©1999 Wolphin -- all rights reserved
Time travel is dangerous, right? The government tells us so,
and they always tell the truth, don't they?
"Brian, Brian, wake up dude!"
Its not the sort of greeting a dragon wants to hear in the morning. Groggily I opened one eyes and peered at the interruption. A fluffy cute masked face peered back. I closed the eye and turned over, sighing. Us Komodos like our sleep, it's hard to get enough of it.
"Go away," I murmured. "Its too early, leave me alone."
"Brian, you've got to see this," the raccoon was insistent, but then again she normally was.
I heard a click and felt warming lamps come on overhead. I rolled back to face her.
"Oi, not fair," I protested, groaning reluctantly as my body temperature rose, forcing me more awake.
In a few moments, the last soporific effects of the night wore off as my body heated up. Begrudgingly I sat up, lowering my feet over the edge of the bed, savouring the warmth on my back.
Rachel grabbed a clawed hand in hers and virtually pulled me protesting from the room. As she scampered excitedly down the hall between our rooms I stumbled, painfully aware that mere minutes ago I was lying in bed savouring my holidays. Her barred busy tail leading me into her abode.
As usual it was a mess. Rachel was not the neatest of people and like all raccoons she had this insane curiosity. She seemed to always have her paws buried in something, the more complicated the better. That may explain why she was currently studying for her doctorate in a mixture of physics and engineering. However, today was slightly different. Yes, there was still the mixture of junk strewn around the place, but in the centre stood a weird contraption.
It looked like something you expected the see on a cheesy television show from years back. Lots of strange bits hanging off it, the usual dish antenna on the back and an array of glowing LEDs surrounding an LCD and keyboard. Hanging off part of the framework was a very proud raccoon, smiling at me.
"Ummm, what is it Rach?" I mumbled slowly, still a little upset about being dragged out of bed, but my curiosity was growing. She seldom showed me something unless there was a reason for me to be interested in it.
"Its my time machine," she announced proudly.
"What!" I almost screamed at her. "A time machine?" She nodded happily.
"But they banned them about thirty years ago," I pointed out. "Remember all those problems with causality and affecting the past? Almost everything associated with them is now classified - how did you manage to make this thing?"
"Yeah," she smiled. "I know. I found the plans for this one in the archives of the physics building. I guess they forgot to destroy them. And... well, it seemed like such a waste to leave them their gathering dust..."
"So you built it?" I blurted out.
She nodded. "Yep, nothing beats theory like experience."
I rolled my eyes.
"OK, you've built it, so you're going to dismantle it right?" I asked, trying to edge away from what I knew was coming.
She looked horrified, "What, and not take it out for a spin, you've got to be kidding!"
I shook my head.
"You could do something," I explained. "Change the course of history. Make it so Drake wasn't the one to discover America or those Americans were the first to harness nuclear energy."
"Or," she said with a mischievous grin. "I could help the Cubs win last year's season."
I shook my head, "No, nothing could help them."
She sat down and began strapping herself into the front seat.
"Coming?" she asked, looking up at me with her curious eyes.
I gave a groan and found myself clambering into the seat behind her. I had to go, if I stayed here she would probably do something stupid and change the course of history. I was about to buckle on my belt when she handed me a jacket.
"It gets cold out," she said with a grin.
I looked at the jacket and smiled. It was a warmer jacket, designed to keep my torso at that 'just right' temperature. I smiled back, trying to not to show too many teeth and pulled it around my shoulders before continuing to strap myself in. By the time I was back she had already tapped something into the keypad and was checking the screen. The lights around the outside began flashing in synch.
A humming noise began to grow and I leaned forward, tapping her on the back.
"Ummm, what are the lights for?" I asked.
She flashed me another cheeky grin. "Pretty," she replied.
A countdown appeared on the screen as I let out a groan and leaned back. Only Rach would bother to decorate a machine which could end history as we knew it. Vaguely I was aware of a large "0" filling the screen and suddenly everything stopped.
