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MIU THE SCHOOL GIRL
Too much homework, overbearing teachers, having no boyfriend, etc, etc...Miu is your typical high school student, with your typical high school problems. But despite being touted as an illustrious academic with a bright future, all Miu really wants to do is draw. Her real passion in life is manga comic illustration, and she loves nothing more than telling great stories with beautiful, diaphanous line art. Of course this is something she keeps to herself, because those close to her would never understand why she would throw away her education just to doodle! Despite this Miu persists, and is busy after school every day, working on her next manga. Maybe it's time for Miu to show the world what her vivid imagination, and drawing skills are capable of! Go Miu!

INGRID THE PRINCESS OF SWEDEN
With her light blonde hair, blue eyes and delicate looks, Ingrid is the very picture of Scandinavian beauty, and along with her gracious demeanour this has earned her many admirers. She loves to dance and is greatly inspired by the waltzes of Johann Strauss and Tchaikovsky. She is also a superb harpsichord player and practises her craft daily.

BELLE THE FRENCH MAID
Belle works as a maid in a gorgeous baroque-style mansion in Fleurville. Although her bedroom is in the attic, she's content beause it affords her a beautiful view of the mansion gardens. She is attentive and quick to attend to her employers or their guests when they need something. She is a diligent employee and likes to carry out all her tasks properly.

NERUMI THE CATGIRL
Once an adept theif and spy for her tribe of cat people, Nerumi ran into trouble when she was captured during one of her 'outings', and an evil witch doctor put an old bell curse on her. Now she's unable to slink around undetected as she once did, but she's still very quick and agile, and can be an extremely vicious opponent. At heart, though, she's as playful and mischievous as a kitten.

TSUBAME THE NINJA
Tsubame is a strong young woman who was born out of wedlock to an incredibly talented and beautiful female ninja. Now a vagabond ninja herself, she has trained hard to hone her skills in the hope that one day her mother - who still plots revenge against the man who never took her love seriously - may be at peace.

LAETITIA THE SWORDSWOMAN
The daughter of a once world-renowned French swordsman, Laetitia has devoted her entire life to the art form for which her father was so revered. In her early teens, Laetitia witnessed her father's fatal defeat at the hand of a master samurai from Japan. She has vowed to one day be good enough to exact revenge by defeating her father's killer. Since then she has toiled day and night, studying all the different forms of swordsmanship, and honing her skill to perfection. Will she defeat the master samurai from the East? Or will she suffer her father's fate?

LEIGHLAH THE ASSASSIN
Due to trouble at home, Leighlah moved to live with her uncle when she was six years old. There she learned various martial arts, and how to use the samurai katana. At fifteen years of age, she came home from school to find her uncle dead, assassinated. Broken-hearted, she lived with a foster family for three years, training herself in the art of killing every day after school. At twenty four, she finally avenged her uncle's murder. Now twenty nine, she is one of the world's top assassins.

FIONNULA THE WARRIOR
A simple farm girl, Fionnula lost everything when her home was raided by bandits. Afterward, she roamed the dusty country roads, until she was picked up by a kindhearted old mercenary. Driven by the urge of vengeance, Fionnula begged to learn the art of war. Although reluctant to lead this strong-willed girl into his deadly way of life, he was persuaded, and in time he became proud of his apprentice. Woe to those who underestimate Fionnula, for she commands strength not evident in her delicate build!

YING THE MARTIAL ARTIST
Her name means 'Eagle', and like her namesake she is agile, feorcious and powerful. Ying is a determined Chinese warrior, who wants to be a world champion. She travels to distant shores with one thing in mind: to claim victory in battle. Aggressive and guarded, she is hard to get close to. She only shows her feelings in the heat of battle, and she relishes the idea of challenging top fighters. She fights bare-handed, believing this to be the purest, truest form of fighting.

TATIANA THE MECHA PILOT
This is one smart lady. Tatiana is the head pilot and instructor for the Earth Defence Force, Lightning Brigade, Mecha Units. She is loud and brassy, but friendly, laid-back and approachable - always ready to relax with her team, challenge them to arm-wrestling competitions and drink them under the table. But when she flies she is a deadly force to be reckoned with. With years of experience, there are few who can stand up to her on the battlefield.

