The Jump - A Short Story
A Short Story
Sam donned the white lab assistant coat and looked at the pouring of the guests through the monitor placed on a corner on the ceiling of the changing room. He grabbed his name plate from the locker and clipped it to his pocket. Lights reflected from the polished silver plate, flashing bright and clear his full name and his job. Lab Assistant. He flexed his fingers and run them through his hairs. Keeping them look nice was all that matter. He wrapped his watch, the Chrono-Master, a watch specially made for those who worked on the God Clock around his wrist and checked the time. He have only about five minutes before the unveiling of the God Clock. Still plenty of time, he thought. He cracked his neck and cleared his throat. The feeling of nervousness building up inside him began to show when he saw the minute tremble of his fingers. He grinned. Relax, he told himself. He took a deep breath and closed the door to his locker.
Had someone just stepped inside the backstage area of the dome, they would probably thought there were an emergency going on, with all the staffs and lab assistants running to and fro, shouting and barking of orders flying all over the place. But to Sam, this was all in a day's work. Even without having such an event, the lab back at the DST, would still look something like this.
He walked casually down the aisle and grabbed a cup of water before making his way towards the stage. There he saw Takagi, another assistant, and a good friend of his, discussing the going of the event with the event manager. He was wearing his usual lab coat with a red tie and a black shirt hidden underneath. Sam looked down and saw the black leather shoe and smiled. Now that is something he rarely sees.
Sam raised his hand in reply when he saw Takagi calling out to him. The Japanese spoke something to the event manager and dismissed him before making his way towards Sam.
"You're late" was the first thing that came out of his mouth. His eyes turned to a slit, not that it was not before. Sam kept his grin and raised a cup to his friend.
"Took my time yeah, but we still have" he paused and looked at his watch. "Three minutes. Plenty of time" he said and took a sip from the cup in his hand.
Takagi shook his head but kept his smile. "Fine. You need to go on stage, the Professor is waiting for you. He needed help with the calibration" said the small Japanese man. Sam nodded and placed the cup in his hand on the table nearby. He rubbed his hands on his lab coat and with one quick breath, jogged up the metal staircase towards the stage.
Sam wanted to laugh, but he held it and kept it inside. "Sorry professor, was held up by Takagi" he said. He turned back and saw his friend glaring at him. He shrugged and shook his head before making his way towards the big machine at the center of the stage. An older man, the head of the lab Sam worked at stood in front of the machine with a tablet in his hand. He was looking up and down at the numbers on the machine in front of him and the tablet in his hand. "Is something wrong, sir?" Sam asked.
The man, whom Sam and the others addressed only as "Sir" was known to the world over as the Professor. Just, the Professor. A genius, they say, in the field of Chronoscience. A field that had a history of not more than ten year. A field conceived by none other than the Professor himself.
Sam stepped forward and stood next to the Professor.
"Go check on the chronofusion ratio" said the Professor.
Sam nodded and made a quick jogged towards the right side of the machine where all the computers and sensor readers were located. "And make sure the count makes sense!" the Professor called out.
Sam stopped in front of a huge computer encased in a black, tall, server rack and began punching numbers into the keyboard in front of him, sitting underneath the main monitor. Numbers began to churn out into the monitor. He gave them a quick glance and read the numbers in sequence in his head, memorizing them the second his eyes landed on them. He ran through another command through the keyboard and memorized another set of numbers as they appeared on the screen. He looked to his watch and saw that he has only a minute before the event starts. He punched the last sequence of numbers and memorized them before making his way back to the Professor who was still standing in front of the God Clock.
"It's all in order sir" said Sam. He repeated the numbers he memorized by the sequence they appeared and let out a sigh of relief once he's done.
The Professor stared at the tablet in his hand and ran the numbers Sam told him again. Once they all matched, he nodded and told Sam to keep his eyes on the computers. Behind them musics and announcement were made and seats began to filled.
"This is it" said Sam as he took his seat on the computer at the far right side of the stage and began to monitor the progression of the God Clock. So far so good, he said to himself. The graphs on the screen fluctuated but stayed within the desired range.
As the music began to died down and the announcer or the MC took center stage, Sam began to feel his heart pounding. Though he knew he would not have to do anything other than monitor the stability of the God Clock, it still makes his heart race. Maybe because this time it would be his time to prove to his parents that his line of work is legit and not what they called "fantasy" anymore.
