This tale was first started by some chap named H G Wells. Many of the characters herein are copyright by Paramount, and the BBC. Noone may make any money out of this!
The laboratory, however, was empty. I stared for a minute at the Time Machine and put out my hand and touched the lever. At that the squat substantial-looking mass swayed like a bough shaken by the wind. Its instability startled me extremely, and I had a queer reminiscence of the childish days when I used to be forbidden to meddle. I came back through the corridor. The Time Traveller met me in the smoking-room. He was coming from the house. He had a small camera under one arm and a knapsack under the other. He laughed when he saw me, and gave me an elbow to shake.
`I'm frightfully busy,' said he, `with that thing in there.'
`But is it not some hoax?' I said. `Do you really travel through time?'
`Really and truly I do.' And he looked frankly into my eyes. He hesitated. His eye wandered about the room. `I only want half an hour,' he said. `I know why you came, and it's awfully good of you. There's some magazines here. If you'll stop to lunch I'll prove you this time travelling up to the hilt, specimen and all. If you'll forgive my leaving you now?'
I consented, hardly comprehending then the full import of his words, and he nodded and went on down the corridor. I heard the door of the laboratory slam, seated myself in a chair, and took up a daily paper. What was he going to do before lunch-time? Then suddenly I was reminded by an advertisement that I had promised to meet Richardson, the publisher, at two. I looked at my watch, and saw that I could barely save that engagement. I got up and went down the passage to tell the Time Traveller.
As I took hold of the handle of the door I heard an exclamation, oddly truncated at the end, and a click and a thud. A gust of air whirled round me as I opened the door, and from within came the sound of broken glass falling on the floor. The Time Traveller was not there. I seemed to see a ghostly, indistinct figure sitting in a whirling mass of black and brass for a moment--a figure so transparent that the bench behind with its sheets of drawings was absolutely distinct; but this phantasm vanished as I rubbed my eyes. The Time Machine had gone. Save for a subsiding stir of dust, the further end of the laboratory was empty. A pane of the skylight had, apparently, just been blown in.
I felt an unreasonable amazement. I knew that something strange had happened, and for the moment could not distinguish what the strange thing might be. As I stood staring, the door into the garden opened, and the man-servant appeared. We looked at each other. Then ideas began to come.
`Has Mr. ---- gone out that way?' said I.
`No, sir. No one has come out this way. I was expecting to find him here.'
At that I understood. At the risk of disappointing Richardson I stayed on, waiting for the Time Traveller; waiting for the second, perhaps still stranger story, and the specimens and photographs he would bring with him. But I am beginning now to fear that I must wait a lifetime. The Time Traveller vanished three years ago. And, as everybody knows now, he has never returned.
* * * * * * * As before, the Traveller watched the passage of time, and the passing of days like seconds, but as before his journey was broken by a spinning of the world around him, and he found himself gripping the sides of the Time Machine in panic. As the passage of days suddenly slowed to a stop, he found himself this time in a strangely sterile small room. He impulsively grasped the kodak which he had this time remembered to carry, and stepped gingerly from the platform. Had he returned to the time of the Morlocks? Or was this some time long before or after?
His ruminations were interrupted by the entrance of a strangely attired man with a long scarf draped after him, and a young woman in immodest dress who followed him.
"I'm dreadfully sorry, my good chap!" exclaimed the stranger. "When we collided with you last time I waited until you were on your way again, and got you home, but the TARDIS must have got some sort of lock on you."
"Tardis?" the Traveller repeated in bewilderment.
"Yes," replied the eccentrically dressed man. "We accidentally picked you up somehow when we crashed, and we diverted you to Omicrom 44. By the time we worked out where you'd gone, and came after you, you were just leaving again. We took you home and dropped you off where you came from. Your rather primitive machine could never have found its way home within a century!"
"Omicrom 44?" repeated the Traveller in a daze.
"Yes," agreed the stranger again. "Amazing number of planets there! Its a wonder they don't go bumping into each other!"
"The Morlocks and the Eloi?" asked the Traveller. "I spoke to them. They spoke English."
"Probably you taught them some," observed the female, even though she had not been introduced. For that matter, none of them had.
"If you travel in the Tardis," commented the man, "you speak all the languages you need. Perhaps that rubbed off on your machine."
"I am..." began the Traveller, and realised he had lost his name. Probably from the bang on the head, though he remembered the dinner party perfectly.
"I am called the Doctor," said the man cheerfully, " and this is Sarah."
