Brunel hurried down the dark alley towards home. It was the eve of Christmas and he had in his left hand, a big live chicken for the celebrations.
The day was quickly heading to an end. The sun gradually disappeared at the horizon and the alley got darker. Brunel quickened his steps as he had a few metres to cover before he reached home.
Night soon came. Brunel flashed his torch light and increased his pace. His footsteps could be heard thumping on dry leaves on the ground.
Brunel had covered some distance when the rays of light from his torchlight caught a sign on the wall very close to an old science laboratory. It was formerly used by some scientists from the West Indies. The sign seemed to wriggle under a film of gliding water. It read:
JOURNEY TO WHEREVER YOU WISH
TAKE A BREAK AND TRY
WE TAKE YOU THERE
AT NO COST.
Brunel took a deep breath, hie senses were alert. Journey to anywhere and anytime? He was used to plying the route. But he had never seen the inscriptions on the wall before. Maybe it was placed there recently, Brunel thought.
He moved closer to the wall, read the words again. A smile soon appeared on his lips.
‘Anytime? At no cost? This is great! I should try this. I’m going to the year before the birth of Christ! I will watch Mary give birth to Jesus in the stable. Wow!,’ Brunel jumped with excitement. He had heard of people traveling back and forth in time, visiting different places in the past and many others in the future. He never imagined he could also travel in time which made him get more anxious to get out of the present time to the past. He wished to see how Jesus was born.
Following his heart, Brunel walked to the heavy duty gate, pushed it open and walked in. By his left was the machine, sitting comfortably on the ground. It was a double gimbaled gyroscope, spherical in shape, with a seat in the middle. The gimbals were giant hoops, and as they spin around, they make powerful noises.
‘Jesus!!! Here I come,’ Brunel yelled. ‘A Time Machine. This is great.’ The chicken cooed and Brunel gave it a spank.
‘Tomorrow is Christmas, the birth of Christ. I have to witness the real birth, and come back to relay to my people how Christ was born. I will be a hero. Celebrated like Dionysus.’
He moved closer to the Machine, his heart jerk as if to withdraw. He later summoned courage, all the while reciting the Lord’s prayer silently.
A day passed away. A night followed and then another day. Night and day and night again. The swirling became faster. Days and nights whizzed past. And then a week, a month, a year, a decade, a century. The machine hummed powerfully. As the years kept drawing backwards, Brunel looked helpless with only his chicken to lament to.
It was a long while later, the machine slowed down and its humming softened. Then it halted.
The sun shone brightly in the sky. Brunel came face to face with an old island. The climate was hot at 85° Fahrenheit. He looked around in awe. He couldn’t imagine he was in another time; an older time. He jumped and threw his chicken up happily, catching it back in glee.
‘This is really archaic. Jesus should be on his way to the earth. But…’ He took time to look around the island, no house, no people. He was so glad, he didn’t notice he was in an area totally abandoned. No one stayed in the place. He could only see rabbits running around aimlessly, and some insects clinging to the tree barks.
‘What’s happening? Nothing is here. This is a dead island. Oh Jesus! Where are you? I’m stuck.’
Brunel was no longer calm, he wandered around the island to search for people or small villages. His chicken also ran and sometimes flew after him, cooing quite often.
After walking about three kilometres east, he saw a hut, castaway though, some distance from him.
‘Jesus!,’ he shrieked after stepping on a skull almost buried in the earth. 'Jesus isn’t born yet, Brunel,' he whispered to himself.
He quickly moved a step from the skull, frightened that he might be harmed too. He looked around and saw that dried bones and skulls of various sizes littered the environment. He sensed the island was prone to attacks by dangerous animals, or probably the bones belonged to travellers who experienced shipwrecks.
I better get back to the time machine. He decided. It’s a pity I can’t see how Jesus was born.
He traced his steps back the same way he came. Unfortunately when he got back there, he couldn’t find the machine.
‘Oh God! Where is the time machine?,’ he cried, dropping on his knees. Has it disappeared? He wondered and immediately sprang into action to look for the machine. The hen followed behind. But it only searched for insects, picking them up immediately after sighting. It was indeed hungry after the long journey.
It took Brunel not more than ten minutes back in the forest before he saw figures advancing towards him. His mind came to an abrupt rest. Help was on it’s way.
‘Hey! Heeeellllppp!!!,’ shouted Brunel, waving his hands to them.
Not less than forty men emerged, all dressed in armour with swords in their hands. Once again, fear struck Brunel. The men looked amazed to see him, checking out his outfit- a polo shirt, corduroy denim and a nice pair of baseball boots to match.
‘Oh, where did you buy this,’ the eldest man who happened to be their leader, asked.
Brunel wondered about what to say, but not for long. He knew he had to make good use of the advantage.
‘I made it myself. Do you like it?,’ said Brunel. He definitely knew the men all thought him to be an extraordinary being.
The leader laughed, ‘Like? I definitely don’t like it. I love it.’
Brunel smiled and shook the leader’s hand. ‘Well, I’ll make you some. What is your name?’
‘Aldous, and all these men are my people. We’re warriors.’
‘That’s nice,’ said Brunel, looking back at all the men as if to say ‘what a team’. ‘Let’s get out of here to somewhere cool. Don’t you think so?’
The leader shook his head abruptly, making some sign language to his team. ‘Arrest him!,’ he shouted. And immediately, two bulky soldiers seize Brunel’s hands.
‘Hey! Let me go! What have I done?,’ Brunel yelled. He couldn’t understand what was going on.
The leader moved closer to Brunel and spat on his face. Brunel let out a cry of irritation.
‘You’re a time traveller. Answer with yes or no.’
‘Kill him!!!,’ the leader roared.
‘Please, please, please! Don’t kill me. What have i done?’
‘Some years ago, time travelers came to our land and took away our treasures. They are dressed just like you are, with nice accents. But they are thieves. We will never spare any time traveller again.’
‘Yeeeessssss!!!,’ the soldiers roared.
‘Wait! I’m not here to steal. Please, believe me,’ cried Brunel.
‘Kill him!,’ said the leader and immediately, one of the soldiers unsheathed his sword.
‘Ahhhh!!!,’ Brunel cried as the sword was driven into his chest.
‘Wakey wakey. Why did you shout so loud? Did you have a nightmare?,’ a young woman, probably in her early thirties said.
Brunel's eyes flew open. He blinked and heaved a sigh of relief. He touched his chest to be sure he wasn’t stabbed for real. Sure enough, it only happened in his dream.
‘It was a nightmare, my dear. Good morning,’ said Brunel. He leaned over to kiss his wife. She kissed him back in what could be described as a passionate moment.
‘It’s christmas!" She said, pulling away from his lips. "Get out of bed and let’s celebrate.’ she jumped up.
‘Hoo-ha! Celebration galore!.’ Brunel jumped out of bed, glad that he could celebrate another Christmas. What would have happened if he had died for real? He waved aside the tasking question and could hear soft hummings of a Christmas song from the christmas tree.
Badmus Ibrahim loves to write thrillers, crimes and sometimes drama. His educational background in English language and literature gives him a broad base from which to approach many topics in writing. He particularly enjoys writing and when he isn't writing, he is reading.