The Time House
By David K Scholes
Earth: 2458 AD
“We’ve been invited to an evening meal at Dave’s place,” I said.
“Who?” enquired my wife Joy.
“Dave Rugendorf, Earth’s most experienced time traveller. The guy who won the Time Traveller of All Time award.”
“Oh him!” responded Joy “I’ll pass on that. I’ve heard some weird stories about that mansion of his.”
I went on my own. The whole country estate was a teleportation free zone so I had to utilise a crude electro-magnetic flyer to get there. How quaint! Just as well Joy didn’t come. Anything less than instantaneous travel tended to bore her and even worse make her physically sick.
It was a great sprawling mansion. Out past Romsey in the English countryside.
With just a little time travel under my belt I was always fascinated to be in the company of a professional. Especially the ultimate pro.
Being only a reporter for Time Travel magazine I assumed the evening would be low key. Yet the little group of guests also included Stewart Chapman, the Emeritus Professor at the Institute of Time, Rick Alvarez, Chief Investigator at the Time Authority and an alien who was introduced as a time travel expert.
Before the evening meal Dave gave us a tour of some rooms dedicated to Earth’s past. A tame affair until the last two rooms. One dedicated to the hey day of the Roman Empire and one to the hey day of the British Empire. They were so good that I wondered if we might be looking into actual viewing portals.
After the meal we took a tour of some of the “future” rooms.
The most advanced room for Earth was for 5585 AD. We all knew why there was nothing beyond this time frame. Then we were led through a succession of rooms relating to alien worlds further up time.
Then Dave led us towards a room that seemed to be at the very furthest extremity of his vast mansion. He was becoming progressively more animated as we approached the room.
“My pride and joy,” said Dave as he took us into the exceptionally large room. Confronting us, and I do mean confronting us, was the End Time Horizon. Not just time camera footage. We were looking straight at the real thing.
“It’s only a viewing portal,” offered Dave in response to Alvarez’s accusing look.
“It’s still not allowed,” reproved the Investigator “because of the up time barrier.”
Dave looked at his alien companion. “We have worked out a way around that up time constraint. Something that’s technically legal.”
Somehow the argument spoiled the whole magnificent moment of witnessing Time’s End.
On our return to the main entrance I was at a loss as to what Dave had been hoping to achieve during the evening. I suppose he wanted to impress us and get our seals of approval.
Rick Alvarez started to sum it up. “I think this place probably started out okay. A sprawling mansion containing rooms that accurately replicated aspects of certain past and future time periods. Then Dave increased the authenticity of some rooms with 3D images from his time cameras. That’s okay as long as the time pictures were from times and places he was authorised to go. It’s probably even okay if Dave sequestered souvenirs from other time periods. Provided the souvenirs are innocuous and from sometime on Earth.”
“Yet somewhere along the line,” Professor Chapman broke in “it just got out of hand. Viewing portals and maybe even actual portals were set up and it very much looks as if Dave has been to time periods he shouldn’t have. Lord knows what lies beyond the door in some of the alien rooms. I’m betting that some of them are beyond the up time barrier as well. All in all I’d say that this place is no longer just a physical place as such but has become inexorably interwoven into the time stream.”
“That’s it,” said Alvarez. “I’m closing this place down in the morning once I’ve consulted with the Time Commissioner.”
“Can you do that?” enquired Chapman “I mean is it physically possible to close down a place such as this has become?”
We looked around to confront Dave but he and the alien were gone and his staff didn’t know where.
True to his word Rick Alvarez arrived with a full squad from the Time Authority the next morning. With everyone from the Commissioner down. Professor Chapman and I were there as witnesses.
Except the mansion wasn’t there anymore. Not a trace of it. Not even any foundations, sewage or storm water drains.
“You know what I think?” offered Professor Chapman. “I think this is all too big for us – I think this mansion exists in some appropriate local form in all those time periods for which there were rooms in the mansion here. All those other mansions in those other times have just had one of their rooms permanently closed. Of course it’s only a theory of mine,” he added “and as you all know I have some pretty outlandish theories.”
We didn’t race to disagree with him. As the foremost Earth academic authority on time travel, Stewie Chapman’s “theories” tended to be better than most of his competitors facts.
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I have written over 140 speculative fiction short stories many of which appear in my six published collections of speculative fiction short stories and two published science fiction novellas (all on Amazon). I have been a regular contributor to the Antipodean SF and the Beam Me Up Pod cast sci-fi sites and have also been published on Farther Stars Than These, 365 Tomorrows, Bewildering Stories and the former Golden Visions magazine. I am working on a new anthology of short sci-fi stories and also a “Human Hunter” series for the Beam Me Up Pod Cast site.