300-word story: A scientist's fantastic invention doesn't bring the desired results.
"—ible!" cries the professor, his eyes staring wildly. Beside him is a red button, the kind you see in cartoons, his finger pressed against it. Beneath that sits a box concealing intricate wiring, buzzing transponders and many other components, each carrying out their individual tasks to deliver a shared goal.
I first met the professor as an undergraduate. The university was renowned for its breakthroughs in particle physics, quantum mechanics and the like, constantly presenting world-changing discoveries. The focus of my studies was spacetime geometries and their influence on our position within the temporal landscape. That may be impenetrable jargon, so to put it simply: how to travel in time. The subject was based on theory, with as many experts declaring it impossible as those endeavouring to achieve it. This made for a highly competitive industry, yet none were as passionate and driven as the professor.
As the years passed, my degree was followed by a master’s, a PhD and, to my delight, a permanent post in that very department. Meanwhile, the professor had made leaps and bounds in his research, forfeiting any semblance of a social life to build an ingenious device. I was there for its unveiling, alongside the university’s chancellor and the entirety of the faculty staff. Concluding a fevered speech, the white-haired eccentric elaborately lowered his fingertip.
I am now an old man, happily retired and with a growing number of grandchildren. The professor should have passed away long ago, but instead he still stands where he did that fateful day. He could never have known that his calculations were incorrect, trapping him in an endless three-second loop.
Forever alone inside that sealed lab, security cameras his only audience, the live footage shows a man ecstatically giving an eternal announcement:
"Behold! Time travel is now poss—"
Copyright © 2020 Rich Sutherland
Image: Aron Visuals