The Big Event - again
January 30, 2013
Here's this week's prompt from Flash Fiction Friday.
Time is a resource and a thief. It takes us off to do other things, flies by, drags. Sometimes we try to kill it, sometimes bottle it. What would you do if you could control it? Why don’t you show us?
Your prompt is to write a story with a time machine. Will you go forward? Backward? Do you want to prevent something or perpetrate something? We want to know.
Prompt: Write a story about a time machine
Word Limit: 1,300
I wrote this story yesterday, did a 'select all' to copy for an email to a friend, then hit the delete key in Evernote. No – on an iPad they don't have an undelete. So, I wrote it again today, carefully, and liked it even better. It doesn't in fact talk about a time machine, just some consequences of time travel – close enough for me. Came in at 896 words.
Note- 7/16/2013 - edited
The Big Event - again
"Quiet in here tonight," said Mike.
“It's Tuesday," said Ian. "No darts people, no live band, nobody here but us."
Mike nodded toward the far end of the tavern. "And of course a few time travellers, here for the unique ambiance." The strangers were carefully dressed in period costumes in an effort to blend, but the faint sparkle around them was a giveaway. That and the recording devices they were trying to hide.
"Right," said Ian. "They’re here for the dark panelling, poor lighting, rickety chairs, and a definitely unique fragrance in the air."
"Don’t forget the cheap beer, good food, and network access," said Mike. “I don’t even notice them anymore, although I’m sure we’re the stars in all sorts of home-movies.” He gestured to his iPad. "This is a nice place to chat, to sit and write. These quiet evenings are just fine with me."
"Not for Simon, though," said Ian. "He's thinking of cutting back his hours. Not enough business anymore. The condo takeovers of 2015 were very anti-community, and killed a lot of neighbourhoods. Especially here – the changes just divided this area even more. There's the rich in their fancy condos, driving everywhere,surrounded by armed guards if they ever venture out on foot, and the poor - well they just get poorer and more desperate. We're back to pushers and pimps driving the local economy."
"Not many of our old group left," said Mike. "Maybe a dozen of us regulars now. At least I didn't get shot at on the way over today.” He raised his glass and smiled. "To despair and depression."
"Mind if i join you?" The stranger pulled out a chair. He was a skinny little guy, with stringy hair, a patchy beard, and a tattered leather jacket. He didn't look like a time traveller, but they usually were good about not interacting on their visits anyway.
“Hi, I’m Dwayne. I couldn't help overhearing you two. I agree, we need to shake things up around here, get this place back on the map, grab a spot in the news."
Ian extended a hand. "I've seen you around. I'm Ian, this is Mike. It certainly would help this place if we could figure out way to get more customers. Doesn’t even have to be locals - time-travellers would be just fine. We know that they'll behave in here, plus they tend to over-tip. They're not used to real money anymore."
"But if they're here for the ambiance of an old style tavern, anything improvements we made would ruin it," said Mike.
"I was thinking of something more than that," said Dwayne. "We need a significant event to attract them, something that will go down in the history books."
"What, like an earthquake?" said Mike. "Or hope that maybe a tornado hits us? What's the point?"
"No, not that sort of event," said Dwayne. "I mean we create a turning point, where choices are made as to which path the future takes. We need some sort of tragedy."
Ian looked at him. "Where are you going with this? Are you suggesting we just create some catastrophe? With dead people?"
"Not a lot," said Dwayne. "A dozen, twenty tops. Easy even for one guy to do – the new multi-barrel guns are sweet. It gets blamed on local gangs. And of course would be no one from around here, nobody we know. Maybe some tourists visiting the market out front, or school kids bused in for the day to see the local art galleries."
"You can't be serious," said Ian.
"Just thinking out loud here,” said Dwayne. “But look around, the place is already starting to fill up with our friends from the future. All ordering drinks and food too. The travellers know when something big is coming - someone's moment of fame. Maybe it's just our planning for this event that’s attracted them, maybe it's something more. Why don't we give them a show?"
"Okay," said Ian. "I agree that we are approaching some sort of nexus, but we don't know who's at the centre or what the event is. And it's certainly not up to us to put on any kind of show."
The tavern was getting more crowded, with some travellers not even being discreet about their arrival - just popping into existence. All were very carefully trying to not look at Mike and his friends - and failing at it.
"I agree," said Mike. "We're better to just events unravel as they are supposed to. Not create some tragedy - that's just crazy talk."
"Just an idea, " said Dwayne. "No problem. I'll just ... I'll just pop out for a smoke. We can talk after, okay?"
Mike nodded. "Be careful out there," he said. "It's getting late. The crazies are coming out now." He watched Dwayne leave, followed by a few of the time travellers. "Do you think he means it?" said Mike.
"I’m not sure,” said Ian. “His 4x4 has a gun rack in the cab with some serious hardware on it. Plus, I'm pretty sure he doesn't smoke."
Ian drained his beer and stood up. "I'm going out to check on him - no, you stay here. Get back to jotting down some notes for those stories. Maybe you'll be famous some day."
A dozen time travellers followed Ian as he went out the side door.
Very suspenseful . . I'd love to read a "part 2"!
Posted by: CMStewart | January 31, 2013 at 01:01 PM
Ha... So that's where you get your tales? Love it!
Posted by: Ingrid K. V. Hardy | January 31, 2013 at 04:03 PM
A nice set up for another chapter to explain it all. Or not.
Posted by: Robert Burns | February 05, 2013 at 10:34 PM
I really enjoyed the dialog and atmosphere of this story. I wish I could see what did/didn't happen :-) - Flannery
Posted by: Flannery Jenny | February 10, 2013 at 10:19 AM
Thanks to all for the comments. I agree, would be nice to add a part two some time.
Posted by: Ravens | February 13, 2013 at 12:53 PM