“Hey babe it’s on! It’s live! Switch on the news! It has started!”
Jane took the rice off the cooker and placed it next to the kitchen sink. She removed the rice from the hot sufuria and placed it in a blue hotpot: her favorite of them all. She neatly closed the hotpot and swiftly carried it to the dining table. She raced back into the kitchen and glanced at the liver which she had left to simmer for a while. She opened the lid, dipped a spoon into the brown delicious boiling soup, scooped some and lifted the spoon next to her face. She inhaled and the aroma dived into her nostrils. She curved a smile as her mouth became watery. She rolled out her tongue and placed the tip onto the spoon to taste the soup.
Of course it was delicious. As usual.
She switched off the gas cooker and took the food to the dining table and placed it next to the rice.
“Babe it’s about to start anytime from now. Oh my God this is it!” Jane said hysterically as she rushed into the kitchen and came out with two plates. She served the hot food on the two plates, with the rice below the liver; in near perfect proportions. After all, her studies in hospitality weren’t for nothing. She was a master of her art.
But that was not the only thing she was passionate about.
“Babe. Babe” She called out but got no response. She looked at the sofa.
No one there.
She cringed her mouth in anger and headed to the bedroom. All along she had been talking to herself. Like a retard.
She rushed towards the bedroom, opened the door and saw him. Dead asleep on the bed, snoring.
“Babe!” She shouted while stomping the ground.
John lazily opened his eyes and looked around, confused; wondering which dimension he is in. He heavily blinked twice, stretched his hands upwards and got up. He scrubbed his eyes with his palms and suddenly remembered that he thought he heard the high pitched sound of his wife. Or maybe he was dreaming? He tried to remember what he had dreamt about, but we all know how that results into. Nothing. Complete blackout yet it was your own mind that created and directed your dreams. And when you wake up your mind leaves you clueless.
He looked behind him.
Jane was standing on the door, hands on her waist staring directly into his soul.
So he hadn’t been dreaming about her voice. It was real.
“Damn I must have slept,” he spoke as he got up from the bed and walked towards her. He gave her a kiss on the cheek and looked at the dining table.
“Something smells nice,” he spoke as he looked at her. Her angry face changed as she let out a weak smile.
It worked. As it always has. Never gets old. A complement on her culinary skills brightens her day in an instant, making her forget all the angry words she was about to unleash unto the world.
“Let’s eat and go. You know how I have waited for so long for this,” Jane said as they sat at the dining table.
John took the remote and switched to the news channel. They watched as they ate the food.
“The day has finally arrived. After 20 years of hard work, trial and error it has finally been completed. I can tell you people are super excited about it…” The reporter talked happily as she stood in front of the main entrance of the Kenya Research Institute. Jane and John watched keenly as the events outside the institute unfolded. News reporters were all over the place and cameramen were flashing hundreds of photos at once, making the entrance seem like some sort of red carpet or a movie premiere. All channels were keenly witnessing the event.
But it was no ordinary event.
Not ordinary at all.
They finished eating their heavy lunch and Jane swiftly grabbed her white towel and rushed into the bathroom for a quick shower. She entered the bathroom and looked back, only to see John comfortably seated at the sofa picking his teeth with a toothpick.
“Hey, kwani hukuji kushower?” She asked him.
“Nah, I think I’m good,” he responded while giving his armpits a light smell. He crinched his nose but convinced himself he was clean enough to be at the presence of society.
Or so he thought.
Jane took a quick shower as John went into the bedroom and wore his favorite white shirt and blue jeans.
His all-time favorite.
He took the car keys, and a few accessories and went back to the living room to follow up the news.
Thirty minutes later, Jane opened the bathroom door, and vapor from the extremely hot water she was bathing with escaped to the outside world; her love for hot water was unimaginable. Then she emerged from the vapor, reborn, glowing. She swiftly walked to the bedroom and began her thirty minute process of getting dressed up. For five years, John had known each and every Jane’s activities and the time it took to complete the said activities.
She came out of the bedroom fully dressed; after thirty minutes.
“Finally,” John said as he lazily got up from the sofa.
“I hope you have our gate passes into the institute.”
Jane rushed back into the bedroom and grabbed the two documents.
“Here they are. We can go now.”
