he decided to take a year off and travel. Uncle Ian was now quite elderly but very welcoming when he wrote him saying he would like to visit (the old man didn’t even own a computer so emailing was out of the question). There were only about eighty households in Glaston plus a public house, but unlike most of his age mates, after a hectic four years at university amid the Southern California sprawl, and then a lengthy sojourn in several European countries, he was looking forward to some quiet study in an idyllic setting.

Terry had a Bachelor’s in History with an emphasis in 18th century Europe and he was especially interested in visiting the historic St. Andrew’s church. Ian had formerly been the Deacon at St. Andrew’s and had preserved a number of the church’s important papers and artifacts, some dating back to the 15th century or earlier. He still kept some of them in his home library which is how Terry discovered the existence of the Shrine.

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Stepping Back

swanage pier

© Sandra Crook

“It’s not real.”

The building and pier are quite real, Jonathan.”

“But the scene inside the cafe looks like a painting, Raven.”

“Simply step through the door as you did previously.”

Jonathan Cypher walked toward the painting on the building in the English coastal town. Then there was an actual door and everything changed.

“It is now 1927. The men inside are members of the Communist party. A Soviet agent has recruited them to assassinate the King of England. You must stop them.”

The man without a past stepped back in time ninety years on his mission to rewrite history.

I authored this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields writing challenge for 26 January 2018. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

I did a Google image search and discovered the Pier Head Cafe is located at Swanage Pier in Southern England. The Bizarro comic strip for 24 January 2018 depicted a one-panel joke set in 1927 so I had the year stuck in my head. I looked up 1927 at Wikipedia and discovered the following items:

  • January 19 – Great Britain sends troops to China to protect foreign nationals from spreading anti-foreign riots in Central China.
  • March 24 – Nanking Incident: After six foreigners have been killed in Nanking and it appears that Kuomintang and Communist Party of China forces would overrun the foreign consulates, warships of the U.S. Navy and the British Royal Navy fire shells and shot to disperse the crowds.
  • November 12 – Leon Trotsky is expelled from the Soviet Communist Party, leaving Joseph Stalin with undisputed control of the Soviet Union.

So I hatched a plot of the Communist party of China to assassinate King George V of England. The man who is passing himself off as a Soviet agent is really working for the Chinese (I edited this paragraph to be more historically accurate as per my conversation with Neil below). The word limit prevented me from explaining things in more detail.

I once again am using the characters Jonathan Cypher and Raven last seen in The Kepler Tomb. Of course there was no real plot to assassinate the King of England in 1927, but I needed to make up something.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

Saving One

St Paul's

St Paul’s Cathedral in London during the Blitz 1940

The dark-haired woman with the shimmering gown sighed. He hadn’t noticed that she was breathing before. “This is only the beginning. There are a great many things you will need to learn.”

“Such as?”

“Such as why you left four people trapped in a collapsed building with a bomb about to detonate?”

“I forgot about them. How could I…?”

Then he woke up. There was about to be an explosion. He could only save one of them.

Sunday, 8 September 1940 – London

A building had collapsed on them. Everyone who had taken shelter in here from the bombing had died except for those four, a man, a woman, and two children. Suddenly another man was standing in the center of what was left of the basement.

“Where…?”

It was dark, night but he could see outside through holes in the walls above them. There were explosions, the sound of thunder, the ground repeatedly shook. The black air was shattered by bright flashes of destruction. The drone of aircraft engines acted as background noise.

Jonathan Cypher saw five important things, a man, a woman, a little boy, an even younger girl, and a bomb. It had a Nazi insignia on it. Was it ticking?

“Sir, please help. We’re trapped here.” The man’s legs were buried under rubble. The woman, probably his wife, was unconscious with a head wound. The two children were clutching at her and crying hysterically.

“There’s about to be an explosion. You can only save one of them but please be careful whose life you save.”

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You’re Too Early

soldier hitler group

Hitler (far right, seated) with his army comrades of the Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 16 (c. 1914–18) – Found at Wikipedia

“Confess, Adolphus. We know you’re an anti-Semite. We know what horrors you are going to commit.”

“Please, Fräulein. I’m blind. I’m supposed to be in hospital. Who are you? Where have you brought me? I’ve done nothing. I’m just a wounded soldier.”

“Rivkah. Leave him in his cell. I need to speak with you.”

She stood suddenly and spun away from the shoddy bed with the terrified soldier upon it.

“In a minute, Barak. I’m busy.”

“Now, Rivkah. We’ve made a terrible mistake and you’re about to make another.”

“Fräulein, who is that with you? What language are you speaking?”

“Fine.” She scowled at her older brother and stormed toward the open door to the dilapidated prison. Barak slammed the door and then secured the rusty lock.

“Wait,” the young Austrian called through the door. “Don’t leave me.”

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Not Enough Time

dino

© 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 InLinkz.com.