A blaring sound of alarm made Bhuban woke up. A red light started blinking at the top of a transparent glass chamber. Bhuban looked at a digital window hanging outside reluctantly-“Ahhhh.”. It was showing ‘Final Test Status of #629: Failed.’ Bhuban was a research scholar at a University on Quantum Physics. He used to work for a small coffee shop outside the city airport in the morning and attain classes in the evening.
Like all other days, he reached his workplace at 7:35 am. The airport digital display was displaying today’s date, time, and humidity- 19th June 2018, 7:35 am, etc. For last few days something strange was happening with Bhuban. He used to call his mother once every morning. From his past birthday, his mother was saying that Bhuban was also calling her at night. His mother might be scared, so he did not revealed that it was not him at all. But how did a person make mistake by calling the same wrong no every day!
He parked his cycle, and after ten minutes, he arrived in the changing room. Mohan shouted-“You Rascal, asshole. Again Late. Go to cash counter. Either do the work, or I kick you out.”
Bhuban silently stepped slowly hanging his chin on the chest towards the cash counter. He started taking orders.
Sofia came closer to Bhuban-“You know them, right! Please don’t mind”. Sometimes Bhuban used to feel that Sofia, the only woman in this whole universe, understood him.
Then he again fell into the dilemma of his own- how vast is this universe…If it is infinite, then there is an endless possibility of another Sofia’s existence…If there is infinite Sofia, then there is also possibility of infinite Bhuban too… That means someone else somewhere in this universe is also doing the same research that I am doing…I must complete it as soon as possible…But how…
-“Helloooo…Ohhh…Can you please take my order?” a middle-aged man was waving his hand.
Sofia shook Bhuban’s shoulder-“What happened to you… Oh God! You will lose this job. Go, clean the tables. I shall manage here”. Sofia made him hold a napkin and a small basket. Bhuban walked towards the area where the passengers were having their breakfast.
Bhuban was removing the plates and utensils that were left on the empty tables. Suddenly he saw the middle-aged man with a brown cowboy hat, olive green overcoat and a dark coffee colour trousers. He held a newspaper but not looking at it; he was peeping at Bhuban. Last few days he was seeing this man on the same chair sitting and peeping at him. He never ordered anything, never talked with any of them as well. What did he want!
For last one month, Bhuban found this man at the same place before his shift started till it finished! Who was that!
Bhuban walked back to the cash counter. He put his lips closer to Sofia’s ear- “He is here today again.”
Sofia got scared a bit -“ Oouchh,” she rubbed ear with her shoulder. She replied without looking at Bhuban-“Maybe he is not the same man every day!”
Bhuhan was puzzled-“What did you mean?”
-“A lot of people may have similar cowboy hat, olive overcoat. Right? Have you seen his face ever?”
Bhuban started itching his head- Yeah, he didn’t see the face of that man anytime. The man kept always covering his face with a newspaper. Bhuban got to see only his eyes above the papers. The man had a wired kind of glasses. No, might be one eye was not there, otherwise why the left one was a black glass and the other one was as normal. Bhuban lost into his thought.
Mohan bellowed-“Hey Kamchor! Clean the tables. Faster. Don’t know the rush of morning hours? Why are you wasting time? I don’t pay for chatting.”
-“Go Bhuban. After the shift, we will talk,” Sofia was booking the orders of the next guest on the queue.
Bhuban kept his eyes on that man while cleaning the tables. The man was sitting cross-legged beside the last table in the row. Leaning on the wooden chair, he was pretending to read a newspaper. He was looking here and there and sometimes towards Bhuban. Was he searching for anyone!A part of his face was bandaged, only his nostrils and lips could be seen. Bhuban walked closer and asked with a feeble voice-“Hi Sir, how are you?”
The man folded the newspaper in hurry. He got panic, he jumped out of the chair. The chair fell on the ground with a thud. His one eye was staring- “ Tu kasa ahesa? I am fine. I mean, how are you, Bhuban?” The man started running towards the exit without waiting for an answer from Bhuban. He banged with the steel railing at the end of the café. A massive sound was slammed like two heavy metal plates hit each other. Bhuban was astonished. This man knew Marathi too. But why did he run away like this?
After ending his shift, Bhuban entered into the changing room. There was a long dark green iron table surrounded by few chairs in the middle of the room. On that table, there was a folded bunch of yellowish papers.
Bhuban asked loudly-“Whose is this?”
Jagan replied-“I got that today while cleaning the floor,” putting off his duty uniform-“Don’t know whose! Might be any guest leave by mistake.”
