The Great Experiment
New York, December 14, 1942, Dusk
A night, a moment, when world events and one man’s remarkable history interacted with the forces of nature to change the very fabric of time, reinventing the past and setting the wheels in
motion for a great adventure.
Mid-town Manhattan was already in the grip of its own altered reality, with the lights of
Times Square, Broadway and even decorative Christmas lights being turned off or dimmed
shortly after sunset due to the safety restrictions imposed by World War 2. It was feared that the
bright city lights would silhouette coastal shipping, making the vessels easier targets for German
submarines. Even offices and apartments above the 15th floors were required to curtain their
windows after dark.
A storm was coming that night as pedestrians scurried about and taxi cabs flowed like a
yellow river through concrete canyons. The sound of distant thunder and its preceding lightning
flashes in the ominous clouds vied with the traffic noises and newsboys hawking the New York
Times, emblazoned with war and gas rationing headlines.
At the New Yorker Hotel curtains were being drawn at windows on the upper floors,
blocking view of the room lights. On the 33rd floor, room 3327 was no exception.
Its occupant, genius inventor Nikola Tesla, stood by the window, briefly gazing out before
drawing the curtains in the two room suite where he lived. At age 86, looking old and a bit frail,
Tesla was dressed but wearing a wool bathrobe for added warmth. He abruptly turned as he
heard a knock at the door of his apartment, then quickly went to the door and unlocked it.
Tesla peered out through the gap of the still chained door and immediately recognized the
young bellboy who stood outside in the hall. The young man looked nervous.
“Ah, Jimmy… come in,” said Tesla, unfastening the chain and opening the door wide.
Jimmy, whom Tesla guessed to be all of about 17, entered the room, pushing a luggage cart
with bulky objects on it that were covered by a gray tarpaulin. Tesla briefly leaned out through
the door to glance both ways down the hall outside, then he closed the door and secured it.
“Where should I put this?” said Jimmy.
Tesla gestured at the center of the room. “Over there is fine.” After a moment’s hesitation
he added, “Did anyone see you?”
“No sir. I was careful.” Jimmy glanced nervously back toward the hallway beyond.
“We’re not really supposed to get things out of storage in the basement at this time of night, but seein’ as how you’ve lived here ten years, I guess we can bend the rules a bit.”
“Good man,” said Tesla. “I appreciate your help.”
Jimmy carefully removed the tarp and dropped it to the floor, revealing several stacks of
bulky gray equipment–strange gadgets with dials and gauges, control knobs and switches. Some
had large vacuum tubes visible. Jimmy looked as if he didn’t have a clue what they might be for.
There were coiled power cords and other cables, too, neatly placed on top of the equipment.
“I got everything on your list,” said Jimmy.
Nikola Tesla looked everything over carefully, mentally itemizing the pieces of gear and
nodding as he did so.
“Yes… yes. Excellent.”
Tesla moved the cables out of the way and picked up a large power supply unit, a heavy
piece of gear that indicated the elderly inventor was stronger than he looked, then placed it on
one end of a wooden table nearby. Not one to stand idly by, Jimmy pitched in and picked up
another gadget, moving it to the table as well.
“Where does this one go?” Jimmy asked.
“Next to the first one, a few inches apart, if you please,” said Tesla.
The two men continued to move the remaining gadgets from the cart to the table, with Tesla
directing the placement of each and making adjustments to the positioning of everything. Tesla
then picked up the cables and connected them between the gadgets, hooking everything up with a sober sense of purpose.
Finally, Tesla connected three power cords to the back of the power supply and plugged
them in to three separate electrical outlets in the walls around them. Jimmy watched all this with
genuine interest and curiosity.
“Are you doing more research, sir?”
Tesla was still busily checking everything. “Not research. That has already been done.”
Tesla seemed content with the arrangement. He reached over and turned on the power
supply, then stepped back to watch. Indicators on the equipment immediately lit up, the vacuum
tubes began to glow and there was an attendant hum of sound. The hotel lights flickered briefly
as the strange equipment drew upon the building’s power grid, then they stabilized and remained
Jimmy was still interested, but now he was getting a little worried as well.
