Gregson got out of the Hum-vi to the sound of Thunderstruck. Being 50 felt like he had crossed-over—it was more than a crisis. The typical anchors weren’t holding him down. It was maddening to know—whatever he did, would be lost in time. To go backwards, was to miss-out on the future, and to live in the present, was boring.
An agent was staring at him with enormous green eyes. His suit was baggy, his brown hair was long, his face was smart, and he looked like he had many things on his mind, but none of them merited much interest. Gregson, however, did.
“My name’s Dr. Stanley.”
They shook hands.
“Do you have a last name?” Gregson asked.
“Best that we remain anonymous. If you mess with the past, the past will mess with you. It will try to erase you.”
“Because the past is moving from order to disorder, and if you try to clean it up, like your apartment, the past will burn you down. It doesn’t want to be organized.”
“That’s why I’m the perfect time traveler,” Gregson said. “I naturally move from disorder, to a complete mess.”
“Bachelor, eh? Me too,” Dr. Stanley smiled. “You will be briefed for your expedition. Cornel Weathers will do it.” They walked through double doors that closed behind them.
“This is a clean room,” Dr. Stanley said. “We keep it static free. When you travel into the past, you’ll be dressed for the occasion.”
“What year am I going to?”
“A hundred years?”
“There abouts—and you’ll be trying to solve a murder, which will be a significant challenge. Not only will the past interfere with you, but those who killed Dr. Dorian, will.”
“Why is it important that we know who killed him?”
“The less you know, the better,” Dr. Stanley said.
Gregson wasn’t sure if he agreed, but it was the military, and not a community college classroom. They descended on a red carpet to a room, deep underground. There were scientists in white Hazmat suits inspecting artifacts.
“Is that King Tut?” Gregson asked.
“Yes—we borrowed him from Howard Carter. The scandal about artifacts going to the British Museum, was actually us, stealing them, into the future. Of course—we’ll replace them, in time, where they belong. Each time you journey into the past, the past resets itself.”
“Then how did the artifacts get back here, if Dr. Dorian is dead?”
“I told you he was sharp,” Cornel Weathers said.
“The less you know—the better-off you are,” Dr. Stanley suggested. It was becoming a mime, like in Hogan’s Heroes—”I know nothing.” But Gregson didn’t want to make waves with his opportunity to travel back in time.
“Now—look here—you’ll need a kit. Here is a World Almanac for sports betting—you can even bet on the weather—if you want to,” Cornel Weathers said. “But most importantly, your clothes. If you go dressed the way you are now—you’ll be socially shunned.”
“Oh—that’s alright,” Gregson said. “I’m socially shunned, already. Cargo shorts are not allowed on a 50-year-old man, in the past, present, or future.”
“That’s true, but this is a secret mission Gregson—and you need to go incognito.”
“If you say so.” Gregson tried on the suit. It made him feel successful. “It fits!”
“You say that—like you’re surprised.”
“Whenever I go shopping, it takes hours to find something in my size.”
“The suit is tailored.”
“How did you get my measurements?” Gregson asked.
“The less you know…”
“The better,” Gregson finished.
“Now—the last thing I’ll ask you to put-on is this watch,” Cornel Weathers said. “It will help you to keep track of time in the present, and it will draw you back to the future when you click this button.”
“How does that work?” Gregson asked.
“We are all made-up of particles, traveling through space. Your fatness is an illusion, Gregson. There is space inside your body—there is space between us—there is space between our planet and Jupiter. We are all like musical notes playing in time with the gaps giving us the score—a song of existence played backward one hundred years. This will deconstruct your physical body, and anything in your proximity, up to six feet.”
“Wow, that could be a Jenny Craig commercial!” Gregson suggested.