Five pieces of furniture. Four of them you recognize--more or less. One looks like a very functional desk.
One is obviously a chair There is a table, although its top is on several levels instead of only one. Another is a bed, or couch. Something shimmering is lying across it and you walk over and pick the shimmering something up and examine it. It is a garment. You are naked, so you put it on. Slippers are part way under the bed or couch and you slide your feet into them. They fit, and they feel warm and comfortable as nothing you have ever worn on your feet has felt.
Like lamb's wool, but softer.
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You are dressed now. You look at the door--the only door of the room except that of the closet closet? You walk to the door and before you try the knob, you see the small typewritten sign pasted just above it that reads:. This door has a time lock set to open in one hour. For reasons you will soon understand, it is better that you do not leave this room before then.
There is a letter for you on the desk. Please read it. It is not signed. You look at the desk and see that there is an envelope lying on it. You see other things about the room. The lighting has no source that you can discover. It comes from nowhere. It is not indirect lighting; the ceiling and the walls are not reflecting it at all. They didn't have lighting like that, back where you came from. What did you mean by back where you came from?
You close your eyes. You tell yourself: I am Norman Hastings. I am an associate professor of mathematics at the University of Southern California. I am twenty-five years old, and this is the year nineteen hundred and fifty-four. They didn't use that style of furniture in Los Angeles--or anywhere else that you know of--in That thing over in the corner--you can't even guess what it is. So might your grandfather, at your age, have looked at a television set. You look down at yourself, at the shimmering garment that you found waiting for you.
Never be short of Short Kid Stories!
With thumb and forefinger you feel its texture. You go to the desk and pick up the envelope that lies upon it.
Your name is typed on the outside: Norman Hastings. There are several pages, typewritten. Dear Norman, it starts. You turn quickly to the end to look for the signature. It is unsigned.
There is nothing to fear, but much to explain. Much that you must understand before the time lock opens that door. Much that you must accept and--obey. The clothes and the room must have told you that. I planned it that way so the shock would not be too sudden, so you would realize it over the course of several minutes rather than read it here--and quite probably disbelieve what you read.
From it you stepped into the world of The date is April 7th, just fifty years from the time you last remember. That is up to you to decide, but it does not matter. What does matter, and not to you alone, is another decision which you must make. I am incapable of making it.
The Mirror: A Short Story from the collection, Reader, I Married Him :HarperCollins Australia
I would rather not tell you just yet. By the time you have finished reading this, even though it is not signed for I knew you would look first for a signature , I will not need to tell you who I am. You will know. I have, in this year , been studying 'time' for thirty of those years. I have completed the first time machine ever built--and thus far, its construction, even the fact that it has been constructed, is my own secret. It will be your responsibility to decide whether there shall ever be any more experiments with it, whether it should be given to the world, or whether it should be destroyed and never used again.
End of the first page. You look up for a moment, hesitating to turn the next page. Already you suspect what is coming. My calculations had told me that it would work, but not how it would work.
I had expected it to send an object back in time--it works backward in time only, not forward--physically unchanged and intact. I placed a cube of metal in the machine--it was a miniature of the one you just walked out of--and set the machine to go backward ten years.
Mirror Mirror: A Short Story
I flicked the switch and opened the door, expecting to find the cube vanished. Instead I found it had crumbled to powder. The second cube came back unchanged, except that it was newer, shinier. I had been expecting the cubes to go back in time, and they had done so, but not in the sense I had expected them to. Those metal cubes had been fabricated about three years previously.
I had sent the first one back years before it had existed in its fabricated form. Ten years ago it had been ore. The machine returned it to that state. We expected to be able to step into a time machine in, say, , set it for fifty years back, and then step out in the year The machine does not move in time. Only whatever is within the machine is affected, and then just with relation to itself and not to the rest of the Universe.
You will find a record of them in the desk and you can study it later. They have been told by a woman who has, in these stories, proven to be a keen observer who mentally records the thrills, frustrations and idiosyncrasies of the people she encounters.
The Girl behind the Mirror
We would wonder, laugh and sympathise with the characters she has so vividly recreated. Susan Nkwentie Nde. She took courses at the universities of Yaounde and Buea and earned a Masters degree in African Literature, specializing in African Poetry. Her poems, articles, and stories have appeared in various journals, newspapers and magazines.