The Boomerang Jump – Part 4 of 4

Jason was working on adding locks to the laboratory doors. It hadn’t occurred to him until one of his test subjects escaped that it was an obviously necessary protocol. He would have made his intern, Curtis, do it, but he had seemed rather stunned and out of it since the last test subject had vanished. He’d have to keep his eye on Curtis in case he decided to do something stupid.

Jason didn’t mind fixing the locks himself. It gave him something to do while he waited. He’d dreamt of being a time traveler his entire life. He couldn’t believe his future self had actually accomplished it. To be honest, he’d never really been that much into science so he was actually quite stunned when someone appeared at the agreed upon time.

“Oh no, not again,” he heard Curtis moan. He looked over to see Curtis moving away to the edge of the room, a look of dread on his face.

“What’s wrong?” Jason asked, but he didn’t need to wait long to know the answer. A swirling cyclone of water began spinning on the platform followed by a second one. For a moment they looked like they were going to merge, but quickly split again. Then. they both disappeared revealing a man and a woman.

“Ah, I see our next test subjects have appeared,” Jason said, working frantically to get the lock in place.

“No, no exactly,” the man said. His eyes scanned the facility and he raised his eyebrow as he looked around. “Appalling.”

“My thoughts exactly,” the woman said. “Did you follow the directions we sent at all?”

Jason stood slowly, feeling confused. “You sent? Who are you?”

“We’re the ones who have been sending you the messages,” the woman said, walking around the lab inspecting things.

“We’re friends in the future?” Jason asked.

They both laughed. “Definitely not. You were born way before our time.”

“You stole my technology?’ Jason asked, feeling outraged.

“Your technology,” the woman laughed. “You don’t honestly believe you could have come up with time travel?”

“But my letters—” he started to say.

“We wrote them,” the man said. “The hardest part was making it look like we didn’t know what we were doing. Those poor dears who travelled back after we messed up the machine. I hope they didn’t suffer. Although, we weren’t expecting you to kill Simon.

Jason spluttered as he tried and failed to process the information coming at him. “Why?” He finally asked.

The woman shrugged. “The world was coming to end and we needed somewhere to go. We needed someone to prepare a place for us, which you did, albeit poorly. Our only other option was to join a group who planned to colonize a new planet. Can you imagine it? Me? A farmer?” They both laughed.

Jason was barely listening. He could feel the betrayal washing over him turn to rage. 4 years he’d spent building this laboratory, not for him as he’d thought, but for them.

He lunged towards them. The man saw and sighed. He casually stepped out of the way. Jason was about to turn around and lunge for them again, but his body was frozen in place. He suddenly couldn’t move. Water began to fall around him, swirling. It felt like his insides were being pulled up out of his head. And then everything went still.

He was back in his laboratory, but there were way more high tech gadgets about. Above him, the sky through the glass dome was an orangey red. The ground shook knocking him to the floor.

He’d finally got his wish. He was a time traveller. But, for some reason he wasn’t as excited about it as he’d thought he be.

The Boomerang Jump – Part 3 of 4

April 6, 2057

Dear Jason,

I assume the laboratory is finished. Congratulations. While we are discouraged that all of our test subjects have died so far, we are confident it is only a matter of time before one survives. Now that your laboratory is finished, this project should remained more contained and we will be able to start sending them much more frequently from your perspective. Your status reports have been invaluable. Thank you.

* * *

August 23, 2015, 4:48 am

Curtis had been working at WatchWorks Lab for a week and still he had no idea what he was supposed to be doing, but as long as it counted towards his practicum he didn’t care. At least he was pretty sure it counted. He should probably double-check that.

He sat at his desk slowly rotating in his chair. The curls of his red hair flopped against the back of the headrest as he stared up at the ceiling which was a dome of windows that gave a clear view of the slowly lightening sky.

He stopped rotating when he heard a strange dripping noise coming from the centre of the lab which was a raised platform that looked like a stage. He had a sneaking suspicion that his boss, Jason or Dr. Thompson as he preferred to be called, had a flair for the theatrics and saw it more as a stage than for any practical purpose, especially since it seemed as though no actual science ever seem to happen here.

