First Stop, Dinosaurs

 Adam tightened the last bolt and stepped back from his time machine.  "It’s ready," he said. 

"I still think we should do a shorter jump for our first test," Suzy said.  "If we can’t get back, the Cretaceous isn’t a great time to be stuck in." 

"Dinosaurs, Suzy." 

Suzy sighed.  "You’re not being rational." 


"Yeah, dinosaurs.  I don’t really want to get eaten by a T-Rex, you know." 

"We’ll be fine."  He hefted his super-sized tazer, identical to the one strapped to Suzy’s waist.  He’d designed them specifically.  He’d been planning this since his seventh birthday.  Of course, first the time machine had to work.  Suzy wasn’t sure if she wanted it to or not. 

"It’s time," Adam said. 

They strapped themselves in, and Adam punched in the date.  154 million years ago.  The world outside the machine blurred, and the machine vibrated and whined. 

"Is this supposed to happen?" Suzy shouted. 

Before Adam could answer, it was over.  A tree appeared at the machine’s back corner, and it tipped over.  Adam scrambled out of the upended time machine, his hand on his tazer.  Suzy was frozen in her seat, staring around them. 

It worked.  It was incredible. 

"Suzy!  Are you okay?" 

"Adam, it worked," she whispered, still staring.  "Look around." 

They were in a deep forest.  A huge mosquito buzzed by Adam’s ear, landed on a huge fern, then buzzed away. 

A moment later, a dinosaur appeared.  It was just under six feet tall, standing up on its rear legs.  Its scales were dappled green and brown, and its brown eyes were wide.  It was chewing on a mouthful of greenery.  "I think it’s a Claosaurus," he said, staring at it.  He stepped forward, one hand held out. 

It darted away just before he touched it. 

Suzy finally climbed out of the time machine, marveling at the feel of the ground beneath her feet.  She was standing in the Cretaceous. 

"I just almost touched a dinosaur!" Adam shouted.  He picked Suzy up and spun her around.  "The time machine works!" 

Suzy started to set the time machine back up.  What if the tree had done some damage?  She didn’t want to be trapped here.  "Now let’s see if we can get back home, okay?" 

"We’ll come back, right?"  

"Yeah," Suzy said.  "Of course we will."  She looked over where the dinosaur vanished.  "Of course we will." 

Adam set the dial for their present and switched the machine on.  For a long, terrible moment, it was silent.  Then the world blurred, and they were back in Adam’s lab.   

Suzy shut herself in the bathroom and cried grateful tears over the toilet.  She caressed the appliances, flicked the lights on and off, let the water run over her hands.  Then they went and explored the past.  

About Jamie

Jamie Lackey lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and their cats. She has over 160 short fiction credits, and has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Escape Pod. She has a novella and two short story collections available from Air and Nothingness Press. In addition to writing, she spends her time reading, playing tabletop RPGs, baking, and hiking. You can find her online at

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