Gloria

“Could you believe if this actually worked,” remarked George, “I mean it would be revolutionary.”

George, Denis, Jeff, and myself, Russ, were prototyping our very own time machine. George was in his late 30s but looked younger, he has blond hair like strands of gold and the most positive attitude. He also has a PhD in mechanical engineering and is like a Macgyver. Denis was a little older in his mid-forties but was always sharp, focussed and determined, he had little hair on his head so he always wore a Boston Bruins hat. He also has a doctorate but his is in theoretical physics, he does most of the science in time travel. Jeff was in his younger years but looks like a zombie, he’s so sleep deprived. He works hard and will do anything to get something done. He has a masters degree which is still no small feat but he is a real people person. He handles our finances, like getting sponsors to pay for our experiment. And finally me, I’m 32 and have smooth black hair combed to the side and a doctorate of science but I am also fairly good at engineering so I end up helping everyone. 

We were in our lab in Boston where we have been trying to build this time machine for almost five years. I was sitting on the catwalk with my legs hanging over the edge just looking at it. The machine was beautiful, it was a giant white orb about ten feet tall and had enough room to fit four people in it. We called her Gloria, which is latin for glory to God, how fitting. Other companies and groups like ours have tried to make these machines, 6 groups in the last year to be exact. The first group had problems with their wormhole generator and the machine exploded. The other 5 groups went back in time between 100-200 years but lost signal and didn’t come back. We were finally ready to test ours for the first time, five years and it has all come down to this. We could become the first group to travel back in time and come back safely. We were opening a brand new can of worms today with no idea what was going to happen. But what if it didn’t work just like the others? How would we get back? I started to spiral. 

“Hey Russ, we’re getting ready to go, be ready in five minutes.” Denis called to me.

I just nodded slightly as I continued to stare blankly at our creation, it filled me with a sense of sheer pride, accomplishment and a little bit of concern. What if it didn’t work? I guess it’s a little late to think about that now.

A few minutes later we were almost ready to go, Denis set the date at today, March 5, but in 1946, just before the American troops serving in WWII came home. We were going back exactly 74 years as today was March 5, 2020. The team did final checks on everything and then we boarded the machine. All of our sponsors were watching us behind bullet proof glass conversing among each other, the mood was dampened because it was the 250th anniversary of the Boston Massacre. That was a tragedy but from now on they would know March 5th as the first day of successful time travel.  Jeff hopped in and closed the door, subsequently starting the countdown. All of the sponsors then turned and watched history in the making. Denis looked over at me with his piercing blue eyes and nodded slightly, I nodded back. 

Suddenly all of the sponsors started pointing at the bottom of the machine, the sphere started vigorously shaking. I knew it wasn’t supposed to do that when I saw the other three guys had the same blank and scared face I did. The safety team ran out onto the catwalk, one was carrying a crowbar to pry the door open but before they could reach us everything went pitch black, everything was still. It was as if we were in space but with no stars or planets. Until we started to pick up speed and head toward a ring of light. We flung through the ring and crashed violently into the ground.

“Russ, wake up it’s Denis. We gotta get you out.” 

My head was throbbing, my ears were ringing so loudly I could barely make out what he was saying. He released me from my harness and helped me walk out where the rest of the group was waiting. Considering we just crashed as fast as a car on a highway everyone looked relatively okay. Jeff and George had a few minor cuts but that’s about it. 

Denis let me go to go and assess the damages to Gloria.

This doesn’t look like 1946 I thought to myself, I mean we were in a forest just outside what looks like a big town. The time machine can’t travel through space, just time, so that big town must be Boston in whatever year this is. I looked around and I saw Fort Independence, the Fort was abandoned by the British in the American Revolution. The weird thing was that there were soldiers defending it, then it hit me. We were in the American Revolution that is why there are British soldiers in Fort Independence. Instead of going back 74 years we went back 250 years. 

“Guys we’re in the American Revolution,” I stuttered. I pointed to The Fort Independence, and explained it to them. Denis came back and we filled him in and he told us that the flux capacitor on the interior was minorly damaged and he would need a couple of minutes and some copper wire. We would have to go into Boston and get the wire, but we’d have to be careful, loyalist and patriot tensions were extremely high. The four of us were stealthily meandering around to try to stumble upon a blacksmith. This was the first time I noticed it but it was snowing and frigid, and we were only in 1940s clothing, a collared shirt and dress pants. Finally we found a blacksmith’s forge, it was on king street right beside the customs house. That’s where the British store some of the King’s money. There was a small group of colonists surrounding a lone British soldier. My God, we were in the middle of the Boston Massacre. The others seemed to notice too as they were just as concerned.