SHI-YUE WU THE MILITARY
She-Yue is a young, and inexperienced, captain. She would rather fight alone than with others by her side. The interplanetary war started ten years before she was born, and the government picked her out before birth. Since the age of three she has been educated in history and battle skills. Shi-Yue showed great promise, and by her early teens was fighting on the battlefield. Stubborn and passionate, she still manages to keep a positive attitude, even if things turn sour.

ORUHA THE GEISHA
Oruha is a woman of many contradictions - refined yet girlish, seductive yet untouchable. She is a geisha of geiko rank in the Kyoto hanamachi: experienced and professional. The most charming woman you will ever meet, she has an air of mystery around her - who knows how she really feels? She is an entertainer and confidante, paid for her unrivalled good company! She is a master of dance, and keeps her fan with her at all times so she can perform should a client request it. Here, it is the end of a long day of formal engagements, and she relaxes with a regular client.

YUMIKO THE FESTIVAL GIRL
To little Yumiko-chan, there is no greater joy than witnessing the beautiful cherry blossoms in full bloom between late March and early April, when the cherry blossom festival is held. 'Hanami', as it is known in Japan, is an event Yumiko and her friends look forward to all year. When the day arrives, they just chill out and relax: sitting in Tokyo's Ueno Park from day to night taking in the view; parading around in beautiful yukata robes; sipping sweet rice wine; eating dango dumplings; chatting to cute boys; and just generally having a ball! And because it only comes once a year, Yumiko is always determined to party enough within those fleeting two weeks to last her until next time!

SHIORI THE SHINTO BRIDE
Shiori has always wanted to get married. So, when her boyfriend proposed, she was ecstatic and began making plans for the wedding immediately. Shiori has a romantic and traditional soul, and because she is a girl, she has dreamed of having a traditional Shinto wedding ceremony just as her parents and grandparents did. Even though most of her friends are now opting for Western-style weddings with enormous princess dresses, Shiori feels elegant and dignified in her traditional attire.

GRANDMA
Grandma has lived a long life, and she's been through plenty of hard times. She may no longer be the babe she was in her youth, but a positive attitude and good sense of humour have kept her cheerful and youthful in attitude. Her grandchildren are her sunshine and she's always very happy to have them visit. She fills her time by tending to her flower garden, which is small but beautiful.

MARI THE MIKO (TEMPLE MAIDEN)
Mari is a bright, cheerful teenager whose father runs the local shrine. She is happy to help her family as a shrine maiden (or 'miko') during festivals ('o-matsuri') and other special events. She loves the excitement and fun! She is friendly and popular in her neighbourhood, and goes out of her way to help others.

ANA THE PUNK ROCKER
From the venues she frequents to her trendy fashion statements, Ana is a quintessential modern rock chick! Being a lover of eclectic music, she aspired to be a musician from a young age. Her musical destinty was sealed from the moment she picked up her first guitar, bought by her father for her eleventh birthday. Making up one quarter of the acclaimed rock outfit 'Missiles a Go-Go', Ana leaves jaws on the mosh-pit floow whenever she performs. Not only is she living proof that girls rock harder than boys, she is also an inspiration to all young guitarists, being only sixteen and already a globally-worshipped guitar heroine!

TOKI DOKI THE WACKY
This girl is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. No one knows her real name, who she is or even what planet she is from! All that is known about this strange being is that she crops up sporadically in Tokyo's videogame, anime and shopping Mecca 'Akihabara'. The locals call her Toki Doki, which means 'now and then'. She never utters a word, but she will play anyone on any arcade machine, and has never lost a match. Her mysteriousness, unorthodox appearance and flawless videogame prowess has ensured her legendary status in Akihabara. Tourists from all over the country visit just to catch a glimpse of her. If you do spot her, don't get too close; that phase she carries is no toy, as a few unfortunates have found out the hard way...

REIKO THE HIP-HOP
Reiko is a huge fan of American hip-hop music, which has pervaded the Tokyo youth scene. She avidly watches music videos in order to copy her idols' sense of style and attitude. On weekends, she browses specilist hip-hop boutiques in the ultra-trendy Tokyo districts of Shibuya and Harajuku, then spends the entire night clubbing in Roppongi. She's an excellent dancer with a naturally toned body. Her dream is to travel to New York and build a career as a model or dancer.

