Dr. Serena Mulligan was hot, sweaty and dusty. She’d been excavating a dinosaur footprint fossil for over three hours, but it didn’t appear she had uncovered any more of the fossil. An experienced paleontologist, Serena knew excavating a fossil took time and patience.
She was working alone, something she preferred and could afford. While the rest of the team from the university where she worked excavated a T-Rex, Serena was content to work on excavating the footprint the university’s pompous team leader had deemed unimportant. A fossil footprint wouldn’t get him the recognition and respect he was fighting so hard to attain.
A piece of rock broke away, exposing what lay beneath. And what lay beneath took Serena’s breath away, making her head spin.
There was English writing in her fossil bed! How the fuck was that possible?
She knew the chaos that would erupt if she showed anyone; scientists would claim it was impossible, skeptics would call her a fraud, researchers would laugh at her claims. No one would believe her. She carefully cleared away as much of the hole as possible without damaging the fossil footprint, exposing the words written in it millions of years ago.
“We were here in 2022 — Andrew Lerner.”
Serena was stunned, sitting back, trying to process what she was seeing. It was currently 2022!
Andrew Lerner discovered how to time travel!
She continued to carefully remove the rock covering the writing, hoping there was more.
Serena sat back, pondering the implications.
Don’t? Don’t what? Don’t time travel? Was time travel not a good invention? She had to find and talk to Andrew Lerner.
Photographing the writing within the dinosaur foot fossil, Serena covered up what she’d exposed, making sure no one could see the letters. She’d be working in this spot for the next couple of months alone and felt fairly secure no one would find her secret.
As soon as she returned to her tent in the university’s team campsite, she used their site’s internet to google Andrew Lerner. She found three within 100 miles of the team’s camp. She walked a distance away from the camp and sites, pulling her cell phone out of her pocket. Serena called all three, reaching the right Andrew Lerner with her third call.
“Hi. My name is Dr. Serena Mulligan. I’m a paleontologist on an independent dig. I’m looking for Andrew Lerner who’s likely either a scientist or researcher.”
For a minute there was silence. “Mr. Lerner, are you still there?”
His silence confirmed Serena was speaking to the man who travelled back in time and left a written message behind.
“It’s Dr. Lerner and I’m here. I’m wondering what you could have found in a dinosaur fossil belonging to me.”
“I found the message you left.”
Serena heard only silence.
“Hello? Are you there? Did you hear what I said?”
“I don’t know what writing you’re talking about.”
“So, you deny writing a message in the earth which said “We were here in 2022 — Andrew Lerner,” and “Don’t?”
“Maybe it would be best if you came by to talk.”
“If you give me directions, I can be there in about ninety minutes.”
After getting directions, Serena quickly showered, dressed and was on the road in under twenty minutes.
He stood waiting in the doorway as she pulled into his driveway, arms crossed, unsmiling.
Andrew Lerner wasn’t at all what Serena expected. He was about her age with sun-bleached blond hair and was tanned and muscular. For a moment Serena wished she had taken the time to fix her hair and put on makeup, then reminded herself why she was there.
Serena took a deep breath and exited her black SUV with her camera bag and purse, smiling. “Hi, I’m Serena Mulligan. You must be Andrew Lerner. Nice to meet you,” she said, putting her hand out. He shook her hand with a sigh.
“Call me Andrew. Come on in. Can I offer you something to drink? Coffee? Beer?”
She accepted his offer of coffee, which they took into the study where he stored his research. Settling into opposing black leather chairs, Andrew stared at Serena, waiting for her to speak first. She didn’t beat around the bush.
“You figured out how to time travel,” she said matter-of-factly.
Andrew sighed again. “I knew there was the tiniest chance someone would find my fossilized writing, but I didn’t think it would be during my lifetime. The world isn’t ready for time travel.”
Serena’s eyes lit up. “What was it like?”
“Disturbing. Scary. Exciting. There’s a reason dinosaurs don’t co-exist with humans.”
“Is that why you wrote ‘Don’t’?” asked Serena, showing him the pictures she had taken of the fossilized writing.
Looking at the photos, Andrew muttered to himself, “It’s amazing I wrote this 150 million years ago, yet here it is.”
“How many times did you go back in time? Which dinosaurs did you see? Are you a paleontologist as well? Did you go to the future? Did you make any other stops?” Serena excitedly fired questions at him without giving him a chance to respond.
“Listen, it’s not something I want people to know about. I wrote that message to stop myself and anyone else in the future who might find it when time travel is widely developed as a warning not to go back that far in time. I didn’t expect it to be found only a couple of months after I wrote it.”
“You wrote your message in an area that was eroded by time, something you couldn’t have foreseen. The earth where you wrote your message must have been much deeper 100 million years ago. You didn’t take into account the effects of time eroding the ground where you wrote our message. You’re lucky I found it and not another dig team. I’m independent and work alone. I’ve told no one what I’ve found and covered it up. I’m the only paleontologist working in that particular area, so your secret should be safe. But I have one condition.”
“What’s that?” asked Andrew, warily.
“I want you to take me back 100 million years so I can see live, breathing dinosaurs for myself. I won’t tell anyone, I’ll sign an NDA, and I’ll pay you.”
“No way. It’s too dangerous. I vowed not to go back.”
“You’re an inventor, a scientist, a researcher, right? Don’t you want to learn about animals that went extinct 65 million years ago? We don’t even have to walk around. We can just watch the animals from the machine.”
“I said I wasn’t going back.”
“Not even for 10 million dollars? Imagine the research you could do and what you could create with that much money,” said Serena.
Andrew decided to call her bluff. “I want 20 million. 10 million before we leave and 10 million when we get back.”
Serena stuck out her hand. “Deal,” she said.
Andrew hesitantly shook her hand. He hadn’t expected her to pay his fee and now he had no choice but to go back to a time he never expected to see again.” Once had been enough. The carnage he witnessed destroy his first team weighed heavily on him. He felt guilty for having convinced the others to come along and wrote that message in the dinosaur tracks after they were all ripped apart and eaten by prehistoric predators to prevent others from making the same mistake.
Now he was going back with a paleontologist as his only teammate. He’d better prepare her for the danger and savagery they’d encounter. He already regretted his decision.
TO BE CONTINUED…
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About the Creator
Sensitive eccentric with numerous mental illnesses who often describes personal experiences with mental illness to raise mental health awareness. Suicide attempt survivor. Writer of different topics, in various genres. Please have a read!💚