They quickly left the house and went into their car. They drove off while listening to the radio conversations which were all about where they were heading to.
“Well ladies and gentlemen, history is going to be made today I tell you…” The presenters were conversing as Jane and John listened keenly.
“It is happening folks. For twenty years we have waited. Twenty years is a long time. But the wait is over. We have been hearing rumors since the beginning of the year that it will be launched soon. It turns out the rumors are indeed true.
“Yes. The machine has been in construction for twenty years. It’s just amazing. Twenty years… that was way back in 2020. And today, January 30th 2040 the dream has been actualized. It’s actually a huge milestone to mankind as well as to the government. For achieving this great accomplishment, we have proven ourselves to be among the most scientific advanced countries in the world. I can’t tell you how happy and excited I am about today. It’s a glorious day for our country and the world at large.”
“And are they going to let us in to see the machine?” One of the presenters asked.
“Umm… probably not. Of course it’s a research area and it has been gazette as a private untresspassable place. Very few government officials will be granted access into the main laboratory where the machine has been kept. Also I have been told around fifty citizens will be randomly chosen to observe the machine. They have already been given unique passes which will enable them gain entry into the building itself. And also even the scientists themselves will need to have the gate pass to prevent any unauthorized entry into the building. As you can see there is a heavy presence of security personnel monitoring the area.”
The radio conversations went on and on as many people asked questions and were answered. John listened to the radio as his best friend and workmate, Mr. Peter gave detailed explanations to the viewers without spilling any confidential secrets.
“One more question, how were they able to make such a machine. I mean a few decades ago, if you mentioned time travel you would seem like you are a mad man. But here we are, it has now become a reality. It’s… its just unbelievable.”
It was indeed unbelievable.
Unbelievable that such a fictitious phenomenon could come to reality.
John skillfully maneuvered through the horrendous city traffic as he listened to the radio conversations. He looked at his wife who was riding shotgun. She was engrossed in her phone, probably tweeting and instargamming her journey to the research facility; making people feel envious of her exclusive entrance into the institution. She smiled as she typed on her phone.
“Hey babe smile,” she said as she lifted her phone to get a proper angle for the both of them. John looked at the front camera and showed a slight smile; the one that lies somewhere between a smile and a frown. She on the other hand gave out the smiliest smile of them all. She snapped a photo. And another one. And another ten more. John tried to maintain the same facial expression and driving, while she switched from smiles to winks and wiggles. Twenty snaps later she placed the phone down and began a deep scrutiny to select the lucky one that would be granted a unique opportunity to be seen by the outside world.
Finally, after one hour on the road, they reached the entrance of the research institute. It was crowded.
“Damn, all these people,” Jane said as she took endless photos of the crowd that had formed around the gate. John tried to find a way in between the crowds but it was packed. He honked his horn in frustration but the cheers and loud shouts of the crowd overshadowed the German horn.
The crowd was getting larger as more people flowed to the place. He looked behind using the side mirror and saw the once clear road fill with people, swallowing his car whole. The crowds were shouting and it seemed unsure whether they were jovial or angry. His car was now technically being squeezed as people yelled while placing their hands on his car.
Then out of nowhere, a man jumped on top of the front part of a car. In his hand was a huge placard with some writings on it. He yelled as he lifted the placard high in the air. Jane was shocked and nearly dropped her phone under the seat.
“Oh hell no,” John said as he watched the man climb on top of their car and begun jumping, making loud bangs. The rest of the crowd cheered him as he repeatedly jumped on their car. John tried to open the door but the crowd was all over the car.
“Hey! Get off my car!” John shouted as another man jumped at the back of the car. His shouting was futile. The windows were all locked and tinted and no sound could be heard from inside the car. To the crowd, the car was their podium. He looked at Jane who was busy taking photos while smiling. She looked at him and the smile slowly faded. She pointed the camera at him and took a snap.
Then she laughed while looking at the photo.
“Relax babe, they are just as excited as I am,” she said as she showed him the photo.
It looked terrible. He looked terrible.
He breathed heavily as he tried to find, if possible, any way to get out of this crowd.
He was a huge hater of crowds. No reason. He just hated being among many people. Unlike his wife. The exact opposite of him. She was a crowd person. A crowd lover.
A crowd magnet.
She was having the time of her life.
He was not. Not even a little bit.
