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Mending a Tear

A Race Against Time

By Holly DraperPublished 3 months ago Updated 3 months ago 23 min read
Art by Sean. IG: sl3voy_art

______Chicago, Illinois - 2092______

Lightning pierces the dark, stormy night sky, and briefly illuminates the swaying branches as they dodge the pelting raindrops. A slow, creeping roar of thunder startles him, and he peeks through the curtain in awe. He had been working so diligently that he hadn’t even realized it was dark, let alone storming. The wind whips through the leaves, and the sound resembles an eerie, muffled scream inside his lab.

Ominous, he thought as he flipped the welding mask back over his face. The machine was nearly ready, and a little rain wouldn’t get in the way of his progress. Sparks flew inside the lab, as nature’s wrath mimicked his flickering lights through the rolling thunderheads. The last welding bead set in place, he lifts the mask off to marvel in his ingenuity.

“I can’t believe I’ve done it,” he mutters to himself. His eyes grew wide as he studied the machine, a soft smile sneaks across his soot-smeared face. Bright, zapping coils reflected in his irises as he flipped the switch on the wall to safely test it in a grounded environment. The deep bellowing of the storm was drowned out by the electric buzzing and whirring of his greatest accomplishment.

“The power works! I cannot wait to show him how close he was to-”

Art and editing by Sean. IG: sl3voy_art

A flash of lightning perfectly silhouettes a pigeon as it crashes into the window, stopping him mid thought. Flipping the switch off, he rushes over to the glass as the bird lifelessly flops to the ground.

“Poor li’l bugger,” he whispers as its wings twitch for the final time.

With a sigh and a shrug, the scientist returns to his desk, checking the delicate, tattered schematics one more time. These worn sketches and computations were not easy to come by, and he took care to keep them as preserved as possible.

“Alright, Nikola, the electric connections are stable. Now let’s see what our machine can really do,” he pauses, reflecting once more on the faded pages. “You were so close to completing her yourself. If I had been there, I would have been able to show you the error. Why, you only forgot to account for the forward gravitational momentum of the core’s gyroscopic pendulum! You must have known how close you were to getting her to run."

The man looks up for a moment, a smile on his face.

“I think we’re ready to see what she can really do. All that’s left to do is synchronize the watch, grab some clothes, and then save the world. To think of all the amazing inventions you’ll be able to finish once I convince you not to rip up the contract… Your Artificial Tidal Wave, the Electric-Powered Supersonic Airship, and who could forget the Teleforce! I won’t let you get lost to history again, Nikola.”

Grabbing his pocket watch - a device synced with the time machine and designed to return him back home is his only physical tether to his present time - the scientist confirmed the clocks matched up to the second. “Perfect. Twelve hours is all I need to find and convince him. I mean, it’s not like I have much of a choice. My calculations indicate I’ll only have twelve hours before the solenoid core loses its electric charge, and my watch will pull me back through the space-time continuum to my point of origin.”

Quickly changing his wardrobe, he made sure to leave behind anything that wasn’t already in circulation in the past. With a pristine black bowler hat and a sharp vest and jacket, the man was ready to begin his journey.

He steps up to the giant, alloy vessel, taking a deep breath as he swings open the door and steps through the threshold. He gently sits down on the captain’s chair, sets the destination, closes his eyes, and slowly engages the ignition.

His eyelids open quickly as the machine revs on, revealing the blue lightning sparks crackling around him in a fierce uproar. The machine seems to breathe life with the rhythmic pulsing of electricity flowing through her coils and wiring.

“HA! Nikola!! It’s working!” He shouts with childlike glee. “It’s time to save you, and finally make this wretched world a better pla-”

A loud snap echoes through the laboratory, and the machine whirs off. He slumps back into the chair, a frustrated sigh emanating deep from his chest as he clutches his forehead.

“No… It must work. It HAS to work…” his voice trails off as he brings his gaze to a small portrait in the hull. “I have to go back to stop you from making the biggest mistake of the century, Tesla. You must know how important those patents are to us, to humankind, to the future.”

