The Collision

Amazingly the following time traveling romp is based on a true story. If you’re interested after or even before – if you want to spoil it – go here and read about it.

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Eli stood staring into their closet dumbfounded for almost ten minutes scanning every item of clothing he had. Everything was Lycra or fluorescent; definitely not suitable for blending into that crowd. Realising his attempt was futile he turned away from the closet and decided it was better simply to get out of earshot of Melody. As he took his first step however her voice boomed through the house. “What are you doing back there Elliot?”

Eli opened his mouth to yell back a snarky response but he smartly snapped his mouth shut and grumbled, “It’s lucky I love you.”

If it was up to him, which it never was, Eli would have been content with the way things were. But his wife was adamant that she would get what she wanted. Having already suffered through eight months of her pregnancy Eli knew all too well that if he didn’t keep her happy he would be in big trouble. Well that wasn’t entirely true; he was always getting yelled at even before the pregnancy.

Returning to the closet he picked out the blandest looking outfit, a light blue two piece Lycra suit, and reached forward to take it from the shelf. As his fingers touched the elastic material Melody again yelled out for him, her voice sounding slightly closer.

Turning to glare at her through the walls he caught a glimpse of a plastic box buried beneath a blanket on the top shelf. Immediately forgetting about the approaching tyrant he stepped over and climbed onto the bottom shelf so that he could reach the box. With his face pressed against the plastic box he could see the criss-crossed patterned material inside and a broad smile appeared on his face.

With one hand holding onto the shelf he slowly pulled the box from the shelf, the blanket atop and the stack of sheets beside it coming along. When the box was past the halfway point he jumped down to the ground and pulled the box into his arms hopeful that it would slide out from beneath the blankets. To his misfortune that didn’t happen and the blanket and sheets rained down onto the floor. Shrugging at the mess he turned and found a clear spot of floor and crouched down with the box. Popping the handles and removing the lid the stale air immediately hit Eli and he turned away and coughed before lifting the jacket out of the box.

“What on Earth are you doing with that thing?” Melody barked as she stepped into the closet entrance and looked down at Eli holding up the tweed jacket by the shoulders. “And what is this mess?”

Eli slowly turned and with a cheesy grin he looked up to see Melody glaring at the pile of sheets, her eyebrows twitching and nostrils flaring. He quickly dropped the jacket and leapt to his feet while changing his facial expression to look as sorry as possible. Placing his hands on her shoulders he moved his head so that she was staring directly into his eyes and then explained, “Honey, stay calm I’m doing this for you.”

“What do you mean you’re making a mess for me?” Melody snapped before Eli could fully explain himself. “Are you saying I’m only useful as a maid?”

Eli dropped his head and sighed loudly. “No, that is not what I meant. Just ignore the mess and I will clean it up when I get back from-”

“-What do you mean get back?” She interrupted again and moved her head so that she could point at the plastic box. “You’re not going out in that hideous 1980’s tweed suit.”

“Please just go lie down, eat a Kit-Kat and let me sort this out,” Eli pleaded and turned Melody around by applying pressure on her shoulders.

“But…” she began before Eli shushed her and lightly pushed her all the way out of the bedroom.

He didn’t wait to see if she was going to return as he walked back to the closet and started to undress. After stripping out of the cotton pyjamas he dressed in the tweed suit with brown suede shoes and as a finishing touch added a black bowtie over his white dress shirt. Looking at himself in the blurred reflection off the polished steel walls Eli chuckled and wondered how his outfit was ever fashionable.

Leaving everything as it was on the floor he headed for the bedroom door walking awkwardly as he adjusted to the loose fit clothing. Walking straight across the hallway an automatic door slid out of his way and he descended a staircase into darkness. He took three steps down before the motion sensors detected his presence and slowly filled the basement with a fluorescent glow. Unlike the rest of the house the basement was enclosed with thick concrete walls, a throwback to the architecture of the past.

Eli stepped off the stairs and walked straight across the basement towards a small bar fridge positioned beneath a long metal workbench that was piled with electronics. Opening the fridge he was greeted with five shelves packed completely with cans of Mountain Dew. Taking four cans, two in each hand, he kicked the fridge door closed and carried them to a second bench on the opposite side of the basement. He placed the cans beside a blender that sat alone in the centre of the bench and reached forward and popped off the rubber lid. One at a time he opened the cans open and poured them into the blender. After that he placed the cans one at a time into the can crusher on the wall behind the blender and flattened them. He then dropped the cans into the blender and replaced the rubber lid. Pressing the power activated a small LED touch panel on the base of the blender. A warning appeared in bright red text that said:

Don’t mess with the past Eli!One out of place breath could change the world forever!

