The Man Who Killed Time Travel - Short Story

 If you were to invent time travel, and I mean actual time travel, what would you do with it? Would you go back to see the dinosaurs? Visit a dead celebrity? Probably kill Hitler? Surely those are the most important reasons to invent something so monumental. An invention of such scale deserves a motivation of such scale. Well, you’d be half-right. Time travel wasn’t invented in a highly secure top-secret underground lab with a dozen more military jargon terms tacked on, it was invented in Tulsa, Oklahoma by an avid scientist in his basement. 

He worked day and night for years on end testing theories and building prototypes until one idea worked and then he worked many days and nights more into building the real thing. Many of the pieces and parts used didn’t even exist up to this point, they had no names. So, he made up names for them as he worked. There was the Goober, the Thingy and so on. His workshop, as he called it, but we’ll just call it the basement because that’s what it was. So, his basement, was adorned with blueprints and tools, and a Back to the Future poster that inspired this whole endeavor. Flickering lights and cracked wooden tables. And on that table sat a photo of a wedding day. A beautiful ceremony. He remembered that day as the most calming and fun day of his life. The day he felt that everything would be fine. His mind always drifted whenever he looked at that frame. But then the calming serenity began to fade out and a loud mechanical crushing sound creeped in. His breathing became quick. He was beginning to panic. He ripped himself from the frame and back to work on the machine. 

He felt that tonight would be the night that the machine would be finished. After years of work, his time machine would be finished, and he could go back. He was all set to go. His hair was styled, a clean suit was hanging off the stair bannister and a pristine gold watch lay on the table. But something was not quite right about that watch. It was frozen at the time ten forty-seven exactly. But this was not his destination. If anything, he wanted to avoid this time above all others. Looking at the watch’s face brought back that sense of panic and only drove him to work more. He felt something cold bump against his hand. He looked down to see a little Labrador looking up at him. Its big eyes giving a message of worry for the scientist. He just patted the dogs head and went back to work, but the dog’s eyes didn’t stop looking at him. He remembers when they got Matthew, the dog’s name, from a rescue centre after their adoption plan fell through. He had many medical problems, but they wanted to give him a life, so they adopted him and loved him. He must stop thinking about ‘they’, he chided himself. there was no ‘they’ anymore. It was just him alone; and Matthew. 

He patted the dog on the head again telling him that it would be okay. Tonight was the night anyway, so how could he be sad. He slotted the last Do-hickey into place, and it was finished. The machine was finished. It took a few seconds for that to click in his mind. He leaned back in his chair and sighed. Then he laughed. Then he cried. He was so happy. He got off the chair and knelt next to his dog and petted him. But Matthew still watched him with a worried frown. He didn’t give it a second thought in his excitement. He ran up the stairs and grabbed the suit on the way out. It was finally time. 

He came down not much later dressed in his suit, happy as can be. Happier than he had been in some time. He was more or less on autopilot as he hopped down the stairs and over to the table. He picked up the watch and put it on his wrist. He clicked the fastener and twisted it over to see the face. Ten forty-seven stared back at him. He then looked over to the wedding photo. His mind was racing so much with the excitement of finishing the machine and all the things he’d do that the thoughts of why flooded in and he couldn’t stop reliving those memories. The wedding – his wedding and the watch that was given as a birthday gift not a month later. And then the car crash that killed his husband that he survived and froze his watch at ten forty seven. But, it’s not like he would change anything. He was just going to watch the wedding again. That’s all he needed. Just to see him again. If ‘Back to the Future’ thought him anything its that you can’t just go and change time. But would it really be so bad if he did? Did he not deserve his happy ending? He wouldn’t stop the car crash, but he could fix their mortgage application maybe, get a better house, or ensure that the adoption papers went through. To hell with the timeline, or whatever you’d call it, he made the machine so surely he can edit what he wants. So what if a few names change here and there, it wouldn’t bother him too much, as long as he has his old life back. He climbed into the machine and readied to go back and fix his life until he felt a cold feeling on his hand again; Matthew looked more worried than ever. 

His mind stopped racing when he looked into Matthew’s giant eyes. He began to think about how it would change the dog’s life. If the adoption papers went through, then they’d never have rescued Matthew. Who knew what kind of life he could have had, or not had if they hadn’t rescued him? He was conflicted. Should he fix his life, or just give it all up and throw away every discovery, theory and advancement he worked for years to accomplish. He looked down at the watch pondering and then back to Matthew. Matthew let out a small whine and shifted anxiously from paw to paw. He climbed out of the machine and turned it off. He took the frozen watch off his wrist and threw it into the machine and closed the door. He knelt and embraced Matthew. The dog didn’t know what was going on but his tail did begin to whip from side to side. He set the machine to jump back to the beginning of time where no one would ever find it. He needed to let it go and just like that it vanished from this time. He looked to Matthew who was already leaping up the stairs. He followed and as he turned off the basement light, he felt that calming sensation once more. Everything would be alright.