ADVENTURE IN A TIME WARP
by GARDNER F. FOX
Originally published in The Flash issue #4 in 1940
SYNOPSIS: Returning from a survey of outer space, Rolf Andrews and Doctor Edward Drokker slip into a time warp and land on Earth in the year 3260! They and pictures of themselves in a deserted city. and Rolf speaks to the President of the Amerikkas, Jak Donven, in Kikaro, by means of a television set.
In the year 3040 a race of green men came from the Moon and soon overpowered the Earth. men who had lived so long in peace they had forgotten how to use weapons. Rolf and Doctor Drokker are asked to go out and fight the race of green ones—two against an invading army!
ROLF and Doctor Drokker ran swiftly toward their space flyer as it lay on the flat landing field. As they clambered in and shut tight the doors, Rolf turned a worried face toward the Doctor as he bent low over his control board.
"Doctor, however can we hope to defeat an entire invading army—just the two of us?"
"I don't know yet, Rolf" muttered the Doctor. "but if these people know we did—strange as that sounds—we must have found a way!"
"History knows we did, but we haven't done anything yet! History knows we won but we haven't started to fight! Rolf growled. "It's getting on my nerves!"
Doctor Drokker looked at him over the rim of his spectacles. He said gently, "Run along and start up the flyer. That'll keep you until I can think of something to do!"
Rolf sat in the pilot seat and shoved over his lifting stick. Even the gyro-seat in which he was strapped vibrated to the roar of the rocket blast that shoved the flyer up and away. Idly turning his head, Rolf stared dumbly at the giant hole in the steel landing held below him. The terrific energy of even one rocket blaster has done that! Rolf whistled softly and the idea struck him!
“Doctor, Doctor," he shouted in excitement, "I've found it! I've found the way!”
Doctor Drokker appeared in the doorway of the control room, looking sad and disheartened. He liked Rolf, but he was afraid that his mind had snapped under the terrific strain. One glance reassured him. Rolf was leaning forward on the edge of his seat, his eyes shining enthusiastically, his words tumbling out as fast as he could move his lips.
“The rocket blasters, Doctor! They have energy enough to blow a dozen cities from the globe! Turn one rocket on the ship of the green ones, one on their city—and poof—they're gone!"
Doctor Drokker grinned like a cat. He jumped up and down in his glee.
"You've hit it, Rolf," he shouted. "And you're going to fight the battle as the reward. I'll drive the space ship!"
Eagerly Rolf ran forward to the control room's antechamber, where the firing chambers of the rocket blasters were set in resilient alumino-steel. With fingers quivering with eagerness, he went over its mechanism for possible faults. Finally he announced himself ready to Doctor Drokker, whose picture glowed in the television screen in front of him. He could hear the Doctor shouting at him.
"The green men's ship is directly above us, Rolf. I'm lifting our nose. Give it to 'em!"
Rolf shoved home the lever felt the space ship recoil and shudder with the terrific vibration. Catching hold of a wall-handle, he stared upwards into the fused diamond window. Rolf rasped hoarsely!
There was a smashing explosion far in the distance that flowed like a firefly once, and winked out. Rolf frowned. Where was the ship of the green men? That one wink of light so far away—what could that have been?
"Rolf, Rolf—are you there?" came Doctor Drokker's anxious voice. "Rolf—answer me!"
"Yes, Doctor," Rolf gulped. "I'm here—but I think I failed to hit—“
"You failed!" screamed the Doctor, moving levers back and forth. "I'm the stupid one. You scored a direct hit, but the energy of that rocketed blast carried us high into the stratosphere. I'll have to fire our stern rockets to get us down on earth again!”
Rolf grinned and danced a jig to relieve his feelings. He had scored a direct hit, after all. And that distant glow of light was the exploding ship of the green ones!
“Come one, come all, green men!" he cried, bending to replace his rocket charges in their tubes. “I'll beat 'em all!”
It seemed only a minute since they were on their way out into space before the flyer began to head towards Earth again. Rolf was so excited that he was startled when Doctor Drokker's voice rasped over the television set.
