This is from the long since defunct Spaceways Weekly, from may 21, 1998. I loved that Ezine. Wish it was still here. This is as it appeared to subscribers that day:
The E Mail Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy
London Application Solutions, Inc.
Issue Number: 90 Date: May 21 1999 ISSN 1206 8691
SpaceWays Weekly and any information pertaining to SpaceWays
Weekly, Callbase Capricorn and any information pertaining to or
contained within Callbase Capricorn, is (c) 1999 London Application
All material contained within the story is the copyright of the
London Application Solutions Inc. grants a copyright license for
the purchaser of this material to maintain one (1) copy within the
storage devices of their computer system AND to produce one (1)
copy by means of a printer onto paper, provided it is done for the
personal use of the purchaser of this material.
I was born to command a starship; to wander through the galaxy
staring in awe at the majesty of it all. There is just one minor
technical detail: I was born in the wrong time period.
How often have each and every one of us thought that we would like
to live in a different time period? What if someone gave you that
opportunity; would you take it? That is the topic of this week’s
story and I find the answer to be quite satisfying.
Rigel D. Chiokis, Editor
May 19, 1999
Times Gone Bye
(c) 1998 Michael T. Marsh
Tired of these Troubled Times? Sick of Rampant Crime?
Of Cities Filled to the Brim with Trash? Are You tired
of Always Looking Behind Your Back to Make Sure You and
Your Family are Safe? If YOU Can Answer YES to any of
These questions, then contact Times Gone Bye Realty.
We won’t just find you a new home, We’ll find you a new
George Evens scanned the iridescent, flickering holofilm, balled it
up, and stuffed it into his pocket. The kid who had jammed it into
his hand was halfway down the platform.
‘More junk I don’t need,’ he thought. George glanced at his
timepatch, on the underside of his wrist.
‘Seven twenty five? Where the hell is the transport?’
As if on cue, the monorail platform screeched and squalled, shaking
violently as the Early Bird Commuter slammed to a halt. George
fought his way through the crush of boarding and disembarking
passengers, and plopped himself into his usual seat. He clicked
the safety belt down, flipped down the Lensview that rested on his
right ear, and opened his DataNote Linkpad to the morning news.
The first item was an add for Times Gone Bye Realty!
‘Christ! I’m being bombarded!’
Just then someone gasped nearby. He looked up to see a half dozen
NeoKubes pushing their way down the passageway. Shoving and
poking, prodding and annoying, the four men and two women forced
themselves through until they found the open bench across from
‘Wonderful. Just what I need. I’m on my way to work. I don’t need
The NeoKubes wore holopainted tattoos of printed circuits on their
faces. Their coats were military grade combat cloth the stuff that looks like silk, but hardens to almost steel like strength during hand to hand fighting.
One female pulled a sleeve up to reveal a bio shunt on her wrist.
She smiled at George and offered him her arm. He politely shook
Though he wore a timepatch, George wasn’t into “shunting”. Jacking
into another person’s nervous system wasn’t his idea of fun.
“What’s the matter,” the young woman said. “Not good enough to
The others laughed. George smiled, but said nothing. He tried to
go back to his morning news.
“Lookie here. Mister don’t want no shunt with the likes of us!”
“What’s wrong, sugar? You like your sex more raw? Want me to get
naked and take you here?”
George coughed. “No. No. That’s okay. I don’t like it raw that
is. Please, I just want to read the news. . . .”
“Mister got an attitude! Daz, you think attitude here needs
A male leaned forward.
“Man, you a fag? I can help you there if need be. What say you
and me take a walk to the little boy’s wee wee room, eh?”
The rest of the NeoKubes started laughing. George started to
answer, when the Transport Guards entered the cabin.
“Problem here?” a big, husky Guard asked. The three other Guards
held their Soniclubs tightly.
“No problems, here, Mister Guard, sir,” the one called Daz replied.
“Just trying to make acquaintances. See you round, pal” He patted
George’s shoulder, and the NeoKubes moved down the passageway to
the next cabin.
