Spiegal ran, had been running for hours now.

The charge gauge was only a slight tilt of his head away but he didn’t dare look at it. Not yet. No, he needed to run for at least another hour before he looked. Then it might be enough that he could stop.

The afternoon air was cool, at least. It was a beautiful, crisp autumn day with colourful leaves falling from the trees in the park. How many circuits of it had he done now? Enough that people were starting to look at him funny. Though that might also have had something to do with his headgear. It was what it was though, he couldn’t change what he needed to do.

His legs ached. The point in his right leg where he had fractured his femur as a kid bothered him the most. He knew it was only in his head; it had been bonded and the muscles knitted the same day he had injured it. And it hadn’t given him any trouble since then. Until now. Then again, he’d never had to run so much before.

It was one of those things he had to look past. Because it would be worth it. He hadn’t travelled all this way, all this time, to fail now. No, it was going to be his time soon. Yes, the whole world would see what he could do. Sure, no one would remember him from before, er, after, but they’d remember him now. Then.

Referring to time was screwy when you were dealing with time travel.

Anyway, no, people like his fourth pod overteacher Mr Grandse wouldn’t remember him. The man hadn’t been born yet. Neither had Spiegal for that matter. It didn’t matter. Mr Grandse would be born in a world of Spiegal’s making, a world that he would shape to his liking. A world where Mr Grandse would be intimidated and ridiculed. Exactly as he had done to Spiegal.

As soon as he was able to recharge his mind control device he’d get started.

Sure, a mind control device sounded insane, impossible. But so was time travel last week… last week plus a century, or so. That hadn’t stopped Spiegal. They’d hired him as a guinea pig, meant to be expendable. While he’d signed away all his rights — twice — to take part in the experiments he was the one going to reap the benefits.

Once he had charged the device.

They’d made him quack like a duck. Jump up and down. He’d endured it, planning and plotting. Then he’d stolen their equipment, the mind control device. They’d called it something different of course — remote conscious movement manipulation projector or some such thing — but it meant the same as mind control device. Without the technobabble.

Now he’d be the one telling others to quack, to jump. And to rob banks. Maybe even jump out windows. You know, if they didn’t rob the banks. Or if they were Mr Grandse. Lord Spiegal, they would call him. Yeah, he liked the sound of that. Or, maybe, Spiegal, Master of the World. Eventually, he’d even have to append it with and the Universe.

He wouldn’t be benevolent, no. No one had ever been benevolent with him. He would reap what he had sowed: power!

Power like he had seen when he had signed up for the linear causality inversion experiments. It was right after he had stolen the mind control device — a machine that needed a lot of energy. The police in his time were pretty on the ball, with their advanced AI and superbig data. The Internet of Everything was everywhere and there was no way he’d get away with taking over one person, let alone the world.

But the past? Well, that opened up all kinds of possibilities. Yep, that was doable. So, like with the mind control machine, he had watched and learned. Learned enough that he could operate the time machine. They didn’t call it that but that was what it was. And, now, here he was, the late 20th century, before the Internet really took off. He would put his plan in motion, become emperor of the world, and then still be able to enjoy streaming movies.

Sure, there was the little snag of powering the mind control device. He had only used it once, to try it out. That little trial run had drained the batteries. No big deal, he’d figured, he’d simply charge them. Except… the charging technology hadn’t been invented yet. Neither had the batteries.

Spiegal wasn’t a technical guy. He wasn’t even a bright guy. He knew that, sure, he wasn’t that dim. The battery thing had been an oversight, sure. But who was the one who had travelled through time? Who was the one with the grand plan? Anyway…

He could follow instructions — just give him a how-to video — but he couldn’t invent super capacity graphene capacitor batteries, nor their chargers. Where the hell would you even start? In the future things simply charged, all the time, everywhere. You didn’t plug them in, they just worked. Power was beamed through the air using radio waves, or devices charged using nanotech motors that converted kinetic energy into electricity. Yes, in the future it just worked.

Not so in the past. Why would that have occurred to him? How was he supposed to know it didn’t work that way there… here? Damn it. It was one little detail. One critical little detail.

So, here he was, running. Still running.

He tried not to think about other things. Those very important things like how he was going to pay for the rent on his apartment in a few days. He had brought back some cash with him, all old bills too — dated before this era, he wasn’t stupid — but they would soon be all gone. He’d have to get a job soon. A shiver ran up his body at the thought. Or it was only his legs shaking.

God, how his legs hurt. And his neck was getting very tired too. He had spent one whole day in bed after throwing it out a few days before. The techs in the future hadn’t got around to streamlining the mind control device.

It was a large heavy helmet that was currently strapped to his head. Like most devices built in the future it had several redundant charging methods. One was the beamed radio waves. That was a non-starter for him. Another was kinetic energy. That he could do. But it was slow.

Thus the running. Hours upon hours of it. Over many days. And the charge gauge still only read 30 per cent.

Ahh! He had looked. Why had he looked?

The gauge had only risen by two per cent in the last 45 minutes. How long was this going to take? The device needed a full charge or it was useless.

Spiegal reminded himself that it had worked though. His experiment — which had drained the device — had let him control a guy. That individual had looked quite the fool in the shopping mall, jumping on one foot and patting his head. But, for some reason, people seemed to be laughing at Spiegal. Sure, the mind control device was large, made his head look twice the size, but surely they weren’t laughing at him?

No matter. Lord Spiegal would make them pay. In a month or so, when he had managed to charge the device.

And, if for some reason it didn’t work, well, he’d have no trouble running away.


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Humanity’s next great adventure begins with a bully and a child’s shoe.

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