Copyright© 2013 by JOHNNY SACHU
David Evans was on the thirty-fifth level of, The Halls of Weere, a fairly complex video game for the X-Box, and just challenging enough for him that he found it of real interest. Most games being produced, now days, seemed too easy for him, but this one was real fun. He played a hunch and before he knew it, he had advanced into level thirty-six.
"Hot-Damn!" he shouted and fooled around with the next step a bit more, but he was tired after several hours of play. With a yawn David put the controller onto the glass topped coffee table, in front of him, tapping a button. The huge, wide, flat screen TV on the wall was suddenly stilled and silent for a change.
David got up and went to the kitchen, peaking into the upper refrigeration section. There were several kinds of half consumed pizza's in there along with some apples and oranges. Combo pizzas, all meat ones, and a Cali from Dominos, his new favorite. But he was getting tired of pizza. He needed a change after several days of it.
He checked the lower compartment, the freezer section, and saw nothing in there but frozen peas, corn and a whole lot of microwave-able frozen beef pies and hungry man dinners, as well as five or six boxes of Pizza Pockets. But they didn't appeal to him, either.
"Maybe I should learn to cook," he mumbled, to himself, and then dismissed the absurd idea.
He tossed the freezer door closed and stood straight up, his hand automatically fingering the device beneath his T-shirt. It was always with him. And he suddenly felt like going somewhere and using it. It stopped time for its user and it had been getting addicting as well as second nature for him to steal money and get free food at the mall, or where-ever he happened to be. At least, he used to do that. It had been a year since he'd last used the device. But he had been effected to look way younger by using it. He was actually twenty-one years old, soon to be twenty-two, but appeared to be about fifteen. That was its side effect. David felt as if he'd grown a little bit older looking since using it last and actually was, a bit taller. That was the only side effect that David knew of, that the device created, if you left it turned on for too long a time, your body grew younger, way younger, very quickly.
It was on that first ride back from California, after picking up his super custom, super fast motorcycle, that was almost a street legal racing bike, that he discovered the truth of the device's fountain of youth qualities. Stupidly, he'd gone into Area 51, the top secret military base in Nevada, and taken a bunch of photographs of the aircraft in development, for curiosities sake, and for the pure thrill of it. But after seeing gun-ships and other aircraft screaming towards him, after leaving the base, he'd turned the device on to protect himself, stopping time and the world around him, and left it on all the way back home to that mid-western state near Canada's border. It freaked him out at the possibility that the government knew about him. It wasn't true, though, for they had only discovered something had entered and left the base, via a dust trail on one of the dirt roads and had scrambled all their security aircraft and personnel to check the perimeter on and off the base. But David hadn't known that. Though the long term process of having the device on, had made him very different and much more youthful looking, it hadn't changed who he was or his intelligence, fortunately, as the device did nothing to his mind, thank goodness. All his memories and genetic powers of intelligence had remained. Why? He didn't know. The only thing he could figure, was, that he was conscious, inside the stasis of the device.
One of the last times he'd used it was when that bitch of an F.B.I. agent had pretended to like him, when she found David, cleverly, at the college last summer, almost as if by chance. He'd discovered her true identity, though, after she'd posed as a student trying to be his friend, but he'd found her out and swore vengeance on Cheryl, someday. With time, though, that desire had mellowed. He didn't know if he'd ever do anything awful to her. She was just too beautiful to hurt in any physical way, though, he would have liked to have caused her some serious embarrassment or humiliation for deceiving him like that...
David had began to enjoy revenge a little too much, back then, for a short time, by getting some payback on a couple of guys that tried to steal from him, there, at the school. Plus, he'd put all the secret military pictures he'd taken in Groom Lake, or Area 51, of all those secret project craft, up on the internet via some UFO research organization's computer, he didn't have a lot of love for, as well as screwing up the college's physics computers. David had figured the physics department had pointed their fingers at him and other graduate or graduated students in the area, as persons smart enough to pull something over on the government. They had been right, but he hadn't liked it that the college had co-operated.