Later, as George tried to get home, he found that traffic around
his block had been re routed. Police cars hovered at both ends of
his block. Officers in full combat gear held Soniclubs and gauss
rifles tightly. George presented his retina for scan at one
officer’s station, to prove he lived on the block.
No one would tell him what happened.
“Just move along, now, sir. Get into your home, and stay away from
the windows,” the officer who tested his retina replied to George’s
George nodded and headed to his apartment. The street itself
looked like a war zone. Buildings wore scorch marks and holes that
weren’t there when he had left for work. A huge chunk of rubble,
from the building across the way, covered a good portion of the
street. A SynthDroid crew worked to clean up the rubble.
An ambulance flashing its lights was collecting bodies wrapped in
black coverings. There were dead NeoKubes and Cyberhoods lying
strewn along both sides of the street, each with their distinctive
colours soaked with crimson.
‘A gang war!’ George thought. ‘Jesus! And Tess’s school is just
down the street.’
He rushed upstairs to be sure that everyone was okay. He found
Maggie tossing dirty dishes into the recycler unit, and Tess off
playing in her room.
“What happened out here, today? You two okay?”
Maggie stopped tossing dishes, and came over and kissed him.
“We’re fine. The fighting started an hour after you left. Tess
hadn’t been out to school yet, so I kept her home. We huddled on
the floor below the windows, hoping they’d miss our building.”
George shook his head. “This is crazy! We’re not even safe in our
own house! When did the police arrive?”
“Two hours ago. The SynthDroids came down the street first,
followed by the Robotanks, weapons blazing. What a sight! I snuck
a peak through the curtains. In an hour, it was over. Both sides
dead at SynthDroid hands.”
George sighed. He pulled the holofilm from his pocket and unballed
“Tired of these troubled times?” it asked. ‘Yeah. Real tired.’
Maggie came up behind him, hugged him, and reached around to take
the ad from him.
“Something some kid passed out at the monorail this morning. Ever
hear about them?”
Maggie read the ad. “Sure. They’re all over the Media. Must be
blanket advertising. Download your ad into as many sites as you
can, someone will eventually bite. Why? Interested?”
George kissed Maggie’s cheek, pulled away, and went over to the
“Beer,” he told the machine. To Maggie he said, “Maybe. I
thought, it can’t hurt to ask, right? I mean look at this
neighbourhood! We have to triple lock our doors. We have three
alarm systems and one failsafe in case the other ones breakdown.
What kind of life is that?”
“Something happen today, love?”
George sighed. “Yeah. Bunch of ‘Kubes on the commute in this
morning. Scared me half to death before the Transport Guards came
Maggie nodded. “I know what you mean.”
Maggie flipped the holofilm over. “No contact Link?”
Tess crashed into the room.
“Daddy! You’re home!”
She ran, arms out stretched. George squatted down and wrapped her
in a tight bear like hug.
“Hey, pumpkin! How’s daddy’s little girl today?”
“I’m five, daddy! I’m not a little girl no more!”
“Anymore, dear,” Maggie said.
“So what do you think, Maggie? Should we check Times Gone Bye out?
Maggie looked over the crinkled holofilm.
“Sure, why not? But we need to find some way of contacting them.”
She sat at the DataNet Terminal, and made a series of short, quick
thumb strokes on the Terminal’s thumbpad. A three dimensional
swirl of colours formed just above the Terminal. Quickly it took
shape, and Maggie started surfing the DataNet for any Link to Times
Gone Bye she could find. After twenty minutes, she thumbed the
“Nothing! Not one crappy Link!”
“That’s ridiculous. How are you supposed to get a hold of them?
Maggie shook her head.
Must be some kind of scam.”
George went back to the autokitchen and ordered another beer, and a
ham sandwich. Maggie sat at the DataNet Terminal to browse. Tess
had already gone back to her room to play.
As the family settled down and got comfortable, the door buzzer
chimed. George opened the door to find a tiny, thin man in a black
suit, bowler hat on his head, and a greasy, thin moustache.
“Ah! George! Good to see you again. How are you?” the tiny man
“I’m sorry, do I know you?”