“Look babe, we are on the news,” Jane said as he showed him a clip from the social media site which showed two men jumping up and down a black BMW.
His BMW. His favorite automobile.
The caption was “Countrywide celebration as the first time-travelling machine is launched in Kenya.” He scoffed at the video. To him it was not celebration. Not at all.
Then they heard loud sirens which became louder and closer to them.
One by one, the crowd began moving away from their car. The two people who were on top of their car quickly jumped off and rushed away from the car. The large crowd that was blocking the way began moving away from the car. Slowly, the road cleared, leaving Jane and John confused. He looked behind and smiled.
A motorcade was coming into the research institute.
“Well, the president has arrived at the research center. As you can see people are making way for the presidential motorcade. Two police officers are coming out of the first car and are walking towards a black BMW that is in the middle of the road. I had not seen the car, must have been engulfed by the crowd,” The news presenter said in the radio station Jane and John were listening to.
John watched as two men in black police uniform and black glasses walked towards his car. They came next to him and knocked on the tinted window. He rolled down the window as they removed their glasses.
“Excuse me Mr., you need to park your car away from the ro….
Oh, Dr John. How are you Sir?”
They were surprised. They calmly lowered their tone when they realized it was him.
“I’m fine thank you,” John responded as his wife waved at them.
“I was trying to enter the building but as you saw the crowd was just uncontrollable.”
“Ooh ok… well then now the road is clear…you may drive in.”
John gave them a nod as he switched on the engine. He slowly drove towards the institute as the two policemen walked back into their car. The sirens blared behind them as the presidential motorcade were trailing them.
“The President saves the day,” John said as he smiled. People were now at a safe distance and they continued celebrating as the motorcade awed them.
They finally reached the huge gate which was manned by police officers. They came to his car and he showed them the gate pass.
The officer raised his hand, signaling the one controlling the gate. It opened and he drove in. He went to the parking lot and parked his car. The presidential motorcade drove past him towards the VIP parking area which was behind the building.
He took out his white lab and gave Jane a blue one
“Here is yours,” He said while handing a blue lab coat to his wife.
“Why is mine blue not white,” She asked.
“It’s because you are a visitor babe. Visitors wear blue. I work here, that’s why I wear white.”
They got out of the car and walked towards the entrance of the building. The press was at the entrance interviewing everyone who came into the building: for some spicy information which might be pleasing to the ears and eyes of their viewers.
“It’s Dr John,” said one of the reporters and all of them turned towards them as they climbed the stairs to the main entrance.
“How is the time travelling machine like…?
How big is it?
Has anyone used it yet…? Have you used it yet?
What does the future look like?
Will the President be the first to use it?
How did you make the time machine…? What equipment did you use?
How far to the past and future can one travel?”
Dozens of questions were thrown at him by the news reporters who placed their microphones at his mouth, hoping to hear a word or two from him. John held his wife’s hands as she stood next to him. More and more questions were asked and the loud noise made him a bit restless. He looked around the compound as more reporters came to where he was standing. Cameras were flashing, people were shouting while squeezing in attempt to come closer to him. He took a deep breath and spoke.
“Ummm…umm… It’s confidential. I am not allowed to say anything concerning the matter. That’s all I can say.”
He continued walking, with his wife closely behind him.
“Dr John… Dr John…”
The journalists followed him while repeating the questions to him. He increased his pace and climbed the stairs quickly. He smiled as he entered the building. The security officers closed the door behind him, leaving the journalists at the hands of the officers.
“Phew,” He said as he wore his lab coat.
“Wear your coat babe,” He told Jane who quickly wore the coat. They wore their name tags and went to the elevator.
“Wow, this place is huge,” said Jane as she looked around with eyes wide open. The large screen in the middle of the hall was unlike any other. She marveled as she saw scientists moving around the building, going about their daily activities.
“So everyone here is a genius huh.”
“It would appear so,” John answered back, with a smile.
They entered the elevator and headed for the tenth floor. The elevator beeped as it ascended.
“What’s in the tenth floor, Jane asked.
John looked at her and smiled.
“Oh my God, it’s where the machine is.”
“Yes,” John answered.
The elevator reached the fifth floor and stopped. Its doors opened and a man and woman entered the elevator.
“Hello Dr John,” They both said
John greeted them back.
