It was my first time back at Olsson since I graduated, and the seminar had been intense and tiring. Finally I got a break; rather than rub egos with my colleagues, I found a nice bench on the Lawn where I could watch the coeds go by.
I was watching a big shaggy black dog roughhousing with some girls when a hand touched my shoulder. It was Professor McFadden, my old physics professor.
“Dennis? Is that you?”
“Sure is, Doc. How ya been?”
“Fantastic! I’ve made the most incredible breakthrough. Come see!”
Before I knew it I was towed to his office in the Science Building; McFadden’s office was in the same place it had been twenty years ago. So was the sticky glazed doughnut that always perched on the corner of his desk. I knew he bought one every day, it just looked like the same doughnut.
As I was taking off my jacket it knocked the doughnut off the table. Expecting a sugary splat, I was astonished when Doc caught it.
“You’re fast, Doc!”
“Haha, no lad. I’m prepared. That’s what my invention is about.”
“I don’t follow you.”
“You remember how I always used to complain that there was no ‘do-over’ in life? How the Second Law of Thermodynamics held us prisoner?”
“I’ve beaten it.”
“But that’s impossible!”
“Apparently not. I couldn’t change the entropy, so I messed with the time. I’ve managed to build a time reverser.”
“A time reverser?”
He nodded. “It only works for a short period, a couple of hours according to my calculations, but it allows me to go back and try again. I call it the Mulligan Machine.”
“But that’s…” No, I’d already said it’s impossible. “Do you know what you could do with this?” Ideas were already forming in my head: some of them ethical, some not so much.
“That’s why I was happy to see you, Dennis. You were always practical. Before I get your thoughts on what to do with it, would you like to try it out?”
He handed it to me; it was about the size and shape of a cell phone with a bluetooth earbud. I put it in my shirt pocket as instructed and put the earbud in. Then he took a bite from the doughnut.
“Now think about activating it.”
There was a flicker and the doughnut was intact in his hand.
“Did I just…?”
“That’s amazing! So if I went back a couple of hours, I’d remember the session but could go do something else?”
“Just so. I haven’t tried it though.”
“I’ll be your guinea pig, Doc.”
“Are you sure?”
“I need the rest. See you in a couple of hours, Doc.”
I cranked it to max and activated it.
The clock on the wall said 4:00 am; the calendar said January 1986. I was three years old. It would be more than a couple of hours before I saw Doc again.