Eli pressed on the screen without reading or heeding the warning and the date and time appeared in large, blue, block numbers. Using his index finger he flicked the numbers down and scrolled the date until it read 31/03/2010 06:00.

Hitting the small enter button in the bottom right corner the screen changed again and Eli entered a set of coordinates that he had committed to memory. Reading the coordinates over multiple times to ensure he had entered them correctly he placed one hand atop the blender and again pressed the enter button. A confirmation dialog appeared and Eli held his finger on the yes option for multiple seconds and a swirling circle appeared as his identity was confirmed by his fingerprint. When it was confirmed the number ten appeared in the centre of the screen and the blender kicked into action.

The high powered blades easily shredded the aluminium cans into tiny silver flakes that mixed into the swirling green liquid. Eli cautiously placed his other hand atop the blender and held on for dear life. When the blender hit its full RPM there was a slight pop and Eli and the blender disappeared from his basement.

From Eli’s perspective one second he was staring at the swirling blender and the next the blender was empty and his surroundings had completely changed. Luckily he was gripping the top of the blender tightly and it hung from his hands in mid-air. He tucked it under his arm before looking around.

The building before him was a towering construction of concrete extending as far as he could see in both directions. To his right was a closed red door with a yellow, and a blue dumpster beside it. On the closer side of the door sat a vending machine with a large Coke can emblazoned on the front and beside it a snack machine.

Eli looked as far along the wall as he could see to ensure no guards were approaching before walking towards the vending machine. He placed the blender on the ground beside the drink machine and twisted the glass jug off of the base. Reaching into the exposed compartment in the top of the blender base he pulled out a bank sealed roll of Swiss five Franc coins. As he tore open the end of the cardboard roll he stood up and looked at the drink choices. To his delight the bottom two options were listed as Mountain Dew. Placing the first coin from the roll into the coin slot Eli waited until the coin stopped falling into the machine and then reached forward and pressed the small button.

The machine whizzed and clanked as the drink was delivered through the chutes and fell towards the opening. The distinct thud as the drink hit the steel made Eli raise his eyebrows in confusion as he bent to retrieve the drink. He couldn’t see the can but as he reached into the opening he swore. Pulling the Mountain Dew out of the machine he looked at the front of the machine and definitely saw a Coke can. Instead what sat in his hand was a tiny plastic bottle barely larger than the size of what should have been an aluminium can. Dropping the bottle at his feet he hit the second Mountain Dew button and the remainder of the five dollars was exhausted. Another drink made its way through the machine and once again Eli extracted a small plastic bottle. Taking several steps backwards he looked again both ways to confirm what he knew. There were no other drink machines in sight. Resigned to the fact that he needed to refill the appliance before completing the mission he had come for he returned to the machine and inserted another coin.

Over the next few minutes he exhausted the stock of Mountain Dew in the machine and every time a bottle was delivered. The bottles sat in a small group on the ground beside the blender and there was still enough money in the machine for one more drink.

Eli hit a random button for a different drink and waited hopeful that one of the other drinks would come out in a can. Once again he was left disappointed as the distinct thud of plastic on metal rang from the bottom of the machine. Eli kicked out at the drinks in frustration and sent the small bottles flying and rolling in all directions. As he watched one of the bottles roll far away to the left and underneath the yellow dumpster he saw the large recycling logo emblazoned in white paint. He practically sprinted towards the bin and threw the heavy lid against the concrete wall. Without hesitation he lifted himself up on the edge of the bin and threw himself inside. He landed knee deep in hundreds of plastic bottles and other assorted recycling. At first look there were no cans in the bin. He started stomping around and kicking all of the rubbish to try and uncover any.

The noise of all of the rubbish thrashing around made Eli deaf to any noise outside of the dumpster.

“What the hell are you doing?” a confused voice demanded in heavy Swiss German.

Eli froze and it took him a second for the words to comprehend in his brain and he slowly turned around. He smiled nervously at the security guard peering into the dumpster and shrugged his shoulders.

“Jahn look at this,” a voice called from near the vending machines.

Jahn, the security guard questioning Eli, turned and looked towards his colleague crouched beside the blender. “Is that a blender?” He asked quizzically and took a step closer.

Eli took the opportunity to move and trampled his way to the edge of the dumpster and peered towards the crouching man. The appliance was being lifted and examined from all directions by the second guard as Jahn looked on. “Be careful with that,” Eli warned in perfect Swiss German.

Both men turned and looked at Eli and the man holding the blender raised an eyebrow and stated like it was obvious, “It’s a blender; I think I’ll be alright.”

