“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.