Friday, April 8, 2022

Dawn of Time • Episode 1: “Time flies with time pies”

Written by Ray Daley and Alicia Hilton

The time machine zapped me to 1975. In the middle of Halloween. I wished we still celebrated it where I was from—when I was from. I’d always wanted to witness the ancient tradition.

I’m Dawn Anderson, amateur time traveler and high school Junior in 3204. School isn’t perfect though. I needed a better grade in History. Well, and Biology and… Let’s just say History was my most pressing need.

So, I’d “borrowed” my Dad’s time machine. Everybody had a TimePak. But they weren’t for kids. Though I wasn’t just any kid. I’d read every story that existed about time travel, what problems their writers thought would cause trouble. Being separated from the device seemed the most common, which was why I’d sewn my unit into my jacket.

TimePak told us you could only go back a thousand years, at the absolute most, but I’d found a better power source that could take me even further back.

The humble McDonald’s apple pie. When microwaved, it produced a crazy number of ergs.

I watched a group of kids dressed as cowboys and superheroes and princesses and ghosts walk up to a house. They rang the doorbell. A bearded man in a sweatshirt answered and dropped candy from a bowl into the bags the kids held out.

Why had we given up this custom but kept McDonald’s?

The TimePak’s warning sensor went off.  Weapon detected.

I looked around. Only a ten- or eleven-year-old boy dressed as a policeman. He held a gun.

It must be real.

He probably didn’t know it. Maybe he had grabbed it from the house. What kind of parents did he have?

I had to do something.

“Nice costume,” I said to the boy. “You look like a real, um, constable.”

He squinted at me. “Huh?”

“I mean, cop.”

He turned to his friends. Somebody told a joke. They all laughed.

The kid put down the gun and reached into his bag of candy.

I grabbed the weapon.

“That lady stole my gun!” he yelled with a lollypop in his mouth.

Nearby adults frowned at me.

“What the hell, lady?” a woman in a witch’s hat said. “You taking candy too?”

I hit the auto-return button on my TimePak. Nothing. I must be out of apple pie.

I took off.

“Come on, give it back!” somebody yelled, maybe the boy’s dad, for all I knew.

We were on a busy street. Trying to ditch the parents and kids, I cut through a hardware store. I raced past the cash register and knocked over a stack of paint cans. “Sorry,” I said, and ran toward the back of the building.

Two men stood by a cart that blocked the narrow aisle.

I shoved the cart out of the way. It slammed into a shelf. Bottles and boxes fell on the floor.

I could have ditched the gun, but who knew who might pick it up? I had to get away from all the people.

One of the parents yelled, “Stop!”

I leapt over a box. The aisle dead-ended in a display of electrical supplies. I turned right and saw a door. A sign on the wall said Emergency Exit Only Alarm Will Sound.

The siren shrieked when I pushed the door open.

There was a McDonald’s across the street. The pedestrian light said Don’t Walk, but I bolted into traffic.

I had twenty cents, from my Dad’s time traveling supplies, not enough money for two apple pies. I hated to travel without a spare.  They had a special on cherry pies. That’d have to do. I wasn’t crazy about experimenting, but I didn’t have much choice.

I ran into the McDonald’s and slapped the old coins on the counter. “A cherry pie, please.”

The clerk said, “This dime’s from 1995.”

I tried to remember what I’d learned about currency in Cultural Anthropology class. We didn’t use coins in 3204. I said, “Must be a strike error. I’ll bet it’s worth more than ten cents.”

He said, “Groovy,” and stuck the dime in his pocket instead of putting it in the cash register.

Through the window, I saw four very angry Dads—a pirate, a robot, a vampire, and a clown. They scanned the street.

They’d spot me soon.

The clerk used tongs to pluck a pie from the rotating rack.

A bell over the door dinged when a Dad wearing an eyepatch and carrying a sword entered the McDonald’s.

“Look, Miss,” pirate Dad called out. “I don’t want any trouble.”

I leaned across the counter and grabbed the pie. When I shoved it in my jacket’s hidden compartment, hot filling oozed out and singed my fingers.

Instantly, the TimePak hummed. I tried to rotate the time dial, but it wouldn’t budge.  TimePak would never take responsibility for this glitch, since I was the one who’d messed with the power source of their device.

I shoved the dial again. It clicked and rotated all the way to the left. I gritted my teeth and braced for liftoff.   


Holy crap. Tyrannosaurus Rex had feathers!

Next week: “Episode 2: Which came first—the chicken or the ergs?



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



Alicia Hilton
is an author, law professor, arbitrator, actor, and former FBI Special Agent. She believes in angels and demons, magic and monsters. Alicia’s recent work has appeared in Best Indie Speculative Fiction Volume 3, Daily Science Fiction, Demain Publishing UK, Departure Mirror, DreamForge, Litro, Sci Phi Journal, Space and Time, Vastarien, Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volumes 4, 5 & 6, and elsewhere. Alicia’s website is Follow her on Twitter @aliciahilton01.