The original, 3-page short story version of


Copyright © 1979 by Roger M. Wilcox. All rights reserved.
(writing on this story began 28-September-1979)

The original draft was written on a mechanical typewriter, single-spaced, with no right margin.

All spellings, punctuation, capitalizations, strings of exclamation points, etc. are as in the original.

You have been warned.


"Whadaya mean a holographic layout costs $65.95???!?"

"Just what it sounds like", replied the klerk at the 'holo' STORE.

With that, I ran out of the store, yelling, "I can get a hologram kit at the Edmund catalog place!!!"

After about 10 days of waiting, my edmund catalog order arrived. It was a bunch of wires, cases, electronic components, and one single pencil thin ruby. That was all! No instructions! I couldn't figure out the most minute details. After the obviously necessary installation of the on-off switch, 5-dollar ruby, and flasher tube, I couldn't figure out any more of the stupid thing's CONSTRUCTION. I simply thought to myself, "Oh, well, I'll just throw all the rest of this stuff in the container, and see what happens."

I didn't even bother to test it before the initial setup; I just set up the holographic layiout to make 3d pictures of stupid wine glasses & bottles. When I turned on the laser, the point of light at the end of the beam wasn't the normal pinpoint of red or green light, but a ½"-diameter circle of misty-white coloration. Instead of reflecting the light down through the series of mirrors, it stayed with the first mirror, and did something very strange to it. The holographic mirror started shrinking! And not only did it shrink, it started to fade out. I placed my hand over the angled, wedge like shape, and felt a vibrating sensation down to my phunny bone. It kept going out & shrinking until it was clean out of sight.

'Now that was really weird!', I thought. I removed the whatever device from the holographic layout, and took it outside for a small scale experament, consisting of a scale & a 10-lb. lead weght....


In order to perform the experiment, I was to put the lead weight on the scale, aim the whatever beam at the weight, and watch by how much it decreased in weight. However, when I 'beamed' it, although it was shrinking and fading out, it remained the same weight! I could hardly grasp the fact that that small, ½-inch diameter mass weighed ten pounds. As the mass faded out, the beam kept constant central contact with it. I was just about to turn off the beam, and call it an experiment, when as the mass disappeared altogether; the scale all-off-a-sudden dropped to zero.

'Huh?' was the only thing that came to mind. For some strange reason, there was a point in exposure to the whatever beam where the exposed object completely disappeared, and not before then did its mass ever lose its total matter. Of course, I had forgotten to turn off the whatever ray, and the scale started shrinking and fading out. That was instantly reactionary, my turning off of the whatever beam, that is. After that, an even stranger occurence took place; the scale started growing, and fading back in! This continued until it was back to its normal size.

I finally got up enough guts to try it on myself. I got in front of the whatever beam, and turned it on. I left it on for only the short period of a second, and then turned it off. I felt the afternoon slowly coming on. I looked at the clock on the corner of the street (it had been put there just recently, but was an old-fashioned design). It was 4:35. Because of habit, I looked at my watch. It read 4:32. Three minutes slow. But I had just syncronized it ½ an hour ago! I re-syncronized it, and sat around, questioning the accuracy of my watch. It was about 6:00, when I realized how late it was getting. Again I looked at my watch, which read 6:01. But so did the clock on the corner!...


I decided to try that trick with the whatever beam again, but this time I would look at the clock while I did it. I aimed the whatever beam at myself, and turned it on. This time, I saw the swift advancement of the minute hand on the corner clock. I saw a fat lady walk past me with the speed of a rocket. All this happened in the course of one second. After the turning off of the whatever beam, I realized what it did. It advanced me through time! Each second marked three minutes. Well, if I had advenced through time with the whatever beam, It should be able to bring me back. Naturally, I was wrong. I was toying with the beam for so long, that after constant exposure for about 2 minutes, the sun came up. I had thrown myself 13½ hours into the future, and couldn't get back!