"If you are called just the Doctor," he said slowly, "I suppose I may just be called the Traveller. Can you take me home again?"
"Soon," said the Doctor. "The Tardis is taking us somewhere first."
"Is it your Time Machine?" asked the Traveller. "Don't you set its controls?"
"There are a lot of levers I can pull over there," said the Doctor, referring to a large display panel in the centre of the room in which they were currently situated. "I can use them to guide the Tardis, but basically it goes where it likes!"
"It seems to like Earth," commented Sarah.
"No, don't seem to be going there," mused the Doctor. "Doesn't seem like anywhere. Must be a space ship."
"That's usually dangerous," said Sarah glumly.
"Well, we're there, wherever it is," said the Doctor gleefully. "Let's have a look."
"Are you always so gleeful?" asked the Traveller suspiciously, suspecting that he had fallen into the hands of a loony. Although a loony with a working Time Machine seemed unlikely.
"This persona is, yes," said the Doctor. "What a perceptive question! I believe we are not alone."
"No, there are three of us," replied the Traveller, who had a penchant for accuracy. But the Doctor was already thrusting open the door, and surging forth. A woman and a man breakfasting together had sprung to their feet, and the man seemed to be talking to his buttons, as he called "Red alert! Red alert!"
"We're not communists!" exclaimed Sarah indignantly, while the Traveller looked back at the door he had just exited, and saw only a small edifice a few feet square. Where had the Tardis gone?
Some parsecs away, three men in uniforms moved cautiously towards an otherwise undistinguished-looking clearing, at the end of which was an archway, with what seemed a clouded mirror inside it. Although the surface of the planet was cold, they felt within themselves a radiation of warmth from the structure.
"The party of scientists guarding the Guardian weren't too happy to see us," complained the elder of the two humans in the group, "and I'm not too happy to be here!"
"An excellent piece of exposition, Doctor," commented the tall Vulcan, "but our presence is necessary."
"Because Jim has been dreaming?" said the being designated Doctor. "Give me a break. I could have prescribed something to stop him dreaming."
"I've had enough of your Limburgian Ale, Bones," said the leader, a sturdy, sandy-haired man with the demeanour of a leader. "I've been having these repeated dreams that something is wrong with the fabric of time-space, and this is the place to set it right."
"You just want to go and get Edith Keeler, and pull her out of the timestream to here," grumbled Doctor Bones, as a listener might have called him. "Leave time alone."
"If I pull her out of her time-frame," said Jim eagerly, "it's the same as if she died. I have a short affair with her, she leaves me or gets killed, like all my affairs, and no harm is done!"
"It is time to summon the Guardian," said Spock sonorously. "We call the Guardian!"
"WHAT DO YOU WANT?" came a voice, which seemed to have no one source, but reverberated around the clearing. "WHO SUMMONS THE.. OH, IT'S YOU LOT AGAIN! HAVEN'T YOU FOULED UP HISTORY ENOUGH?"
"We've only been here a couple of times," said Jim Kirk, with a puzzled frown, "and one of those was in a novel, so it doesn't count."
"I MEANT YOU LOT FROM THE ENTERPRISE. THE CROWD FROM ENTERPRISE-D ARE HERE ALL THE TIME, AND I'M A BIT SICK OF THOSE IDIOTS FROM ENTERPRISE-L, ENTERPRISE-M, ENTERPRISE-X AND ENTERPRISE-Z."
"What are you talking about?" asked Kirk in bewilderment. "There's only one Enterprise!"
"I EXIST OUTSIDE TIME AND SPACE," explained the Guardian. "IT'S ALL THE SAME TO ME!"
"Well, it's all the same to me, too!" growled Bones. "Why don't we all go home?"
"GOOD IDEA," said the Guardian. "WELL, SEE YOU."
"No," interrupted Kirk. "We want to see the history we saw the first time, and interrupt it at that spot, and we want to be able to come back with a friend."
"THAT'S NEVER BEEN DONE," said the Guardian. "YOU JUST POP BACK WHEN THINGS ARE ALL RIGHT AGAIN. THAT'S THE SYSTEM. MADE UP BY A VERY GOOD COMMITTEE."
"I want to change the system," gritted Kirk.
"STOP GRITTING LIKE THAT," said the Guardian. "YOU'LL STRETCH YOUR FACE."
"Excuse me," said Spock, the Vulcan, calmly, "but I am curious why you are shouting all the time."
