"One more baby, c'mon, one more..."
The dealer threw down a three of spades, "Yes!" Thomas did a small fist pump. Now he had a 20. Whew, now maybe his luck would change. The blackjack dealer was showing an ace, that could be good or bad. But a 20 was always a good hand. Then it was time for the dealer to show his card, it was a queen of diamonds. "Ohhhh I'm sorry everybody!" Thomas sunk, he rolled his eyes heavenward, why why? After a heavy sigh, he thought, okay one more and then I'm outta here, he was down to his last four chips anyway, nickels...nickels meaning five dollar chips. An hour earlier he had stacks of them.
He glanced around the table and noticed the man at the other end, he was staring again. Earlier, after a few furtive glances, he would meet the man's eyes and he would look away, and here he was staring again. What's with this guy?
He had also noticed two guys in the casino that seemed oddly out of place. They were walking around with concerned looks on their faces, looking around, as if they were looking for someone they had lost. One guy was dressed in a green turtleneck sweater, the other wore a tweed suit with narrow lapels, like they were right out of the 60's. Hmm, maybe they were security guys in a very bad attempt at looking undercover.
Another hand was being dealt, two kings, yes! Another good hand. He tucked the cards under his two chips, indicating 'stay'. The dealer was showing a jack....the guy at the other end was staring again, jeeez, this guy, he was starting to give him the creeps, he wanted to loudly say, "Yes, can I help you?"
The dealer flipped his card, it was an ace. Thomas leaned back in his chair, "Gawwwd!" It was as if a higher power was controlling the cards, trying to teach him a lesson, 'you shouldn't gamble, the money you lost tonight could have been given to charity'. But he waved his conscience away.
He looked over and the guy was looking right at him...again...and with a wry smile the man shrugged, as if to say, 'oh well'. Then the man glanced in the direction of the two security guys from the 60's and his smile quickly faded to a look of concern, and fear. Without even picking up his chips he left the table and walked away at a hurried pace.
"Doug! I think I see him!" the green turtlenecked guy shouted, and they both ran in the direction of the strange man who had been at the table.
What was all that about? Thomas wondered...anyway, he was done, he took his two remaining chips and left. He decided to go back to his room, watch some tv, hit the hay and maybe contemplate on what his conscience was telling him.
"General! I think I've got a fix!" Ann almost seemed frantic...and exited, "they're here! I've got them! Las Vegas, Nevada..."
"They're in Vegas? That's just down the road from here!" Ray shouted.
"Wait a minute...yes...Las Vegas...the year is...2009!"
"Good God! Twenty oh nine!?! that's over forty years from now!"
"Can you get a visual?"
"Hang on, okay...yes, here we go..."
The panorama of the Las Vegas Strip appeared in the Tunnel.
"Oh my, look at that place! It looks like New York!"
"It IS New York, there's the Empire State Building!"
"No, no...it's a conglomeration of buildings...and look at that pyramid!"
"Can you get a fix on Tony and Doug?"
"Yes, coming through now..."
After some static, the image changed, Tony and Doug were racing through a vast casino, they ran as if they were chasing someone.
"Look at that place! Well I guess some things never change."
"Why are they running? Who are they after?"
Thomas decided to have a drink at the bar before returning to his room. He ordered a gin and tonic. There was a baseball game on the widescreen tv, he settled in to his chair with a certain inner joy, nothing like watching the ballgame.
"Who's winning?" It was that strange man again who had been staring at him at the blackjack table. He had sat down next to him.
"Are you following me?"
"Well, yes and no."
"Who the hell are you? are you some kind of stalker?"
"No, no, please...just listen to me please..."
The man had a strange accent, British maybe, Dutch? no, it was different, with strange inflection and diction, but it was English anyway. And he seemed a bit desperate.
"I have traveled a very long distance, I have come to give you something."
"Give me something? I don't even know you."
"Yes, I know....but I know you..."
"Your name is Thomas Matson."
