Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Haven’t you ever wanted to go back and time to fix something? Or maybe you’d like to relive something, knowing what you know now. Perhaps you’re a visionary and want a peek at the future to see how hover cars will change society or to find out just when the hell are we going to get our jet packs already.

Dust off your flux capacitors and let’s get this baby up to 88 miles per hour! Maybe you’re a spy with new technology and you’re trying to prevent war. Maybe you’re a professor who wants to go native with the ancient Romans. Whenever you decide, use a time machine to get us there.

Prompt: Write a story with a time machine and use these words: Bend, Frequency, Interplex, Spectrum, Phase
Word Count: 1300 or less

Terrific prompt!  I offer you,


“I don‘t know where to go first. I mean, I have so much to offer kings and queens and…”

“Shut up, Phil. You’ve been at it for two hours. Can’t you see Ronald is going through something painful? We’re all supposed to be friends, remember? Can’t you stop thinking about yourself for just five minutes? Tim, help me out here, will ya?”

“Harry, Phil’s a lost cause and always will be. He couldn’t recognize someone else’s problem if it wore headlights and sang the National Anthem.”

“Fine. I’ll stop, and we’ll help Ronald. But you have to admit, this is something to get excited about. We’re the only people in the world who have the equipment that can transport us to any point in history, knowing what we know today, and back again--across the full spectrum of time and space. I’m sorry if I’m the only one that realizes how big that is. Cash bought us Interplex’s technology. Why can’t cash buy Ronald some therapy?”

“Shut the fuck up!” Harry and Tim shouted at the same time. Phil shook his head in frustration, but said nothing further. He decided it was time for a drink and headed toward the living room bar. Ronald’s obviously gone around the bend about something, but at least the bar was fully stocked. Phil turned and saw Ronald coming down the stairs, holding a piece of paper. At least he’s finally out of his room, he thought. I won the draw and get to go first tomorrow morning. Ronald better not flake out on this because of some personal crap.

“Ronald, good to see you up and about. What’s that you’ve got?”

Harry knew exactly what Ronald was holding. The newspaper article about his childhood sweetheart. Ronald kept it out of sight, but every so often, he’d come across it and depression would set in again.

“Is that about Jeanine, Ronald?”

Ronald nodded.

“I found this as I was going through some old trunks looking for items to take with me on my time travels. I really need to get rid of this after all these years, don’t you think?”

“I don’t know about getting rid of it, Ronald,” Harry began. “But, if you do decide to keep it, stop trying to suppress your memories of her. Reading that again just opens up old wounds. Stop punishing yourself, man. None of what happened is your fault.”

“What happened, and who is Jeanine?” Tim had only recently become part of the close-knit group.

“You’re right, Harry, “ Ronald had to agree that being open about what happened might bring him some type of closure. “Tim, I’m from a small town and from first grade through high school, I was in love with a girl named Jeanine. We were inseparable, and decided after graduation we would be married. It’s crazy, but as the wedding drew nearer, I began to feel trapped. I felt as if I would never amount to, or experience, anything.

On our wedding day, June 6, 1985, at 1 p.m., yes, I still remember, I knew I couldn’t go through with it, but I didn’t know how to stop it. We were ready to take our vows, and when the minister asked if anyone objected to the marriage, I panicked. I said that I objected, turned to Jeanine, said I was sorry, and promised to come back for her. I walked out of the church, got in my car, headed toward New York and never looked back.

I subsequently made my fortune, and moved forward with my life. A few years later, I received this clipping from an unknown party that reported Jeanine had died. Apparently, after I left town, she developed some debilitating disease and took to her bed, never to recover.”

“Ronald,” Tim said quietly. “Harry’s right. Her illness, her death, they weren’t your fault. Evidently, you weren’t ready for that kind of commitment, and you know as well as I do how time can get away from you. You run corporations, you travel, you lecture… It’s hard to believe memories of a person could fade, but they do, my friend, and you’ve got to stop punishing yourself.”

Phil brought his drink into the den and joined the others. This was a topic he definitely had an opinion on.

“Ronald,” Phil was already slurring his words. He had been doubling the shots trying to prepare himself for his incredible journey at daybreak. “If you’d have married that woman and she ended up flat on her back for years, you really would have been fucked for life. Stuck in some podunk town, going nowhere, and ending up being buried right next to her. You were smart enough to bail, and look how you ended up. Millions of dollars, properties, and now, the chance to go anywhere to any time and make a few changes and end up with even more when you get back. I mean, it’s not like you killed her, and you did say you were sorry. No harm, no foul. Right?”

Harry and Tim looked at each other and could barely contain their anger. How did we ever get mixed up with this sorry excuse for a human being anyway?

“You’re a real prince, Phil,” Harry finally said. “A real prince.”

