Kate stared at the myriad of liquor bottles that were eye-level across from her in the tented bar area. The bartender was slightly less than patient.
“Uh… I think I want an afterbreaker. Can you make that?” Kate asked.
The bartender looked at Kate like she was from another world.
“It’s a shot of… Well, I’ll explain it. Do you have cider back there?” Kate asked.
“Yeah. We have Woodchuck or Angry Orchard.” The bartender replied.
“Better than nothing. I normally drink Razor Wire ciders, but if you don’t have it, that’ll do. Do you sell Napalm shots?” Kate asked.
“Napalm?” The bartender was no less confused.
“Y’know. Cinnamon whiskey?” Kate said.
“Oh yeah. We have Fireball shots on special for $1, or 4 for $3.”
“Just one, please.” Kate said.
The bartender poured Kate her drinks and served them side by side.
“4.50.” The bartender said.
Kate reached into her pocket to grab a credit card. She handed the bartender a translucent piece of blue plastic with credit card details printed on it in red.
“…What is this?” The bartender asked.
“It’s an AmEx.” Kate said.
“Is the expiration date right? Am I reading this right?”
The bartender set the card down on the bartop and pointed to the card’s expiration date: November 2038.
Kate grabbed her card quickly from the bar top.
“Sorry. Wrong card. I have some cash here…” Kate said, digging through her pockets.
A man in his mid-to-late twenties approached Kate from behind.
“Excuse me, miss. I’ve got this.”
The man handed the bartender $5 in cash and put $2 in a nearby tip jar. His hands were covered in athletic tape and his facial hair was unkempt.
“Enjoy.” The man said.
“Thanks. I, uh, don’t normally have these problems…” Kate said, clearly embarrassed.
“No worries. My name’s-”
As Kate attempted to listen to the guy who just paid for her drink, a loud voice boomed from further behind her.
“There you are!”
A tall man with short blonde hair and thin glasses boomed through the crowd of bar guests, his red scarf and slightly-oversized white labcoat flowing in the wind created upon entering the bar’s tented area.
Kate recognized this person as Cameron Court, who was dragged along for the ride.
“I’m fine, Cameron. Just grabbing a drink…” Kate said.
Cameron grabbed Kate and motioned her to come with him.
“No time. Show’s about to start. Come now.” Cameron said.
The man who paid for Kate’s drink tried to make sense of the situation, but before he could ask any questions, Kate was already pouring her whiskey into her cider and following Cameron.
Once they were out of the bar area, Cameron quickened his pace and spoke up.
“What in the blue hell was that?” Cameron asked.
“What? I wanted a drink.” Kate said.
“How were you planning on paying for that?” Cameron asked.
“With money. How else would I do it?”
Cameron stopped in his tracks and turned around.
“Katherine. Your credit card is from two decades in the future. The type of plastic it’s made out of doesn’t even exist, if their machine could even read it and charge to a bank account that has yet to be established. And even if you have any paper cash, it certainly looks nothing like any of the bills they have today. How do you think the bartender would have reacted if they saw a navy blue $10 bill with Peter Strzok’s mug on it?”
“… I didn’t think of that.” Kate said.
“That is bloody astounding. And while we’re at it, why the hell are you interacting with people?”
“Isn’t that unavoidable?” Kate asked.
Cameron got closer to Kate and lowered his voice.
“We can’t make too many waves here because we’re from the bloody future, Katherine. You wanted to come here to see a Star Slight concert before they hit it big. I objected because we can’t screw with time to take vacations, but you kept bugging me about it. So here we are, at the Pinnacle Bowl in Pinnacle City, California, 2018. For Christ’s sake, your father could be here. You know how he was.”
“…No, I don’t. What are you talking about?” Kate asked.
“Have you not seen his office? It’s covered wall to wall with photos of your dad posing with all the bands he’s met backstage. He’s got pictures with Green Day, Weezer, the Foo Fighters… Half of the photos have Dave Grohl in them. I think they exchanged numbers at one point…”
“So he’s a music nut. Doesn’t mean he’s here.” Kate said.
“Katherine, your father’s been a VIP season ticket holder for this place since it was built. It’s not exactly a snowball’s chance in hell that he’s here somewhere.”
Cameron continued walking towards the set of seats he booked for himself and Kate.
“Your father told me that he acted like a right prick when he was younger, so let’s pray that we don’t run into him.” Cameron said, moving into his seat and motioning for Kate to sit in the one next to him. She obliged.
