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When Ed Bradley's vintage computer spits out messages from the past, Ed must decipher their meaning in order to save an innocent life.

Scifi / Thriller
Glen Gabel
Age Rating:

July 3, 1893 -

Dearest Auntie Clem,

I’m writing to you now that the wedding is over to try and make amends for the coming year. I regret not informing you of my marriage to Henry, but I assure you it was not intentional. We have been in a whirlwind of happiness that I’ve never experienced before, and for the first time in my life, I feel entirely at ease with my station and prospects for the future. Henry has supported me in every endeavor of my acting career. Indeed it’s a rare night when I don’t see him with flowers in hand at a closing curtain call.

He sings, though not well, silly melodies to me and croons over my every step like a puppy. In his more thoughtful moments, he even quotes Shakespeare from memory; why on our first meeting after hearing me sing, he recited,

“If music be the food of love, play on.”

It’s not uncommon for him to even greet others with a bit verse from The Merchant of Venice, or The Tempest.

He makes me laugh, and I feel utterly alive. Though some in the family think it improper, I have no issue with supporting his budding business ventures. He’s quite keen on his newest pharmacy, opened in the heart of Chicago, that will also serve as a hotel on the upper floors for tourists wishing to see the new World’s Fair and Columbia Exposition.

I’ve even gotten Anna to leave the family estate in Texas for a visit, and like me, she finds Henry completely charming. Just the other day, we visited the fairgrounds together and found ourselves separated while visiting the Music Hall outside the Great Basin. Anna and I were sure Henry had snuck off to the catering kiosk or casino, as he occasionally plays the dice, but instead, we found him encumbered on the new moving sidewalk that sits on the pier. The poor man’s boot laces became stuck in the moving floors there, and it took two or three constables to help loosen his shoe, which I fear now permanently resides in the bowels of that odd contraption.

For the rest of the day, poor Henry had to hobble about with only one shoe until we found a decent pair of leather sandals on the Plaisance for him to use. Of course, he began whooping like a savage at the vendor after trying his new footwear until the draft and liquor gallery garnered his attention.

Anna and I went on to the Javanese Settlement exhibit and found an oddities tent with the strangest trinkets you can imagine. From ceremonial masks that would scare a vicar to music boxes that can record your voice and daguerreotypes to capture your image on paper. One vendor, Mr. Marvel, was especially interesting, though his speech was sometimes odd. He displayed a pocket watch that could be worn about the wrist that had neither minute nor second hand but numbers that moved upon its glass surface.

He seemed especially interested in us. Perhaps he’d seen one of my performances and was a fan, for he gave us a souvenir box gratis. Though it looks plain enough on the outside, a paper scroll within feeds through one face and is wholly ensconced with copper wires, tubes, and all manner of strange circuitry to rival anything I’ve seen in Mr. Edison’s Light Palace.

In any case, I wish you were here to enjoy these wonders with us. Henry’s mentioned he’d like to move us to a lovely apartment in Lincoln Park soon, and I’d love it if you visit when time allows. All my best to Uncle Sven and the cousins.

With Love,


From: E.Bradley ([email protected])

To: J.Pac ([email protected])

July 9, 1995

Jay -

So good to hear from you! I always wondered if you took over the world after M.I.T. but I guess working in Silicone Valley is close enough. I barely recognized your profile pic but that’s not saying much - I barely recognize my own face these days.

How the hell you found a working KRAYT-1 is beyond me. You’ve struck gold, my friend. Forget the fact it pre-dates the APPLE 1 by over three decades. Its punch card data system is the forerunner for most home computers used today.

Crazy Jack Parsons had no idea what he held when he designed the thing - and yes I know he founded JPL labs and is the “forefather” of modern rocketry, but I’ve also heard the stories about his Thelemite hoodoo and occult group in Pasadena. He was probably trying to raise the devil and get even with Ron Hubbard for snatching his wife.

Anyways, I’d say go ahead and plug the thing in but don’t be surprised if it shorts out your fuse box. I’m happy to take it off your hands, of course - how’s $500 sound? Let me know, and I’ll pay for shipping via FedEx. Talk to you soon.