CHIAKI THE ELEGANT GOTHIC
Descendant of a legendary Japanese vampire lineage, Chiaki is the result of an illicit love affair between the late vampire king and his mortal lover. Being half vampire and half human, Chiaki has struggled with her identity all her life, and has failed to find the acceptance she so craves. Since the death of her birth mother, her father, the vampire king, vanished into darkness never to be seen again. Now little Chiaki resides in the grand castle alone, destined to live out an eternity without ever knowing what it is to love and to be loved.

MARIA THE CYBORG
Maria was a highly skilled Shaolin martial artist with many enemies. Following a battle with her arch nemesis, she was very nearly killed when she fell from the roof of a building. Left for dead, a scientist stumbled across her broken body and took her back to his laboratory where he is rebuilding her as a cyborg. Maria is now part robot, and when the rebuilding is finally over she plans to hunt down her enemies and seek revenge.

ARIEL THE ANGEL
A normal girl by day, at night after she falls asleep Ariel transforms into a benevolent angel - a graceful, effortless being. Neither friends nor family know about this nocturnal transformation because Ariel's physical appearance is completely changed. Ariel has no memory of her night-time adventures in the morning when she wakes, but by night she is a mysterious force for good, touching the lives of many of those around her.

LESTATIA THE VAMPIRE
Lestatia Krasnova was born in 650 AD in Samova Ria (now Slovakia). A promising violinist, she was bitten by a vampire - the granddaughter of the infamous, eternal Dracul - at the tender age of seventeen. Ever since, she has stalked the night in search of young blood to suck. She vows to share her immortality only with the One, whom she has yet to meet.

MIKA THE FAIRY
Mika is so small that she could sleep on your palm, but it is more likely that she will remain hidden because when she flies she is transparent; just a small glimmer of light in the air means she may have decided to show herself! If you do see her, it's best to remain calm and to listen to her whispered words. Maybe she will ask about a deepest wish, and grant it with a gesture of her hand and a sweet smile.

RINA THE WITCH
Rina is an apprentice witch. Bubbly and charming, Rina is always a ray of sunshine. She comes from a long line of witches, and is almost fully qualified. She is hardworking and talented, but her happy-go-lucky doesn't always go down well at school.

7L THE SUPERHERO
7L, also known as Leneves Kaster, crash-landed on Earth in a metal comet from an unknown planet when she was a baby. A stranger to her past, and to her powers, until early adulthood, she discovered them while meditating on Mount Vesuvius. Her third eye burst open in a jet of flames, and her powers of flight and superhuman strength were revealed. Which is just as well, because her arch-nemesis, Knemesis, the planet-eating robot virus that destroyed her home, is on his way to Earth and only 7L can destroy him!

ALIKA THE BEACH BABE
Healthy young Alika loves nothing more than hanging out at the beach, soaking up the sun and swimming in the sea with her friends. Her healthy tanned skin and shapely curves attract lots of attention from boys, especially when she parades around in a hot bikini! Yet Alike remains single by choice; she believes that most men are losers, and she tenaciously holds out for the ever-elusive Mr Right to come along and sweep her off her feet.

KEIKO OGAWA THE TOMBOY
Keiko is a no-nonsense tomboy who just wants to chill out with her best friend, Miyuki Tanaka, and practice her karate. Keiko's uncle runs a karate dojo, and Keiko has been going there since she was very young. Keiko was in the top 10 in Japan's National Junior Karate Championship, and she aims to become top five this year. Keiko is in Grade 9, and lives with her parents. Her father is a fashion designer, and her mother is a karate instructor at Keiko's uncle's dojo.

ALISHA THE GLAMOUR GIRL
Alisha is a true girly-girl and loves her high heels and handbags. Her diary is stuffed full of sample sale and fashion week dates, as well as hair and make-up appointments. She works for a high-end lifestyle magazine and feels it is part of her job to keep up with the latest trends (well, that's her excuse anyway). Her style is flirty, but she's an expert at keeping potential suitors at arm's length!

LINA THE GEEK
Her nanny must have been a computer, because Lina likes to talk to computer screens more than real faces! Her friends do not live in her neighbourhood - they are spread all over the planet, connected like a family by the Internet - but she also has a biological family, and when it is time to eat Lina sometimes hears her mother call. But maybe an important email message is due, so Lina forgets her hunger and the people waiting at the table.