Sam took a deep breath and watched as the curtains unfolds and the Professor, along with his God Clock were unveiled for the first time. Wows were heard, followed by other sounds of awe and the loudest round of applause Sam had ever heard in his entire life. He beamed a smile and watched Takagi who stood at the far left side of the stage, who was also staring at him and giving him a thumbs up. He replied with a thumbs up and they both laughed.
"And so it comes to this"
Sam listened to every words churned by the Professor. Though he kept his eyes glued to the monitor in front of him, he could not help but stole a glance or two at the massive machine standing at the center of the stage.
The God Clock.
The machine that will finally able people to travel back in time. Sam smiled at the thought. Maybe he could one day use it to travel back in time to the old sixties or maybe the twenty-first century. It would be great to be able to see all the new technology being birth. The ideas, the passion behind all the experiments. He gleed at the thought. His body shuddered, until he heard his name being called.
Sam looked to the Professor standing at the center of the stage who was looking at him.
"Sam, please come to the center of the stage" called the Professor again. His eyes glared at him.
Sam gulped. Somehow he didn't think this was in the program. He gulped and stood. He straightened his robe and gave the monitor behind him another glance. The graph fluctuated again, but this time it showed a jump outside the desired range. He frowned. He heard his name being called again. Unable to make a quick decision, he simply pushed it as a fluke and walked towards the professor, waving at the audience as he went past curtain.
"This is Sam, one of my best assistant who had given a tremendous help with the God Clock" announced the Professor.
Sam gulped. He glanced at the Professor again, but saw only the same cold eyes coming from him.
"Now I would like to ask Sam to help me with the activation of the machine and together, we will show you and the rest of the world" said the Professor. He waved his hand as he spoke them before pointing to the God Clock behind him. "A new possibility, for mankind". His words were met with thunderous applause. Some of the royal dignitaries stood, eager to watch the machine, the God Clock, to finally come to life.
The Professor turned to Sam and ushered the young assistant towards the side of the machine were power button for the machine lies. "Go and activate the internal power supply" he said.
Sam gulped and nodded. Too surprised to say anything. He walked towards the direction of the computer rack where he punched the keyboard before and stood next to a large red button with the universal "Power" marking painted on top.
"Behold, ladies and gentlemen" said the Professor. He stepped in front of the machine and a small square shaped hole opened on the floor directly in front the spot where he stood.
"The future" he said and a long, rostrum-like table with a large red button, similar to the one sitting by Sam's side rose and stopped as it reached his hips.
"Of travelling" the Professor glared at Sam and pushed the button at the same time as the young lab assistant did.
The inner part of the machine screamed when both buttons were pressed. Lights around the hall flickered, chandeliers swayed. A light wind appeared and blasts its way into the center of the hall, much to the surprise of the audiences.
Sam watched as blue lights filled the side of the machines, moving through the cables from the inner power supply they had installed inside the machine. Though it requires a tremendous amount of electricity to start, once it starts, it can then sustain itself without any other external help for up to ten years. The design and the schematics of the power supply were drawn by Sam himself, so he was brimming with smile when he saw the whole machine lit up and the loud humming sound from the inner power supply kicks in.
The small globe at the center of the machine wavered and soon after, it turned into some sort of a metal liquid, suspended on air. From it came another blast of winds, more violence that ever, ushering the screams of fear from the audiences.
Sam gulped. He stepped back and turned his head to Takagi who was monitoring the fluctuation of the power supply. The Japanese man turned to him and gave him a thumbs up. At least the power supply was working perfectly. He then turn towards the monitor he was supposed to monitor and saw that the graph went completely out of range.
Surprised, he rushed towards the monitor and punched a few keys on the keyboard. The graph changed, but the fluctuation it was showing grew tremendously. It was as if something was communicating with the machine. But what?. Sam turned to the Professor who stood calmly in front of the machine.
"Professor! Something's wrong with the machine!" he shouts though he was not sure whether the Professor could have heard him or not.
Sam called out to the Professor again. Louder.
