by: Daniel I. Saum
“Here, put this in your ear.” Tom told him.
“What is it?” Allen asked, looking at the small device in his fingertips.
“It’s a computer, one programmed with every known language in it.” Tom said, looking around the room nervously.
“Every known language? So, you made a universal translator.” Allen said, placing the device in his ear.
“Yes, every language dead and alive and no it’s not a universal translator.” Tom said, starting to walk towards the doorway still looking around the room.
“Pretty sure it’s a universal translator.” Allen said, playing with the device in his ear, trying to make it comfortable.
“They are two different things, now come on.” Tom said, walking out of the door and into the street.
Allen stopped talking, and jogged out the door to catch up to his friend. As he left the building, he noticed the mess on the street. There were people everywhere, all up and down the street. The houses were right next to each other, there were over a million people in an area smaller than most United States cities. It was an amazing feat of engineering, politics, and diversity.
“Where are we going?” Allen finally asked Tom, trying to figure out the plan.
“Well, I need to find a chemist or someone like that.” Tom said, looking around the market place they had just entered for the person they needed.
Their walk went back into silence as the two men traversed the large open market. There were vendors all over the place, they each had their own stand or shops. Some even ran their business out of carts, selling fruits and vegetables.
Suddenly, there were shouts of men from behind Allen and Tom. Allen turned to look, and saw several military officers running towards them. He turned back, and tried not to look suspicious as he attempted to get Tom’s attention. He tugged on Tom’s shirt, but his friend didn’t notice. Allen continued to tug, harder and harder until finally Tom turned around.
“What do you want?” Tom shouted, and everyone around the two men stopped to see what the commotion was all about.
“I think we’ve been spotted.” Allen said, turning to point at the military officers now flat out running towards them.
“Right, we better be off then.” Tom said, and started running down the market street. Then, Tom took a right into an alleyway.
“Do you know where you’re going?” Allen shouted to his friend, lost in their current location.
“Of course, we’re going away from the guys that don’t like us!” Tom shouted back, with a slight chuckle imbedded in his speech.
“Great, that’s just wonderful.” Allen said in a mutter to himself as he followed closely behind his friend.
They continued running for several minutes, and finally Tom began to slow his pace until he stopped. The two looked around the alley they had ended up in, searching for signs of the men pursuing them. Finding nothing, they tried to figure out where they were. Slowly, the two men walked down the alley and into a main street to get some orientation on their current position.
“See, I told you this would be fun.” Tom said, a smile forming over his face.
“I don’t think that I would call that, ‘fun.’” Allen said in reply, looking over his shoulder for the soldiers as he spoke.
“Don’t worry, we lost…” Tom started to say, but he ended abruptly with an “umph.”
Allen turned his head to face his friend to see what had happened. That’s when he noticed it, they hadn’t outran the soldiers. In fact, it seemed the soldiers had outran them since one was standing in front of Tom.
The soldier wore battle armor, with a chest piece made of silver. He had an armor skirt of sorts on to cover his bottom half and he wore shining armor pieces over his legs and arms. On his hip laid a sword in its sheath, most likely fashioned out of bronze. To top it all off, there was a red cape that fell from his shoulders and came to rest against the back of his calf just below the knee.
“Who are you?” The large soldier asked in a booming voice like thunder.
“We’re Americans.” Tom said, his smile still on his face even in such a time of danger.
“Americans?” The soldier asked, confused by the word. “I’ve never heard of it, and I know all of the lands of the world.”
“Obviously not,” Tom smirked, glancing at Allen as he spoke.
“Of course I do, I know all the lands inside and outside of the Empire.” The soldier said, grabbing ahold of Tom and pulling his close to his, the soldier’s, own face.
“Oh right, forgot about that.” Tom asked, giving a little gulp of saliva as he finished.
“What are you talking about little man?” The Roman breathed down Tom’s face.
“Nothing, now if you don’t mind. We’ll be going.” Tom asked.
“The only place you’ll be going is to jail.” The Roman said, grabbing ahold of Tom’s arm.
“On what charge?!” Tom demanded, with anger in his voice.
“Why, for the murder of his Royal Highness, the Emperor of Rome.” The Roman hissed at Tom, beginning to grow impatient with the small man.
“Tom, what they hell did you do while I was gone?!” Allen shouted, glaring at his friend who gave him a small smirk in response.
Six Hours Earlier, or almost Two Thousand Years Later
“So, unobservant to nature’s warnings, the city of Pompeii was destroyed by the very mountain that gave them life and prosperity.” Allen said, looking up from his computer to face his class.
Professor Allen Schmitt, teacher of ancient history, was not a large man. Nor was he small, one would say he was of average size and build. He was not extremely strong, a long life of reading books and studying made sure of that. He stood in front of a crowd of young minds, students ready to learn about history in order to better the future. At least, that was Allen’s hope and he chose not to believe anything else.