Bhuban felt interested in those papers as on the last page he could see few formulas of advanced time dilation. He picked up the bunch and started studying it. It was a handwritten research note with black ink. The fonts were quite extensive than usual with a shakiness. The more he went on, he got astonished more. The document belonged to whoever else, he was also working on the same project what Bhuban was working for last two years. The only difference was that the note had all the details that Bhuban could not reach till now and all the possible consequences of every scenario.
Bhuban sat on the floor hanging his head between keens. He thought a lot and decided at the end, he would try at least once the possibilities that the notebook said then he would return it to the owner. He paddled the cycle faster than any other day. He left no stone unturned for last two years, but everything went into vain. He found a slight ray of hope in this darkness. He didn’t noticed in excitement that the old man with olive coat was following him!
Once Bhuban reached the hostel, he spread the note on his bed, snatched a pen and paper from his desk. He started calculating something. After two hours of leaving his bed, he started looking around the glass box. Large red, yellow and blue wires were connected to it from the plug. He pulled off the wires from the battery. He started welding his circuits. After two more hours of set up, he broke the meter box of his room and pulled out the high extension wires holding them with insulator gloves. He connected those wires with the battery and kept the battery inside a circular electromagnet.
Bhuban forgot that he didn’t have lunch yet. He grabbed a sandwich from the fridge. He gulped it and took some water. The water was splashed over him in hurry. He was irritated because of this sudden unwanted diversion. He put the empty bottle on the table and continued final touch on his machine. The splashed water already reached near to his device rolling on the floor.
Stepping inside the glass box, his legs and hands were shivering in excitement. He pressed the switch to flow electricity from the high extension to the battery. The high extension wire was laying on the floor, and the rolling water was about to touch it. He rubbed his two palms, took a deep breath and pushed the red button inside. A clattering sound was spinning around him. The digital board was showing the progress- 89% initializing…100% Initialization…Ready to test flight…Please input how much time flight you want?”
Bhuban entered something. But suddenly the high extension wires got short-circuit because of water. A banging sound made Bhuaban sudden deaf. He fell on the floor. The fire sparked in the meter box. The battery was blasted, some flammable chemicals splashed on Bhuban’s face. He was trying to stand up but accidentally touched the water. The high voltage electricity made him paralysed. Another bang, the glass box was broken on his right hand. He was unable to sense his hand anymore. The popping spark licked the papers on the table. The flaming papers fell on Bhuban, and the flammable chemicals flashed on his face.
Bhuban was unable to shout, his voice was collapsed. His eyes were getting blur. He saw with blurry eyes that someone broke into his room. The man rushed towards the meter box and disconnected the wires. He put off his jacket and covered Bhuban’s face to put out the fire. The man took that note from his bed. Bhuban could hear that the man was calling for an ambulance. The man left when the ambulance siren was audible. Bhuban could hear his few last words-“O…Eeit..aas..Me…,” he could not be able to hear any more.
Bhuban opened his eyes in a hospital. A nurse was looking at him with quizzing eyes. Bhuban tried to sit on the bed, but he could not feel his right hand anymore. When he uncovered the white quilt, his right hand was not there anymore. He fainted. The nurse put some water on his face. The nurse helped him to sit on the bed. She helped Bhuban to drink some water and said- “Sir, please be strong. You have to accept the truth. Doctor will come soon. Your right hand and left eye are not there anymore.”
With a sudden shock, Bhuban rubbed his left palm on his left eye, but he found a ball of cotton there covered with leukoplast. He asked-“What happened to my face?”
-“Your face was also burnt,” the nurse put a small desk on his lap and put a newspaper-“Today’s newspaper. Can you read?”
Bhuban was trying to read, but looking at the date he was shocked; it was- 29th May 2048. He staring at nurse-“Which year is this?”
He yelled in excitement- “Hooray! My time machine worked. I have succeeded. Sister, please ask doctor to release me. I had a lot of things to do.”
-“What are you saying, sir?”
-“I was working on a Time machine. I set the time after 30years of my time. Just before or after the accident my machine worked, and I reached at 2048.”
The nurse was not convinced-“No sir, we found you from your hostel…
Bhuban interrupted her-“I know. I was experimenting. And just before the accident, I saw my machine was ready for flight. So it made me fly here. You wouldn’t understand. Please call the doctor.”
After a while, an old doctor with high power glasses entered into the cabin-“How are you feeling, Mr Bhuban?”
-“Fine. When can I go?”
-“Wait, Mr You woke up after 30years of coma.”
Bhuban shocked-“That means! No time travel!” He looked at his hand. His skin was wrinkled.
The doctor was checking Bhuban’s pluses-“Yeah. Great Sci-fi story, you can write. But truth is you were in coma for last 30years. ”
-“Who took my hospital burden?”
