Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 13
Challenge #6*: Write a story involving time travel at least two hundred years into the past, featuring something that was previously dead. The story must also include two well defined choices, only one of which may be answered verbally. Optionally, the ending must reveal whether or not the travellers return to their original time.
“My word, Binklestock—we’ve done it! Two-hundred and seventy years to the second.”
“Super,” said Professor Binklestock, without even a hint of enthusiasm. Nobody was ever quite the same after reanimation, but the university was getting short of staff and this was the simplest solution. “Now what? Where do we even begin?”
“We begin with what we know: the first wave landed in this place at this time.”
“I’m dead tired.”
Professor Wurthord squinted at her. She’d never used to crack jokes, and he wasn’t sure she’d started.
“We must begin our observations,” he said after a pause. “Think: the Vespoid can travel instantaneously between stars. Today—the day they arrived—was almost certainly the day they became aware of Earth’s location. What drew them here?”
“Possibly the gravitational wave caused by the temporal deceleration of two scientists and their portable particle accelerator.”
“Oh my.” Wurthord began to sweat. “Do you really think our journey back through time could have been what alerted them to our planet’s presence?”
As if in answer to his question, a hundred gleaming battleships winked into existence directly overhead.
“But that’s such a cliché!” he cried.
“It’s certainly a dead common trope,” offered Binklestock.
“Now’s not the time for jokes!”
“Sorry.” She glanced blankly at the portable particle accelerator. “I can take us back another five minutes if that would help.”
There was a pause.
“Larry,” she said again. “Would you like me to take us back another five minutes or not?”
“No thank you,” said Professor Wurthord, through gritted teeth. “I don’t think that would help.”
“What about two-hundred and seventy years forwards?”
“The machine can take two entities. The Vespoid are a hive mind, Larry. One of us and all of them: we could do it in a single trip.”
“My word…” The brilliance of her plan dawned on him. “The innoculations! We had records of the pathogens from this time, but they couldn’t possibly know anything of ours. And even if they did, how would they prepare? We can—”
“That’s right,” she said, leaning in. “We can War of the Worlds these motherfuckers.”
“But that’s such a cliché too!”
She shrugged. “If it gets the job done…”
There was just one problem: “Which of us is going to stay behind?”
Professor Wurthord made his way to the archive vault mentioned in the letter that the very confused courier had handed him on return to the future. The combination was correct, and the door—undisturbed for two centuries or more—swung open with a creak.
It was like a scene from Sleeping Beauty, by way of The Walking Dead.
“So,” he began, not sure what sort of tone to strike for an occasion such as this. “What was it like going the long way around?”
“Honestly?” Binklestock blinked. “It was dead boring.”