And then, as if time itself stopped turning, everything around him went slow. Sam could feel each heartbeat coming from his heart ringing in his ears as if he had them planted to his chest. All the screams around him disappeared, muffled and softened to a whisper. He gulped and he could hear his throat shifts as the saliva went down his throat. Something was not right, his heart told him.
That was then that he saw it.
Maybe it only lasted for a few seconds, he could not tell. But he definitely saw it. A flash of smile, a grin, coming from the edges of the Professor's mouth. He then saw it moves, saying something to him, before ending with another flash of smile.
Thank you for the help, Sam
As time picks its pace up again, Sam was hurled to the ground, laying with legs spread, by the violent wind. He groaned but immediately pushed himself up staring at the Professor and the God Clock.
A flash of light and a crack of lightning burned the stage. The water-like substance at the center of the God Clock wobbled. A voice from the God Clock speaker blurt out words that shocked Sam and the audiences.
"INCOMING TRAVELLER. STANDBY"
Sam frowned. He pushed himself back to his feet and staggered towards the Professor. He called out his name again, but the Professor ignored his presence. His eyes were glued to the metal liquid-like substance at the center of the God CLock and the counting down announced through the speaker.
Sam coughed. Once his composed, he screamed and made a mad dash towards the Professor.
Hearing Sam's scream, the Professor turned to the young assistant and held his hand towards him. "No" he said and from the palm of his hand, came a blue wall like energy that bursts out in a sphere and pushed everything except the machine, away.
Sam flew into the air and caught sight of his friend Takagi who was lying unconscious on the other side of the stage.
More screams filled the hall as the countdown came to zero and the metal-liquid-like substance at the center of the God Clock bursts forward. Blue light flashes and lightning struck everywhere from the God Clock.
Sam watched in disbelieve as twelve people, all clad in black, futuristic armor-ish type of suit appeared from where the liquid-like substance of the God Clock had touched. What the hell is this? Who the hell are they? all the questions raced in his mind. He watched the Professor turned to face one of the twelve and saw him talking as if they were old friends.
What the hell is going on? the question stuck to Sam's head like a moss to a stone. He grabbed his knees and pushed himself up. He planted his back to the rack of computer behind him and realized something he had not thought of. The time stamp written of the God Clock was controlled through this rack, his mind reminded him. He gulped and turned to face the monitor again. He punched a few keys into the keyboard and watched the numbers that appeared on the monitor.
What he saw shook him.
He snapped towards the company of people now standing at the center of the stage and gulped.
They came from the future!
Just as the realization kicks in, the shooting begins. Blue energy beams rippled across the hall as the twelve people began to take aim at the audiences in front of them. Sam grits his teeth. He knew he would die if he stayed where he was. He looked around, trying to find a way to escape death when an idea struck him. He stared to the God Clock, now sitting silently on the stage.
The God Clock.
Quickly, he punched a few keys into the keyboard again and watched the screen. He read the time and the date and once he was sure of it, he clicked on the "CHANGE TIME" button on the screen. The metal liquid-like substance on the God Clock wobbled and an indicator appeared on the monitor, showing the progress of the change.
Two minutes, said Sam in his heart. I need to survive just two minutes. He turned to the keyboard again and punched in the last defense mechanism he and Takagi had made when they heard the machine works. A self-destruct program. Unstoppable when activated. Created out of Takagi's paranoia if the machine would fall to the wrong hand. He sets the timer to five seconds after the time change and pushed the keyboard back inside.
Though Sam could not see his friend from the back of the rack, he said his thanks to him for coming up with the idea and planning to make it a surprise to the Professor. At least that bastard does not know about it.
He looked around but saw no turned tables to used as shield so he turned towards the rack next to him and followed the wiring behind it. It leads to the back of the God Clock, a risky, but suitable place for him. No longer caring about his safety, he whipped back and began to trudge through the wiring, moving farther into the back of the God Clock hoping none of those twelve people would see him.
The humming of the inner power supply rang in his ears louder that the great bell of Alexander in New Persia. He plugged one of his ears as he wade through the wires and metal pipes around him. The sound of people screaming were drowned by the sound of the inner power supply, making his restless heart at least, a bit calmer. He gulped and wiped the sweat off his forehead. Somehow, it felt hotter compared to the time when they tested the inner power supply back at the lab.
