It was time for Ansem's daily routine of crossing paths with Rebecca as he got home from work and she was leaving for her shift at the hospital.
“Hi, Mr. Weathers.”
Christ, she called him mister. If he only just opened his mouth and talked to her she would find that he was not that much older than her. The beard throws people off. Every time he tried to talk his voice would drop out, but he went for it anyway, “Hi, Reb…” his words dissipated into the air as he tried to pick it back up with a wave, “...becca.” Ansem smiled like an awkward idiot and was unsure if she even heard him; another squandered moment.
He walked into his house and made himself dinner. Later Rebecca would get home at four in the morning. The only light that was still on in Ansem’s house was coming from the basement window. Rebecca was so tired she thought little of it. The next day Ansem finished his truck route to the pharmacies and sporting goods stores and looked forward to his daily moment with Rebecca. All the way home he practiced different ways to say hello, “Hi Rebecca!” “ Great Day today!” “Hey neighbor!” “Same shit, different day!” That last one might leave too much of an impression. But maybe that’s exactly what he needed to do.
When Ansem got home and parked his enormous truck out on the street instead of in his drive, as he was known to do, he saw Rebecca talking to someone else. It was the mailman. But it was too late for him to still be making his rounds. This could only mean one thing... He was there on a personal call. Ansem walked down the stone path to his front door facing them the entire way. It wasn’t so bad, the awkwardness was cut with a brown bag of groceries he was holding, blocking any potential eye-contact. He thought about waving but that seemed silly.
Ansem rushed into his house and closed the door. When he turned his head to have a look out the window, he tripped on the ottoman and spilled his groceries all over the floor. The carton of milk broke open. It was a mess. Ansem got up and screamed. He pulled the fireplace spike out and slammed it into the ottoman, cutting holes in it, carving out the stuffing. Ansem got all his pent up frustration out. He briefly fantasized about them hearing him and coming over. Ansem’s paranoia then got the best of him and he immediately calmed down, cleaned the mess, and fixed the ottoman before hiding down in his basement for the rest of the night.
New York, NY
Samuel was spending days on end at his campus laboratory. He kept telling Vanessa that he was on the verge of a breakthrough that could save his career. He was not able to give up this theory. They were threatening to take away his grants and tenure. Samuel didn't want to go home because he feared they would change the locks on him.
“If I can just make the tachyon converter work…” Samuel muttered to himself in front of the chalkboard. It was almost two in the morning. He was staring through over-tired eyes and blotchy glasses. Only one thing could break him from this spell... Vanessa walked into the office. “You can make it work tomorrow, honey. Let’s go home.” She brought his jacket over and covered him with it.
“Oh, Vanessa, I think I screwed up bad this time.” The bourbon was heavy on his breath. The empty bottle went unnoticed on the floor between the couch and the wall.
Vanessa Chase drove her husband home and he did not lose his job, for the time being. Thankfully, nobody saw her drag his drunk-ass out of there. The next day Samuel woke up and saw his last dream echoing in his mind. It looked like the formula to the tachyon converter, but then it became a silver box with an indented curve riding down both sides of it to a point, at the point there was an opening that light was pouring out of...
Every time the light broke his vision the feeling remained the same. This was the tachyon converter. Vanessa was right; he did find it the next day. What they both did not know, what they could not know, is that time travel required more than just particles that travel backwards through time. Samuel would have to find that out the hard way in the days to come.
to be continued...