Apparently, the government had made a nation wide, if not international, search for someone that could sneak into their secret base, there, in Nevada. But he'd beaten them at their own game and freed himself of the investigation into his own secret activities. At least, he was 99.99 % sure of that.
Yet, that was all in the past, he figured, reminiscing, but right now, being restless as he was, and a bit lonely, and needing something new or different to do for the evening, David decided to go out. He'd find some joint to eat in and maybe catch a movie.
For a long time, he hadn't ridden either of his two motorcycles, after coming back from Nevada. His hot, super bike was the one he'd ridden into Groom Lake, Area 51, and he didn't want to be too blatantly showy with it. The other bike was a single cylinder, 650 Kawasaki, (the Cow), he loved to ride back country dirt roads with, as well as the work horse, so to speak, around town. It was a fun machine but completely different from the super bike Sportster he'd had made up for himself. The Cow got him around town just fine, though, and was his leave alone bike. If it got stolen, it would be no great loss, even though he always locked the Kawasaki up. But David would never leave the Sportster anywhere, alone and unattended, like going into the mall, out of his line of sight. It was too unique and too valuable.
Dressed in a sleek black leather riding jacket, black jeans and white running shoes, David headed downtown on the Cow. There was a fast food Mexican restaurant he'd never tried and he pulled into a parking slot then turned off the Kawasaki. He left his full coverage helmet locked to the bike and went in and ordered a rolled taco dinner, with Orchata, a drink made from rice, cinnamon and lots of sweetener.
When the young, teenage, white girl, brought the tray to him, he couldn't help but notice how pretty she was when she bent over him with the food tray, a beautiful smile on her red lips. He thanked her and let his eyes fall to her features behind his dark sunglasses, but his mind kept thinking about her long after she left. He'd never watched girls much, in the past, he was always too busy, in fact, almost never even though he had every opportunity to, at college. But they all seemed too fake or phony and kind of gross with their secretive silliness and lack of depth. But sometimes, these days, he did like looking at women. Real women. Not some over-makeup-ed, magazine copied image of someone's ideal, that very few of them could pull off. The mall was his favorite place for that activity, watching girls that is, and the lakeside's, too, in the local area during the summer, with those especially buxom girls in their skimpy bikini's, they always intrigued and got his attention.
David wished, sometimes, that he had a girlfriend now that he had a spending budget, of sorts. Heck. He had all the money he wanted, now days, unlimited really, taking only ones and fives, stealing those bills from banks in the immediate area, especially when he'd first used the device. He had almost been broke but now had over seven-hundred thousand dollars buried out in the wilderness. He recovered a bit of it, from time to time, as needed, but he never needed that much.
He still did a little tutoring for school and accepted money from his parents, guiltily, but only to keep up appearances of being broke. If, by some huge chance, the government was still keeping tabs on him and his finances, which he seriously doubted, you just never knew, they wouldn't have cause for suspicion if they were watching.
David stepped into the mall and stopped when he got in front of the movie posters, checking them out behind the plastic windows. He read the hype, perused the illustrations, but there was nothing of any interest to him, playing that week. He walked around the food court but didn't find anything he wanted, then went back outside and bombed out of the blocky complexity of the mall's parking lot and drove back home in a random, more scenic way, letting the Cow pick up a little more speed than was legal. It was a fun bike in itself and he had fun with its power, and do anything capability. Dirt, street, city traffic, the boondocks, anything.
He finally went to a grocery store, near home, and picked up some junk food and carried it back home, stuffed in-between his leather jacket and tee shirt.
