Dr. David Wu is the head of FETE, Future Exploration and Time Engineering. Three teams were sent into three different futures. Only one team returned–Dr. Meiying Baylor and her three team members. While trying to recover the other teams, David Wu made a critical error and now the remaining project members, as well as the field campsite, are outside their timeline. Where and when they are pale in comparison to the big questions…can they get back? CLICK HERE to go to the beginning of their adventure.
“Look, David, we’re in a binary system: Sunset at Dawn. The second Sun is below declination. This can’t be Earth. Two Suns…two Moons that we’ve seen so far. This is more than an alternate timeline.”
“I’m telling you, Meiying, we’re in Egypt. I’ve been in the White Desert National Park. See that formation over there? It’s called the Baker….”
“Cute curiosity but not proof that this is Earth, whether in our original reality or another. Here’s the bigger question: for our purposes do we really care which reality? We just need to get HOME. We don’t know how many dimensions there are or how many dimensions away from ours we’ve come. We could have created some pan-dimensional pandemonium. I need a drink.
“I don’t know about you, David, but I feel like I’m in a Doctor Whatever episode.”
“Oh, Jeez, Bobby, I was just about to say that.”
“David…you have no idea who Doctor Whatever is. I’m going to join Meiying for a drink and then go look for the TUCKIS to get us out of here.”
“Has everyone gone mad? Am I the only sane person here? Sasha, Manny G, you two haven’t spoken up…what’s your take on all this?”
“Sasha and I both need a drink. Sasha has some really serious vodka. Want to join us, David?”
“Sure, why not? We’re not doing anything right now.”
“I’m hearing sarcasm, David.”
“Since when are you so apathetic, Manny G? Wait a minute…where is Meiying’s team? Where are Rebecca, Michael and Vincent? Have you seen them?”
“No, David. Not since they got back. I could have sworn they were sleeping over there. Maybe they’re sleeping in Q2.”
“Go look for them, Sasha–take your vodka with you, but look for them–now. Manny, you go over to Main and see if you can raise them. Neither one of you go beyond a perimeter of, say, a meter. Stick to the buildings as much as possible.”
“No, Meiying. No sign of your team. They definitely left the cots they were sleeping on, because their shoes are missing. They probably awoke and went outside–too far from our little oasis here, and disappeared into whatever is out there.”
“I want to go look for them. I’ll go alone and I’ll take a communicator and keep talking. If I suddenly stop talking you’ll know how far you can go. If I disappear from your view but I’m still talking…well, you can tell me and I’ll turn around….”
“Meiying, I’m not going to let you do that.”
“David, we can’t hang around here forever. We lost Jenner’s and Maynerd’s teams and now three more scientists are missing. That’s eleven people. We’ll eventually run out of food and water and then we won’t have a choice. If I’m going to die here, in lieu of flowers, I’d like floating sizzlers and how about….”
“Knock it off, Meiying. We need to sit down, all of us, and brainstorm. Manny, where are Sasha and Bobby?”
“Sasha’s on his way here. David, I haven’t seen Bobby since he went looking for Doctor Whatever.”
Sasha came running into the Control Room wearing an earpiece and talking to someone on the Com. He was excited and David had a difficult time understanding him at first because he was speaking in English. Finally he broke into Mandarin, informing everyone that Bobby had taken a communicator and walked out past the perimeter–same scenario Meiying had proposed. Bobby disappeared from Sasha’s sight but was still talking on the Com.
Everyone listened as David questioned Bobby. Meiying’s three team members were with Bobby. They were afraid to move once they realized the project field camp disappeared. Using the Com signal, Bobby escorted them back to the camp. They disappeared from his sight but within a few minutes David assured him that the three arrived safely.
Bobby continued his exploration outside the camp while his collegues anxiously awaited any information about the outside. What Bobby told them next was puzzling. It was Earth, but, it didn’t look like the future. There was no White Desert. Bobby was on an escarpment overlooking a city of which the majority lay in ruin. It looked as though it was being rebuilt, but he didn’t see any people anywhere. Bobby could see huge craters in the earth. The radiation level was slightly below that of their timeline. So, what had happened? David called Bobby back to the camp.
“Any ill effects, Bobby?” Manny G checked all Bobby’s vitals, as he had for the three errant scientists. They all were in good health. David asked Bobby if he could identify the ruined city.
“I tripped over an old sign that said “Welcome to Seattle”, in English.”
David jumped out of his chair and commanded Sasha to check the history files on Seattle before the Chinese World Order took place and find an image of a shield-buster. It was in the distant past that a war was fought between the West and the East. Sasha located an image of the odd-looking weapon.
“That weapon is what caused the craters.” David was flipping through the images.
“We’re in the past? How did that happen? We’re not supposed to be able to do that, according to Einstein.”
“We just blundered into it, Bobby.”
“Are we going to be stuck in the past, in Seattle of all places, David? What about the chance of paradox?” Manny G was no longer apathetic. He was pacing, rubbing his bald head. “I had a bad experience in Seattle.”
“We’re going to the future. Now that we have a timeline, let’s set up everything to go to OUR future. Have HAL engage his AI and let’s start computing our way back home….
“Meiying’s right, David. We might never get such a chance ever again. By staying we might learn that we can duplicate the way back here. And what if the other two teams are around here somewhere?” Bobby threw back a shot of Sasha’s vodka, waiting for David to make the right decision.
“What about the 7 billion people we left behind, David? What if we screw up the past just by being here, which in turn screws up the future of several billion lives? Just saying.” It was the most Meiying’s team member, Rebecca, ever said to David.
David downed a shot of Meiying’s scotch. He looked around at all the bright and brilliant members of the project–his friends. He thought about the missing eight people–also his friends. He stared at his Life Partner, Meiying, and fought the urge to protect her, to get her back home….
Inspiration Monday: Sunset at Dawn at Be Kind Rewrite
Prompts: Sunset at Dawn, In lieu of flowers, Odd-looking weapon, Pan-dimensional pandemonium, Which Reality?
Picture credit: city in ruin – Indigodeep at deviantART
Word Count: 1000+
Very special thanks to the talented Stephanie Orges at Be Kind Rewrite for hosting the weekly challenge, Inspiration Monday