Tag: timetravel

The First Great Scientific Discovery of Victoria Bradley

Let me tell you the story of my first great scientific discovery. I was very young, but already, I felt the call of science.

Did you know that balloons aren’t hollow? I know. Shocking, right? You look at a balloon and you’d never know. I mean, look at them. You can look right through them. It looks like there’s nothing at all inside. And yet, they aren’t hollow.

Unfortunately, this is difficult to verify. You go to open it up and * pop * no more balloon. Every single time.

This was very frustrating for me as a little scientist.

And what’s more, did you know that little pieces of balloon are dangerous? That’s right, and not just because little babies or animals or starving people might try to eat them and choke on them.

If you handle them wrong, they can snap at you just like broken rubber bands. It’s really, really painful. Ask me how I know.

One snapped at me.

I know, I know. I need a better story. Give me some time and I’ll think of one. It will be full of danger and drama and all of that.

How long will that take, you might ask? Well… It depends on how good the story is.

Back to my discovery. When you are small and ask people what’s inside a balloon, they tell you nothing. But it’s obvious that something is there, because something escapes when the balloon pops. Something is stretching out all of that rubbery plasticky stuff.

If you keep asking, some one will finally tell you it’s just air. At least, that’s what happened to me. And that was confusing. Because balloons seem to be hollow.

Have you ever seen a hollow log? Air goes in and air goes out, but the log doesn’t pop. And if an animal moves in, the log is still hollow.

After incessant questions, I learned that hollow logs are hollow because there is usually more wood in the middle of a log. A hollow log is a wooden log without wood in the middle.

Air isn’t balloon, it’s air. So even a popped balloon that has nothing in the middle anymore isn’t hollow. It’s a regular balloon without air.

This led to the obvious question. Are balloons hollow bouncy balls? The connection seemed obvious. I’d cut open bouncy balls before. They’re solid bouncy-ball-material all the way through.

Balloons seem to be similarly bouncy, as long as they stay away from sharp things. They are brightly colored and shiny. They sort of seem to be made of the same things as bouncy balls.

However, after experimenting with the broken pieces of yet another bouncy ball, I learned that the little pieces of bouncy ball don’t stretch. Not even if you leave them out on a flat rock all afternoon on a sunny day.

Balloons are not hollow bouncy balls.

What are they? Rubbery plasticky bubbles, that’s what. Something that wraps around air for a little bit, but can’t hold its shape for long.

That was my first great scientific discovery. I think I’m the proudest of that one. It changed my life. The success led me to start investigating so many other things. It led to my career as a scientist.

Of course, the world knows me as the scientist who made time travel possible. But I think of myself as Victoria Bradley, the girl who discovered that balloons aren’t hollow.

The Lost Secret of Time Travel

It was an ordinary Thursday when Emily discovered the secret of time travel. She had been sitting by a window, watching the rain, when she noticed a red umbrella moving along the sidewalk below. In a moment, she was transported into a memory.

The umbrella was the same color as the red geraniums that her grandmother grew in pots along her window sill. Emily remembered sitting backwards on the living room couch to watch the rain out the window, with the red geraniums on the windowsill below, just at the edge of her vision. The memory was sharp and powerful, but seeing it in her mind was not the same as time travel.

And yet, Emily could remember her grandmother’s house as though she was there. Mentally, she could walk the rooms as they were, even though it had been at least a decade since her grandmother’s death. The rooms were not the same now. The house was not the same.

However, Emily could remember just how her grandmother’s house smelled. It didn’t take much thought to remember the taste of the raspberries in the bushes that were once behind the house and were no longer there. In her memories, everything was still just as it once was.

Emily sat up in her chair, confused. Surely she couldn’t remember something so completely and well if it no longer existed at all. Something so solid and real that she could close her eyes and it was there, as real as anything she could see with her eyes open, was surely something greater than any other more ephemeral thought.

If it existed in the past, and she could visit it in her memory, surely memories held the key to time travel. But how could you physically visit a memory? If you remembered it perfectly would you somehow be able to step inside the memory?

If you remembered the memory perfectly enough to feel like it was real, would it matter if you were physically there again or not? Emily frowned and drew a geranium on the budget proposal she was working on. Then she erased it.

If you were really, physically there in the memory, would you be replacing your younger self? If you changed something, would you be stuck there? What would happen to the future, if it was already there, the same as the past? Would it change too?

And what about other times? Once you learned the trick of traveling through time, assuming you didn’t get stuck, could you travel there too? Could you learn enough about a historical time to create a memory to visit?

Emily filled out the budget proposal. When it was time to present it, She stood at the front of the conference room, and the room began to shake. Everyone dove under the tables. There were cracking and creaking sounds from all sides. Somebody screamed.