“This is my wife Jane. Jane, these are my workmates, Peter and Lucy.”
They greeted each other and exchanged pleasantries.
“It’s finally happening, isn’t it?”
“Yeah. After twenty years. Let’s hope all goes well.”
They engaged in conversations as the elevator reached the tenth floor.
It beeped and its doors opened.
The floor was unusually silent since it was the busiest floors since it housed the main laboratory of the building.
They walked out of the elevator and its doors shut. They looked around and saw police officers and members of the military were surrounding the whole floor.
“Let me see you IDs please,” one officer who was standing next to the elevator told them. They presented their IDs and they were thoroughly checked. Their pockets were thoroughly frisked.
“I’m sorry but no phones are allowed in the area,” said one of the police officers.
“Why?” Jane asked hesitantly.
“It’s just protocol.”
They handed their phones to the officers. Jane elevated mood suddenly crumbled into frustrations as she has hopes of snapping the time machine and share it to her followers.
Those hopes were shattered.
“You may proceed,” they were told as one of the officers directed them to the entrance of the main lab.
They entered the lab.
The president stood a few meters from the entrance, as one of John’s colleagues engaged him in conversations; probably answering his questions.
Jane was bewildered. She gazed at the time machine as though she had seen a ghost. Her mouth was wide open as she stood next to her husband, who watched her while smiling.
“You should see your face,” he said.
In the lab were several government officials who had accompanied the president, as well as military officials.
“Mr. President I would like to introduce you to Dr. John.”
John’s colleague spoke as he came closer to him.
“Mr. President, nice to meet you,” John said as he stretched his hand to greet him.
“Ah yes, Dr John, the pleasure is all mine. I have heard all about you,” He said as they shook each other’s hands.
“And this is my wife. Jane…”
“Nice to meet you Sir,” she said as she shook his hand.
She clearly could not hide her excitement as she greeted the president.
If only she could have her phone.
John and the president walked towards the time machine, which was at the corner of the lab. Following behind them were the government and military officials.
“So you designed this machine.
Yes Sir, I did with the help of my colleagues. We have been developing it since early 2020. We had the idea long before that. Since 2017 to be exact. We have tried countless times but the machine crashed and even exploded at one time.”
“Yes, I was briefed about what you were trying to accomplish and I must say I was impressed by your determination.”
“Thank you Sir.”
He felt proud.
“Now what you are seeing here is the finalized time machine,” John said as he placed his hand on the smooth walls of the machine.
The President followed his lead as he placed his hands on the machine. He keenly looked at it from top to bottom. The government and military officials surrounded the machine while carefully touching it. They whispered to each other in astonishment as they scrutinized the machine.
It was four meters long. At the top, many huge electrical wires ran through the entire machine. At the front part was a large transparent door which enabled one to see inside the machine. Inside the machine were spiral wires and several switches. The President and his entourage observed the machine for a while.
His wife was there. She could not be left behind. How could she? She marveled as she touched the machine.
“How does it work?” One of the government officials asked.
“This is the door of the machine,” John said as he opened the machine’s door.
“The machine is controlled both internally and externally. Once you are in the machine, you key in the year you want to go to and wear this helmet around your head. The door is locked and the electromagnetic current combined with the small nuclear particles in the machine create a field which we have named ‘Time field’ that transports you to the year of your choice.”
“Wow, so I can travel back to the very beginning of time then and see how we were created then,” asked one of the officers.
“About that, it’s currently impossible to travel more than twenty years into the future. We are still working on how we can travel endlessly through time, but it will take a long time. So currently the limit is twenty years ahead or behind our current year.”
They nodded as they listened to John unleash his scientific language upon them. His wife stood among them, astonished by his husband’s incredible intellect.
“So have you tried time travelling in this machine,” The President asked.
“Not yet Sir. We have been experimenting with animals, from rats to monkeys and it has proven a success. All the animals we sent to the past and future came back with normal signs and behavior.
“How long can you time travel with the machine” another one asked.
“Well, so far our longest time was fifteen minutes and thirty five seconds. So we have estimated the capability of the machine to be fifteen minutes maximum. And also we are still developing a mechanism that will enable us communicate and even see through live feed what the person time travelling will see. “
The president was left speechless by John’s narrations. He nodded as John narrated further details of the machine.
