Hailey Addison sat behind the wheel of her VW Time Machine and loved it. Up until now, her best friend, Rhoda Crowley, had been hogging the driver’s seat because she had this misguided impression that it was her time machine. Sure, she had designed the time travel mechanism, but her part was all theoretical physics. Hailey had done all the real work. She was the one who actually built the time travel mechanism and installed it into her old VW camper. She also wired all the instruments and fitted a nuclear-powered engine into the camper.
She hadn’t told Rhoda that it was nuclear powered at first because she would have freaked out about safety. When she found out, Hailey had placated her with some nice sounding lies about the precautions she had taken. The truth was, their time machine was ridiculously dangerous, but Rhoda was not going to find that out. If the worst happened, they’d die instantly, and she would be none the wiser. Ignorance was bliss, and Rhoda was blissfully happy to have a time machine that could also fly them where they needed to go – which was another miracle Hailey had performed. Volkswagens were aerodynamic nightmares.
They were currently flying to what would one day be Northeast China, because they always had to do what Rhoda wanted to do first. Hailey was momentarily tempted to attempt a barrel roll, but that would have been a terrible idea. It would have also been hilarious, because Rhoda was using the bathroom. It wasn’t so much a bathroom as a curtain around the toilet in the back corner, allowing them to share every single sound and smell, which would have been awkward if they didn’t know each other so well… and if Hailey didn’t find toilet humor so funny.
What Hailey didn’t find funny was spending another day taking pictures of dinosaurs on their phones. While it was fun the first day, she was more excited to go to Salem and see the Witch Trials. She had never been able to explain to anyone why they were so interesting to her. She told people it was because she loved to see how far people could extrapolate from faulty information. That was true to a point, but secretly, it was because of her childhood fantasy about real witches getting their revenge on Salem; she had always loved stories of magic. It was good that Rhoda didn’t know this because that meant she also didn’t know that Hailey was setting herself up to be disappointed over a childhood fantasy. Hailey decided not to think about that now. For now, they were headed to China, which was actually a lot closer during the Cretaceous. All the landmasses were closer together in this time period.
Behind Hailey, a toilet flushed with the quiet whooshing sound that camper toilets made. Rhoda cleaned up and joined Hailey at the front of the cab. She had a strangely concerned look for someone who had just come out of the bathroom.
“How much waste can the tank hold,” Rhoda asked. “Are we going to have to empty it before we go back to the present? I don’t like the idea of dumping our bodily waste. There is no way of knowing what kind of impact that might have on the past.”
Hailey frowned. Why did Rhoda always have to be so responsible these days? All that education had ruined her.
“You’re not going to like the answer,” Hailey said.
“Why? Do we need to dump it soon?”
“No, we never need to dump it. It exits the vehicle every time you flush.”
Rhoda’s face turned pale. “But I thought these campers had tanks to collect your waste.”
“Normally they do,” Hailey said, “This one had a tank that you have to empty out manually. There was no way I was going to do that, so I rigged it to evacuate with every flush.”
Now Rhoda’s face turned red. “Why would you do that? Did you even contemplate what effect our fecal matter could have on the past? We’re contaminating history!”
Hailey resisted the urge to roll her eyes.
“Yeah, I considered it,” Hailey said. “But if you don’t want to affect history, we shouldn’t travel through time. You can’t observe something without altering it. That’s a natural law.” She shrugged. “I figured, as long as we’re coming here, what’s a little poop going to do?”
“What’s a little poop going to do! We’re introducing foreign microbes into the ecosystem. We could destroy the evolutionary course of history!”
“Again, we do that just by being here. The camper is covered with microbes from our time. Our gut bacteria isn’t going to hurt anything. It’s evolved to thrive in human stomachs. It will just die out in this environment.”
Rhoda’s eyes bulged. She was making that face she made when she got really mad, just before she stomped away and sulked for a while. But there wasn’t anywhere for her to stomp away to. She seemed to realize this, because she looked around the camper desperately. Finally, she settled on a crate of MREs near the back.
Hailey checked the map display again. There was no GPS to guide them in the Cretaceous, but the time machine’s computer could track their movement and place the dot in the right place on the map. Unfortunately, the map was not exact, it was an approximation made by geologists. Fortunately, they didn’t really need to be exact. They just needed to go to an approximate location and find a place to land. Then Rhoda could find the dinosaurs that she was so eager to see.
“You know what?” Hailey asked.
“What?” Rhoda said grumpily.
“I can prove that our poop is harmless.”
“No, you can’t. We won’t know what it did until we go back home. Then we’ll find out that humans have evolved with scales, if they’ve even evolved at all.”
“We can know, because while we were still traveling backwards, I used the toilet. That was right before we decelerated. That poo would have been flung even farther back in time than we were, but nothing is different about the cretaceous. Everything has evolved the way you expected it.”
“Really?” Rhoda asked, “That’s your argument? ‘I took a dump on time itself, and nothing seems to be broken.’”
“Uh, yeah, I guess,” Hailey replied weakly. “But, hey! I hadn’t thought about it that way. Who else can say they took a dump on time itself!”
“That’s not something to be proud of,” Rhoda mumbled.
Hailey turned back to her flight controls and grinned. Rhoda couldn’t tell her what to be proud of. She now had the record for oldest turd on Earth and no one could take that away from her. She looked over the land below. It was her land. She had claimed it in the most ancient manner. Then she noticed something on the horizon – a bird that didn’t look right. She couldn’t see it clearly from here, but it didn’t look quite like one of Rhoda’s pterosaurs or any bird she had ever seen. She decided not to mention it.