Angrily, he punches his right leg, emotional from this set back. “How could I be so arrogant to think of myself as smarter than you? There must be something I’ve missed…”

Although he could feel himself talking, the scientist could no longer hear his voice. A bright, blue glow suddenly fills the laboratory, filtering into the machine’s windshield. The snap echoes again, and he rises out of his seat in astonishment. Sparking coils throw electric bolts all around the vessel, enveloping it in a beautiful blue orb of energy.

“Wha…” he gasps, and the injured aviary acquaintance suddenly reappears in the window, hitting it once more, and flies backwards into the night. The rain drops stop falling, and are summoned back up into the clouds.

He’s forcefully pushed down into the chair, gravity compounding onto his body at an alarmingly fast and steady rate. His skin pulls towards the floor, making him feel as if it would be ripped right from his body. Just as the scientist is about to lose consciousness, gravity returns to normal and air fills his lungs. Now his body feels as if he’s floating in water; weightless and slow to move. Every one of his hair began to stand on end, as if charged by static electricity. He looked through the glass to see a swirling geometric maze of colors, shapes, and swirling lights.

The beautiful cosmic dance of light and time begins to fade, as does the interior of the time machine, melding together in a horizontally stretched vision of a hillside. The scientist stands up, ready for the snap back into the past. Like the elastic resistance of a rubber band, time stretched and compressed in an instant, the past rushing into focus.

Glancing around his new environment, the man confirmed his suspicions that the machine would stay in his time of origin. He checks his watch, as well as his body, and sighs in relief as he has made it completely intact and unharmed. With this incredible feat completed, he has become much more than a mere scientist. His scientific discovery and exploration transcends him to The Traveler.

“Here I come, Tesla.”

______Chicago, Illinois - 1893______

_______12 Hours to Find Tesla________

Checking his surroundings, The Traveler located the road sign leading him to Chicago. When doing his research, he made sure to coordinate the machine to land him about a mile away from the city, hoping to keep his arrival as secretive as possible. With excited steps, he made his way to the Chicago World’s Fair - the very first one, to be exact. Although he knew Nikola would be here today, The Traveler did not have his exact whereabouts.

A brisk walk later, he found himself in the middle of the bustling city - full of life and promise. The streets were flocked with citizens as they all meandered towards the fair - which was run completely on Westinghouse’s electricity, thanks to Tesla’s induction motor.

The Traveler made sure to keep a low profile, knowing any unwanted attention could change the future in drastic measures. He kept his head down, nodding to passerby’s when need be.

Navigating the giant fair turned out to be a tad more difficult than he originally thought. No matter, he knew where to find Tesla’s former employer turned arch rival: Thomas Alva Edison.

Pfft. Edison, he thought to himself, the greatest thing he ever invented was a way to steal credit for other people’s work. Unfortunately, he would also know exactly where to find Nikola. Surely, he would be stewing about the lack of Edison electricity in the Mines and Mining building by now. The Traveler remembered reading about Edison going there in preparation for his delve into chemistry and metallurgy.

“Into the mines we go,” he muttered to himself.

________8 Hours to Find Tesla________

Once in the mines, he set out to find Thomas Edison. Taking a brief stroll through the exhibit, he couldn’t find the hard of hearing inventor anywhere.

“Hmm. Perhaps he hasn’t been here yet. I still have some time. I’ll wait for him a bit longer before looking for Tesla on my own.”

The Traveler walked through the exhibit again, taking the time to look over everything it had to provide. The so-called technological advances of the time seemed primitive for how destructive it would be to the planet. He shook his with disapproval, for he knew what damage all the coal and mineral mining would take place in the future.

“Not all progress benefits everyone, I suppose.”

“What? You’ll have to speak louder,” an old, grouchy voice called out.

Turning around quickly, The Traveler was finally face to face with Edison and one of his business associates. Edison had his hand cupped over his right ear, leaning in to hear better.

