A Rift in Time
By Elton Camp
Henry Higgins, B.A., M.A. Ph.D., graduate in physics from the Massachusetts Institution of Technology, is missing. Born August 8, 1950, he was thought of as a genius by some, but as a crackpot by others. Revolutionary theories on the possibility of time travel that he presented at scientific gatherings received a mixture of applause and ridicule. None of his articles have seen publication in peer-reviewed journals.
How his machine works is of a technical nature, thus certain to be of insignificant interest to the readers of this account. Suffice it to say that it works very well. Henry had seen his device disappear and reappear multiple times after being programmed to slide both forward and backward in time.
Finally came the day to test it in person. Surprisingly athletic for a man of his years, Henry strapped himself into place before the control panel, adjusted his eyeglasses and pulled a protective helmet over his thick, gray hair. He set the chronometer to early August of 2040 to determine if he was still living at that advanced age and what honors had been accorded him by the scientific community.
With a barely-discernable jerk, the time machine began its slide into the future, the red cancel button prominently alongside the digital display of the date. The world outside the device became a blur and Henry heard only a low hum from the engine. All seemed to be well as the years rolled by on the chronometer. At first, that is.
Henry noted with surprise the muscle atrophy and skin changes associated with extreme age. A slight looseness of his helmet caused him to discover that he was now as bald as his father had been in his late eighties. Henry’s eyeglasses no longer allowed him to read the control panel clearly. The truth hit him--he was aging along with the passing years. The inanimate time machine had shown no such effect, but it was different with a biological organism. He desperately punched the cancel button, realizing that, if his future self was not still living, his death was impending.
To his relief, the chronometer slowed and stopped. Without input from Henry, the time device began to move backward in time, slowly at first, and then at a brisk clip. By the time the read-out showed Henry’s present, his physical deterioration had been reversed and all was as before.