VOICE TAPE 1
Why am I even greeting this machine? It’s not like it will respond, now. Would you? Anyway, you listen. At least that’s a relief.
Today, I am at a loss for words. Doesn’t happen to me often.
I was a scientist. A very good one at that. Was the best in the field of relativity. I was doing very well. We even opened a real Astrophysics lab in Sri Lanka.
Then the Fatal Call came.
It was from NASA. They were on this high secret project. I was invited to be a part of it. But they had one condition. Not to disclose anything until we reveal anything publicly. I agreed. Mostly because of the paycheck.
We started to work. I was calculating and making measurements and doing everything possible to bring in two highly different spheres of chaos to a perfect equilibrium. It was like bringing two parallel dimensions together. [I know that joke was ironical Shinara. No need to point out]
Only the inner circle of scientists knew what was happening. The Head, Professor Travis, was hot-tempered and used to lash out at us for every small thing. But no one doudted him when it came to knowledge.
Finally the day arrived.
We were all waiting in anticipation. My friend, Professor Khan said, ”Well, at least us curries will be able to know what it is. White man has that decency at least,”
After a huge show, the machine, covered in white cloth was ready for its test run. Professor Travis walked up the podium and amidst huge applause. Talked about some space-time thing. Nothing new.
Then he opened it. As the cloths fell off, he shouted out the following words:
“THUS, WE GIVE TO YOU, THE WORLD’S VERY FIRST TIME MACHINE”
And we all stand in wonder. Hands hanging in mid-applause.
And then he says the next fatal words.
“PROFESSORS 23, 45, 68 AND ME WILL BE TAKING IT’S FIRST RIDE NOW!. COME ON STAGE FELLAS”
I take a look at my badge. Number 45 sparkles in it. Khan next to me goes, “Oh come on!”
But that was 20 years before. Now it’s 2081.
And Sun doesn’t shine like before.
[Yeeesss. I am coming Shinara. Wait]
Gotta go. Bye.
VOICE TAPE 2
“Wait, don’t mess this up Travis!”
“How more messed up can this be? The shut the hell up and run man”
“But we can’t abandon the machine. They’ll take it! For God’s sake, we need the machine.”
“It’s not like we can go back!”
“We’ve gotta live first”
“Not at the cost of our friends”
“He was never your friend! Nor was he ours. You two were just collegues on a job!”
“Professor! Don’t you-“
“Shut your trap Miss. Don’t lecture me what’s right and wrong. Not you”
“Don’t you shout at her you coward”
“Oh so I am the coward ? Who else decided to run with me? And not stay heroically to save their Friend?”
VOICE TAPE 3
So we are stuck here.
No way out. No one anticipated the time displacement that would occur with the warping of the time frame. Well, we all thought the time frame was supposed to go backwards. But I don’t know how, we appeared here. 20 years forward. Travis, Shinara, Udumbke, Bruce and Me. The machine was like a space shuttle. The state-of-the-art on-Air screens that really helped in saving a lot of space when we were working were all offline. No signal on our phones. True definition of “What the hell!”
The first thing that hit us the moment we walked out was the lights. The bright blinding lights. And Men and Women walking along the road. Smiling at each other. Nodding.
“Something’s off,” the West Indian pointed out.
Yes. Something was wrong. Then it hit us. They all were beautiful. As in flawless beauties. All men were muscular and women were shapely. Bulked and Curved. Bright white teeth and beautiful white skin. The only things that set them apart were their hair and clothes.
“They’ve done it. They’ve created the perfect human being.” Shinara exclaimed.
Bruce, with his highly accented British English, stopped a passer-by and asked where we were. What year it is. He just shook her head. And continued walking.
[Oh shit, Really? Wait one sec. Start packing. Let’s go right now]
Long story short, there was a guy called overlord. No one had seen. More accurately, no one had seen and lived. Apparently not a physically well-built, but, I quote, controls the whole world in his lap.
The people were communication through IOT. There simply was no need for them to speak anymore. They were communicating in machine language. Strange. But not something we scientists had not predicted.
Don’t worry if you can’t keep up. It took us 20 days of observation to take it in.
[COMING. Go go….LET’S GET OUT]
Will talk later. I think we’ve been found
VOICE TAPE 4
“No listen! We have to keep going. We can’t stop”
“Janith! This is not about us. It’s not about going back. We have to save him. If-“
“We can’t do anything now! You saw what they did to Udumbke. Right in front of our eyes! These are animals. Mind-Controlled Savages. ”
“We may yet be able to save him. We just have to try. NOW-TURN-THE-CAR-AROUND”
“GET OFF WOMAN! Stop acting like a know-it-all. They drained the life out if Udumbke right in front of us. You think they’ll spare us?”
“I thought you were better than this! But you turned out to be a selfish bas-“
“SHUT UP! DON’T YOU DARE CALL ME SELFISH. I did this to protect us. They took out Udumbke’s heart and filled it with circuits. They must be doing the same to Travis’ head too.”
