The Time Traveler Who Never Was – Science Fiction Short Story – Written by Jim Lantern – Free to Read





Science Fiction Short Story


Jim Lantern


THE TIME TRAVELER WHO NEVER WAS is a stand alone story, but part of a larger story, excerpted in full from my novel ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIMELINE

Short Story ~ about 5400 words

© Copyright 2015 by Jim Lantern, Timeglass Science Fiction

All Rights Reserved

May not be shared unless approved by Jim Lantern via Twitter @TimeglassZone



Once upon another timeline, there was a planet named Mirandus. It was a distant inhabitable planet discovered and named by astronomers who were Landors of planet Langenth. Bracatus is the name they gave to the star—the sun—of Mirandus. Langenth is the name of one of the home planets of the Mercatorians of the Interstar Trading Worlds in the Mercatorian Empire, an empire of merchants engaged in peaceful trade.

My novel titled Once Upon Another Timeline is about some of the Mercatorians whose lives were impacted by the discovery of Mirandus, as well as others who became involved with and went on the Bracatus Mirandus Expedition. It is also about a time traveler from the future of Mirandus, who has traveled hundreds of light years across space and thousands of years into the past to give a warning to the Mercatorians about the expedition. It ended in a horrible disaster with the death of the explorers and the destruction of their star ship. Then events beyond their control resulted in their Mercatorian souls being trapped on planet Mirandus, where they were then reincarnated and became Mirandians. Before they died they buried a number of time capsules around the world, containing the history of their worlds and the detailed plans for building a star ship. The time traveler, who has the soul of a Mercatorian, is sent by the government he works for on a Clockwork mission for the top secret project named Timeglass. By saving Mercatorians from an enemy in their time, the time traveler hopes to be able to save his world from what he believes to be the same enemy in his time. Moments after he departed from the SlipField ArchPad, built with a TimeArch in addition to a SpaceArch, the planet he knew as Earth ceased to exist, and became known as Mirandus.

This is a Timeglass story. This is an alternate history story.

“All we can imagine is probably not half as crazy at the truth.” ~ Arthur C. Clarke

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07:00am Friday 12 December 2012

Dallas, Texas, planet Mirandus

John Peter Robinson sat in one of 2 chairs at a small round table on the side patio of a sidewalk cafe near downtown Dallas. John William “J-W” Hallowell sat across from him. A waitress had just brought them coffee in mugs, with a pitcher placed at the center of the table for them to serve themselves.

“I’ve needed this.” John Peter said as he drank some of the coffee without any cream or sugar.

“Jet lag?” J-W asked.

“Like that.” John Peter answered. “Time travel, in addition to space travel, really screws up my internal clock. By the way, thanks for coming to meet me at this early hour. When do you have to be at work?”

“By 9:00am. would be good.” J-W replied. “No one will notice if I’m a few minutes late. I’m just working a half day today anyway. I’ll be running service calls this coming weekend.”

“You’ll miss attending the OU-Texas game?” John Peter asked.

“I’ll listen to it on the radio.” J-W replied. “So what’s this meeting about?”

“You and I have a couple of things in common.” John Peter reminded J-W. “We both remember a slightly different history on a different timeline, and we’ve both experienced time travel.”

“Except I don’t remember having traveled through time, apparently because of some kind of time paradox, which makes me the time traveler who never was.” he replied. “For you, time travel is part of your profession, a Clockwork mission specialist for Project Timeglass.”

“I now believe I too have experienced some kind of a time paradox, placing me on a different timeline with a slightly different history.” John Peter reported. “I’m not sure how, when, and where it happened. However, I suspect what happened to you might have something to do with what happened to me. Same cause.”

“I’m guessing you want to try to fix it, and want me to help.” J-W replied. “I’m just an electronics technician who repairs coin operated amusement games and vending machines.”

“You’re more than that.” John Peter disagreed in a friendly way. “You have the Caeruli soul of a Mercatorian.”

“I was Proximus Etiam Orbis, a Landor born MC Year 738 on planet Langenth. I came here to planet Mirandus on the Bracatus Mirandus Expedition.”