Following the noise, he realized that drops of water were materializing in the air above him and dropping down into a puddle at his feet. As he stood there, they started dropping faster and faster until it formed a stream. Then, the stream began to rotate and expand.

Where moments before there were just drops falling, a cyclone of water and mist had appeared. Curtis stumbled backward to get out of the way. The cyclone expanded outwards, then narrowed. Then, as though it were breathing, it continued to grew thicker before sucking back into a tiny spiral. Then, as quickly as it had begun, it gave one last heaving attempt to breech past the edge of the platform before it narrowed and disappeared completely. But not everything had disappeared.

Standing, where the cyclone had been, was a man with slicked back, dark brown hair and a wild, wide-eyed look. His eyes darted around the lab while he stood in a crouched position like he was preparing to sprint away.

Finally, his eyes landed on Curtis and they narrowed. “Who are you?”

“Hi, I’m Curtis.” He tentatively stepped forward awkwardly stretching his hand out.

The man looked at his hand, but made no move to shake it. “What year is it?’

Curtis, with his hand still outstretched, raised his eyebrows. “Excuse me?”

“The year? Is it still 2057?” His eyes drifted away and started darting around the room. “The lab doesn’t look any different. But I did go back, didn’t I?”

Curtis had no idea what the man was talking about and started backing away towards the door.

When he didn’t answer, the man fixed his gaze on Curtis again. “Well?”

“Ah, no, it’s not 20-whatever you said. It’s 2015.”

The man seemed to visibly relax and he grinned for the first time. “Fantastic.”

They stared at each other for a moment and then he sprang forward and bowled over Curtis, knocking him to the floor. By the time Curtis picked himself up, the man was gone.

* * *

August 24, 4:35 am

“What do you mean he’s gone?” Dr. Thompson shouted, his face turning from pale white, to a deep red. “Why was he early? Where did he go? Is he coming back?” He waved his hands about frantically in front of him as he peppered Curtis with questions.

“Um, I don’t know,” he shrugged.

“You don’t know?” Dr. Thompson said, so angry he was almost levitating off the ground. “You don’t know! What am I paying you for?”

“To be honest, I don’t know,” he mumbled.

Dr. Thompson ripped a tattered envelope from his lab coat. “August 23! He wasn’t supposed to be here until August 23. Why did they send him early?”

“Um, it’s August 24 today,” Curtis said, his voice barely audible.

Dr. Thompson glared at him for the longest 3 seconds of Curtis’s life, before whipping out his phone to check the date.

“Dammit,” he said, crumpling the paper in his fist.

Curtis was momentarily distracted when he heard footsteps coming down the hall. What now?

The man had returned and he was holding a piece of paper in his shaking hand. “Am I going to die?” he asked, holding the letter out to them.

“Give me that,” Dr. Thompson said, snatching the letter out of his hand. He quickly scanned it.

“So, is it true. The others before me died?”

“So far,” Dr. Thompson said, unconcerned.

“I feel fine. I just won’t jump back. I didn’t want to anyway. That’s why I ran away,” he rambled.

Jason raised his eyebrows at the man. “You have no choice. You automatically return after 24 hours. Didn’t they tell you?”

The man’s face fell. “No. But it looks like they didn’t tell me a lot of things.”

“Hmm,” Jason said. He’d grabbed a clipboard from one of the cupboards and was now scribbling furiously on his board. “Well there’s good news and bad news. You won’t necessarily die. The second recruit lasted much longer than the first. And look at you. It’s been nearly a day and here you are. Still breathing.”

The man seemed to perk up a bit. “So I might be okay?”

“Well, see, that’s the bad news.” He reached into his pocket. “I actually think you might have been our first test subject to live, but then you ran away and read the letter, so now you know too much.” He stabbed the man in the ear. “So, no, I don’t think you’ll be okay.”

He pulled the paper he’d been scribbling on off the clipboard, folded it carefully, and pinned it to the inside of the man’s coat.