Sam stopped by the time he reached the very back end of the God Clock. He looked up at the other side of the dome that covers half of the God Clock and forgot how big the machine really was. He wanted to smile, but he knew this was not the time for that. He needs to do something about this and the only thing that can help him is the God Clock. He grabbed hold of the rung of ladder planted to the back of the dome for maintenance and began his ascend. He knew it would be crazy, but this was his only chance.
Sam reached the top of the dome and looked down. The twelve people who came out of the God Clock were moving up stairs, killing everything in front of them, men, woman, child, dogs, cats. They were merciless. He grits his teeth and clenched his fist, though they were trembling. He gulped and noticed that the Professor was no longer standing on the stage and had taken his place amongst the twelve people, massacring everyone.
I will stop this, said Sam.
He stood on top of the dome, looking down at the metal-liquid like substance and gulped. Standing at ten feet high, it was much higher than he had anticipated. Sam grabbed his stomach. It twists and turned, telling Sam it wanted out. But Sam declined and held them back. He took a deep breath and was about to take a dive from the dome when a voice screamed from the speaker.
"CHANGE TIME COMPLETE. NEW DATE SET. SELF-DESTRUCT SEQUENCE INITIATED. SELF-DESTRUCT IN 5 SECONDS"
The twelve snapped to face the God Clock and one of them shouted, pointing towards Sam.
"That one! On top of the dome!"
Shit they've found me, said Sam in his head. He screamed back and took the dive, and the last thing he saw was the horror on the Professor's face. He smiled and the metal liquid-like substance consumed his consciousness just as the speaker called out ONE.
"Sam! Wake up! We're late!"
Sam snapped out of his sleep and looked around. He was in his apartment and Takagi stood near the door looking at him. He gave his eyes a few blinks and shook his head. His head. Damn, it hurts like hell. He looked to the ceiling, at the slowly rotating fan and kept his eyes glued to it until Takagi called out his name again.
"The hell are you doing, man! We're late, the Professor's going to kill us!"
That name rang my head and immediately, I came to my senses. The Professor. I grit my teeth and clenched my fist. I turned to Takagi and forced a smile. "Go on ahead, I'll be there shortly. I just remember something I need to do" he said.
Takagi sighed. "Okay, but don't be late, the God Clock is about to finish, he wants to go about the inner power supply with you again for the event" he said. He closed the door behind him and the room went silent again.
"Shit" said Sam. He jumped out of the couch that also served as his bed and gave himself a quick shower. He dressed and grabbed his lab coat and make his way out, locking the door behind him and jumping down the stairs two steps at a time towards the lobby.
Sam checked on his Chronomaster watch and saw that he had went back three days before the event. Three days. Maybe I can take my time and plan, he thought.
Determined to stop the Professor, Sam rushed towards the taxi stand in front of his apartment building and asked the taxi driver to take him to the nearest shopping district.
The yellow cab zoomed past traffic and stopped at the entrance leading into a roof covered shopping district. Sam paid the amount on the meter and gave his thanks to the driver before making his way inside.
"Gun shop" he whispered as he steps into the shopping district. Though restriction were made on gun ownership, there are still store selling them in the black market. Takagi had showed him the discovery when they were surfing the Dark Net, the other side of the famous Internet. He quickly located the shop and entered.
"What can I do for you?" said the shopkeeper.
Sam looked to him, eyes stern. "I'd like to see the backroom" he said in a whisper.
The shopkeeper raised an eyebrow. "Wait here" he said and left through the door on the side of the counter. Moments later the shopkeeper reappeared and unlocked the door that leads to the back of the shop. "Come. Hurry" he said. He eyed the entrance to his shop and closed the door again once Sam went past him.
"It'll cost you" said the shopkeeper as they make their way towards the back of the shop.
"I don't mind" said Sam simple. He wasn't going for the high tech or anything, just the cheapest and the most efficient not to mention the easiest to slip through security back at the lab. "Just need something that can get past security, that's all" he said.
The shopkeeper grinned when he glanced at the young lab assistant. "Hate someone at the lab?" he said, pointing at the lab coat wrapped around Sam's arm with his eyes.
"Something like that" said Sam simple.
