Used Time

By Joseph DeRepentigny

“Time travel is not for the squeamish.” Marc said looking down at his drink. He was an average looking man with short hair and a light skin tone. A little on the muscular side but not in a bodybuilding manner he could blend in anywhere. Dressed in a simple white and black one-piece jumpsuit he looked like a pilot drowning his sorrows between missions.
“Time travel is impossible.” A slurred voice said to his right.
The response did not catch him off guard. Looking to the source of the comment, Marc saw a lime green person with bugged out eyes nursing drink a through a straw. Dressed in a similar jumpsuit he was about Marc’s size though a little on the flabby side. The sight of such a being did not faze Marc in the least. In his time, he saw beings of pure energy, semi-pure energy, plasma, and even someone claiming to be a god. No, what bothered him was the abject statement made by this green-skinned fellow.
“What do you mean time travel is impossible?” Marc asked in an annoyed tone.
The creature turned toward Marc. He did not like people who said silly things even if they were drunk. “Our best scientists determined that such a thing is nothing but pure fantasy. It is a vehicle for delightful stories without technical merit. Time is an ever-flowing linear phenomenon. Unchanging and impenetrable, you cannot travel into it or alter it. Hence, time travel is impossible.”
“Really,” Marc said in a louder voice, “then explain me?”
The alien’s face rippled bluish with annoyance. He hated this little planet in the middle of nowhere, a primitive outpost that had few of the luxuries a civilized being expected. However, the thing he disliked most about this place was the creatures that lived here. They looked hideous, smelled bad, and acted strangely.
Looking Marc square in the eyes, he said. “You’re just one of the aphids that infest this awful rock.”
Marc sat up straight. Though he was annoyed with this place and his situation, it was, after all, his home. On top of that, this green man called him a liar. Angered and a little drunk he was ready for a fight to defend the honor of the Earth and its people.
Best to get “Greenie” mad and have him throw the first punch. Then he could claim self-defense afterwards. Marc thought to himself.
“Really,” Marc asked with a forced smile. “So where did you come from Greenie?”
“Arica.” The Alien replied ignoring the name.
“Is it far?”
“Yes,” he replied, “Twenty light years.”
“That’s a long trip.” Marc said evenly. “It must take you years to get here.”
“Nope, it takes just a month.” Greenie replied.
“So you traveled faster than light to get here?”
“Yes. What about it?”
“Impossible.”
“What?”
“Our best scientists determined that such a thing is nothing but pure fantasy. It is a vehicle for delightful stories without technical merit.” Marc said in a mocking tone. “The speed of light is a constant that cannot be exceeded. You cannot travel faster than light without becoming energy. Therefore faster than light travel is impossible.”
“Then explain my appearance?” Greenie said sneering.
“Easily, you’re a native of this planet. You may be a little on the green side but you are one of us, a full-blooded Terran. You are probably just a maladjusted Terran. The skin and bug-eyes is all a disguise. The whole thing is probably just to hide some ugly scars or such.” Marc said with a sneer. “You’re an aphid!”
This was the last straw for Greenie. You could talk bad about him, his mother, and even his last girlfriend but do not call him a native of this dump! The two of them leapt out of their seats at the same time. Marc with his hands up in a classic boxing pose, Greenie crouched low with his arms spread in a method equally classic for his culture. Both were ready to do serious harm to each other and possibly part of the bar when reality interrupted them.
“Hold it!” A raspy mechanical voice shouted.
The two combatants saw the Barman heading their way. Unlike the usual man or woman with a white apron or towel, this Barman was a robot. This was not a replica of a person, but a functional robot. It was a two-meter high column of silver metal with serving arms on treads. The fact of it coming toward the two of them did not cause them concern. What bothered them was it was coming at them with a gun.
“You two take your fight outside right now.” It said in a menacing tone.
“But he started it!” Marc shouted pointing at his opponent.
“I did not!” Greenie replied with equal volume.
“That’s it out!” The Barman shouted, “You’re both banned from this place for five days!” With that, the robot fired a warning shot between Marc and Greenie. The effect was instantaneous. The two of them sobered up and ran for the door. The Barman in pursuit, shouting threats and using his mass it ushered them outside into the daylight.
