This is a short little something that I wrote for my British Literature class after we read "The Time Machine" by H.G. Wells, only around 1200 words. The prompt was, "What would you see if you were to travel through time?" I hope you enjoy it!
My very first sensation was of an uncomfortable whirling and stretching. It was as if I were being squeezed through a very long and constricting tube, and it may sound silly, but I felt as if I were apparating! I fancied myself a wizard in the universe of Harry Potter, popping from place to place with my marvelous magic. But I, despite my fantastical moments, am not a wizard, nor was I in that moment. I was simply… a Time Traveler.
"Simply" is an odd word to be using, as the concept of Time Travel is anything but simple. Even once one moves past quantum mechanics and the non-linear nature of the time stream, one still has to worry about the possibility of altering the world's already precarious sense of balance. The farther one goes back in time, the more of a ripple effect their visit has on significant events. The idea of a "butterfly effect" applies beautifully. Given this information you may appreciate my apprehensiveness in partaking in this odd art of Time Travel, and the peculiar sensations I experienced only enhanced my worry. Imagine my surprise when I landed in the future to no great scene of destruction, but was instead met with a cold, dark, and impersonal passageway.
The walls were of a bizarre sort of what I guessed to be metal. It was strangely warm to the touch, and I was astonished when my finger produced a set of ripples along the surface, as if it were a vertical pool of water suspended by some unknown force. Despite my prodding, the structure remained upright and stable, as if there were something directly beneath the surface supporting it. I lamented my lack of a camera; how could any respectable person truly believe my story, were I to tell it to them? But alas, I was forced to simply observe and marvel.
As fascinating as my new discoveries were, I soon felt the need to explore my strange environment further. Since I could not perceive an end to the tunnel in either direction, I chose in the manner any other rational person would: I spun myself about in a circle and set off on whichever path I was facing when I came to a halt. I ended facing half-way to the right, and so to the right I went. As I walked, my boots initially made a harsh clicking sound that seemed as if it were absorbed into the walls. It was almost as if my presence was erased from every step, mere seconds after my foot lifted away.
The atmosphere was eerie, with walls that quivered about me as I brushed against them and no noise other than my snuffed-out footsteps. Suddenly, I felt a great trembling rush through the ground, as if an earthquake was suddenly shaking the formerly solid ground beneath my feet. The floor now seemed to be of the same substance as the walls, and I seemed no longer able to stand, as if my legs had also turned to liquid; crying out in surprise, I first fell to one knee, and desperately attempted to stand by using the wall as a support, but its fluidity only caused me to lose my balance again and fall to my hands and knees. I seemed to lay there for a small eternity, desperately attempting to remain afloat. Then, just as suddenly as it had overcome me, the world righted itself again. The ground was now solid, the walls still fluid, but not flailing wildly as before.
More than a little unnerved, I shakily rose to my feet, and stood unsteadily in place for a few moments, unsure if any aftershocks would again rumble below me. More wary now, I cautiously inched forward, but gradually regained my confidence and strode towards the unknown.
For how long I marched I cannot recall, but I do remember that the tunnel eventually widened so that my shoulders no longer brushed the sides, and it also became higher. Gradually, the dark grey color of the hall blended to white, and I got the sense that this area was more used. I am not sure how I came to such a conclusion, as there was no indication of a human presence; there were no footprints, and the whiteness remained unmarred. I only knew that someone or something had been here recently.
Eventually, I became aware of a gentle sound that surrounded me. It soon grew to a roaring din as I walked, until I could no longer hear my own ruffled footsteps. It was an odd racket, unlike anything I had ever heard; it sounded mechanical, in some way, mixed with the tones of a great rushing wind.
It became obvious that the tunnel was coming to the end; I could feel a current moving about me that also set off the walls. There was, instead of a light at the end of the tunnel, an area of pitch blackness. Thinking the cause of this darkness was the night, I kept walking. I took one step, and then another, and another. But then came one step where my foot met not solid ground, but open air! I suddenly pitched forward, unable to plant myself, and felt myself toppling over the edge of some great precipice, seemingly in slow motion. I could sense no ground below me, and I was helpless to the judgment of gravity.
My second foot, the one desperately trying to cement my weight to the ledge, slipped and lost contact with the ground. I felt my stomach drop as if a stone had taken its place, and I plummeted down the endless, empty space. But the space was not empty, as I saw blurs of neon lights begin to appear, and I realized that I must have been approaching some kind of street. I tensed in anticipation, thinking that this was the end, but I rushed past what looked like a floating sidewalk of some sort – it was attached to the edge of the wall, and had so many people bustling about on it that it might as well have been commuting hour in the middle of New York City. I gazed in wonder, momentarily forgetting that I was falling at an alarming speed. And in the next moment of my awareness, I simply…stopped.
Funny, that when you're plummeting down an unknown crevice at high speeds the thought of stopping doesn't even cross your mind. In fact, the idea of it was so strange that I looked about me in confusion. And what did I find when I gazed around me, but the very area that my time machine had first landed! Unthinking as to how this was possible in my lingering fright, I scrambled for the machine and again traveled through the squeezing tunnel, finally landing back in my solid and silent home.
Later, I would go through the path I had taken in my head. There is no possible way I could have fallen directly to where I had started. But I figure that is just something about time travel. Just as the time stream is convoluted and difficult to wrap one's head around, the happenings of the future cannot be described in ways that humans of my own time can understand. Time is fluid, and as such, those in the future live in a completely different world.
Neither do I. But then again, that is my point.