David flopped down in front of the TV and switched off the X-Box, he'd left running, but inactive. He went through the menu channel, on his one-hundred fifty-seven channels, and discovered the original movie of H.G. Wells, The Time Machine, was playing that night. The one with Rod Taylor. It wouldn't be on until eleven, so David prepared his junk food dishes and almost had them all laid out when the phone rang. It was already 7:35 in the evening. Who would be calling him at this time of the night? He didn't have caller I.D. so he simply answered.
"Hi David. This is Emily." She was an astronomy student he tutored from the college. She was a smart cookie but needed help in mathematics, from time to time. He'd been seeing her off and on for two years or so, just tutoring, but they got along well and he considered her a friend, of sorts. "I was driving by and saw your lights are on. I was wondering if you were up for a visit. I know we've never done anything social, and we don't have to of course, but you're one of the few people I know at school, even though you've graduated. Could we hang out for part of the night, you think? I've got nowhere to go and too much energy to sit at home."
David didn't know what to think. She was an innocent girl with no boyfriends, that he knew of, but it confused him that she would ask him, of all people, something like this, in such a light nonchalant way. She's braver than I am, he thought. A spur of the moment question like this, fit her personality, though, but it probably wasn't easy for her to do. She was always forthright and open about what was on her mind, and yet shy, in her own way. Remembering, now, she could actually be fun to be around, quite often. David finally relented to any opposition in his mind.
"I was just about to watch The Time Machine. Well. At eleven o'clock, actually. Is that something you'd like to see?"
"Sure. I like sci-fi stuff, you know that?"
"Yes! You do. We've talked about movies and games, enough, so don't play dumb with me. And speaking of games, have you added anything to those piles of computer games, games that are any good, that is??"
"Yeah. Several, in fact. Where are you?"
"I just drove past your place, like I said, silly. I could make a U-ee and be there in less than sixty seconds."
"We'll go ahead and make that 'U-ee' and come on in. I'm just sitting around being my boring self."
"You're never boring, David. Challenging, yes. All the rough problems and exercises you create and put me to work on, but boring? Not hardly."
"Okay. If you say so, Em," his shortened name for her. "See you in less than sixty seconds, then."
"Bye!" was her instant response.
David looked at the clock on the old upright piano he kept in the corner. It had been a recent purchase from an estate sale. The piano was something, an instrument, he loved playing and amazingly, that old piano had almost as rich a sound as a high quality grand. He kept track of the seconds, just for fun. He was pretty sure she couldn't make it back to his place in less than sixty seconds.
It took her eighty-eight seconds. "You're late," he smiled her way, pointing at the clock, as she barged in through the front door. She had gotten familiar enough with her tutor to feel comfortable enough not to knock.
"You said, 'less than sixty seconds.'"
"No. That was you that said it," she claimed, closing the door and coming to the sofa.
"I did?" He knew that wasn't the case, but didn't care.
"Have I ever lied to you?" Emily said.
"I don't know. Have you?"
"Don't start with me, Evans. I'm tired. I work for a living you know. Selling sporting goods isn't easy."
"You're a checker. What's so hard about smiling and punching a keyboard?"
"You try it for five or six hours a day."
"No thanks. I leave that sort work to the lower classes. The one's that need character development."
"And don't you forget it," she said, flopping down on the sofa, "if you want a deal next time you come in."
David smiled. "I always miss your cheery demeanor, you know that? But I'm glad you came bye, Em. It'll be nice having some company for a change. I went out earlier to go to a movie, but there was nothing out there I wanted to see."
"Really? Me too. I could have gone to one, but I hate going alone."
"You've got girl friends. You talk about them all the time."
"They're friends, yes, but they're actually more like acquaintances. I seldom go out with them. Nerds don't fit in well with students that are only in college looking for husbands aspiring to be well paid professionals. I'm trying to enlarge myself, not get hooked up with some maybe-to-be-dentist, or something."
"Mmm..." was his non response.
David looked at the silent TV menu he had muted and sighed, audibly. The background music for the menu channel was always boring and he was not in the best of moods, emotionally, to tolerate unwanted distractions.
