The Time Machine

by Megansdad

Tags: Science Fiction,

Desc: Time Travel Story: This story was born from a dream I had a few nights ago. Only a small portion was in the dream the rest I made up as I went along. If you could travel through time, what changes would you make?

Sixteen year old Alyson was the smartest one in her class. As a matter of fact she was so smart that her intelligence couldn't be measured by the current IQ standards. She had been working on quantum theory, wormhole theory and others as a part of her thesis on 'Time Travel'. Although, it is common for kids of this era to be extremely smart, just like in the past there are those who stand head and shoulders above the rest. Alyson Whitecloud is one of those people. All of her life she had developed faster than others around her. Walking at six months old, talking at 12 months. Alyson never had any friends; her parents, being wealthy, had her tutored until time for her to start school. However school was just not up to par for her. Her intellect and early tutoring put her so far ahead of the other students that her parents decided to continue to homeschool her.

She had finished her primary education courses by the time she was ten years old and was accepted to Caltech for the next semester. She was the youngest student ever to attend Caltech.

The year is 2141, the two hundredth anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Alyson had always been a fan of history; not just of the events of history but the clothing and people were of interest to her as well. This is why, six years after coming to Caltech she was working on a thesis challenging the concept of Time Travel.

She had been working on her thesis for two years when she received a strange letter by special courier.


You have never met me but I know you very well. Throughout the years of your short life I have followed your education closely. You may or may not have noticed that certain events have taken place and desperately needed bits of information were suddenly discovered at just the right key moments in your studies. That was all my doing in order to aid you in your quest; for that is exactly what it is, a quest. I know what it is that you hope to accomplish. You are considering the possibility of changing history. I hope you consider the ramifications of your actions before you act.

By the time you receive this letter it will be the two hundredth anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. I know that you would like to test your theories and try to warn them about the attack. That event affects thousands of lives. If you were to change that event and the Pacific Fleet were to leave the harbor and meet the Japanese Fleet in open water you would still have to consider how that would change the time line from then on.

Of all the lives that were lost in the original event there would be thousands of lives that would not be lost after the change. Then they would affect the time line from then on and so would their descendants. The time line being affected by each generation that previously did not exist.

This is the consequences you must consider when traveling through time. It has been theorized that just traveling to the past will change it. I surmise that, that is not entirely correct. Certain small things will not affect the time line. For instance, taking a glass of water from the ocean, taking a deep breath; these are but a few things that do not affect the time line.

On the other hand, if you kill a deer you could possibly starve a family. Because the deer you killed will no longer have offspring that would have populated an area that would have fed the family.

Let me get to the reason for this letter. After careful consideration I feel you are ready for the final piece to your puzzle. Although, I must caution you that this information would not be something I would wish released to the government.

Included with the letter is an encrypted storage module. I leave it to you to decrypt it. But I will tell you that once you do you will see why I don't want you to turn in your thesis.

Good luck in finding the decryption key and enjoy the information.

A friend

Alyson Re-read the note a couple of time to see if there was a hint to the decryption key in the note. There was nothing that she could visually detect. Alyson was aware that the storage module was just a small removable drive that you could keep in your pocket or on a key chain. She plugged the module into her laptop and tried to open the only file on the drive. Immediately after the double-click a password dialog box popped up.

"Great," she thought. "Now I have to find a stupid password just to open the file before I can decrypt it."

For several minutes she sat there staring at the screen; or looking at the letter. Still there was nothing she could visibly detect. Then suddenly, like someone slapped her, it came to her. One, she was working on the theory of time travel. Two, the letter writer said that he or she was helping by giving information. Three, the letter said this was the final piece to my puzzle. That could only mean this had something to do with time travel.

She immediately tried entering words that had to do with her thesis.

'H-I-S-T-O-R-Y' nothing

'F-U-T-U-R-E' nothing

'T-I-M-E" nothing

"Wait a minute. My thesis is called 'Time Travel' and since passwords cannot have spaces let's try:

T-I-M-E-T-R-A-V-E-L." Immediately the dialogue box disappears and Microsoft Word opens and displays the encrypted contents of the file.

Even though she cannot read the file she can now check properties. The file is 8TB in size on a 10TB Storage Module from Dell. "Either this is a really huge file or there are a lot of pictures."

Alyson set her decryption program to work on it. She went back to work on the formulas for her thesis while she was waiting for the decryption program to finish its task.

It took a full week for the program to finish. Alyson was sitting in her kitchen eating a sandwich and drinking a V8 juice when the program sounded an audible alarm alerting Alyson that it was finished. Almost dropping her sandwich in the floor she tossed it to the plate and rushed to the office where she did most of her work.

She quickly opened the file again and read through the Table of Contents before perusing through the rest of the file.


1. Letter from the Author

2. Introduction to Time Travel

3. The Morals & Ethics of Traveling Through Time

4. Current Theories

5. Mathematical Formulae

6. Formulae Explained

Recent Addition

7. Practical Application. (No Longer A Theory)

"Oh my god!" She thought. The first six chapters are exactly the same as in my thesis. I am so going to sue who ever wrote this for theft of Intellectual Property.

She continued to look through the file. Sure enough after briefly scanning through the document it was almost exactly like her thesis. There were several changes to chapters 5 and 6 but the rest was essentially an exact copy of her thesis. Now she was pissed for having someone steal her thesis and publish it first.

As she scrolled down she saw the last chapter heading "Practical Application (No Longer A Theory)"

"Huh? No longer a theory; but how can that be? I haven't even finished my thesis and determined whether time travel is possible or not."

Alyson had spent the rest of the afternoon reading through the last chapter and was astonished to say the least. Chapter seven was the reason the file was so large. It was the detailed construction plans for a time travel device based on her formulae and the changes made in chapters 5 and 6 of this document.

"If this device actually worked I could understand why they wouldn't want the government to get their collective hands on it. While they could do a lot of good by going back in time to prevent terrorist attacks on this nation; they could also do a lot of damage to our rights by going back and preventing them from being given to us. They could also go into the future and steal weapons and God knows what else."

By the time she had finished reading the last chapter she had decided to keep this a secret and try to build the device.

The plans were extremely detailed. It took six months to gather the physical parts. Luckily she had a good income from her research grant. If she were to use the research grant money she would have to document the expense and then others would know what she was doing. The only thing that she had outsourced was the printing of the circuit boards. There were four of them. She sent the pages with the draws to the printer and faxed them to a friend she new that had the equipment to print them

While waiting for the circuit boards to be delivered she worked on programming the eproms and assembling the dials, lights, gauges and switches in the rest of the device. She was amazed at how detailed the plans were in Chapter 7. It was almost as if she had written them her self.

On and on she went working on the programming of the eproms; finally she was through and downloaded the finished program to the burner to be burned onto the last of the chips. Each chip was marked and stored in a static proof container until she was ready to solder them to the boards.

The doorbell rang; it was the FedEx person delivering her circuit boards. Now she could finish the assembly process.

Two days later the boards were finished and installed in the device. Once the device was fully assembled she switched it on.

"Geez. Talk about anti-climactic." She mumbled to herself. Because nothing happened; No lights, no sounds, nothing.

That's when she went back to the file and read through the last chapter again. There at the bottom of the last page was the reason it didn't work.

"... Batteries NOT included."

.... There is more of this story ...

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Story tagged with:
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