Then out of nowhere, an idea blew into John’s mind.
“By your permission I can demonstrate to you how it works.” John said.
“Is it safe?”
“Yes it is Sir, “John said confidently.
“Okay, very well then.”
The President approved.
Never before had they tried using the machine with a human being. There is a first time for everything.
His colleagues looked at him in confusion.
“What are you doing? We aren’t 100% positive if it’s safe for a human” One of his colleagues whispered to him.
“The monkey wasn’t affected. And its DNA is closest to ours. So you can do the math,” John answered back.
His colleagues came to him and he spoke to them.
“You know the procedure. Every one go to your stations. We are about to make history.”
His colleagues rushed towards the computer operating the machine.
“Hey John, you are risking your life aren’t you? I will not let you do this.”
His wife looked at him sternly. He took a deep breath and held her hands.
“Don’t worry. It’s perfectly safe. I’m going to see our future babe. Our future. Won’t you like to know what it will be like? How we would be in fifteen years’ time? Our kids? “
Jane looked down. Then she looked at him.
“Okay then. But you are coming out of the machine after one minute.”
“Five minutes,” he said while smiling. He gave her a kiss on the cheek.
“Ok Dr John, wear this,” one of his colleagues said as he handed him an aluminum suit.
He removed the lab coat and handed it to his wife. He then wore the suit and zipped it up.
The President and his officials watched closely.
“Mr. President, you should stay at the safe area behind that glass over there. The radiations in here are extremely dangerous. That’s why I have this aluminum suit on me. It prevents the waves from penetrating my skin.”
All other individuals followed the President. His wife too. The glass was ten meters from the machine, which according to their calculations was a good distance.
John watched as everyone was in the safe zone. He looked at his wife who looked directly back.
“Whenever you are ready Doctor,” one of his colleagues said as he directed him to the machine.
“Which year would you like to go?” He asked John.
“Fifteen years in the future, which is 2055. I’m going for exactly five minutes only,” he told his colleague who nodded in response.
John pressed a button next to the machine’s door and it slowly opened. He entered the machine and wore the helmet which was above him. He pressed another button and the machine closed. On his right side were a set of numbers. He pressed 2055 at the year section and five minutes at the time section. Next to the numbers was a huge red button. The power button. He took a deep breath and blinked twice.
Then he pressed the button.
The machine turned on. It roared to life as its lights came on. The machine began vibrating slowly, increasing its vibrations. John looked outside and saw people watching keenly watching him as the machine vigorously vibrated. He watched his wife as she tightly held his white lab coat. His eyesight became blurry as he felt intense pressure in his body. The machine counted down from 20 as it continued vibrating. His head felt heavy and numb due to the electric current being transferred throughout his body.
He felt dizzy as the machine was completing the countdown. He tried opening his eyes the images were becoming blurry and unclear. He could see faint silhouettes of the people standing behind the safe zone. He took deep controlled breaths held onto the machine. He could feel his heartbeat becoming faster and blood flowing in his body. The machine’s lights blinked on and off.
Then a bright light flashed in front of his eyes. The light was so bright and hot that he tightly shut his eye. The machine vibrated nonstop for ten seconds. He felt a sudden stretch in his body as the machine vibrated.
And then it stopped.
He slowly opened his eyes while blinking heavily. He looked around in confusion as there was darkness all over. He pressed one of the buttons on his left side and the machine’s lights came back on. He looked around again and noticed the machine was in good shape. He removed the helmet and shook his head. His breathing returned to normal. He felt nauseated and felt the vomit climbing up his alimentary canal. He pressed the button next to the door and it opened. He jumped out of the machine and fell to the ground, vomiting. He coughed and wiped himself with a piece of towel. He got up and looked around. He was not in the laboratory. He looked up and saw the sky.
It was red.
He looked around one more time, not believing what he is seeing. He looked at his wristwatch. It read 22nd October 2055.
He was fifteen years ahead of everyone else.
It worked. The machine worked.
He could not believe it. He looked around and there was nothing. He could only see sand; no buildings anywhere. The sky was red and dark clouds covered some parts of the sky. He walked for a few meters and looked around.
He was in the future.
