TRAVELLING BY SATT. (c) G. V. Robinette 2015

Oh, I do love gadgets!

It bulks on my left wrist, this brand new Spatial and Temporal Transponder, aka SATT. Of course, given time, they will develop slimmer models. That’s okay. I’m in on the ground floor.

I’m buzzing with so much energy! Just imagine being chosen – with others – to trial the SATT – we’ll prove its usefulness.

Plus, this gadget’s got to be large enough for me to work the interface, to get my fingers exactly where they need to go to make it work.

Work.

I start a new job today, down in Melbourne. Anticipation has me so edgy. There’s an hour wait for my train; so I decide to prowl the Market Place.

A latte later, and I’m sharing my table with another woman as miserable as I am happy. Talk about extremes. It only takes a question or two and her woes come pouring out.

She’d missed her train Friday. He – this amazing guy she’s known for truly months– was to meet her, take her to spend the weekend with his family. He’d suggested – hinted – that maybe he’d have an important question to ask, and this after getting her to tell him how she’d feel about living in a rural area.

‘I know what he wanted to ask me.’ Fat tears plop out of her eyes. ‘Dracie, he was going to propose marriage, I know that’s what he’d meant.’

I wince. He could have intended to ask any variation on that theme. But I keep quiet. We share my battered pineapple rings. She needs the calories more than I do, anyway.

‘Dracie, you couldn’t believe how wonderful he is.’ Terri proceeds to extol his many attributes. If she is accurate in her assessment, he is – indeed – a fabulous guy.

Then she notices my SATT and asks about it. Let’s face it; being more bulky than a wrist watch makes it noticeable. I extol the fabulous attributes of my new gadget. ‘It’s a Spatial and Temporal Transponder.’ I turn my wrist to display it more clearly.

‘Spatial is …?’

‘Three dimensional, your space, where you are sitting, your feet on the floor, your bottom on the seat, your hands holding your coffee cup. The space you are actually occupying right now. Okay?’

‘Of course! If you could pluck me out of the air, right now, right here, I’d sort of leave an empty hole.’

‘A vacuum, which the surrounding air would quickly infill. Nature doesn’t like a vacuum, you see.’

‘If only you could pluck me out of this space and send me up North to be with my guy.’ Terri sighs. ’That would be great.’

‘Interesting you should say that.’

‘But no good, either, as he’d be on his return journey now. Back where he lives and works in Castlemaine.’ Terri hauls out a tissue and mops up more tears.

‘Yet.’ I wait. Should I or shouldn’t I? I’d promised Joe to be careful. And I am. But isn’t this the sort of emergency for which SATT was created?

‘The first T in the name stands for Temporal.’

‘Which means Time?’ Terri looks at me, quizzically, yet with growing hope.

‘Time, chronology, things happening sequentially.’

‘Sequentially?’

‘Following on in the proper order.’

‘Or reversing?’ Terri’s hands grip the table. Her breaths are short, frequent. Definitely anticipatory.

We’re on the same wave length here.

‘And the second T? You said there were two T’s, didn’t you?’

‘Transponder.’

Terri blinks at me.

‘Transponder – in this sense – is to relay something, someone to another time and space.’

‘Oooh.’ Terri gathers up her bags. She looks across to me. ‘Do it.’

‘What?’

‘Dracie, do it now. Send me back to last Friday, so that I can meet him on the evening train northwards. Do it now.’

‘You’re certain?’

‘Yes. Hurry.’

‘But this gizmo is still in the final stages of testing. It might not be safe.’

‘Do it, please. For me? If that doesn’t work, if I’m lost somewhere out in the ether, I don’t care. Really. If I can’t be with my man, life has no value for me.’

‘O-kaay.’ I scan her. Terri does look determined. My fingers work the interface and a moment later – the slightest rush of air in-filling a void and I’m alone. A nearby woman jerks towards me, only to carry on talking on her mobile as though nothing happened.

And time is indeed passing. Only ten minutes to go, to catch my train.

I head outside, and literally bump into Henni.

‘Catching the taxi today?’

‘Not today, Henni. I’m for the Melbourne train.’

‘Have fun. I’m off to Tassie to get a key for my Honey.’

‘I can help you get there more quickly.’ I twiddle, and a moment later Henni has gone. Success! I air punch.

‘Dracie!’

I look around and see a radiant Terri, holding the arm of a gorgeous guy. She grabs my arm. ‘Dracie. Your friend. She said that she was going to KFC to get some Tea for her Honey.’

My mind does an instant replay. ‘Blast.’ I get busy, and there is Henni standing beside me. ‘So sorry,” I start.

Henni looks frazzled, blue eyes huge in her white face. ‘Gotta go,’ she says, and is gone.

‘Dracie, bye.’ This beaming Terri waves the back of her left hand at me. Sunlight flashes on the diamond solitaire. We grin at each other, and I watch the happy couple walk into the shopping area.

A shrill whistle makes me jump. Oh God, not my train. I watch it pull out of the station. Without me. All the angels in heaven, what am I going to do? There goes my new job!

I could use the SATT. The gadget beams up at me, enticing me. Would only take a few moments and i could be on that train. Forget the train; I could be in Melbourne, right now, standing on the platform.

But if I use the SATT to get me onto that train, how much of today does SATT affect? Terri and her guy might totally miss each other. Or Henni; would she be stranded in Tasmania?

Decisions.

A wonderful gadget, but such scary ‘what ifs’.

There’s no help for it. I phone my new boss, and wait for the next train. It’s obvious he’s not happy when he asks me if I really want my new job. Ouch.

I slip my SATT into my handbag: thrust temptation into oblivion. Then purchase another latte at the station.

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