© 2021, Michael William Clark. All rights reserved.

Did you miss part of the story? Find it here!

Louis sat back and took a deep breath.

If I were a shady operator I could profit from time travel. I could travel to the future to find out which investments do well, return to the present, and corner the market. 

“Stella”

He reflected a little longer. 

But meddling now might change the future…

Fortunately, this was not a problem. Louis was not unscrupulous. 

As he sipped his third cup of coffee, his thoughts drifted toward hoping he could somehow harness his abilities to make things better.

He had no desire to manipulate the market. Louis liked his job and the pay was fine. 

Working at the museum contributed to his psychological balance. Time-traveling might have threatened his sense of identity and his job would prove to be an anchor in the sea of eternity. Everything Louis had once taken for real was becoming increasingly challenged. His familiar surroundings and duties kept him from sliding off the edge into existential oblivion.

He read the morning news with an uneasy sense of being on the verge of something horrible and wonderful.

The stories seemed even more superficial than they had before his trip to the Neolithic.  Louis turned off the viewer and sat in silence.  

The portrait of Einstein on his desk stared back at him. Louis had no kids to display like most of his colleagues, and he needed someone to idolize. He was grateful to Einstein. Over three hundred years ago Einstein dreamed a new dream and mapped out the basic ideas that would transform humanity’s understanding of time. Einstein was the Christopher Columbus of space and time.

It was just another day at the museum.  Cataloging, requesting new material, and sifting through incoming possibilities.  Untold points* were spent trying to decide which items would be displayed and which went deep into basement storage.

There was a problem. A new acquisition, a stegosaurus recently discovered in Colorado, was too large and obstructed other exhibits, making it difficult to view the whole room. The piece had cost a small fortune. It needed to be prominently placed. Otherwise, the financial backers would howl.

It was ribbon-cutting day. The local mayor was due to arrive in the afternoon with a scintillating vid-star.  Everyone would smile as she cut the tape.

Louis prepared himself over lunch. He generally preferred solitude, finding public displays a necessary bore. To make matters worse, it began to rain outside and his spirits were not exactly soaring.

The dream he had earlier about the future began to haunt him. What if it wasn’t just a dream but the shape of things to come? Horrors!

His thoughts were cut short by Priscilla, his secretary.

“Dr. Brandon,” she said through the screen, “there’s a Miss S. Superstring here to see you.”

“Stella Superstring? What’s she doing here? She’s supposed to arrive at 5.50* with mayor Oldenberg,” Louis replied.

“Well, she’s here sir,” Priscilla said cautiously. “She’s quite eager to speak with you.”

“Could you ask her to come back after lunch?”

“Just a minute. Miss…”  Priscilla’s voice trailed off just before she cut the line.

What a hassle, Louis thought. He wanted to be alone and catch up on his messages.

“I’m afraid she wants to see you right now,” Priscilla replied.

“Ahh… okay”  He conceded with a sigh.  “Send her in.”

The door opened and Louis was stunned. Miss Superstring was even more vibrant in real life than she was on screen.  It wasn’t her shapely figure that stopped him cold. It was her light. She was truly beautiful.  

Stella stood in the doorway like a radiant rose or a ripe peach, half frightened and remarkably warm. Louis tried to collect himself. He was momentarily dazzled, sensing rays of warmth streaming out from her heart, touching him where it matters.

“Mr. Brandon?”  She asked timidly.

“Umm, actually it’s doctor,” Louis said, still somewhat stupefied, “but who’s…” 

“Oh sorry,” she interrupted. “I should have known.”

An awkward pause ensued and blood rushed to Louis’ forehead. He hoped it didn’t show. To his third eye, Stella radiated a warm, orangey-reddish light. He felt her heat as another person feels a beam of sunlight on a cold November morning.

“Oh no, it’s fine.  Please come in,” he said.

“Thanks.” She smiled. “Doctor Brandon.”

“Take a seat.” He smiled back, somewhat recollected.

“Thanks,” Stella repeated nervously as she sat on the plush burgundy armchair that Louis had placed slightly to the left of his desk. “Nice place.”  She said, taking a quick look, hesitant to tell him why she came early. 

“Yes,” Louis replied. “I don’t mean to be rude,” he continued somewhat perfunctorily, “but I have quite a lot of things to do this morning. Is there any problem with this afternoon?”

“I’m sorry. Really…” she began.

Louis saw that she meant it. He felt like a creep. I’m overreacting because she’s so incredibly lovely, he mused silently.


* The 23rd century uses a decimal system for the measurement of time.  Time is measured in “omicrons.” Omicrons are often referred to as “points.” Ten omicrons divide the old 24 hour cycle. 0 omicrons is at midnight. 5 omicrons occurs at noon. At 10 the clock returns to zero for another day.

To be continued….

© 2021, Michael William Clark. All rights reserved.

Did you miss part of the story? Find it here!