MIMI THE RETRO-KITSCH
A walking fashion statement, Mimi's high-contrast, retro-kitsch styling turns heads wherever she goes. With a passion for electronic music and clubbing, you'll find her out and about every weekend in the most fashionable underground club scenes dancing the night away. Mimi is one cool lady who knows what she wants and does not tolerate anything short of sheer perfection. Approach her in last season's threads at your peril.

PAI THE CUTE YOUTH
Like many young girls, Pai dreams of being a pop singer one day, and she's so adorable she might just make it. Young and energetic, yet naive and somewhat dreamy, she spends much of her life daydreaming about the future while dealing with the daily troubles of adolescence. At school she loves history, literature and music, but hates maths and sports. Her mother has connections in the entertainment industry, so Pai also has a job on the side as a child fashion model.

HEIDI THE ANDROGYNOUS
Heidi is a total mystery! At first, no one can tell if she is a boy or a girl. The way she dresses and acts really confuses people. Heidi attracts a lot of attention, but she is actually reserved and shy. She loves books, and spends her weekends reading in her back garden.

HOSHIKO THE KINDERGARTEN GIRL
Other kids complain when they have to walk to school in the rain: not so Hoshiko! Her eyes widen and her heart beats faster with anticipation when she sees raindrops dance in the puddles. She enjoys walking to kindergarten, jumping enthusiastically into every puddle she comes across!

ABI & KIOKO THE MOTHER & DAUGHTER
Abi is a mother and a housewife, even though Kioko's father left just after Kioko, her daughter, was born. Abi is still young at heart and carefree, but also wise and caring. She loves to take Kioko to the park, and Kioko thinks her mummy is a beautiful goddess and wants to be just like her when she grows up.

FAY THE FLOWER MAID
Fay grew up in a poor family, so her start in life was not easy. With no access to education, she had to survive selling flowers until one day she woke up and decided to change her life. Standing before her mirror, she realized that with a makeover and a nice outfit she could be a very beautiful girl. So she scraped her money together, and turned herself into a flower maid. Men could not avert their eyes from her, and as a result many girls were surprised by unexpected flowers from their sweethearts. As her business grows, Fay plans to one day buy her own flower shop.

TRINA THE HANDY GIRL
Born into a family of ballet dancers, Trina was expected to follow in their footsteps; however, due to a close friendship with her family's caretaker, she soon discovered a talent for handiwork. She finds the smell of newly cut timber and the buzzing of her trusty drill far more gratifying than pirouettes and plies. With fierce attention to detail, Trina stops at nothing to perfect her craft.

AKIHA THE SECRETARY
Akiha is head personal assistant to the chief executive officer of one of the most prestigious corporate organizations ever, although you would never guess this by looking at her! Akiha's bubbly, upbeat demeanour is not expected from someone in her role. But it is because of this that she is where she is today: by delivering unfaltering professionalism with a charming little smile!

CHO THE COOK
Cho is a young, ambitious Japanese chef, and her greatest desire is to be a cookery star on television. However, her enthusiasm outweighs her skill. As she dreams of a life of stardom, the thrashin fish slips from her hands and escapes. She chases the fugitive fish with the battle cry 'Banzai!' She is more like a martial artist than a professional cook!

STACEY THE SPORTSWOMAN
Stacey loves sports, being active, and keeping fit. She is not skinny, nor is she outrageously curvy; she has toned arms, strong legs and a flat tummy. Tennis is one of her favourite sports - not only are the outfits cute, but tennis satisfies her competitive streak. You can see in her face that she hates to lose! Although she is an avid sportswoman, she still likes to look very feminine; hence her choice of pretty pink accessories.

CHIKA THE POP IDOL
It's the mid-1980s. Chika is only nineteen, and is already at the top of the charts with a self-penned pop song. Her music education started with classical piano lessons but there is fire in this girl's belly, and only rock music allows her to express it adequately; pop is not the style of music she lives for! However, she has a keen business mind, and she gives people what they want to hear in order to earn lots of money. One day she will break free to create the music she really loves.

SANDY THE COWGIRL
Sandy is born-and-bred cowgirl, having grown up on a ranch in Texas where she learned how to ride horses and tend cattle. Like all cowboys she owns a revolver, but keeps it hidden under her bed and only uses it in emergencies. She's high-spirited adn hot-blooded, but aggression doesn't suit her carefree nature, and after a hard day working on the ranch she loves going to local bars to dance and flirt.

