The Rift Generator

Time travel really fucks with your ears. 

You know when you take a flight and you chew gum to relieve the pressure in your ears? That’s because the air pressure has changed and you need it to be equal between your inner and outer ear. Well, time travel is similar— but a thousand times worse. Basically, instead of trying to equalize the difference in air pressure between sea level and thirty-thousand feet, you’re trying to equalize what I’ve dubbed the time pressure, which is the difference in time between today and whichever year you’ve travelled to. Time pressure feels like part of your brain is being squeezed out of your ears. Maybe I should try chewing gum.

But anyway, that’s not even the most painful part of time travel. Back in college when I originally theorized about how time travel could work, I suspected that there would be resulting time vibrations upon that would come in waves and would violently crash into whoever had just returned to their original point in time after a jump, in order to reset their reality to the new continuum. 

I explained to my then-girlfriend, a moment before she slapped me, that it would be like the universe focusing all the energy needed to give birth to a new continuum onto one point and time in space, and that it would likely be more a painful experience than actually giving birth. After actually experiencing time vibrations, I can confirm that by any measure of pain I was right, though my girlfriend was long gone by then to hear any of my I-told-you-sos.

I examine myself in the full length mirror in my laboratory. It must be all the stress and long nights but I look and feel much too old and have way too many grey hairs for a man who had just passed forty. I contemplate just how much this endeavour had cost me.

My youth gone. 

My family’s fortune spent.

All the failed relationships because of this obsession (though to be fair, my accurate but ill-timed comments may have played a role in that too).

But I’ve succeeded. The math adds up. The resulting Rift Generator works, my own invention that slices the invisible fabric separating our world from the fourth dimension and how I’m able to jump to my desired place and time. It’s attached to the belt on the silver silicon-titanium suit I’m now wearing. Originally I made the suit out of leather but decided I wanted to look less superhero-y and more spaceman-y. Plus the leather made me sweat too much. The matching silver helmet didn’t have any eyeholes. It’s designed that way because I’m fairly certain that exposing my eyes to the insides of the fabric of time wouldn’t be a good idea. I mean, I would get to see some cool colours, but only until my retinas burnt to a crisp. I think I made the right call. 

Eventually I’ll attach a camera to record my jumps and discover what it actually looked like in there, which will also serve as evidence of my success. That’ll show all my friends and colleagues and mental health experts who tried to convince me that this endeavour was “ridiculous” and that my behaviour was “unhealthy” and “dangerously compulsive”.  But you’re only a mad scientist if you fail to make a paradigm shifting breakthrough, right? 


I need to get back something that was lost—the most treasured possession of my life; my childhood blanket. It was the only link I had to my mom, whose reassuring voice I still hear repeating on and on in my mind.

‘Take a deep breath. One, two, three. It’ll all be ok. Just hold on tight to your blanket.’   

Well everything’s NOT ok!  But it will be once I get a hold of that blanket! 

One, two, three. It’ll all be ok. 

No matter how often I tried to explain that I needed to hold that blanket in my hands, how nothing else mattered in the end and that everything would just fit together and be right again as soon as I touched it, everyone still just dismissed it as lunacy. You’d figure the shrinks would at least humour me for a bit.

Whatever. As soon as I get back my blanket, my next stop will be to the moment right after Dr. Stevenson tried to have me committed. I’ll give him a bitch slap that will echo through time. Then I’ll go back and stop mom’s accident from ever happening. So that’s the plan then. 

First stop; blanket. 

Second stop; bitch slap. 

Third stop; save mom. 

One, two, three. It’ll all be ok.


I pull on the helmet, rendering me sightless. I wonder if I could wash the insides of the helmet without ruining it, as it’s already starting to smell like an old gym sock. But I’m ready to jump back in time. I tap the Rift Generator on my belt three times softly, and press firmly on the centrepiece dial until it clicks. A shrieking buzzing sound hits me in waves.