It is probably the strangest experience I have ever had, I'm not sure how to describe it. An electric blue sphere suddenly formed around us, the room fading out, replaced by swirling patterns and bright flashes. However the most noticeable thing was the absence of sound. It was deathly silent. I could hear my scales brushing against the jacket as I breathed, the blood pounding inside my head. Then the silence was shattered by a fuzzy raccoon face being shoved into mine.
"Cool huh?" Rachel exploded.
I flattened myself against the chair in panic. She peered behind me.
"Ooops," she said. "Here it comes..."
With no warning the swirling colours were replaced by blackness which slowly began to glimmer with pinpricks of light as my eyes adjusted. I looked around hesitantly.
"Ummm Rach," I ventured. "We're in space."
She grinning back at me. "Yep, I know."
"How are we suppose to get around?" I asked. "And what happened to Earth?"
Now it was her turn to roll her eyes.
"The Earth has moved out of orbit doofus," she chided. "We only moved through time, not through space. Well, OK, a little through space, I wrote the code to allow for the Sun's drift, but not for the Earth's spin. That is a little more complicated. As for moving, that's easy enough, I've got two plasma thrusters on the back courtesy of the propulsion lab."
My mind became dimly aware of the fact we were floating somewhere in space, yet I was still able to breath. She must have seen the look on my face.
"Don't worry," she explained. "There is a sub-atomic bubble surrounding us. It won't allow any physical matter through it each way, but energy is all right. That's why I can get away with the plasma cannons."
I did not like the way the plasma things went from being thrusters to canons. I was about to ask another question when she pulled out a pair of binoculars and squealed excitedly.
"Oh look," she explained, pointing off into space.
I strained my eyes in that direction, but could not see much, besides a slightly larger normal than usual blob. She handed the glasses to me and I fiddled with the knobs. Suddenly everything came into focus. It was a planet. A large planet. Currently half of it was in shadow and even from this distance you would make out the glittering lights of giant cities. "Earth?" I ventured.
"No silly," she tapped me. "That's Earth over there." I craned my head around, staring at the blue-green planet looming up behind us. "That," she continued. "Is Mars. Those lights must be the old cities."
"Errr," I hesitated again. "But those are just ruins, the archaeologists said they were hundreds of thousands of years old." I fixed her with a reptilian eye. "Just how far back did you take us?" I asked.
She shuffled down in her seat. "Oh, not far back," she meeped quietly, "...relatively."
"How long?" I demanded.
"Oh," she almost whispered. "About quarter of a million years or so."
"What!" I almost exploded.
I was about to get started a little more seriously when she sat back in her seat, strapping herself back in. "Better buckle up," she ordered. "Here comes the atmosphere."
I let out an eep and pulled the strap tight across my chest. Yes, I had done a few Earth landings before, but that was in a proper machine, not something cobbled together by my best friend. While I had a lot of faith in her as a designer, I was not sure about her piloting abilities. It was about then we began to encounter turbulence.
A long, long time later we finally touched down, scorching an area of grass. It was with considerable relief Rachel powered down the sphere and I stumbled out onto the grass. My legs almost collapsing under me as I waited for the world to stop spinning. After what seemed like an eternity I began to feel better and thought about succumbing to the impatient raccoon who tugged on my tail.
She had spotted something as we whipped over what would become the Middle East. Something large, shiny and possibly even walled. There was some kind of beacon attached to it as her computer picked up some sort of signal, but was unable to decode it properly. We had landed a short distance away and she eager to have a look at it. Reluctantly I gave in and trudged, she bounced, our way towards the structure.
By the time we got there I think we had both reached the same conclusion. It was a biosphere of some description. It was also huge. At least two miles across.
We wandered up to a wall and poked it gently, some kind of plastic. Shrugging to each other we began walking around the perimeter. We noticed some panels missing high up on the sides, so whatever was in there was not really sealed from the environment, more like cut off from the world. After a while we stumbled across a door, complete with a little sign in a strange script.
I would have been quite happy to leave at this point, I was convinced it contained Martians, but Rachel ignored the sigh completely, convinced it said something along the lines of "Come on in" and heaved on the door. It opened easily and we both slowly entered.