“Let’s get what we need and get out quick.” Jeff voiced very clearly and I agreed wholeheartedly. Suddenly the patriots converged on the soldier and the soldier hit one of them with his bayonet. The four of us took off and ran like the wind for the Blacksmith shop.  The Patriots started throwing stones, snowballs and ice at the soldier, then a blaring bell rang. The bell usually sounds when shots have been fired, male colonists all stepping out of their residents blocking our way to the store. There is the saying swimming upstream well, it was like swimming up a 100ft waterfall. The soldier called for backup, in a few minutes there would be numerous soldiers around the customs house and they would open fire on colonists. We finally pushed through to the blacksmith’s forge. The door was locked so George had to pick the lock, we were running out of time. 

“Done!” George yelled but we might have been too late, the British soldiers were here. 

The three of them rapidly scavenged through drawers and cabinets, the fight was escalating, the colonists got clubs and started to hit the soldiers.

“You’ve got about 15 seconds guys.” I howled. “10 seconds, …….. 5 seconds.”

“Found some!” screamed Jeff as he snached it. 

Instinctively we ran out of the shop like our lives depended on it because it probably did. Suddenly a shot went off followed by a barrage of bullets and the next thing I hear is George wailing, he was hit with a single shot in the left leg. I put his left arm around me and guided him. He was ailing trying to run; we were only about 200ft away from the customs house. A British soldier saw us make a break for it and started to chase us. George and I were moving at a fairly brisk pace considering George was shot but the soldier was starting to make up ground. Denis and Jeff were almost at the start of the forest and we weren’t far behind them. The sound of bullets slowly got fainter; it was replaced by the thundering steps of the soldier. Suddenly the footsteps stopped and I knew what that meant. 

“Duck!” I yelled with urgency.

There was a deafening boom and almost instantly a circular hole engraved inself into the tree to our right. The shot was followed by one more loud bang. I looked back at the shooter and noticed that he had a Pattern 1776 Infantry Rifle, I noticed because I actually have one. That particular gun takes a lot of time to reload so I told George to run as fast as he possibly can. We took off and the machine came into view, Denis and George reached it and hopped inside to start fixing it, we were about 300 feet out. It shouldn’t take long to fix the flux capacitor, all it needs is a simple connection. I looked over at George as we ran together and it didn’t look good, his brown dress pants were as red as a stop sign. He had lost a lot of blood and wouldn’t be able to hold on much longer. We were closing in, 100ft……75ft. Then BANG, another shot was fired by the soldier that was now only 35ft behind us. It whistled past my ear and instantly it started ringing, an acute pulsing pain in my left ear. We were on the home stretch and needed just a couple of more seconds away when George went limp around me.

I threw him over my shoulder like a fireman, my heart was pumping twice as fast as my feet as we were just reaching Gloria. I threw George inside and another deafening fire went off. I looked to my right arm and there was a hole that was oozing blood like a waterfall. I just stood there in shock looking at my forearm, now I knew why adrenaline was so important in these situations. I could barely feel a thing yet I just stood there like a deer in the headlights. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity Jeff grabbed me by the shirt and pulled me into the machine, then urgently closed the circular glass door. I was still a little woozy but that wasn’t my concern, George looked terrible his eyes were barely open with both hands keeping pressure on the wound. The soldier appeared in the window aiming his rifle at us, he stared at me and fired. 

BANG! The bullet hit the window which happened to be bulletproof but it was damaged in the crash and won’t hold up to two more shots. 

“Hurry up!” I hollered urgently to Denis who was working to fix the capacitor. 

“Almost done!” he screamed back impatiently. 

BANG! Cracks became large and long, running all the way to the edge of the glass. As the soldier loaded the round that would end our journey I closed my eyes and recited a psalm. I wasn’t usually religious but desperate times call for desperate measures.

“I give you thanks, O LORD! All the kings of the earth will praise you. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life.” I muttered quietly.

“Got it!” yelled Denis “Launch us.” 

The soldier aimed his rifle at me as I hit the launch button. Everything went pitch black, everything was still again. Until we started to pick up speed and head toward a ring of light. We hit the ground again, not quite as hard as last time but we were braced for it more this time. The glass was now completely broken and shattered but that didn’t matter now that we were back to 2020. I unhooked George and my safety belts and helped him out, he needed a hospital right away. It looked like we landed on top of a grass and vegetation filled hill, but that isn’t right, we should be back in the lab. We got out with Jeff and Denis right behind us and looked out into a vast city when blaring sirens could be heard. That could be an ambulance, we all started shouting for help. 4 cop cars came over the hill but they had no wheels, they were hover cars. I thought I was hallucinating from the loss of blood but it was actually happening because Denis and Jeff had the same expressions. The cops moved on us quickly and put us all in cuffs. 

He explained “you are under arrest for unauthorized landing on private property.”

I begged him to help George. I told him that he had lost a lot of blood and needed a hospital immediately. He told me that under the Time Act of 2057, he needed to take us straight to the station.

“2057? What year is it?” I questioned.

“2168.”

Exhale #3 Round 2 Short Story
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