Someone was banging on the heavy steel door.
Mich took another drag from his cigarette. 'Siggie? Doc?' he asked, proffering a smoke to the old man in the white lab-coat who was nervously punching at a keyboard attached to a huge bank of computers.
'No thanks, my body is my temple.' The scientist replied without looking up.
Mich put the pack of French cigarettes back into his back pocket and looked the old man up and down. 'You must pray to some strange gods, Doc.'
The old scientist ignored this remark and kept on working while Mich smoked.
'OK, let's try again. I'm pretty certain it will work this time.' The man addressed as Doc had turned to face Mich. 'I've upped the energy throughput and refined the coordinates. We should have you back in time in no time.'
'Ha ha, very funny Doc, the first five times.' Mich replied as he stepped into a small metal pod about the size of a small portable toilet. 'OK, here we go again. Ready when you are.'
The banging continued. To Mich it seemed to gain a certain urgency to it's sound, as if he could hear time running out as the MP's were forcing their way in. Ignoring it as best he could he closed his eyes, said a little prayer to no god in particular and hoped.
There was a brief pitch in the quiet humming from all the equipment stashed in the small laboratory, and Mich thought he saw the air shimmy for a fraction of a second, but afterwards he was still there.
The previous century had yet again failed to happen to him. With a sigh he stepped out of the cubicle and lit another cigarette, grinding his butt in the marble floor. 'What's going on Doc? I'm really betting my life on your equipment, you know.'
'I don't know what is happening, Mich. I really do not know. I'm registering a transport but you remain here every time. Let's try again, while we still have time.'
Behind them the door started to buckle under the violent attempts to bash it open from the other side. Mich threw away his cigarette. 'Yeah, OK.'
'I just might have it this time.'
'Right. Just go, Doc! See you in hell some day.' Mich rushed back into the cubicle.
It was late in the evening. Mich and the professor he colloquially called "Doc" with the originality so common in the average American TV-addict, were staring intensely at a small monitor set in a bank of controls belonging to a collection of equipment that looked not so much home-built as home-grown.
They were in a small shed in a field just outside New York City. Rain was seeping in through the leaky roof and it was quite chilly but both men were sweating.
Mich, chain-smoking as he always did when he was nervous, cursed. 'I know it's you and me out there, or back then, or whatever, but you'd think they, or us, would get the message by now!'
Doc just tapped on, on his keyboard. 'We can't change the future, Mich. If they, or we, don't get the message this time, I fear you and I will die.'
Mich lit a new cigarette. 'I'm saying my prayers Doc, but I don't mind admitting that I want to live.'
The professor nearly punched through his keyboard when he pressed enter. 'They just tried another transport. I sent him back again.'
'I hope they give up this time. Those MP's can't do anything to me that's any worse than what'll happen if you succeed back there, or then. Whatever.'
Doc wiped his brow. 'Anyway, I'd better get ready for our next attempt. We don't have much time.'
'Ha ha, funny doc, the first five times.'
The MP's were nearly through the door this time. 'Give up Mich!' a female voice shouted. 'You can't win. I promise you a fair trial!'
Mich looked over his shoulder to the steel door that was now close to giving in to the battering. 'Man, I can't believe I dated that cow.'
The professor started tapping his keys again, but Mich put a hand on his shoulder.
'Look, Doc, this isn't going to work. The past is out, but the near future will work, right?'
The professor turned to face Mich. 'Any suggestions?'
Mich took off his jacket. 'Yeah, help me move the cubicle to the door.'
Marianne overlooked the scene of carnage in the old shed. 'I lied, Mich. No trial for the likes of you.'
She spat at Mich's corpse. 'Besides, those cancer sticks made your breath stink and you were lousy in bed.'
One of the MP's had pushed the large doors of the shed open, with some effort. 'Sarge, you gotta see this!' He hollered to Marianne. 'I could have sworn it was summer just a moment ago.'