“Time travel isn’t possible and even if it were, it isn’t advisable. It could interrupt the time stream.”
The professor stood in front of his class looking slightly bored with himself and a bit out of sorts. He scratched his graying beard and moved away from the black board.
“Of course some would disagree with such a broad statement, especially those well versed in string theory or the concept of wormholes.”
“Yeah, they do it all the time on Stargate,” a male student snickered.
“No, they do not – exactly,” the professor returned. “They travel to other planets. Obviously, you have never watched the show.”
The professor’s comment caused the whole class to laugh. A couple of the boy’s classmates threw paper balls at him.
“What do you mean it would interrupt the time stream?” The question came from the newest member of the class; a cute but plump redhead.
The professor smiled and then raised a question. “Has anyone here heard of the butterfly effect?”
He looked hopefully out among the students, knowing that he had a few that were cognizant of the theory. One of them raised her hand.
“It’s the idea that if one went back in time and accidentally killed a butterfly, that act could ripple throughout time, changing the future. At least that’s a simple explanation suitable for these morons,” she giggled.
“Enough with the teasing,” the professor warned. “But your explanation is simplistic enough. Expounding on that, let’s say I went back in time and did something that accidentally killed or severely injured one of my parents. In doing so, I could negate the possibility of my birth; thus changing the future. That is assuming, of course, that my life ripples into others, such as you buffoons,” he teased. Then getting more serious, he asked, “Do you understand?”
“That could be a good thing for me,” another student cracked. “You gave me a D on my last paper.”
The class laughed once more. There were fully aware their professor didn’t mind their outbursts. It generally proved to him they were listening.
Suddenly, the bell rang and the students began to gather their belongings. The professor watched as they departed.
Jesse, Marvin Martin’s teacher’s aide moved toward him. She examined his mood with puzzled eyes.
“I thought you were going to share your discovery with them,” she whispered.
“Not yet, my dear. It isn’t proven,” the professor admonished. “Until then, it’s still a theory.”
“A theory you just told them wasn’t possible,” she returned. “I don’t get it.”
“You will,” the professor assured the pretty blonde. “Be at my lab by 9:00 p.m. Please don’t be late.” With that Marvin picked up his briefcase and left his student behind as he also exited the room.
Missy Traynor stood watching him depart with a strange heaviness in her heart. She felt like something bad was about to happen. She didn’t like the feeling one bit. Still, she shook it off and hurried to her next class. No matter what, she intended to keep her rendezvous with Professor Martin. He was brilliant. She’d already learned a great deal from him. She intended to learn more.
The day seemed to pass very slowly but pass it did. Eventually, it was time for Melanie to meet the professor. She entered his private lab using her passkey and code. He was waiting for her, doing last minute calculations.
“So tell me why the change of heart? Why did you decide to tell the class that time travel isn’t possible?” Melanie looked deep into the professor’s eyes for answers.
“It is because I have decided not to go back in time, my dear. I’m going forward instead,” the professor revealed.
“But we don’t even know if that is possible. The future isn’t set in stone. You could be lost there forever,” she cried. Her panic was palpable.
“True,” the Marvin agreed. “However, going back in time opens too many risks. I believe the simplest action could alter all of history. I’m not willing to do risk that; at least not yet.”
“But. . . ,” Missy started to speak but the professor cut her off.
“It is my experiment, Ms. Traynor, and my decision.” The professor turned to eye his aide with worry. “If you want, you are free to go. You do not have to stay and watch.”
“No, I’ll stay,” Missy mumbled. “If anything goes wrong, I want to be here with you.”
“Good, then. I have put in calculations that should catapult me 10 years into the future. That is far enough for now I think.”
“What if you meet your future self? We still aren’t certain that two versions of the same person can exist at the same time.”
“True, but I won’t be seeking myself out. I’ll steer clear of the university altogether,” Marvin promised.
“Good. How long have you set for the journey?”
“Just one hour. I think that is enough for the first trip, don’t you?”
Missy nodded again. “What do you want me to do?”
“If I don’t return by at 10:30 p.m., push this button.” Marvin pointed to a red button on the computerized board. “It will automatically pull me back to this time. Do you understand?”
“I do,” Missy agreed.
“Then, let’s do this.” The professor moved into the chamber he’d spent 15 years constructing. He pushed the door closed behind him and set the lock.
“I’m ready,” he said. Melanie could hear him although she could no longer see him. She took a deep breath and pushed the device’s lever forward to the exact location marked by her mentor. The machine engaged with strange humming and whirring sounds. Clouds of smoke billowed throughout the large room. Melanie’s heart began pounding faster and faster.
“Professor Martin, are you there?”
The question seemed stupid in the light of everything. She wasn’t certain she was relieved when he failed to answer her. Suddenly the sounds stopped and the machine powered down. She knew that meant the professor had stopped it from his end. Wherever he was, he got there safely.