Here it was a bright mid-morning. The deep azure blue sky and the bright yellow sun hit their already achy heads like a sledgehammer. It was like a different world out here. This was a Neolithic city verging on becoming Copper Age. The buildings were mud and stone structures with a piece of leather hanging over a hole for a door. The smell of animal and human dung filled the air. People in combinations of home spun wool and animal skins passed by pushing carts or carrying burdens on their backs.
“Your facial images are registered in my memory.” The barman said in an even tone from the bar’s entrance. “Return before five days and I will turn you over to the constables.”
The commotion attracted a small crowd of people who pointed at the robot and mumbled nervously. When it left, their attention fell to Marc and Greenie. To them they were veritable angels or demons cast out of heaven by some unknown god. Greenie made a purplish face and shouted at the crowd who fled like mice.
“Your people smell bad.” He said with a sniff.
“They’re not my people!” Marc said through clenched teeth.
“But you said you’re from here.”
“I’m from the future!”
“Are you on that again?”
“Do I smell like them?”
“No.”
“Do I dress like them?”
“No, but these are all superficial things. A bath and a tailor can fix these things for them too,” Greenie said with a color sequence that indicated a smirk.
Marc frowned. What proof could he produce? Then it hit him. Smiling he said. “Look at my teeth.”
“What?”
“I have dental work, something that does not exist here, at least not yet.”
With that, Marc opened his mouth and displayed silver fillings.
“Where’d you get those?”
“I’ve gone to the dentist at least twice a year since I was ten years old.” Marc said proudly.
“You should have gone before that.” The Arican said shaking his head. “Good dental care starts early.” Then the thought hit him. “Your people do not have any dentists here.”
“Right, my dentist is in a city called Atlanta. It’s a 4,000 mile and 5,000 year journey from here.”
“Alright, if you’re a time traveler how did you get here?”
“With this,” Marc said pulling a device out of his pocket and handed it to Greenie. It looked like a spike with three levers on it. In the top was a lighted display.
“You built this?” He asked looking at it in awe.
“No, I bought it.” Marc replied. “It cost a pretty penny but I wanted to see several historical events. Collect antiques and make a few bucks.”
“OK, so demonstrate it!”
“I can’t it is busted.”
“Well fix it!”
“I don’t know how.”
“You bought a time machine and you don’t know how to fix it?”
“You own a spaceship?”
“Yes.”
“You can fix the engines?”
“No, but there are places to take it to get it fixed when I need to.”
“Exactly,” Marc said with a smile.
“Well let’s take it some place to get it fixed.”
“I don’t know where.”
“What? The manual should at least give you a point of contact.”
“I don’t have a manual.”
“Impossible, even I have a manual.” Greenie said shaking his head. “They give it to you when you buy it.”
“I am not the original owner of the machine.”
“I don’t understand.”
“It is used. I got it from a guy in a parking lot of a liquor store.” Marc explained. “He sold it to me for five bucks and said it was simple to use. Put in a date and poof.”
“So why come here?”
“Well after seeing a dozen places and things, the gadget started acting up. It then brought me here, well a few hundred miles from here.” Marc said making a face. “I wandered around until I heard a tale of a city full of gods.” Marc explained. “That usually means space travelers and techs. I figured that they could fix the thing. Unfortunately this city of “gods” is really a city of perverts and nitwits.”
“Then there must be other time travelers around here!”
“Probably, unfortunately they don’t wear T-shirts with “Time Traveler” printed on them.” Marc said looking around. “Also they seem to like to keep a low profile. That’s why I start fights in the bars. I hope someone will tell me I’m giving time travelers a bad name. Then voila I have a point of contact for a repair shop.”
The Arican nodded. “My name is Hagar. Let me buy you a drink.”
“Why?” Marc said with a bit of suspicion.
“Because that was the best story I’ve heard yet.”
“So you believe me?”
“I do not know. Though I still think it is impossible.” He said with a fluctuation of facial colors that indicated he was laughing. “I want to be there incase someone else agrees that time travel is not for the squeamish.”