David Medulla lounged out at the patio set in his backyard, his little boy sitting across from him as they both gazed up at the stars. He’d just been vacillating between a speculative discussion on what killed the dinosaurs and a comparison between he and his boy and the two Dippers. Danny thought he’d be a smart Alec and claim that he should be the Big Dipper, and his dad made sure to give him a good tickle for that one.
David kept wanting to tone down the science of it all, but the truth was Danny could keep up just fine. Sure, he might be six, but he was a prodigy. More and more like his dad each day. Maybe he’d be a theoretical physicist too. Maybe a future David had already seen as much and would tell the present David soon enough.
Now seems as good a time as any to tell you. David was working on a time machine. Yes, he was serious. No, he didn’t have any funding for it. It was a pet project at best, something to work on in his spare time down in the basement.
“When’s it gonna come, dad?”
David came back to the present, remembering the meteor shower he’d promised Danny. And there was that look of wonder in his boy’s eye. He was so proud of him and his boundless curiosity, so happy that he got to be the caretaker of this particular tiny human. David just smiled at his son with pride, lost in his thoughts.
David shook his head, looked back to the sky.
“Nothing, bud. It should be here soon.”
David aped his dad, looked up in the sky with him. It was a perfect night for stargazing. No cloud cover, minimal light pollution. It seemed like the universe conspired to form this moment just for them.
And then it appeared. A light in the sky, burning up in the darkness of it all. A blip on the screen of the universe, like the blindingly bright pixels in the space games of the ‘80s.
But then something broke off from the rest of the group. A multicolored light flew out horizontally, as if it were self aware. The other meteors streaked downward as expected, but that one light flew off on its own.
Danny gasped, taking in everything his little eyes could. David was working out the probability factor of a meteor flying off of its own accord in his head. The odds were slim to none, he decided.
David looked up. The multicolored light was growing larger by the second. It buzzed and hummed like some great insect. And was it…? But no, it couldn’t be. But the more David thought about it, the more he suspected that the thing was making a beeline for him and his son.
Within seconds, he didn’t have to suspect anymore. A massive flying saucer hovered above them, brilliant lights all around its outer edge. Danny was paralyzed in awe. A beam of light shone down from it, placing Danny directly in the center. It began to pull him up like some giant cosmic claw game. David leapt to his boy, clutched onto his ankle.
The ship flew forward in a heartbeat, jerking as if it intended to shake David off. Wind flew past his face so fast that he could barely keep his eyes open.
David looked back as he held tight to Danny’s ankle. It was tough to see, but it seemed like one of the meteors had gone further into the atmosphere than the others. It was burning up no higher than a hundred feet over the neighborhood. Brilliant orange light, like a tiny sun.
The now-minuscule meteor smashed into the earth, sending up smoke and debris. David ignored the awe of the sight, focusing his brain solely on how to save his boy from whoever was trying to take him.
The saucer dipped and turned, zipping right back to where it came from. David’s grip threatened to falter, but he clung on like an open string’s endpoints would to a D-brane. (Even in the threat of mortal danger his brain made physics analogies.)
And to David’s surprise, the saucer was headed right back for his neighborhood. It was only when the ship hovered back over his yard and safely released David and his son that he saw it. The meteor had struck the patio set where just minutes before the two had been looking up at the stars. They would’ve been obliterated if it weren’t for the flying saucer.
Just then, the ship’s engine cut down to a whisper. A walkway descended from the bottom of the saucer. A panel began to slowly slide upward on the ship, blinding white light pouring through. The eerie silhouettes of two figures appeared. They walked down from their walkway slowly. Strange noises came from them. One of them raised its arms, began to shake them back and forth.
They came into the light. It was another David and Danny. The other David continued to shake his arms, still making a mocking, ghostlike “ooo” sound. The other Danny laughed at this. The original David was incredulous.
The other David stopped making the ghost noises, although it seemed like he wanted to keep going.
“Had to get you… us… out of there. I knew you would never let go of him.”
David looked down at his son like he might disappear if he didn’t. He turned back to the other David.
“But why like that? That was so… complicated.”
“Come on. It’s us we’re talking about.”
David shrugged and nodded simultaneously with the other David. He looked back at the wreckage of his backyard, his house just barely avoiding destruction.
“Stinks about the patio set, huh?”
The other David appraised the damage.
“Yeah, I guess so. But at least we build the time machine.”