The first widget didn’t work as planned. Tapping it was supposed to transport me around the world, one stop at a time. Today Tenerife, tomorrow Togo, the next day Tahiti. There was just one glitch.
Tenerife was fine. I enjoyed hot mornings on the beach and cold afternoons on the volcano. Driving the twisty roads was kind of cool despite being unnerving (especially when the bus in front of me started rolling backwards). I had a great time and vowed to set my widget back to this location soon.
It was in Togo that the widget started to malfunction. Oh, I got there all right. The problem was that everyone was speaking German and it is was 1885. What the h…? There wasn’t supposed to be any time travel, just space. This is not good. I spent my entire time in Togo dodging nationalist Germans and slave patrols.
Tahiti was going to be the best. From an early age I had learned that Tahiti, the largest island in French Polynesia, was THE place to go. I yearned for its black sand beaches, constant sun, and inviting women. And here I was, except there were no beaches, rain was falling, and the women, while inviting, were less inspiring than promised. I’m not sure what year it was, but clearly it was nearer 2100 than 2001 because much of the island was underwater. Climate change had increased sea levels faster than anticipated and what remained of its population was squeezed into huts clinging to the sides of Mou’a ‘Orohena. So much for working on my tan.
My new version of the widget has time controls. Not just the ability to set the date, but the ability to leave on command and not wait for the next open window to come around. At the very least I’ll start putting myself onto sailing ships.
[This post is a response to the following writing writing prompt: You’ve been granted magical engineering skills, but you can only use them to build one gadget or machine. What do you build?]
David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, is due out late July 2017.