"I know what you mean, Em. I don't have friends, either."
"Sure you do. You must. You've got two doctorates."
"Three. And I think my X-professors are losers."
"Then what about all the other guys you went to school with?"
"Nope. Never got along with others, that well."
"How about other physicists or mathematicians?"
"No, again. I've always been pretty much of a loner. Besides, they don't see things the same as I do. I've tried. I don't have much to do with any of the departments any more, except for tutoring."
"Really? That surprises me. I've always found you fascinating, myself. You understand things so well and you're an excellent teacher. Did you know that?"
David stared back at her, thinking she wasn't giving him compliments for any other reason than being honest. That touched him in and unexpected way. He hadn't felt appreciation from another person for some time. Maybe years.
"Thanks, Emily. That's a kind thing to say."
"And how about me? I like you and I think of you as a friend. Not a bosom buddy, but we're friends, don't you think?"
"I suppose we are." He had to agree. He didn't want to be rude.
She smiled back at him and it was nice to meet somewhere on an equal basis, David thought, avoiding that confusing, possibly combative field of relationships. David had no idea how it fit into her or his life at the moment, but it was pleasant, thinking that he had her as a friend.
David briefly thought of the government and the vague possibility that they might be using Emily to get into his life and his secrets, like the F.B.I. had tried to use their operative, Cheryl, last year. But he quickly dismissed the idea. Em had been a student of his long before any problems with the government was even a glimmer of a thought or a problem in his life. No. Emily was safe to be around. He was sure of it. One-hundred percent.
"Want some soda? I got the three 'C's tonight."
"Three C's? What the heck is that?"
"Chocolate, Cheetos, and Coke."
"Oh! Yeah, sure. Why not?"
"I got three different kinds of pizza left-overs, if you want something solid. They're in the fridge."
"Thanks, but I ate earlier. Don't you ever cook? That's all I ever see around here is pizza and junk food."
"I believe in a balanced diet."
"I believe you're going to get fat, someday."
"Not with my metabolism. I think we're both safe there. We're the skinny kids on the block, wouldn't you say?"
Emily looked down, fidgeting with her unpainted fingernails. She suddenly got a bit serious. "I guess you're right ... but I for one, wish I wasn't."
"Oh! I'm sorry, Em. I didn't mean anything by that crack. I'm such a clod, sometimes."
"I know. It's okay. It's nothing, really. I just wish I had some boobs. I get lonely for a boy friend, sometimes. And that's what guys look for, isn't it?"
David didn't answer until she looked up at him. Her direct stare demanded an honest answer.
"I suppose it is. It does tend to get your attention, I've noticed, whether you're a man or a woman."
"I know. The girls I share that house with are always talking about their bra size. I get so sick of hearing about them, sometimes."
"There are always implants, but that can be risky, or at least, it used to be."
"Yeah. I know."
"There are drugs, too, that can increase the size of breasts, I hear. Some gay people use them, but I hear they're pretty hard on your body and the side effects are tough to deal with."
"What kind of side effects?"
"I don't know. It's one of those things I stumbled across on the internet, but never went into that deeply. It seems like a pretty radical thing to do. Kind of like those drugs that make a guy bigger."
"Yeah. I heard about those," Emily said. "Is it really true?"
"So you've looked into that, then?"
"A little. Just out of curiosity. They can do some very strange things, these days, with the new discoveries they've made in new hormonal medicines."
"Hmmm!" Emily hummed.
"David, I know we're not that close, I mean, intimately close, but could you be honest enough to tell me the truth if I asked you something?"
David stopped to think. He liked Emily and had no idea what she would ask, but he thought it might be a strain to be completely, blatantly, honest with her.
He looked down at her jeans. She had a cute figure and face, but no chest. That was something he didn't really want to talk about or tell her she needed. He looked back at her eyes, and nodded. "Okay Em. But I don't know if I'm someone you want to be asking questions like I think you're going to ask me. I don't know that much about girls. I'm pretty much of a wall flower."