“Oh, excuse me. I was actually hoping to speak with you, Mr. Edison,” he paused, extending his hand in traditional formal niceties. The thought of actually shaking this man’s hand made him cringe, but he knew the only way to get the egotistical bastard to share information would involve mild flattery.

“I’m an aspiring inventor myself, and I was hoping I could get a few tips from the greatest inventor of our time,” The Traveler managed to say with a fake, but convincing, smile.

“Oh another inventor, eh? If you’re looking for advice, I’ll tell you what I tell every other inventor that comes crawling my way: find a new career. You’re clearly not cut out for this if you need my help.” Edison chuckled to himself, and started to turn away.

“You must be confused, sir,” The Traveler yelled out, “I was actually hoping you could tell me where I might find Nikola Tesla.” While his original plan was to win Edison over with flattery, the cocky inventor’s attitude called for a new approach.

“I beg your pardon,” he growled as he spun around quickly, “Are you insulting me because I told you to find a new profession?”

“Of course not, Mr. Edison. I told you I wanted to speak to the greatest inventor of our generation, and I was hoping you could point me in the direction of Nikola Tesla. Would you happen to know where he might be? I understand the whole fair is powered by his Westinghouse Motor, am I right?” He grinned wide, visibly irritating a nerve in Edison.

“You’ve got some nerve to talk to me about that man. My electricity is all over the nation, the world even! How dare you insult me like this. If you want to take inventing seriously, I’m the one you want to talk to, boy.” He scowled, crossing his arms in front of his chest.

“You were so quick to dismiss me, just like you did to Tesla. I figured that would be something else I could talk to him about once I meet him,” he winked, “sir.”

Scoffing, Edison retorted, “His ideas on electricity are dangerous, and he knows it! Did you know the voltage from his induction motor has caused death?”

“You mean when you used it to kill those children’s dogs all over the country, trying to frighten the public? I’m quite aware of how dangerous it can be in the wrong hands, Mr. Edison. Now if you wouldn’t mind, where can I find Tesla?”

“Why… How dare… The audacity!” Thomas stumbled, taken aback by the accusations.

Clearly uneasy with the conversation, Edison’s assistant chimed in for the first time since the encounter began, “I believe Mr. Tesla can be found at either The Electric Exhibit or the restaurant across the street from the exhibit.”

Shocked and betrayed, Edison elbowed the man, trying to get him to stop talking.

“Thank you kindly, gentlemen. I shall take my leave then.”

“You ignorant oaf! How dare you insult me - the greatest inventor of all time!” Edison shouted, spittle covering The Traveler’s lapel.

Wiping off the spit, smiling, he said, “If by greatest inventor you mean the most conniving, egotistical, credit-stealing cretin this time has ever known, then yes. Good day,” The Traveler made his way towards the exit, almost able to feel Edison’s rage fueled glare on his back.

Damn, he thought, that felt good.

________5 Hours to Find Tesla________

With time passing too fast for comfort, The Traveler quickened his pace as he journeyed to the restaurant. Although he knew Tesla would have the meeting with Westinghouse today, he wasn’t sure exactly what time or location the encounter would take place. The restaurant sounded more likely the location to find Tesla than the exhibition, though. A nice, cold drink on a hot day like this would hit the spot for any thirsty genius.

As he rounded a corner, he smacked right into another citizen, knocking a few items out of their arms.

“Oh, pardon me! I didn’t see you there,” The Traveler bent down to help pick up a journal and a few loose leaflets of paper. He noticed a name printed on the journal, Herman W. Mudgett. Looking up, he quickly recognized the signature spruce mustache and bowler hat the man was sporting. “Wait… H. H. Holmes?”

“Uh… Yes.” Holmes snatched his belongings out of The Traveler’s hands, eyes darting side to side, checking for eavesdroppers. “Are you visiting for the World’s Fair, young man? You don’t look like a local.”

“In fact, I am. I uh, probably won’t be staying for too much longer though,” The Traveler grew nervous in Holmes’ presence.

