“We’ve been invited over to an evening meal at Dave’s place,” I said
“Who?” enquired my wife Joy.
“You know, Dave Rugendorf, Earth’s most experienced time traveller. The guy who won the Time Traveller of All Time award.”
“Oh him!” responded Joy “I’ll pass on that. I’ve heard some pretty weird stories about that house of his.”
* * *
So I went on my own. The whole country estate was a teleportation free zone so I actually had to utilise a crude disposable electro-magnetic flyer to get there. How quaint! Just as well Joy didn’t come. Anything less than instantaneous travel tended to bore her and even worse make her physically sick. Dave had apologised earlier saying that high density teleportation tended to interfere with certain operational aspects of his time house.
* * *
It was a great sprawling mansion. Out past Romsey in the English countryside. On an absolutely monstrous estate.
I heard that Dave had dedicated different rooms to different broad time periods on Earth. Past and future. And that, in many ways, the whole mansion was a monument to his extraordinary time travels. I had also heard that the rooms were very authentic for the period they represented. With 3D images captured by one or other of his prohibitively expensive time cameras. It was even rumoured that some rooms contained objects sequestered from the relevant time period if it was thought this didn’t interfere with the time flow.
With just a little bit of time travel under my own belt I was always absolutely fascinated to be in the company of a pro. Especially the ultimate pro.
It turned out to be a very cosy group. Even cosier since Joy was not the only spouse who chose not to come.
As I’m only a reporter for Time Travel magazine I had assumed the evening would be fairly low key. Yet the little group of guests also included Stewart Chapman the Emeritus Professor at the Institute of Time, Rick Alvarez Chief Investigator at the Time Authority, an alien who was vaguely introduced as a time travel expert and last but not least Garry Cartwright the Minister assisting the UK Minister for Time. A part of me wondered what I was doing in such exalted company. Another part had the feeling that the night might hold a greater significance than I had originally thought.
Before the evening meal Dave gave us a short tour, in no particular order of time, of some of the rooms dedicated to Earth’s past. I suppose this was intended as an appetiser for what lay ahead later in the evening. It was all very nice but to be honest mostly fairly tame. At least until the last two rooms Dave showed us. One room dedicated to the hey day of the Roman Empire and one to the hey day of the British Empire. They were so good that I wondered if they might be viewing portals or even actual transport portals into the past. It was really hard to tell.
“If these last two rooms are just viewing portals into those periods of time,” Investigator Alvarez whispered to me “then we would overlook it. A technical breach but that’s all. Though if it’s actually an open portal that any one walking these corridors could be swept up into the past. Well now that’s different.” I rather wondered why he had addressed me rather than the politician or even the professor.
* * *
Then we sat down to an exquisite evening meal. A Degustation with dishes ranging over huge time periods in Earth’s history. If I didn’t know better I would have thought that Dave was accessing kitchens in all of these numerous time periods. And. Lord knows, perhaps he was. Though he did have a formidable retinue of staff.
* * *
After the Degustation we took a tour of some of the “future” rooms.
The rooms representing past Earth time periods had all been fairly centrally located in Dave’s mansion but the future time period rooms were more spread out going to far reaches of the incredibly sprawling establishment.
Each successive room we were taken to moving progressively up through the well of time.
The most advanced room for Earth was for 5585 AD. We all knew why there was nothing beyond this time frame. Though of course no one actually said anything. We were all too polite. Then we were led through a succession of rooms relating to alien worlds. Each room, as far as we could tell, moving up through time. We didn’t actually go into anywhere near all the rooms. At times Dave seemed to glance at our alien companion for guidance as to whether or not to enter a particular room.
Then, finally, Dave by passed quite a number of rooms and headed towards a room that seemed to be at the very furthest extremity of his vast mansion. He was becoming progressively more animated as we approached the room.
Surprisingly the politician, the Minister Assisting the Minister for Time, Garry Cartwright was the first of us to cotton on. “I can’t go there. You must know that Rugendorf. I’m surprised that you even invited me. With that the politician took off down the labyrinthine corridor. He was out of sight even before Dave could offer to escort him back. I thought it inadvisable for him to go unescorted in a place like this. Yet his behaviour was not a surprise. From what I knew of the man he was very confident, very brash.
Investigator Alvarez also started to get agitated but Professor Chapman was positively salivating. As the most junior person present I was also the last person to catch on.
“My pride and joy,” said Dave proudly as he took us into the exceptionally large room. Confronting us, and I do mean confronting us, was the End Time Horizon. This was not just something taken by a time camera, I could just tell. We were looking straight at the real thing.
