The Time Design

time machine, She experienced a strange sensation – one of light-headedness and a touch of nausea while at the same time feeling euphoric and frightened. 

The combined emotions were oddly fascinating, and Sheila wondered vaguely if this is what it felt like to be tripping on a drug like LSD.  But she looked around and acknowledged that she hadn’t moved since she stood in the center of the blackened room. She’d taken no pills or drinks. No mysterious fog or vapor filled the small quiet room. Yet, she felt out-of-sorts.

“Hello?” Sheila repeated a third time. She began to wonder why she had accepted the invitation from the new neighbor for a post-Halloween party.  She’d only seen him twice since he moved in a month ago. The scuttlebutt was that he was a world-renowned Russian scientist who had recently joined the MIT staff.  She accepted his written invitation, hoping to learn more about this enticing neighbor. 

At 34 and single, Sheila liked to leave no stone unturned in meeting new people.

When Sheila had rung the doorbell, twice, and no one answered, she bravely walked in and followed the bold black arrow that led to a long hallway and then a small room covered by tall black curtains.  She thought it odd that no host was in sight.  In fact, this strange party without any guests was getting old quickly. 

Speaking of old, Sheila suddenly felt extremely tired as she moved back toward the door.  Her knees ached and her joints throbbed. She coughed hoarsely, covering her mouth with her palm, holding back a scream as she moved her hand slowly back to its normal position by her side.hands, elderly, time, aging

Sheila looked frantically around her, and still no one was in the room.  She brought her hand, the hand, up to her face again and gasped.  This was not a smooth, active hand of a 34-year-old.

It was the hand of an older woman, a much older woman, with wrinkles, veins covered tightly by dry coarse skin, and arthritic knobs at the knuckles.  However, the ring finger was still enclosed with the small diamond time machine, figure in the darkher father had given her on her 21st birthday.

As her head raced and her mouth became as dry as beach sand, Sheila heard the soft polite clearing of someone’s throat.

“Fascinating, isn’t it?”

Sheila turned around quickly, noting the pain in her neck, and stared at her neighbor, Dr. Karl Stapokos.

“What kind of party is this?” she rasped, not allowing him to answer.  “What the hell is going on?  And why does my hand look like this?” She threw her right hand straight up, only inches from the amused dark brown eyes of Dr. Stapokos.

“That’s your hand, Ms. Trestle. A hand well lived after 80 years.”

“Eighty years?  Wha . . .?” Sheila began, not comprehending the strange man.

“You have entered a new invention. The one that will get me full tenure and a cover on Newsweek, no doubt.”

“What?”  Sheila repeated.

“My Time Design. It moves in 10-year increments.  You entered stage five.  You were, what, 30 years old?”

“I’m 34.”

“No, you are now 84, young lady.” His laugh echoed in her failing ears.

129 thoughts on “The Time Design

  1. oh my god. This is a great story. Suspense building was remarkable. Very beautifully portrayed.
    Please read my book. Since this is my first book I could really use some review.

  2. Pingback: The Time Design — roughwighting | Fantasy Sources: Art, Gifts, Ideas, Article Resources, News

    • I’m afraid Sheila may never make it back to her her house to put it on the market! Or, she finds a way to walk backwards in the mad scientist’s house and de-age. Oh boy my imagination is going at it again… 🤓

  3. Oh boy,, now that door I would not wish to enter, Lol.. Time is going fast enough for me in its 24 hour segments lol.. Let along ten yrs.. Wonderfully descriptive and just perfect ‘Timing’ 🙂 ❤

  4. Yikes! I don’t think even Mr. Rogers would welcome him as a neighbor. 🙂
    Creepy, Pam!
    (I thought a bit of Alice with the different sensations and going down the rabbit hole–but a much more sinister place.)

  5. . Super duper eerie creepy science thriller of a new kind of book for you. Bet it would sell very well too. Lots of folks like this sort of thing. I’m afraid I’d have to pass on this one though but your imagination has no limits.

  6. Wow Pam, you really have me feel spoked here. You leave us hanging there hoping
    this oddball neighbour with the machine will revert his experiment. To skip such a big
    part of your life is too terrible. Please Pam…..
    Great writing and yes suspense. My icky dicky heart is rushing away. 🙂
    miriam

  7. Hasn’t this lady watched a single horror film: Don’t walk into the dark, creepy house calling, “Hello?” and keep right on walking.

    My 93-year-old Nana has often said that she sometimes looks in the mirror and scares herself, expecting to see an 18-year-old face. Seems we don’t need to walk into the neighbors house for the effect.

  8. That is just darned creepy! What a wicked machine. What a horrible thought. I’m freaked out here and will be checking my hands every few minutes to make certain I’m still “34.”

  9. A very clever story underscoring how it feels when I unexpectedly see my own reflection in a mirror these days – LOL. How did this HAPPEN? 🙂 Only yesterday I was in my thirties. If I suddenly fast-forwarded 50 years I’d faint! VERY scary – tick-tick-tick.
    xx,
    mgh

  10. Oh my gosh, you had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. This was like a can’t-put-it-down book! I’m unsure if Sheila was brave or foolish for going inside, though. 🙂 Smooth flowing and gripping story to the end. ☺💗

  11. I love this story, Pam…fantastic atmosphere and confusion building to fear and ultimately horror at her aging self! There are delightful hints of comedy and I had to smile that she wasn’t one to leave any stones unturned…Perla she should have left this one! 😀😀 Oh well, the doc will be on Newsweek so he’s happy! 😀

  12. I’d like to enter a time machine and peel off, say, 30 years. And at the same time, push Mr. Mad Scientist into a machine that advances his age by 50 as you suggested.

    I think there is no danger of losing readers with scary stories here. We are addicted to your brand, Pam!

  13. Fascinating story, Pam. Sadly, life does seem as if it disappears that fast sometimes. Where did the last thirty years go and what have I got to show for them? It seems not that long ago that I had all of my life ahead of me. Now I wake up and it’s almost all behind me. 🙂

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