He loved the antique shop. He put all his focus into finding old relics, things people had carelessly tossed away. Sometimes he would fix the furniture or play with the little trinkets until they worked again. He considered it an escape; it wasn't that he wasn't happy with the quality of his life, but for a few months, he'd been experiencing the feeling of boredom.
He peered through the glass that covered the wall facing outside. More specifically, a window to a small shop tucked away in a neat corner of downtown London.
His hand rested on the handle and pushed open. A small bell rang as the door swung open and closed when he entered. It felt a bit like traveling back in time. The place was bright and well lighted, but not by electricity. Chandeliers held lit candles as did multiple shelves on the walls. "Welcome to The Fourth Dimension," the Shopkeeper said, his faced buried in a vintage comic book as he leaned against the check out counter. "Good morning," the Boy responded with a quick nod. Not wasting any time, he launched himself into the store's shelves, pleased with the variety of items such as small television sets, slightly scratched desks and tables, creaky chairs, dusty clocks, worn out couches, several mirrors, and many others.
He walked quietly around the store, finding a shelf of old books and brushing the dust off of them. He read a few titles and turned his attention from the books to the abundance of clocks hanging on a single wall. They were old and mostly made of wood, with different types of hands.
The Boy took a stumbling step backwards and lost his balance. He put his hand out to stop his fall and touched a cold block of metal. His eyes flicked away from the clocks and over to the large contraption that prevented his fall, sitting in the packed corner of the store. He almost missed it with the amount of useless trinkets covering it. No price tag, the Boy noticed. He could see that its decorative rail was a little bit bent. The machine appeared to be dusty and rusted, unpolished gold and silver. He ran a gentle hand over the hood, the dust clinging to his fingertips like little memories left over after all of the hauling and of the previous owner.
"That's the Time Machine. Well, that's what everyone calls it. It apparently appeared out of nowhere in the middle of Piccadilly Circus a few years ago," the Shopkeeper explained when he noticed the Boy standing before the mechanism. "It's not for sale," He added, noting the Boy's interest.
"So it travels through time? Like in the stories?" The Boy asked, intrigued by the thought. He didn't believe the man, but it was a good enough story. "That's the idea. The creator was never found, but a few presumed it comes from the late nineteenth century," the Shopkeeper answered, his tone sounding dull. "A Time Machine without a Time Traveler," the Boy mumbled under his breath, eyeing two silver levers at the front of the machine by what looked like a timer. "Does it work?" The Boy asked. "Don't ask me. I've never tried it." The Shopkeeper said with a laugh.
"It doesn't then?" The Boy sighed, the look of disappointment evident on his face. "I don't know," the Shopkeeper says, irritably, his brows drawn. "I wouldn't want to take that risk," he continued. The Boy looked up, eyebrow quirked just so. "So you've never thought of changing the past?" The Shopkeeper stiffened. The two were awaken from their thoughts by a harsh ringing of the phone at the front of the store. "Well, I better take that. Please don't break anything," the Shopkeeper sighed and took his leave.
The Boy looked back at the 'Time Machine', a mischievous smile grazing his lips. The machine's seat looked rather comfortable and the buttons and handles were set up in a matter of orderly fashion despite all the mess that surrounded it. He glanced at the Shopkeeper who seemed quite occupied with the call.
Deciding it would be a good idea to explore the possibilities of the contraption, the Boy cautiously stepped inside and sat on the seat, hoping to find something that worked. He hesitated and paused before pulling one of the levers. His eyes widened as felt the machine start to spin, an annoying ticking sounded somewhere within the controls. The Boy panicked, frantically looking for the source. The ticks changed pitch, lower and less urgent as the smudged number display spun out of control. He quickly pulled the lever, but the machine only seemed to react worst. So much for not breaking anything, he thought. The Boy felt himself falling through time and space, a white flash taking over his eyesight.
A whirl of fog separated itself into more recognizable shapes, and the Boy found himself landing on his backside with a very painful thud. He opened his eyes, unable to remember when he had even closed them in the first place. He found himself laying in a puddle of mud with a very tall man standing above his lying form. His breath caught when he saw the man's face. At first glance, he knew it could only come from one person, it had to be,
the Time Traveler - the Boy just knew.
The Time Traveler's head tilted slightly as he reassessed the Boy with his eyes. He looked concerned, but relaxed once he deemed he was fine. Their eyes met, as the man put his hand out to help the other up. The Boy slowly pushed himself off the floor, grimy and covered in mud with the help of the man. His throat burned as his head pounded, vision swimming and everything feeling far away. He couldn't have actually time traveled. He couldn’t have, but he did.
The Boy noticed how the Traveler seemed distracted; deeply focused on something behind him. The Time Machine! Of course. Who knows how long he has been here without it? The Boy shifted a little out of awkwardness, waiting for him to speak.
"You found it," the Traveler stuttered, his face full of what seemed like astonishment. "Thank you," he said with a sign of relief. "Happy to help. It was just laying around an antique shop," the Boy replied, watching as the man admired his own creation, "Will you be able to take me home?" He questioned the Time Traveler as he the man looked over the mechanism thoroughly.
"I could. Unless, you want to come along with me? I can take you anywhere in time," the man offered, smoothing a hand over the hood of the Time Machine. An uncomfortable silence settled between them as the Boy hesitated to respond.
The Time Traveler took the quiet as a sign to continue, leaning against his machine, "What do you think? I can take you home if that's what you please where you will spend all your time in antique shops," a pause, "or you could become the antique," the Boy thought back on all the items he had repaired, all the time and effort he put into them. He had worked on an old record player for about a year before it began to crank out music again. Old paperback books, bottles and cans from the 1950s, VHS tapes and anything else he found remotely of interest gathered in cardboard boxes in his bedroom. "Is it dangerous?" He inquired with a glance at the machine. "Sometimes," the Time Traveler answered honestly.
The Boy finally looked up, his complete attention focused on the man, "All right then. Where are we going?"
"Not where. The question is, when?" A laugh rumbled in the Time Traveler's throat, slowly bubbling to his lips before blooming fully.