“Ah… what is it exactly that you’re trying to do, Mr. T?”
“Do?” said Tesla with the imperious tone of a man who has been wronged and who feels
that the only reasonable action to take should be obvious to everyone. “I am seeking justice. I
am seeking vindication!”
“Oh?” said Jimmy, getting a bit nervous now and wondering what he had gotten himself
involved with by bringing the strange equipment to him. He hoped the nice old gentleman wasn’t
planning on building a bomb or something.
Tesla began to pace, as barely controlled self-righteous anger rose within him. “I have spent
my life advancing the cause of science. No-one has done more than I in the fields of mechanical
and electrical engineering, electromagnetism, and wireless energy transfer. My work has aided
the development of radar, robotics, remote control, computer science and other fields. I devised
plans for energy weapons, charged particle beams, and an ion-propelled aircraft.”
Tesla strode to his desk and stood there, looking down at his papers and things, and at a
peculiar cloth-wrapped object about the size of an attaché case.
“Yet I was never fully given the respect or recognition I deserved,” Tesla continued. “Even
Edison cheated me of the credit and funds he owed me for the work I did for him. Then, five
years ago, when I announced that I had completed my dynamic theory of gravity, I was
ostracized… called a mad scientist. After all I had done!”
Jimmy nodded with knowing sympathy and understanding. “Sometimes life is unfair.”
Tesla gently picked up the mysterious wrapped object on his desk and held it in his hands
for a moment. Then he unwrapped the cloth covering and revealed an elaborate box made of
wood and leather with an abundance of metal trim, fittings and mechanical latches. He seemed a
bit calmer as he gazed soberly at the box.
“I have put everything in here. All my notes, all my theories, every plan, formula, diagram,
everything, in great detail. Even personal photos. This is the sum total of my work, my life!
There are plans for inventions in here that I have never before told anyone about. There are even
notes about the mistakes I made and the people I should not have trusted. And now… I am ready
to send it on its way.”
The elderly scientist/inventor came around the corner of his desk carrying the box with a
solemn sense of purpose. The young bellboy was puzzled.
“Send it? Send it where?”
“Not where, Jimmy,” said Tesla in an odd and meaningful way. “When!”
Tesla carried the box to the table of equipment and carefully placed it atop a rectangular
metal plate that rested above glass insulators on one of the gadgets. He adjusted its position
there, then swung a device with a six inch diameter glass globe fitted with electrodes and an
energizing lens at its bottom over the box. He aligned it carefully…precisely. Finally, satisfied with its placement, he stepped back and drew a deep breath, letting it out slowly.
“I… I’m afraid I don’t understand,” said Jimmy.
“My fellow countryman, Ruder Bošković, preceded Einstein’s work on relativity and the
time-space continuum. I have added my own work to that.” Tesla hesitated, then added with a
tone of determination, “I intend to send this transport box back in time to my younger self,
before I went to study at the Austrian Polytechnic University in Graz in 1875. Armed with this
knowledge, I shall set things right.”
Jimmy raised an incredulous eyebrow. “Is… is that possible?”
“Let us find out, my young friend!”
Tesla reached out and took hold of a slide lever on the power supply. He advanced it
forward partway. The equipment indicator lights brightened, the dial needles jumped, and the
electrical hum grew louder and higher pitched. The hotel lights dimmed slightly, and swirling
gases begin to glow inside the energy globe poised above the transport box.
Jimmy grew even more nervous. “Is this safe, Mr. T?”
Tesla only stared at his device. “A true scientist does not allow fear to impede his efforts.”
He made some additional adjustments before seeming satisfied. “Yes… now we are ready!”
Tesla pushed the power lever all the way forward. The device’s lights glowed intently and
miniature lightning seemed to arc around some of the components. The hotel lights grew
dimmer, and almost in response, there was a flash of true lightning from outside, followed by the
sound of thunder.
At that moment there was a sudden flash of energy erupting from the globe, bathing the
transport box in its eerie glow. There was more arcing as the weird device began shorting out
from the high power. Then abruptly, amazingly, the transport box disappeared… it was gone!
