Unintended Consequences by D I Jolly

Edward stood at what appeared to be a very plain door a good 30 storeys under the sphinx and looked at his partner John.

“You realise that no one has stood where we’re standing for over 3000 years?”

He couldn’t hide the excitement in his voice and it was mirrored on John’s face.

“It’s funny how modern it looks, I mean, compared to everything else we’ve gone through to get down here, this just looks like … a door.”

Edwards chest seemed to fill with a bit of pride and ego.

“Well that just goes to show what we’ve been saying all these years, how advanced the Egyptians really were compared to other cultures of the time. Now come on let’s see what’s behind it.”

He reached down to the handle and had a sudden flash of insight into how very strange the idea of a door handle from ancient Egypt really was, and how that sort of thing wasn’t actually invented until the late 19th century. But he was also to excited to stop himself. The door swung open easily and slowly the two men stepped through it. The room they entered was a plan sort of thing, a few chairs and a table in the corner and a strange looking carpet that appeared to have an image of Elvis Presley on it. Both John and Edward looked down at it in horror. John turned to look at his friend

“Is… is this some kind of joke? I thought we were the first people here in forever?”

“We are, all the evidence leading up to now shows that no one has ever made it down here. We had to break some of those seals to open the passageways.”

The both turned to look back at the slightly ugly carpet. Then straightening his back Edward strode forward to examine the thing and as he stepped nearer, he felt the gut-wrenching sensation of the floor beneath him give way and slip just a little. Quickly he turned his head and managed to yell,

“Don’t move!”

Before the whole thing gave way and he tumble along with the carpet, table and chairs into darkness and landing with a heavy thud, slipped into a different, deeper darkness. A few hours later Edward slowly became aware of the idea that he might actually still be alive and although his body hurt, he felt something soft underneath him and around him. As a bit more time passed he began to notice light and sound and slowly blink open his eyes. He found himself lying on a bed in a room that looked like it had come off a science fiction movie set. Walls of shiny metal and blinking lights and next to his bed sat a man.

“Ah good, you’re awake. How are you feeling? … Other than deeply confused of course.”

The man smiled knowingly at Edward who tried to laugh but instead just winced in pain.

“I guess I feel like I fell into a pit.”

The man’s face took on a graver look.

“Ah, yes well that makes sense.”

“What is this place? Where am I and what’s going on? And who are you?”

The man’s smile returned.

“All very good questions. My name is Dr Franklin, this is a secret chamber under the sphinx I had built for myself. You’re currently in the only working time machine in existence and you’ve unfortunately fallen into a paradox.”

Edward looked blankly at Dr Franklin.

“Pardon?”

“You see, I was from the far distant future, even from now. I was part of a team that managed to crack the secrets of time travel and built this machine. What we didn’t realise was that the moment you use it, you uninvent it. You see, coming back in time changes the time scale of technology and you instantly fall into a paradox. So although I can affect the world around the machine I can’t actually leave it, because inside here is still the timeline I’m from, where this all exist, out there is the new timeline where I will never exist.”

Slowly Edward raised his hands to his head and began to shiver.

“I know this is a lot to take in, I’ll give you some time.”

Dr Franklin got up and walked to a small panel on the wall and returned with two glasses of water.

“Drink this, you’ll feel better.”

Edward obliged and they sat in silence while his mind battled to come to terms with what he had heard. He wanted to reject it, but something about the way Dr Franklin spoke made him believe him. He also knew that he had entered a room that had been locked away for over 3000 years and found a living person in it. After about an hour Edward turned to look at Dr Franklin.

“So why don’t you just return to your time?”

Dr Franklin signed.

“I can’t … my time line doesn’t exist anymore there isn’t a time to go back to. And even if there was I’m no longer a part of any active time line. I don’t exist outside this box and trying to leave it would suddenly manifest a piece of a time line that doesn’t exist and potentially unmake the universe.”

Edward frowned.

“Wait then why, why isn’t that happening with me here?”

“Because you’re inside the room with me, if you were to leave then things would break all around you and time would literally tear itself apart and put itself back together again differently or not at all.”

“So I can’t leave!”

“Basically, I did say that you’d fallen into paradox. And … I’m sorry about that.”

“You’re sorry! Is that all you can say, you’re sorry! I have to spend the rest of my life in this one room with you and you’re sorry.”

Dr Franklin looked a little sheepish and blushed.

“What, what is it?”

Yelled Edward.

“Well, it’s just that, this room exists outside of time, that’s why you could fall into it.”

“And?”

“And so, you’re outside of time.”

Edward stared at him blankly and Dr Franklin sighed feeling like he just needed to rip the bandaid off.

“While in here you won’t age or die, you aren’t stuck in here for rest of your life you’re stuck in here for all eternity, or you can walk out there and potentially kill everyone who ever lived and would ever live.”

The words hit Edward like a slap on the face and he sagged visibly under the weight of his situation.

“So… so what are we going to do?”

Dr Franklin lit up and smiled cheerfully.

“We could play chess?”

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