“Planet Mirandus.” John Peter said. “But you and I remember this planet had a different name, once upon another timeline.”

“Yes.” J-W confirmed. “There are other differences too. Little unimportant things. I remember the movie Aliencame out during 1979 on the Earth timeline. Here on the Mirandus timeline it came out during 1983.”

“Yes. I remember that same difference too.” John Peter reported. “Also, on this Mirandus timeline we have NOVA magazine, which put out its first issue early in 1983, which had a full page ad for Alien opening in theaters that same year. It’s a science and science fiction magazine, and is published in the US and the UK. It contains articles about science, parapsychology, and short works of science fiction and fantasy. The difference on the Earth timeline is history records the same magazine beginning in 1978 as NOVA magazine. Only in pre-launch publicity was it referred to as NOVA. The name was changed to OMNI before the first issue went to print to avoid a conflict with the PBS science show of the same name, as well as other publications of the same name.”

“Really that’s just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, but those are two of the same differences we both remember.” J-W said.

“The big difference is not of the recent past but of the near future relating to the distant past.” John Peter reported. “I’ve been able to travel a short distance into the future. On the Earth timeline, the Teznites win the interstellar war against Mercatorians and eventually conquer Earth. On the Mirandus timeline, the Teznites eventually form an alliance with the Mercatorians and Mirandians against a new common enemy. Earth never gets a star ship. Mirandus has is first star ship late in 2017 CE—Common Era. One of the key turning points has to do with what happened to all of the interstar trading ships that were carried aboard Star Ship Providence during the Bracatus Mirandus Expedition, soon after arriving during Mirandian year 37,988 BCE—Before Common Era. On the Earth timeline they appear to vanish from history. On the Mirandus timeline they are used to stop the Teznites, and then through a time warp end up in 2017 CE. I’ve been to 2017. I’ve seen the future.”

“What’s it like in 2017?” J-W wanted to know.

John Peter reported: “New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, an independent thinker, pays attention to polls reporting the majority of voters re-registering as Independents because of the deadlock between Democrats and Republicans. At the end of 2015 he switches from Republican to Independent, and founds the Lighthouse Party with the motto “To Help Light The Way.” He gets elected President of the US in Election 2016, taking 56% of the popular vote. The Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton gets 27% and the Republican candidate Mitt Romney gets 15%. The remaining 2% for other candidates…

“Then the government is restructured. The federal government is reduced. What is taken away from it is given to three new regional governments between the level of the state governments and the federal government. The Democrat Regional Government oversees the blue states. The Republican Regional Government oversees the red states. The Independent Regional Government oversees all of the other states, purple states known as swing states. It’s still the United States of America, but each to their own way of life within their own states. No more deadlock…

“Governments at all levels become a new kind of government known as merchant governments as a means to pay off their debts and reestablish a surplus. They become businesses with products and services for sale, kind of like the Salvation Army thrift stores. Buy products at a private store, or buy at a government store to help pay off the debt and build a surplus. People who are no longer able to support themselves are helped with the surplus…

“Work begins in 2017 on reviving the Pan-American Highway from Alaska to South America, to include a high speed overhead monorail train. Along its route, thousands of new businesses will spring up creating a million jobs. Businesses invest in the project. Governments along its route provide the land…

“And in 2017, construction begins on this planet’s first interstellar space ship. It will be named Star Ship Freedom. The arrival of the Ambassador to Mirandus from the Realm of Heaven is at first misperceived to be the return of Christ Jesus, but instead is a spiritual being. The ambassador provides the knowledge of the realm of buffer-space, like hyperspace, which makes it possible for star ships to travel between inhabited planets in a reasonable amount of time. It will be the event that will make a Star Trek kind of future possible.” John Peter concluded.

“Amazing. Sounds like a good future.” J-W remarked.