"I know how you live, single and all, but you're a guy and honest. That's why I believe you'll tell me the truth."
He nodded and waited for her question(s).
"If you could change me in anyway you wanted, to look more attractive, what would you, as a man, do?"
It was a no-brainer as he came up with a less than honest, and yet, at least one other truthful answer. And it wasn't the size of her breasts. He didn't want to go there.
"You won't get mad at me?"
"No. I know my bust is tiny, I won't mind you telling me that."
"No! It's your hair."
"What? My hair?"
"What's ... How would you like it? What's wrong with it? It's long, like most guys like it, I thought."
"Yes, it is long, but it's long all over. It needs a bit of styling, with maybe bangs, some small braiding, or something. I don't know. I'm not a stylist. It's just seems your hair has so much body to it, that it flares out past your shoulders like a Darth Vader helmet." David paused. "Maybe I shouldn't have said that? I'm sorry."
"No-No! That was good. You were honest. I appreciate that. But it's not my breasts, then, that you'd change?"
"Well, it would be nice if you walked around topless, it's always appreciated when ladies come here, but that's your prerogative."
Emily looked at David a bit wide eyed, this time. He smiled, then laughed and she relaxed, seeing that he wasn't being serious just then, and joined him, but came at David in mimicked upset mode, faking her anger, as if she were trying to choke him. They clashed, falling together, each of them feigning fighting the other off. Emily spread out on top of David, struggling to gain control and get at his throat with her hands. They tussled for a several seconds until they both realized; They could feel each others bodies and liked the feel of their close proximities.
Emily's face and David's were inches apart. David felt weird as the thought of kissing her crossed his mind. But Emily must have felt the same emotion and took the initiative.
Slowly, but with certainty, she put her mouth to his. It was an awkward kiss, but a kiss none the less. Neither of them were experienced, not that they cared. She backed off, and they both opened their eyes, momentarily, smiled then regrouped, rearranging their arms and legs, and kissed again, this time smoothly and quite a bit more passionately.
Emily had her arms wrapped around David's neck and head and he had his hands on her tapered back, holding her to himself. Somehow, his hands got under her loose blouse and he felt her warm soft skin, its smoothness, the enticing feel of her thin-waisted body. He dared, with encouraging sounds of approval from Emily, after a minute or so of circling and stroking her back and sides with his hands. There was no bra.
Emily broke her lips away from David's parted mouth and flushed cheeks with some kind of surprise. David didn't know what he should do about his hand, but kept it under her blouse without conflict. Staring into her face, looking for anger or disapproval, anything meaningful that he should stop what he was doing, David tried to show sincerity with his eyes, that he cared about her, or something, anything she could convey or project as positive. He only knew she seemed to love the new feeling to both of them. A man touching her so intimately had to be a new experience for Em. Even though David looked like a kid, he knew she knew how old he was, and that legitimized the idea that they were grown ups, for both of them in their own minds.
Emily's lips were flushed and they quivered. She loved his touch, closing her eyes and kissing him harder, again, and again. David loved that it was possible for both of them to both be so involved with such innocent but in depth feelings.
Emily ran her fingers wildly, with almost uncontrolled emotion through his hair, kissing him, her lips swollen and red while making noises deep from within, in her throat, neither she nor David had ever known before. It was a totally alien sound to both of them, but apparently, Emily couldn't help herself. She continued trying to kiss David and he, returning her attentions. It thrilled them both. He could see it in Emily's face
She took his face in her hands, while his hands dropped to her waist. David shook his head and said, "No. I'm sorry, Emily. I'm sorry." David wished his device could move backwards in time. He'd erase these last few minutes. He really didn't think a girl friend was what he wanted. "I think we should stop."
Backwards, in time? The thought struck him like a hammer blow, even through the current cloud of inflated emotions he was experiencing. Time travel. Yes. What an intriguing idea. Really.
