Model 20

April 27, 2017

Dr. Nasbran Numberum, PhD, had finally gotten his project to work. He had gone back to prove it. All the months and months of hard work for a product with one flaw. Everyone would be going back now, to change things, to see things, to experience things, everyone for their own reasons. Numberum decided to call it Model 20, for the flaw, and nobody would know why it was called that but him. Of course, he would fix it. To celebrate he decided to go for a walk to the restaurant down the street (The Past!- famous cuisine from the 2050’s) to eat before going back to work.
    An hour later Dr. Numberum came back to the lab to find it in flames. All his work, his ideas, his precious Model 20. It was all very confusing.
    A 14 or so year old boy came up to him, “I’m sorry about your lab. My—”
    There was a pop and the boy disappeared.
    Nasbran started, but then the firefighters were asking him questions as they put out the fire, so he put the boy out of his mind. The firefighters had appeared out of nowhere.
    After they had left, Numberum started digging through the ashes. “Where are you, where are you?! After all this time, a fire!? How can you be less substantial than a measly fire?”
    A week later Dr. Nasbran Numberum died of starvation and sorrow, not over a loved one, or loss of wealth, but for his precious Model 20.
15 or so Years later
    Mars Pompous had been scheduled to go over to Ember Cylicon’s house that evening for a stay over. Mars had been dreading and waiting this moment. He loved Ember in a friendly way, but whenever they got together, she told him the scariest myths and legends; Mars could never go to sleep.
    When they got to Ember’s house, they played Clash of Mutant Pig Civilizations 3, which Mars won, and watched movies while drinking Hot Chocolate her mom made. Embers parents were slightly crazy, her mom being a crazed prophisist and her dad being the main writer of the show ‘Area 51’, which was often called crazy at school, but Mars didn’t mind. He thought they were cool.
    Mars thought thought that Ember wouldn’t start spitting out legends, but she did. Of course.
    “Mars,” she said in the playful, dreamy voice that had hints of seriousness spread throughout, “Have you heard the myth of Model 20?”
    “No… but Em,” Mars replied nervously.
    “Well, I heard that there once was a scientist who was very brilliant, and spent his time making a device called Model 20. No one knew what it did, other than that it ‘went back’, which the scientist kept saying over and over again. Then, one day, he finished the machine and went out to celebrate. When he came back, his lab was in flames. He searched through the ashes until his death, a week later. Legend says he is still searching, as a ghost, in his afterlife…” Ember finished with a creepy hint in her voice. Mars shivered.
    “I wonder if that legend is real?” Mars asked himself, “It seemed very accurate.”
    “Oh yes. It even has a location. My mom told me.”
    Mars stopped, startled, “We should find it!”
    Ember squealed, “I knew you’d say that. That’s why I convinced my dad to take us tomorrow!”
    “I found it!” Ember shouted, “The lab!”
    The car squealed to a stop. They hopped out. The lab had the smell of decay and charcoal. Mars could understand why the doctor couldn’t find the Model 20. It would’ve been impossible.
    Mars started walking through the ruins and dust of the former lab. It was very interesting that nothing survived. Except…
    A small glint of gold shone up from the blackness. Mars bent down and picked it up.
    It was no bigger than the palm of his hand, and had a crank and a box set to the year. Below that was an engraving in fancy script:
                                       ~Model 20~
    Mars stared, dumbfounded, “Hey Ember, Is this the Model 20 you talked about?”
    Ember walked over, “Oh yes Mars, I think you’ve found it!”
    “What does it do?”
    “Nobody knows. The only thing the scientist hinted at it doing was to ‘go back’”
    Mars thought about it. The scientist had said Model 20 went back. The little box with the year in it. Go back… Going back…
    “What if it went back… in time?”
    Ember gasped, “Mars Pompous your brilliant! Of course, it would go back, in time! The years! Oh!” And she strangled Mars in a hug.
    “Should we use it?”
    “Why not? We should give it back to the scientist, he must have missed it!”
    “How do we use it?”
    “Hmmm,” Ember studied the device, “The crank, the years, what year, which way,
    “Yes!” Ember shouted, “You turn the crank one time per year! That’s it!”
    And before Mars could stop her, Ember turned the crank 15 times until the little box said 2076.
    There was a flash and then darkness. Mars could only feel Ember beside him.
    And then they were somewhere else entirely. The lab was standing, and there was light green grass and trees everywhere. People walked on the sidewalks and there was a good deal of cars. Mars looked at Ember who looked equally stunned and twice as excited.
    “Where are we?” Mars asked.
    Ember looked at Model 20, “Clearly 2076, a year before we were born.”
    Mars looked at the lab, “Hey! Maybe we could stop the fire from ever happening!”
    Ember slapped his wrist “No Mars! Bad things happen to those who mess with time. People killing their past or future selves. Entire timelines changing course. We can’t do anything but give the device back. The scientist wasn’t supposed to die. Then we go back.”
    “Ok.” But Mars didn’t buy it.
    They saw the scientist coming out of a restaurant. No one was setting a lab on fire. Nothing was happening.
    Maybe the fire won’t happen and we can just go home. I have a bad feeling about this.
    There was a sudden heat behind Mars, and when he looked around, Ember wasn’t by him. He looked toward the heat, and there was Ember, Her phone on fire. She looked determined as she threw it into the lab.
    Panic enveloped Mars as he ran towards Ember, “What the Spades are you doing?!?”
    Ember glanced at him as the lab caught flame, “It was supposed to happen. Nothing was happening, so I knew I had to do it. Hide!”