HIKARI THE WRESTLER
Conquering wrestlers around the world has been Hikari's dream ever since she saw her idol, Mysterious Dragon Mask, win the Japanese female championship when she was a child. She grew up pursuing the lofty dream of being the best of the best, and procuring the legendary Dragon Mask for herself. Although still an amateur, Hikari's resolve is unbreakable, and she will get up every time she is slammed to the mat.

DAVINA THE DIVA
As a child, Davina would watch divas on television. She was fascinated by their costumes, dancing and singing. Years later, her own mysterious beauty and expressive voice have brought her fame. After years of work, she became the singing star she had longed to be. Here she poses for a full-page magazine advert for her own scent!

MISS APPLETON THE TEACHER
Miss Appleton is well known for her stern approach to education and having no tolerance of anything imperfect. A multidisciplinary woman of extraordinary talents, Miss Appleton does not specialize in any particular subject: she specializes in them all! From physics to maths, from gym to art, from Latin to German, this lady's knowledge and skills are beyond comprehension. She is also a black belt in various martial arts. This is one teacher you don't want to mess with!

NINA THE NURSE
Nina may appear to be a highly motivated nurse, with a caring bedside manner, but appearances can be deceiving. In fact, she is a ruthless practical joker who enjoys playing tricks on the other nurses and telling tall stories to the patients, enjoying the dumbfounded expressions she elicits from her victims.

SATSUKI IN THE SNOW
Satsuki loves the snow and, as she heads to school she's overjoyed that the first snow is falling. She's wrapped up warmly in her winter school uniform, a warm coat and pink scarf, but she's still a fashionable girl at heart, choosing to go bare-legged with large, loose socks. Cheeful though she is now, she's forgotten that there's bound to be a snowball fight in the playground, and her bright pink hair makes her a prime, unwilling target - not that she can't throw a few snowballs back herself!

LITTLE MISS MITSUKI
Mitsuki may seem like a normal ten-year-old, but in reality she's the princess of Pikari Land, a magical kingdom in another dimension. In Pikari Land all children of royal blood are sent out into the world once they reach the age of ten, where they have a year to make all their dreams come true before returning to the kingdom to study the harsh world of politics. With her faithful henchmen Mitsuki has set out with big dreams, and her sweet smile and happy-go-lucky attitude mean that she's adored by everyone she meets.

MORWENNA THE DARK ELF
Morwenna is cool, aloof and distant. Cunning, shrewd and ever-so-slightly cruel, she is a denizen of the night, at home in forests and caves. She is an expert huntress and fierce fighter, but is more than happy to use her otherworldly beauty in order to get her own way. Even in a chibi version her attitude still shines through!

PIPPA THE PIXIE
Pippa is a cute little flower pixie - sweet and playful, curious and changeable! A carefree creature, she dances through forest glades, bouncing on petals, drinking dew and taking naps under shady ferns. This mercurial lifestyle means she is easily distracted and cannot sit still for very long. Count yourself lucky if you get a glimpse of her, as something else will inevitably catch her eye and off she'll go in pursuit!

(For character reference)


Maiden:
Pass me by! Oh, pass me by!
Go, fierce man of bones!
I am still young! Go, rather,
And do not touch me.
And do not touch me.

Death:
Give me your hand, you beautiful and tender form!
I am a friend, and come not to punish.
Be of good cheer! I am not fierce,
Softly shall you sleep in my arms!

(Written by Schubert based on a poem by German poet Matthias Claudius)


Who rides there so late through the night dark and drear?
The father it is, with his infant so dear;
He holdeth the boy tightly clasp'd in his arm,
He holdeth him safely, he keepeth him warm.

"My son, wherefore seek'st thou thy face thus to hide?"
"Look, father, the Erl King is close by our side!
Dost see not the Erl King, with crown and with train?"
"My son, 'tis the mist rising over the plain."

"Oh, come, thou dear infant! oh come thou with me!
For many a game I will play there with thee;
On my beach, lovely flowers their blossoms unfold,
My mother shall grace thee with garments of gold."

"My father, my father, and dost thou not hear
The words that the Erl King now breathes in mine ear?"
"Be calm, dearest child, thy fancy deceives;
the wind is sighing through withering leaves."