“Is this recorder on?”
VOICE TAPE 5
Look. Before you judge me, know this.
We ran out after my last input. The Overload’s been searching us. It was Travis’ idea. He wanted to explore rather than staying close to the Time Ship. Or is it Machine? I don’t know.
All I know was it was supposed to reach perfect synchronization in 48 days. Then only it would be activated.
It was after we checked out the city and secretly camped in different places, we understood what it was all about. That this technological Utopia is a cultural Dystopia.
All day, mind-controlled soldiers patrolled the streets ruthlessly killing anyone in their way. Children didn’t go to school anymore. In fact, it was very rare that a child be seen on the road during anytime of the day.
[Yes. We saw one. But he didn’t make it home, did he?]
We could hear wailings and cries from all over huge apartments. Both male and female. “Jesus, it’s almost as if they’ve legalized unconsensual bondage”
Although I didn’t think of It then, Right now, I feel like they would have.
Another thing that we noticed is the money. There were no cash dispensers or credit card swipes in any shops. People came in. Took what they want. Went out.
It was during our 29th day that we met Her. The Overload.
I know it’s kinda dorky to end it like this. But makes me feel like a great storyteller
VOICE TAPE 6
“Tell me, what did you make of the night we were caught?”
“Why the hell are you asking me this? I am trying to get it out of my head.”
“Don’t worry. It’ll be good to release some of that stress. Just talk as if you are talking to me”
“Then I won’t talk at all”
“Kidding, so the night we were captured right?”
“It was horrible. We were just walking towards our time-space disruptor device. We had had enough for the day. Janith was puking after seeing a boy get killed by a merc. They were ruthless. They killed without purpose. And the weird thing was the roads were laid with some technology so that the stains will not be permanent. Who would’ve invented that? Brilliant mind I should say.
Anyway, out of nowhere, Udumbke was lifted in to air. He beautiful night sky, no pollution was visible there, erupted into a humungous ball of light. It was almost as if a miniature sun had blossomed. The place that 3 hours ago had our ship, had vanished and in the crater it had created were a 100 or more mercs holding us at gunpoint. Then…Udumbke was..Udu-”
“Shinara, are you…”
“Yes. I can. Let me. “
“He was lifted into thin air and…and his in-innards were pulled out of his body.<SOB>They…They took his empty skin and manhandled it to an android.
“The Human Robots”
“No, don’t. Please don’t. That’s enough. I need to sleep. Bye Janith.”
“DON’T YOU DARE SAY SORRY!”
VOICE TAPE 7
The Overlord was a woman.
It sounded like a woman. A woman who killed ruthlessly. Who dragged dead bodies and stacked them on top of each other to use as human robots. True feminist, if I may.
Yes. It’s me.
We are alive. Won’t be for any longer if we don’t act now.
We have been caught. This recorder is the only thing I have beside me. The high security in the place is too important for my decades-earlier-and-probably-even-more voice recorder.
Shinara was taken to a different cell. I am alone. The guards are dozing. Human instincts. Not even robot minds can overcome the needs of bodies.
We were in our safe house. The ruins of M.O.ON.L.A.B.S Our old(or is it?) NASA lab. It seems the Overlord predicted all of our moves. She seems to know exactly what we are going to do and what we are not gonna do. She fired exactly at where we lived.
“I KNOW HOW THIS IS GOING TO GO DOWN PROFFESSOR JANITH,” her voice boomed in the air above us, ”JUST COME OUT NOW AND STOP THIS BLOODSHED”
We stayed mum.
Then the shooting started. I will not describe to you the process. Forget about Shinara. I, myself, can’t sleep in peace after seeing all that.
Not that sleeping is in jail is fun anyway.
All I can tell you is that in the end, apart from us, no other body remained complete. All of them were incapacitated or sawed out. They dragged out our shocked bodies out of, literally, a pool of blood.
“Greetings ProfessorS.J.K.Perera And Professor S.F.M. Chang,” The Overlord said to us. “Quite deadly for time-travellers to be walking at a time like this. You might die in the future.”
“I see your language is picky. How long were you practicing that lame joke, you useless pile of spaghettified dark matter?” Shinara screamed.
Wait what? That was the most worst insult an astrophysicist can ever think of. Black Hole theory.
The Overlord laughed. She laughed this high-pitched laugh. Why had the concept if a villain not changed in the past 20 years? It’s still the same deep laugh and it sounds so unsuitable for a woman.
“Throw them into their cells. I may not be able to kill the girl. But I sure can play with the boy”
VOICE TAPE 8
“Your time machine is here. In my office. No need to thank me for saving y’all. So, how are you my friends?”
“Friends? Friends? You call us friends? You kill millions and don’t you dare call us friends. “
“Relax Professor Chang. I know everything about you. Your parents divorced when you were 10 years. You lived with your Uncle, where you suffered so many harrassments.”
