Prompt: What if? (assigned reading: "Life-Line" by Robert Heinlein)

I wrote this one 52 + k days ago, where k is any integer.

"How does it work?" someone in the audience asked.

"Well, I'm sure you've all heard it said that time is a fourth dimension. It's something that's used in almost every science fiction story," I explained.

"But we're not in a science fiction story," said the member of the audience, not knowing, of course, that ze actually was.

"Yes, but it's still true. The reason that we can't travel in time is the same reason that we can't go faster than the speed of light: there's an imaginary four-dimensional cone that we can't go out of. Its point is wherever and whenever we are. Light travels on the edge of the cone; that's the fastest anything can go. But this machine emits special particles that turn this cone around, which lets you go backwards in time; that's why it's called the Emit."

"Can you show us?"

The machine looked sort of like a car. I got in and pressed a button. I started moving forward. The whole world became stripy for a few seconds, and then I was in the hall just outside the room where I had been seconds before. I could hear people talking, but it sounded like they were talking in some foreign language.

"Irotsnash kifsnei asa nitan ru tab," said a voice that sounded distinctly like the member of the audience that I had heard just seconds before.

"Irotsnash kifsnei asi ervet somla..." said another voice, which I recognized as my own.

But it couldn't have been my own because I didn't know that language. Perhaps, I thought to myself, the time machine took me to the future, instead of the past, and everyone was speaking a different language, but I looked at the calendar on the wall, and it showed the same day that I left. Perhaps I was in an alternate universe. I looked up at the clock to see what time it was, and I noticed that the second-hand was moving counterclockwise; suddenly, I realized what had happened: time was going backwards. I had succeeded in turning time around, but had forgotten to make it go faster and make time normal again.

After a few minutes, I got back into my time machine and pressed the button again. I was moved out of the hall to the front of the building. Taking my time machine with me, I walked up to the building and through the door, just in time to give a presentation.

When I stepped into the room, I saw an audience, waiting to see my new invention.

I started talking: "I have invented a machine that will let people go backwards and forwards in time. There are a few bugs to work out, but I think I can still show you some stuff."

"What's it called?" someone in the audience asked.

"It's called the Emit."

"How does it work?" someone in the audience asked. Next chapter