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Trapped in 1912
This was it. The moment of truth. It had all come down to this. The outcome of his audacity to tempt fate would be apparent in the next few moments.
The hundreds of LED lights on the beast of a contraption in front of him flashed green, flickering on and off alternately. All systems go, he thought.
He realized that what he was attempting seemed like something from a science fiction movie, but it didn’t matter. He’d plunged into the deep end years ago; he’d been swimming in it ever since this crazed passion had overtaken him.
Brushing a stray wisp of straight, deep black hair out of his brown eyes, he stepped back, admiring what he’d created. It was a beauty, to say the least. Stainless steel gleamed in the dim illumination of the computer screen. Countless buttons and switches lined its smooth surface. But only one button controlled this reality – life as he knew it. And he held it in the palm of his hand. The remote to manipulate dimensions.
Thrill-seeker, daredevil, lunatic, hedonist. Those were some of the kinder names his friends had called him when he’d announced this ridiculous notion to bend time and space. Outsiders thought he was insane. Let them laugh. He’d show them all.
Stepping into the concentrated glare of the 60-watt bulb, he stared at his watch. 10:59. It was time. No doubts or reservations filled his mind – just excitement and pure adrenaline. Trembling, his sweaty thumb depressed the button.
A jolt of electricity coursed through him, tingling every nerve. His vision grew blurred. He was dizzy. Was he floating? No, of course not! But he couldn’t feel the concrete beneath the soles of his sneakers. Pressure on his eyes forced them shut, but he could feel the air whizzing by his cheeks. It was cold.
Suddenly, the wind chilled even more, biting at his bare skin. Light throbbed red past his closed eyelids, and an indistinct strain of music floated to his ears. A scattered murmuring sound accompanied it – the jarring discord of many voices. Did he also catch the faint hissing of the ocean?
The world around him cleared as he blinked, the fuzziness wearing away. Pitch black, the sky was littered with stars. The same as always, yet different in so many ways. The moon was full. He glanced at his wrist. 11:00 p.m. Roughly forty minutes left.
Somewhere nearby, a strings trio was harmonizing a familiar Beethoven waltz. Salt flavored the bitter air, and a lone seagull squawked loudly. Yes. He’d made it.
People milled around him, moving and flowing – like water. Most were dressed in expensive, well-tailored clothing. This was a party.
He noticed a woman standing at the edge of the deck, leaning against the railing. She faced away from him, towards the water, but he noticed that her dress was made of burgundy silk, and it draped her slender shoulders gracefully.
It was incredible. He’d never imagined such detail to this alternate time. Was his body still inside his laboratory, and was this just a figment of his imagination? Perhaps it was all holographic.
Walking close behind her, he intentionally bumped her arm. She gasped and spun. Even more beautiful than he’d thought. Almond-shaped hazel eyes, with brown curls that fell loosely about her oval face.
“Excuse me,” he murmured. “I wasn’t watching where I was going.”
She stared at him.
“Please, forgive me. I was – lost in thought.”
A hesitant smile curved her lips. “I understand. What … what is your name?”
“Well, Mr. Gold, I can’t say that I’ve seen you on the top deck before.”
“I’m not much for socialization. Don’t have many friends aboard.” He shrugged.
Turning back to the choppy waves, she sighed quietly. “Nor do I.”
He watched her as she gazed at the horizon, transfixed.
She shook her head, as if trying to clear it. “I apologize; how rude of me. My name is Ashley. Ashley Henna. I’m heading to New York to live with my aunt.”
“Pleased to meet you. I hope you reach there safely.”
She thanked him and excused herself, wandering idly among the elegant tables.
Surely that can’t have happened. It was my imagination. But her arm had felt real enough. And she had responded to him. Perhaps he was more present here than he thought.
Jason wondered what would happen when he returned to his own time. Would people here look for him, or would the memory be erased? Surely, to them, I’m not real. I don’t belong here – wasn’t born in this era. So how, then, did the woman see me?
But there was no time for idleness. He wanted to look around before…. He reached into the pocket of his slacks and felt the hard, cold metal of the remote. It was still there. He could return whenever he wished. A thrill rushed through him. It was better than watching a movie. Think what this would mean to the world’s technology!
Sauntering towards a white-swathed table, Jason chose an hors d’oeurve and tasted it, mingling with the crowd. He was glad he’d chosen to wear a pair of slacks and a jacket; he didn’t stand out too much.
Holding up his watch, he squinted in the dim light. 11:35.
Sucking in his breath, he blinked and moved his wrist closer to his face. How could that be? He’d only been here about ten minutes! Since this was an alternate reality to him, did time pass differently?
There. It was there. He saw it. Tingling with excitement, Jason realized that he was reliving history without having to take the consequences.
The hulking object was barely visible, shrouded in the thick, ubiquitous fog. But there it floated, faintly white against the murky black waters. He waited two minutes.
It was almost parallel to the ship now. And close. Much too close. He could feel the ship tilting to the left, away from the monstrosity. But he knew it wasn’t fast enough.
There was a sickening scraping sound, high-pitched and grating. It sounded like a scream and a groan at the same time.
He shuddered, gripping the rail and bracing himself as the ship lurched. Frantic cries filled the air. A loud bass voice shouted above them all.
“Keep quiet, everyone! It’s fine! We probably just bumped a piece of ice!”
Of course it wasn’t fine. Jason calmed his breathing, pulling out the remote. He had to get out of here. He’d stayed too long.
It was his indecision that cost him. His lust for adventure. He knew he should press the button, but he could feel the adventure drawing him in like a vortex.
The ship rocked again, and his elbow hit the iron bar. The piece of metal plummeted, rotating once before splashing into the waters below. No!
He was a prisoner. Trapped on the RMS Titanic.