Cedric the Time Traveler

“When’s the last time you saw Cedric?” My father asked over the dinner table. We hadn’t said a word to each other since sitting down and it came as a shock. Cedric was a dear friend but I told my father the truth.

“Not for a while.” I admitted.

“Did he finally go to the looney bin?” He never did think well of Cedric.

“No father, I just haven’t heard anything from him.” I wasn’t actually sure of that answer. He was heavily invested in his work and would often disappear into his workshop but would contact me with any brilliant ideas he had. And in theory they were all brilliant, they just never worked.

After dinner that night I considered everything I knew about Cedric the last time I talked to him. I contacted his last girl friend. He kept in touch with her even if she didn’t want it. The conversation with her didn’t get me anywhere. She clearly was over all of his antics and was glad she hadn’t heard from him in over a month. And as I thought of it, that was about the last time I had heard from him as well. What was his last invention? I pondered and pondered and went over all the emails and texts I had with him. A machine. It was some sort of machine…

I tried to contact him over the weekend and got nowhere. I called the workshop he worked part time, they told me he had put in his notice and never heard from him. It wasn’t like Cedric to just quit a job like that.

Monday night I went to his house. I found the hide-key under the purple frog statue and let myself in. The house was dark and quiet. There was actual dust on the kitchen table, which is honestly the cleanest I had ever seen it. His bed was made, the bathroom empty. His basement was damp and cold as it ever was. I walked towards the garage and crept slowly waiting for a noise. Anything at all to let me know that he was home and in his own work space tinking away.

I opened the door and darkness crept over me. I found the light switch and found a big empty space in the middle of the room. As if there was a car there and he had just taken it grocery shopping. The tables the lined the garage walls were filled with little inventions, coffee pots destined for his next telecommunication device, remote controls for various things in a stock pile, papers and drawings and clutter. I made it to his main workbench at the back wall. Blue prints for the machine he told me about, something that would change life as we knew it. A time machine.

I spent the next few months combing his research and came to the conclusion. He had finally done it! That’s why no one had seen him, he was in the future out there somewhere. I decided not to report it to the police. Cedric would return any day now with his stories about the future and show me new technologies I could yet to imagine.

 

I waited. And waited. And waited. I had been promoted in my company. I found a wife. I had two children and watched them graduate from college. Jasper went off to medical school. Julia went to the Peace Corps and is helping the rainforests. She sends a letter once a month. I still waited. Cedric’s house had gone into disrepair. I had tried to do upkeep on it but once Jasper had children of his own I went into retired grandpa mode and forgot all about it. One day there was a knock on my door.

“I can’t believe it.” There in front of me on my own door step was Cedric. Gray hair and wrinkled face, but it was him. “Cedric?”

“Did you miss me old friend?” He smiled.

“Where have you been all of these years!?” I opened the door wider to let him come in. “Come sit, tell me all about your adventures!”

We sat over coffee and he told me all about his revelation with the time machine he had built out of his Suburu Outback. He wanted something roomy and affordable so he could travel in comfort. He told me he upgraded it once he reached the future and went back and forth though time. I was amazed.  “Why did you wait so long to come back?”

He grew silent. His eyes shifted to the sides. “I’m glad you’re so enthused old friend. But some things are to be kept secret.”

I became uneasy. “What do you mean? What did you see in the future?”

“Marvelous things, cures for diseases. Pills for life longevity. Dinosaurs being brought back to life. Cultures destroyed and Cultures created. Dinosaurs at their second distinction from human greed. Marvelous things and terrible things.”

“But my friend, haven’t you been lonely all this time?” He told me more tales about the people he met and the women he had loved and how none of them believed his travels. He then told me terrible news. He was at his own end. Struck with a terrible disease he caught from visiting the year 5642. He discovered the disease after the jump forward mechanism on his time machine had broke. He was going to die with out the cure and the technology he would need to fix the machine. That was when his decision to come back home came to light.

Cedric and I had a few days together before his death. He stayed with me and my wife and told us more stories of his inventions.