The tiny man took off his hat, revealing a crop of stubby, black
“Hmmm. Perhaps not. At least, not yet. I get so confused, you
know. We will know each other shortly, but as of right now, your
frame of reference, I guess we don’t know each other. Let me
introduce myself: I am Xavier Ashcroft Tennyson, Chief Executive
officer and General Manager of Times Gone Bye Realty.”
Maggie and George cast each other a questioning look.
“Times Gone Bye?” Maggie asked. “What are you doing here?”
“Oh Dear!” Xavier Tennyson said. He pulled a delicate, gold pocket
watch out, and opened the cover.
“This is the thirteenth, October, 2047, seven thirty PM, isn’t it?”
“Yes well, seven thirty eight, actually.”
“Yes, yes, always lose a few minutes here and there,” he said,
adjusting the pocket watch. “At any rate, I believe you folks
should recently have been making a decision to contact Times Gone
“Well, yes,” George replied, “but how do you know that?”
“I spent twenty minutes trying to locate your Contact Link on the
DataNet,” Maggie complained.
“Twenty minutes, you say?” The tiny stranger named Xavier Ashcroft
Tennyson sounded indignant. He pulled out an old fashioned paper
note pad, and an ink pen, and started to write something down.
“I really must have a word with the Temporal Calculations and
Adjustments Department. I should have been buzzing your door
thirty seconds after you decided to contact us. May I come in?”
George stepped aside so that he wasn’t blocking the entrance.
“Please. Forgive my manners. You just surprised us.”
Xavier shook his head. “No need to apologize. Understandable,
given the circumstances.”
He carried with him a small metal container, with a handle. Xavier
set this down on the nearest item he could find, an antique glass
topped coffee table. Flipping two metal fasteners,he opened the
container and began to assemble what looked like an ordinary
DataNet Terminal, except that instead of a thumbpad, there was a
“Never could get used to thumbpads,” Xavier explained. “Learned on
mice; can’t give up the habit.”
Maggie, the Tech junkie in the family, looked over the mouse.
“First time I’ve seen one this close, except ‘Net icons, and
museums. Does it work well?”
Xavier nodded. He handed her the mouse to inspect while he pulled
out several holofilms and handed them to George.
“Times Gone Bye Realty will be a publicly traded company that was
founded in 2132 by myself, and my brother, John Pennyworth
Tennyson. Together, we invented the patented TimeTransfer
Explorer, which enables not just information, but material items to
be flipped about through time, as well as space.”
The holofilms showed images of Xavier, and a man who probably was
his brother, standing over an arcane looking device of flexcables,
holodisplays, and what looked, to George, like junk. He passed the
holofilms to Maggie, who had set the mouse back down.
“Let me get this straight. You say you are from the future? You
invented a time machine? And the only thing you did was set up a
“Heavens no! I never said I was from the future. And it isn’t a
time machine, it is a time transfer device,” he said, as if these
two statements explained everything.
Maggie shook her head. “You’re crazy.” She handed the holofilms
“No. I’m quite sane. And I’m telling you the truth. Times Gone
Bye will be a company, to be founded almost a hundred years from
George grinned. “Okay. I’ll bite. What’s the difference between
‘time machine’ and ‘time transfer’?”
Xavier sighed. “We always get that question. Can’t anyone be
original? Like, once, why can’t someone ask me the weather in
England, May 1713?”
The Evans looked at each other. Maggie traced a circular path with
her index finger around her left ear. George giggled.
“Time transfer involves shifting an object’s orientation in the
time axis, as opposed to changing its orientation along the space
axis. Time machines are fictional devices for moving upstream or
downstream in the imagined river of time. Silly nonsense, the idea
of time machines!”
“So you move people who are unhappy in their own time, er, ah,
change their orientation in time, rather, to some new time?” George
Xavier nodded. “Yes. Essentially. We can also change their space
orientation as well, if wanted. We are a full service Realty
company. If someone wants a nice house, in a good neighbourhood,
why not also look at all possible neighbourhoods, in all possible
“But,” asked Maggie, “if you have many people shifting about in
time, won’t it mess up the time line? What about paradoxes? What
if we go back in time and meet our grandparents?”
