A real time machine

I’ve changed a few names in this intriguing tale for legal reasons, but if anyone doubts the events depicted in it, they only need to check the local newspaper archives in the Central Library for Thursday, July 21 1977 to read about the strange goings-on in Huyton. 

Shortly before that date, 35-year-old John Hazlitt returned to his Huyton home near Twig Lane, only to find he could not park his Cortina in the garage – because his layabout brother Frank had built something bizarre in there. 

John had just landed an exceedingly well-paid job as an analytical chemist in the University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and was all set to move out there soon. 

Frank had volunteered to look after the house while John was away. 

Frank was a workshy inventor of sorts. He had just invented a type of suit made from wire mesh which mildly electrocuted you if you touched him, and hoped to sell it to the police for use in a riot situation. 

That was one of his more workable inventions – but the thing in the garage – a globular craft made from parts of a car, various electronic bits and pieces and an old copper boiler – was a prototype time machine, according to Frank Hazlitt. 

Now John was really worried about his older brother’s mental condition; Frank had never been this ‘off the wall’. 

Since John had been away for the job interview in London, Frank had acquired an assistant in the form of an alcoholic vagrant named Jeremy – who professed to have been a senior mathematician at a well-known university until he suffered a breakdown some years ago. 

“Get that junk out my garage,” John seethed, looking at the ‘time machine’ hooked up to a reclaimed power transformer. 

“John, this is the real thing this time;” Frank assured his brother, “‘I’ve been trying to build a time machine for years, but Jeremy was the breakthrough. Just hear me out. 

“A top scientist in America named Tipler said that time-travel was possible if you had an infinitely long cylinder, because as it rotated it would twist time and space around it, causing frame-dragging –”

“Just get rid – now!” interrupted John, but his brother continued. 

“But you obviously can’t have an infinitely long cylinder, it’s hypothetical nonsense – so Jeremy came up with the answer – he solved the linearized Einstein field equations, and just listen to this: an infinite cylinder is actually a sphere!”

John rolled his eyes, but Frank nodded and told him: “Now, light twists around the sphere of that time machine over there and it warps gravity, and carries the machine through time. 

“See, topologically, a cup is identical in shape to a doughnut, and that was the answer to using the Tipler cylinder – thanks to Jeremy.”

“Don’t take this the wrong way Frank, but I might ask a social worker to come and see you,” said John, and he seemed concerned. 

Frank went berserk at the mention of a social worker, and threatened, “I might climb into that thing and never come back if you do that! There is nothing wrong with my mind!”

For the remainder of that day, John watched the alleged time machine glow with an electrical aura and vibrate, and it interfered with TV reception in the area. 

The following day, journalists descended on nearby Calgarth Road after curious claims by the young couple living in a house there regarding a weird ‘ghost’ that manifested itself as the loud ticking sound of a clock – and that tick plagued the couple, who had been married less than a year and had been enjoying their first home. 

The tick followed the couple from room to room and also persecuted their dog, Rebel. When the tick was shouted at by one of the couple, it would stop for a while, only to start again. 

The area housing manager had now intervened and was trying to rehouse the couple. 

Frank said the ticking entity had come through a time-fault caused by his machine, and it had also caused the release of another entity which had been interpreted as a poltergeist unleashing havoc at a house in Woolfall Heath. 

Two days later, Frank’s cries in the garage sent John running to him. The large globular machine had gone. 

“The idiot took off in it without me,” gasped Frank, clutching his brother’s arm, and he seemed to be in shock. 

“What?” John queried, and he sniffed the electrical ozone odour hanging in the air of the garage. 

“Jeremy – he said he was fixing something – and the machine just vanished. All that work - gone!”

Jeremy and his alleged time machine were never seen again, and Frank tried to build a smaller model but couldn’t get it to work because the vagrant maths genius had been the brains behind the incredible device. 

Frank approached various universities with his story but was always dismissed as a crank. He turned to drink, and then he dabbled with serious drugs, and died sometime in the 1990s. 

There is now a serious Time Race starting to build the world’s first time machine because it would be the ultimate military weapon – where you could go back and destroy your enemy before he was born and change the course of history to suit your military ambitions. 

God help us.

• Haunted Liverpool 33 is out soon on Amazon


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