After six decades of work, planning, and determination, Johan finally perfected his plans for a time machine. When he told his sister Anna, she was worried about the consequences of his discovery.
“Johan, if you change the past, you may not like how that changes the future. Look forward, not back,” his sister said.
Johan laughed. “Anna, if time travel is possible, I can keep changing things until I get the outcome I want.”
Anna frowned. “And if you see yourself? Will you go mad?”
“Does it matter?” Johan asked. “I can fix that too. There is nothing I do or have done that can’t be fixed now. The world is at my fingertips. I can live a thousand lifetimes and pick the one I want to keep. I am now effectively immortal.”
“Perhaps you are already mad, Johan,” Anna said. Johan just laughed.
When Johan gave the plans for his machine to his younger self, the older self and his machine disappeared and young Johan was alone. The future had changed and older Johan, as he was, would no longer exist.
It took young Johan a decade to build the machine from the plans. Finding funding was difficult. He considered publicizing his research and asking for donations, but he hesitated.
If others had the option of changing time, they could change it in ways he didn’t approve of. They could steal his work and keep him from being born. They could hurt things he loved and help things he didn’t care for.
He only trusted his future to his own hands. So, he kept the research quiet. He worked at a terrible job that he hated to earn the money for materials. He took classes to learn the construction techniques he’d need.
Young Johan worked through holidays and had no other hobbies. He had no friends and nothing he did for fun. Anna, Johan’s sister, was the only person he told about the time machine.
“Johan, I don’t think this is a good idea,” she said. “I think you need to remember to live in the present.”
Johan laughed. “I can live all I want when the machine is finished. I have multiple lifetimes ahead of me.”
“Do you remember your last lifetime?” His sister asked. “The lifetime where you created this machine?”
“No,” Johan said. “This time I’ll keep a journal. I won’t include technical information though, just in case it falls into the wrong hands. I’ve already memorized and burned the plans for the machine.”
Anna frowned. “I don’t think that’s wise Johan. If you can’t refer to the plans, you may make a mistake in your work and not know it.”
“I’ll be fine,” Johan said.
Finally the machine was ready. He was a decade older and wiser. Perhaps he could give his younger self some pointers so this moment could come sooner. Johan thought about it.
He remembered watching his older self fade away, leaving no memories behind. If he gave the information to his younger self, his present self would cease to exist and he’d have nothing to show for all his work. He would be gone before he had a chance to really live.
Perhaps he could study some history and live in the past for a while first. He could carefully use his knowledge to protect himself and perhaps make a little profit to pass on to his younger self later. It wasn’t as though waiting a bit would make a difference to his younger self.
When he was ready, he could reconstruct the plans and pass them on with the money he’d made and the lessons he’d learned. That would make everything easier. He picked a date to visit and prepared to leave.
“Johan, you don’t have to do this,” Anna said.
“I have waited my whole life for this. If I don’t go, I think I would always regret it,” Johan said.
“I will miss you,” Anna said.
“You won’t remember that I left,” Johan said.
Johan pressed buttons and pulled levers. The machine disappeared and reappeared. However, something must have gone wrong. There was no civilization on the horizon.
Johan stepped out of the machine and looked around at the strange forest. He leaned over to examine an unusually large flower when the ground began to shake. He had enough time to stand, turn, and face his fate. Then a dinosaur ate him.
The machine was smashed. The knowledge of time travel was lost to the world. Anna did miss him after all.