“Well, I own a grand hotel, if you‘re looking for a place to rest. It’s but three miles west of here, and I would give you a fair price for a short stay,” he smiled, his eyes seeming to grow darker with each word he spoke.

The hairs on the back of The Traveler’s neck rose to attention, his heart began to race. “Oh, uh, yes. If I have time, I’ll make my way over there.”

Holmes chuckled, almost with glee, “Wonderful! Look for the Castle on 63rd and Wallace. I look forward to seeing you there, young traveler.” With a tip of his hat, the prolific serial killer headed West, presumably back to his Murder Castle.

The Traveler wiped a few droplets of sweat from his forehead. “That was… something.” His hands were shaking, and he took a deep breath to try to calm his nerves. “If I have enough time left, I should do something about him.”

Refocusing on his goal, The Traveler continued to the restaurant.

______3 1/2 Hours to Find Tesla_______

He swung open the restaurant door, and headed straight to the bar. As he waited for the bartender to take his drink order, The Traveler noticed a man at the opposite end of the bar, meticulously wiping and aligning glassware in perfect rows. He moved closer to the man, and was able to make out the blue eyes, middle-parted dark hair, quaint handlebar mustache, and black bow tie of none other than Nikola Tesla.

Art and editing by Sean. IG: sl3voy_art

Finally! It was time to put the plan into action. The Traveler sat down two seats away from Tesla, knowing of the great man’s disdain for germs.

“Nikola Tesla?” He asked, even though he knew the answer.

“Hmm?” Tesla did not look up, still cleaning the rim of a glass using a white cloth gripped between his gloved fingers.

“Hello, uh, Mr. Tesla. Wow, I cannot believe I’m finally meeting you. It’s an honor, sir.” The Traveler took a small bow, trying not to let his eagerness and excitement get the best of him. Clearing his throat, he continued, “I was hoping I might speak to you for a few minutes, if you wouldn’t mind. It’s rather important.”

Tesla set down the glass, perfectly spaced and inline with the others. He looked up, and nodded, “Certainly. How may I assist you, sir?”

“Well, I was hoping we could speak in private. You see, the matters of which I need to speak to you are highly confidential.”

“Let us step to the back room, then. I’ll lead the way,” Tesla stood up, leading them to the empty room. “Now then, what do you need to discuss with me?”

“Yes, thank you for speaking with me, sir. You see, well, this might be a little hard to believe at first…” he trailed off, trying to figure out the best way to go about this difficult concept.

“As a man of science, I find with enough understanding, nothing is quite as difficult as it might seem. Now please, do go on. I have an appointment soon that I shan’t miss,” Tesla nodded for The Traveler to continue.

“Of course, I know you are about to meet with Westinghouse. In fact, that is why I’ve come here… You see, Nikola, may I call you Nikola? I have traveled, uh, from the future to talk to you about this meeting.”

Tesla furrowed his brow, “The future? Sounds like you’ve had a bit too much laudanum, sir. Perhaps I should go-”

“No wait! I can prove to you I’m from the future. You’re going to meet with Westinghouse tonight. He will tell you that the company will go bankrupt unless they don’t have to pay you the royalties originally laid out in your contract. Instead of discussing it with a lawyer, you rip up the contract and never get paid by Westinghouse.” He pauses for a moment, gauging Tesla’s reaction. “I know that you are working on more than just providing free electricity for all mankind, Mr. Tesla. And if you rip up that contract, you’ll never get to accomplish most of those inventions.”

Tesla studied The Traveler, clearly unsure if he was being told the truth. “If you really are from the future, can you tell me what other inventions I’m working on that the public doesn’t know about yet?” He raised an eyebrow, curiosity piqued.

“Oh of course! I believe you are currently working on transmitting radio signals across the world. Unfortunately, Marconi is going to send radio signals first using 17 of your patents,” he stopped as Tesla looked surprised. “I believe you are also working on the Shadowgraph, but a German scientist by the name of Röntgen will create his version, called an X-Ray, first.”

