Penny’s Time Travel service was finally in the black, thanks to her contract with Angelo’s Pizza for delivery—get it in ten minutes, or it’s free. Pile that on top of the steady flow of men who forgot their anniversary, and she could even make a living, which was a far cry better than six months ago when she almost had to sell the business at a loss.
Her father would be proud of what she did with it. Six years ago, just before he died, he’d given her a keychain with a watch and a set of keys to the store, challenging her to make a go of it. Now if she could only expand her operations.
Most customers had very basic objectives requiring only a few days’ trip. Buy the gift they forgot, deliver something critical on time, or bury a fake skeleton where a buddy was going to install a septic tank. On occasion, she’d get someone with a request to go a bit farther.
Isaac Singer was a handsome, assertive man who talked like he knew what he wanted.
“I need a reservation at Pallard’s for next Saturday at five.”
Penny nodded. “You’ll have to buy a premium ticket to go back three years.”
“Whatever it takes.”
Penny allowed herself an internal ‘cha-ching’ and pulled up the order form on the computer. “The nice thing is you can make three different stops with the premium ticket, but we have to do them on the same trip. Any thoughts?”
“Hmm. Can I figure it out along the way?” Isaac handed her his credit card.
He rested his hands on the counter, a keychain watch hanging out of his right.
“Absolutely.” She tapped his card on the reader and handed it back to him. “I have a keychain just like that.”
“Mine has engraving on the back.”
He flipped the watch up to show the pristine and unmarked casing.
Penny escorted him to the time room and invited him aboard the machine, where he took a seat on a simple stool with padding. She flipped some switches and navigated it three years back.
“I didn’t feel any movement,” said Isaac.
“You never do,” said Penny. “The machine has to change place to keep up with the earth’s position in the universe, but there’s little to no friction involved. Go ahead and make your reservations. You’ll find yourself in the same building you walked into. Just ignore the barbers up front. They’re used to us.”
An hour later Isaac returned.
“That took longer than I expected. All set?”
“Yes, ma’am.” He climbed back in the machine. “This is a nice service. What got you into it?”
“My father built the time machine, but he was in it for the science and almost broke us. I’m the practical one of the family.”
“Smart,” he said.
“When to next?”
“I need to change some investments I made a year and a half before now, is that fair?”
“It’s your dime.”
She set the time to his precise instructions and took him then.
“Just ignore the shoe cobblers up front. They’re used to us.”
“Shouldn’t take long,” he said.
A half hour later he came back in and took a stool. “Another two years?” he asked.
“Sure,” said Penny. She took the machine back.
“Ignore the Bieber fan club. They’re—”
“Used to us?”
“I was going to say ‘completely oblivious,’ but that works, too.”
Isaac returned before long, and Penny directed the time machine to return home.
“Thank you for everything, Penny.” Isaac shook her hand. “This was everything I’d hoped. I’d like to invest in your company and help you expand. Would you join me for dinner to discuss it?”
“I… I’d love to. I was just thinking about expanding this morning.”
“Great.” They climbed out of the machine. “I very recently came into a bit of a windfall, and I think this is just the place to use it.”
He nodded, a glint in his eyes.
“So, what was the third trip for?”
Isaac flipped his keys on a bare ring. “Your father is very proud of you.”
She gasped. “You didn’t!”
They walked into the front where a bouquet of mums stood on the counter. The card said, ‘To Penny, my new business partner. Isaac Singer.’
She smelled them. “When did you have time to order flowers?”
“I like to plan ahead.” He walked to the door.
“You’re a sneaky and thoughtful man. I’m going to be careful with you.”
“Wise,” he said.
“Wait—when and where do you want to meet?”
“You already know.”
She shook her finger, nodded her head, and smiled.