-“Your guide. He donated everything for your treatment. He must have special affection on you. But unfortunately, he also expired two years ago. We were actually thinking last few days what to do with you, and you come back! Great.” The doctor instructed few more things to nurse before leaving.
After a week Bhuban was released. His whole life was ruined because of a note of someone else. The hospital receptionist handed him over an olive green coat, saying-“Sir, I think it’s yours. We got this when we found you. It was in our hospital locker for long.” Bhuban stepped out of the hospital with a bionic hand installed on his right elbow.
Bhuban walked into a café, called at home and a female voice replied-“The number doesn’t exist.” He went to the airport café where he used to work. There was no Mohan, no Sofia; not even the café anymore. The airport had been changed so did the city too. After a few days of roaming, he came to know his parents expired around fifteen years ago. He was alone in this whole world with new faces. He felt guilty for taking someone else’s work.
One day he went to his college and collected his left belongings from an old storeroom. In that old store, he found a cowboy hat. He picked up as it would help him to hide his half burnt head. While unpacking those boxes in that evening, he found few of his old notes. Something ignited in his mind. The only way to get back his normal life was to stop the accident before happening. He could only do this by recreating the machine again, went back to thirty years ago and destroy the research note at airport café before the younger Bhuban could get it. If he could identify whose note it was, he would also return it to that person.
Bhuban tried to remember all those formulas what he saw thirty years ago on that cursed research note. He didn’t not yet get full control on his bionic arm.His handwritten fonts were becoming larger than usual. After three sleepless nights, he was able to recreate the time machine without any mistake this time. But the problem was he could not remember the exact date of his accident. Only thing he could remember was that it happened few days after his birthday. He decided to jump on his birthday and keep a close look on younger Bhuban from that day. He made his jump on 13th May 2018.
After reaching 2018, he made a call to his mother. He talked a lot with his mother. His mother was also surprised as he was quite calm and introvert kind of person. But how could his mother understand that Bhuban from the future was not the same person of her time! He kept his eyes on the younger Bhuban at airport café. He bandaged a part of his face to hide burnt marks and started using a glasses- one side was black, and other one was regular glass. Still, he didn’t want to meet the younger Bhuban. Otherwise, he might break down. So the Future Bhuban kept himself hiding behind the newspapers.
But who can fool destiny! One day younger Bhuban walked to him-“Hi Sir, how are you?” The Future Bhuban was not expecting this unexpected greeting. He was startled-“Tu kasa ahesa? I am fine. I mean how are you, Bhuban?” The Future Bhuban left the place without wasting any time. In a rush, his right bionic arm hit the railing with a metallic bang.
After few hours while younger Bhuban left the café, he started following him like all other days. Younger Bhuban reached at the hostel. While the Future Bhuban was thinking whether he should peep through the window, a watchman stopped him and started querying. He left the place for the time being.
The Future Bhuban came back nearly in the evening. He started walking towards younger Bhuban’s room. That day afternoon only he realised that on the same day of accident he met his future personality thirty years ago. He said himself-“Today is the day. But I didn’t see today any person left his any research paper at the airport café in the morning!” He relived-“That means the danger has been tramped across.”
The future Bhuban was preparing to return at his time. But suddenly his mind hitched- “Time is a continues sequence of events. I suppose to stop an event so that the next event in the sequence couldn’t happen, like a falling dominos. But I have not picked up any domino. I suppose to have that research note to stop this. I am missing something!” He started rushing towards the younger Bhuban’s hostel room.
On the way, he heard a sound of blasting something and then a sound of breaking glasses. When he reached in front of the younger Bhuban’s room, he found, the black smoke was coming out of his place. Breaking the door, he entered into the room. He saw the younger Bhuban was on the floor holding the live high voltage wires, the fire set up on his face. The future Bhuban disconnected the cables, put off his olive green coat and covered the face of the younger Bhuban.
The Future Bhuban called the ambulance. But he was still in dilemma when the younger Bhuban got the research note. He was there almost all time. Suddenly he shocked staring at the bed. It was the same handwritten formulas he had written to make this time jump. He realised in a second that his research note only was fallen down at café when he hit that railing. He hunched his shoulder against the wall, picked up the research note-“Oh, It was me… It was always me.” Falling on the ground, younger Bhuban could hear few hazy words-“ O…Eeit..aas..Me…”
The future Bhuban lighted up his research note leaving the room with a heavy sigh-“I have made me succeeded and failed at the same time.”
The Ambulance Siren was breaking the silence of the evening. The other students already started rushing towards that room. And the Future Bhuban slowly disappeared in the sheer darkness of the evening.