“Interesting.” Tesla whispered, one hand on his chin.

“Oh, you’re also going to be creating hydroelectric power after this fair is over. I’m sure you haven’t told anyone about that idea just yet. The International Niagara Falls Commission is going to reach out to you and-”

“Westinghouse, of course! I knew that my developments with alternating current would be recognized with the publicity from the Chicago World’s Fair. You have my full attention, Time Traveler.”

_____90 Minutes to Change History_____

Excellent! Thank you so much, I know you won’t regret this,” The Traveler was smiling, his plan finally coming together. “All you need to do is to keep the contract intact. Whatever you do, Nikola, please do not tear it up. If you get the royalties from Westinghouse, you’ll be able to fund your greatest inventions yet to come.”

“Well, that seems easy enough. You really believe that one small action will change your future - the future of everyone?”

“Absolutely. You’ll be able to provide free electricity, and make life better for everyone on Earth exponentially. You’ll revolutionize how we look at electricity - not as something provided to those who can afford it, but as a resource similar to that of air: available to all at no cost. Nikola Tesla, you’re going to change the world for the better,” he smiled, reaching out to touch Tesla’s shoulder, but stopped himself so as to not offend the great inventor.

“You pose a great theory. I suppose all that is left to do now is to test it then,” Tesla smiled, reached for The Traveler’s retracting hand, and gave him a brief handshake. “Thank you for traveling all this way to give me the advice. I truly hope it all turns out the way you plan, sir. You’ve given me more than you know… I have hope now, in myself and in the future.”

The Traveler’s mouth dropped open, his eyes welling up. “Wow, that is all I could have hoped for, sir. Thank you. I know you’ll accomplish the greatest achievements of the century. I better be going now, and I’m sure you need to head to your appointment as well.”

As The Traveler began to head to the door, Tesla asked, “I was curious, if you don’t mind, how did you travel back in time?”

Looking over his shoulder, The Traveler said, “With your Time Machine, of course. Your plans were nearly perfect - you only forgot to account for the forward gravitational momentum of the cores gyroscopic pendulum.”

“I’ll have to keep that in mind for the future then,” Tesla smiled, “Safe travels, and thank you again.”

The Traveler, completely overcome with happiness and excitement, left the restaurant on a high like he had never felt before.

“One last stop,” he whispered to himself, “And then I’ll be home again.”

He walked towards the police station, totally unaware of his surroundings. The conversation with Tesla was replaying over and over in his head. He looked down at his hand, and briefly considered not washing it ever again. However, he knew Tesla would not approve of that action.

Smiling to himself, he walked up the steps to the station, ready to warn the police force of the murderous H. H. Holmes schemes. As he placed his hand on the door knob, all of the hairs on his body stood on end, and he felt as if he was floating in water.

“Wait, not yet! I just need-” The Traveler was then forcefully pulled back through time, gravity increasing on his body as the watch alarm began to ding. As intended, the watch’s tether quickly pulled The Traveler back to point of origin in his time. Spirals of colors and shapes swirl before him, gravity bringing him again to the brink of unconsciousness.

With a flutter of his eyes, he was back.

______Chicago, Illinois - 2092______

The Traveler looks around his lab and quickly realizes that everything has changed. In fact, he was no longer standing in his lab, but what appears to be some sort of fortress or base. Nazi flags waive outside in the street, and the interior of the room is filled with ammunition, sand bags, food rations, and surprised uniform-donned soldiers of some sort. They stand up quickly, raising their guns to The Traveler.

“Who the hell are you, and how did you get in here?!” A man in a Nazi uniform yells at him.

“I… This is, was, my lab. You see, I’m a scientist and I traveled to the past to help Tesla create universal electricity for all… What is this place? What is going on?”

The apparent leader of the squad steps forward. “Don’t play cute with us. Who do you work for? What are you doing here? We’ll shoot you dead where you stand,” he raises his gun, aiming it directly at The Traveler.

