Monday, April 21, 2014

Bonus Chapter: Sims University Presents "An Evening with Eli Morlock"

“Welcome, everyone, and thank you for coming to the lecture tonight.   Please help yourself to the buffet.  We’ll be starting in just a few moments.”

Morlock turned to finish erasing the whiteboards.  He returned to the lectern just in time to catch the small disturbance that occurred when one student entered - 

and another student left.

Irritated, Morlock took a moment to compose himself before beginning his standard lecture, “Time Travel Concepts: An Introduction.”   He’d given the lecture a dozen times at universities and libraries – several dozen, if one included the slightly out-of-date version that he had given more than a century ago.  

Usually, he enjoyed the chance to interact with the general audience – enthusiasts rather than experts.  It helped him to further embed into the culture in which he now found himself.  Tonight’s lecture, however, had suddenly become much too drama-filled for his liking.  He shook his head to clear his thoughts, and began his introductions.

Introductory material out of the way, and earlier irritation mostly forgotten, Morlock demonstrated the old-fashioned charm that had made him so popular on the science lecture circuit, engaging the audience and drawing them into the dialogue.

“Who here can tell me how many ways there are to travel in time?” asked Morlock.

One of Morlock's students in the back of the room piped up.  “None. It’s illegal.”

A lightly-bearded man in a faux military jacket in the front of the room said, “Damn government.  Regulating everything.”

The older woman sitting next to him said, “And thank Dub. Government regulation is what keeps us safe.”

The two latest speakers glared at each other while Morlock cleared his throat.  “Yes. If we may – momentarily – skip the political discussion…does anyone have another answer?”

“At least one.  You’re here”, said one of Morlock’s students sitting in the middle of the room. 
Precious Wainwright, sitting as close to the lectern as possible, shook her head. “Three”, she said, dismissively. 

“Very good”, Morlock said.  “Both answers are partially correct - but incomplete.  There are four ways to travel in time.  The first way is completely legal – even in SimNation, although it is somewhat regulated,” he said, looking at the gentleman in the back of the room, “and we are all doing it now.” 

He wrote down “1 – Living” on the white board. “All of us are traveling into the future, of course, every moment of every day.”  The students groaned.  Precious Wainwright rolled her eyes. 

Morlock ignored them. “If one wishes to travel into the future at an accelerated rate, then there are three known methods.  The first, inconveniently, is accidental.”  He wrote down “2 – Encapsulation via Time Bubble” on the white board.

There was a murmur.  “But that’s like getting struck by lightning”, said one of Morlock’s students, in the center of the room. 

“Much less likely than that”, said Morlock.  “Even less likely than spontaneous human combustion.  But it has been documented to have occurred to several individuals now living in our time.”  His eyes met those of the gentleman sitting in the very back corner of the room.  “However, if one wants to have some control over one’s travel, then there are just two methods.”  He wrote down “3 – Relativistic Space Travel” on the white board.

Space travel?  Now that's definitely illegal”, said the student in the back of the hall.

“Ever since the Twinbrook Incident”, said the bearded gentleman in the front.

"And we've been safe ever since", said the older woman sitting next to him.

Precious Wainwright frowned.  “What does space travel have to do with the Twinbrook Incident?  That was caused by swamp gas.”

Both the older woman and the bearded gentleman laughed dismissively, and then turned to glare at each other again.

“If I may continue”, said Morlock.  “It is a fact that experimentation with space travel has been ... essentially moribund for many years.  But we are not here to talk about ‘swamp gas’”, he paused as the audience tittered, “we are here to talk about time travel, and there is one method remaining.”  He wrote “4 – Travel via Time Engine” on the board.

“As has been pointed out, it is the method I used to travel from my own time to this.  While it is true, as several of you have pointed out”, he looked again at the audience members who had spoken up, “that travel by time engine is strictly regulated by your SimNation, it is legal, assuming of course, one has a government-certified time engine.”

“Time engines are no good anyway”, said the bearded gentleman.

Morlock turned and stared at him.

“Not reliable, I mean”, said the bearded gentleman.  “Look at you.  Yours only lasted one trip, right?  And all the ones before you failed, and all the ones after you failed, until the guys here at Uni made theirs…”

…and the one in Twinbrook”, said the older woman.  She glared at the professor.  “The government has never confirmed it, but you must know.  My father was one of the lucky ones. He worked at the base, but he was home sick that day.  He told us that what the Landgraab Industries were really doing was testing a new type of time machine as part of the grand experiment.  In the Salas Point labs”, she said, adding quietly, “may their souls find rest.  That's why the government stepped in to regulate."

“I was not in normal time when the Twinbrook Incident happened”, said Morlock.  “I have no first-hand knowledge of what experimentation may or may not have occurred.  What I do know”, he said, speaking more loudly, “is that there is currently only one time engine that is both operational, and  certified for use.  And that time engine is right here, in Midcentralburg, in your Applied Temporal Studies Laboratory.”

There were pleasant, prideful murmurings from the audience.  Precious Wainwright straightened up and flipped her hair as though preparing to rise.

“I’m speaking, of course, of the original Wainwright demonstration unit, which has remained here at the University Laboratory since it was developed.  As a demonstration unit, it is capable of only very short trips, and is currently certified for trips of 24 hours or less.”

“That’s what I’m talking about”, said the bearded man.  “A few hours into the future? What good is that?”

“It does seem”, said the older woman, “that all of the truly useful time travel has been to the past.  Why doesn’t the government spend our tax dollars on making that more safe?”

