Melvin knew all about his Great Grandfather’s work. He knew all about the four missions in Time Travel. He knew his Great Grandfather (Mark) made two trips and then was in charge of the two failed attempts. One where everyone who went back in Time, came back in the Capsule as goo. The other, where five brilliant young Scientists got in the Time Machine, and five composite primitive Savages came out.
He knew that was the reason more than 100 years ago, that the Time Machine was destroyed. You couldn’t take anything back in Time, and you couldn’t bring anything forward in Time. Just you. Sort of. The Goo and Savages hinted at some real limitations. Melvin understood that. All of it.
But still…the lure of correcting his Great Grandfather’s mistakes and imitating his greatest triumph was a Siren Call that he wasn’t strong enough to resist. They say that Genius shows up every 100 years. Well, Melvin was a genius. And he had a head start: His Great Grandfather’s notes, records, and drawings.
Melvin had a head start.
The Time Machine was ready now. It was a bit bigger than the Original. Okay, quite a bit bigger. A Tyrannosaurus could walk upright into the Machine and still have a few feet of clearance on either side and above its head. The Technicians, Engineers, and Scientists that Melvin had hired to make his Machine a reality, wondered why the massive holding capacity. Melvin didn’t tell them (or anyone else either) He was going to bring back a live Tyrannosaurus.
He thought he understood where they had gone wrong a century ago, and the progress in AI’s, Computers, and Genetics- and a much deeper understanding of Evolutionary Biology, all led him to believe he was on top of it all. He was certain he had thought it all through. He was confident in his preparations. Melvin believed nothing could go wrong, at least nothing that he and his hand picked team couldn’t handle.
He was wrong.
One of the things that Melvin thought his distant relative got right, was sending a crew of five back with the Time Machine. With Five Crew Members; any vote would have a deciding voice to break any tie over what to do, where (or when) to go. So Five it was. The other thing that Melvin agreed with, was having a sterile environment for the Time Machine to return to. One guarded with quick response teams ready for any eventuality, even defense.
It didn’t take him long to find expert talent to hire for the “launch” of his Time Machine. The Seal Team came as a group- having been released from Active Duty with all the cuts in Defense Funding. He had two of the top three Biologists, one of the greatest Doctors of protobiological diseases - Dinosaur Doc they called him- and Harriet. Harriet was the first person in more than three hundred years to win multiple Nobel Prizes- currently she held six of them…and a seventh was on the Horizon.
Harriet was probably the only other person in the room who’s intellect rivaled Melvin’s. But Harriets intellect was driven by discipline, Melvin’s by passion- and understandably - they clashed. Melvin insisted on being on the Team. He wanted Harriet to run the Control Room for insertion and return. She thought he would be more valuable in the Control Room- and she should lead the Time Travelers.
They both went.
Which is where I come into the Story.
My name is Kevin. I am not a Brainac, Nerd, or Egghead. Not even close. For me getting a passing grade in any course after seventh grade was a relief. My math skills were so poor I needed a calculator to figure out a Baker’s Dozen. My English skills left folks who didn’t know me wondering if English was really my first language. As far as technology goes, I thought Microwaves were some kind of Magic Box.
But I had two things that made me valuable to Melvin (whom I had known since I was six years old): One) I never panic. Ever. I have three Silver Stars, the Distinguished Service Cross, and the Medal of Honor to back that up. Two) People listen and react to my calmness in a crisis- it is some kind of uncanny tone that creeps into my voice and makes folks do their job. No matter what circumstances surround us at the time.
Melvin made me the Top Controller for the insertion and return of the Time Machine. All I had to do was usher the five of them into the Time Machine- which we all called: "the Barn” because of its immense size. Then when they came back a moment later - which Melvin assured me many times would be eons for the folks who went. Something about Time Tensors being warped by Matrix waves filtering through gravitational rotation during insertion to a specific time. To me it was all gobble gook.
I had my orders, I had trained response teams. I had a Seal Unit that respected me, and I had time. I was ready.
I was wrong.
Melvin gave me a pat on the shoulder. I was the only one besides the Seal Team that knew he was going to try and bring back a Tyrannosaurus. The Seals had a gurney big enough to bring the big beast out with a tractor. If he got rambunctious - well Doctor Dinosaur had made a potent knock out dart. We tried just 10 cc’s (about ten insulin syringes) of it on a full grown male African Elephant weighting 6000 Kilograms (about 13,500 pounds) - he slept for a week. We had 250 cc’s in each syringe. Even a pissed off Tyrannosaurus would lay down and take a nap.
Everyone was nervous, excited, and a few clapped as Harriet and Melvin (the last two to go in the Time Machine) waved. We closed the door to the Barn. Powered it up. Counted backwards from Ten…and I hit the Button.
The Time Machine was back, as if it had never left- just like more than a 100 years ago. It completely baffles me- and most folks for that matter- that Time Travel doesn’t take any time at all. Door closes. Door opens. It is that fast. Except for the folks who were inside the Time Tunnel, or whatever the matrix tensors are called.
Unlike 100 years ago, there were no Alarms when the door slid open on its “return.”
That meant that everything was still under control of the Team that went back in Time.
Everything must have gone to plan.
Again…I was wrong.
The first thing that hit all of us, including the Seal Team, was the smell. It was ungodly, like somebody made a soup out of swamp gas, bear breath, and whale exhales.
The second was the roars coming from inside the Barn. More like loud bass hoots than roars, but enough to raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Everyone took an involuntary step back.
The third, and strangest thing happened next. A white flag came out on a stick. That was unusual, perhaps a bit strange. It wasn’t the strangest thing. The strangest thing was that the stick was being held by what looked like an abnormal long Tyrannosaurus Arm. An arm that must have been fully 12 feet long. With a five fingered claw that looked like a Pianist's hands. If a Pianist had foot long fingers with three inch talons at the end.
The white flag was waved slowly outside the Barn Door. The Hooting inside stopped. Slow. Timid. Frightened. That was how the rest of the body linked to that elongated Jurassic Arm came into view. Everyone, and I mean everyone, took several unconscious steps back. The indrawn gasp by everyone (including me) should have emptied even a room big enough to hold the Barn of all oxygen.
It was a Tyrannosaurus. Slightly Modified. Much longer arms for one thing. Claws that were damn near hands, and looked like they had the finesse and fine motor control of a Classically trained pianist. The ripping and tearing teeth in the giant mouth, designed to rip great chunks of meat from a living animal, seemed to have shrunk to just four still intimidating biting teeth. The rest of the mouth seemed to be filled with molars. Big molars.
It was the eyes that stopped us all. They looked human. Granted Humans don’t have eyes the size of Turkey Platters. These eyes were scared looking. And they were shedding tears. The white flag dangled in one long arm, with the flag touching the floor. Considering that the shoulder for that arm was more than 18 feet off of the ground- it was a long way to the ground.
In spite of its size, stench, and the sad scared eyes- the impression I got was the thing was scared of us, needed help, and was shaking in its boots.