Curtis watched in frozen terror unable to make his feet move towards the exit.

“Pity,” Dr. Thompson said, before stepping over the body and walking towards the exit. “Clean up the mess after his body disappears.”

This definitely was not going to count against his practicum.

The Boomerang Jump: Part 2 of 4

April 5, 2057

Dear Jason,

I trust by now you have purchased the farm. I’ve included detailed blueprints for the laboratory and the numbers to another lottery. From here, it will be much easier to conduct experiments as we will be sending test subjects back and forth between identical facilities. You will have 1 year to complete the project at which time I will send test patient number three.

* * *

August 23, 2014, 4:31 am

Greg woke up early and stumbled out of his tent. The bottom of his tent was a swimming pool and his sleeping bag was drenched. It had been the most miserable trip from start to finish, not the least issue being that his uncle hadn’t told him he’d sold the farm six months ago. He’d had to sneak onto the back field and pitch his tent rather than stay in one of the dry rooms in the house.

He’d set his alarm for 4:30 so he could pack his things up before the new owners of the farm caught sight of his tent in the early morning summer sun. He didn’t need to bother with the alarm. He’d been awake most of the night.

He was just packing up his tent trying in vain to shake the water off the canvas when an odd metallic screech like a metallic bird sounded. He stopped moving thinking maybe he’d pulled one of the tent poles the wrong way. As he examined the tent the noise sounded again, but seemed to be coming from above him.

Suddenly, there was a great gust of wind that sent his tent flying and nearly knocked him off his feet. An enormous crack of thunder sounded and shook the ground with tremendous force. Then, just as suddenly as it started, the stilled and everything went quiet.

He brushed the dirt from his hair and looked around and saw to his surprise a woman standing in front of him. She appeared to be in her late 20’s and was grinning broadly at him. She walked towards him with her hand outstretched.

“Hello,” he said, jumping a bit in surprise when he caught sight of her. He had no idea where she came from.

“Hi,” she smiled. “My name is Stephanie. Are you Jason?”

“No, my name is Greg. You must be looking for the owners.” He frowned slightly. “My guess would be up at the house.” He pointed to the right. “I can drive you up in my truck once I find my—”

He broke off as he realized that his tent was nowhere to be. Oh well. Good riddance. He didn’t plan to ever camp again.

“Ah, no actually,” she said, laying a hand on his arm. “Do you think you could give me a ride into town.”

As they climbed into his truck, they missed the angry man running down the driveway towards them, lab coat flapping in the breeze. He was waving his hands frantically trying to get their attention.

* * *

Somehow, they were ended up spending the entire day together. She new in town and fascinated by everything. She kept asking question after question.

It wasn’t until after supper that she started to look a bit green.

“Are you feeling okay?” he asked, as they walked out of the restaurant.

“Yeah, I’m just feeling a bit nauseous.” Her eyes started to droop.

“Do you need to sit down?’ he asked, guiding her to a nearby bench. No, I think something might wrong. I need to see—”

“Darling! There you are!” A man with a blonde mustache and a lab coat came up to them. “Ah, tsk, tsk, tsk.” He shook his head sadly and said conspiratorially with Greg. “She drinks too much, my love.” He gave Greg a nudge in his die with his elbow.

Greg frowned. “She wasn’t drinking. And who are you?”

“Me?” he said, looking scandalized. “I’m her husband.”

Greg looked over at Stephanie. ‘You’re married?”

She stared blankly back at him, her eyes glazed over.

The man scooped her up and carried her over his shoulder.

“Stephanie!” he said, feeling very uneasy about this man carrying her away. “Is this your husband.” But she was now unconscious and didn’t say anything.

The man sauntered down the street leaving Greg greatly troubled.

The Boomerang Jump – Part 1 of 4

April 4, 2057

Dear Jason,

You are no doubt waiting in the Peterson’s field just like we agreed. In answer to the question you are dying to ask: yes! We succeeded in developing time travel. It only took us 46 years, but I’m thrilled to tell you, we’ve finally done it!