“SHUT UP! How do you-“
“Then after getting a chance to go to America, which you seized with both hands. You dreamed of perfect peace. Your degrees in social relations prove it. Then you saw how science can help it. You let yourself get pulled by its current and became a noteworthy name in astrophysics.”
“I’ve never told..how?”
“Shinara? Haven’t I achieved it? Haven’t I achieved what you wanted? Perfect peace?”
“This is NOT PEACE. People don’t live in harmony, do they? People aren’t secure, are they? People are not free of guilt, are they?”
“Well, it all boils down to the fact that you can’t have Perfect Global Peace then. So one has to resort to certain measures. I discovered mind-control technology. It interferes with the brain signals and makes the person do something completely different from what he really wanted to. You can’t have perfect peace because we are humans Miss. Humans are full of deceit. The moment feminism was in the rise, it became a sexist movement. The moment racism was being mitigated, it became a protest against all white men. What’s more, even the African food suppliers started supplying food to America and not Africa. Don’t you agree, Professor Janith?”
“Here, Shinara! You can’t be taking any of this seriously. She is just brainwashing us. We have to get out of here. We can change the future. This doesn’t need to be it. We have to run. We can inform people about this. We can save the world.”
“Oh Professor. Your bravery is admirable. But the man who never stepped out of the M.O.O.N.L.A.B.S after they went in to the time machine can only do so much. You can change the past to affect the present. But that theory becomes null when the time travel changes, entirely. The Butterfly Effect is applicable only from past to present. Not present to future. ”
“SHUT UP. Just shut up. Kill us if you want to and get this over with”
“That’s the sad part. I can’t even kill you yet. There’s a lot you don’t understand Professor. But as you will be one of my massive supports in the near future, I will disclose something personal with you”
“No thanks! Janith, GET HER now!”
“Oh miss, pointing a gun at me won’t help”
“You think it wouldn’t? I’ve seen a lot in the past few days. I can-“
“Ok, ok. Stop with the drama. If you could shoot, you already would have. But listen. You too Professor Janith. Release me and I’ll do you no harm. I just want you to know something.”
“Shut up! SHUT UP! SHOOT SHINARA. SHOOT!”
“Listen. I want you to know my name.”
“Yes. You both will be very interested in this. It’s Felicia Melrose.”
“Thank you. Now shoot! Shinara! “
“GET IN. GET IN. IT’S LEAVING. GET IN SHINARA!!. LEAVE HER AND GET IN”
“KEEP WHAT I GAVE YOU SAFE MISS SHINARA. IT’LL COME IN HANDY”
VOICE TAPE 9
Hi. This is Janith.
Yes. I am alive. And so is Shinara. Though she is not talking. We are in the machine. I am pretty sure we left the place. And going back again. Weird. I almost feel nostalgic.
Shinara has something in her hand. In the struggle, I saw the Overlord pushing something into Shinara’s hand. A microchip or something. I didn’t ask. Dunno why she is keeping it though.
If you haven’t figured that out by now, the Overlord was masked. I never got to see wht she looked like underneath that red tinted glass covering.
Shinara had picked a gun from a dozing sentry earlier on. That’s how she had it. I do not know how she got it past the sensors. But she had. We had a mini brawl and the machine started working in it’s own suddenly. It had apparently reached an early sync. We disappeared out of there on time.
Oh, we are reaching touchdown. There’s gonna be so much to tell the world now. We need to prevent this overlord. Most probably a notable scientist in psychology. Have to track her down. I think we-
“Janith, there’s something”
“Don’t tell anyone anything. At all. Of they ask about others, tell that they warped into a space-time continuum as they couldn’t handle the pressure”
But why? Isn’t it our duty to tell the public the truth and stop hundreds if deaths from happening? Shouldn’t we bring justice to our dead friends?
“Let’s not be harsh here. We need to have solid facts. So let’s wait and make it count”
“Just trust me. This once”
VOICE TAPE 10
“So you wanted to meet me?”
“Yes. I’ve been thinking.”
“So have I. It’s been 20 days since we came back. I really am fed up of lying. Can’t we tell them at least now?”
“Yes. It’s about that. I just can’t help thinking about Felicia’s words.”
“The Overlord. She said you really can’t change the future. We don’t have an option. We can’t disrupt the space-time equilibrium. We have to keep quite”
“Wait. What? No way woman. I will not stay quite. I am gonna go out in the public. No matter what you say. I thought that’s what we scientists should do. Save the world”
“Hmm. I know you would. Anyway, do you know what the chip she gave me had? It was blueprints for the mind control machine.”
“Will you help me build it?”
“What the hell? Are you mad? Destroy that thing right away!”
“Hmm. Ok then. <Trigger cocking>. Final decision?”
“You can’t shoot me! We worked together. We saw what destruction I had caused. How could you?”
“Hmm. I know. But you never asked what the F and M stands for in my name.”
<SOUND OF THUNDER>