He heard a squeaky noise. He turned to the right and two mice rushed across his feet. He watched as they raced and entered into a hole nearby. He went closer to the hole and a cold gust of wind blew towards him, scooping sand on its path. He watched as the wind scooped more and more sand and was headed directly towards him. He covered his nose and eyes as the dust blew past him. He felt the strong wind blow past him. The sand particles brushed against his aluminum suit.
The wind blew past him and it was calm.
He uncovered his eyes and nose, coughed as the surrounding was still covered in dust.
Then he saw a concrete pillar a few meters from him. He got up and steadily walked towards the pillar. He reached the pillar, which was one meter tall. He looked down the pillar and it was surrounded by a hard surface. He stepped on it and it was concrete. He knelt down to have a closer look and saw some writings on the surface. He blew on it to remove the sand which was above the surface. At the top were the initials ‘RIP’
It was a grave.
He kept reading the writings keenly, wanting to see whose it was. He looked at the writings in disbelief. The description of the person on the grave seemed familiar. Unusually familiar. He read the name of the deceased, which left him in shock.
“A great scientist. A good husband and father. A great friend and workmate. Gone but not forgotten. Rest in Peace. Dr. John Mathews. Sunrise: 12th December 2000. Sunset: 16th October 2045. “
It was his grave.
His own grave he was standing on top of.
He was left in a state of confusion. His mind processed the information but the end result was just blank. It hit him that he was to live for only nine more years. On the left side of his grave was also another concrete surface with writings. He faced it and blew the dust away from the writings. And he read the words which were artistically engraved.
“A good artist. A wife. A beloved wife and workmate. Rest In eternal peace. Mrs. Jane Mathews.”
It was his wife.
He was more confused than before.
His mind went blank. He looked next to his wife’s grave and there were three more similar concrete surfaces.
“Oh No,” He said as he concluded even before he went and read them.
He fearfully walked towards them and they were smaller than his and his wife’s engravings. He blew the dust away from them and quickly read them all one after the other.
His body fell weak as his worst assumptions were a reality.
It was his children. Three of them. Laid to rest next to him and Jane.
His whole body was weak.
It was his family.
His entire family was no more.
The time machine made a loud beep. Time was up. He got up, dusted his suit, while his mind was filled with endless unanswered questions. He looked at the graves one last time and walked towards the machine. He glanced back at them once more as he got in the time machine. He closed the door, wore the helmet and pressed the green button next to him. He could not unsee or unthink what he had just seen.
The machine began vibrating, making his eyesight blurry. He looked through the glass door and saw the pillar which was on his grave become dimmer and dimmer. The vibrations continued and he could feel his body become numb.
A bright light flashed through his eyes and everything went dark.
. . .
“He’s back! He’s back!”
John lazily opened his eyes as he slowly lifted his head. He blinked continuously as he looked around. He was white walls and a group of people running towards him.
He was back. To the present.
The door opened and his colleagues removed the helmet form his head and carried him out of the machine. His wife rushed to his side and wiped his face with her handkerchief.
“Are you ok honey? You look sick?” She asked as she helped his colleagues remove the aluminum suit from him.
“It looks dusty Dr,” one of his colleagues said as he looked at it.
“Welcome back Dr. John. We can now say that you are the first man to time travel. Congratulations” The President spoke as other officers and government officials applauded him.
“Th…Th…Thank you Sir,” John replied as he sat down.
His wife gave him a bottle of water and he gulped it within seconds.
“You made it back. Oh my God,” Jane was overexcited as she hugged him.
“How is our future babe? How many children do we have? Did we become millionaires? Did we grow old together and retire in a remote island, just you and me?
Tell me babe. Tell me everything.
I know our future is bright right. Right babe.”
Jane could not hold her excitement of knowing the future.
John looked at her. What he saw flashed through his eyes as he looked at Jane. He thought of whether to tell her or not.
She was his wife after all. There were no secrets between them. John looked at her and smiled.
He loved her so much. She was the love of her life.
The thought of the graves flashed through his mind. He took a deep breath and spoke.
“Our future…. Our future…..
Our future is amazing babe.”
He said as he gave her a kiss on the cheek.
“I knew it!” She said as she beamed with excitement. “I knew we were going to be very successful, have beautiful babies and live long. I love you so much,” she said as she hugged him tightly.
She loved him. And he loved her.
Their future was bright.
Brighter than ever.