“Steven, what are you doing?”
Steven Adams looked up from his work and raised his goggles from his eyes. “I’m building a time machine with these instructions I found on the internet.” To prove the legitimacy of the instructions, he pointed to the jpeg-artifacted NASA logo in the bottom corner of the printout. “You wanna help, bro?”
Andre Roberson looked doubtfully at the shoddily-assembled mass of metal sheeting and wires. Rather than answer his teammate’s question, he asked another. “Why’d you decide to build this thing in the training facility and not, you know, your garage?”
“The maintenance guys have all these tools they said I could borrow,” Steven replied, gesturing to the numerous toolboxes on the floor. “Plus, electricity is free here, and this baby is going to need a LOT of electricity to generate a spacetime loop. That’s what the directions say anyway. I don’t even know what spacetime is.”
“Oh,” Andre said. “Don’t you think you should understand the ramifications of time-travel before just going ahead and doing it? Not like I think this dangerous amalgamation of random circuitry is actually going to take you anywhere but the hospital.”
Steven lowered his goggles back onto his eyes, grabbed his welding torch, and began welding a steering wheel to one of the metal panels. “Bro, quit worrying. NASA wouldn’t lie to me about the safety or feasibility of their schematics.”
“Why do you even want to go back in time anyway? You gonna, like, prevent the European discovery of New Zealand or something?”
“Even better,” Steven replied. “I’m gonna make sure that we never trade Enes for Carmelo.” At the thought of being reunited with his friend and fellow big man, Steven became wistful. “Who knows how far we would have gone with Enes around…”
“Probably not much farther, since you time travel scenario doesn’t alter the fact that we share a conference with the Warriors and Rockets,” Andre pointed out.
“Good idea Andre! While I’m meddling with, and ultimately foiling, the trade plans of our GM, I can force a vote among franchise owners on conference realignment,” Steven mused. “If everything goes right, we could even make the finals.” The thought filled him with such inspiration that he began to work even faster. “You’ll have to leave now so I can focus,” he told his teammate. “This time machine isn’t going to build itself.”
“Andre, come with me, I got something to show you,” Steven said, interrupting Andre’s shooting drill to the bemusement of the trainer whom Andre was working with.
“You finished building that janky-ass time machine from fraudulent directions that you probably downloaded off 4chan?” Andre asked. “No thanks, I can imagine it just fine.”
Grabbing Andre’s arm and pulling him along, Steven continued, “I think it’s ready to test out.”
“Then I really don’t want to be involved,” Andre said, trying in vain to pull his arm from Steven’s grip. “I don’t remember volunteering for this.”
“You’re the only one of the guys who took my aspirations seriously,” Steven said as they walked down the hallway. “Maybe because you knew Enes better than they did.” They rounded a corner and were faced with a seven-foot tall metal chamber covered in flashing lights. It had a crudely-hinged door on one side, which Steven opened, revealing an interior that looked even less safe than the exterior. Wires ran all along the walls, some of them hooking into a 90’s-vintage laptop.
“No way am I getting in that thing,” Andre said anxiously. “No way.”
“I mean, you’re already injured, so what’s the worst that can happen?” Steven asked, grabbing Andre by the shoulders and forcing him into the small compartment. He joined Andre inside the machine, then closed and latched the door. Peering at the laptop screen, Steven uncertainly typed into the command-line while Andre futilely attempted to disable the door’s locking mechanism.
Steven hit “enter” one one last command, then announced, “Okay. Ready.” Andre squeezed his eyes shut and prepared for the worst as Steven reached out and pushed the large red “GO” button.
There was some rumbling, some shaking, and the sounds of many klaxons going off. This continued for about five seconds before abruptly stopping.
“Welcome to the past,” Steven proclaimed, throwing open the door to a smoke-filled, dark hallway.
The same trainer came running down the hallway, coughing. “Whatever you guys just did, it knocked out power to the whole city, so congratulations.”
“What year is it?” Steven asked the trainer. When the response was “2018”, Steven’s expression became downcast. “It didn’t work,” he said sadly.
“Well, the good news is, we traded Carmelo today,” Andre replied, patting his despondent teammate on the shoulder.
Steven perked up at this news. “That makes my job easier,” he said to himself, getting back into the machine. When it started making noise again a few seconds later, Andre started running away from it, but when he looked behind him, the time machine was gone.