Time Machines: Part 1

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It was a hot, dry day, when he got the call.

Baking under what many would call an alien sun during his routine walk home; Ian was ready to relax after another long week. That being a very apt description by Earthly standards, since the days here were a surprisingly comfortable 27 hours long.

It was that golden period at the end of the day, when the big ball of superheated plasma hung low in the sky. Hovering just above the horizon for much longer than you would expect, as if it was deciding whether to set or not, as it desperately tried to catch one last glimpse of the landscape bellow. Casting a warm orange glow over the yellow land, it caused everything to look as if it was made of pure gold. It was Ian's favourite time of day.

Despite the intense burning heat, he appreciated the time greatly. It was only a short walk, but it gave him chance to clear and reset his mind from the day's activities, and by taking the back country routs, it allowed him to escape the busy colony centre and get lost in this beautiful alien world. Well alien for some, home for him.

Dark purple trees, that looked more like elongated balloons than anything else, towered over a thin gravel path, casting their equally elongated shadows over the neighbouring fields. Small coarse red bushes of varying size and shades, clustered around their bases in-between the almost luminescent yellow rocks. Suspended above them, like an enormous blanket, hung a sunset purple sky.

The striking scene was also accompanied by the sounds of various small creatures, filling the evening air with a complex concoction of chirps, clicks and buzzing that wouldn't be too far misplaced from some of the more arid locations on Earth. In the distance, past the nearby flora and rocky hills of the surrounding valley, a bright blue sea glistened in the sun like a gigantic mirror, reflecting the beauty of the sky above. The sound of its waves crashed against the bracing cliffs, being loud enough to just be heard over the dry wind, that seemed to whistle in-between the purple trees.

Ian was a 2nd generation settler; his parents having been part of the first pioneers to see this world up close. They had both been dead for some time now, but their stories of touching down on this rocky world for the very first time and stepping out onto the golden landscape still rang very strongly in Ian's memory. Despite having 52 years to experience this world, he still felt a great sense of mystery as to what it could yet still offer. A very grounded point of view, as he was indeed part of the first generation to be born here, and as a result, the planet was still largely unmapped, and unstudied. Ian loved living here.

The path began to make a gradual decent down to the coast, the brilliance of the ocean filling more and more of Ian's view as the minutes passed by. It wasn't long before he could feel the salty wisp of the sea breeze against his skin and it was a welcome relief from the hot, in land air.

His mind was firmly focused on the chilled wine that was waiting patiently to be enjoyed back at home, when his mobile rang. Its crisp, synthetic noise, cut through the otherwise natural backdrop like a bullet. Reluctantly taking it out to answer, he had no idea that this call would change his life forever.

The sun, as usual, had almost disappeared by the time he passed through his front door, its last refracted beams of light finally succumbing to the planets curve, as Ian closed the door behind him. Greeting him, was the normal sight of the rather luxurious home that he and his wife had build over the years, a warm and inviting place that had all the signs of settler architecture. Where functionality and aesthetics where married together in perfect unison.

What wasn't usual however, was the unorthodox look on his face and the extra spring in his step.

Passing quickly through the mostly wooden furnished hallway he bounded for the back garden where his wife undoubtedly was. Stopping only briefly to get the wine from the fridge, as it seemed all the more fitting now. He quickly made his way out onto the back porch.

Stepping out onto the thick stone slabs with expected enthusiasm, Ian made his way down the neatly cut stone steps towards the garden. As predicted, he could see his beloved wife, busy cooking tonight's dinner (a native species of a prawn like crustacean) under the suspended fairy lights.

She brought up her gaze from the burning coals ready to greet him, and was about to ask how his day had been, expecting to hear the normal spiel about "how certain students hadn't handed in their assignments on time" or "how the university finance board was still pursing to cut funding to the art department." However Ian spoke before she had the chance.

"I've got some news, big news!" He beamed, placing the wine down on the nearby table, before embracing her while she still stood over the BBQ with a rather energetic hug.

"What is it?" she replied with an obvious sense of caution to her questioning, as it wasn't clear from her husband's actions if she was going to like the response. Carefully placing down the tongs she had been using, she turned to face him and felt a slight relief upon seeing the smile on his elated face. However the anticipation of the unknown, along with the unexpected nature of the conversation was still inevitably causing a small amount of anxiety.

"It's the UPN Ian beamed. "They have a job for me!"

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