Time travel is a tricky prospect. Your first issue is discovering a means to propel your physical form through the space/time continuum in a safe and controlled fashion. Whether you utilise a limited edition American sports car, an antique call box or a map allegedly left over from when the Creator was building the Universe matters not – you still have to possess the item.
Your second issue (and this is the biggie) is whether your actions in the past will effect the future. If you meddle with a past timeline, when you return to your starting point, will the World you encounter be the same as when you left? Will the inadvertent loss of a cigarette lighter in the distant past have caused an earlier technological revolution, resulting in you previous ‘present’ being reduced to a radioactive cinder? Will the wrong thing said at the Nuremberg Rallies have changed the outcome of the Second World War, with the majority of Europe now occupied by the Nazis? Will the Earth have been invaded by super-intelligent Koala-like aliens, who have subjugated the population and forced them to mass-produce soft toilet tissue? These are all things that the intelligent and responsible time traveller must take into account when venturing into the past, as even the most subtle of changes could have wide-reaching and devastating consequences.
However, if you have a Plan and a goal, if you know exactly what result you wish to achieve, then maybe, just maybe, you can carefully tweak the past to improve your own future.
But it would have to be an extremely cunning plan…
With a slightly disappointing displacement of air, a canvass and wood contraption, looking like a carriage clock writ large, appeared suddenly, then dropped to the ground. As the booth-like object settled into the damp earth of the churchyard, there came from within the sound of someone falling over, followed by what appeared to be a toilet flushing.
Lord Edmund Blackadder closed the heavy tome he had balanced on his knee and looked askance at the crumpled heap of his manservant, who had endeavoured to prevent his fall by grabbing the toilet chain.
“Given that we have made innumerable jumps through time and space and upon reaching every destination, the time machine always drops the last few feet to the ground,” he began, “it truly astounds me that on every occasion, without fail, you seem unprepared and fall over. Either you have the memory of a goldfish, Baldrick, or you are the stupidest man in existence. On past experience, I believe it is the latter.”
“Yes, my Lord…sorry, my Lord.” Said Baldrick, clambering to his feet.
“Now,” said Blackadder, “as we – and when I say ‘we’, I actually mean ‘me’ – have ascertained that the time machine is keyed to our individual DNA, wherever – or to be more precise when-ever – we have appeared, one of my ancestors should be in close proximity to our arrival point. We therefore need to find out when we are – and on this occasion, when I say ‘we’, I actually mean ‘you’.”
“Er…I don’t understand, my Lord.” Stammered Baldrick.
“You never fail to disappoint, do you, Baldrick?”
“Thank you, my Lord.”
“What I mean is that it is time to stretch your legs, Balders…to venture forth into the World beyond and find out where we’ve ended up this time.”
Blackadder released the cord holding the door and lowered the gangplank.
“But…it might be dangerous, my Lord…” said Baldrick fearfully.
“Exactly,” said Blackadder, pushing Baldrick out into the crisp night air, “which is why you’re going instead of me.”