“Something happened on the timelines, one or both, in the past, which somehow altered history. I suspect it has to do with what you experienced. I’d like for you to review the transcript of the relating parts of when you were interviewed by John Paul Drake late in 1992 at Clueo Private Investigations here in Dallas. I brought a copy of the transcript with me. Just read through it real quick right now if you can, and then let me know if anything in it needs to be updated. It has been 20 years since your interview. I’m wondering if you’ve since then remembered anything that’s not in that part of the interview transcript, or anything else you’ve remembered that’s not yet been reported to Drake. Start reading here…” John Peter showed him…

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Clueo Private Investigations is known to specialize in the search for missing persons. Secretly it is involved in the search for humans with alien souls, and then interviewing them upon finding them.


Interview of John William “J-W” Hallowell

Continued 01:00pm, Saturday 12 December 1992

Interviewed by John Paul Drake, Special Investigator

Transcript produced by Ramona DeMaree from recorded interview

Clueo Private Investigations agency, Dallas, Texas

Voices recorded as follows…


During the interview this morning, you told me about your Mercatorian life as a Landor from planet Langenth living on colony planet Citra, which became the capital planet of the Interstar Trading Worlds in the Mercatorian Empire. You were Proximus Etiam Orbis. While living on planet Citra you were known by the fin—frontier initial name—of POE, which was a local popular fad and similar to a nickname. The family name is the middle initial.


That’s right.


Just before we took a lunch break, you finished telling me about how you found out you have a Caeruli soul of a Mercatorian. You were in a service call at the Merchants Clubs branch here in Dallas to repair a pinball game. It was after all of the amusement games were delivered, and before the grand opening in 1992. Some of the club personnel were trying out the games, and something broke on one of the pinball games. You encountered Thomas Harrow there when he was installing the sound systems in the club. And that’s when you met Judy Bang, an employee of the club. She used something similar to regression hypnosis, with physical stimulation alternating between pain and pleasure, to help you recover your memories you had as a Mercatorian before your soul was reincarnated into Mirandian life on this planet, Mirandus.


That’s right. You call it Mirandus. I’ve known it by a different name. Earth.


Yes. You mentioned you experienced some kind of a time travel paradox. So now I’d like for you to tell me more about events during your present life leading up to the time travel paradox event, and what happened after it.


Very well…

Like the father of Thomas Harrow, my father was in the oil business in Kansas. The wells of the Hallowell Oil Company began to go dry in 1965. He used up all savings, could not get any new business loans, and could not find any new investors for drilling new wells. So I knew my father would need to find a new source of income to support our family.

My mother worked at BOEING, there in Wichita, on an assembly line during WWII, but no job since then. For the marriage, my father promised her she would never have to work again, would get a new T-bird car, and a nice house. My father was under pressure from her to keep that promise. We moved in 1966 to a smaller but newer house, which would be less expensive for my father. From my perspective, our quality of home living was about the same.

That’s when my father went to a school in Hartford CT to learn the insurance business. He immediately got a job upon return, selling all kinds of insurance, including life insurance. It was a surprising change. I didn’t know what caused him to select that profession. I’m not sure what his pay was based on; a salary, percentage of sales, or both. He appeared to be doing fairly well. He paid for my sister, 8 years older, to go away to college. Just before she departed, he announced his plan to have his body donated to the KU School of Medicine. He was a KU graduate in business and engineering. The organ donor issue came up, and so he chose that other option. Also, he put in his will not to have a funeral and not to have a gravesite. It was not that he expected to die anytime soon, but it appeared odd to me he made those decisions at that time, although perhaps influenced by his job and advice he was giving to clients to plan ahead.

On the morning of the second Thursday in May 1968, my father awakened me at about 5:00am. He already had a history of going away on long business trips when in the oil business. He informed me that morning that he would be going away on a trip much longer than ever before, that it would be a very long time before my mother, sister, and I would see him again, but not to worry because he made sure we would be ok and taken care of. Then he left my room, and I instantly went back to sleep. About an hour later I was awakened by my mother screaming. She could not awaken my father. There was no 911 back then. My father’s doctor still did house calls. So my mother called him. I was really surprised at how fast he got there, a bit too quick, as if he was expecting the call. But maybe, considering his usual schedule, he was already up and about to go out the door to his office. I’m not sure how far away he lived from us.

