A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times

TIME APART



            Thomas Andrews was a research scientist working for the government on a top secret military weapons programme. His facility, rather than being placed out in some far away secluded corner of the British countryside, was situated slap bang in Manchester city centre. Underneath the Opera House of all places. It was deemed to be less conspicuous that way, and by way of proof, many thousands of people continually milled passed it every day, totally unaware of what was happening right beneath their feet.

            It was 10 o'clock already and Thomas was hurriedly sorting through all the paperwork on his desk. Writing up reports on the previous day's experimentation, he was determined to have it all sorted by lunch. That was because earlier on that morning, he had received a call from his gorgeous wife, she had something of great importance to tell him and she thought it would be a good idea and a lot more civilised to do it over lunch. He had no idea what it was all about, and despite picking at Laura for clues, she firmly refused to be drawn any further, calmly repeating that all would be revealed when they met later.

            Their marriage was a relatively new one, a mere six years young. And Laura's actions were quite noticeably, completely out of character. Whatever was going on was pretty major for her to act this way. Thomas spent the rest of the morning running on auto-pilot while his mind was doing overtime, trying to work out what was to come. The best he could imagine was that Laura was pregnant with their first child. A milestone, in their near perfect relationship. No matter how hard he tried, Thomas could not come up with a more rational explanation than this one. The only one he secretly wished and craved for.

            Finally, he thought, shuffling his papers together and tidying his desk. He was ready to leave his office and go meet his wife. Walking through the corridors of the seven storey cellar, still trying to guess what Laura's news was, he surfaced from the facility at the stage door. Exiting stage left onto Princess Street, Thomas rounded the Opera House onto the main Oxford Street where he saw Laura waving to him from across the road. He motioned for her to wait there for him, when to his absolute horror; Laura appeared to launch herself in front of a passing lorry from between the parked cars. The sudden impact was immediately drowned out with the sound of screeching brakes, as the lorry ground to a juddering halt. He couldn't believe what he was seeing.

            As fast as he could, Thomas ran to his wife's side, pushing his way through the gathering crowds. He knelt down beside her and lifted her limp upper body towards him, resting her against his chest. He sat hugging her harder and harder, in effort to force some form of reassuring response from her. His eyes swelled with tears as he slowly and reluctantly came to terms with the fact that she was no longer with him. Holding on to her dead body, he tried to make her comfortable as he awaited the arrival of an ambulance, or a doctor, or just someone, who could possibly make things right. He couldn't let go, not just yet. Convinced that she was pregnant, not knowing for sure, he had too much to lose and embraced Laura's body till further help was at hand, not wanting to let go of a future without some form of her beside him.

            Laura had died more or less instantly that afternoon, and a heart broken Thomas was kept waiting a further four hours before he was regrettably informed that his wife was not carrying his child. Racked with an insurmountable grief, Thomas desperately made his way home, wishing the whole day had never ever happened. Reliving that terrible moment over and over, trying his best to re-write the ending, and hoping to rekindle that sweet love and devotion of his beautiful wife. Feelings he felt sure, he would never experience ever again.

* * * * *

            On his return to work some six weeks later, Thomas was by no means over the premature death of his partner. Crisis meetings were held with his superiors as Thomas pleaded with them to suspend his current research programme and embark on a radical new one. Convinced he had the experience and ability, and pre-armed with numerous formulas, functions, equations, budget costings and a rock solid hypothesis with tested theories, he tendered his bid to build an inter-dimensional transportation module. Wanting so much for his sorely missed wife and best friend to be back by his side, yet at the same time trying his best to conceal his real motives, he pushed hard for this new assignment. Thomas wanted to build a time machine.


            His bosses were having none of it. They knew why Thomas was pushing this forward, and despite all of the possibilities, they were totally unable to swing things for him. It was impossible in this day and age to get something like this off the ground. Feasibility studies lasting many years would first need to be conducted. Not to mention the further wasted years trying to secure any funding. Thomas was told that he would have no choice other than to return to his last project, but if he wasn’t ready yet, he should take off more time.

            Not wishing to spend any more time alone at home than he had to, Thomas decided to return to work anyway. He spent minimal time on his designated research project but clocked up many hours instead, freelancing his way through the immortal questions of time travel. He had made his feelings known on the matter amongst his colleagues and as a consequence, suffered much scorn and derision from them. But he had found an interested party within the team, and taken this new friend on board in his quest for his ultimate objective.

            Previously unknown to Thomas, Jack Richards was a quiet man, very rarely did he dare to speak, but he seemed to share the same fascination, enthusiasm and respect for time as Thomas did. Together the two of them spent many hours of silence as they experimented their way through the wee small hours. Day in, day out the two soldiered on. Rarely speaking about external matters, their only communication was the sharing of notes or testing of theories. Even if you ever got to hear them speak, the subject matter of quantum physics would have left you cold and you would be none the wiser of things in their own private world. It went on like this for seven years, and Thomas often queried Jack's motives, even if only to himself. Still, quietly making progress and firmly believing that any time they lost now, would surely come back to them should they ever succeed in their work, the two pushed further and further forward in their research.