I realized what had happened under constant exposure; my molecules sped up. No, not in relation to sound, but in relation to light! That explains why the objects shrunk — they were actually getting shorter, but since they were moving in all directions, they seemed to 'shrink'. The fading out was easily explained; they were simply moving faster than the eye could follow. But remaining the same weight? I thought things were supposed to get heavier when they get close to the speed of light. Simple enough. They weren't really all here; the fading & heaviness counteracted each other, and each object remained the same weight....


I wasn't going to keep something like this to myself. The air force would probably pay as much as 50 grand for a device that can not only abolish things, but send them into the future. In fact, if the thing had the power to slow down, it could preserve things; animals, even dying people. With that, I made arrangements to meet the air force at the west side of the Nevada testing grounds. Of course, I flew coach, (1), because I was flying "just like any other citizen", and (2), because I couldn't afford 1st class. I put the Whatever beam in a shiny steel ssuitcase, and locked it with a one-of-a-kind key. It was loaded aboard a 720 (boeing), and later, so was I.

While I was watching a boring movie, I suddenly realized that I wasn't the only one aboard who knew about the key & the beam, for I suddenly felt a jolt in my pants pocket. This wasn't the first time; 5 times before that occurrence it had happened, but I just never noticed it until then. All-of-a-sudden, The "crooks" noticed the keys they interchangeably switched in my pocket were the identical false keys. They all whipped out their keys. They were all the same, except for the one belonging to the first one. As an instant reaction, they all jumped the first one, all grabbing for the key. After the hour-long battle was over, I casually got out of my seat, grabbed the key, sat down again, and plugged in the earphones, while another boring movie started.

The 6 of them weren't the only ones; yup, there was a 7th. He stole the key without my knowing it, and swapped it with a key that operated another shiny steel ssuitcase.

Before the suitcase got to me, he was able to switch the label on the real whatever beam, to the label on the suitcase with a regular laser. Naturally, I picked up the one with "my" labels ON IT....


At the Nevada proving grounds, the bad guy (whom I had a faint recognition, but no sure remembrance of) also claimed he had a whatever beam with the same exact power. We got out our "lasers" simoultaneously, and began the tests. I activated mine (flipped the switch on the back). It was a real laser! As soon as HE activated HIS, I realized what had happened. He had stolen mine!!! I instantly lept off my feet towards HIM at a speed faster than a normal eye could see. Of course, everyone knows that crooks aren't normal, and he was able to whip the whatever beam at me before the air farce officials could figure out what happened. And they never did, for 3 days anyway (I'm getting around to that). I felt the weird sensation of shrinking for a few short moments, afterwhich I entered and dissappeared into the endless void of light speed...


Oh, man, If you've never been past light speed, you haven't lived!!! First off, you're totally weightless, and totally immaterial. You can pass through any object, for you really don't exist. At first, everything's On real time. Then, it went full circle, and I was released from the light warp three days later. *I was not under the influence of the beam, but it took some time to slow down, and I was pulled out of the light warp by the earth's magnetic fields, within 3 weeks of my "departure".*

At that time, The Crook was about to receive his award of $50,000 for my whatever beam. This required fast thinking. I dashed out in front of both of them (The Crook, and the dude who was giving him the 50 g's), and whipped out my I.D. instantly. It all became clear to them (the Air Farce) at that time. I was the real inventor, and HE was a phony. Before The Crook had a chance to do anything, HE was put in custody, and in awaitment for a trial (they put HIM in jail). I was awarded the 50 grand, but I never was to divulge the actual beam; I just gave them the plans.

       EEEEE  N   N  DDD       OOO   FFFFF
       E      NN  N  D  D     O   O  F
       EEE    N N N  D   D    O   O  FFF
       E      N  NN  D  D     O   O  F
       EEEEE  N   N  DDD       OOO   F

    PPPP     A    RRRR   TTTTT    OOO   N   N  EEEEE
    P   P    A    R   R    T     O   O  NN  N  E
    PPPP    AAA   RRRR     T     O   O  N N N  EEE
    P       A A   R   R    T     O   O  N  NN  E
    P      A   A  R   R    T      OOO   N   N  EEEEE

Author's notes from 2013:
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