TRANSCRIPT: This story is written by Rob McLemore. He’s been writing sketches consistently since college with The Stuntmen. Currently, he’s a writer for Locked Into Vacancy Entertainment and has been regularly putting out scripts for them since 2015, including creating his own serial, Thultak: Wandering Barbarian. Rob loves to play with genre tropes and conventions as a means to set up a familiar situation and then either turn it on its head or try and go an entirely different way with it. This is “A Body In Motion.”
“That really is a beautiful sight.” Cameron paused the recording. She took a moment to reflect on everything that had happened to her. She double checked the readings on her screen. As far as she could tell, they were accurate. The machine had succeeded. She took another long look at her surroundings before turning the recording back on. “I suppose I might as well finish the story. Mission log: My name is Terana Cameron. I was born in the year 2108 and, as far as I can tell, I’m the first person to ever time travel.” The makeshift lab was oddly silent. The sound of drips echoed off the cave walls, but no one spoke. Hodges and Cameron stared at the lump of unrefined andonium Krayt had pulled from his bag.
“Is this going to be enough?” Krayt asked, unable to read the reactions of the other two. Cameron remained silent, her jaw open, unable to choose from the multitude of comments forming in her brain. Hodges, however, jumped up and embraced Krayt, nearly knocking him over. She quickly realized that he was still holding the volatile element and regained her composure.
“It’s enough, Krayt,” she said, tearing up slightly. Hodges carefully took the andonium and made her way deeper into the cave. She was practically vibrating with excitement. Cameron remained far less positive. She grabbed Krayt by the shoulder and stared at him, her face a mixture of fear and anger.
“Where did you get that?” she demanded. Krayt avoided eye contact. Cameron refused to let go. She had a considerable size advantage on him and used every bit of it to keep him from avoiding the question. “Where did you get that?!” she repeated.
“What does it matter?” said Krayt, “We needed it, so I got it. It’s not like any of this is going to matter soon anyway.” He struggled to break away from her grip. Cameron threw him onto the ground.
“It matters because you put all of us in jeopardy!” She stood over him, fuming. “If they tracked you, they’ll find this lab. They’ll find all of this equipment, and you know damn well they’ll figure out what we’re building down here! And if that happens, that’s the end. You think humanity is screwed now? Imagine what they could do with this! They could rewrite the entirety of our evolution. We wouldn’t exist anymore. We’d be bred into mindless brutes for manual labor! Or worse. They could simply wipe us out and turn the whole planet into whatever the hell they wanted. Did you bother to think about any of that?!”
Hodges emerged from the back of the cave. “Are you two going to sit there arguing or are you going to help me rewrite the laws of universe?” She tossed a load of conduits to Cameron then helped Krayt up. He began to speak, but she cut him off. “Don’t apologize. You made a risky move, but you got me the power source I needed. Of course, you may have also brought about the complete annihilation of our species. If we work fast, hopefully we can avoid that.” She shoved a wrench into his hands and the three made their way toward the deepest part of the cave.
“I’m not really sure how Hodges liked to word these things,” Cameron continued into the recorder. “She was the one who understood the science of how all of this worked. I just put the machine together and kept everyone alive. At least that’s what I was supposed to do. I suppose they technically haven’t been born at this point, so I’m not sure if it matters. I don’t know. Time travel’s confusing. It still doesn’t change what happened.” She could feel tears begin to form. She tried to wipe them away, momentarily forgetting about the helmet blocking her hand. A small chuckle escaped. “I’ll tell you this, Hodges. This all looks a lot different than I expected.”
From inside the containment unit, the andonium cast a deep blue shade over the equipment. It was a welcome relief from the dull orange of the lights strung up around the cave. Cameron attached the final conduit, and the lump began to emit a low tone as it powered up the machine. “There, you’re all hooked up,” she said. “Now we just need to wait until the stabilizers lock it down into a useable form.”
Hodges picked up the recorder and began narrating. “Mission log: This is Dr. Olvenka Hodges. We have finally managed to secure a sample of andonium sufficient enough to maintain a continuous reaction to allow for temporal displacement. We now are minutes away from executing the first ever quantum jump.”
“Time travel,” Cameron interjected. “Just call it time travel.”
“It’s so much more intricate than that. We’re literally punching a hole in the fabric of time and depositing someone in this exact location 100 years in the past. The ramifications of this actually working are astonishing. It feels like a disservice to simply call it time travel. And now you’ve made me ruin this take.” Hodges reset the recorder and began her speech again.
“Mission log: This is Dr. Olvenka Hodges.”
“Why do you keep doing that?” Krayt asked. “Who is that even for?
Hodges sighed in frustration and turned off the recorder. “It’s a record of everything we’ve done here. If we succeed, everything we’ve ever known will cease to exist. There’s no telling what the consequences will be on us. I just want to make sure our story isn’t lost. The light from the andonium flickered, causing the low hum to cut in and out. Cameron gave a swift kick to the containment unit and the machine resumed normal function.