            Many minor triumphs were celebrated during their studies along with many many more disasters, but with the patience and determination of true scientists, Thomas and Jack were finally ready to begin work on a prototype. Questions were asked when it came to the acquisition of the parts needed and Thomas had no option but to disclose all of his findings to his bosses. He had his knuckles severely rapped by the hierarchy, but at the same time praise was freely given as his project was adopted by the department. Things moved on rapidly from then.

            A further six months was all it took to see the project through to its completion. Everything was now set for a trial run. Test pilots for the machine were drafted in from the local animal experimentation lab as it was decided that a dog armed with sensors, radio and video senders and life support telemetrics should travel first. This was because it was a one way ticket for both the dog and the machine and there was no way of really knowing how it would go. Nevertheless, things progressed smoothly. The only other problem to iron out now, was that of ‘when’ to send the dog, to what point in time? The machine was specifically only designed to be somewhat two dimensional, capable of travelling only backwards or forwards through time. Only if this was proved entirely successful, would the next dimension of whereabouts be added.

            Having agreed upon a destination, the dog, a beagle that had just given up a career in smoking, was hard wired to the apparatus and the whole machine was sent on its way. The results would take time to come through but everyone was optimistic for the outcome. The project should have been put on hold while the results came through but Thomas was reluctant to wait. He immediately set to work on another machine. He knew his dream of re-visiting his wife was nearly complete and nothing was going to stop him from realising it. Again he knuckled down, often going it alone in effort to speed things up; he was becoming more and more driven. He could taste the sweetness of his dear Laura's lips and craved the day he could hold her once again.

            Nearly eight years into the span of the project now, news came in fast, that the doggy test pilot had been traced and signals were coming through that showed the dog healthily walking the streets of Manchester, presumably sometime in the 1970's. Thomas and Jack stood triumphant amongst the whole of the facility staff. There was no way of proving the exact date, but the headlines shown on a news stand's boards, correlated the evidence to prove the complete success of the 'timely' mission. The whole research facility was in party mood but even in his success, Thomas stayed distant to the celebrations, his mind consumed with the meeting of his long lost wife. He sidled out of the room to be alone with his feelings. With tears for Laura filling his eyes, Thomas walked into his lab and over to the second machine which was built at his insistence. He climbed over to it and sat down all alone with his memories of the last decade...

* * * * *

            He had been alone for nearly ten minutes now, and Thomas decided that having lived on this planet for eight years more than he really ought to have done, surely, now was the time. He got up off the floor and went over to the door and locked it. Assembling all of his records together, he downloaded his files onto a portable hard drive and unplugged it from his computer. "Sorry Jack", he said out loud, as he systematically trashed all the available data and formatted each of the ten computers in the room. If he was going to go, he was going alone he thought as he destroyed as much information as he could. He wanted no-one to follow him. No one could stop him now, or bring him back. Unawares, the party carried on just down the corridor as Thomas took a deep breath and climbed into the machine. Everything was primed and the countdown had already started. Only six more seconds to go, five, four, three, two, one....

            Faster than the speed of light, Thomas was on his way. His vision rapidly blurring into a field of blackness with a vortex of stars spinning inwardly from around him. His whole body was shaking violently, uncontrollably. His mind not registering anything....

            Akin to being thrown against a wall at speed, Thomas' journey stopped as violently as it had started. He was unconscious for a while but slowly he came round, remembering what he had just done. Luckily, he was still alone in his new but 'old fashioned' surroundings and he had to move before anyone found him. He was in the unknown realms of time now and the less contact he made with anyone or even his surroundings, the better. Acutely aware that anything he did could impact on the future, he carefully left the building preferring to take his chances in the anonymity of the high street. Within minutes, if that's what time still was, he was standing at the very spot where Laura had seemingly jumped to her death all those years ago. All he could do now was to wait. Wait for his miserable world to finally right itself.

            In due course, Laura appeared right on cue.

            "Thomas", she cried out, "I couldn't just tell you on the phone. It’s bad news I'm afraid. I don't want to hurt you and would like us to remain friends. I'm seeing someone else and thought it was only fair that you should know. He works in your department, he's called Jack. Jack Richards."

            Thomas was stunned into silence. He stared at Laura through tear laden eyes. If only she knew what he had already been through for her. How could she do this to him now? Unable to control his anger, Thomas lashed out at her, pushing her away as hard as he could as he sped off to be alone with his new found misery.

            Under the force of Thomas' rejection, Laura tripped on the edge of the kerb and it was exactly then, that she fell into the path of a speeding lorry ... And the rest I'm afraid, is history, as they say.




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Its my own fault really, its all about what I see in the world, and how it all translates for me.

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