The top-hatted, black-cloaked figure worked his way down the gas-lit streets of central London. Occasionally he would stop and scribble a quick note on the pad he always kept in his waistcoat pocket, being careful lest the raindrops send the letters down rivers of black ink. He stopped at a green door right off Fleet Street and fumbled for his keys. The metal plate on the door read: “William A. Sinclair, Inventor”. William opened the door and felt for the large brass button on the wall. A whirring sound initiated, and a large electric bulb began to fill the room with an eerie blue-green glow.
William, a distinguished gentleman in his late forties, sporting a neatly trimmed salt and pepper beard, hung his top hat and cloak on the rack next to his desk. He plopped down in the chair and stared at the large machine across the room. He checked his notes once more, took a deep breath and walked over to the machine. I’m ready. Anna is gone. I have absolutely nothing to lose, he thought.
Anna, William’s wife of 24 years died of tuberculosis on December 24th, 1881. They had an early Christmas celebration a few days before when the doctor gave her only days to live. William was more than devastated. His amazing inventions had made him the toast of London and he was well on his way to being knighted by Queen Victoria herself. All that changed the day Anna died. William found solace only in his work. Soon he had shut out everything and everyone else from his life. Now, two years after she passed away, he was a complete recluse, mostly forgotten, only coming out of his lab at night to obtain food and basic supplies in order to keep working.
He started the machine and stepped into the coffin-sized nook lined with vacuum tubes and copper wire. William stood there, covering his ears with his hands as the machine powered up with a deafening hum. Then a sudden flash of light so brilliant that an image of William’s silhouette was burned into the opposite wall. William A. Sinclair was no longer present.
The next morning, housecleaning began their Saturday ritual of cleaning the offices on Fleet Street. As the maid dusted William ’s desk a note caught her eye, in bold capital letters it read: “SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE”. She nearly jumped when she looked up and saw William’s life-size silhouette on the wall like some ethereal photograph. The maid described the scene to the Head maidservant who then told the Landlord, Mr. Pritchett.
Now Mr. Pritchett was quite well known for being a greedy and ofttimes heartless landlord. He immediately interpreted the note to mean that Mr. Sinclair had plans to skip out on him before rent was due on Monday. “See you on the other... humph! That hornswoggling blagger!” Pritchett muttered to himself. “I’ll send him to the ‘Other-side’ if he doesn’t have my money!” Monday came and went with no rent payment. Later that week Pritchett reported William to the police and seized all his belongings, including the strange machine that William engaged that rainy night.
William awoke with such a headache he had a hard time focusing on his surroundings. When he finally got his bearings, he realized he was lying in a snowdrift looking up into the barren night sky. Not one star, no moon, just cold blackness in every direction. He sat up and looked around but could barely see his hands in front of his face. The wind was blowing snow onto his exposed face and turning his beard into a collection of icicles. It was no use... he needed to find shelter immediately before the elements got to him... exploring would have to wait until morning. After stumbling around in the dark for another hour or so, exhausted, he decided digging a hole in the snow would just have to do for now.
When morning finally came, all William could think of was sleep. I’ll just rest a little longer, he thought. The morning light was slowly getting brighter yet that seemed to only make him even wearier. Every time he started to awake, he would immediately fall back asleep. He was dreaming of the machine and could hear it’s an increasingly loud roar. Anna’s kind face appeared hovering over him, gently shaking his shoulder. “William, time to wake up, breakfast is ready,” she said softly. Anna faded as he awoke to an unpleasant pain in his shoulders. He was being roughly pulled out of the snow by the arms by two men.