The machine whirred and sparked. It shook the ground and the white sterile walls of the institute’s laboratory. Doctors and Professors held their while lab coats tight around them as the machine kicked up a strong twisting wind. The control room was buzzing with excited chatter as the machine started to phase in and out of time and space.
“Doctor Patel, it’s starting to happen,” said a lab assistant as he pointed at his computer screen.
Dr. Patel leaned on the back of the assistant’s chair to steady himself against the aggressive rumbling of the whole building. The machine in the far room, the time machine, was turning into a white hot ball of plasma fury as it started to bend space time. The lab was starting to warp and gravity was losing its tenuous grasp on things.
“Are we at full capacity,” asked Dr. David Patel.
“Yes sir. Nineteen point seven five on the track, computer is at full,” said Dr. Mary Fallstrom.
“Excellent,” said Dr. Patel.
General Connors stood back against the far wall of the control room. He put his sun glasses on to shield his eyes from the ever brightening glow of the machine. He put his hand in his pocket and felt for the St. Christopher Medal his wife had given him on their wedding day. It was the only good luck charm he believed in.
The lab continued to rumble and particles of white dust dropped from the ceiling and walls. The lights in the lab constantly flickered and shook.
“Clear the lab area. Repeat, clear the lab area. Non-Essential personnel to leave the lab area,” announced the automated safety message.
“Sir, we’re ready for maximum power,” said Dr. Patel. He looked at Dr. Fallstrom and she nodded.
“Then let’s do it. And may God have mercy on our souls,” said General Connors.
The lab assistant, Jimmy, entered the last sequence into the main computer and then held onto the edges of his work station. He wasn’t sure what was really going to happen but he was super excited that his college loans would be paid off in less than two weeks thanks to his volunteering for this secret project.
The machine burped out a plume of purple plasma and sparks started flying about the lab. The air was being sucked out of the lab and Dr. Patel could swear it sounded like someone was sucking on a straw in an empty drink cup. The smell of sulfur and pine seemed to reach his nose and he turned his face from the blinding light of the machine. The moving parts were now spinning too quickly for the human eye to track.
“One hundred and thirty-five percent Doctor,” yelled Jimmy over the noise.
Dr. Patel nodded and looked at Dr. Fallstrom. She was holding her dress down under her lab coat with one free hand; almost absently as she stared into the bright light of the machine she’d help create. He smiled at her. The noise in the control room was a mix of white noise and a grinding of the machine’s massive motors and gears. It was now impossible to hear anyone talking, even through the head sets.
The machine lurched in the lab and a blue orb of massive size enveloped the machine. Thunder pealed and lightening tore through the lab bouncing off the sterile walls. The machine lurched again and a wave of plasma shot out in all directions and then the machine was pulled into a vortex underneath. The machine flickered and then vanished into the portal.
The noise stopped. The wind was gone. The regular computer controlled environment returned to normal. Jimmy looked up at his monitor. It was beeping steadily.
“It’s gone,” said Jimmy.
Dr. Patel straightened himself and looked up through the control room window onto the lab floor. The lab was a mess but the machine was gone. It was pulled through time just as Dr. Fallstrom had said it would be.
“Mary, we did it,” said Dr. Patel as he smiled.
“Where is it? Where did it go,” asked Dr. Fallstrom.
She moved toward the control panels. General Connors took off his sun glasses and touched his face. It felt as if he’d been sunburned. He looked around at the other people in the control room and saw they were all sunburned in various ways.
“Dr. Patel,” said General Connors.
Dr. Patel looked at the General. The General pointed as his own face with a circular motion and then pointed at the rest of the control room staff.
“Heh, sunburned,” mused Dr. Patel.
Dr. Fallstrom had a pencil in between her teeth as she typed at the control station. It was an old college habit to have a pencil between her teeth as she worked, although she couldn’t remember the last time she had actually used a pencil to write anything down.
“There,” she said, “it’s moving forward in time at an amazing rate, but we can’t seem to get any data. The machine is there, but, it’s not. It’s almost as if…it were still in the lab.”
“Isn’t that what we predicted,” asked Dr. Patel, “the machine could be both gone and still here, we just wouldn’t be able to see it anymore?”
“We warped time and space so really, we didn’t know what would happen. It’s never been done before,” said Dr. Fallstrom.
The control room was silent aside the computers and lab equipment. The doctors looked at each other as if trying to come up with something to say. They shrugged at each other and looked up toward the giant head looming over their existence. They shrugged again. The giant face on the giant head raised his eyebrows and the giant shoulders also shrugged.
“Writing a time travel story is hard okay,” said the giant head.