Stephanie and Marcus sat in the hut they had constructed and improved over the last couple of months. It was a far cry from a modern house but it kept the rain off them and the heat of the fire in at night. Stephanie was sitting on a pile of grass mats typing on her phone.
“What are you typing?” Marcus asked.
“I’m recreating the time distortion field formula,” Stephanie said.
“We built a time machine by accident which should be impossible. The other option is that our understanding of the time distortion field is incomplete. I’m hoping to figure out how the machine transported us through time.”
“And then what? We can’t fix the machine or build a new one. We don’t even have enough power to run it if we could.”
She stopped typing on her phone and let her hand fall to her lap. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. I just wanted to do something.”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to bum you out.”
“No you’re right we’re stuck here. It’s not like we could Doc Brown the plans to someone in the future.”
“Does mail even exist yet?”
“Who knows?” The lapsed into silence. Stephanie sat looking at the stack of storage boxes they had pulled from the wreckage of their arrival. They had been incredibly lucky those boxes had been stored under the counter and not the Christmas declarations or The Professor’s tax returns. Besides the camping gear box, there had been a box with gardening tools and a garden starter kit. Another had contained a couple of quilts, fabric pieces, and a sewing kit. A third had been full of odds and ends that had proved useful.
Also, the part of living room bookcase, that had made the trip, had contained useful books about simple tools, farming, hunting, building simple structures, etc. Stephanie got up and started looking over the piles of books. Out of almost seventy books, only fifteen were ‘useless’ fiction. The rest were either about the time period they had found themselves or had knowledge to help them survive. She couldn’t have planned for a better selection of books to accidentally take back in time. Or could she?
“How did these books get here?”
“What?” Marcus asked.
“These books. Why were they all on the same shelves?”
“I don’t know. The professor probably just put them on the shelf. She was always buying new books and rearranging everything.”
“Yeah, we got really ‘lucky’. We couldn’t have built this hut with the Primitive Technology book. Without the gardening books, we’d still be eating protein bars.”
“No, we didn’t just get lucky. Where are the books about physics or space or computer programming? Where are the other history books?”
“Probably just on a different shelf.”
“Yes exactly. Why weren’t they on the same shelf with these history books? Why don’t we have books about the Industrial Revolution or cave paintings or Victorian England?”
“What are you saying?”
“I think the books we ‘accidentally’ brought back in time were selected for us.”
“Selected by who? The professor?”
“No. Maybe. What if we could send a message forward in time? What would you say?”
“Don’t run tests on … on … what day did we leave? Doesn’t matter. I’d just say to be extra careful when running tests.”
“Would that cause a paradox? Or is this an alternate universe and paradoxes don’t apply? Either way, it doesn’t get us back to the future.”
“What would you say?” he asked.
“I don’t know.” She looked around at the storage crates and books. A memory surfaced. “The professor came to us looking to fund our experiments. She set us up in her house. She stocked camping gear and protein bars and as many useful books she could on a bookcase we were going to take with us back in time.”
“Wait, you think the professor sent us back in time?”
“No, we built the machine but she had foreknowledge of our accident. We sent or will send her a message.”
Author’s Note: Primitive Technology is not a book but it is a YouTube channel run by an Australian man who shows how to build tools and buildings from scratch.