Eli was hesitant to respond and give away the truth but as the guard shook the base he cringed and had to stop him. “No, it’s a time machine. Be very careful how you treat it.”

Both guards laughed loudly and Jahn said, “Better be careful Michael, wouldn’t want you disappearing through time.”

Michael had a big grin on his face as he carefully placed the blender on the ground and raised his hands jokingly above his head.

Jahn stepped back towards the dumpster with a quick step and grabbed Eli by the collar in a flash. Before Eli could do anything about it he was dragged out of the dumpster, flipping over the edge and landing heavily on the ground. Eli writhed up in pain after landing directly on his spine, but Jahn maintained his grip on his collar and knelt over the top of him. “Alright future man, what are you and your time machine doing inside of our dumpster?” The words time machine had been accompanied by air quotes with Jahn’s free hand.

Eli winced in pain, but otherwise he stayed tight lipped about why he was there.

Seeing that Eli was going to be unhelpful Jahn started to stand and dragged his captive easily to his feet as he spoke to Michael. “He probably raided the blender from the dumpster; most likely an old appliance from the employee kitchen. Throw it and all these bottles in the trash and I’ll start taking this guy to the front. The police can handle him from here.”

“Don’t throw that out,” Eli yelled, ignoring the twang of pain that coursed through his entire body as he reached his feet.

Michael was on his way towards the dumpster but he stopped at the insistence in Eli’s tone. He screwed the jug onto the base and then deciding to let the police decide what to do with the blender he tucked it under his arm.

Eli didn’t know the appliance had been kept by Michael as he was already being forced along the building past the vending machines. He tried to watch back over his shoulders but Jahn had let go of his collar and was shoving him from behind every time he even slightly turned.

They walked around the corner of the building and Eli stared at the enormous dome that adorned the centre of the Galileo Galilei Square several hundred metres ahead.

It should have been too early for tourists, but people had already started to gather at the dome, eager to get a glimpse of the exhibitions going on inside. Jahn was able to lead Eli almost all the way to the square before anybody noticed, but when the first person saw the man wearing a full tweed suit everybody’s attention was drawn to the two men.

Eli knew that if he could run and make it through the crowd of people he might have a chance to escape to the main road on the other side of the square. He glanced back over his shoulder and saw Jahn shake his head as he said, “Don’t even think about running buddy. You won’t get anywhere wearing that ridiculous suit.”

Eli quickly turned to face the front as a brutal palm hit him in the centre of the back and turned him slightly away from the square. He was led towards a small one storey building that overlooked the square. The closer they got the more nervous Eli became. He started to realise that he never should have come back. Even though his wife was driving him insane, being with her was better than the new future he now foresaw himself having.

Jahn shoved Eli inside through the automatic doors and pointed at the two men sitting behind the counter and said, “Call the Police.”

Eli was deposited in a plastic chair beside the door and Jahn walked over to the counter and talked to the man who hadn’t picked up the phone to call the police, while keeping one eye on Eli. The two men talked quieter than Eli would have been able to hear even if he was concentrating, which he wasn’t. He was staring at the blender that Michael placed on the counter directly across from where he was sitting. It didn’t appear that he would be able to get across the room, pick it up and flee so he resigned himself to biding his time until he could talk his way free.

Eli was shocked back to reality by a pair of handcuffs being slapped onto his wrists. He slowly looked up from the ground, taking in the crisp uniform of the Swiss police officer, until he reached the man’s face. “Trespassing on CERN property might be a joke to you son, but the government takes it very seriously,” the officer explained with a stern look.

Smiling nervously Eli knew that he would have to go all in to avoid being thrown in jail. It was a strategy that had worked before in France and he hoped that the officer would react in the same way that they had. “I was just looking for fuel for my time machine,” he said honestly knowing there was no way he would be believed.

“Jahn told me all about your supposed time machine,” again the air quotes were thrown and Eli had to withhold a true smile as the officer glanced at the blender. “He also said you seemed to have emptied the vending machine of Mountain Dew but were found inside the dumpster. Care to explain?”

Eli shrugged, “It’s simple really. I had more than enough Mountain Dew from that damn machine but I need at least four aluminium cans to make the right fuel mixture in order to make the time machine work.” Even Eli threw up his own air quotes just to add more emphasis to the fact that he was serious and found their condescension incorrectly placed.

The officer raised a quizzical eyebrow and extracted a small notebook from his shirt pocket and flipped to the first empty page. He could tell this wasn’t going to be a simple trespassing and would need all of the evidence for the paperwork. He licked the tip of his pen after it failed to make a mark on the page and then he looked down at Eli and cleared his throat. “Let’s start with your name.”

