Monday, June 7, 2021

For Sale: Used Time Machine. No Refunds! • by Ray Daley

We’re doing something a bit different with The Pete Wood Challenge this week. Fewer stories, but longer stories. This week we’ll be presenting five stories, a new one each morning, all of which stem from a simple want ad, like you might see on Craigslist: “For Sale: Used Time Machine. No Refunds!”

And with that introduction we turn it over to Ray Daley, who is already well on his way to becoming a Most Frequent Contributor…

Mister beaten up shoes came back again today. His fourth time in the last two days.

“She’s still for sale then?”

I nodded. “Just like yesterday, and the day before. No takers yet.”

“Sign says used? How, exactly?”

Was he stuck in his own time loop? He’d asked me that on the previous three visits. “Went to the future, eighty-three days. I just wanted to check if something had happened or not. It also works in reverse, as it got me back here.”

“Can’t you see who’ll buy it?” He was checking out the main control panel. Again.

“I told you before, don’t touch unless you’re buying it. Sold as seen. And no, I can’t use the machine to do that. You can’t use time travel to influence events. What happens happens.”

I caught him this time. I’d had my suspicions before but only heard the sound. His foot, hitting the machine. The stupid fool thought he could kick the tyres? It didn’t even have tyres. Which might explain a few things.

“I’m still not sure. I might come back tomorrow. If it hasn’t sold. Would you take eight hundred in cash?”

I nodded. I’d listed it for a grand, willing to go down if people brought cash.

I watched him tramp off in a cloud of dust, waiting for it to settle before checking the machine.


I found the crack, a tiny split on the seam, around the rotor cover. I checked the control panel. Yep, it was leaking random time. 

So, Mister beaten up shoes was stuck in his own time loop. The random time had leaked on his shoes, trapping him in a singularity. That was going to be a problem.

“Or not?” That was a familiar voice. I turned around. It was me. Ah, time travel, you crazy mistress! “You travel to before he arrived, perform a triple seal weld on the seams. It won’t crack then. It splits relative determinism, but beaten up shoes will finally make his decision afterwards.”

I wasn’t about to ask how he knew. He’d come from a time where it’d already happened. And not upset things, either.

“So, I go back in time? I’ve only ever done that once. As you well know.”

Best I got going then.


A guy in beaten up shoes rocked up today. “Time Machine for sale? Sign says used? How, exactly?”

“I had a potential buyer kick the thing, split a seam, leaked random time, stuck him in a loop. I had to go back in time, repair the fault before it happened, and stop him from doing it. By the way, don’t kick the machine. Please?”

He raised an eyebrow. “How did you…? Never mind. Sign says a grand. Would you take eight hundred in cash?”

I just put out my hand. The damn thing is his problem now. Then. Will be.

Whatever. Damn time travel. More trouble than it’s worth, if I ask me. I have, and it was. You know what I mean.

¤     ¤     ¤

Ray Daley
was born in Coventry and still lives there. He served six years in the RAF as a clerk and spent most of his time in a Hobbit hole in High Wycombe. He is a published poet and has been writing stories since he was ten. His current dream is to eventually finish the Hitchhiker’s Guide fanfic novel he’s been writing since 1986. Tweet him @RayDaleyWriter or check out his web site at




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