“I am not someone who can speak to the wise investment of SimNation tax dollars”, said Morlock.  “But I can tell you about a private donation that will further the research into applied temporal studies.  Through a generous donation by our distinguished alumnus, the celebrated inventor Boyd Wainwright, the second Wainwright unit, popularly known as the 'Wainwright Special', is about to join the first on permanent loan to the University Laboratory.”

The murmurs became louder as Precious Wainwright preened.

“Isn't that the one that ... ", the older woman appeared to be struggling with her words.

"...saved the children", said Precious, smugly.

"...where the wife did a runner", said the bearded man just as the older woman said "...came back on its own?”  The two glared at each other once more.

Morlock cleared his throat.  “I see many of you are familiar with this topic...yes, the Wainwright Special is the unit that was used to rescue the children of the Salas Point Preschool.  Famously, it was damaged during an ... unauthorized sojourn, some years after the rescue.   All that is past history, of course.  In the present, it remains non-operational for time travel by sims, but the time engine is capable of operating at very low power levels, and is certified for use for study purposes here at University."


For the remainder of his allotted time, Morlock fielded questions from the audience regarding the new University acquisition, and his own experiences with time travel.  He finally concluded his lecture to enthusiastic applause.

He politely stayed to chat with the audience members,

...and then, to his displeasure, realized that Precious Wainwright intended to follow him out.

Constitutionally unable to be impolite, Morlock suffered through her inane chatter and attempts at flirtation as the pair made their way out of the room.  In search of rescue, he shot a desperate, pleading glance at the last two audience members in the back, but resigned himself to his fate when the man who caught the glance returned a sardonic look and shook his head.

“Better him than us”, said the man, as soon as Morlock was out of earshot.  “Precious Wainwright is even more annoying than her father, if that’s possible.”

“I wonder about him”, said Michelle.  “About Professor Morlock.  Are you sure he is someone we can trust?”

“You should trust no-one”, the man said. “But Morlock is more reliable than most.”

“He is certainly no fan of our government”, said Michelle.  “And he lied about the time machines.”

I’m not a fan of our government, most of the time”, said the man. “And he didn’t lie.  He’s never been privy either to the official government experiments – or to ours.”

“He knows about Doctor Landgraab and his time machine”, said Michelle.

“Technically, Morlock was correct. He only knows what we choose to tell him about Magnus. He has no first-hand knowledge of Magnus' experiments.  And as for Magnus’ time machine", said the man, "it is not certified.  And, as it happens, it ‘currently’ does not exist…because it is no longer in this timespace.”

Michelle’s jaw dropped. “What?

The man shook his head.  “I could tell you, my dear, but then I’d have to wipe you.  I would hate to lose your pretty brain over something as trivial as Magnus’ latest antics.”

“But…then…”  It wasn’t often that Michelle was lost for words.  “If Doctor Landgraab has a functional time engine, why all of this?  Why do you need the Wainwright unit?”

“You mean, why do we need your brother”, said the man.  “We need him to restore the unit to full functionality.  Same as ever.  Magnus can’t help us.”

“Can’t? Or won’t?”, asked Michelle.

"Does it matter?", said the man.  "He and his machine are unavailable to us.  It's up to Morlock and young Wainwright, now.  And I must say", he added, "so far I am not very impressed."

"I told you. He will need some time to settle in, to get comfortable, in order to perform at his best.  He's a human being, not a simbot."

The man barked a short unpleasant laugh.  "Unfortunately.  If he were a simbot, I could have him shut down...Oh, don't fret, my dear.  We're not going to go that far."  He started walking towards the door.  "Probably."


  1. I love that Precious kind of knew the answer, but at the same time she didn't understand the answer. Classic upstart blonde. Memorizing the answers without understanding the path to get there.

    After that, Poor Dr.Morlock getting cornered by Precious. No one deserves that. lol

    After that, wow. So that's why Jed is on campus, huh? To fix a faulty time machine with Morlock's help. So now I'm worried Tarik is going to follow Jed around, find the time machine, and end up getting thrown into the time stream. LOL

    Very enlightening though. Will Michelle be able to prod Jed along any?

    1. You summed Precious up well!
      Precious will really work his very last nerve :)
      Don't worry, Tarik won't follow Jed around. Because Tarik is never getting off of the roof where I parked him :D
      Hmm...what to say. Jed will get prodded by Michelle, yes...perhaps not quite the way you are thinking :)

      I am so happy someone made it through the TLDR! Thanks for reading :)

  2. Oh my, well that was a fascinating (if disturbing) bit of light on what's going on behind the scenes! Poor Jed...

    1. Thank you for reading! Next chapter we will see some of this from the perspective of Tarik and Jed...

  3. So that's what they need Jed for! Well, first they have to prevent him from running away, or passing out all the time.

    1. Exactly! That's what has the man (talking with Michelle) so concerned.

  4. I think I'm even more confused, lol. So that's why they want Jed. But I guess Morlock isn't as complicit as I thought; in fact, he's being used.

    1. Woops, sorry about that! One of the reasons I moved this chapter up was to reveal a bit more about Morlock and how he fits in, so I'm glad that was a takeaway. (The other reason was Mr Photobomb spoiled the chapter that was supposed to go here, lol)

  5. Dun dun dun! The plot thickens!

    I loved the libertarian guy and the older woman. That kind of conversation seems present at every lecture I ever go to, no matter what the subject is.

    Jed! D:

    1. You and I go to the same kind of lectures, lol.