“Please don’t kick the power supply,” Hodges snapped. “That stuff is incredibly unstable in this state. If it’s disturbed too much, it could potentially atomize everything a ten-mile radius. I’ve spent years calculating every variable to ensure that this process is successful, so I would appreciate it if you didn’t cause all of my hard work to be vaporized because of your foot.”
Cameron sat down, staring at the pulsing blue light. “Would it really be so bad if this thing went critical? Wiped us all out?”
“Yes.,” Krayt chimed in. “I vote that being vaporized would be a bad thing,”
Cameron shot a glare at him. “I’m just afraid to get my hopes up. It’s not that I don’t think this will work. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe in you, Hodges, but I’ve seen too much not to wonder.” She sighed. “I’m tired of this fight. I’m tired of having to constantly move to survive. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t afraid to stay in one place. Always trying to stay one step ahead, never letting my guard down, never resting. I’m just tired of it all. I want peace. Not necessarily for the whole world, but at least for myself. I want to simply be someplace. To be still. For once in my life.”
The uneasy calm was suddenly shattered as the alarm pierced the air. All three instantly stood up. The lab had been discovered. The high-pitched shriek of drills could be heard from the far end of the cave. The barrier was thick, but it would only buy them a little time. Hodges rushed over to the main console, frantically checking every reading at once.
“Can we get it running in time?!” Krayt shouted. Hodges didn’t answer. She tossed a pair of containment suits to Cameron and Krayt as she typed furiously. The air crackled as the machine came online. The distortion came into focus, but it wasn’t fully formed yet. The drilling grew louder. “They’re going to be here any minute. I’ll do what I can to buy us some time,” Krayt grabbed a refractor and dashed toward the entrance. Cameron tried to grab him again, but he slipped under her arm. “Don’t’ fight me on this one, Cameron,” he pleaded. “They’re here because of me. Besides, I wouldn’t even know what to do if I made it back there. This was never my mission. Now, go screw with time!” His voice trailed off as he disappeared from sight. Cameron hesitated for a second, debating if she should go after him, then relented. She got herself suited up and tossed the spare back to Hodges. She batted it away, still hard at work bringing the machine up to full power.
“Hodges, get your suit on. We don’t have much Time.”
“I’m not going, Cameron. You were right. If they discover our work, there’s no telling how much damage they’ll cause. Once you’re through, I’m going to overload the system and take everything out with us.” A pulse shot through the cave with a deafening crack and the distortion manifested fully. Not far off, the sound of a firefight rang out. Cameron knew that Krayt could only buy them a little more time. She gave a final pleading glance to Hodges, but they both knew her mind was made up. Hodges tossed her the recorder. “Don’t let our story end here.”
Cameron took one final look around the world she had known, then jumped into the distortion. A blinding light engulfed her. It was simultaneously too bright to look at, yet still dark, as though her brain couldn’t comprehend the actual colors she was seeing. The sound around her grew louder, melding and distorting into an echo of every noise she had ever hear, over and over again, growing more unfamiliar as it intensified. Her body felt as though it was being pulled apart. She could feel every muscle, every fiber, every cell in her being as it was ripped from one point in time to another.
And then, nothing.
A moment later, she opened her eyes. She was no longer in the cave.
Cameron checked the levels in her suit. It hadn’t been designed for the vacuum of space, but it would provide her with enough oxygen for at least a few more minutes. She stared, admiring the radiant beauty of the nebula before her. “It’s funny sometimes the things we take for granted. We all know that the Earth is constantly spinning and traveling through space, yet we never really comprehend it. Sorry to break it to you, Hodges, but I found one more variable you didn’t account for. I wouldn’t feel too bad, though. Your machine worked. I made it back 100 years. I’m in the exact same spot. The only problem is, the Earth hasn’t made it here yet.” She smiled to herself. “I doubt anyone will ever find this recording, but if they do, I want them to know our story. The mission failed. We didn’t succeed in changing the past. We didn’t stop anything. I’m sorry, Hodges. And even you, Krayt. But I want to thank both of you for keeping me going these last few years. We had a purpose. We had hope. Without that, I would have given up the fight long ago. And, in the end, I did find the peace I was looking for, somewhere out here in the universe. I can finally stop. For the first time in my life, I can stop. My only regret is that you didn’t get to see it for yourselves.”
Cameron switched off the recorder. She had about 6 minutes of air left. She closed her eyes and calmly drifted through space. “It really is beautiful.”
Kim Fukawa has been seen all around Chicago. Most recently she has worked with The House Theatre, Lifeline Theatre, and Babes With Blades Theatre Company. She is an artistic affiliate and occasional fight choreographer with Babes With Blades.