    Mars turned to see the doctor coming to his lab, fire fighters turning onto the street, Ember ducking behind a tree. He strode out to the scientist.
    “I’m sorry about your lab. My—”
    And then there was a pop and Mars saw only Darkness.
    “—friend accidently set fire to your lab.” Mars finished, downtrodden.
    And then they were back in 2091. Embers dad was in the car.
    Mars turned on Ember, “Did you send us back?”
    Ember glared, “No! I don’t know how to do that! Why were you talking to the scientist! We couldn’t be seen!”
“Fine. I’m sorry. But why did you set fire to the lab?”
“Because it had to happen! We knew it was going to. I just had to do it!”   
“How did we go back?”
    “The device must have a flaw,” Ember looked at her watch, “It must only go back for 20 minutes”
    “How did your phone catch fire?”
    Ember looked sheepish, “I set fire to it.”
    Mars was at home, studying Model 20 at home that night, thinking about that morning’s events.
    The scientist wasn’t supposed to die. You turn the crank one time per year. We should give it back to the scientist.
    What if he could stop Ember from setting the lab on fire. He had 20 minutes to do it. That would be easy!
    Mars grabbed his camo jacket without thinking and put it on, making sure to zip it up all the way and put on the hoodie. He grabbed some gardening gloves too and put them on. He automatically turned the crank on Model 20 15 times.
    There was blackness, and then the lush lab. He saw himself appear with Ember, and quickly hid. His past self was talking with the past Ember, then turned away. Mars saw Ember frown at the doctor, and then she got determined. She lit her phone on fire. This was Mars’s chance. He ran towards Ember with his face down, and grabbed her flaming phone and flung it at a faraway tree. The tree caught fire. Ember gawked at him, but he kept running and hid. Past him and past Ember hid too, and the scientist entered his lab unharmed and happy. Everyone went back to their original time.
    Mars reappeared in his bedroom, successful. He went to sleep, feeling good about himself. The scientist would live and so would him and Ember, leading completely normal lives.
    But it was not to last.
    “Mars, wake up.”
    His mom woke him, at 8:00 in the morning, and Mars yawned.
    “Get up Mars. We’re leaving in 20 minutes.”
    His mom looked somber in a black dress.
Mars frowned, “What’s going on?”
“You know! Embers funeral!”
Mars looked shocked as he climbed out of bed, “What happened to her?”
“Spades, Mars, you know what happened to her. She got hit by a scientist’s car. Now put on your clothes, breakfast will be after the funeral.
Mars was very confused as his mom left him to get dressed. It could’ve been any scientist that hit Ember. But he knew which scientist it was.
“Hello, sir.”
Mars had found the scientist right away, having saw him in the past. The only thing different was that he was older.
“Yes, how may I help you?”
“I’m looking for a scientist who created a device that goes back in time called Model 20.”
The scientist looked stunned, “Dr. Nasbran Numberum at your service. How did you know about Model 20?”
“It’s here,” Mars pulled Model 20 out of his pocket, “And I’m afraid it has killed my friend.”
    “That is not what it does. I, accidentaly, killed your friend.”
“Yes, but in the past, Ember was supposed to set fire to your lab, which I stopped her from doing, and burning this. You are supposed to die.”
Dr. Nasbran Numberum looked shocked, but understanding, “How?”
“Of starvation, I think. You looked for Model 20 non-stop, which killed you.”
“Do you want Ember back?”
The question was so upfront, Mars started, “Yes, of course I do.”
“Then I’d rather have not killed a person to begin with,” Dr. Numberum winked, “Do what you must.”
    That night, again, Mars was prepared to stop his past self from stopping Ember. He dressed in a black hoodie this time and jeans. Turning Model 20’s crank 15 times, he went back to the lab once more. He saw everyone appear, and, without hesitation, ran and stopped his past self.
    “Hey!” Camo Mars screeched as Mars obtained him, “Let me go!”
    “No,” Mars said, determination flooding his voice. The doctor was walking across the street. He had 20 minutes, “I have seen what happens if you do this. Don’t, please!”
    “Why not. What happens?” Camo Mars struggled. Ember left Past, Past Mars’s side.
    “Ember will die if you don’t listen to me,” Mars struggled to keep Camo Mars in a firm grip, “She gets hit with Dr. Numberum’s car. You don’t want that to happen, do you?”
    Camo Mars stopped, and thought, “No, I guess not.” Ember lit her phone on fire.
    “Then stop struggling!” Camo Mars kept struggling, and Ember threw her phone.
    And just like that, as if a bomb has blown up inside him, Camo Mars stopped struggling. Mars saw himself walk over to Dr. Numberum, and then disappear. Mars whispered goodbye to Dr. Numberum and then disappeared as well.
    “Mars,” Ember teasing voice floated into Mars’s room, “Its my turn with Model 20!”
    Mars woke up and saw Ember looking down at him. He hugged her as hard as possible.
    “Stop that, Mars!” Ember squealed, but Mars kept hugging her.
When he finally let go, he said, “Sorry, Em, but no. It’s too dangerous.”
She pouted, “But why?”
Mars hesitated, “Let’s just say it's not a good idea.
Ember looked at him questionably as Mars started to go downstairs, “What do you mean?”
Mars didn’t answer as he lit a fire in the fireplace and burned Model 20.
Ember screeched, “Mars Marcel Pompous! What do you think you're doing?!?”
Mars sighed, “I may have gone back to 2076 in the middle of the night and stopped you from burning the building which may have resulted in the scientist hitting you in his car which brought your death and so I had to go back again and stop myself from stopping you which brought you back and saved you.” Mars grinned at Embers stunned face.
“What. The Spades. Just Happened.” Ember sighed, all playfulness and teasing.
“I’m sorry, Em. I had to.” Mars said, still grinning.
“We could’ve preserved that.”
“I know.”
Ember sighed, “You are a jerk, did you know that?”
But Mars started to see her ice melt.

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