“It’s only a viewing portal,” offered Dave almost apologetically as if to dispel Alvarez’s rising concerns.
“I can see it’s only a viewing portal,” said Alvarez “otherwise we would all have crossed the End Time Horizon. It’s still not allowed. You know this. It’s not a Time Authority thing. An uptime barrier was placed on time travel by anyone of Earth and somehow you’ve gotten around it.
Dave looked at his alien companion but addressed Rick Alvarez. “We have worked out a way around that up time constraint. Something that’s technically legal. Let me explain.”
Somehow the argument spoiled the whole magnificent moment of witnessing Time’s End.
* * *
When we finally got back to the main entrance/lobby of the Time House, Garry Cartwright was nowhere to be seen and none of the staff had spotted him. More than that his big Government electro-magnetic flyer was still outside.
“Jeezus,” I heard myself say “he could have easily gotten lost, wandered into a room he shouldn’t have. Even one of the rooms that was a portal to the past or future. Even an alien future.” My mind was racing.
I was at something of a loss as to what Dave had been hoping to achieve during the evening. I suppose he wanted to impress us and get all of our seals of approval. Not so much myself but the approval of the others. . . .
Rick Alvarez started to sum it up. “I think this place probably started out okay. The concept was fine. A sprawling mansion containing rooms that very accurately replicated aspects of certain past and future time periods. Then Dave started to increase the authenticity of these rooms with 3D images from his time cameras. That’s okay as long as the time pictures were from times and places he was authorised to go. It’s probably even okay if Dave sequestered souvenirs from other time periods. Provided the souvenirs are innocuous and from sometime on Earth.”
“Yet somewhere along the line,” Professor Chapman broke in “it just got out of hand. Viewing portals and even actual portals were set up and it very much looks as if Dave has been to time periods he shouldn’t have. Lord knows what lies beyond the door in some of the alien rooms. I’m betting that some of them are beyond the up time barrier as well. All in all – I’d say that this place is no longer just a physical place as such but has become inexorably interwoven into the time stream.”
“That’s it,” said Rick Alvarez “I’m closing this place down in the morning once I’ve consulted with the Time Commissioner.”
“Can you do that?” enquired Chapman “I don’t mean do you have the authority but am just questioning whether it is physically possible to close down a place such as this has become?”
“The morning is a long time away,” was my only, rather lame, contribution to the conversation.
We looked around to confront Dave but he and the alien were gone and the staff didn’t know where.
* * *
True to his word Rick arrived with a full squad from the Time Authority early the next morning. It seemed like everyone from the Commissioner down. With Professor Chapman and I there as witnesses.
Except the house wasn’t there any more. Not so much as a trace of it. No foundations, no sewage or storm water drains, nothing.to show there had ever been a house on the site.
“You know what I think?” offered Professor Chapman. “I think this house exists in some appropriate local form in all those time periods for which their were rooms in the house/mansion here. All those other houses in those other times have just had one of their rooms permanently closed. “Of course its only a theory of mine,” he added “and as you all know I have some pretty outlandish theories.”
I didn’t hear anyone racing to disagree with him. As the foremost Earth academic authority on time travel Stewie Chapman’s “theories” tended to be better than most of his competitors facts.
We all knew we had not much chance now of ever getting Garry Cartwright back. We knew that the Minister for Time would be looking for a new Minister Assisting him. Lord only knows where that brash and arrogant but unfortunate politician ended up. Still wherever that was perhaps he learned something from his experience.
In the 7 years I have been writing speculative fiction I have written over 140 speculative fiction short stories.
My publications include six collections of short stories and two novellas. All of which are on Amazon. My most recent publication is “Daughter of the High Lords and other Speculative Fiction Stories.” Published in July 2014.
I have been a regular contributor for many years to both the Antipodean SF and the Beam Me Up Pod cast sites and am fast becoming a regular contributor to the Farther Stars Than These site. I have also been published on a variety of other sci-fi sites including Bewildering Stories, 365 Tomorrows, and the former Golden Visions magazine.
I have written three sci-fi series: the 12 part “Alien Hunter” series for then Golden Visions Magazine in 2011/12. The “Trathh” series for the Beam Me Up Pod Cast site in 2012/13 and the “Human Hunter” series also for the Beam Me Up site in 2014/15.
I am currently over half way through writing a new (as yet unnamed) collection of speculative fiction short stories.