The doctor examined my father, appeared to try to revive him, failed, and then declared him dead. He told my mother and me that he believes my father died about 3:00am. I said that’s impossible, because my father talked to me at about 5:00am. I told the doctor what my father told me about going away on a long trip, and making sure we would be taken care of while he is gone. The reaction of the doctor was unexpected. He got very angry with me. He mumbled to himself an angry remark about my father. He appeared to be very angry at my father at that point, as if my father had somehow betrayed him. He went back into my parent’s bedroom. I saw him stick a needle into my father’s neck to give him an injection of something. In reaction, my father’s body shook for a few seconds and then became still. Then again the doctor confirmed his death, and remarked that if he wasn’t dead earlier he certainly is now.

An ambulance came red light and siren. It took my father’s body away, no red light and siren and in no hurry. Where his body was to be taken right then, and how and when it was to be moved to the KU School of Medicine, I never knew. A couple of months later, I overheard my mother talking on the phone to someone at the KU School of Medicine, and in that conversation found out my father’s body never arrived there. If any effort was made after that to find out what happened to his body, I was not informed. There was a rift in the family, my father’s sister and an aunt of his went against his will and wishes. They got a gravesite and a tombstone, and then had a funeral for him. My mother, sister, and I did not attend.

I graduated from high school in 1974 at age 18. I went on to college to take a semester at Wichita State, and then in 1975 a semester at Kansas State [not KU]. I hated college. I wanted an apprenticeship in architectural drafting to get on the job training and hands on experience. An architect said he would do that for me, but I’d still need to take some more drafting classes. He recommended Draughon’s Business School. So I began taking classes there, day classes at first, and then changed to night classes so I could work days. The following year, the day job became my profession. Electronics repair work with on the job training, after I abandoned the plan to be an architectural draftsman. But before that, after I changed to night classes later in 1975, I encountered different students in the break room of the college, who of course I’d not encountered before while taking day classes.

There in that break room I encountered my father, thinner, but not looking much older. His story: He did not know if he intended to fake his death, and has no memory of that part of it. His body was found on a gurney in a basement hallway of the hospital where he was born in St. Louis Missouri. Although covered up as if dead, the hospital worker who found him discovered him to still be alive. He was in a coma, and remained so for a long time. When he came out of it, he had considerable memory loss, and had to go through extensive rehabilitation. He got some kind of financial aid to live on, for additional rehabilitation, and education. Eventually, he returned to Wichita, and by coincidence started taking classes at that same business school as final steps to prepare him for a return to full time work. He would not tell me where he was living, because he did not want me to visit him there. I guessed it was a cheap downtown apartment.

Previously, my mother married my stepfather in December 1971. At the end of 1975, when I encountered my still alive father, I told my mother, but she refused to talk to me about him and what happened. My father said it was agreed that he should stay away as if he were dead.

My father and I had lunch together at a restaurant on a Sunday just before Christmas 1975, and then visited his gravesite. He stood there reading his tombstone, and said to me, “Well, John, it was just a mild case of death.”

Then in January 1976, when classes were to continue, I found notice on the school door that it had filed for bankruptcy and permanently closed. Since I did not know where my father lived, I could not contact him. I moved when I made the decision for my new profession. So I never saw him again after that.

I do believe that with the help of his doctor, a long time personal friend, he planned to fake his death, have the life insurance money go to my mother, none to him, and that he would start his life over elsewhere. I’m not sure about the why of it all, except that he too might have tried to alter the timeline. The doctor believed the plan to be in jeopardy when my father talked to me at about 5:00am the morning he was to die, and then in anger tried to kill him for real, but instead the injection only put my father into a coma. I’m telling the story now because everyone involved is dead now. My mother, stepfather, and the doctor. My sister is still alive, living in England and is a friend of Thomas Harrow’s sister who also lives there and is her same age. I assume my father is dead by now, or otherwise would be 74 years old now in 1992.

