Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: RED (02/01/18)
- TITLE: Desperate Measures
By Dennis Gallemore
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Josiah Leblanc leaned forward in his chair. “So, what can we do? The prototype hasn't even been field tested. We won't be able to accept paying customers for at least three months even if the field trials prove to be successful.”
Argentina typed a stylus on her desk. “Desperate times call for desperate measures. We could skip the field trials and go straight to making money.”
“Are you serious? The Feds won't allow that! They're nervous enough about all of this. What if something goes wrong? We could inadvertently change the course of history!”
“The Ferronton equations demonstrate that time is elastic. If a change is made during a trip back in time, then time resets itself,” she replied. She waved the stylus at a portrait of a middle-aged man upon the office wall. “Dr. Ferronton won a Nobel for that work.”
Josiah shook his head. “Theoretical work, Argentina. It's never been put into practice. In any case, we couldn't make a trip back into time public, so who would be willing to sign up to go?”
A slow smile spread across her face. “One very wealthy man.”
Opening the portal-room door, Josiah stepped inside. Argentina turned at his approach. “Josiah! Just in time! I'd like you to meet Marcel Lenz. We just finished the orientation.”
“Pleased to meet you, Mr. Lenz,” Josiah said, glancing at Argentina. “I trust my partner has made all of the potential hazards of time travel very clear to you?”
Argentina cleared her throat. “Of course I have, Josiah. He has read the agreement and signed the waiver accepting full responsibility for any side effects, and he has transferred our fee into our account in the Cayman Islands."
Staring at his partner for a full minute, Josiah finally drew in a deep breath. “Then I pray that your trip back to meet your great-great-grandfather will be a safe and enjoyable one. For all of us.”
“I'm sure that it will be,” Lenz replied.
“I've set the parameters; you will arrive in San Francisco on June 3, 1892. You will have 24 hours to locate him, and then the Portal will automatically pull you back to exactly 24 hours from now.”
“Then I'll be on my way!” Lenz said with a final wave. Stepping through the swirling red energy field inside the Portal, he disappeared.
Josiah slowly shook his head. “We're going to regret this, Argentina.” He stared at the angry-red energy field. “We simply don't know with any degree of certainty that time is elastic. If the esteemed Dr. Ferronton was wrong, then it could be that anything that changes history could change the present. For all we know, just the fact that Lenz went back in time, even if he didn't do anything, could change time and change the present. The effect on the present could be sudden, or it could be slow. Who knows?” Realizing that his normally talkative partner was silent, he turned around. “Argentina? Argentina? Where did you go? Where...”
He stared around the Portal room in horror. One by one, the monitoring stations vanished, followed by walls, and then the ceiling, and then, ever so slowly, the entire building. In shock, he stood in an open field just outside San Francisco, all memories of Argentina, Mr. Lenz, and time travel slowly disappearing as the reddish light of the setting sun settled upon the now empty land.
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