Friday, May 27, 2022

Dawn of Time • Episode 8: “When things look dark…”

Written by Ray Daley

Continued from Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4 | Episode 5 | Episode 6 | Episode 7

The story thus far: 32nd Century high school student Dawn Anderson is having a really bad day. Needing a better grade in History, she “borrowed” her father’s TimePak to take a short jaunt back to the 20th Century, only to make a perfectly innocent mistake involving a stolen handgun and a too-hot McDonald’s cherry pie. Now, instead of returning home, she is bouncing from disaster to catastrophe, each one worse than the one before. After being chased by clowns, narrowly avoiding becoming a tyrannosaur’s snack, jumping out mere moments before the Chicxulub extinction event, making a new friend (Stella) and rescuing her from the Titanic, being found by her worst enemy (Becky) and being forced to rescue her, too, from a robot uprising, the three of them have barely escaped with their souls, but not Becky’s soles, because time itself is melting down…

When I opened my eyes it was still dark, and deathly silent. Warm and dry too, nicer than cold and snowing. “Is anyone else here?” I asked, to hear something other than the void around myself.

“I’m here,” Becky said.

“Me too,” said Stella. “And here’s the bad news. This isn’t 1955, or anywhere. It’s an interstitial rift. A place where broken time flows to. And from.”

“So, the three of us are nowhere?” I asked.

“Not quite.” I knew that voice. It was mine. “Hold on, I’m going to create a bubble of time. We’ll be able to see each other. Stella, Becky, don’t move.”

“We won’t,” they said.

“Nor will I,” another voice said.

Things got a lot more visible.

I saw myself. She was much older, in her 20s, maybe? The other Stella looked a lot older too. “Okay, you two, what happened? We were heading to 1955.”

Older Stella rolled her eyes. “Have you examined that transposed diode recently?”

Using the circuitry loupe, I checked the Situational Transmogrifier. That explained a lot. “The diode. It’s…”

Older me said, “Backward, we know. We’ve been waiting for you to arrive. This is jump nine, yes?”

I shook my head. “I’ve made eight jumps, including this one.”

Older Stella was clearly holding in a scream. “Damn it! We brought you here too soon!” Then she suddenly looked happy. “Did you say eight, Dawn? Can you boost that field intensity a touch? I think we might have lucked out unintentionally.”

Things got a great deal brighter in the bubble. Stella was covered in strips of paper, still dripping paint.

I recognized the colors. “Don’t move, Stella. That’s our way out of here. You’re coated in Patrice’s Maria. Mars’ greatest old Master. Coated the backs of his works in old printed-out books. Maria went missing a year after he finished it. It was covered in pages of Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. Mostly his equations. The same ones they used to stabilize time travel. Let me see…”

Sure enough, I was right. Carefully peeling, I found gold. Well, equations. The linear time regressor and the spatial stabilizer. If I could input these on the TimePak, we might still make it home in one piece, and restore time to normality.

“Becky, give me the jacket,” I said.

“No way,” she said and, just then, the bubble popped, plunging us all into inky blackness.

The last thing I heard before it all went dark was older Stella shouting out, “When you arrive, remember to…”

Then everywhere was on fire.

Next week: “Episode 9: The foot is in the other shoe”



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