July 15, 1893

Dear Clarie,

Thank you for the thoughtful gift of linens. Henry and I want for sheets and towels, and this pattern you’ve gifted is simply stunning. I have to confess our new move has been a gamble for me. All of my possessions are in the process of being shipped and spread across Chicago like leaves on the wind.

And then there are the finances. I didn’t want to tell Aunt Clem, but I’ve put Henry on the deed for our property in El Paso. The bank needed some mutual collateral for the commercial loan he’s taken for the factory and other businesses he’s purchased, but I know he’s been working hard to raise funds for all of his endeavors.

He’s often out until the early morning hours speaking with investors, and in time I believe his tenacity will pay off. Along with his new pharmacy and overseeing the building of the guest hotel above it, he has few hours to spend with me, but he assures me it’s all to plan. Whenever I feel the pressure of it all, he gives me a smile I’ve come to adore and quotes a bit of my favorite Shakespearean prose,

“Hear my soul speak. Of the very instant that I saw you, Did my heart fly at your service.”

Annie and I have gotten to know the neighbors in his absence, and I’m thrilled to have shared a dinner table with Margaret and Daniel Burnham. In case the name eludes you, Mr. Burnham is the architect of the World’s Fair and a master designer in his own right. He even promised us a free ride on George Ferris’ gigantic wheel when it opens.

What’s particularly fascinating is he had Mr. Marvel from the Plaisance shop as a guest on the same night we attended. You remember that odd duck I mentioned? Well, Mr. Marvel and Mr. Burnham seemed to get on rather well, for they spent half the night speaking on esoteric rituals and something called ley lines of intersection. Like a roadmap of the spirit world, they said, connecting voices from the past or what’s to come.

I thought it rather un-Christian, but Mr. Marvel assured me all science is just magic made reasonable. In any case, he asked to see my gift box, which Annie brought from our house a few minutes later. Until now, I’ve found little use for the thing save collecting dust on the armoire. But Mr. Marvel kept to his namesake, and with some tinkering and a metallic screech that reminds me of felines in heat, the box sprang to life. I heard a whirring of motors within, and a bit of the paper slipped out - reading, “JP - TEST 01-020-1955”.

Poor Annie nearly swooned. I wanted to show Henry, but Mr. Marvel made me swear to keep silent on it. He said the spirits within would be angry if too many curious eyes laid its secrets bare. I’ll humor him for now, but the box does concern me. If this box can genuinely reach the nether regions of the soul, who knows what dark presence it may bring into my house? If curiosity didn’t pique me just a bit, I’d throw it in a bin.

I think I’ll have a servant leave it at Henry’s guest hotel downtown. He’ll pay little mind to it, and I can perhaps find some use for it - maybe even find some funding for Henry’s projects or a bit of money the previous owner stashed away.

All in good fun, of course - speaking of, please refer to Henry as Mr. Holmes when speaking of him to others. I know it’s an odd request, but Henry’s having the time of his life here and worried his poor reputation with the New York elite may color any view of his new business ventures. You know how predisposed to gossip and unvalidated rumor that crowd can be. Henry sees our time here as a fresh start, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

All my best,


From: E.Bradley ([email protected])

To: J.Pac ([email protected])

July 17, 1995

Jay -

Okay, you got me. I don’t know how you placed a modem into this rusted-out wreck, but I nearly shit my pants when I saw your message sprawl across the screen. “Hello, I’m here. Are you a spirit of past, present, or future?”

A little Dickensian, no? Well, I gotta tell you it must be one hell of a small daughterboard because after spending a few hours dusting off each component, I have yet to find it, let alone a phone jack.

Are you working with Jaap Hartseen over at Ericsson? I heard he’s got some new connectivity hardware he’s playing with to deal with the old RS-232 serial connector issue we all struggle with. Blue…something or other. Anyways if you got a prototype for it in this thing - I’m very impressed (and a little worried, lol). I’m leaving it on tonight to see if you can pull the same trick twice. Let me know.

