So, what would change your life? The solution to world hunger? The energy crisis? Or something closer to home?
‘Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Richtus Technologies. As I’m sure you are aware, we have been working on something particularly special here over the last decade and today, the fifth of November 2020, you are here to witness the creation of history itself. Literally.’ Cheri Schwartz smiled, teeth gleaming under the spotlights. She could see Daniel Richtus in the crowd, a knowing smirk on his dark face as if he was laughing at some personal joke. In a way, it could be said, he was. ‘We know all about the rumours. We actually have a list of our favourites. Number one. Bioweapons. We at Richtus would like to confirm that we do not condone the use of bioweapons, by this government, by any government or by any individuals that would be cruel enough to weaponise such a thing as disease.’ She paused, partially for dramatic effect, partially at the horrors that flowed through her mind.
‘Come on girl.’ Richtus whispered. ‘Keep going.’ He could feel the crowd worming in their seats, sharing that horror he could see on Cheri’s soft features. He watched her steel herself.
‘Number two on the list was my personal favourite. A birth control pill for men. I am sorry to say that this one is also untrue. We did look into it for a spell, but it wasn’t a viable option at the time. Maybe one day, but it isn’t today’s release. No, today’s release is much bigger than that. Maybe next time, gentlemen.’ She grinned, her blue eyes lighting up.
‘Number three. A cure for AIDs. Unfortunately, while Richtus’ Pharmaceutical division was looking into this, we were beaten to the punch by Rigmatech. However, our announcement today will blow theirs out of the water.’ She could see the Rigmatech personnel whispering to each other, full of speculation. ‘You’ll never guess it gentlemen, so don’t even try.’
Richtus ran his hand through his greying hair. ‘Ok girl, stop dangling them. Time to reel it in.’ His grey eyes sparkled, sunlight shining through storm clouds.
‘Ok ladies and gents, it’s time. I think I’ve strung you along for long enough. Without further ado, I give you SOURCE. SOURCE uses revolutionary tachyon technology to allow you access to… I think the best thing to do is to show you.’ She produced two L-shaped pieces of metal. ‘Alone, each piece of SOURCE is inert. However, when put together, they produce what we call a Tachyon Screen. I have to admit, the science of SOURCE is beyond me and I have a PHD in theoretical physics. That is how cutting edge this technology is.’
Richtus smiled at that. Cheri understood SOURCE perfectly, but she’d chosen to skip over trying to put it in layman’s terms. ‘Simply take the two pieces of SOURCE and drag them out to the chosen window size. Then, using a simple, user friendly piece of software designed by our in house team, we select a date, a time. FOr example, the fifth of november, 2020. Five minutes ago. Then…’
There was a blinding flash from the window. A voice emanated from the screen. ‘Number three, a cure for AIDS. Unfortunately…’ The entire crowd gasped. Cheri entered a command into the computer and the screen snapped shut.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, we here at Richtus have produced a window to the past. Any time, any place. Anywhere. In fact, anywhen. SOURCE. The future, showing us the past.’ The room exploded with applause and flashbulbs from reporters cameras. Richtus stood up with them, moving to the stage. He gave a quick nod to the crowd before briskly moving to the stage door. Cheri could soak up the applause, she was far more attractive than him. His face, with its scarring and burns, a remnant from an earlier SOURCE trial, was far more suited to boardrooms. He’d been a handsome man.
He took his personal SOURCE from his jacket, pulled it out to about a foot square, and dialled up that day. He watched as the Tachyon emitters overloaded, as he pushed Cheri out of the room before the safety door slammed shut. He turned to face the hulking machine, a true early draft, practically just proof of concept. He turned to the one way glass, looking at his reflection as that low hum became a piercing whine before a muffled boom and the shockwave hurled him into the glass.
Daniel reached up to his face, to the dark spot where part of the machine had remained embedded. He’d kept it there, to remind him that accidents happen. He reached out to the screen, and felt his fingers pass through it. Then his arm, before his whole body was rapidly pulled through.
He looked at his younger self, solid and real next to him. His face was bleeding, he was unconscious. ‘Well, this changes things.’
The Idiot In Tin Foil