After we buried him I took my wife to his home. It was miraculously tidy again, lived in almost. As if it was that week I had discovered him missing. We went into the garage. The Outback with wires and gears and odd shapes jutting from odd directions as if it had been there the whole time. My wife found a journal in the front seat labeled “Places I’ve Been.” She read a few pages as I looked at all the old blueprints.

“Honey, he…” She paused.

“What is it?” I turned to face her.

“He never went anywhere outside the United States. Your father was right. He was crazy.”

“What do you mean?”

“He didn’t time travel, darling. This journal is just a chronicle of his cross country vacation. Entries of different jobs he’s had and different people he met along the way.” She handed me the journal to the last page.

The last words had shocked me and convinced me that I must do his last wish. That night me and my wife cleared any proof that we had set foot in the house and set fire to Cedric’s home.

I’ve convinced every person I have met along the way that I am a time traveler. I think I’ll return home now. The doctors here in California are convinced there are no more treatments for me. I’m old and tired. I just hope I can destroy the evidence before anyone can discover my truths.

Advertisements

Kumquats

“I want kumquats.” She waddled into the store.

“Mate, have you ever had a kumquat?” He followed after her.

“No.” She was determined. Headed beeline for the produce section.

“What makes you think you want one then?” He almost lost her rounding the corner of the apple stand.

She didn’t listen and kept searching the aisles.

He grabbed her by the arm. “Why do you need these?”

She looked him in the eye. “You don’t understand. The baby needs them.”

“It can’t talk to you. You need to stop thinking that that thing growing inside of you is talking to you.” He finally released her arm. “You’re crazy!”

“The baby needs them.” She said adamantly as she reached for the package of kumquats.


Mitchell

A patient sits patiently in the conference room on the fourth floor. He didn’t wear his watch today, at the recommendation of Dr. Price, it would cause a commotion in the machine they strapped him to this morning. The conference room doesn’t have a clock. Perhaps like a casino floor, no clock means time does not exist.

He doesn’t know how long he had been waiting and was okay with this fact. The longer he waits, perhaps the better result. He considers all of the obstacles that brought him to this room. The initial alert to his medical ailment on his trip to San Bernardino. The visit to the clinic where they said they would run tests. The blood work that was done once he returned home. Scans and x-rays and more blood work. He was expecting the worst, though he didn’t know what that could be. They ruled out cancer four months ago.

He got up to pace the room. Looked out the window to the greenery below. Found his car in the parking lot. All the cars he had parked next to were replaced with different ones. He put his ear to the door the team of doctors had disappeared to and didn’t hear a sound.

“Mitchell, come here”.

The man turned around and saw a shadow figure at the end of the long conference table. A doctor had arrived he thought and obeyed the beckoning. But the shadowy stayed a blob of darkness, barely resembling human.

“Mitchell. The doctors tests have pinged our radar. In a moment they will come to explain to you that there is nothing wrong. They will send you to your dwelling. But this information is incorrect. You have been breathing this planets’ air far too long. We must get you back home.” The figure raised out it’s hand to grab the old man’s. In a moment they disappeared into thin air.

The team of doctors entered the room. No site of the old man, but that didn’t bother them. With minds erased they stood there puzzled. What had brought them here? What were they just discussing?

They will never know.


Race Day

“Alright folks, it’s a little misty out today, but that will just make the track a bit better for those of you using mud tires. Race starts in 10 so I suggest you get them engines running!” An announcement came over the speakers, I looked around most racers were in their cars already.

I hopped into the passenger side of Todd’s skyline. It was heavily modified and the seatbelts weren’t that great, I was worried about being in his way. “I’m not sure how this is going to work babe. I’ll be crashing into you for most of the curves, won’t that bother you?”

“Sweetheart we’ve been over this. I’m not going to mind it and I’ve raced this track a billion times. Some curves, with centripital force you’ll lean into me a bit since I had to put a two seater bucket seat in. We’ll be fine you just gotta roll with it.” He gave me a kiss on my head and started his engine.

The track started on an old abandoned drag strip and that was the only road bit, the rest of it wound round the back 40 of a farm. There was curves and creeks and woods all leading back to the drag strip. You could race any car, be any age, there wasn’t a while lot of qualifications. Todd was lucky enough to know the land owners and had been out here every summer before I met him. He was a little rusty since we spent the last summer with my family on the beaches of Key West. That wasn’t going to stop him though, this was going to be the first race of it’s kind and the winner walks away with $100,000.