They stopped in front of an old looking door marked with "DO NOT ENTER, FAULTY FLOOR" written in red. "Here we are" said the shopkeeper. He produced a small key from the pocket of his pants and unlocked the door in front of him.
Lights flooded the room with bright white and on the walls hung hundreds of odd and exotic looking guns ranging from the small handgun to the largest rocket launcher and miniature nuke launcher. "Everything here is on sale" said the shopkeeper. "But since you want something to elude security" he make his way towards a small cabinet on the floor underneath the lines of guns on the wall and produced a small box. "I suggest this" he opened the box and showed four small handguns lined in a row, on a dark blue cushion.
"Mini guns. They pack a punch at close range. But you only have two bullets, so you might want to make sure you get your target"
Sam nodded. He grabbed of the mini gun and played it in his hand. He points it towards a wall and hid it again just to make sure it was easy to handle. "I'll take this" he said. The shopkeeper nodded and gave him the two bullets for the gun.
"You want more?" he asked, but Sam shook his head.
"No, two is enough" he said.
The shopkeeper nodded and asked for Sam's credit card. The young lab assistant produced them and the shopkeeper ran the card on his portable card read strapped around his belly and waited for the confirmation.
The confirmation came, much to Sam's relief and the shopkeeper hands him the mini gun. "That's it. Thank you for the purchase and come again" said the shopkeeper. Sam smiled and was escorted outside by the shopkeeper. He asked how to elude security, and the shopkeeper simply told him to just be relax and let the gun handles it. Sam nodded and thanked the shopkeeper before exiting the store.
"You're late" said Takagi when he saw Sam slumped his body on his chair. "The Professor was angry at you, you know" the young Japanese said without turning his head. His eyes were glued to the screen, watching a game of baseball he streamed over the Internet.
"Yeah, I figure as much. By the way, where is the Professor?" asked Sam.
"Up in his office, I guess. The prelim analysis went well so he gave everyone a time off until the next round" said Takagi.
Sam slapped his knees and got to his feet. "I guess I should go and meet him and apologize then" he said.
Takagi turned to face his friend with one brows raised. "Seriously?" he shrugged. "Well, you're choice, man. Good luck" he said.
Sam smiled and pat the shoulder of his Japanese friend before exiting the room.
The Professor's office were located at just a few floors above Sam's office. It was on the same floor with the director of the Science Lab Corporation and the head scientists of the various field the corporation contributes.
Sam walked out of the elevator and make his way towards the plaque on the wall indicating where the offices of all the head scientists were located. Once he found the direction to the Professor's office, he pulls out his mini gun and palmed it in his hand before heading towards it.
Sam stopped in front of the wooden door with the Professor's name plaque attached to it. He gulped and rests his finger on the trigger of the mini gun in his hand. He closed his eyes, calmed his breathing, raised his hand and knocked lightly at the door.
"Come in" came the voice of the Professor from beyond the door.
"This is it" said Sam. He gulped and pushed the door open.
The Professor raised his head and saw Sam walking in. "Oh you. I was wondering why you weren't at the prelim. What do you want?" he said and looked back down to the documents he had on his table.
Sam gripped the handle of the mini gun tight in his hand and raised it towards the head of the Professor. He placed a finger on the trigger and took a deep breath. "Saving the world" he said and pulled the trigger.
The mini gun exploded.
Sam watched the gloomy sun as it shone down the small opening on the high wall of his room. Its gentle light produced a blurry silhouette of the metal bars that adorned the opening. He watched his trembling hands. He could still feel the tight trigger as it resisted his pull. He could still feel the push the mini gun gave when it explodes and blasts out the bullet that ripped through the Professor's skull. He gulped.
Did I make the right decision?
He knew he should have at least let the Professor speak. But no. That was not on his mind. This was not some kind of novel where the good guy or the evil guy gives a speech to the hero or the villain before making their kill. No. That would be too cliche.
Sam clenched his fingers and felt the skin pulled on his nails.
He looked up to the metal door when the slider opened and the guard slipped a book he had requested. He smiled and got out of his metal bunk. He thanked the guard and pluck the book from the floor, taking a seat back on his metal bunk before opening the book.
Sam felt the back of the hardcover of the book and ripped through the paper layer, revealing a small white paper folded neatly behind it. He unfolds it and read its content.
And he laughed.