One, two, three. It’ll all be ok.



I feel myself being pulled in multiple directions at once. Up and down. Inwards and outwards. The shrieking buzzing sound fades and then smacks me one last time before everything goes quiet. Without sight or sound, all I can sense is the intense pressure in my ears. I fall to my knees and yank the helmet off and let out a desperate exhale. I try to swallow and move my jaw around trying to equalize the pressure.

I should have brought gum.

After what seems like an eternity, the pain fades and I regain my equilibrium. I look at the display screen embedded on my wrist. 1985. Perfect. Right when I want to be.

I let my eyes adjust to the moonlight and find that I’m in a forest opening. I see a path through the woods, a path I travelled often as a child. I’m a five minute jog from the house I grew up in. Right where I want to be.

I take a breath and break into a run. Time to steal a blanket from a child.

I approach my house and stay behind the tree line, circling until I pop out near the front of the house. I hear my parents and neighbours talking in the backyard. It’s my dad’s birthday and they’re having a barbeque and drinks, as expected, and the reason why I chose to travel back to this particular point in time. As I walk to the front door, I begin to wonder what I would say if I bumped into my mom.

‘Hey, you don’t really know me and I can’t really explain why I look like your husband, but don’t forget to get your brakes checked.’

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that just yet. Stick to the plan. 


Bitch Slap. 

Save mom. 

One, two, three. It’ll all be ok.

The spare house key is inside a fake rock in the front garden, just like it always was. I enter without issue and quickly run upstairs. The squeaking sounds my footfalls make are so familiar, it gives me a sense of déjà vu. I take a quick glance down the hall before I enter the second door on the left, and step into my own room.


My mother was right; I do look peaceful when I sleep. I approach my bed and see me as a child grasping a blanket by its corner. 

Little bastard doesn’t know how good he’s got it. For now, anyway.

What am I doing? I’m about to steal my treasured childhood possession…from myself. I pause for a moment and then hear the staircase squeaking as someone else is headed up. 

You know what? Fuck it. I want my blankey.

I quickly snatch the blanket and put my helmet back on. I tap the Rift Generator on my belt three times softly, and press firmly on the centrepiece dial until it clicks. A shrieking buzzing sound hits me in waves.

One, two, three. It’ll all be ok.



  Damn my ears hurt and they’re a pain to equalize. I really should bring gum next time. I’m back in my lab now, on my knees with the helmet off, trying to regain my equilibrium. I look down at my hands and see the blanket.

I smile. It was all worth it, I finally have my treasured childhood possession back— The blanket my mom made for me. What she told me to hold on tight to just before…I frantically rip off my gloves so I can feel it in my hands. Its softness is unworldly, safe and welcoming. It was cool to the touch, gentle and refreshing. I needed this more than I could ever explain. It feels like I’ve been chasing this moment forever.

Suddenly I can feel the time vibrations coming, the new space-time continuum taking hold. This part is a bitch. I hold on tight to my reclaimed treasured possession. My blanket, my blankey. The vibrations pound through my body in waves, the pain is excruciating and uncertain. But I’m so glad I have my blankey. 

One, two, three. Everything’s okay.


The intensity of the time vibrations starts to ease.

I’m glad I have my prized childhood possession.

My blanket.

My teddy bear.

I need my teddy bear.

I need my prized childhood possession.


The time vibrations have stopped. I stand up to get my bearings. I wipe the sweat off my forehead with an old rag of a blanket. When done, I toss it into the corner filled with other childhood junk, which at the moment I can’t remember why is in my laboratory. 

I push the question from my mind and focus on the task at hand. This is the big jump I’ve been dreaming about for years, to go back to 1985 and get my teddy bear, my prized childhood possession. No more test jumps back a few days or weeks like I’ve been doing, which I suspect is the reason I feel so worn down. 

How can I describe the impact time travel has on your body? I’ll say it as bluntly as I can:

Time travel really fucks with your ears.

July 2019