Allen looked around the classroom at his students, and there he found his good friend Tom sitting among his students. Allen, not sure what his friend was doing there, looked back down at his computer and the notes he had to finish his lecture.
“That’s all for today, see you all next week.” Allen said gently with a smile as he closed his lap top and began packing his things.
All of the students, although surprised by Allen’s choice to end class early, were not eager to dispute him. Allen, after all of his students had left, walked over to the desk where his friend sat. Professor Tom Malcom, teacher of physics, was different from his friend. Tom, tall and large in build, was a man of pure iron. He would spend hours working out not only his mind, but also his body. He was six feet of muscle, and intelligence. He held three Ph.D.’s, one in Physics, one in Mathematics, and one in Engineering.
“What are you doing here?” Allen asked his friend.
“Just seeing what it is you teachers do, kind of boring.” Tom said, watching the last of the students leave.
“Well, I guess we’re not all up to playing god in a laboratory.” Allen said, going back to get his things.
“Not a god, just a researcher. Speaking of which, I need to show you something.” Tom said, jumping over the table and walking to the door.
“What would that be?” Allen asked, walking to meet his friend at the doorway as he, Allen, threw his pack over his shoulder.
“It’s…well it’s hard to explain. Easier, just to show you.” Tom said, and he left the room and headed down the hallway.
Allen, letting out a small sigh, followed his friend out into the hallway. Giving a little bit of a jog, Allen caught up to Tom. However, he had to keep at a jogging pace just to break even with Tom’s long strides. They walked for only a few minutes, going down hallways, down stairs, taking turns, and walking down more hallways. Finally, they made it to what was the door to Tom’s laboratory.
Allen watched as Tom pressed a few buttons on a keypad next to the door. After Tom finished, there was a high pitched clicking sound as the door unlocked. Tom opened the door and walked inside as Allen followed closely behind. As they entered, Allen looked around to see what could need such heavy security. Inside the laboratory, Allen found that it was filled with machines that he could never imagine what they did. There were tables, several tables, filled with devices, odds and ends, along with other things Allen didn’t know how to describe.
“Why do you keep the door locked like that?” Allen asked, as the door closed.
“Oh right, you’ve never been in my laboratory. In that case I must tell you, don’t touch anything.” Tom said, walking through the middle of the room.
“Afraid I’ll break something?” Allen said, picking up one of the small handheld devices and laughing a little to himself as he did.
“No,” Tom started to say, stopping in the room to look over his shoulder at Allen. “I’m afraid they may break you.” He finished in a serious tone.
“What do you mean?” Allen asked, getting a sudden feeling of worry as he held onto the small machine.
“I mean, anything in here could kill you if it wanted. I hope for you they don’t want to.” Tom said, as he continued to walk through the laboratory.
“You’re not serious right?” Allen asked, looking at the machine in his hand with a new perspective.
But Tom didn’t answer his friend, instead he stood near a large metal pad on the floor. Allen, fearing Tom was telling the truth, slowly set the machine in his hand down and walked over to his friend. As he did, Allen made sure that he didn’t touch anything else in the laboratory, just to be sure.
“What’s this?” Allen asked Tom, looking at the metal pad on the floor.
“A receiving pad.” Tom said cryptically.
“Okay, I guess I’ll ask. A receiving pad for what?” Allen asked.
“Only time will tell,” Tom answered as he walked to a table close by.
Once he was there, Tom picked up two small metal strips off of the table. Then, he smacked one of the metal strips across his right wrist and it wrapped around his arm to form a bracelet. Walking back over to Allen, Tom handed him the other metal strip.
“Put this on,” Tom told him.
“Why?” Allen asked, taking the metal strip and holding it in his hands.
“Must you always ask questions? Just do it!” Tom said, his voice beginning to raise as he spoke.
“Fine, fine. I’ll put on your friendship bracelet.” Allen said, smacking the bracelet onto his wrist.
“It’s not a friendship bracelet!” Tom shouted, getting a little upset at Allen.
“Right, sure they aren’t.” Allen said, laughing as he friend continued to get angry.
“You know what, never mind.” Tom said, and then began mumbling to himself.
“I’m sorry, it’s not a friendship bracelet.” Allen said, giving Tom a smirk.
“Apology accepted, now let’s go.” Tom said, walking back through the laboratory and to the door.
“Go where?” Allen asked, following close behind his friend.
“Why, to the future of course.” Tom said.
Then, Tom pressed a button on his bracelet and Allen saw a flash of light and felt a small tingle of pain in his extremities. The next thing Allen knew, he was standing in the middle of an unknown place. The floor underneath of him was dirt, it looked as if the walls around him were concrete, but it may have been compacted mud.
Looking around, Allen couldn’t find his friend Tom anywhere in sight. That’s when he heard a noise from the stairway near him. Allen raced around the room trying to find a place to hide from whatever was coming down the stairs. Finding nothing, Allen decided he would just have to face the threat head on. That’s when Tom came running down the stairs, and seeing Allen, he ran over.
“Here, put this in your ear.” Tom told him