Without any conscious effort, Emily suddenly recalled sitting at her breakfast table that morning. She was sitting at the table in her pajamas, eating oatmeal with a little milk and raspberry jam. Eyes wide open, Emily recalled every detail of that moment.

She could no longer hear the creaking or screaming. She could no longer see the conference room. She was there, in that moment, eating the last bite of oatmeal.

Strangely enough, when she got up to rinse her bowl, she was still there, sitting in her chair. She watched herself walk away to get ready for the day without looking back. Uncertain of what to do, Emily hid in the guest room until she heard the front door close.

It didn’t take much research to discover that it really was six hours earlier. She’d gone back in time. Or she was in a coma somewhere. She pinched her arm. It hurt.

She got dressed, picked up an old purse and gathered all the change from the jar. Then she went to the corner store. Everyone could see her. She could see and pick up things that she hadn’t seen in her memory.

Grabbing a few apples, she headed to the check out. On her way, there was a display of odds and ends. She picked up a red umbrella.

Hours later, she walked along the sidewalk, protected from the rain by that red umbrella. She knew that this was the time she’d looked out the window, but there were no other red umbrellas to be seen. She entered a cafe further along the street and watched for another half hour.

There were no other red umbrellas. Had she seen herself? Was that proof of her time travel? What would happen if she tried to change something else? What would happen if she traveled back even further? She looked at the red umbrella, folded closed like a flower bud, and thought of red geraniums.

Emily disappeared that day, in the middle of the terrible earthquake that leveled the office building where she worked. Authorities assumed she died during the collapse or during the fire that swept the area soon after. The secret of time travel was lost to the world yet again.

But Emily still knew it, whenever she was.

The Foreigner

I’m interrupting my regular post schedule for something a little different: a guest post. My oldest children collaborated on a story and I’m pleased to feature it here! “The Foreigner” by Joshua Bird. The illustrations are by Sarah Bird. Please let them know in the comments what you think.


Hammer met metal, smashing upon the anvil.


Another strike, forcing the metal into shape.


The blacksmith took the horseshoe off of the anvil, and put it into a basin of water.


The horse shoe was finished. The blacksmith took the horseshoe and put it with the rest of his wares.

“Pardon me sir!”

The blacksmith turned to the door to look at the speaker.

The speaker was an unusual looking person with odd clothing, most likely a foreigner.

“What do you want?” said the blacksmith.

“I would like to buy something from you.” said the foreigner.

The blacksmith looked at his wares, and selected one of his more expensive items, an ornate sword with a golden scabbard.

“What about this?” asked the blacksmith.

“Perfect!” replied the foreigner.

The foreigner then took out a bag and took some coins for the purchase, and gave the coins to the blacksmith.

The blacksmith took a look at the coins and saw something amiss.

“I do believe that you have forged these coins foreigner.” said the blacksmith

“How-What makes you say that?” nervously replied the foreigner.

“Because the coins say that they were made this year, but have the face of the king that has been dead for ten years.” said the blacksmith.

The foreigner paled, and fled with the sword.

The blacksmith immediately chased after the foreigner, but lost him on the streets.

“Alright, that is something to mark down as something that history books got incorrect!” said the foreigner as he prepared a strange device, “Next time, find currency to compare with in the time period first, then spend it” there was a green flash, and he was gone.

Future Not-Telling

When Dylan looked into the mirror as he brushed his teeth, it wasn’t his face looking back at him. Stumbling backwards, he reached for the doorknob and took a deep breath preparing to yell for help.

“Stop. I won’t hurt you. I’m you from the future.”

Dylan stopped and looked at the mirror. “You aren’t me. You’re old.”

The man in the mirror winced. “Ouch. I was a mean little kid. I’m not old.”

Shrugging, Dylan opened the medicine cabinet, swinging the mirror towards the wall. He tapped around the back looking for a power supply or some kind of electronics.

“Don’t you want to hear about the future?” The voice called out from the other side of the cabinet door.

Dylan closed the door again and faced the man in the mirror. “Like what?”

“Before we begin, I do want to point out that I’m not old.”

“You have a beard.”

The man rubbed at his beard and frowned. “Beards are cool in the future, you know.”

“It doesn’t look cool. It looks old.” Dylan was pretty sure after all that this was not him from the future. He wouldn’t ever have a beard, even if other people said it was cool. He opened the cabinet again to figure out how the trick was done. He knocked on the back of the mirror.

“Dylan, Dylan, Dylan,” the voice said. “Stop that. I can prove I’m you. I’ll tell you something no one else knows.”

Dylan swung the mirror back partway, still holding onto the edge of the door. “Like what?”

“Um. I don’t know. Oh, wait. You dream all the time that you can fly. You have nightmares about carnivorous flowers. You cheat when you play solitaire.”