I’m sending my first test subject to you. He is embarking on the first ever boomerang jump and will return automatically in exactly 24 hours. Detail how the jump went, the heath of the subject, and any other details you think are worth noting. Do not be alarmed if he dies. This is, of course, the first try and there are bound to be some mishaps.

I’ve also included the date and numbers of an upcoming lottery. Use the money to buy the Stangland farm which will become available in 3 years time. It will make an ideal test facility.

I will send the second test subject to their field in 3 years and 61 days on August 23, 2014 at precisely 5:00 am. Please send your reply and field notes with test subject #1.

* * *

June 23, 2011, 3:46 am

Daphne was running away from home. Again. She was eleven years old and tired of being compared to her perfect older sister. She trudged down the familiar dirt road flashlight in hand. She knew, by this point, not to walk along the main road. Guaranteed, either her parents, her older brother, grandparents, or an obnoxious, nosy neighbour pick her up and take her home. But, if she cut through their field to the old dirt road that was hardly every used, then she could walk for miles without being seen.

She had her earbuds in listening to her music as she allowed her anger and self pity wash over her to fuel her forward.

After what felt like an hour, an odd mechanical noise chirped. Alarmed, and suddenly afraid that she had been caught, she flew into the bushes on the side of the road. By now, the early morning sun was peeking over the horizon and she was able to see without her flashlight.

She yanked her earbuds out of ears and listened intently. At first, all was quiet aside from the soft rustling of leaves. Then, the noise sounded again and she thought it might be coming from above her.

She couldn’t see what was making the noise. Suddenly, a blinding light and loud cracking noise exploded through the air and she duck down, throwing her arms over her head. The ground shook throwing her off her feet.

When she caught her bearings again and lifted her head, she saw a tall man, about 70, with a large pot belly jutting out in front of him. His rumpled clothes hung disheveled from his overweight frame. He stood in the middle of the road staring, with an odd expression on his face.

She stayed in her place in the bushes and peered through the leaves. The man appeared to be disoriented. His eyes were crossing and he leaned to one side. Just as he looked like he was about to topple over, he stumbled forward, caught his balance then began to lean to the other side.

Daphne was about to sneak away, when another man, about 25 years old, appeared down the road just coming up over the top of the hill. He raced towards them with a wheel barrow swerving about in front of him and his white lab coat billowing out behind him.

He stopped when he got to the older man, dropping the handles of the wheel barrow. He bent forward and clutched his knees, gasping and breathing hard. Suddenly, the older man gives a load moan and and started to topple over to the side. The man with the lab coat noticed just in time and jumped into action. He grabbed the handles and slide the wheelbarrow under the man’s falling frame and caught him. He landed in a heap sending off a metallic clang.

“Easy does it, easy does it.” He quickly scooped up the limbs that were hanging limply from the wheelbarrow, knuckles and shoes dragging on the ground. Then, he started riffling through the coat pockets of the unconscious man before giving a shout of delight. He emerged with an envelope and eagerly tore it open.

After scanning it for quick moment, his smile growing larger with each word and he whooped in delight! “Ha HA! I did it!” He slapped the shoulder of the man in the wheelbarrow and cackled with delight.

That’s when Daphne noticed that the large man’s condition seemed to be getting worse. Not only was he unconscious, but blood had begun to drip from both nostrils and started to leak from his ears.

From inside his lab coat, the younger man pulled out a folded tarp and with a grand swoosh and a flick of his wrists, he unfurled it. The tarp lay over the body as the man giddily trotted away pushing the wheelbarrow back the way he came.

Daphne stared at the empty path and the drops of blood trailing after the men, her mouth hanging open. She slowly emerged from the bushes, her backpack hanging on the crook of one elbow and dragging on the ground.

When she finally came to her senses, she raced back home, hid in her room, and told no one.

* * *

I wrote this story based on a prompt from the Instagram page:

“People are dropping dead in the middle of the street completely randomly from brain aneurysms, but they have no identity. It turns out that they are time travelers in the early stages of the technology and the jump to the past is causing their brains to melt.”