That’ll be more than enough to open his woodworking shop and a little something for me, he’d say and give me a nudge and a wink. The race was 40 laps and from the looks of most of these cars, last man standing wins.

The race began and I did what he said, rolled with the curves and tried hard not to mess with his arm. It was a right side driving car and old. ‘Beautiful’, Todd would call it, but it was old. One of his main concerns was the gaslines, they were low to the ground since he had to move everything around to get all of the stuff in there to boost the engine. I’m sure there’s technical words for all of that, but I’m no expert.

We we’re doing good, lap 5, and managed to maintain a steady 4th place. At one point he leans into me and says “we’ve got this.” I figure it’ll be at least one of those guys’ cars won’t make it and the other will just have some issues with the hill. That’s where I’ve seen him fall back just a bit and I’m sure that’s where Todd is going to best him. The third car, first in the race is Pierre. He’s not from around here and I couldn’t quite make out his accent. The first two laps I saw him nudge his way from the middle of the line up to first place and he got oddly close to some cars. I got the impression that Pierre wasn’t a very sportsman-like team player.

Lap 25 and Todd has managed to get to second place. As we rolled on to the old wooden bridge, something didn’t feel right. It collapsed as we were just about to hit the dirt road again which sent us tail end into the creek below. Panic set in and I’m sure Todd could see it in my face.

“Sweetheart, I love you, we’re fine. I still have a chance. But I’m going to need you to do something for me.” He lifted my chin up and gave me a big kiss. “I need you to push me out of here.”

Horror stuck my gut, but I knew he could make it if I helped. I got out of the skyline as carefully as I could. Which of course was through the driver window over Todd, I didn’t want to open the door and flood the car. The water was a cloudy, muddy mess and came up to just above my knee. I waded to the back and put my whole weight into the trunk. He hit the gas pedal hard and I’m not sure if it was the adrenaline or pure luck but he was out of the muck and on to the track before the next car even had a chance to catch up to us.

It was then that I realized no one had been behind us for a while except for one kid in a little red racer. I remember seeing it in the start up line, there was stickers on it to make it look like Lightning McQueen. I must have come to my senses because I could hear him clear as day saying “help.”

Turing around I saw wheels sticking out of the creek and the bottom of that little boys car. He couldn’t have been more than 10. I imagined my worst fear of him being trapped in that car so I waded over the bridge debris to the car. “Hey!” I shouted.

“Help!” I heard from behind me, he was on the bank of the creek. At least he wasn’t trapped. “Can you help me get my car out?”

“I’m sorry hunny, I’m not that strong.” I watched tears fall from his eyes. It hit me hard, this little boy who had gotten this far and who was in third place even! His dream was ruined. We walked back to the start up avoiding the race track.

When we got back every car still in the race was gathered around the announcer booth. Many of the drivers were sitting on the hood of their car and I desperately searched for Todd. He was in the front of the line looking defeated. I sat next to him and waited for an announcement.

“They checked that bridge before the race, Nell. It was sturdy and not going anywhere.”

“So it’s…it was rigged to collapse…you think?” I was stunned, who would do such a thing?

“I don’t think Sweetheart, I know it.” He sighed. “They were telling me you were helping Peter, did you get him out?”

He was already out of the car, we couldn’t save it. I could barely get you out with the help of the car actually running, his was belly up in that creek.

The speakers cracked a little but a voice came on. “Under out investigation it seems as if there was a small stick of dynamite under the bridge rigged to go off during the race. The person responsible is now in custody. Since we can’t finish the race officials have decided it is best to split up the winners money to the top four racers.”

Everyone was shocked. It could have been worse. I think back to the bridge and imagine things going a lot different. The boy made it out alive and Todd still managed to get first place and $25,000. I was relieved and thankful. I remembered Pierre and his struggle to get to first place and looked around. Drivers were now surrounded by their followers and family. But there Pierre’s car sat, alone and pathetic. I’m sure he was taken to jail that day.

