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November 7, 2000

Ralph’s movie marathon lasted till well into the morning.  He’s beautiful when he’s fixated on something.  But I still wasn’t all that keen on the idea of time travel—actually, I might have been worse off, given how so many of the plots focused on how badly time travel can mess things up.

“I’m less than encouraged,” I said.

“Forewarned is forearmed,” Ralph said.  “We know to be careful.”

“We?”

“What, what, you think you’re going out there without me?  No wonder you’re scared…  You and me are traveling together, of course.  Wild dogs couldn’t keep me away.”

“But bringing you with me… I don’t even know how I can make that work,” I said.  “Actually, I haven’t learned to do anything yet.”

“We could try setting up a time machine,” Ralph said, totally ignoring my concern.  “Dude!  We totally have to use the DeLorean!”

So of course me and Ralph ended up at his parents’, where their old DeLorean sat on blocks between a rusty pickup truck and the barbed-wire fence surrounding the property.

“This is gonna rock so hard,” he said.

“Aren’t we gonna want tires?”

“Well, probably,” he said. “But we’re not going to do much travelling till you get practice and we know what we’re doing.”

“Restraint!  I like that.”

“Besides,” he said, hefting the laptop, “the battery in this thing wouldn’t let us get far, anyway.”

“Bah, now you’ve got me worried.  What if we get stuck?”

“We’ll play it safe… first trip will be to fetch a better computer.”

“I can get behind that,” I said. “So, five years?”

“Fifteen.”

“Ten.”

“Okay, okay, deal.”

We got in the car, me at the wheel.  “Now, to get this straight, I’m not actually driving anywhere, no eighty-eight miles per hour, nothing—this is just a container?”

The most appropriate container available,” he said.  “Come on, let’s do this.”

I slapped his gut teasingly.  “You’re still ten years old inside that pork barrel, ain’tcha?”

“Oh, shut up,” he said, handing me the computer.

I opened it up.  “How do I start?” I typed.

I don’t have a way to interface with the car; you’ll have to charge it yourself.  But just give me a date or time and I’ll modulate the energy accordingly.

“It’s talking like a person again,” I said.

Ralph looked over my shoulder.  “I hate you.”

“Sure you do,” I said, and typed in “Nov 7, 2010.

OK.

And I felt the charge.  I won’t say it was electric, though there was some of that—a  feeling in the fur like it was full of static—but mostly it was a kind of intensity.  I was eager to move, and felt like I could run and just keep running, or jump over a house, or punch through a wall.

But I didn’t know how to let it out.

“Your fur’s turning purple, tiger,” Ralph said.  I looked down and saw the charge crawling up my arms.

“I don’t know what to— how to—”

Ralph grabbed my hand and slammed it down on the dash.  There was a bright flash.  “Push hard,” he said.

“Push how?”

“Your hand,” he said. “Press down hard.  That’s all.  Just push against it.”

I pushed hard on the dash, feeling that intensity focus itself and leave me.  I watched my fur go back to its original colors, the white light pulling at intervals around my hand.

Then it was all gone, the whole car flashed white for a moment, and then—I felt a different kind of surge, as though I’d been plunged into warm water.  My eyes shut reflexively.  When I opened them again, I saw it did indeed look kind of like water—full of blue and purple light refracted in the fluctuations of what I could only call the timestream.

I heard Ralph’s voice, almost unreal sounding:  Beautiful.

I felt a pleasurable sort of sensation wash over me and for a second felt as though my whole body were about to dissolve into Time—and then all my senses blanked out.

November 7, 2010

The next thing I knew, we were back in normal time and Ralph was already talking.  “I know, right?”

“What?” I said.

“You were shouting ‘Fuck, fuck yeah!’”

“I was?  Reflex, I guess,” I said, checking myself over.  “It did feel pretty good.”  In fact there was a damp spot in my shorts.  It hadn’t felt that good had it?

A bearded man knocked on Ralph’s window.  Ralph rolled it down.

Welcome—to the world of tomorrow!” he said, in full drama.

“What,” Ralph said.  “Steve, is that you?”