Inside it was like a jungle. High trees reaching up to the roof. Lush undergrowth thriving in the humid air. There was a path leading towards the centre which we both slowly walked along, trying to figure out what it was. We entered a clearing and looked about.
Bang in the centre was an apple tree. Rachel's eyes lit up. "Mmmm," she murmured. "Apples!"
Before I could even protest she had bounded up and was gnawing away at one of them. I looked to the heavens for inspiration. She could not help herself. She tossed one over to me. "Here," she called. "Want one?"
I caught it neatly. "No," I said back. "I'm a carnivore, remember."
She gave me that cheeky grin again and continued to munch on her apple. I flipped the fruit between my claws and sighed, turning to lie back on the grass. Then I froze. Two humans were looking back at me. I was not sure what to do. They looked just like the couple I knew back in the future, well, except these two were naked. I very slowly gave them a toothless smile, holding the apple out in front of me, wondering what First Contact Procedures were for past encounters.
For a moment they looked as scared as I did. The woman nudged at the man, muttering something to him in a strange language. He shuffled forward, reaching out slowly for the apple, he grabbed it and scampered back to the female. Together they bit and pulled at the apple, devouring every bit before looking back at me. I mumbled something about food and pointed to the tree, complete with a interested Rachel peering out behind it.
The nodded in understanding and smiled, walking towards it. As they passed, the woman reached out tentatively and stroked my jacket, whispering something to her mate. He looked at it and nodded, gesturing at each other. I was about to follow them to the tree when I heard a mechanical roar. A shadow passed over the top of the dome as a ship banked in for landing.
"Rach!" I yelled, noticing the two humans running into the bushes. "Time to go."
For once she did not argue, obviously agreeing with me that anything which frightened the humans probably would have frightened us. She flew past me in a blaze of orange, white and black. I turned my jacket up a notch and took off after her.
We reached the door in a matter of minutes, opened it and sprinted across the grassland towards Rachel's ungainly machine. Our efforts were encouraged by a booming voice over a speaker system echoing behind us in the dome. I have no idea what they were saying, but there was no way I was going to hang around to find out.
Rachel pulled ahead of me on the grass, already tapping at the keyboard by the time I arrived. I flung myself into the back seat and turned in time to see several black clad humanoids chasing after us. Then the familiar hum of the machine increased and the world faded into a silvery swirl.
I fumbled with my belt as I glared at Rachel. "This damn machine almost got us killed," I muttered angrily at her. "God knows what we've just done to history."
She pivoted in her seat to face me. "Oh, don't worry," she scolded. "I think that was an experimental Martian colonization attempt. We didn't get taken over by Martians did we? See? I think we're safe."
I groaned some more. "Anyway, how do we get back now," I demanded.
"No problem," she said with her cheerful grin. "The computer knows the exact time and location we left. It will take us straight back a few nanoseconds after we disappeared."
I was about to protest again when there was a crackle and there we were, back in Rachel's bedroom, the smell of ozone still fresh in the air. I looked around suspiciously. Everything looked normal enough. Still a mess. The same things on the walls.
Tentatively I stood up and stumbled to the door, sticking my head out slowly. Yep, the same old passageway, even the smell was the same. I looked back at Rachel who beamed at me.
"I'm going back to bed," I announced. "If anyone asks, two things. I was asleep and I didn't see anything. If they keep asking, it was a dream. Okay?"
She giggled and nodded, watching me leave.
I shuffled to my room, not even bothering with the lights, instead just collapsing down on my still warm bed as my eyes closed.
"Brian!" screamed a voice in my ear. "Wake up!"
My eyes flicked open and I looked up at a panic stricken raccoon. "What is it now?" I demanded. "You've taken me through time, almost disrupted the time flow and you won't even let me get some sleep."
"I did," she whispered quietly. I tilted my head on an angle.
"Alter time," she replied. "I, well, actually you stuffed up."
"Me?" I protested. "What did I do?"