"WHAT, SHOUTING?" said the Guardian. "WHAT DO YOU.. OOPS, THEre, that's better. The caps lock was stuck down on my Universal Translator. well, if you want to go mucking up time again, get ready."
On the screen a picture appeared, beginning with the appearance of volcanoes, and the appearance of the first primitive cells and small animals. This was all rather boring, as all the picture showed was the surface of the sea, and all the little animals were not only under it, but too small to see. But Spock explained what they should be seeing, if they could.
"At this time the spores of paramecia are evolving quickly, and a hundred thousand years have passed since that flash of lightning turned a single cell into Flash cell, the superhero amoeba of the Quinqaternary era. In about sixteen point five three nine eight two seconds we will arrive at the date we seek. Hold my hands, and we will jump together."
"I'm not holding hands like a schoolgirl!" exclaimed Doctor Bones, who attempted to jump in synchronisation with the others, but stumbled and fell flat on his face instead. He leaped to his feet, and jumped in after them, but hundreds of years had passed.
A short time later three figures returned through the gate, but they were Kirk, Spock and a beautiful woman. Unfortunately, as she landed lightly on her feet she quickly turned to dust, and a white skeleton crumbled at the feet of the other two.
"Damn!" exclaimed Kirk. "It seemed like a foolproof plan. We'll have to try something else."
"We will have to go back some hours before our last jump, and advise ourselves not to try this plan," observed Spock thoughtfully. "Then we can formulate an alternative strategy. Which could be to get the hell out of there, and leave well alone."
"Never say die, Spock," said Kirk determinedly. "Can you set up the Guardian again? Say, where's Bones?"
"Doctor McCoy has found his way aboard a starship called the Enterprise," came the voice of the Guardian. "His fear of seeming effeminate has led him astray again," said Spock. "He was incapable of jumping into the timestream with an accuracy of ten to the minus six milliseconds, on his own. We will have to describe our adventure in appropriately superior tones at a later date."
The two held hands, and prepared to jump. As they launched, Kirk stumbled, and his hand left Spock's. He hit the gate slightly after Spock, but did hear Spock's last rumination. "Why did he say a starsh..'"
Once again, a short time later, Spock rematerialised. He looked around for the one who had jumped through with him, but there was nobody present.
"A clever stratagem," he mused. "When I approached us and described the result of our last approach, Captain Kirk devised an even better idea. He married Edith Keeler, thus depriving her of any opportunity to become an important person in her own right. As a mundane housewife, she has obviously had no impact on history!"
Suddenly Spock began to consider the impact of time anomalies, but his mind became clouded, and he straightened up, muttering, "It is inappropriate that I should be talking to myself while not undertaking the Vulcan discipline Googliwoogli. I shall stop."
He opened his communicator and said, "Captain Spock to Enterprise.."
"Don't panic, my good fellow," said the Doctor. "we're quite harmless. We seem to have taken a wrong turning around Aldebaran."
"Who are you?" asked the tall, thin man in the red uniform. "How did you breach our shields?"
"I suppose we must have set up our position here before you arrived with your.. er, shields, and have just materialised," said the Doctor with a disarming smile. "Does that sound right?"
"I find that hard to believe," said the man angrily.
"Would you believe that our Throgmortonisers counterbalanced your phase bimodulators, resulting in a blip in the subspace tweedledees?"
"So much for the virtues of technobabble!" sighed the Doctor.
"Our ship is called a Tardis," explained Sarah. "It goes where it likes. It seems to like here."
"I'm from Gallifrey," said the Doctor.
"A legendary Timelord!" gasped the woman at the table.
"The one and only," he admitted humbly.
"Oh, pleased to meet you!" gurgled the woman. "I'm Beverley Crusher, and this is Captain Jean-Luc Picard."
"And who are your companions?" asked Picard.
"This delightful young lady is Sarah, and this man calls himself The Traveler," said the Doctor.
"You've changed," observed Picard. "And how is Wesley Crusher?"
The Traveler looked baffled, but the Doctor chimed in. "The Wesley Crusher?" he asked enthusiastically. "The semi-god-like being formerly a human?"
"Yes," said Beverley proudly. "My son!"
"I don't know what he's doing at the moment, my good woman, because I don't know when I am."
"It's stardate 43555.2," interposed Picard.
"I think he's solving the problem of the Cybermen for once and all just now," said the Doctor, "and about time somebody did! That's if I understand these confounded stardates right!"