“Whatever.” Dylan crossed his arms. “What do you want, anyways? It’s not like I’ll really become you anyways. Not now that I’ve seen how stupid I look with a beard.”

The man in the mirror stroked his beard again. “I told you, it’s cool. Wait and see.”

“So, why are you here? Do you need to warn me about something?”

“Hmmmm.” Old Dylan thought for a moment.

Dylan rolled his eyes. “Did you forget why you came here? Told you you’re old.”

Old Dylan pointed at him through the mirror. “That’s it. I’m not telling you anything. You get to suffer.”

“I thought I was you.”


“So you’ll suffer too.”

Old Dylan smiled. “Yeah, but I’ve already lived through it.”

“But maybe you could tell me some stocks to invest in or something and we’d both be rich.”

“You’d just waste all the money before I could spend it,” Old Dylan said.

“That’s what you think.”

“I’m you too, so you think it too. Hah!” Old Dylan crossed his arms across his chest.

Dylan swung the cabinet door open and knocked on the back of the mirror.

“Knock it off, that’s annoying and loud.”

“You’re old, old, old, old, old old, old.”

“That’s it, I’m leaving.”

Dylan knocked on the back of the mirror a few more times. When he didn’t hear anything, he swung the mirror back in place. Old Dylan was gone.

Years in the future, when beards were actually cool, Dylan didn’t grow a beard. But he was interested in time travel. He studied it extensively, with the firm belief it would someday be possible. When he joined a team inventing a way to visit the past through mirrors, Dylan volunteered to be the first test subject.

He convinced them to allow him to check in on his younger self so that they could see the effects of visiting a past self firsthand. After a bit of reflection, he decided to grow a beard just for the occasion. He thought it would be best to complete the loop. Plus it would be funny.

“You can’t tell your younger self anything about the future, you know,” the lead researcher reminded him. “You signed an ethics agreement.”

“Don’t worry,” Dylan said. “I won’t tell me anything.”

Allergic to Now

Once upon a time there was a woman named Martha who had time-traveling sneezes. Every time she sneezed, she had to go check the date. Allergy season was the worst.

The time-traveling started small. She moved to a new town after college, and got into a terrible car accident driving into town. It took a year to heal, and the car was totaled She developed allergies to something in the new environment while in the hospital. The sneezing didn’t always move her in time at first, and when it did, she didn’t go far.

By the time she realized what was happening, she had lost her own time all together. She tried a few times to visit a doctor to see if there was some sort of medical explanation, but they never seemed to believe her. Unless she sneezed in their office, of course. Well, she assumed they believed her after that, but she really didn’t have any proof. She never saw the same doctor twice.

It was lovely to see so much history, but as she didn’t travel in space, just time, then she wasn’t able to keep a job and earn money to travel anywhere else. Even if she could, money seemed more time-specific than you’d think. Sometimes there was a train out of town, sometimes a boat. A few times she watched people fly off in hover cars. But, she couldn’t afford to take any of them.

If it weren’t for the periodic visits to a time where it was easier to hunt and gather, she probably would have starved. As it was, things were growing worse. The sneezes were growing closer together, and every time she visited was in the middle of allergy season.

She wasn’t sure what would happen when she couldn’t stop sneezing all together. She couldn’t get a signal on her cell phone to check. She always visited either before her phone plan started or after it had lapsed.

Once, in a moment of desperation, she called her childhood phone number from a public phone with change scrounged from a fountain, uncertain of what else to do. “Mom? It’s Martha.”

“Martha who?”

“Your daughter. You have to believe me!”

When her mother hung up, Martha checked the date at a newspaper stand. She was visiting a time where she was still three years old. Of course her mother didn’t believe her.

The sneezes came even quicker. An apple orchard. A village. A spaceport. A large city. Was that dinosaurs?

It was all blurs now. It was getting hard to breathe between sneezes. And then she sneezed one last explosive sneeze.

Something flew from her lungs and burned the whole way up her throat and out of her mouth. A spark flickered in front of her eyes, and then it flared brighter, white and blue. What was it?

Around them, the world spun in tight circles, but in the circle, time stood still for a moment. And then the bright light was gone, taking with it all the light and heat. Martha could breathe again.

She gasped in one breath, then two. And then the world was dark.

Martha blinked. She was driving her little car that she hadn’t seen in decades or years or centuries or however long ago she finished college, and it was dark. Did she have the headlights on?

She almost glanced down to flick them on, when she remembered this moment. She swerved right, onto the shoulder, and slammed on her brakes. A car driving in the wrong lane barreled through the spot where she’d just been. It was followed by two more cars, driving equally fast.

Moments later, a bright light flashed on the other side of the road, white and blue. It blinked three times and vanished. Martha turned her car off and sat in the dark for a long time after that.

