Two: The Volzstrang Wave

INSIDE THE Gaultier-Ross Supercollider, a young, twenty-four-year-old Ben Bantam screwed up his courage, waiting for the Volzstrang Wave to send him back to 1944.

He wore a spacesuit.  Well, not actually a ‘space’ suit, of course, since he was a Chrononaut, not an Astronaut.  Nevertheless, he was covered from head to toe in a white lead suit, and he wore a helmet with a lead-lined clear plastic visor.  Volzstrang radiation was calculated to be very deadly.

 Though no one had ever produced a Wave of this size before … so no one really knew for sure.

He was strapped into a chair inside the cramped time-capsule.  One side was considerably larger than the other — the side that faced out of the circumference of the supercollider.  The Wave would form and pick the capsule up and carry it around and around the supercollider at blindingly terrific speeds.  

And then — if everything went well — Ben Bantam would become the world’s very first time traveler.

He was excited beyond belief.

He was going to be the guy that went back in time, found the cure to the Shadow, and saved the world.  He would be an American hero.  He would be the Beatles, Steve Jobs, Luke Skywalker, Buzz Aldrin and Harry Potter all rolled into one.  

Sure, this mission was classified now.  But it would eventually be made public.  There’d be movies.  There’d be books.  Tours.  Ticker-tape parades.  

Girls.  

And more girls.  

And even more girls!

With great power … comes great fun in abusing that great power!

He laughed at himself.  Was that really his motivation to be a hero?

Why, yes, when he thought about it.  It was. 

Well, not all, his brain retorted quickly.  And there was truth to that also: Bantam had a very deep and abiding love of America.  He loved the Constitution.  He believed that the United States was the last, best hope of humanity.  He was a patriot and really did want to do his part to serve his country, to do the right thing.  That was just who he was: it wasn’t really a choice so much as an expression of a forgone conclusion.

The previous weekend, Bantam and his friend Rocco had gone out on one hell of a bender.  It was Bantam’s last furlough before the Big Mission.  But somehow, at the end of the night, Bantam had ended up having his fortune told by a certain Europa Romani.

She was a third-generation psychic, she explained.  Her grandmother had come over from the old country at the turn of the twentieth century and lived in New York, before dying suddenly in 1912.  Her granddaughter, this Europa Romani before Bantam now still possessed a severe and smoky beauty, despite her advancing age. 

The Tarot cards flopped on the table in an odd arrangement.  Romani's eyes danced over them with a flinty flicker.  Her generous mouth whispered calculations of the soul.  Bantam watched and wondered through the blur of beer whether she might be interested in …

"You will meet the love of your life!” Romani called out suddenly.  She smiled, her eyes madly wide.  She clearly enjoyed delivering happy news to her clients.

But then, the cards pulled her eyes back down.  

“You will … not meet the love of your life,” she said, sadness and confusion filling her gaze.  

WTF?

Bantam looked at Rocco.  They both almost burst out laughing — and stumbling.  Bantam was about to demand his money back from this charlatan, this terrible witch, when she said --

Age of AetherRead this story for FREE!