- Ed

P.S.- Who is Minnie? Weirdo.

July 19, 1893

Dear Father Smith,

I wish to thank you again for ordinating our nuptials several months ago, and I‘m well aware my note is long overdue. Mr. Holmes and I will cherish the ceremony you oversaw, small as it was, because of the kind words of encouragement you gave us.

I must admit I felt like a bit of an orphan when we eloped, but sometimes the ones we love dearest have a hard time seeing us as more than our humble beginnings. Your homily on Christs’ own meager start in the manger inspired my husband, someone I think is just starting his journey to salvation, and he’s allowed many of Chicago’s most needful men and women to stay free of charge in his hotel. While I’ve yet to meet them after their stay, he assures me they walk away from their restful reprieve, invigorated and full of life.

It’s on the subject of life that I hope to get your thoughts. I’ve mentioned to you before the odd gift Mr. Marvel bestowed, a box of some ability that seems to converse with me of its own accord.

I must confess I misled you when you last asked about it. It is quite unlike Mr. Morse’s telegram machine, for no wires nor receptors connect to it, and unlike the signaled responses we often hear at train stations, this box communicates in plain English on printed paper. I’ve also been dialoguing with it, using mechanical keys attached at its base. I write a question, and in time, sometimes an hour, sometimes a day, a response appears. I think now that this is no newly invented technology, for the words given are unlike any a gentleman would utter; in fact, the words are frighteningly accurate for events that are yet to come.

As you may have heard in the local paper, a rider named John Berry placed first in the Chadron-Chicago Cowboy Race that ended at Buffalo Bill’s show just outside the Exposition grounds a week ago. I thought if there truly are spirits, as Mr. Marvel warned, they would know the outcome full well, and perhaps even a bet could be placed to gain some small financial windfall. Upon asking, the box whirred and hummed for some time before replying; Joe Gillespi would be the victor. I knew then the entire contraption was a ruse, and Mr. Marvel, a charlatan, until the very next day Berry was found to have cheated and was disqualified. Mr. Gillespi walked away with the trophy.

I tried to tell Mr. Holmes of this, but my husband is away for long hours and has been weary with his philanthropy, to the point he rarely smiles and at times seems put off by my questions. He shrugged and replied,

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

In any case, I sense a cloud is forming over our family, and I fear my dabbling with this oddity may bring some unrighteous sore into our relationship that needs lancing. I intend to return the box to Mr. Marvel within a week. I pray you find the time to meet with Mr. Holmes and me for counseling, a measure I know will rekindle the happiness in our home. Please write soon.

Kind Regards,

Minnie Williams-Holmes

From: R.Metzger ([email protected])

To: E.Bradley ([email protected])

July 19, 1995

Hi Ed!

Jay asked me to reach out to you, and I’m more than happy to relate some of the research I’ve dug up on Parsons, though my work is more focused on LRH and his church of nut jobs.

From the letters Jack and Ron shared, it’s pretty clear their Ordo Templi Orientis group was more about orgies than anything scientifically substantial. However, one conversation between them was interesting - though I doubt their experiment was as successful as they make it sound. I’ll copy-paste the significant bits below:

BTW - do me a favor and subscribe to my newsletter when you get the chance, I really need the readers.

- Richard



Our little experiment is a resounding success! The chimpanzees you acquired were perfect specimens. Subject A, we called him “Patches”, was agreeable enough until given your “puzzle box”, at which time his attitude switched entirely, he became despondent and aggressive after playing with it for some hours. Marjorie and I then called him “Tom” to which he responded favorably.

Subject B was brought in several days after Subject A was dispatched. We also named him, “Tom” and administered a range of psychotropic compounds to him to elevate his anxiety and aggressiveness. This differentiation in personality was clearly needed to establish a dichotomy of personality traits between our apes. Once we gave the new “Tom” his puzzle box, the creature was able to operate it within hours - and when the dials within were set to the previous date, something spectacular occurred. Tom expired - and I don’t mean he died Jack, I mean he literally disappeared before Marjorie’s eyes.