“Ah Maggie. Good question, but misguided. Forget everything you
ever learned about time, and the universe. The whole shebang is a
chaotic system. There is really no such thing as past, present, or
future. Only here now, or here then. Human minds create the sense
of a ‘timeline’. Cause and effect are only illusions. Enough
technical chat, would you like to see some of our listings?” The
tiny man started up the DataNet Terminal, and started clicking away
with his archaic mouse.
The Evans looked at each other and shrugged.
Just then Tess came out of her room.
“Tess, where would you like to live, if you could pick a time?”
Xavier asked her.
“How do you know my name?” The five year old asked.
“Darn. Keep forgetting when I am. Tess, I’m Xavier. Mommy and
Daddy told me your name.”
This seemed to settle things for Tess. She approached the
Terminal, fascinated by the three dimensional swirl of colours
forming in the air above the terminal.
“What time?” she asked.
“Yes, love,” George said. “This man claims he can help us find a
home in any year we want. He wants to show us places to live in
“Oh. I see. Hmmm. How about Cowboy and Indian times? I’d love
to live with Cowboys and Indians fighting all the time!”
Xavier looked expectantly at George and Maggie Evans.
In the background, sirens wailed. Gauss cannon blasts shook the
windows. Screams echoed the wailing sirens.
Everyday noises in this city, George thought.
“What the hell, Maggie? Can’t hurt to look? Right?”
“No,as long as its only looking.”
“Wonderful,” Xavier exclaimed. “Here, let me show you a lovely one
level home in South Dakota, 1880. De Smet, actually; the family
that lived there most recently wanted something a little more
twenty second century.”
* * *
The Evans arrived in De Smet late, after supper, in mid October,
1880. There was a light rain and the dirt road into town became a
muddy, arduous trail. The wagon they rode into town on, and the
horses pulling it, struggled through the deepening mud.
They arrived in the past ten miles out of town, already garbed in
period clothes. Xavier had the wagon waiting for them. Before
submitting to the transfer process, they had learned about the era
through instruction, RNA injections memories taken from the recent
tenants of the house they were moving into and nano memory
George and Maggie learned how to handle horses, use guns, and
self defense. All three of them learned basic first aid, and how
to cook using a wood stove and open flames. In all of their lives,
neither George nor Maggie had cooked anything. Autokitchens had
made cooking unnecessary.
By the time they had reached town, the light rain had turned to
snow, and the wind picked up. Rapidly, the horses were having
trouble making their way through the growing storm.
Lightning flashed nearby, and Tess clutched at Maggie. In the city
they came from, storms were less of a spectacle, cast against the
backdrop of the buildings, streets, and activities. Out in the
South Dakota wilderness of the late Nineteenth Century, lightning
seemed like a flash of God’s anger.
George pulled the wagon up to a small hotel. They would have to
wait until morning to find their house. He dismounted from his
perch behind the horses, and helped Maggie and Tess out of the
Two drunken men stood outside the hotel. One of them approached
“Want some company, sweet?” His breath reeked of gin alcohol.
“Thank you, no. I’m married.” Maggie replied, as George helped
her up from the street onto the sidewalk.
“To this one?” The drunk spit, cocking his head at George.
“I can take better care of you then he can.”
“Look,” George snapped. “We’re new here. We don’t want any
trouble. I just want to get my family out of the storm.”
The other drunk stepped up to George.
“Don’t like your tone, Mister. You already got trouble, ain’t been
in town ten minutes!”
He laughed and his buddy joined in.
“Just go away.” George tried to push past them to get everyone
into the hotel. He could see patrons looking out from behind
yellowed curtains. ‘Guess nobody cares to help,’ he thought.
‘We’re not getting off to a good start here.’
The first drunk pulled his pistol from its holster, and pointed it
George looked the two men over. He was, of course, unarmed, but
RNA injections, and physical instruction in self defence had
planted instincts. He pushed Maggie to the side. Tess slid back
behind a large wooden column.
