It was perfected. The plan was flawless. Every consideration was calculated and accounted for. He would be able to exact his revenge and no one would be able to pin it on him. After all, you can’t be in two places at the same time.
One year ago this evening, he was in Cartagena giving his lecture on the feasibility of time travel. His wife and her lover were in Quito, laughing about his foolish ideas. Three weeks ago, she moved out and filed for divorce and demanded half his fortune as a property settlement.
She had married him for his money, and spent the next ten years ridiculing his failures. His colleagues in the university physics department laughed as well.
The solution was simple for a man of his genius and expertise. Build a time machine, travel back one year, kill them both while he is on stage hundreds of kilometres away, and return to today a free man, free of her ridicule, free of her adultery, free of her extravagant spending.
He had calculated 365.256 days into the time of his trip, allowing for the not quite perfect full year per orbit. That way he did not need to have a time machine capable of traveling through space, only time, for the earth would be exactly where he left it when he arrived one year earlier. The time he would experience during the trip would be only about thirty seconds, so life support was also unnecessary. The pilot’s cabin would have more than enough oxygen.
He checked his pistol. He would need only two rounds but he had six in the revolver. He would use one on the lover, and put five into his unfaithful wife, symbolically killing her five times. Dawn was coming. He needed Quito to be facing straight into the direction Earth was actually travelling at the exact moment he triggered the machine’s time effect.
He removed the tent surrounding the machine, exposing it in his back yard to the approaching day. He climbed in, sealing the hatch behind him. He donned welding glasses so he could watch the rising sun through the machine’s east window.
He started the machine. He went through the checklist of procedures to prime the device. Then he waited patiently until the horizon revealed exactly half of the sun. He pushed the green button to start the time jump.
The Earth passed around him and past him in a flash. He watched for the estimated thirty seconds for his yard to reappear. It didn’t. The machine stopped in space.
He knew the machine had worked. He had seen the earth move by and past him. The chronometer showed that he had arrived at the correct time. Where was the earth?
It took only a few seconds for him to realize the problem. Not only does Earth orbit around the sun, but the sun also orbits around the center of the galaxy at 828,000 kilometres per hour. The earth would be right here one year from now, but right now, Earth was over seven billion kilometres away.
He hit the return button to jump back exactly 365.256 days. He waited and watched for the thirty-second trip. He saw the Earth zip toward him. He should have thought a little further and made one more calculated adjustment, for in the three seconds he thought about his mistake before hitting the return button, the Earth had traveled and additional 731 kilometres, leaving him deep inside the planet’s molten core. The intense heat did not give him a chance to make another time jump. No one would ever know that he had achieved his life’s dream.