He stiffened, "Who the hell are you? Are you a cop? I haven't done anything!"
"No, no, no, nothing like that..." The man kept glancing around as if he was being watched.
"My name is Robert Hodges. Remember those two fellows in the casino? The odd looking ones..."
"oh yeah, those guys"
"Well, they were looking for me, they're after this."
He produced a small unit that looked like a cel phone or a blackberry, but not quite, it was an odd circular shape, and it had gem-looking things on it that pulsed in a soft green light.
"What the hell is that?"
"It's a Time Machine! I'm a time traveler."
"A time machine..." Thomas rolled his eyes. "yeah sure...whatever you say, pal."
"No! No it's true!"
Thomas started to get up from his chair as the two strange guys dressed from the 60's entered the bar.
"Tony! There he is!"
Hodges bolted from his chair and raced out of the bar, the two men raced after him...What the hell is going on? Thomas thought...well this was all too crazy, he didn't need this, he went up to his room.
"Ann? What have you got?"
"I don't know, it's crazy, Tony and Doug seem to be chasing some guy..."
"Who are they chasing?"
"I don't KNOW who they're chasing, General. But we have them, they're in Las Vegas, 2009"
"okay, thank you Ann...at least we know they're nearby."
"yeah they're nearby, but 41 years from now", Ray said..."at least we know Vegas is still gonna be around!"
"if they're this close in proximity, maybe we can get a fix on Tony and Doug themselves and get them back here to this time..."
Thomas laid in bed, but he couldn't sleep, the events with that strange guy who said he had a time machine, what nonsense...but he knew his name! What was up with that??...
Ironically, he had always thought about time travel, he loved the idea of going back and just 'visiting'...having grown up watching black and white movies from the 40's and earlier, he had always wished to go back and just see...just to see what it was like back then...in living color...
And he thought of the ironic nature of time. He remembered a job interview he was late to, due to traffic, and figured he had blown it because he was late, and figured he might as well turn around...but he went to the interview anyway, and he was hired! That split second of time, when he decided not to turn around had changed his life.
He thought of the waitress in the casino earlier, carrying a tray of drinks when a drunk crashed into her, spilling the tray, the look on her face said that she was done with this and she walked out...now she might go on to a better life. But had it been one or two seconds earlier or later, the drunk would never have crashed into her, and she would carry on as she had...for who knows how long...He was amazed at how all of these simple random moments in time, everywhere, all the time, can have such a profound and sometimes permanent effect. He wondered what it would really be like to be a time traveler. Someone would need to be extremely adaptable, resourceful, and be able to blend in, in a completely strange and unfamiliar environment. Probably like traveling through a foreign country perhaps, where language, money, and social mores and behavior were different. It would depend on where and when one traveled of course, in some places it would be extremely hard not to stick out like a sore thumb... like that weird guy, ha!... and sometimes it would probably be downright dangerous! If he had his choice, he'd want to visit Hollywood in the 20's...he smiled wistfully to himself.
There was a knock at the door.
"oh no" It was either that time travel geek or those other two weird guys, he decided to just lay in bed and ignore it. The knocking became urgent and forceful. "Mr. Matson? Mr. Matson, please!"
Thomas looked through the peephole, it was the time travel guy, and he kept knocking...
He opened the door, "You again? Will you please leave me alone!!"
"Mr. Matson, please...one minute, just one minute...I knew you probably wouldn't believe me, I need you show you something else, so that you WILL believe me!"
"May I come in?"
With a huge sigh, Thomas gave a grand gesture inviting him in.
He produced an old newspaper, it was definitely old, it seemed authentic enough, the date was October 19, 1947.
"Look closely at that picture."
It was a picture of some public event, and in the background were two men, the same men he had seen earlier. Wearing the same clothes.
"oh my god."
"Those men are Tony Newman and Doug Phillips, they are time travelers as well."
"Look closer at the picture, look at the man on the left."
Thomas looked and he gasped, he was looking at a photo of himself.