Using a quick spin and a short kick, he clipped the drunk holding
the gun in the head, and knocked him out.
The other drunk pulled his gun, and fired. George swung his leg,
connected to the second man’s gut, and sent him crashing against
the hotel wall. Both drunks wound up unconscious, but Maggie took
the bullet in the leg.
“Oh my god! Maggie! Are you okay?” Blood seeped and stained her
She held her leg tightly, and George tore a piece of her skirt to
use as a wrapping. Tess helped George get Maggie up onto her one
“Lord, that was some fighting.” Came a gruff voice. “Where’d you
learn to fight like that?”
“Oh, I took some lessons from a Chinaman once,” George replied. A
half truth. The instructor at Times Gone Bye had been
He and another man from inside the hotel helped George get Maggie
inside, and up onto one of the tables.
“Let me look at that wound,” said the fat, grey haired man. “I’m a
doctor. Folks call me Doc Sims. Full name don’t matter.”
He held a cold, clammy hand out for George. Maggie squealed in
“We better get this bullet out.”
For almost an hour, Doc Sims worked to get the bullet out. Maggie
screamed from pain despite, or perhaps because of, the alcohol Doc
Sims kept pouring on the wound. Tess clung to George, all tears
and sobs. Whenever Maggie screamed, Tess cried out. George
reached into his shirt, and fingered the small amulet around his
The technician at the transfer device had placed it around George’s
neck. “This is for emergencies. If you snap it in half, it will
send a signal across time, and we’ll come get you.”
George smiled, and let the technician put it on him. At the time,
he wondered what could make him want to go back. Listening to
Maggie, and feeling Tess squirm beside him, he almost snapped it.
“There. Got it.” Doc Sims held the bullet up to the lamp light.
Drips of blood fell to the floor. George and Tess gripped Maggie,
and hugged her.
* * *
George Evans pulled the collar of his coat up close, around his
throat. The sheep’s wool scratched, but it was warm. He missed
Thermacloth very much. Sighing, he stepped off the porch, sinking
almost knee deep in the snow.
A bitter, powerful wind blew from the south, pushing at him as he
tried to navigate through the snow. His boots weren’t very good at
protecting from moisture. His toes were already wet and frozen.
Tilting his wide rimmed hat down to block the wind from his face,
he made his way slowly down the street.
He stopped at Doc Sims’s house, assessed the mound of snow blocking
the Doc’s path, and trampled as best as he could up to the house’s
Doc Sims opened the door as soon as George stepped onto the porch.
“George! Come in, please. Shake the snow off. Grab a chair by
the fire and warm up.”
George kicked his boots against the porch railing, knocking the
snow clumps off. With his fur wrapped hands, he slapped the snow
off his legs, then entered the Doc’s house.
“Thank’s Doc. It’s nasty out there.”
Doc Sims nodded.
“Sure is. George, to what do I owe this impromptu visit? Are
Maggie and Tess okay?”
“Well, Doc, its Tess I’ve come about. She’s still sick. Fever got
worse overnight. We had to open the door to cool the house down so
her fever wouldn’t get too high. Chilled us all, but Maggie and I
are strong. We’ll be okay. Tess I’m worried about.”
“Have you been giving her the medicine I gave you? Is it helping?”
George nodded. “Sure. That’s why I came. Ran out early this
morning. Hoping you had some more around.”
Doc Sims frowned.
“Gee, I don’t know George. Let me look. With this snow goin’ on
for so long, not many supplies have been getting through.”
Doc Sims left the room, and started rummaging through some supply
closets in the next room. George slid his chair closer to the fire
and rubbed his arms with his hands to try to spread the heat.
‘The cold is the worst,’ he thought. ‘I can handle having to do
everything by hand. I can deal with genuine organic food, instead
of synthetic blends. I can even deal with how bad everybody seems
to smell! But the cold? Damn. Haven’t been warm since this storm
started. How long has it been snowing, anyway? Feels like a
‘And Tess. . . poor, sweetheart. She got sick not long after we
got here. Tennyson said there might be germs we wouldn’t have
immunity for; one of the risks of time transfer.’