Phil shrugged his shoulders, drained his glass, and bid his friends goodnight.

“I’ll be back at 7 a.m. Wasn’t that the time we decided would be best? Frequency alignments or some such nonsense. Ronald, I hope you work through this phase of yours. See you all in the a.m.”

When the front door closed, they all agreed on two things. One, they needed to go home and rest before tomorrow’s life-changing experience, and two, if they knew Phil’s where and when in advance, they’d all go first and warn everyone of his impending arrival. ’Jerk’ didn’t even scratch the surface.

Harry, Tim and Phil wondered why Ronald didn’t answer the door. They found it unlocked and went in, calling out to him, but received no response. They heard a low humming coming from the den, and when they entered, they saw the time transmitter was in full operation.

“Damn him all to Hell,” Phil shouted. “He knew I was supposed to be first and he took my turn. Well, now I get two turns in a row. I…”

Harry’s and Tim’s voices blended again. “Shut the fuck up!”

Harry and Tim went to look at the settings, but they both already knew the destination: St. Mark’s Church, Oakdale, Nebraska, June 6, 1985, 12:55 p.m. They also knew Ronald had erased his return coordinates.

“I swear,” Phil was still at it. “When he gets back, I’m going to…”

Tim interrupted. “Ronald won’t be back, Phil. I know you couldn’t possibly understand, but he’s going to be just fine. Wait a sec. Why put it off? Phil, let us know where you want to go and we’ll transmit you now.” Tim winked at Harry, who cracked a smile.

“Now you’re talking. Send me to 49 BC, to Cleopatra’s Court. Wait till she sees what I’ve got to offer! I just stand on the platform, right? You’ll take care of everything?”

“Absolutely, Phil,” Tim said. “Just close your eyes.”

Tim began typing in commands and pushing buttons. In an instant, Phil disappeared. Harry, who had been looking over his shoulder, began to laugh.

“Tim, you should brush up on your typing. Instead of ‘49 BC, Cleopatra’s Court’, you entered ‘command back 66 million years, Cretaceous Period’.”

Tim flexed his fingers. “Ooops…”

The two friends decided to go out for breakfast. They knew the transmitter should be destroyed. They realized they were already right where they needed to be. And Ronald and Phil? Right where they both needed to be. Too.


  1. Nicely done. I've got to admit there are several periods in my life I would like to go back and visit and your story got me thinking of them. I have to wonder about the ultimate fate of Ronald and Jeanine. Was Jeanine's apparent death just a cover up for Ronald and her disappearing into time and space. As for Phil, I know many people like him I would happily send off to another time period.

  2. Beach, Thanks for your comments and I'm glad you enjoyed this. I have to admit also that there are a number of events I'd love to go back and change, knowing what I know now. But I have to wonder just how many things would actually be affected if I did; more than just that one event, I'm sure. Will Ronald's return change Jeanine's future? Who can say. It certainly will change Ronald's. Maybe they both can wander through time together. And Phil? That character was created based on several people I know that I would just love sending back in time to socialize with some T-Rex's!

  3. Great story! :) Really liked the flow and the psychology. I also like the mystery at the end. What will become of Ronald and Jeanine? Will Phil make friends with a T. Rex? lol

  4. "Ooops..." Ha. I'm rather glad I can't go back to change anything. It might be like chocolate - once is never enough. I can, however, think of several candidates to send playing with T-Rex...

  5. Ingrid, I'm with you. If 'this' worked when I went back yesterday, what if I went back today and changed 'that' and... It would be hard to just sit tight and live in the present! Like I said before, the character of Phil was based on REAL people I know that need to be sent to play with T-Rex's. I'd be willing to go back briefly just to watch them enjoying their games...

  6. CM, Thanks for stopping by and commenting. So glad you enjoyed my little tale. One has to wonder about Ronald and Jeanine. With his return, will her future change? Sure hope so. Maybe since he erased his return coordinates, might he be planning to take them both away to some other time? That certainly would be cool. Now, Phil? We all know just how much he has to

  7. A taut little psychological thriller... wonderful take on the concept of time travel.

    I love how you build the suspense here, and even though we wish, earlier on, for Phil to get his 'comeuppance', the manner in which he does (and where) is still a delicious little thrill at the end.

    You had me hoping that this time around, things turn out better for Ronald and Jeannine.

    Great story-telling, Joyce! It is always a thrill reading your stories!

  8. Veronica, So glad you liked my little trip through time. I believe we all wished Phil a quick journey VERY early on--somewhere, anywhere... Knowing he has so much to offer, hopefully, the T-Rexs and their buddies will appreciate all Phil has to give! Hopefully, Ronald and Jeanine can make it work this 'time' around. Thanks again very much. I always appreciate your comments.