The Time Engine

John was out late again. There would be trouble when he got back, he was sure of it. He thought of Mum’s last words as he crawled through the half-open window into the school canteen. “Be on time John,” she had warned him. “This is an important meal!” John grunted, but only quietly.

The door into the science lab let out a loud complaining squeak which echoed around the empty corridor. John heard footsteps close by. Squeezing through the half open doorway, he hid under the closest thing he could find, a thick black sheet.

Underneath, John found a machine, but not like any other he had ever seen. What had Mrs Jenkins, the science teacher been doing? It had wires and switches like a computer, and a screen, but pipes and gears like an engine. It was smooth and futuristic, yet also angular and clumsy, like a half finished model boat.

Suddenly the door swung open, and a torch panned across the room slowly. John tried to make himself even smaller, but crumpling himself into an even tighter ball, but lost his balance and toppled backwards. He fell clear onto a bank of levers, and the machine promptly hummed, gurgled and chugged into life. The footsteps came closer hurriedly, but it was too late. As the security guard lifted the sheet, a flash of sparks outlined the machine, and John and the time engine were gone.

To where and when had he gone? How did he get there? What was it like? How did he get back?


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