Do Time Travelers Keep Journals?

I haven’t written in quite a while, so here’s something I wrote a few weeks ago. I think I’ll try to create and post at least one short story a week. Try being the key word. Enjoy!

On a slightly rainy day in DC, Rocha Urea sat on a bench feverishly paging through the new gossip of the baseball world on his clear tablet. The column contained all the salty and delicious ingredients his genetically engineered egg sandwich did not.

It was a nice reprieve from his soul-burning job as a security image projection developer. A system capable of projecting memories that linked to images from a nano temple implant, which he had. Primarily used in criminal cases, Rocha used it to catch his cheating ex-wife.

As he read on, a biker splashed a muddy puddle all over his lunch. He stood, red in the face to attack the boy as he sped off but the sound of someone rampaging in the trash took his attention away.

It was a girl. And the site of a girl with matte skin glued him. She looked up to him with eyes the color of a lake in a desert mirage, and then she scurried away.

“Hey!” He shouted finally. But she was already gone.

Tossing his soggy egg salad into the trash, he kicked a moleskin notebook. He picked it up and opened it to the first page that had a heart drawn with no line over lapping the other. Perfect. His curiosity took him to the first entry.

“I am not sure where or when I am. 2025? I need to go home to my time to 2345. Before he finds me. But the time machine I created is damaged.”

“What the hell is this…?” Rocha closed it.

“Maybe it’s someone’s draft.” Rocha put the book in his backpack. The trash girl from before peeked around a tree and examined the man that had her book.

Thumbing his see-through cellphone, Rocha paid no attention to her as she peered at his phone as if scanning the internal motherboard.

After closing an app with Excel tables and stats, he zipped to a special app, named Nano, and selected start.

“Just a few more bugs. They’ll call me the next Steve Jobs.” He said.

She gasped and smiled. “The illegal gambler mines the Nanocoins. Far more valuable than the bitcoins. Maybe I can get back. But how will he help me?” She said and watched him as he entered the building to his soul-killing job.

***

In his stuffy apartment, Rocha turned on his projector and several men’s faces appeared in a hologram skype session. Some of the men looked hungover, tired from work, or restless from not having to work.

“Are you ladies ready?” Rocha asked grinning.

He sat his phone down, which linked to the projector and a smaller window showed stats for the next five baseball games.

“Gentleman, this week –.” A loud knock at the door sent Rocha out of his seat.

“A nice girl? Or a dude.” A man said.

“I say driod.” A larger man said and laughed sending his head back.

“Shush.” Rocha said and ended the skype session. He went torpor to the door. Pressing a button, he made the door become invisible, and on the other side, his trash girl stood pleading at her rages and looking up with those eyes.

“How…” He said and the door went back opaque.

As he eased it open, the girl walked in uninvited.

“Come right in,” he said.

“We have to go.” She trashed his electronics and destroyed his holographic projector.

“What are you doing?” He asked with his arms raised.

“I need your help. You have an algorithm for the Nano bites. I can use this to make enough money for parts for my machine.”

“Sure…right…” Rocha said and took quick glances at the emergency button on his security system in the corner.

“I’m sorry but I don’t think I can help you.”

Another loud knock on the door.

“It’s the cops,” she said. Rocha made his door invisible, and as she mentioned, a man in a nice suit surrounded by police officers projected a warrant.

“Why would they be here?” Rocha whispered.

“I told them about your illegal insider gambling stats for baseball.”

“You what?” He asked.

“I calculated and it was the only way to get you to help.” She said and ripped out a small golden device on the side of his head, sending him over in pain. She pulled him to the window and pushed him along.

As they escaped out of the window, the police entered his home.

***

Running down a damp alley, Rocha took a break to catch what little breath he had left in him.

“We cannot stop here.” She said and dragged him farther into the alley. Police sirens ringed in the streets and the sound of tires sloshing water from the curb splashed on the pavement.

“I’m a wanted man.” He said holding his head. She snatched his phone and used the projection feature to open his Nano app. Her fingers worked fishing the code as if guided by some magical force of mathematics and computer engineering.

“That’s not ready…” He trailed off staring at what she had done. Within minutes, she’d fixed all the bugs, uploaded the program to an untraceable network, created a special digital bank to hold it, and made it available on the net.

“Now I buy them. I have enough to go home.”

“Where’s your machine?”

“I’ll show you.”

They stumbled down several dark alleys where the homeless slept out of the rain. Periodically, she pushed him against a building to hide from the police. He was close enough in those moments to notice she was not only stronger than he was, but that she was over twenty. The fine lines on her forehead were clearer. But her eyes took away his ability to tell her he wanted to go home.

“How old are you?” He trailed her as they approached a large warehouse deep in the city and outside of DC.

“Twenty-six. No…I had a birthday. It is hard to tell. Come on we are here.” She said to him and stopped at the door of a massive warehouse fitting for Tesla.

“You do not have to stay.” She said and looked up at him with those eyes.

“Never seen a time machine.” He smiled to her. She returned it and opened the door to a bright yellow light that flashed on and off in the building.

Inside, many trinkets and gadgets buzzed and spun, sputtered and cringed, but nothing that appeared to be a time machine sat in the space. But how would a time machine look like?

As Rocha took in the strange looking machines around him, a small man bending over an older computer peered up at them.

“Gena. Oh, Gena.” The man said and stammered to her with his arms raised.

“This is the man that ruined my machine.” She said and pushed Rocha behind her. The old man sighed, removed his spectacles, and went to his table to grab a dime-sized object. With shaky hands, he pressed the clear device.

“I am so sorry.” He said and Gena fell into Rocha’s arms. She slide and the brightness in her eyes deemed as she stiffened.

“What did you do to her?” Rocha asked and checked for a pulse. There was none, and he performed CPR on her stiff body, which bounced up with each bump from his hands.

“I turned her off.” The man said and he finished cleaning his glasses.

Rocha furrowed his forehead. Turned her off? He had no idea how to continue the conversation. The old man was even crazier than the beautiful girl was lying dead in his arms.

“You’re crazy!” Rocha stood and backed up to towards the exit.

“Come.” The man said. Using a pulley, the old man lifted her, and placed her in a compartment labeled “2345.”

“That’s the time I made her.”

“She’s…an — ” Rocha said with a dry mouth.

“ — Yes. Androids do not have an imagination. And I wanted to give that to her, but she couldn’t tell what was real. I erased her mind repeatedly and still.” The man said and flopped down starring into her porcelain face as if losing his mind would be a better fate.

“I’m sorry for the trouble she caused. I sent her a panic signal to come home and –“

“ — She told the cops I was part of illegal gambling. I can’t go back.”

The old man looked at him, curious.

“Maybe…I could erase that part; fill it with junk.” The man touched Rocha’s head and guided him to a table.

“What’ll happen?”

“You’ll be cleared. Cops have no evidence do they?”

“No…I don’t keep that information in my house.”

“Very well. Watch the yellow light.”

The man hooked up the machine, and Rocha gazed rapidly at the yellow light. In each passing, he watched the memories of the entire day stream from him. The last image was of her eyes. Eyes he would never remember again.

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