You! | By: C.L. Nelson | | Category: Short Story - Science Fiction Bookmark and Share


Edwin found himself all at once back in the desert. Deserts didn't exist in his time and he was taken by the miles of desolate countryside which spread out before him. He couldn't help but be awestruck.
He chided himself for not concentrating on the mission, then activated the time field emitter on his belt. It was called "time in a bottle" by its manufacturer, a device capable of slowing down the time stream so that more things could be accomplished in a smaller amount of time.
He surveyed his work area. He'd arrived at Trinity Site, New Mexico on July 16, 1945. It was the eve of the first detonation of an atomic device. History was to be made here today.
The afternoon sun shone hot and bright, almost blinding him. He could hear the urgent blaring of the siren signaling the device's imminent detonation. By his estimate, he had about fifteen minutes. That would be plenty of time for this, he thought.
There was no time to waste. He turned the knob on his time field emitter all the way down, as far as it would go. Every second counted, which meant that the unit would be converting seconds into approximately one and a half minutes, give or take a few nanoseconds. The siren's wail decreased in pitch and duration. He was now moving faster than the world around him.
He looked over the tower that stood before him. The atomic device was suspended several feet above him from it. He slung the case over his shoulder and climbed the tower. Once in position, he unzipped the case and pulled out the replacement component. It was a solid lead sphere, the same dimensions as the plutonium core housed within the device. This sphere would be responsible for changing the course of history.
A great deal of research had gone into this project. His organization had worked for months from old plans and documents left over from this dangerous time. The organization had resolved mankind could not live peacefully in the midst of atomic weapons. These weapons had been responsible for so much death and destruction. They'd killed millions of people and they were poised to usher in a third world war in his own time. This was the very reason Edwin had volunteered to be sent here. He would be the one who would steer the course of mankind away from this destructive path. Atomic weapons technology must fail and its failure was their only hope.
He worked the housing off of the device and carefully reached inside. The plutonium core felt cold in his hands. It was hard for him to believe something this small and innocent looking could be responsible for the terror caused by its explosive power.
Something hit him and he lost his footing on the tower. He hit the ground and the case tumbled away from him. In the confusion, he lost track of what happened to the core. Was it still inside the device, he thought, rubbing his head, or did it fall on the ground?
He looked up to see another figure had climbed the tower and was reaching into the device. The figure was blurry and its features were indistinguishable. Plainly, whatever it was, was not from 1945.
"Hey!" he called to it, "You there! What're you doing?"
The figure continued its work, closing the bomb's housing. Edwin climbed back up the tower to investigate.
The figure kicked out at him, but Edwin anticipated the move and grabbed at the figure's leg. Each lost their footing and fell off of the tower.
Edwin still couldn't see the figure real well. It had to be wearing another time device like that of his own. That would account for the field that seemed to surround it. Usually time field emanations were slightly out of phase with each other, making it almost impossible to see the wearer when inside one's own time field.
"Leave the device alone!" it commanded. Its voice was distorted, coming out very low and guttural. Its speech analogs were no doubt being distorted by the time field's effects.
"I can't do that," Edwin replied.
"You must."
"Atomic technology is a mistake for mankind."
"The alternative is even worse!"
Edwin paused for a moment. The alternative?
"Sonic pulse technology far outweighs the danger for mankind. Leave the bomb alone!" it continued.
Edwin carefully, as not to be noticed, moved away from the figure toward the base of the tower while the figure continued pleading. His foot stepped on something. It must've been the lead core he dropped when he fell from the tower! There was still time.
He reached down, scooping the object up in his hands and quickly started back up the tower again. He had taken the other by surprise. The figure raced after him. It was calling out to him, still pleading with him to stop. It climbed up the tower after him.
Edwin had just about reached the device. He flung open the housing and stuck the sphere into the chamber. The figure grabbed his leg, trying to pull him off the tower. Before Edwin could get a look at the figure, they both fell off the tower again.
The figure landed on top of Edwin. Since the two time fields were out of phase with each other, this made them impermeable to each other. The figure bounced off Edwin's time field and fell into the sand. When the figure landed, the blurriness surrounding it vanished. Its time field had been deactivated.
Edwin was immediately startled by what he saw. Quickly, he turned off his own time field emitter to be sure he wasn't seeing things. It was another Edwin! The other Edwin's time field emitter had been damaged when he fell. It lay broken in pieces on the desert sand.
The other Edwin stared back at him, a broken and defeated opponent.
"You!" exclaimed Edwin, pointing at his fallen opponent.
The other Edwin gulped a few breaths and began to explain, "We had to save humanity from the terror of sonic weapons. We had to make sure that this test was a success. Originally it failed in 1945 forcing the US to pursue other weapons to defeat the Japanese. We put a lot of effort into this project."
"Why did the project fail?"
"They thought some unknown chemical reaction had turned the plutonium core to lead, making the weapon useless. A breakthrough in sonic technology resulted after man's first supersonic flight. Sonic booms led to further research in the field! Unfortunately, sonic technology allowed the Chinese to defeat both the USSR and the United States! Mankind has suffered because of it. Atomic weapons technology must succeed and its success is our only hope--"
He was abruptly cut off when a bright, white light shot out in all directions from the atomic device suspended from the metal tower...

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