Slowly raising his hands in the air, he gulps hard and calmly says, “I’m telling you the truth, sir. Before I went back to 1893, this was my laboratory where I created my time machine that sat right over there,” he points to a stack of supply crates that now occupy the space. “I went back in time to tell Tesla not to destroy his contract with Westinghouse so the world would have free power. Are… Are you guys Nazis? What happened after I spoke to Tesla?”

Stepping closer, and lowering the barrel, the leader responds, “You’re being sincere, aren’t you? You really traveled through time?”

“Yes! Yes, everything I said is true, and I come in peace. Who are you? What is going on?” He lowers his hands, and sits on a box behind him.

“Well, Tesla did provide free electricity and power for the world. He also managed to construct the Wardenclyffe Tower. As you may know, that enabled transmissions to be sent around the world in an instant - changing communication in an instant,” the commander motions for the others to lower their guns as he pulls up a chair next to their strange visitor.

“However, in doing so, he caught the attention of Adolf Hitler at the infancy of his reign. Once Tesla mentioned his plan for the Teleforce in 1934 to The New York Times, or Peace Beam as he affectionately called it, Hitler caught wind of it within the same day. Unfortunately, Hitler thought of it as more of a Death Beam…” his voice trails off for a moment, his gaze moves to the floor.

“You mean… No. Tesla would never have worked with Hitler. I don’t believe that for a second. Wait. Are you guys Nazis?” The Traveler pauses, hoping he didn’t just doom himself by insulting the armed men and women in the room.

“No, we are the Resistance - a small force trying to take back the rights and freedoms that were stolen by the Nazis long ago. You see,” he pauses to spit on the ground, “after Hitler concocted his plan for the Death Beam, he kidnapped Tesla. Hitler sent men overseas, nabbed him along with all his equipment and plans, and forced him to continue his work in Germany.”

“No… No! That can’t be true. Tesla would never-”

“Tesla did what he had to do in order to survive. After being tortured, he finished the Death Beam, along with his Electric-Powered Supersonic Airship and Artificial Tidal Wave. Hitler decimated all naval forces with the Artifical Tidal Wave - as it detonated high explosives that created tidal waves so large they would capsize any naval fleet. And by mounting the Death Beam onto the Supersonic Airships… Well, they were able to travel far and fast, and the beam decimated every airplane within 250 miles of the blast. And Hitler even used it against foot soldiers… We never stood a chance.”

The Traveler cups his face in his palms, ashamed, shocked, and horrified of the events he inadvertently caused.

“Hitler didn’t stop at taking over Europe. With Tesla’s Tech, he took over the world. He murdered anyone who got in his way, and ‘cleansed’ the Earth of everyone who didn’t fit his Aryan standards. The Tenth Reich reigns over all of us, but we are going to do anything and everything we can to stop them. Maybe you can help us?”

“Help… You? I - I caused all of this! In the future where I’m from, the US defeated Hitler, and he killed himself in 1945. Sure, the world wasn’t perfect, but it was so much better than this. I am to blame,” quietly crying, he continues, “My God, what have I done?”

“You didn’t tell Hitler to kidnap Tesla, right?” One of the members calls out.

“Heavens, no! I would never have done that. I was only in 1893 for 12 hours before traveling back to my - well, this present time. But it appears my machine is gone. All of my work is gone…”

The commander stands up, walking over to The Traveler. As he approaches, a coo of a pigeon is faintly makes its way through the room as it lands on the windowsill outside.

Placing his hand on The Traveler’s shoulder, he asks, “Can you build it again?”


“As I review the events of my past life, I realize how subtle are the influences that shape our destinies.” - Nikola Tesla

Short StorySci FiHistoricalAdventure

About the Creator

Holly Draper

I’ve always loved writing, and I’m excited to get some work out there! I tend to write more on the dark and spooky side. So if you’re into it, check it out! My art insta is @drapersdapperdoodles, and cosplay is @drape_soda

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