“Are you ready?” Advisor 223 asked with a wide grin. He looked more awake than usual this morning. Even his usually messy hair was gelled.
“Yes, sir,” I answered with a nervous smile. “I’m ready as I’ll ever be.”
“Alright then, don’t let us down, kid. You got a big responsibility.” He did a few quick swipes with his fingertips on a desk device. Immediately, a portal was projected next to his desk. “This is the newest development of time portals. All you got to do is step inside and then, voila, you’re at the destination.” His droopy eyes were full of excitement. “It’s faster than the blink of an eye!”
I gazed at the wall of ice-blue electrons which formed the time portal. I’ve time-travelled a few times before during my training, but they were all pretty dull in color. And plus, I had to walk for a while to get to the other side. This one must be really advanced.
“Alright, let’s do one last check.” He glanced at me from head to toe. “You’ve got your device and duffle bag. And you’re wearing the most excellent clothes.” He gave me a thumbs up and a wink. “You’re all set, Mark Winfield!” It sounded so strange when he said my name. It’s not my real name, of course, it’s only my identity for this mission.
“Yes, sir.” I was so nervous that I gripped my duffle bag tightly with both hands. The device I wore as a wristwatch sent a chill up my spine. I was told that it’s made from an ultralight weight composite metal capable of automatic cooling.
“Could you come and stand here?” Advisor 223 pointed at a large yellow arrow on the ground right next to him. “When I say go, you zip right through that portal, ok?” He kept his fingers fixed on his device while speaking. “Now, just relax and take a deep breath. You’ll feel a zing when you walk into it, but it’ll be over before you know it.”
My body was definitely not relaxed, especially having been warned about the pain I was going to experience. It’s fascinating how scientists have figured out a way to utilize ultrahigh-energy electrons to create holes in time-space large enough for humans to jump through. So theoretically speaking, we can now travel to any time and place we like. The only downside is that there’s a hefty price to pay for breaking the laws of nature. An average human body can only handle a set amount of radiation before something goes berserk. Luckily, I’m still young and not too concerned about my body falling apart.
“Ready? 5, 4, 3, 2, go!” Advisor 223 gave me a gentle push on the back and everything in front of me turned white.
When I opened my eyes again, I was inside a tiny box of space surrounded by four walls and a ceiling. Three of the walls had a large window attached and the last one had a door. On the opposite side of the room, there was a small desk with a green telephone sitting on it. Behind the desk was a guy with his head leaned back, snoring. He wore a strange navy-blue outfit.
The rays of the sun peered through the east-facing window. It was exactly 6 am. Advisor 223 never failed to amaze me with the accuracy of his time calculations. Now I just need to find the dorm I’m staying at and check in.
“Gahhh! Help! Help!” The guy who was snoring like a pig woke up with a jolt. He lost his balance on the chair and flung his arms about to regain it.
“Hello there.” I answered in Japanese.
“Gahhh! Who are you? How’d you get in here?” He pointed a long stick at me in panic.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to disturb your sleep.” I was puzzled. Shouldn’t he be friendly with his fellow telephone users? Or should I not have entered when someone is already inside, even though he wasn’t using the phone? “I was looking for a telephone to make a call.” I couldn’t think of a better reason for being here.
“I see, so you want to use the phone.” He put his stick away and put on a smile. “I can help you with that, who would you like to call?”
“Actually, I’m a first-year student at Felix Martin University, and I had trouble finding my dorm, so I was going to call the reception desk to ask for directions.”
“Hmm. Let’s see…you’re way too early. The classes don’t start until 9 AM.” He tapped his desk a few times. “Do you have your student card?”
“Yes, sir.” I pulled out my student card.
“Mark Winfield?” He read my name with a thick Japanese accent.
“Yes, sir.” I nodded, receiving my card back.
“Welcome to Japan!” He said with a big smile.
“Thank you, sir.” I smiled back.
“Let’s see…” He said after an awkward moment of silence. “I could show you how to get to the University, it’s just across the street. But you won’t be able to go inside until 8 AM. You’ll still have to wait for one hour and 54 minutes.”
“Well, I was actually thinking of checking into my dorm first.” I was impressed by his accuracy of time telling.
“Oh, is that why you came so early?” He looked relieved. “In that case, you should contact the dorm manager. Do you have his phone number? I can make the call for you.”
“Umm…” I pulled out the stack of paper Advisor 223 had printed for me. “One moment, please. It should be in here somewhere.”
“Ah! The Logan International dorms. I know the guy who works there.” He got excited and dialed a number on speed dial. “He should be awake by now. Hang on one sec.”
“Hi, Sakura san. How are you? It’s me, Kobuta.” He spoke casual Japanese with the guy on the other line, as if talking to an old friend. “Look, I’ve got a student here in my office. He’s a first-year at Felix Martin University and will be staying in the Logan dorms…no, he’s not hurt or scared, he arrived here early and wants to check into the dorms…ok, ok, yes I understand…his name is Mark Winfield…no, not Markus, it’s Mark, Win-field…yes, he’s right here…I’ll put him on the phone.” He handed me the receiver.
“Hello, is this Mark Winfield?” The voice on the other line was a lot rougher, but his tone was friendly.
“Yes, sir,” I answered.
“I found you in our system. You can come over now to check in. I’ll show you where your room is and how things work here,” he explained.
“Ok, I’ll come right over. Thank you very much.”
“I’ll wait for you at the entrance of the building. See you soon.”
“See you soon!” I parted ways with the guy who worked in the telephone booth. I’ll have to report to Advisor 223 about how helpful he is. He even drew me a mini map with the directions to my dorm.