While we cannot be certain, looking at the results, Marjorie and I believe this device somehow transferred the mind or spirit of the second chimp into the first. How this could be practically applied for matter transference into a past date, without a box present, is an obstacle you’ll have to decipher on your own, but I think the possibility of mind transference to a future date is very attainable.

I’d love to incorporate these concepts into my latest book, it’s quite unlike my previous science fiction work, more of a self-help reference. Hell, I could found a religion on it. Let me know your thoughts.



From: E.Bradley ([email protected])

To: J.Pac ([email protected])

July 21, 1995

Jay -

This is beyond me. I don’t know whether to call an IT expert or an exorcist. If what you’re implying is true, then this box has some kind of quantum-level connection to events over a hundred years ago. “Minnie” has been able to recite accounts of locations, people, events that would probably take a researcher years to pull together. But why in Chicago? I live in Alameda, California, for God’s sake.

I recently read a book on stuff like this from some English professor named Hawkings - he basically said, “we can be sure that all time exists with equal reality.” He equated it as all time running simultaneously at once, like a million movie theater screens - each playing out a series of events.

My point is that I think the KRAYT-1 can move between theaters. I think I’m having some kind of conversation with a living, breathing ghost, and if Jack ” the Marvel” Parsons made one box, he might have made two. I going to do some research on this “Minnie” in Chicago and get back to you.


July 23, 1893

Dear Cousin Shane,

I write to you in haste and ask you to forgive my abruptness; I’ve come across some distressing news and need your insight and discretion. I believe Henry, my husband, to be having an affair, or at least some impropriety. I know your husband is a constable in the 56th precinct in Burnside and North Town and can verify my suspicions with some minor effort. As you know, Henry’s pharmacy and hotel inhabit the same building on 63rd street, just three miles west of the fairgrounds.

I was meeting Mr. Marvel there to return his box; I’ll not go into details for now but suffice to say, it became an unwelcome gift, when he asked to see “the palace,” as he put it. I showed him through the pharmacy, where we came upon Ned Connor, the clerk who runs the jewelry counter. Mr. Connor was adamant that Henry had engaged in carnal knowledge with his fiancee Julia. He’d asked her to assist him in some small task in the apartments overhead. Apparently, she never returned, but when Ned arrived home, he found many of her belongings were gone, including the jewelry he had procured for her on their engagement.

I assured Mr. Connor my husband was no lecher, but he says there were many nights where Henry would lead women, and only women, to the hotel rooms and not return for hours on end. Then, Mr. Marvel insisted on seeing the rooms for “his time was short in this continuum.” I was about to ask Mr. Marvel to return on another day, but he strode past me and up the stairs. I followed him, and to my surprise, he opened a bookcase with the touch of his hand, like it was a door.

He knew exactly where it was as if he’d seen it on a map. Within the hidden doorway, I saw a small unremarkable room, a dingy bed, a nightstand, a chair, and several ropes and scarves tied to the bedpost. The sheets were used and smelled of cheap perfume. On the nightstand, I found a note in Henry’s hand that quoted As You Like It, his favorite play,

“I pray you, do not fall in love with me, For I am falser than vows made in wine.”

Mr. Marvel snapped a photo with some odd daguerreotype I’ve not seen before and promptly left. When I turned to follow him, he was gone like a whisper in the wind. The whole encounter feels like some nightmare, save for the cursed box I forgot to give back to him. I have no one else to turn to except the fiend box and its occult-like foretelling. Speak with your husband as soon as possible and let me know, no matter the news, if I should be worried.

- Minnie

From: L. Sanger ([email protected])

To: E.Bradley ([email protected])

July 24, 1995

Ed -

Thank you for your inquiry. Unfortunately, our online encyclopedia project is still in its infancy, though I believe one day users from around the world will be able to contribute to it. We have no data on Jack Parsons born “Marvel Parsons” - except as you noted, he founded the Jet Propulsion Labs and had an uncanny ability to disappear when law enforcement came calling.