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That’s not the end of the story. It takes a significantly more bizarre turn a few years later in April 1983. An IRS agent sent a letter to me to inquire if I know someone else is using my Social Security Number. Of course my reply was “No! Who is using my SSN?” The answer, another Hallowell. On all legal documents, I’m John William Hallowell, but friends called me J-W. I did not get my SSN until June 1968 after the apparent death of my father in May 1968. I remember when my mother took me to the Social Security Administration to do that, and for what she needed to do relating to my father’s death. What was actually causing the IRS agent to contact me was the mystery of how someone claiming to be “Bill Hallowell” was using my SSN in 1963, since it was not issued to me until June 1968. The IRS agent concluded it was some kind of screw-up on the part of the Social Security Administration, issuing the same SSN to me in 1968 that had already been given to another Hallowell at an earlier date.

If I’m to believe what my mother told me, and she was not just pulling my leg so to speak, then the truth is more like the stuff of science fiction, too impossible to be accepted as true. I told her about the IRS agent inquiries, and asked her if there is a Hallowell relative named Bill, and asked if he ever visited our family. Her answer, “Yes.”

During the summer of 1963, on a Saturday afternoon when my father was watching baseball on TV, a man about age 30 came to the side door of our house. My sister and I were not home that afternoon, visiting friends elsewhere. He showed identification to my father and mother. John William Hallowell, with the same birthday as me in 1956. Me. He was using Bill instead of Will as the nickname for his middle name. He showed them money that had a future date on it. My father rightfully assumed it to be counterfeit money and that the man was some kind of crazy con artist. My father threatened to call police, but gave the man the chance to leave and never come back. Before he departed, he briefly told his story.

He was repairing a vending machine in a break room at a branch of Bell Labs there in Wichita, Kansas. There was an explosion in a lab that knocked him unconscious. When he awakened, he discovered he was in the past. He did not know how that was possible, and so he had no way of getting back. To survive, he had to get a job and a place to live.

In 1983, I confirmed in a cross-reference book and other documents in archives at the Wichita Public Library, that there was a Bill Hallowell listed in the phone book at an apartment in 1963, and working at a company that repaired coin operated amusement games and vending machines. That’s been my profession since 1976. If I had somehow been transported back to 1963 by some kind of bizarre accident, the easiest job to get would have been in electronics repair of amusement games and vending machines. Anyway, I confirmed the existence of that other Bill Hallowell, who used my SSN back in 1963, and worked in the same profession as I’ve been in since 1976.

He told my father he only wanted to use the opportunity to change history by warning him about the wells going dry and a possible way to save his oil business. He also warned him and my mother to stop smoking cigarettes and drinking alcoholic beverages. He told my father he would have a heart attack and die in 1968 if he does not take better care of his health. He did not appear to know anything about my father having faked his death or having survived after being in a coma. He walked away, and was never seen again by my mother and father.

A bizarre coincidence, as I was looking in the 1963 phone book, his apartment address was the library address where I was at that moment. Before the new library was built there, it was a 2-level building, stores on the ground floor and apartments on the second floor. He vanished from listings in the phone book in following years after that building was torn down so the new library could be built there. I was not able to determine what happened to him after that. My mother concluded her story about that other Bill Hallowell, by telling me that although they believed that man to be a con artist, not me from the future, they did accept his advice to quit drinking alcoholic beverages and smoking cigarettes, to take better care of their health. Otherwise the wells of the Hallowell Oil Company went dry, and history proceeded unchanged.

There is one other part to the story, but I don’t know if what my former employer told me is the truth or him pulling my leg as he often did. He had been like a big brother to me after my father apparently died, and was a next door neighbor in 1968. He gave me my first part time job in 1972 when I was age 16. Originally, he was only in the coin operated amusement games business [pinball games, video games, juke boxes, etc]. He expanded to vending machines after buying a vending business in 1983. One of the customer locations was a new branch of Bell Labs there in Wichita, but the vending machines were picked up when Bell Labs chose to get vending machines from a different company, so I never did any service calls there.

