Ever been to the 1960s?
A charming time. I popped back there a year or two back. Might go again sometime soon. I was intrigued to watch a film there called The Time Machine – a take on my old friend Herbert’s book of the same name.
In case you’re confused, I’m Henry Fortescue – tinker and time-traveller, shrunk to 12th of my original size by an unfortunate encounter with an anomaly in the fabric of time and space. Sadly, the same misfortune affected many of my fellow citizens. However Mrs S, a regular-sized human, has taken many of us into her capacious residence, which we call Steampunk-Shrunk Towers (despite her insistence that it’s a tiny cottage) and here we lead a comfortable life.
A large new contingent of 12th scale refugees recently arrived here. Quite a mixed bunch – Lord knows where she finds them. Most were happy to sit around waiting for their steampunk makeovers, but one gentleman – the bewhiskered chap centre left at the bottom there stepped right up to my brother and I.
“You’re the Fortescue Brothers, are you not? Purveyors of custom-made time machines?”
Charles agreed that we were and the gent was virtually jumping up and down with excitement.
“What a piece of luck!” he exclaimed. “I have a commission for you. I need a faithful replica of the machine from the 1960 film of HG Wells’ classic, and I need it as soon as is humanly possible. I urgently need to get back to a certain point in history. Time is of the essence!”
“Well in fact it isn’t, when it comes to time travel, Sir-” Charles tried to explain, but this gentleman – one Finian Foggg (yes, triple g) – was not in the mood for a treatise on how time really works.
“Please get started on it straight away!” he demanded, and strode off.
We set to work searching the workshop for items that might be of use. Some unwanted items of furniture, a stainless steel cufflink tray, plastic parts from an earring display stand and a revolting fibre-optic glowing butterfly, to name but a few.
I sawed the legs off the table, Charles removed the flashing light from the butterfly and Mrs S printed some useful images and found a variety of beads, some offcuts of copper pipe from a recent plumbing job and plenty of epoxy putty.
After a few days I went to find Mr Foggg and asked him to come and test the part-finished vehicle for size. I wanted to check that he could climb over the guard rail and to know where to position the control panel. He seemed highly pleased with our work thus far but still insisted that he needed to be at his intended temporal destination very quickly to avert a disaster.
Charles shook his head. “Doesn’t he understand that he can travel to any point in time from any other point, since it is all happening at once? How can it matter when he leaves, as long as his destination is the correct one?” he sighed.
“No, Charles,” I grinned. “Very few people understand time travel properly and that chap is in no mood to be lectured about it. Let’s just finish the job.”
And here is the finished vehicle. I have to say, I’m rather happy with the result.
Finian Fogg paid us handsomely and climbed in straight away.
“Splendid work, Gentlemen! Much obliged,” and barely waiting for Charles’ careful explanation for the workings of the device, he was gone in a whirl of multi-coloured flashing lights.
“Those revolting butterflies were a tremendous buy,” I grinned as our creation vanished from sight. “Wonder when he was off to in such a hurry, and whether we’ll ever see him – or the time machine – again.”