"Wilt go, then, dear infant, wilt go with me there?
My daughters shall tend thee with sisterly care
My daughters by night on the dance floor you lead,
They'll cradle and rock thee, and sing thee to sleep."

"My father, my father, and dost thou not see,
How the Erl King is showing his daughters to me?"
"My darling, my darling, I see it alright,
'Tis the aged grey willows deceiving thy sight."

"I love thee, I'm charm'd by thy beauty, dear boy!
And if thou aren't willing, then force I'll employ."
"My father, my father, he seizes me fast,
For sorely the Erl King has hurt me at last."

The father now gallops, with terror half wild,
He holds in his arms the shuddering child;
He reaches his farmstead with toil and dread,—
The child in his arms lies motionless, dead.


The sign on the wall seemed to quaver under a film of sliding warm water. Eckels felt his eyelids blink over his stare, and the sign burned in this momentary darkness:

TIME SAFARI, INC.
SAFARIS TO ANY YEAR IN THE PAST.
YOU NAME THE ANIMAL.
WE TAKE YOU THERE.
YOU SHOOT IT.

Warm phlegm gathered in Eckels’ throat; he swallowed and pushed it down. The muscles around his mouth formed a smile as he put his hand slowly out upon the air, and in that hand waved a check for ten thousand dollars to the man behind the desk.

“Does this safari guarantee I come back alive?”

“We guarantee nothing,” said the official, “except the dinosaurs.” He turned. “This is Mr. Travis, your Safari Guide in the Past. He’ll tell you what and where to shoot. If he says no shooting, no shooting. If you disobey instructions, there’s a stiff penalty of another ten thousand dollars, plus possible government action, on your return.”

Eckels glanced across the vast office at a mass and tangle, a snaking and humming of wires and steel boxes, at an aurora that flickered now orange, now silver, now blue. There was a sound like a gigantic bonfire burning all of Time, all the years and all the parchment calendars, all the hours piled high and set aflame.

A touch of the hand and this burning would, on the instant, beautifully reverse itself. Eckels remembered the wording in the advertisements to the letter. Out of chars and ashes, out of dust and coals, like golden salamanders, the old years, the green years, might leap; roses sweeten the air, white hair turn Irish-black, wrinkles vanish; all, everything fly back to seed, flee death, rush down to their beginnings, suns rise in western skies and set in glorious easts, moons eat themselves opposite to the custom, all and everything cupping one in another like Chinese boxes, rabbits into hats, all and everything returning to the fresh death, the seed death, the green death, to the time before the beginning. A touch of a hand might do it, the merest touch of a hand.

“Unbelievable.” Eckels breathed, the light of the Machine on his thin face. “A real Time Machine.” He shook his head. “Makes you think, If the election had gone badly yesterday, I might be here now running away from the results. Thank God Keith won. He’ll make a fine President of the United States.”

“Yes,” said the man behind the desk. “We’re lucky. If Deutscher had gotten in, we’d have the worst kind of dictatorship. There’s an anti everything man for you, a militarist, anti-Christ, anti-human, anti-intellectual. People called us up, you know, joking but not joking. Said if Deutscher became President they wanted to go live in 1492. Of course it’s not our business to conduct Escapes, but to form Safaris. Anyway, Keith’s President now. All you got to worry about is-”

“Shooting my dinosaur,” Eckels finished it for him.

“A Tyrannosaurus Rex. The Tyrant Lizard, the most incredible monster in history. Sign this release. Anything happens to you, we’re not responsible. Those dinosaurs are hungry.”

Eckels flushed angrily. “Trying to scare me!”

“Frankly, yes. We don’t want anyone going who’ll panic at the first shot. Six Safari leaders were killed last year, and a dozen hunters. We’re here to give you the severest thrill a real hunter ever asked for. Traveling you back sixty million years to bag the biggest game in all of Time. Your personal check’s still there. Tear it up.” Mr. Eckels looked at the check. His fingers twitched.

“Good luck,” said the man behind the desk. “Mr. Travis, he’s all yours.”

They moved silently across the room, taking their guns with them, toward the Machine, toward the silver metal and the roaring light.

First a day and then a night and then a day and then a night, then it was day-night-day-night. A week, a month, a year, a decade! A.D. 2055. A.D. 2019. 1999! 1957! Gone! The Machine roared.

