“Eureka! I’ve done it!” The professor shouted from his lab.
“It works?!” the grad student from the control room responded excitedly.
“What works?” The old janitor questioned, as he emptied the bin.
“The… Time machine!” The professor responded, turning from the swirling blue vortex, with shadows dancing across his face.
The three of them approached the maelstrom in the floor.
“Where does it go?” The janitor questioned again.
“This box. Thirty minutes ago.” The grad student chimed in.
The janitor gave them a sideways glance.
“Have you tested it?”
“The readings are all perfect. A tunnel through spacetime to a half hour ago, in that box.”
“But you haven’t tested it?”
“What do you mean, you can’t? Throw something in.”
“I suppose we could, but…”
“How about this?” The janitor held up his garbage bag.
He hurled the bag of waste into the portal. It disappeared into the swirling mist.
The janitor then walked over and opened the box. Nothing. Not even a pile of ash or dust.
“I don’t think it worked.”
“No, it worked perfectly.”
“Um, there’s nothing here.”
“No, you see, that’s not how time travel works.”
“I put it there in the past. It’s supposed to be there now, unless someone else already took it out. Did either of you?”
“Then where is it?”
“In a parallel dimension!” The professor said with a crazed look. “An unreachable other dimension, which now has another bag of trash in that box! A universe that did not exist until we split it from our own timeline!”
“Do you see what this technology means? We could rewrite history! We could go back in time and become billionaires!” The grad student said giddily.
“Ya’ll are nuts.” The old janitor said. “All your time machine does is annihilate things in this universe. There’s no point in putting anything into it if it doesn’t change anything here, except, well, mind if I throw the rest of this garbage in?” He said, grabbing another waste bag of old papers and takeout boxes off of his cart.
“We’ll get a Nobel prize for this!” the grad student said gleefully.
The time machine became known as the Schrodinger’s machine. What the device did, physicists and philosophers could never agree on. Either it sent things into spontaneously generated branched off universes, or it merely annihilated matter without releasing the energy contained in its mass. A few brave souls ventured through it and were never heard from again. An attempt was made to send a duplicate machine through, with an operator, in pieces, in an attempt to facilitate travel between the universes, but without success.
The device was put into mass production, however, as a novel and environmentally friendly replacement for landfills.
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