A Flight Into Time can be found in




ISFDB.org Magazine Entry



html">

TIME is but a stream says the modern scientist, and if we could get out of the stream for a moment, we could project ourselves into another part of it and therefore actually travel in time.

Or, as Einstein said, space is curved; and since time and space are sister and brother, it may well be that time itself is curved, perhaps into some higher dimension. In that case also time traveling should be possible if the proper apparatus can be developed.

No doubt the traveler into the future will see and experience things beyond all imagining. But what of his own feelings about them? Suppose he were to find himself in a. veritable Utopia. Would he wish to stag on and enjoy it? Would he find himself at home with people of that new dag and age? Might it not happen that among his own race, even among his own descendants, he will find himself a stranger, and that he will have such an overpowering homesickness for the dirty, drab, and muddled atmosphere of ‘the 1930's that he would feel he must go bark? Mr. Wilson answers some of these questions in this intensely realistic and exciting story.


I SUPPOSE it had to be Storrs—or another impractical artist like him. It the thing had happened to Edison, or Millikan, or any of a half dozen others, think what we might have learned! Even if it had been one of the rest of our crowd standing on that street corner... But it was Fate, giving with one hand and taking back with the other, that vouchsafed to Ted Storrs the "Vision". We have to piece it together as best we can from what he noticed and remembered.

He was standing at the foot of Market Street, where the gold-topped Ferry Building is silhouetted against San Francisco Bay and the Oakland shore. Around him was the press and rush of the noon crowd, the clatter of street cars and the whistles of policemen directing traffic. It was the twenty-ninth of September, 1933- that much is sure, for we were going over to Berkeley that afternoon to see the first football game of the season—and the hour, according to Ted, was exactly noon. Waiting for the rest of us to show up, he had stopped to set his watch by the Ferry Building clock. Just twelve, it was, the two hands straight together, and as Ted matched his watch with them, he let the second hand touch sixty before snapping in the stem.

"May I bother you for the time?" came a voice, "I've let my watch get hours slow."

"Certainly," Ted obliged without half thinking, holding out his own timepiece at the end of its chain.

The inquirer was an oldish man, with white hair and beard calling to Ted's mind a Confederate General. His shirt collar was open and without a tie, and his ensemble was a variety of heavy silk loose fitting garments, resembling, Ted thought humorously, pajamas. And his watch, on which Ted's attention had unconsciously focussed—a watch strangely wafer-thin—was marked unmistakably with ten hours and a hundred minutes.

It was that, together with the silence suddenly striking his ears as few noises" could have done, that caused Ted to look around.

What he saw made him gasp. Almost directly above his head hung a mammoth suspension bridge stretching far out to the east and across the Bay. Behind him, a Market Street five times as wide as, before was dwarfed into a narrow canyon by pyramidal skyscrapers stunning in the mass of their bases, dizzying in their pointed heights. Along the street, along airy causeways swung between the buildings, sped myriad vehicles that in the distance were but hastening dots. Through the air, and swooping ‘down now and then under one of the bridges, wingless, torpedo-shaped, silvery vessels were sailing. And all in such perfect silence that you could hear the breeze sweeping in off the bay.

The glorious white and silver of the buildings, with their window crystal and roof-garden green; the gigantic, unearthly beauty of the picture, held Storrs for a moment. His art is by no means altogether an excuse from working. Then his mind recovered from the first paralyzing impression, and he turned back to the man with the strange watch.

"Would you mind telling me," he began, "just where and"—for the thing, incredible as it was, had begun to dawn upon him—"and when I, am?"

The man, who had started to walk away without ever really looking at Storrs, was nonplussed. "If you want to know the street—?"

"Hang the street! Is this San Francisco?"

"Yes, certainly."

"Then what year is it?"

"Why, eighty—, twenty-one eighty nine."

"You mean—? And your clothes Aren't right.

THEY stood staring at each other.

"I mean that five minutes ago, by my watch, I was standing on this same corner in the year 1933, and now you tell me it's two hundred and fifty years later. The thing's non-sense."

"Not at all. Time motion is a theoretical possibility, though the chance of its working is far less than that of your being an impostor. Let's see." He pulled on a pair of glasses. "Your clothes seem to fit the date. Your watch is a museum piece—the mechanical type went out a century ago. Still, you might have got hold of one."

This view of the impossibility was too much for Ted. "Look here, if you think I'm lying, what about this?" He pulled out the day's newspaper from his pocket, and shoved it in the old fellow's face.

As the man looked at the fresh ink and fingered the texture of the paper, he seemed more convinced, and a pocketful of "ancient" coins and bills completed his conversion. "We'll have just one more test, and then I'll believe you. But I never really thought it could happen, certainly not in front of me." Then, growing conscious of an omission, "My name is Rodgers. I'm sorry to have treated you the way I did, but the thing shocked me too."

Walking still a little dazed, Storrs followed Rodgers down the elevated sidewalk on which they had been standing. They rounded the corner and entered a small, brilliantly sunlit office. In spite of the attractive appearance of the place, it was a police station, with a sergeant at the desk in white uniform and gold braid who took Ted's fingerprints, then motioned him to a bench and watched him sternly while Rodgers and a higher officer carried the sheet into an inner room.

Ted's thoughts, such as he can remember them, were highly confused. Once a way from the actual sight of this new San Francisco, his disbelief in the reality of his experience increased. He must at least be dreaming, and he tried several times to pull himself awake. He played a little with the idea that he was mad. Then as time dragged on, the very prosaic reality of the station-house showed how far from fantasy was his plight.

He spent at least five minutes in the effort to shift his position unobtrusively so as to gain a reflection of himself in the curtained glass inner door, and thus settle the feeling growing upon him that after such a long time his hair was bleached white and his face shrunken beyond recognizability. He was almost ready to risk a reprimand and walk over, when the door opened, giving him a fleeting but perfectly normal image of himself—Rodgers stepped out.

"It's all right now, Mr. Storrs." He had a slightly chastened look from his communications with the higher powers. "But you see, we had to be suspicious. There's rather a big prize out for the first man to achieve motion in time, and a number of fakers have appeared. However, we just got a check on your fingerprints, and they aren't those of anyone on earth fifty years ago or born since. Though you'll probably be ruled out of the money because your experience was involun...

This is only a preview of this story. The site administrator is evaluating methods to bring it to you.