They put on their oxygen helmets and tested the intercoms.

Eckels swayed on the padded seat, his face pale, his jaw stiff. He felt the trembling in his arms and he looked down and found his hands tight on the new rifle. There were four other men in the Machine. Travis, the Safari Leader, his assistant, Lesperance, and two other hunters, Billings and Kramer. They sat looking at each other, and the years blazed around them.

“Can these guns get a dinosaur cold?” Eckels felt his mouth saying.

“If you hit them right,” said Travis on the helmet radio. “Some dinosaurs have two brains, one in the head, another far down the spinal column. We stay away from those. That’s stretching luck. Put your first two shots into the eyes, if you can, blind them, and go back into the brain.”

The Machine howled. Time was a film run backward. Suns fled and ten million moons fled after them. “Think,” said Eckels. “Every hunter that ever lived would envy us today. This makes Africa seem like Illinois.”

The Machine slowed; its scream fell to a murmur. The Machine stopped.

The sun stopped in the sky.

The fog that had enveloped the Machine blew away and they were in an old time, a very old time indeed, three hunters and two Safari Heads with their blue metal guns across their knees.

“Christ isn’t born yet,” said Travis, “Moses has not gone to the mountains to talk with God. The Pyramids are still in the earth, waiting to be cut out and put up. Remember that. Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler – none of them exists.” The man nodded. “That” – Mr. Travis pointed – “is the jungle of sixty million two thousand and fifty-five years before President Keith.”

He indicated a metal path that struck off into green wilderness, over streaming swamp, among giant ferns and palms.

“And that,” he said, “is the Path, laid by Time Safari for your use. It floats six inches above the earth. Doesn’t touch so much as one grass blade, flower, or tree. It’s an anti-gravity metal. Its purpose is to keep you from touching this world of the past in any way. Stay on the Path. Don’t go off it. I repeat. Don’t go off. For any reason! If you fall off, there’s a penalty. And don’t shoot any animal we don’t okay.”

“Why?” asked Eckels.

They sat in the ancient wilderness. Far birds’ cries blew on a wind, and the smell of tar and an old salt sea, moist grasses, and flowers the color of blood.

“We don’t want to change the Future. We don’t belong here in the Past. The government doesn’t like us here. We have to pay big graft to keep our franchise. A Time Machine is finicky business. Not knowing it, we might kill an important animal, a small bird, a roach, a flower even, thus destroying an important link in a growing species.”

“That’s not clear,” said Eckels.

“All right,” Travis continued, “say we accidentally kill one mouse here. That means all the future families of this one particular mouse are destroyed, right?”

“Right.”

“And all the families of the families of the families of that one mouse! With a stamp of your foot, you annihilate first one, then a dozen, then a thousand, a million, a billion possible mice!”

“So they’re dead,” said Eckels. “So what?”

“So what?” Travis snorted quietly. “Well, what about the foxes that’ll need those mice to survive? For want of ten mice, a fox dies. For want of ten foxes a lion starves. For want of a lion, all manner of insects, vultures, infinite billions of life forms are thrown into chaos and destruction. Eventually it all boils down to this: fifty-nine million years later, a caveman, one of a dozen on the entire world, goes hunting wild boar or saber-toothed tiger for food. But you, friend, have stepped on all the tigers in that region. By stepping on one single mouse. So the caveman starves. And the caveman, please note, is not just any expendable man, no! He is an entire future nation. From his loins would have sprung ten sons. From their loins one hundred sons, and thus onward to a civilization. Destroy this one man, and you destroy a race, a people, an entire history of life. It is comparable to slaying some of Adam’s grandchildren. The stomp of your foot, on one mouse, could start an earthquake, the effects of which could shake our earth and destinies down through Time, to their very foundations. With the death of that one caveman, a billion others yet unborn are throttled in the womb. Perhaps Rome never rises on its seven hills. Perhaps Europe is forever a dark forest, and only Asia waxes healthy and teeming. Step on a mouse and you crush the Pyramids. Step on a mouse and you leave your print, like a Grand Canyon, across Eternity. Queen Elizabeth might never be born, Washington might not cross the Delaware, there might never be a United States at all. So be careful. Stay on the Path. Never step off!”

“I see,” said Eckels. “Then it wouldn’t pay for us even to touch the grass?”