"Gave Adam an apple," she replied.
"I what??? Who's Adam. I don't know any Adam."
She shoved an old bible in my hands. "Read it," she demanded, turning away.
My eyes adjusted to the light and looked down and the highlighted passage. "She took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it... so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves." Followed by "The woman said, 'The serpent deceived me and I ate.'"
My eyes skipped down the rest of the page in horror about God's punishment. I looked back up at Rachel.
"But that's not what it should say," I protested. "What about the stuff where God says 'And all are created equal, I give the power for the lion to speak to the lamb, for the birds to be with the fishes and peace to all fur who dwell in this place.'"
Rach sighed. "Face it," she said. "You stuffed up."
I began to protest my innocence and about me being a lizard, not a snake when she cut me off.
"The question is," she continued. "What are we going to do about it?" She stopped abruptly.
"What?" I demanded, looking at her strangely.
"That poster," she said. "The one behind you. What is it of?"
"Well," I blushed. "A scantily clad young vixen, why?"
She pointed to it. I turned and let out a yelp of surprise. Behind me was a young model, in the same position, in the same pose, but without a trace of fur. Instead she was definitely human, not the sort of thing I liked at all. I spun back to look at Rachel.
"The timeline," she explained. "It's reorganizing itself. What has happened now, no longer had the initial event to spark it off. Effects no longer have a cause. Come on!" She had already made it to the door, running for her room before I had even got off the bed.
"We need to get to the machine, go back and stop you from handing over that apple," she explained sprinting up the passage.
She hit the keyboard and waited for the screen to light up. Nothing happened. Snarling she pulled back a panel. There were six portable fusion generators linked up there, as we watched, they literally faded away. That stopped Rachel in her tracks.
"They mustn't have fusion power," she murmured softly. "That means I can't power the machine..."
She reached for a book on the bookshelf, wincing as the historical figures on the cover morphed into pictures of humans. I caught the title, Great Moments In History it was called. Her eyes skimmed over pages as I felt my jacket dissolving off me.
"Napoleon," she asked. "Ever heard of him. Shakespeare? Einstein? Catherine the Great?"
I shook my head, she continued to throw names, places and events at me in desperation. I looked at her and let out a meep. "Your ears," I murmured.
A furry paw lifted itself to her ears and I watched in silent horror as her fur retracted into her arm. Her ears shrinking, almost sliding down her head. I wanted to do something, but found myself scratching at my arm, scales lifted off, exposing smooth skin. Her long striped tail retracted slowly and she squirmed uncomfortably. A moment later I felt a strange sensation and knew the same thing was happening to me. Teeth began retreating into gums as our mouths shrunk.
"Wha..?" I stammered through an unresponsive single pronged tongue which filled my mouth awkwardly.
"It's the time line," moaned Rachel as her spine cracked ominously, her bones rearranging themselves. "This is a human world now..." Her dark eyes clouded over as the tip of her velvety nose separated from her jaw as she collapsed into unconsciousness.
"Rach!" I groaned, leaning forward, caught off balance without my tail. I felt my claws retracting as my innards churned, then I spiraled into the approaching blackness.
Sometime later I awoke, wrapping an arm around my girlfriend, our naked bodies entwined on the floor. Leaning over to nuzzle her neck I giggled. "So, did the earth move for you too?" I whispered playfully in her ear before nuzzling her neck lovingly...
About the Author
Wolphin is currently masquerading as the human known as Ryan McConigley. A mild mannered Computer Techie-thing with a local government department by day, and a variety of strange and interesting things by night. Six years of university surface often as he calculates myriad ways to defeat the evil scientists who plot on a regular basis to overthrow our delicately balanced existence on this planet.
Born many solar systems away, not so long ago he was abandoned on Earth when his home planet was attacked. He tirelessly devotes his bland superpowers to the advancement of human knowledge, often represented by trying to figure out how to solve Rubik's cubes and exactly how to win Lotto next weekend.
When not protecting the planet, he spends his time writing while levitating some distance above the floor to save on wear and tear on the furniture.