“Look, I think it’s best not to worry about that, yeah? Let’s just sit down, and enjoy an evening of some music that nobody we know will ever have the pleasure of listening to in person.” Kate said, adjusting her position in her seat.
The lights on the stage glowed an iridescent orange, then the band appeared from stage right. Despite the subdued entrance, the crowd erupted. This was probably Star Slight’s biggest show at the time.
Kate and Cameron sat captivated for the shortest hour of their lives. They didn’t even bother staying for the headlining act. Once the headliner’s set started, Kate and Cameron were already entering the time rift to return home, which they hid behind a closed t-shirt booth to ensure that nobody would find it accidentally.
Back in the test facility at Arcast Technologies, Adam sat in an office chair and stared at the portal created by Arcast Tech’s time rift device. He knew exactly who used it without his approval, as Cameron’s login info was still visible on a nearby monitor panel. Adam was experiencing a form of anger that was less of a pain and more of an existential dread, because he had no clue where Cameron went.
Worse yet, Cameron left the portal open. You never leave the portal open.
Adam sat and stared for the longest hour of his life.
Soon enough, the portal cracked and buzzed. Its color turned from a stable white to a very unstable indigo, indicating something was passing through. This particular something was the pair of Cameron and Kate, still in awe over their experience at the concert.
“I can’t believe we got to see- Ah!”
Kate let out a loud yelp when she saw Adam, now standing out of his chair.
Cameron stood still.
“Uh, hey, Dad…” Kate said. No response.
Adam motioned to the computer with Cameron’s login details. Cameron immediate sprinted over to shut the portal down.
The area that once held a doorway through time and space slowly faded into transparency, leaving an empty frame behind.
“Well?” Adam asked.
“We can explain.” Cameron said.
“Don’t care. At all. What’s the number one rule about this device?” Adam asked.
“…We only use it for testing.” Cameron said.
“And the second rule?” Adam asked.
“We never use it without your approval.” Cameron replied.
“And the last rule?” Adam raised his voice.
Cameron couldn’t think of the last rule.
“Huh?” Cameron said.
“You close the friggin’ portal. You never leave it open. At all.” Adam said.
“We were only-” Cameron was interrupted.
“I don’t want to hear it. Wait outside. Now.” Adam pointed to the door at the room’s entrance.
Kate began to follow Cameron, but Adam stopped her.
“No, no. Katherine Alexis Greyloch, You’re not off the hook.” Adam said.
“We didn’t do anything, Dad. Nothing significant.”
“Well, what did you do?. What could possibly have been worth messing with time and space to experience?” Adam asked.
“…Cameron wanted to do something for me for my birthday. So he did the one thing nobody else could do. He took me to a Star Slight concert back before they were selling out arenas. He didn’t want to go through with it. I convinced him to take me.”
Adam’s face changed to something slightly less angry.
“You convinced our top engineer to cross time and space… For a concert?” Adam asked.
“…Yeah. Please don’t blame Cameron for this, Dad.”
Adam slowly walked towards his daughter and embraced her.
“That’s my girl.” Adam said
“Huh?” Kate couldn’t quite understand.
“The first time I used this machine, I used it to buy a case of OK Soda back when it was new, in 1993. Second time, your mother and I went to a Nirvana concert before Kurt Cobain killed himself.”
“Why did you get so mad at Cameron, then?” Kate asked.
Adam let go of Kate.
“Because this thing is dangerous. You could have really screwed things up. Not just us or for the company, but for reality itself. I nearly did a few times. That’s why we have the rules and safeguards. This tech is stuff that the government only dreams of being able to use.”
“Please don’t punish Cam, Dad.”
“I’ll let him keep his job.” Adam said.
He motioned to the door on the other side of the room.
“Go on. Get out of here. You’re probably tired.”
Kate yawned slightly.
“I guess.” She said.
“Yeah, yeah. Get to bed.” Adam waved his arms in a shooing motion.
Kate made her way towards the door.
“Oh, one more thing.” Adam said, as Kate was leaving.
“Hm?” Kate asked.
“Thanks, Dad.” Kate said, as she approached the door and held it open for her father.
Kate slipped out of the hallway and to a nearby elevator as Adam and Cameron started talking. The closing doors immediately silenced any noise.
And there stood Kate Greyloch, the first female time traveller under the age of 25.