A week later, Martha moved away from the town she’d spent so much time in. She found a job on the other side of the country, and carefully studied the history of her new town, just in case. She also got a prescription for antihistamines and was always extra careful about handwashing and taking vitamin c pills.

Waking up in her own bed in her own time every morning never got old. And sneezes never grew any less frightening. Even though she’d neglected to write down any winning lottery numbers from the future, Martha was glad to be stuck in one time. She was finally home, and she lived happily ever after.

Brothers in Time

Once upon a time, far in the future, three brothers set out to seek their fortune. Fortunately for them, their father was a brilliant, yet somewhat mad, inventor. So he gave each of them a time machine as they set out on their adventure.

The youngest brother decided to live in a tropical climate before people invented the wheel or fire or tools. He decided that would give him plenty to impress the people with, and life would be easy. And it was, for a time.

Unfortunately, before long, someone came knocking on his door. “We’re the time guardians, let us in,” a deep voice said.

“There’s no such thing,” the youngest brother replied.

“We’re from the future, sent to fix past events that were messed up by unregulated time travel,” the voice said.

“If you’re from my future, shouldn’t you leave me alone as part of the past?” the brother threw his things into a bag and grabbed his time machine.

“Let us in, and we’ll talk about it,” the voice said. The door creaked as it began to open.

The youngest brother grabbed his time machine and set it to home in on his brothers. It took him to the nearest one, the middle brother. He was living in Renaissance Italy.

When the youngest brother arrived, the middle brother was in the middle of a discussion with a number of important scholars. The youngest brother hid until they left, and then he hurried into the house. “Brother, guess what?”

“What are you doing here?” the middle brother asked, looking annoyed.

“There are time guardians from the future trying to stop us from changing anything in the past.” The youngest brother looked around. “Hey, are you going to eat that? I missed bread more than I thought I would.”

The middle brother passed him the loaf, looking thoughtful. “Time guardians? Are you sure?”

The youngest brother nodded. “They said they were from our future.”

“If they’re from our future, shouldn’t they leave us alone as part of the past?”

“That’s what I said!” The youngest brother looked out the window. “Hey, are you expecting company?”

“No, why?”

The youngest brother pointed. “There’s a group of people headed this way. Oh, here they are.”

Someone knocked on the door. “We’re the time guardians, let us in,” a deep voice said.

“There’s no such thing,” the middle brother said. He quickly packed a bag and grabbed his time machine. He looked at the youngest brother, who was already setting the machine to jump to their oldest brother.

“We’re from the future –” the voice began, but the brothers left before they could hear the end of the sentence.

The youngest brother was still holding the loaf of bread. He chewed on it as he looked around. “Where are we?”

“Moon Base Alpha,” the oldest brother said, stepping away from the sink and wiping his hands on his coveralls. “They needed a permanent maintenance worker, and I was familiar enough with the technology to impress them. I got the job.”

“But didn’t they abandon that base when the funding ran out?” the middle brother asked.

“Yes, and it was self-sustaining,” the oldest brother said. “I think I can make a case for staying on and maintaining things if I volunteer my time for room and board.”

“But won’t you get lonely?” the youngest brother asked.

“Video chats. Plus, they’ll develop teleporters soon enough. If the base is in good working order, maybe they’ll select it as a tourist site or a historical monument.” The oldest brother shrugged. “I thought it was worth the risk.”

“Do they need any more maintenance workers?” the middle brother asked. “We need a place to hide from the time guardians.”

“There’s no such thing,” the oldest brother said.

“Yes there is. They’re from our future,” the youngest brother said. “They want us to stop messing with the past.”

“If they’re from our future, shouldn’t they leave us alone as part of the past?”

“That’s what I said,” the youngest and middle brothers said together.

The oldest brother sighed. “Tell me what you know.”

The other two brothers shrugged. “That’s pretty much it,” the youngest brother admitted.

“You didn’t stay and talk to them? Of course you didn’t.” The oldest brother shook his head.

Just then, someone knocked on the door. “We’re the time guardians, let us in,” a deep voice said.

“Coming,” said the oldest brother. He let them in.

The men in spacesuits took off their helmets after they came through the air locks. They sat down on the chairs in the lobby of the station across from the three brothers. “We’re from the future,” one of the men began in a deep voice.

“And you don’t want us to change the past,” the youngest brother said.

“That’s right,” the man said.

“What about maintaining it?” the oldest brother asked. “Can we get permission for that? Or research? There must be some way that we can use our time machines without hurting the past or the future.”

“Of course there is,” the man said. “Let me give you some of the paperwork with the rules you need to follow. If you are willing to agree to the rules, and come to the future for some training, we would be happy to allow you to continue to use your time machines.”

And so the brothers read the rules and went to the training. The youngest brother joined the time guardians. The middle brother became a historian. The oldest brother continued to live on the moon. And they all lived happily long before they were born.

The end.