“Rolf, why are you delaying! The city of the green ones lies below us! Our nose is pointing downward!"
Rolf uncoiled like a steel spring. His hands few like moving pistons to a lever—here, to a button—there, to a slim rod that exploded the entire force of their eight forward rocket blasters! The concentrated fury of eight rocket blasters discharging at once would have sent them blazing to eternity with the terrific amount of friction they would have generated tearing through the atmosphere of Earth had not Doctor Drokker wisely seen fit to balance the recoil by a discharge of the rear blasters as well. Thus the space flyer hung between two discharges of rockets unharmed, and safe in midair.
But the city of the green ones! Rolf stared with bulging eyes at the mighty cavity in the surface of the Earth where even now the salt waters of the ocean were pouring in on a gigantic tidal wave. The city of green ones had disappeared in absolute nothingness! Rolf drew a deep breath and felt Doctor Drokker's hand on his elbow.
"It was their civilization or ours, Rolf. We can't be too gentle when we deal with the future of humanity, you know.”
"Ye-es, sir," said Rolf. Only—I seemed kind of tough on them!"
"How tough did it seem on the human beings of this world when those green men hunted them down like beasts? Human beings who hadn't even seen or heard of a gun or any weapon for hundreds of thousands of years! Wasn't that worse? At least the green men had weapons—but our own descendants—the humans who were hunted and slain by the green men had no weapons at all! And it was a quick death. No misery, no old age, no hunger. Come, let us go back to Kikago!”
For over three months Rolf and Doctor Drokker stayed in Kikago, issuing forth daily in their space flyer to round up and play all the remaining green ones who would not join the Earth community in peace. Doctor Drokker would not allow any of the Earth men to see his weapons or use them. He had a good explanation for it.
"Men have warred with each other for so long that I'm afraid if I gave you weapons, there might be a revolution here—or more wars!—and I don't want that on my head! No, Rolf and I will go forth to bring in all the remaining green ones who yield to us. Those who do not must die—for the good of mankind!"
In their travels, Rolf studied the geography of this new earth, discovering that there was no more geography such as they had known. Only the American hemisphere was still intact. The continents of Europe, Asia and Africa were all huge islands and archipelagoes. This had been caused by great tidal inundations when the polar snow and ice had melted to increase the great bulk of the ocean!
Rolf could have spent years enjoying the thrill of charting maps and exploring this new, strange Earth.
But Doctor Drokker was insistent that they be off. He had spent hours closeted with Earth's finest scientists and astronomers, and discovered an error in their astronomical chart that had suddenly thrown them one thousand years ahead of their time. By taking his ship back into space, and by reversing his field, and coming to Earth again by means of his new and correct chart, he would land in the year 2139.
There was a great sendoff for the two fliers on the day of departure. Thousands of civilians came to the flat landing held to see them off. Banners waved, hats were thrown high into the air, bands blared the National Anthem, and President Jak Donven made a long speech. At last all was in readiness. With one hand on his blast-lever, the other waving at the crowds below, Rolf swang his space ship up into the air with a minimum charge.
As they watched the Earth drop away below them, Rolf turned to Doctor Drokker.
“Doctor, I'd like a few questions about this queer adventure explained, If you don't mind!"
"Gladly. Rolf." said the Doctor. "Ask away!"
"First, how is it that you and I aren't dead—because we should be, if we return to our own time and live and die before the year 3260? Then, how can our people know of our adventure? They will have to take our word for it!"
"We are still living because our own personal life time is not changed. The days we spent in the year 3260 elapsed just as they would have in the year 2139. We swing back into 2139, older by only the time it took us to have our adventure!"
Doctor Drokker lifted a large metal box.
"As for proof—I leave this box filled with sound-recordings of the voice of Jak Donven, of some scientists—and a photographic record of our battle scenes and the city of Kikago. I used our own equipment for this—and since the records and film are made of metallo-siliea, they are practically indestructible! We have a record here for the ages! Truly, you and I, Rolf, will be world heroes!”