He loosened his tie, sat and put his feet up on the desk. Smiling at the memory of the ceremony tonight, he took a sip. What was it Dean Alexander said? Oh, yeah. “Youngest full professor in MIT history at twenty years of age.”
Damn straight. Robby intended to make more history in this job, especially as a researcher in energy and physics.
His eyes took in the room; the packing boxes, the lab table, and finally resting on the newly unpacked objects on the desk. My desk. He smirked and picked up the fist-sized model of the Starship Enterprise. He turned it over in his hands, examining it again as if he were looking at it for the first time. Light speed travel. This office and this lab is where it’ll be developed. Raising his shot glass, he saluted the room. He took another sip, pulled his tie off and tossed it on the desk.
Robby was convinced he was on the verge of a breakthrough. The warp drive still existed only in his mind, but the ideas were starting to come together in new, exciting ways. He grinned again and downed the rest of his drink.
Okay. One more shot and get to work. He filled the glass, tossed it down, and slipped the bottle back into his desk drawer. As he set the glass down, he felt the hair on his arm stand up. What the? To confirm his suspicion, he reached over to touch the metal desk lamp. As he expected, a spark of static electricity leapt from his fingertips.
Glimpsing something out of the corner of his eye, he spun to face the lab area. A globe of white light had appeared. At first, it seemed solid; then he realized it was transparent and the air inside was glowing and swirling around, as if in a windstorm. Static electricity crackled through the room.
He sat up so quickly, he nearly fell from his chair. Is that a man? After a moment, he was sure he saw a figure in the middle of the globe.
He stood and gripped the edge of the desk. What’s happening? He thought of the Star Trek transporter, but dismissed the thought with a shake of his head. Impossible.
Just as the light became too bright to watch, it bulged out to nearly double its previous size and went out. The man from the globe fell backward, crashing into the desks behind the lab table. “Crap,” he said, then laughed. “Well, he told me, didn’t he?” Robby stared as the man picked himself up from the floor and began dusting himself off. When the man noticed him, he said, “Damn, this place is a mess. Don’t you ever clean it up?”
“I just moved in,” Robby said. “What just happened? Who the hell are you?”
The man rolled his eyes, grinned at Robby and held his hands up, framing his face. “Don’t you recognize me? You should.”
Robby gaped at him. He did look familiar. “Uh, I...” His mind raced. Where did he know this guy from? He was older than Robby. Forty? Fifty, maybe?
“Look closer,” the man said, grinning wider and stepping toward him.
Recognition dawned. “No way. No freaking way.”
The man laughed aloud. “Oh, yes, there is a way. Remember that scar on your elbow from falling out of that tree at Grandpa’s?” He unbuttoned the sleeve on his left arm. Without thinking, Robby reached for his own elbow and felt for the raised scar.
The man exposed his left elbow. “Still got it,” he said, as he pointed it out with his right hand. “Believe it. I’m you.”
“I don’t believe it. This is some sort of trick.” Wary now, Robby began to back away.
The man stepped forward with his hands forward, palms up. “No trick. I’m you from the future. Twenty-five years in the future, in fact. I go by Rob now, instead of Robby. It’s nice to meet you.” He stuck out his hand.
Robby recoiled from the extended hand, shaking his head. “No. This is a joke. There’s a camera here somewhere. Punk the new prof, right? Okay, you guys. You can come out now,” he called, a touch of panic creeping into his voice.
The man leaned back against the lab table and crossed his arms. “He told me you would freak out, just like I did.”
“What?” Robby mumbled. “Who?”
“Robert. He should be here any moment now.”
Looking the man up and down, Robby paused for a moment, leered at the man, then squared off and crossed his arms. “Seriously. Who are you? How do you know so much about me?”
“You really are having trouble with this, aren’t you? One more time. I’m you. Or rather, you, twenty-five years from now. You did it, you know. Nobody else could figure it out, but you did. Well, actually, you didn’t do it. No warp drive yetbut you stumbled onto something really exciting.”
This guy is pissing me off. Robby clenched his fists and leaned forward. “What? Tell me.”
“I think I’ll let Robert explain. He started it. He came back first accidentally, you know, and now we’ve come back for your help.” He uncrossed his arms and turned around. “Come to think of it, he should be here by now. Oh, there he is.”
Another globe of light had appeared. The light grew brighter and the glowing air inside it danced. Robby could already make out a figure kneeling in the globe. If experience was any teacher, a second person was arriving. The light intensified, surged, and went out. Robby stepped forward and stood by Rob, staring at the new arrival.
The second man stood up and Robby’s breath caught in his throat. This new arrival looked just like Rob, except older. “Hello, Robby. I see you’ve met Rob. I’m Robert. Sorry for the surprise, but we’re here to help finish the light speed drive and perfect the Time Engine. I know you have a lot of questions, butoh, Rob, I think he’s leaving us.”
Rob caught Robby in his arms as he collapsed. “That went well,” he said with a laugh.
“You think?” Robert responded with a wry smile. “Well, wake him up. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Used by permission from the author & publisher. ©2015 Kim Megahee. All rights reserved.