The Grand Adventure
Herbert Dowding strolled along the boardwalk as he had for the seven years since she’d left. Idly, he noticed the time of 10:15 on the clock tower at Victoria Point. He wondered how many more times he’d look at that clock before she returned home. What time was it aboard the Faster Than Light ship they’d built? What was she seeing and experiencing?
Looking one city block inland he could see the warehouse where Odyssey was built. Everyday he strode before the now unused structure remembering the struggles of design. He turned to Gavin Willingbrook, his Chief Engineer and friend, who joined Dowding’s daily vigil. “Are you certain about this Time Dilation thing?”
Willingbrook was getting older too. He limped slightly on old knees. “The science is solid.”
“How long has she been gone from her perspective?”
Willingbrook shrugged. “It depends on how far she’s gone and how fast she went relative to Earth. It could be years or just hours.”
Dowding saw it first, an optical distortion in the air. The stealth fields that kept the ship hidden from prying government eyes were still active. “There!” he pointed.
“She’s returned!” enthused Willingbrook. “See? Your daughter is safe. She’s landing at the warehouse.”
The two men ran as fast as they could on old, tired knees to the warehouse. The Odyssey landed and the hatch opened. Dowding’s own daughter, Agatha, emerged looking very different after her grand adventure. The two men hobbled up the long sidewalk to the warehouse entrance. “She’s so changed after seven long years,” amazed Dowding. “Look at those things in her hair! Perhaps that’s a hairstyle copied from advanced aliens!”
“Looks like hair curlers to me,” remarked Willingbrook.
“And those shoes! Were they constructed from the hide of an exotic creature?”
“Or maybe they’re pink bedroom slippers,” noted Willingbrook.
“That robe! Surely bestowed upon her by the royalty of an ancient alien culture!”
Willingbrook winced. “Looks like a bathrobe.”
Agatha entered the warehouse and returned by the time the two arrived. “My darling daughter!” crowed Dowding. “You’re safe! Tell me about your arduous journey and all the wonderful things you’ve seen!”
Agatha rolled her eyes. “Dad! Relax. It’s my first morning.” She held up an implement. “I just forgot my toothbrush!”
The Time Dilation Effect means that time aboard a traveling spaceship will not pass at the same rate as on the planet. Even on satellites orbiting close to the Earth, time passes at a different rate. Imagine the difference if a spaceship travels far from Earth! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_dilation
This was written for Sunday Photo Fiction. The photo above from Alistair Forbes is this week’s writing prompt. Look here to see what other folks wrote: https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2015/06/14/sunday-photo-fiction-june-14th-2015/