The track was finally fixed and held races with a much smaller monatary prize. Todd had to settle for a much smaller shop, but he was able to build it onto the garage of the house we bought. The little something for me was an engagement ring, with my stipulation that I never be his co-pilot again. We heard the little boy was able to by a new racing car, they counted him as the second winner. I’m glad he didn’t give up his dream.


The Phone

When I was 7 my mother taught me how to use the black phone in the foyer. It was old timey, you had to hold a little thing to your ear. She said it was special and had to keep it but she could only hear static when it rang.

It rang and I picked up just like she taught me to do expecting static. But instead I got distorted wait music you’d probably hear in an elevator.

“Hey!” I heard after a long wait. I remember answering back confused.

“You can hear me?” The voice asked.

“Yeah, it sounds funny but I can hear you.”

We talked for an hour when my mother walked in the foyer.

Her face was stunned, as if she knew I had been talking to someone and not listening to static.

“He said he was Grandpa!” I smiled at her.

With tears in her eyes she asked “What did he say?”

“He told me all about how he got locked in there! And he had a message for you!” I smiled not understanding what I was about to say.

“What was that sweetie?” She got down on here knees to meet me face to face.

“He said don’t open the door and talk to the shadowy man or you’ll end up in here like me. No matter what!”

Just then a there was a knocking on the door. “HELENA OPEN THE DOOR. ITS YOUR DAD. I NEED YOU!”


Julie: The Artist.

Julie sat down on the brown couch in the lobby area. TV’s were blasting the news, latest things the crazy president was doing, the stock market crash, the murder in some small town with enough mystery to keep the nation captivated. The magazines on the coffee table in front of her showing happy scenes of housewives decorating the perfect summer themed parties with their husbands in a ‘Kiss the Cook’ apron and grilling spatula, the latest star and their tragic on screen romance turned real life love story, and a children’s magazine.

It seemed out of place for the office setting, maybe a client brought their child or a secretary brought her son to work. Her meeting was pushed back half an hour, they were thoughtless-only telling her after she had already walked through the door. Julie picked up the children’s magazine and flipped through the simplicity. The activity pages had been scribbled in red and yellow crayon, perhaps the child was not appropriately aged yet. She kept flipping until she got to the main article, it was short but the message was powerful. A child wouldn’t understand the moral but it made Julie think.

What was she doing here? Pitching her big idea to some soul sucking corporation? Was she selling out? Was this the right decision? Her husband might have thought so-if he had stayed around long enough for her to finish the concept drawings. She took out her portfolio and stared at her drawings. She glanced back at the magazine.

Julie stuffed her drawings and the magazine back in her satchel got up and walked towards the front desk. She told the secretary to apologize to the men she was to meet with today, but she wouldn’t be coming back.

“What ever it is that you want to do, do it for yourself. Happiness comes from your own success.”


The Empty Trolley

I entered a contest where they give you a plot and you write about it, I didn’t win. But that’s okay there’s always next time. I thought I’d let you all read my submission anyway. The prompt was “Mystery titled The Empty Trolley.”

