Displaced - Day 16

Charlie took a deep breath, verified the return coordinates for the trip home, and without letting himself think about what he was doing too hard, hit the button.

The room around him began to shimmer like a heat mirage, though the temperature remained steady. The shimmer grew in intensity, the effect blurring and streaking the room, dimly lit walls blending with the future versions of themselves, which appeared to be unlit. After a period of time that could have been an instant or an eternity (for in actuality it was both and neither,) the effect snapped off. The room was nearly dark and the few sparse furnishings that had occupied it in 1940 were gone, leaving it empty.

He slowly let out his breath. He felt okay, as he had on each previous trip he’d taken through time. Maybe his body felt a bit warm, but … “Can’t let it get to me. Either it’s hurting me or it’s not, but either way, there’s nothin’ I can do about it right now.” He kept his voice low, not knowing who might be near to hear him. He quickly packed up the equipment into a shoulder-slung bag, then pulled his usual 2042 attire from his pack and changed.

It’s strange how changing clothes can make you feel so much better, he thought, the familiar feel of his native clothes calming him down, making him feel more like himself. Time to get a move on.

Displaced - Day 15

<>

Charlie massaged his temples, eyes squeezed tight against the mild but growing headache he felt behind his eyes. From behind him, the low thrumming of the time portal apparatus’ power generator slowly grew in intensity. Normally it was an exciting sound, full of promise and hope. Now it amplified the pounding in his skull. He couldn’t get his mind off of Sandra’s words.

A low tone sounded, signaling the devices’ readiness. He turned and faced it; the field of effect was centered on the device itself, since he had to bring it back to his original present with him. He couldn’t leave it back in 1940. His lips compressed into a hard line and he did his best to shut Sandra out of his thoughts as he stepped forward, possessions slung over his shoulder. It was time.

Displaced - Day 14

The point is,” she said with obvious exasperation, “you’ll either be fine, or it’s too late to do anything about it, and from what we know of the effects, yes, you’re probably okay. I’m sorry, but I can’t be more reassuring than that.”

Charlie shivered a little, still feeling the warm tingling, almost itching sensation. He really hoped it was his imagination. “Okay, okay, I get the picture. So what do you need me to do?”

“The what is the easy part. You skim off the data we need, of course. It’s the how and the when that make things … complicated.”

Displaced - Day 13

Charlie flinched at the words. “Just how … damaging are we talking? I’m not going to dissolve into goo or some crap like that am I?”

“No, no! You should be okay.” Sandra shook her head as she spoke, but her response was just a little too quick for Charlie’s taste.

“Should? That’s not real reassuring,” he said with a grimace.

“It’s been tested on more than half a dozen trips before, and—” she started quickly.

“Tested on who, or what?” he broke in, eyes narrowed.

“Well, we don’t have all the data, but it didn’t look like it had quite reached human trails—”

“Wonderful,” he cut her off again, hoping against hope that the faint warm tingling he felt over his whole body was just his imagination.

 

Displaced - Day 12

“How do you know there’s anything important about his work if you don’t know what he was working on?”

Sandra nodded. “We don’t know the details, but we do know that his work had something to do with your mother’s work. We can only guess at the how of it.” She drew in a deep breath and looked distinctly uncomfortable. “How many times have you been through the transfer, Charlie?”

He noticed the switch from his skimmer name to his real one. “Half a dozen times, maybe? Why?”

Her eyes widened a little and she frowned, but nodded. “That many. That’s more than I expected, but there’s nothing we can do about it now. It should be fine. Charlie, time travel is … damaging. We don’t know the specifics, but we know that repeated time travel causes damage to the cells of the body, and we believe your father was working on methods of genetic protection against the effects.”

Displaced - Day 11

Sorry for the April Fool’s entry, but… I had to. I just had to!

 

“My agenda is simple enough,” she said, looking up from her phone. “We’ve been watching you for some time. It’s clear you don’t know nearly as much as we’d hoped, and that’s a shame. We could use you. I’m here to convince you.”

Charlie regarded her speculatively. “You know a whole lot about me. How? And why? What do you need us for?”

“True, I know a lot. But not everything. How well did you know your parents?” Charlie’s eyebrow raised in surprise.

“Not all that well. Certainly not as well as I’d have liked. I was about 7 when they died.”

“I see. And how much did you know about what they did for a living?”

He frowned. “Where is this going? What does it matter what mom and dad did? They were scientists. Not the same branches of study though. Mom was a physicist, dad was … a biologist? Geneticist?”

She was nodding slowly as he spoke. “Yes, that’s right. Your mother was quite an accomplished physicist in fact, and your father was a geneticist of some renown.” She paused, tapping the edge of her phone against the wall a moment before continuing. “I’d hoped that you’d acquired the time travel technology to go back and help where you’re needed. What a disappointment that you know so little. I presume your sister knows no more than you?”

Silvia had been 4 at the time their parents died. “No, even less. She doesn’t really remember them. She’s only known the educational stewardship we were put in afterward. I’ve found bits and pieces of info about them from time to time, but …”

“But it’s not enough to replace really knowing them.”

“No.” His voice was low; long years of grief were welling up inside. To distract himself, he asked, “You sound like you know more about them.”

She looked at him, sympathy in her eyes. She nodded at his question. “I do, yes. Reg and Karen Cline, deceased for almost 13 years. Two children, Charlie and Silvia. Reg was a geneticist, Karen a physicist, both working for branches of Biodyne Corporation, both entrusted with high-level clearance.

“The time travel technology you’re using was your mother’s creation, Skeeve. Or at least it was her work that paved the way for it to exist.” Sandra’s voice held a note of awe, of reverence. “Your mother’s work is done now. Sure, there are refinements to be made, but the technology is solid. But your father’s work …” She looked him in the eye. “Charlie, we need you to find out what your father was working on.”