Nicklas opened the lid to the time machine and couldn’t believe his luck. A whiff of sour milk, dog food, and rotting strawberries hit his nostrils from the cold space inside. It must have been put on Craig’s List right when Nicklas saw it, or someone would have snapped it up at the bargain price of only $4,830. Yes, Mr. Doe, who kept insisting that Nicklas called him John, had been vague about why he wanted to sell this magnificent piece of machinery, but Nicklas always tried to stay out of other people’s business because it was none of his.
It took a little effort to get the time machine into the garage, but Nicklas knew it would be worth it. The steady hum it emitted and the green light on the display by the handle confirmed that it was indeed a functioning sample, and again Nicklas praised himself for his presence of mind in picking it up.
Nicklas was not at all discouraged by the time machine’s resemblance to a regular chest freezer and a mighty used one at that. Breakthrough inventors were concerned about content, not form, and it was a stroke of genius to be able to repurpose the artifacts at hand.
Mr. Doe explained that the time machine was cryogenic because everything froze at very low temperatures, including time. He also revealed, which Nicklas took as a sign of the rapport they had built, that there was a patent pending on the technology, and Nicklas might be called to give up the machine for a while for the patent office to verify its revolutionary workings. Nicklas had been happy to give his personal information in the name of science so the patent office could locate him, if by nothing else, then his social security number.
The instructions were clear. The lower the temperature and the longer Nicklas sat inside. the slower time would pass, and eventually, it would come to a halt and even start moving backward. That was what Nicklas wanted. His blind date with Alice Fielding last Wednesday had been disastrous, and Nicklas blamed himself for not understanding the extent to which Alice was serious about finding a man with a clear vision. He felt that if he could just go back four months before he had gotten the bifocals, everything would fall into place with Alice.
Still clutching his teddy bear, Otto, under his left arm, Nicklas dumped his good memory foam pillow and the blue flashlight in the time machine, and then he and Otto climbed in and heard the lid close tight with a suction sound. It would just have to take as long as it would take.