Legend has it you can still see a lingering trolley in the middle of Leosville. It has been decades since they were in use and according to officials, they have all been decommissioned and tore apart.
Of course, no one really gets a good look at this trolley, it seems to disappear quickly. And none of the stories ever quite matched up. Frank swore he saw it one day and turned to his wife to tell her, in the instant it took her to look the trolley was gone. Young Jeramiah and Thomas were playing in the street when a police officer jumped out to save them from being ran over by the trolley once, but the other people walking on the sidewalk just laughed at the officer. Jimmy told his tale about slamming on his breaks one afternoon in fear that he would hit the trolley, no one got hurt he would say. But no one believed any of them.
The local paper, Leosville Argus, had one reporter who was always set after the ones who believed they had seen the trolley to tell their story. The article he had written about the trolley stories always got stuck in the section of the paper no body liked to read with all the advertisements. His name was Jackson Fernell and while he thought himself to be a decent reporter for the paper was only referred to as “The Trolley Man” as a joke by his coworkers.
One day Jackson decided to do a little more digging into the story of the disappearing trolley. He found contact information for the three witnesses he had spoke too before and gave them each a call.
The first witness Jackson spoke to was Frank Beauregard. Frank and his wife Suzie were expecting their first child in a short few days but had just a moment to recount his day seeing the trolley. “Clear as day, it was right in front of where that arcade is on Main Street, me and my wife were headed to the movies but decided to walk a little downtown first. Beautiful spring day it was.” Jackson wrote down all the information that he could in his little notebook and called his next witness, the police officer.
“Well, those kids had just come out of the arcade on Main Street, goofing off. I was just patrolling the town like usual and there that trolley came clear as day. Looked like it wasn’t going to stop for them kids and I jumped out and pushed them to the sidewalk. I had a lot of strange looks that day and a lot of laughs back at the station.” Officer Evanston was more than happy to tell someone his side of the story maybe because Jackson seemed genuinely interested in what he had to say.
The third witness was Jimmy. He was tough to get a hold of, turns out his wife had taken a turn for the worst and spent most of his days at the nursing home. Jackson decided to do an in-person interview and met Jimmy and his wife, Mariann, at the nursing home. They were a sweet old couple, married for 54 years.
“I was driving by the old flower shop.” Jimmy smiled.
“Such a shame Julie had to close down.” Mariann put her hand on Jimmy’s.
“Yeh, yeah, poor girl. Well so I was driving by the old flower shop. I couldn’t remember where the new one was, so I hoped driving by the old would jog my memory. And there it was, that old trolley in my damn way!”
“He got home that night with flowers for me, he’s such a sweetheart, and told me all about it. I thought I read in the paper a few years ago that they tore all those apart. Really nice of the town they made them all into benches for the parks. Anyway, I couldn’t believe it when he said he almost ran into it!” She wheezed.
“So, Jimmy, the old arcade…that used to be a flower shop.” Jackson was intrigued now. That was two witnesses that had walked by that arcade-old flower shop who had their women on the mind, but what did the officer have to do with it?
“Oh yes! Our neighbor Julie had the best blooms in springtime!” He chuckled.
Jackson got the information he needed from the sweet old couple and headed to the common place of the trolley sightings. He was missing some big information. The trolley seemed real to these people. These people mostly had romantic intentions during their sighting. Except for the cop… what had the cop have to do with it? He picked up his cell phone and called Officer Evanston again.
“Officer, I know we spoke about the children of that day, but do you mind if I ask a more personal question?”
“Uh…sure I guess.” The Officer sounded apprehensive.
“What did you do for the rest of that day?” Jackson opened his notebook to the other interviews.
“Oh. Well, I finished my shift. A pretty boring day really. Had a few phone calls.”
“Anything else?”
“I had anniversary dinner with my wife. We’re celebrating this weekend, but I surprised her with flowers and dinner.” Officer Evanston smiled.
“Bingo!”
“Excuse me?”
Jackson was embarrassed. “Sorry, I think I’ve figured out why people see the trolley! All three of the witnesses had seen the trolley outside of an old flower shop turned into an arcade. And all three of the witnesses bought their wives flowers that day!”
Jackson hung up the phone and stood there staring out into the street from the sidewalk. What did the flowers have to do with the trolley!? Just then, he saw it.
Clear as day, a big trolley with the cables and the train tracks below, it was empty. But there was a ghostly glow about the trolley as well. He stood there, amazed and pondering. A cold breeze seemed to flow from the door of the old flower shop to the trolley and Jackson concentrated. A transparent man, a ghost! A ghost had gotten onto the trolley with a bouquet of flowers.
“Who are you?” Jackson yelled out, not sure of what he was doing.
The ghost just smiled, and the trolley disappeared.
It was two weeks’ worth of more research before Jackson could but together more of a story. He researched the flower shop but didn’t get anywhere with that lead. He investigated anything he could find about trolleys. It wasn’t until he searched death records when he found the name of Paul Ramos. Paul’s obituary told the tragic tale of a trolley accident, he was on the way to propose to his love, Holly.
Jackson decided not to publish his findings in the paper he worked for. He thought it was a perfect story that didn’t need explaining. One of love and romance, hopefully a reminder to all those that see the mysterious empty trolley that their love is precious and fragile.