George reached into his shirt, and felt the small crystal that hung
around his neck. The last vestige of twenty first century
George looked around the room Doc Sims used alternately as a living
room, surgery, and even examining room. Over on the floor by the
table there was a brown stain. ‘Probably somebody’s blood,’ George
thought. What barbaric medicine.
Doc Sims came back in then.
“George, I’m sorry. I’ve got nothing here to help Tess. Only
stuff I have is laxative, and that won’t help break the poor girl’s
fever. Welcome to take some, though, if you want to try.”
George shook his head. “No, thank you. Appreciate everything
you’ve done for us already, Doc.”
He stood up, and started slipping into his over clothes.
“I should be getting back. See if everybody is okay.”
Back home, he and Maggie sat by a fire. Tess slept in the back
room, near the wood stove. George thumbed the small crystal amulet
“What do you think? Should we?”
“Call it quits?” Maggie asked.
Leaning closer to him and hugging him, she kissed his cheek. Tess
coughed a raw, hacking cough; same as the last few weeks.
“Honey,” Maggie said. “If we go back, there will be medicine that
can help Tess. We’ll be warm. We’ll have enough food. God, I
miss the autokitchen!”
George laughed. “Me too. We can also get you fixed up, proper. I
just can’t get used to your limp. Feel so guilty.”
“Hey. You’re my hero. If you hadn’t spun into Kung Fu Man, who
knows what those two drunks might have done? The bullet was a
“Yeah, I know. Maybe we should call it quits. We tried, right?”
Maggie just nodded.
With a shrug, George snapped the small crystal in half. Tess
hacked and coughed again.
Nothing happened for a long minute. Tess coughed again, and
started crying. Maggie stood up to go to her when they heard a
voice from the back room.
“There now, love. That’ll make you better; rest. Let me go talk
to mommy and daddy.”
Xavier Ashcroft Tennyson had arrived to take them back home.
* * *
George settled into his accustomed seat on the transport. Flipping
his LensView down over his right eye, he opened his DataNote
Linkpad, and started scanning the morning news. He felt quite
comfortable. In particular, he felt warm, despite the thirty below
temperature outside. ‘Thank heaven for Thermacloth!’
First item in his Linkpad was an add from Times Gone Bye. He
chuckled to himself, and looked up to see a familiar group of
NeoKubes harassing an elderly passenger. The more things change,
the more they remain the same, thought George.
He sighed, stood up, and approached the NeoKube called Daz. Daz
was leaning into the old woman, stroking her hair, and making
obscene comments. The other ‘Kubes were chortling, and giggling.
“Daz, pick on someone who can fight back.”
Daz looked up.
“Well, now! If it ain’t Mister too good to shunt ol’ Mary! Why
don’t you go back to your seat like a good boy? I’ll come and play
Daz turned his attention back to the woman. George reached out,
grabbed a clump of the NeoKube’s hair, and dragged Daz to the floor
by pulling and twisting the clump. Then he reached around, yanked
Daz’s arm up behind his back, and shoved him down the aisle.
“I said, pick on someone who can fight back!”
The others swarmed George, but Daz waved his hand at them.
“The time I can’t handle a geeze like this, you’d better bury me
He pulled a blade from his sleeve, and charged George. George side
stepped, swung around behind Daz, and kicked the NeoKube in the
small of his back. This sent Daz flying into a pole. His head
smacked, the pole rang, and Daz slumped to the floor.
Just then, the Transport Guards entered the car for their scheduled
check. The rest of the NeoKubes snickered at Daz, turned and left
by the way opposite to the Guards.
“Look’s like we got to bury ol’Daz!” One of them spit. The rest
Everyone in the car cheered George, who settled back into his seat,
red faced at the applause.
George sighed and returned to his Linkpad. It felt good to be
My wife and I, and our two children, live in Kingston, New York
(USA). By day I am a mild mannered Retail Manager for a discount
department store. In my free time (as if!) I try to write Science
Fiction. My love for writing started with Jules Verne. My love of
SF started with Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. You can e mail me
at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit
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