"I think so, too," she gasped. "This is silly. I want you as a friend and this is way beyond friendship. Maybe I should leave?"
"I don't want you to."
"And I don't want to either, but if I stay, it will be pretty awkward for both of us. This wasn't suppose to happen."
"Yes. I know, darn it."
Emily suddenly got up, straightened her clothes and came back to kiss David, desperately, then ran out the front door. She was gone just a few seconds then rushed back in, falling down beside him again and kissed him so hard it hurt. She held his hands wide open then jumped up again, shaking her head, smoothing her hair and herself, and left as if time was everything and she were in a race against it. She was gone for good, this time.
David heard her car start and the tires actually squeal as she backed out of the broken cement driveway, and then she gunned the engine and heard the car of hers, race off into the night. Emily had just about killed him with those kisses, but he'd loved every second of it.
It took him several minutes to calm down, emotionally, enough to understand the last few minutes. All he thought about was seeing Emily, again, and it made his mind ache like a headache.
Out of frustration, David stood up and went outside to the cooling air of the back yard and began cleaning the Kawasaki with a rag. Yet, through it all, as he tried to forget Emily, David again remembered that fleeting thought, concerning time and time travel. Could he do it?
Back inside, the phone rang. He hopped to his smart phone and picked it up immediately, knowing it was her.
"I wish you weren't. I thought that was wonderful. Frustrating as heck, but very sweet."
"Are we going to see each other, again, David? If we do, I don't know if I can control myself." She was still emotional, he could tell. Even more than he was. "I feel like I should go away for a while. At least that's what I want to do."
"I know, Emily. But we should think this through. You know, if we want to be good friends or not. It would take up a lot of both our time. You might feel differently in the morning."
"I doubt it," she said.
"I know." He had to agree, but there was the practical side to consider seriously, and she must have. There was a moment without words, then Emily hung up.
David had an hour to compose himself and try not to think of her, before The Time Machine came on. But thoughts raged away in his brain.
Out of the blue, she comes over here and we practically end up kissing cousins. Cripes. What the heck was that? Two nerds trying to comfort each other in some desperate attempt at letting their hormone's loose? Sheeze!
David took a big swig of his Cherry Coke and realized how thirsty he was. All that open mouth heavy breathing had a price. He grabbed a handful of Cheetos and began eating them two and three at a time. After wolfing them down, he unwrapped a couple of Hershey's miniatures, throwing the wrappers on the wooden floor. There was usually a writing pad and tablet on the glass table top and he looked for it under all the papers and magazines and food, then took it in hand and began doodling in between mouthfuls of snacks and swallows of his drink of choice.
David recalled the look of the book cover on an old scholastic copy of The Time Machine, he had somewhere. He tried sketching it from memory and then started thinking seriously of time, again. He thought of the device around his neck, how it stopped time for the user and realized what he was touching was beyond anyone's thinking but his, in this world. The thoughts of time seemed to flow into him. Time travel? Time travel? -- Could such a thing really be possible? If he could stop time, why couldn't he move up and down its line? The new thought thrilled him. It had interested him more than any recent idea he'd had for quite some time. He could feel the buzz of idea after idea presented itself with figures of math flowing through him like a fast river and knew he couldn't be disturbed by Emily, again. Not tonight, or, for a while at least.
He found Emily's phone number on the list of students he tutored, and dialed her number. There was no answer so he left a voice message on her machine, saying he'd be gone for a few days and didn't know when he'd be returning. He would be gone, for at least a week, he figured. Perhaps longer. He needed to be alone and without her in the picture. He wouldn't be able to concentrate on this new challenge if she were.