Gone…. at least, from their vantage point.
For although Tesla and Jimmy could not see it, the box had entered a time vortex created by
the device, a weird tunnel of spiraling patterns rotating counter-clockwise. Darkness and light
and colors of varying hues, turning and spinning, stretching away from them, from where and
when they were standing. The box was falling deeper and deeper into it, heading into the
distance and growing smaller. Suddenly, there was an echo of the thunder heard earlier and an
instant later, the normal order of things reversed, a lightning bolt ripped across the vortex tunnel,
striking the transport box a glancing blow. The impact was just enough to make the box change
its trajectory slightly, then it slowly faded from view.
Back in Tesla’s apartment in the New Yorker Hotel, all was quiet. Nikola Tesla and the
young bellboy stood there, looking around, not certain what had happened or what to think. The
hotel lights had returned to normal. The time transport device itself was now nothing but
blackened, smoldering, useless junk. They could still hear distant thunder, but otherwise
everything seemed normal. The hotel room was just the same, as were the photos and clippings
scattered about. The elderly inventor was still looking a bit thin as if he hadn’t been eating
enough, and he still wore the same shabby clothes he had before.
Jimmy was the first to speak, hesitantly. “Shouldn’t… shouldn’t something have happened
by now? Shouldn’t things be…different?”
Tesla looked around in dismay, seeming to hold his breath. Then he glanced at the clock,
rushed over and glanced at the newspaper clippings on his desk, at everything…everything.
Nothing had changed.
“I have failed,” he said with a sigh. “I was sure all of my calculations were correct. I must
have been wrong.”
“Maybe not,” said Jimmy. “Maybe the storm messed things up.”
Tesla looked downcast, defeated. “Perhaps. Or perhaps it did work, but in changing the past, some sort of alternate time-line was created, separate from our own. It matters not. I
cannot try again. It is done… over.”
Tesla went to the wall outlets and yanked loose the power cords one by one, then he
disconnected the cables between the device components, suddenly reacting as he touched
something hot. Jimmy pulled out a pair of gloves from his pocket and put them on, then moved
to pick up the ruined gadgets.
“Wait–” said Jimmy “–let me get those for you.”
He moved them quickly back to the luggage cart, restacking them and adding the cables on
top, but not as neatly as before. He threw the tarp over the pile and carefully tucked in the
corners to ensure everything was well hidden beneath it.
“Do you want these back in the basement?” he asked.
With a weary sigh and shake of his head, Tesla said, “No. They are worthless now. Just…
throw them in the trash.”
Tesla went to the door to open it for Jimmy, peeked out to be sure no one is in the hall, then
hesitated a moment to reach into his pants pocket and pull out a $5 bill.
“Here, Jimmy–for all your trouble.”
Jimmy started to reach for it, since after all, that was a big tip. Then he had a change of
heart as he noticed Tesla’s old and threadbare clothes and waved off the offered money with an
“Thanks anyway, Mr. T, but this one’s on the house. Keep it for food or something. Just do
me a favor and don’t say anything about the experiment, okay? I don’t want to get in trouble.”
Tesla nodded in gratitude and patted Jimmy on the back as he left with the luggage cart. He
watched him go, then closed the door and latched it. He took a few steps away from the door,
stopped and shook his head disconsolately.
“Where did I go wrong…?” he said to himself… to the universe… to no one in particular.
The Wonderful Gift
London, England, 1870, Mid-day
The streets of London were filled with pedestrians in Victorian attire and horse-drawn
carriages that moved about with the steady clop-clop of hooves upon cobblestones.
At Number 10 Downing Street, in the office of the Prime Minister, William E. Gladstone
was seated at his large desk, looking stern and businesslike, while Professor Miller, a prominent
scientist, sat across from him with paperwork in his hands. They had met to discuss important
matters of state. Gladstone, who at 61 had already built a distinguished career of
accomplishments, studied the written proposals before him with an eagle eye. The scientist
waited in silence a moment with a hopeful look before speaking.
And what happens next changes the course of history….!
Read the synopsis and watch the trailer or check out the links below to find out more