Late Arrival

Late Arrival

Thomas Evans

He knew the time of her death precisely: 1507. When his mobile phone lost the signal, he assumed the train had entered a tunnel. He saw later on the news that the train had disintegrated in an explosion.

In an alcoholic daze, he went up to the attic to hang himself. Instead, he rediscovered his father’s notebooks, full of mad theories and designs for a time machine. He quit his job the next day and dedicated himself to studying them.

A year later, he stood before the prototype. He knew he ought to test it but the bailiffs were hammering on the door. He sat in the plastic garden chair surrounded by wires, turned the dial backwards, pressed the button and hoped. He blacked out.

He woke in a cleaner flat. He switched on the restored television. Teletext confirmed the time: 0802. He went to her flat. He waited outside until he saw himself leave, then let himself in. The sight of her alive turned him inside out. He wanted to rush to her, hold her. He fought his feelings down and pretended that he’d forgotten something.

He told her he’d had a nightmare and begged her not to take the train. She laughed at first but became irritated when he persisted. When she tried to leave, he tried to restrain her. She lashed out at him and he tried to catch her wrists. She lost her footing and tumbled down the stairs. When he reached her, she was already dead, neck broken.

He returned to his flat and the machine. He turned the dial back and pressed the button. The time was 1034. He went to her flat, followed her to the train station and bought a ticket. Her surprised delight turned to anger as he tried to persuade her to get off. The argument was so loud that someone called the conductor. He refused to leave the train so the conductor called the transport police to remove him. At the station, they received orders to attend the scene of an explosion on a train. They cautioned him and left.

He returned to the machine and travelled back again. The time was 0903. He hired a van, loaded the machine onto it and drove to the station. He put the machine in the guard’s van and waited there. Persuasion had failed so he would remove her from danger with the machine, by force if necessary.

The time was 1158. It was too early and he couldn’t wait. He sat in the time machine, turned the dial forward a tiny notch and activated it. A shower of sparks erupted from the machine. He checked his watch: 1507. He had gone too far forward. There wasn’t enough time to save her. He ignored the smell of burning, fumbling as he turned the dial back and pressed the button.

The time machine exploded, ripping the train apart.


Thomas Evans lives and works in the north of England. He spends approximately 33% of his time at work, 33% asleep and 33% with his wife and daughter.  The other 1% he spends writing. He has been writing a fantasy novel for longer than he would like to admit. “Late Arrival” is his first published piece of writing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s