Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

One-minute Massacre

It was a one-sixth chance but I got it. I was going to be the first person to travel in time.

Our lab had been doing the research for over 5 years now. Building on the work of greats like Einstein, Jacoby, Sahay and others, we had finally built a machine that could transfer particles in time-drift. That was 2 years ago. It took us two more years to get living material to get to future.

Last month, we successfully completed our final test with animals, this time a horse. The size of the animal ensured that we should be able to get a human into the future. Also, the machine had automatic lock to return back after 1 hours of stay in case manual override is not performed. This is how, we were getting our animals back. Also, we used to send them only one day in the future (24 hours) so that we could see if they actually went in the future. Needless to say, the results were successful.

Thus, I got to be the Neil Armstrong of time travel. I had been training for one-month now. The journey would be small — 24 hours in the future. Then, after a small hour of stay, I will be back.

Okay, enough talking to your recorder Kanishk. Come here.” John said in an annoyed voice. He was one of the losers.

“Alright Kanishk. It is time to go.” Sam said. She was the head of this team for the past five years. An incredible person, she was probably the smartest human being on the planet right now.

I picked up my bag and went inside the machine. It was built in a fashion similar to a pod. While most people think that temporal traveling involves only the day, date and time, the actual location is a lot more complex.

During that time, the location of the planet is changing as is the space between the galaxies. In fact, we found out that the biggest challenge was not to actually send someone in time but to actually find out the exact position where to send. Without that, temporal travel was simply not possible.

The Lee-Khan equation, named after my boss Samantha Lee and Mr. Mahmood Khan, finally defined a new parameter which helped us to calculate the new location is space-time. Did I tell you how smart Sam is?

“Time to go Kanishk. Have fun and do let us know how we look in the future.” Sam smiled and winked at me. My heart melted a little as I waved her good bye.

“Meet you guys in 24 hours.” Brian said. He was the technical genius who had balanced the energy splitting that traveling in time was causing. Probably, due to the nature of the travel, dark energy was getting created and it was essential to balance it before we could actually take the machine anywhere. He did it by creating a nuclear reactor for the machine that not only did provide the energy for the machine but could eat up the dark energy. Actually it cancelled the energy but I think eating up is the formal term.

In less then one minute, the machine was whirring to reach its destination. In another, it was there. Traveling in time was fast, really fast. I guess there is only so much time that can pass when you are traveling through it.

The top of the dome had a window with a glass-polymer that could handle almost all kinds of stress and was yet transparent. I immediately looked outside the window, eager to meet the team. I would have jumped out of the machine immediately but the protocol was made to first check in case something went wrong.

Something had gone wrong!

The whole room was empty. Just in front was lying John’s body, smeared in blood. Near it was Brian’s arm. I could see the watch he wore on it. However, the rest of the body was nowhere around.

“No no no… This is all wrong.” I shouted.

Even in panic, my training kicked in.

‘Do not open the machine in case you find any distress’ I heard Sam’s words.

Sam!

I tried to look around through the small window. Near the glass door, she was lying, half sitting with her hand above her head. Where her hand ended, there was written in blood a single word — “Sorry”.

Looking at her, I couldn’t help and opened the machine. I reached her and saw a smile on her face. That was odd.

I saw in her other hand a pendrive with my name on it. I took it from her hand and opened it on my laptop.

“Hi Kanishk. If you are listening to this, it is not a good news. So, how do I explain this to you. First of all, I am sorry for putting you in that machine. It was a dream of mine to see that machine to work and I couldn’t resist the option even though I knew that it might have the repercussions which it had.”

My mind was reeling. So, Sam knew that this would happen. What has happened? Are there other people as well who are hurt by this?

“Perhaps, I should start with the fact that I am not exactly a human being. I am not an alien if that is what you are thinking. Or perhaps I am, if you define it that way. I am from Earth, just from a different universe. When we realised that there were multiple universes, we tried to find ways to reach them, contact them in some ways.

“Most of our trips were successful. The other Earths were advanced enough for us to return back to our universe. A few Earths were still in the dinosaur age. You would have liked them. It was not difficult to go back from them either as there was no interference.

“Unfortunately, I along with my dear co-pilot, got stuck in this Earth. The wavelengths of the services like phones etc. here created hinderances for our machine. In fact, every time we tried to go back, a huge discharge was formed but we could not travel.

“It took me 5 years to realise the issue and correct it. The time machine is just a front. Don’t get me wrong, it does travel in time. We had perfected that around 200 years back. However, I created the machine with a flaw. The dark energy created through this machine can be used to create a portal to multiple dimensions. Opening the portal however was a risky venture as during that period, anything could happen. The portal is not a one-to-one gate but more like an open platform where anyone can come or go.”

I paused the video and looked around once again. There were no signs of any portal opening. Besides, Sam herself was lying there, dead. Did she fail to go back? And where is the police? Surely, they would have come here by now.

“For one minute, the portal remains open and that is the minimum time I could muster after five years of research. It was sufficient for me to travel — at a cost. I won’t be able to travel with my body. Instead, I will have to send my DNA and replicate it back on my Earth. It is not difficult, but a little unpleasant. Also, I won’t be able to control who might travel through the portal and stay on earth for one minute. But I have a hunch as to who will. The beast can slay thousands of humans in one minute.

“In fact, I think with the population density of this Earth, it might kill millions. But, I can’t stay anymore. I am ready to take that burden with me if it means going home.

“I am sorry you had to see this side of me. I liked you Kanishk. I couldn’t imagine you dying because of my attempt to go home. I could have used this machine on the first try itself but I couldn’t. I had to ensure that you survive. I initially thought of sending you away but I knew that it was not a sure way. The only way to be sure was to send you in a time-vortex. That is the safest place from the beast.

“I know I am a monster but please know this — I did come to love you. I hope that you would forgive me for this… this slaughter.”

The video stopped. I looked around and decided to go back in the machine to stop it. I may be able to convince her to stop this madness. I went back in the machine but it would not work. The machine was made for one side travel and it had stopped working as soon as it landed here.

I came out and looked at the footage of the past 24 hours. It started with me entering the pod. Then, came the carnage. Words are not enough to describe the next two minutes. A beast came, 12 feet long, it looked like a dragon. It immediately started to rip apart everything it saw, as if in a frenzy. For the next one minute, it continued to kill everyone who was in the room. We had an army of 115 professionals around the room and 25 scientists in the various rooms at that time. All lay to ground as the beast killed everyone.

Not just that, it replicated each time it killed someone. Each of the new dragon immediately left the building as if to increase the damage area. I shuddered. I didn’t even want to know how many more people had died outside.

After that one unholy minute, there was an emptiness. I skipped a few hours to see if anything changed but nothing happened. I closed the video and opened the internet. News was flooded with sightings of dragons killing people.

An article estimated the death of around 25 million people in one minute.

I sat there stunned. I was in the middle of 25 million dead bodies.