He quickly gathered his riding gear, putting his old leathers on over his new, slimmer jeans, with the addition of a polar fleece shirt over his T-shirt ... He would be traveling tonight and the nights along the Canadian border states were cool, on motorcycles, even in the summer. Following the shirt, David put on the protective racing shoes, he always wore while riding the Sportster. He slipped into his leather jacket, zipped and snapped it shut, and threw his motorcycle, travel backpack over his shoulders. It's near fourteen hundred dollars, still in the pack, since last collecting money from his secret money stash, along with a change of clean underwear, would last him at least a week, if not a month.
Buckling the waist band and sternum strap of the pack, David pushed his fingers into his thick leather riding gloves and dawned the expensive, full coverage helmet in black. He backed the relatively light Super Bike, his heavily modified Sportster, back out through the front of the house and down the wooden ramp he'd made for part of the cement under-porch.
He had a final thought, in the last moments before leaving, and flipping the kick stand down, he leaned the bike over in the driveway. He needed a State road map.
David went to his book shelf, in the bedroom, and found the map he needed. Looking at it briefly, under the warmth of the overhead light, David chose a small town he'd passed through, once or twice, out in the pine lands, near some lakes, on one of his back country Kawasaki tours. There were several nice motels out there, in Pine River. He could push his bike into the motel room and kick back in some semblance of quiet, and think. David memorized the route and was pleased to learn it was almost due west from the city. He flipped off the lights and locked the house.
Settling into the deep, comfortable, leather seat of the sport bike, David hit the hidden on-off power button then turned a conventional ignition key to on and touched the starter switch. The super machine came to life with a roar and David pushed the gear lever down, into first, and turned the bike into the wind, accelerating fast and away from his rented, now darkened house, on dry asphalt. He left the city hard via the freeway, down the road, leaning deep into the on ramp and half way through the wide curve of it, giving the machine lots of power with the throttle.
He kept the speed down, after reaching a hundred and thirty miles per hour, dropping the bike down to the legal limit, mostly, as he weaved through the light traffic, thinking of the problems that confronted his idea. Amazing to him, it didn't seem all that difficult, knowing what he did, already, about stopping time. Traveling through time would take some adjustments and further tech, yes, but in his heart, David knew he could make a total and complete time machine, as spectacular as the idea was. If it hadn't of been for Emily's visit, he may never have considered such a thing. Not only could he stop time, as he already had learned and done, but he would now be able to, he thought, move forward or backward in it. And, without the enormous amounts of power the current generation of physicists believed such a monumental task would need. That was why they hadn't done what he had in physics, up to this point. Closed minds and unimaginative thinking. The poor fools.
David labored for three days straight without eating, in the motel, just drinking water from those plastic cups in his room. The idea consumed his imagination and all the faculties of his considerable mind's power. It didn't seem that hard of a problem, but working with nothing but a tablet and his own invented math of a year and a half ago, David was deeply challenged. He was certain he could do it, devise and alter his device to travel through time, that age old, impossible dream, as some considered it.
Back home, three months passed and though he no longer had access to the colleges machine shop, David was able to buy his own computer generated mills, lathes, and electronic manufacturing equipment and machinery. He had converted one of the rooms of his rented house into a workshop.
And then one morning, having worked all through the night, again, eating cold pizza rolls from the night before, David finished his work. He bent over the serious, though shockingly simple, assembled pieces in amazement.
He looked down at his device, gleaming silver and polished as a platinum or silver watch, under the work-lamp, laying there on top of a faded blue bath towel. It's stainless steel was, of course, much stronger than any precious metal, but it was more precious than any thing ever made before. The wonder of it was almost incomprehensible, had he not made it himself.
David touched the terry cloth with open hands, on his home made bench of plywood and cinder blocks, and slowly let his hands cup and pick up the completed device. It had three buttons, now, instead of the one. There was the original button that simply stopped and started time. One moved time forward, in theory, which David would bet his super bike on, that it would, and the other button moved time backward. Luckily he had made the original device with room to spare, inside. The pocket watch sized machine was crammed full of nearly indestructible components, and should function like no other device ever created or ever would, again. He admired it and the beauty of its capability, its shape, size, it simplicity, and mostly, his ownership.