Suddenly a man in an ancient Starfleet uniform appeared out of thin air, and bounded onto the bridge of the Enterprise. The Klingon officer at the big desk at the back quickly hauled out some sort of device and pointed it at him, while shouting, "Red alert!"
"We're already at red alert, Worf," said the acting Captain, a beautiful Betazoid, who was minding the bridge while Commander Riker went to the toilet.
"Oh, so we are," mumbled Worf. "Stand where you are, intruder!"
"It is impossible for me to do otherwise," said Doctor McCoy. "Oh, hell, I sound like Spock. Look, I'm a doctor, not an intruder."
"Who are you?" asked Deanna Troi, the Betazoid.
"My name is Leonard McCoy," said the intruder. "I have no idea where I am, or how I got here."
"He's lying," gasped Deanna. "He does know how he got here! But he is much given to hyperbole!"
"It was.." began McCoy, but he realised that nobody was supposed to approach the Guardian of Forever. He didn't want to get into trouble, so he shut up.
"That's a coincidence," sneered Worf. "We have another Leonard McCoy on board, Admiral McCoy! Admiral McCoy, please report to the bridge."
"It's not that uncommon a name," mumbled McCoy.
"He'll be here in about half an hour," said Worf. "He's not very fast."
But he was proved wrong. Commander Riker returned almost immediately, with the Admiral beside him.
"Found him outside, in the lift," said Riker. "He'd forgotten where he was going, so he stayed in the lift, and hoped it would go there."
The aged admiral staggered down the incline, and peered at his younger namesake. Leonard McCoy noticed the resemblance, and began to consider ... Suddenly the door flew open and Captain Picard strode in, with Doctor Crusher and the others behind. He sat in his command chair, and was about to speak when Sarah said, "Doctor?"
Three voices said, "Yes?" and she blushed into silence.
The Doctor, not McCoy or Crusher, surveyed the room with approval. Then his eye lighted, or lit, upon Admiral McCoy.
"Q?" he said in delight. "Is it really you? How are you, old chap?"
Admiral McCoy shimmered, and took a different shape. Picard leaped, or leapt, angrily out of his chair.
"Sit down, mon capitain," sighed Q. "Yes, it's me. This is my person de plume, so to speak, when I want to holiday aboard without your becoming so antagonistic."
"So it was you at Farpoint!" exclaimed Picard. "I wondered what you had to do with the plot!"
"Yes, the real McCoy disappeared decades ago, at the Guardian of Forever," said Q with a sigh. "Now I'll have to develop a whole new persona when I want to visit incognito."
"How are you, Q?" repeated the Doctor.
"Oh, well," said Q. "I always am."
"Not so good. He was exiled into a comet somewhere. feelings of self- doubt."
"She's getting along fine. So is Q, her nephew, or niece. And young Q was calling himself Trelayne for a while, but he got better, or died, I forget which."
The Doctor and Q strolled off the bridge, with Sarah in tow, and Q showed the Doctor around the starship. The Doctor, in turn, showed Q the Tardis.
"Would you like a trip?" asked the Doctor, and Q readily assented. As the Tardis faded out, Q struck himself on the forehead.
"Damn, I meant to warn them about the Borg! Too late now!"
The Traveller sat down in bafflement. "This is all too much for my enfeebled understanding!" he cried. "I fear I am unwell, and hallucinating!"
Doctor Crusher moved towards him, but Doctor McCoy was already holding his wrist, and taking his pulse. Suddenly the two of them faded from view.
"Well, this incident seems to be over," observed Picard.
"How do we report it to Starfleet?" asked Riker in amazement.
At the Gate, two figures tumbled out.
"Where am I now?" cried the Traveller, who had just remembered that his name was, in fact, John Doe.
"Back where I started from," grumbled McCoy. He stood up and dusted himself. "Where are Jim Kirk and Spock?"
"Jim Kirk lived a long boring life as a married man in the twentieth century," intoned the Guardian of Forever. "His progeny, however, were many and famous, and have done irreparable harm to the fabric of history. But it doesn't matter much. Spock took the Enterprise and parked it on Vulcan for a while, then married Nurse Chapel in a fit of pon farr. She took over as captain, and he was able to stay on Vulcan and meditate."
"But how do we get out of here?" asked McCoy in irritation. "Why did Spock just leave me?"
"You can go anywhere you like," said the Guardian. "But I'd suggest the past is better than the future, unless you like being a Borg."
This is the sort of tale which could go on indefinitely, and who knows...
But for now, you can go back..