“Eli Cole,” Eli responded truthfully having no need to lie, his parents wouldn’t even meet for another three years; his life wasn’t even on the table yet. This made his response to the question about his age doubly interesting. “I am twenty eight years old if we were in my time, but considering the date I’m actually negative ten.”

“Country of origin?” the officer asked, trying to contain his laughter at the clearly crazy individual he had before him.

Eli realised that the officer was going to draw this process out for longer than he had. It was possible that once he retrieved the time machine he could simply revert to the start of the day if he missed the timeframe, but going back twice in a row so soon had consequences he didn’t want to deal with. So instead of wasting time by answering one question at a time he said, “Countries do not exist where I am from. The discovery of the Higgs Boson led to limitless power, the elimination of poverty and Kit-Kats for everyone. It is a communist chocolate hellhole and I’m here to stop it ever happening.”

The police officer didn’t know how to respond to the absurd comment so turned and walked towards the group of guards including Jahn and Michael who had all gathered to see the time traveller in the flesh. “I think I heard something about there being a breakthrough collision scheduled in the Large Hadron Collider for this afternoon, is that right?” he asked, not mentioning what Eli had told him.

All of the guards looked around at each other and the slight nods turned into a full group of big confirming head bobbing. “They’re hoping to discover the Higgs Boson particle today,” one of the men stated.

The police officer swore under his breath and thanked the men as he returned to Eli. He stared at him contemplating his two options for several seconds before finally deciding that he wouldn’t be questioned for his choice. “You’re clearly out of your mind, so even though you say you’re here to stop the collision I doubt there is anything you could do to stop it. Don’t think you’re getting away with any of this though. I’m going to write you  ticket for trespassing and you will have to come to the police station tomorrow to organise a court date.”

A broad smile spread across Eli’s face as he was unable to hide the relief he felt. Without being asked to do so he rose and grabbed the blender from the opposite counter. He stepped towards the door as the officer shook his head, unable to believe what was going on. He quickly came to his senses and farewelled the CERN guards before leading Eli outside.

As they stood outside the officer wrote out a ticket while Eli looked around for somewhere to locate fuel so he could get home. The idea to try and stop the Higgs Boson particle from being discovered was clearly far too ridiculous to pull off.

“I’ll be seeing you tomorrow morning,” the officer said as he handed Eli the ticket, still with an incredulous look on his face.

“Thank you Officer,” Eli said, just adding to the man’s confusion as he shook his head and walked away.

Eli spotted a group of teenagers drinking from soda cans in the centre of the square so he rushed over with the blender firmly lodged under his right armpit. “Can I have your cans?” He enquired smiling brightly.

Their attention was turned towards Eli who looked so out of place, especially for Switzerland. He looked like a mad homeless man as he placed the blender on the ground, popped the lid and reached a hand out towards the teenagers. They looked at him with disdain and after a few seconds silence realising that he wasn’t going to leave they started handing over the cans. Eli dropped each one straight into the blender and then after the fourth one he completely ignored the kids. He took the blender up from the ground and walked away. The teenagers yelled abuse at his back, but Eli was already picking up speed. Glancing warily at the guard shack as he passed Eli hoped he would be quick enough. Luckily the four guards inside were all facing inwards making jobs about Eli the madman.

Eli backtracked around the building and found the two dumpsters. He sat the blender on the ground and quickly retrieved four of the bottles of Mountain Dew from the rubbish. Taking the cans out of the blender he poured the four bottles into the jug and then looked at the level markings on the side. The bottles were a different size to the cans so he had to make sure that the amount was exact or things would end very badly. He was 150ml short so he had to retrieve another bottle and carefully pour until the level was correct.

The discarded bottles rolled around in the wind as he made sure the four cans he had taken from the teenagers were empty and then placed them back inside the blender. He went through the same process he had in his basement ensuring he entered the correct time, date and coordinates to arrive home exactly the moment he had left. Gripping the top of the blender as the countdown reached zero he passed through time and then rested the blender on the counter.

He let out a sigh of relief and then a disappointed harumph for what he knew was coming. After deactivating the time machine and making sure everything was neat he trudged up the stairs and straight for the bedroom.

Melody was standing at the door of the closet with her hands on her hips and a scowl on her face. “Nothing you do makes any sense to me Elliot. Why did you put on that ridiculous suit and go into the basement for one lousy minute?”

“Don’t worry about it honey. It was a stupid mistake. Please just go relax and have a Kit-Kat.”

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