Don't Sign the Contract
By Bill Fountain
I knew that we were all on the brink of creating time travelling technology, but I began to fear that one of them might beat me to it.
All three of us were independent astrophysicists who created our fortunes in different ways, but all centered on our scientific discoveries. It was often that we were hired on teams to research a funded solution for worldly epidemics, but when we would get together to have a drink, we all discovered each of us had been secretly working on time travel the majority of our careers.
I was the one who came up with the idea to sign an agreement; even though I was confident in my personal studies, I knew that these other two guys were the only two people on the planet who possibly could beat me to it. I may have developed a thin, bulletproof skin vest that makes any person immune to gunfire, but that invention had too many bugs that I needed to work out before I released the idea to the public. This was my scientific secret, and I knew my colleagues had their own secrets that they would never tell.
I drafted out the document, stating clearly that if any of us were to develop time travel technology in the future, then they would be obligated to return to this moment in time to notify us.
The other two guys were wary of one another when I first suggested it to them, giving each other watchful glances to try and pick up what the other thought before speaking. However, after some open-ended questions and emotional digging, I came to theorize that these two were just as worried about me reaching the goal first as I was of them. All three of us made the decision that signing the agreement was innocuous and was a situation where nothing was to be lost.
We were in my living room on a Tuesday afternoon, sipping some wine as we prepared to sign the document. My pen hit the paper first, then the next guy signed it, but the moment the third guy's pen released from the agreement, a bold, stacatto gust of wind rang out the same moment a cardboard box appeared like magic right on top of the agreement, falling an inch or so before shaking to a stationary position. It was the size of a shoebox, and looked exactly as if UPS had shipped it, before the top of began opening as if Casper had joined our communion.
We all stared with an appreciating bedazzlement as we awaited what happened next, but nothing did. I could see a white index card face down at the bottom of the package. Without hesitating, I reached in and read the brief hand-written message:
"Don't sign the contract."
After an hour of discussing what this possibly is and could mean, our conclusions arrived at a mutual halt when we inferred that surely one of us had developed the necessary technology, and that all they had to do know was live out their lives as they were, continuing to study our scientific progresses. We all already signed the agreement, so we assumed the message had simply arrived too late, and there was now nothing we could really do.
A week later I was given the most prestigious opportunity of my entire career. The government wanted us to collaborate to answer the question of whether or not time travel can be done, and if it can be, what actions need to be taken to manifest it. Each of us were offered a 32 million dollars a year for the job, and we immediately all were sold.
It was a highly-financed and extremely covert study that was primarily funded by the CIA. All three of us put our egos aside and put together all of our lifetime discoveries into one discussion, becoming candid with the things we were too afraid to tell the other, out of fear they would steal credit. Now that we were all a part of the same funded team, now working for the government, we needed to use every bit of knowledge at our disposal.
It took us about six months before we made our first breakthrough when I was sent back in time 278 years, and remained there for 32 seconds. I was the main tester for very first recorded episode of time travel in the history, and it was an incredible experience. It appeared we couldn't enter a time period where our brains knew of an ancestor that lived there. The technology would seemingly not allow for it, apparently giving credibility to the grandfather paradox.
We decided that it is impossible for us to go back and honor our signed agreement, but we will continue to find a way to allow for time travelling to time periods where we already exist. This surely must not be the moment that we wrote that note for us.
On the last day of our contract, the CIA decided they no longer needed our services and that we were free to go. We turned to walk out of the door after shaking hands, when I heard a silenced gunshot, and saw in my peripheral one of my colleagues hitting the ground. I turned around abruptly to see the CIA agent pointing a pistol at us, he fired a second shot, and another of my colleagues hit the dirt. A third bullet hit me, but deflected off my skin. I immediately ran toward the time machine to escape the building.