|Submitted by G.S. Williams on Wed, 08/08/2012 - 06:59|
When I calmed down, I saw that I had written the time of our meeting on my hand. I checked the settings on the machine. I shouldn’t have landed on the 19th at all, since I’d barely nudged the settings from the 17th. I sat down to think and went over everything I had done for the past two days.
I realized that, however long I was in the past, the same amount of time went by in the present. So, if it was eleven in the morning when I used the WHEN, and I spent an hour in 2008, then it was noon when I arrived back in 2009. My body didn’t just lose the charge from the machine, it also lost the hour the same as if I had spent it in the present.
Well, I had been gone from the lab for almost twenty hours. If the original setting had been for the 17th yesterday, that likely meant that the same setting today would end up on the 18th instead. The machine travelled the same distance at the same setting, but that meant the duration here affected the duration there. So, if I wanted the same time on the 18th instead of the 19th, I just had to subtract the difference...
I had to go back to the 18th. Frank had said I had come to see him, with the writing already on my hand. I couldn’t create a paradox, I had to go see him. It meant another chance to visit before the machine was taken apart. And then I could go see him on the 11th as well, he said that too. That was better than nothing.
After transition, I ran out of the empty lab in the past as soon as I felt less disoriented. I sprinted out into the street. I needed to get to the coffee shop. I was fairly certain I was on the right track with calibrating the machine. I made it past pedestrians and ran up to the door.
Unfortunately, my past self was in there. I could see me through the glass. I immediately turned around and waited up the block, in a doorway. I made sure I could keep an eye on the door of the coffee place and wait until my past self and Frank exited.
After a bit my counterpart emerged with my future husband. I waited until she/I left and then I headed through the morning pedestrian traffic to catch him before he left too.
“Frank! HEY FRANK!” I yelled before he escaped.
He ignored me so I ran through the morning crowd and grabbed his arm. He turned to look at me.
“Did you forget something?” he asked.
“What’s the date today?”
“Um, September eighteenth. Why?” He seemed surprised I was asking.
I looked at my hand. “September 19th, 8 AM.” was written there.
“Oh, that’s interesting! I didn’t expect that at all,” I said. I had worried that I had overshot again, but it seemed like I had narrowed down aiming the machine. I had to account for the time and date of where I started, as well as the settings for distance. Because the same setting would always go the same distance, so my arrival point in the past changed relative to my start in the present.
“What did you do, sprint around the block while changing as you ran?” Frank asked, looking at my clothes.
“Shut up, Frank,” I said gently. I checked his watch and got out my pen, writing “September 18th, 8:30 AM” on my other hand. “I might finally get this sucker calibrated!”
“What are you talking about?” Frank said.
“Listen, just promise me something? Be here tomorrow, okay?” I told him emphatically. He needed to come see me on the 19th when this all started for me, even though it hadn’t happened to him yet. No wonder he would think time travel was dangerous, it was so easy to mix things up!
“Tomorrow? We’re meeting tomorrow night anyway for my mom’s dinner party, but coffee sounds great, too.”
“Oh, are you serious? I told you, stay the hell away from me.” I pushed his shoulder angrily. “I’m not kidding. Don’t you dare pick me up for that party tomorrow. That is a very BAD idea.”
“Why the hell do you want to meet for coffee then?” Frank asked huffily. “That’s ludicrous.”
“You need to trust me on this, you big dummy. DON’T take me to the party. DO meet me here in the morning. It will help with the calibration process, trust me. I’m trying to save your life here!” I couldn’t believe he could be so obtuse when I was trying to save his life.
“You make no sense!” Frank’s voice rose and a few pedestrians looked our way.
I grabbed hold of his suit jacket.
“Frank, shhhhh. I know it’s confusing right now. I told you about it tomorrow. Just wait until then. I’m almost at the end of my range and deceleration is about to take place. I had to wait for my counterpart to leave. Tomorrow we’ll have more time, okay?”
I kissed him with greed, moaning against his lips. Who knew if it would be my last chance? I felt warm all over, breathing in his masculine scent and feeling his skin. He had this adorable habit of keeping his eyes closed after a kiss, and I used that split second to back into the gap between the buildings as transition grabbed me. Hopefully no one noticed me vanish from 2008 as I returned to my own time.