My former employer, now deceased, was a Shriner, as was a friend of his who was a bank president. The manager of that branch of Bell Labs used that bank. According to my former employer, the bank president told him a story, which was told to the bank president by the local manager of Bell Labs, who was also another Shriner. Bell Labs was working on a transporter similar to the one in the Star Trek stories. It was to dematerialize physical objects in one container, send them over a cable line, and rematerialize them in a different container. Organic matter was burned up by the process, so they determined people can’t be transported that way. Inorganic matter rematerialized around its center of mass, forming a sphere, with the heaviest element at the core, so they determined it impractical to transport other things by that method, not able to return them to their original shape. Those experiments lost funding and were then abandoned. During the final experiment in 1986, the transporter exploded, causing a brief distortion of time. Some of the lab technicians and other people in the building went missing and were never found. If I had been there servicing a vending machine when it happened, then I’d probably have vanished with them.

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“At the end of 1993, I moved to Dallas, and continued in the same profession but for a different company.” J-W said, as he handed the interview transcript from 1992 back to John Peter Robinson. “I found out about my own alien past when I encountered the others at the Dallas branch of the Merchants Clubs, and they helped me to remember.” He paused a moment, then said, “I believe, that on one timeline, I was caught in the explosion at Bell Labs in 1986 when I was age 30, while on a service call to repair a vending machine in the break room there. The explosion blasted me back to 1963. On the other timeline, I never went there on a service call, so I wasn’t there when the explosion happened.”

“I believe Bell Labs obtained the detailed plans for the construction of a SlipField ArchPad with a TimeArch in addition to a SpaceArch, probably from a recovered Mercatorian time capsule.” John Peter said.

“No doubt about it.” J-W Hallowell replied. “The man overseeing the lab techs working on it back then was Albert Bell, one of the blood relative owners of Bell Labs. The new information for you, if you don’t already know, is Albert Bell has been working on the SlipField ArchPad located in the secret lab under the Dallas branch of the Merchants Clubs since 1992.”

“Yes, I know. It’s identical to the one being used by Project Timeglass for the Clockwork missions.” John Peter confirmed. “Same limitations. It can only send two people and some cargo at one time across space as well as across time. We still need a star ship to be able to move more people and cargo.”

“Building a star ship is a very expensive undertaking.” J-W said.

“Especially in secrecy.” John peter remarked.

“Quite true.” J-W agreed. “The Bracatus Mirandus Expedition 40 thousand years ago ended in a mutiny causing Star Ship Providence to fall from orbit and be destroyed. A few survived for up to a year . . . most of them dying from viruses like the Martians in the War Of The Worlds novel and movies. Then their souls became trapped on this world, reincarnated life after life. They are as divided today as they were 40 thousand years ago. Conservatives on one side, liberals on the other. Present day, one side is using religion to raise the needed money. Religion is Big Business. Spiritual Universalists they call themselves now. The other side figured out how “sex sells” and is using the sex industry to raise the needed money. The international chain of Merchants Clubs. Health clubs buy day, and secret BDSM clubs by night.”

“Gives whole new meaning to an old saying about things that go bump in the night under the light of a full moon.” John Peter remarked.

“The two opposing sides have realized the project is so expensive that they can’t accomplish it separately, so they’ve formed an uneasy alliance and are working together toward their common goal. Albert bell is now working on the new star ship.” J-W said. “You should go to the club. Meet him. Talk to Drake too. You should also contact history professor Dean Charles Kay at Oklahoma University. I happen to know he’s coming to Dallas today for the OU-Texas game tomorrow. He’s an expert on alternate history timelines.”

“I’ll contact all of them today. I didn’t know about Albert Bell.” John Peter said. “I’m guessing he failed back then because he didn’t have any FireEmeralds to absorb and control the deadly SlipField waves within buffer-space, the realm separating the physical universe from the spiritual universe.”

“Yes, I know about all of that.” J-W replied. “I also know that the TimeArch of SlipField ArchPads was first created to compensate for the time difference . . . what date and time it is now on a distant planet, rather than what we see such is with telescopes limited to the speed of light. We are looking into the distant past with telescopes and of course what we see in the night sky on a clear night. With the TimeArch we can connect to real present time on a distant planet.”

“Then came the discovery of time travel and alternate history timelines.” John Peter said.

“I still wonder about the time traveler who never was.” J-W replied.

“And once upon another timeline,” John Peter remembered, “there was a planet known as Earth.”

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Thanks for reading


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