I’m sharing with minimal excuses and caveats. Getting started was harder than I expected and editing hasn’t really happened. But nonetheless, thanks for reading!
Traveling the Future
Tessa Kim wheeled her chair through the doors of her time machine and took in the silence. It wasn’t really silent, of course. The heart of the machine hummed until its metal skin. The time counter clicked.
After she ran her hand across the console, a hint of dust coated her fingers. It kept itself as clean as her enthusiasm and her enthusiasm had struggled over the last few months.
With decisiveness she pulled the tarnished silver lever. The machine hesitated, uncertain, then pulsed and whirred. The console lights flickered and everything woke.
Now Tess had to decide where to go and when. She loved parts of the past, but she knew its perils well. She had her immunizations and was mindful of where she ventured. Traveling was different for Lucas, with his great height and blond looks and definitive maleness. He strode where he wanted almost anywhere and no one checked his papers or questioned his purpose.
And she’d been able to stride into the world until a few months ago. The chair changed the rules. She could risk traveling to where and when the wheelchair had been invented, but the American frontier didn’t come with ramps, nor did ancient China. She pushed a few keys on the console. The computer would have to learn what she needed from this point on.
The ceiling light of the machine shone brightly. It was warmed up and ready to go. She smiled at the console. She’d missed it. With a deep breath, she set the calendar and typed out a few more commands.
Her phone rang. She almost didn’t answer. “You promised you’d stay home,” her sister said.
“Don’t worry, sister dear. You’re still winning the broken promise war.”
“Just come back, right now.”
“Or what?” Tessa focused on the wall of lights spinning and flashing, signaling they were almost to their destination. When the doors to the machine opened, the connection to her sister would be cut.
“At least tell me where you are.”
“You can’t have gone far.”
Tessa looked away from the wall and down at her lap. “What makes you say that?”
“Look. You should leave a note if you’re going out. You don’t need to scare us,” her sister replied.
“Oh I don’t know. I think scaring you is good for me. But don’t worry your already very worry-filled head. I’ll be home in a blink of an eye.” She paused. “Promise.”
The familiar thump of arrival shook the machine. Taking a deep breath, Tessa turned off her phone before her sister could argue, and she wheeled herself over to the door. The computer informed her no weapons were detected and the air was safe enough for a limited time. Sometimes the computer was wrong. Things tripped it up once in a while, like what constituted a weapon and safe enough.
The velvet green grass that greeted her made her smile. A breeze blew in, and Tessa realized she’d been expecting dystopian concrete and smog. She wheeled herself out onto the grass. The wheels sank in slightly, but she’d manage. Her wheelchair was as state of the art as her time machine after all. Her smiled broadened. No one in her timeline knew of the improvements she’d made. She may have been terrible at keeping promises, but she was aces at keeping secrets.
Tessa moved herself a little further out into the green expanse. It was shocking, really, the vast amount of green. Surely something should have remained, a crumbling building or even a streetlight. Had Earth ever had so much grass? She searched her memory for the history of grass and frowned. Pretty didn’t mean normal.
A moment later she wondered where the insects were and were exactly the sun had gone. Tessa held out an arm and felt the perfect warmth as if it were a dream of a spring day. The calendar had clearly stated she was arriving in winter.
“Beautiful,” she whispered. She headed back into her time machine, which worked in spite of what had happened. It was still taking her to problems to solve. She paused. No, it wasn’t time to go back in.
Reaching for the spyglass in the side pocket of her wheelchair, she scanned the horizon. There it was, the break in the horizon line revealing human life existed. She checked herself. Something with the ability to build straight lines existed.
With a snap of her fingers she shut and locked the time machine’s doors. She worked the controls of wheelchair and its motor buzzed. Nothing would make her give up traveling through time. Her adjustments to her wheelchair kicked in and it moved with delicious speed across the wide grass ocean. She sped toward a future no one else would live to see.
~from Time Travelers, Witches, and Saints: A Compendium of Lesser-Known Time Travelers and Other Terrors.