However, Jimmy and I happen to be true-crime enthusiasts so we can at least answer one of your questions. Minnie and Annie Williams were early victims of H.H. Holmes - known as America’s first serial killer, around the turn of the century. From some of the tabloids of the day he had quite the “murder palace” - pretty gruesome stuff. I’m sure you can learn more from microfiche news reels if needed.

- Larry Sanger

Project Nupedia Lead


C:\CHKSDISK-D 101200



:/ Minnie, this is Ed. H.H. is a ^*(&(HLSFL ERROR)

:/ M*00806 RRROR - Palace…You must believe me. Check 2nd Floor Firep89uy20-34 ERROR

:/ SEE mAp Below


8************* 8 ********HiDen**8***********************8


88888*****888888888888 8 x 8 888888888********8888888

:/ You are not safe.





*Ed -

*I’m scared. You were right. Even now, as I type this, I find my hands shake. As you said, the fireplace was another hidden door, and there was a room with a coal chute to the basement, from which such a horrific smell arose, I had to cover my nose. I thought you were some malicious spirit, but now I see that this is a science beyond my century’s understanding and perhaps yours as well.

*Ed, I saw a pile of clothes, tattered and bloodied by the chute. And now I think this palace, as Mr. Marvel called it, is more a house of horrors. I rushed home to pack a bag of necessities and called for my sister, Annie, to pick me up, but the maid said Henry had already called on her - to surprise her with a “grand tour” of his hotel.

*I can’t leave her with him. He’ll slaughter her. But perhaps with your vantage of my time, you can guide me. I’ll bring the box with me and pray you can reply as quickly as possible.



From: E.Bradley ([email protected])

To: J.Pac ([email protected])

July 25, 1995

Jay -

I don’t have time to explain, but I need to know if Jack Parsons ever left any manual with the KRAYT? If his experiments with mind and matter transference go beyond just words on this machine, there must be a way to pull Minnie out from the past. I don’t have any idea if the KRAYT is capable of this or what Minnie’s box contains, but my guess is Parsons did. In fact, I think he made the damn thing.

If what the letters argue is true, I’m risking some form of possession but if Jack can bounce between bodies in the past, I’m certain we can find a more permanent home for Minnie as well. Knowing what I know of time at this point, it seems like a death sentence to do nothing.

I’m having a hell of a time communicating with her through that piece of crap, and I don’t have the kind of foresight she needs to survive.

You gotta help me, man. It’s urgent.





* Ed -

* I’m here, in the hidden room.

*He’s close. I can hear him humming, talking to himself.

* Can’t find Annie.

* He’s reciting again,

“The stroke of death is as a lovers pinch, which hurts and is desired.”

*Saints preserve, I know what he did.

*Please respond. He’s opening the fireplace.




C:\CHKSDISK-D 101200




FILE -03240 -0990 COMPLETE


Minnie. Transference is possible. Do as I say.


Find SilvEr gasket and dial witHin your box. Cesium Ampule with Switch.

Small numbers on dial TURN o2342034899ERROR

TURN to coordinates: -122.241638 - 07 - 25 - 1995

CANT Be SuRe of OutCome

Friend Jay says the box will 0234u2304ujdfcxsERROR



From: J.Pac ([email protected])

To: E.Bradley ([email protected])

July 26, 1995

Old friend,

I’m aware you might be quite astounded by all you’re seeing. I’m sure your appearance is especially shocking. As I promised you before, it’s all to plan. I’ve made the trip myself on many occasions and still find things I’ve never dreamed of here.

I’m so happy we were able to meet all those years ago. And I assure you my order is quite excited to help you along your path today. Hopefully, you were able to clean up after your "business" in Chicago and “greeting” Ed, your new host. As you’re well aware, reputations can precede us, so if you could forgo calling me Jack, I’d appreciate it. Please try your best to respond as you’re able.

All the best,


From: E.Bradley ([email protected])

To: J.Pac ([email protected])

July 26, 1995

“O brave new world, That has such people in ’t!”

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