He would still wear it around his neck with that heavy duty shoe-string lanyard and David had intended to go out on his bicycle, right then, to find a place to test it. David took his Firenze down from its hanging place but as soon as he stepped out the door, he saw Emily pulling into the driveway, and grunted, thinking, it wouldn't be possible, for a while. Darn it. And he really didn't want to see or speak to her. But after thinking it through, it dawned on his fatigued brain, it was the perfect scenario to test his device.
David waved, laying down the bicycle, but went back inside as she gathered her purse and opened her car door. As she yelled, "Hi, David," waving, he'd simply shut the door on her greeting. Inside the house, he quickly pulled the device from beneath his T-shirt and stopped time. He hadn't spoken to anyone in three months. Not over the phone, neither Emily, any acquaintances, or relatives, including his parents whom he had merely written a couple of quick letters to, explaining how busy he was. They lived down south, near the Iowa border, anyway, and commuted north to their colleges, where they worked as professors, and were busy themselves with the new college year. They rarely came up state to visit him and always called before they did. Nor had he taken on any tutoring jobs, much less talked to the one professor he liked in the Mathematics department, since their last encounter, a year before. He'd had no time for any of them or Emily and knew, through some rather cold deducing, that if they got involved again, they would really get involved. And David did not see that happening with her or any other woman, right now.
Gazing through the semi-sheer curtain material, then down at the device, David put his thumb over one of the buttons. He looked up, now, at the fuzzy figure of Emily and her old red car, saw she'd been coming to the front door, through the curtain material as he had pushed the time stoppage button. Now pushing the backward button, he let it go for only a few seconds and then pushed the button, again, stopping his movement back into time. Emily and the car had disappeared in reverse. He opened the front door and saw that the world was frozen in time. He went out onto the front lawn and looked down the street. He could see her red car off in the distance. He laughed, ever so slightly, almost like a snicker, and went back to his house, picking up his beloved Firenze single speed bicycle, and taking it back inside. He closed the front door and locked it, this time.
Taking a deep breath, he pushed the forward button that should propel him into future time. He saw the shadows of Emily and her car enter the driveway at an impossible speed and then stop, with her coming almost instantly to the front door. He heard a ticking noise, which was probably her knocking, and heard it repeated several times more. He watched as Emily disappeared as fast as she'd come, thinking he wasn't there.
David reversed time again. This was still a test. He brought her back but as he noticed the shadow of her car turning into the drive, he depressed the button, slowly, which slowed down the mechanism, like the braking action of a vehicle, and let it slowly come to a stop as he fully clicked the button, where time halted. There was no forward movement for the moment. The thing worked. David was panting with the knowledge of its functionality. He pressed the stop start button and heard the clap of Emily's car door close and her hard heeled shoes clicking on the concrete drive, outside, as she walked up to the front door, in normal time. She came to the wood of it and knocked, David hiding behind the windowless door, waiting. He believed she had knocked three successive times. She knocked again after a few moments and then again. Yes. It had been three. Then she left and David let her.
There was one other test he had to make, but he was afraid to and then decided against it.
Like the time traveler in H.G. Wells story, The Time Machine, David wanted to explore the far distant future and the deep past, simply out of curiosity. But if something went wrong, far into the future or the past, he might be stuck there forever, especially in the past. With no electricity or machining capabilities or ways to make photo-electric, circuits or other devices, it would be a death sentence, possibly. Perhaps, someday, he mused. But not right now.
There was, however, another test he wanted to perform. He went outside after stopping time, and set time to forward, then braking the mechanism, waiting for one of the little kids in the houses next to his to ride past on the side walk, as they constantly did, every day. Down and up, back and forth, and all on the sidewalk in front of his house, yelling or crying, they'd go on and on, on their little tricycles or bicycles.