“Correct. Crushing certain plants could add up infinitesimally. A little error here would multiply in sixty million years, all out of proportion. Of course maybe our theory is wrong. Maybe Time can’t be changed by us. Or maybe it can be changed only in little subtle ways. A dead mouse here makes an insect imbalance there, a population disproportion later, a bad harvest further on, a depression, mass starvation, and finally, a change in social temperament in far-flung countries. Something much more subtle, like that. Perhaps only a soft breath, a whisper, a hair, pollen on the air, such a slight, slight change that unless you looked close you wouldn’t see it. Who knows? Who really can say he knows? We don’t know. We’re guessing. But until we do know for certain whether our messing around in Time can make a big roar or a little rustle in history, we’re being careful. This Machine, this Path, your clothing and bodies, were sterilized, as you know, before the journey. We wear these oxygen helmets so we can’t introduce our bacteria into an ancient atmosphere.”

“How do we know which animals to shoot?”

“They’re marked with red paint,” said Travis. “Today, before our journey, we sent Lesperance here back with the Machine. He came to this particular era and followed certain animals.”

“Studying them?”

“Right,” said Lesperance. “I track them through their entire existence, noting which of them lives longest. Very few. How many times they mate. Not often. Life’s short, When I find one that’s going to die when a tree falls on him, or one that drowns in a tar pit, I note the exact hour, minute, and second. I shoot a paint bomb. It leaves a red patch on his side. We can’t miss it. Then I correlate our arrival in the Past so that we meet the Monster not more than two minutes before he would have died anyway. This way, we kill only animals with no future, that are never going to mate again. You see how careful we are?”

“But if you came back this morning in Time,” said Eckels eagerly, you must’ve bumped into us, our Safari! How did it turn out? Was it successful? Did all of us get through – alive?”

Travis and Lesperance gave each other a look.

“That’d be a paradox,” said the latter. “Time doesn’t permit that sort of mess-a man meeting himself. When such occasions threaten, Time steps aside. Like an airplane hitting an air pocket. You felt the Machine jump just before we stopped? That was us passing ourselves on the way back to the Future. We saw nothing. There’s no way of telling if this expedition was a success, if we got our monster, or whether all of us – meaning you, Mr. Eckels – got out alive.”

Eckels smiled palely.

“Cut that,” said Travis sharply. “Everyone on his feet!”

They were ready to leave the Machine.

The jungle was high and the jungle was broad and the jungle was the entire world forever and forever. Sounds like music and sounds like flying tents filled the sky, and those were pterodactyls soaring with cavernous gray wings, gigantic bats of delirium and night fever.

Eckels, balanced on the narrow Path, aimed his rifle playfully.

“Stop that!” said Travis. “Don’t even aim for fun, blast you! If your guns should go off – ”

Eckels flushed. “Where’s our Tyrannosaurus?”

Lesperance checked his wristwatch. “Up ahead, We’ll bisect his trail in sixty seconds. Look for the red paint! Don’t shoot till we give the word. Stay on the Path. Stay on the Path!”

They moved forward in the wind of morning.

“Strange,” murmured Eckels. “Up ahead, sixty million years, Election Day over. Keith made President. Everyone celebrating. And here we are, a million years lost, and they don’t exist. The things we worried about for months, a lifetime, not even born or thought of yet.”

“Safety catches off, everyone!” ordered Travis. “You, first shot, Eckels. Second, Billings, Third, Kramer.”

“I’ve hunted tiger, wild boar, buffalo, elephant, but now, this is it,” said Eckels. “I’m shaking like a kid.”

“Ah,” said Travis.

Everyone stopped.

Travis raised his hand. “Ahead,” he whispered. “In the mist. There he is. There’s His Royal Majesty now.”

The jungle was wide and full of twitterings, rustlings, murmurs, and sighs.

Suddenly it all ceased, as if someone had shut a door.

Silence.

A sound of thunder.

Out of the mist, one hundred yards away, came Tyrannosaurus Rex.

“It,” whispered Eckels. “It……

“Sh!”

It came on great oiled, resilient, striding legs. It towered thirty feet above half of the trees, a great evil god, folding its delicate watchmaker’s claws close to its oily reptilian chest. Each lower leg was a piston, a thousand pounds of white bone, sunk in thick ropes of muscle, sheathed over in a gleam of pebbled skin like the mail of a terrible warrior. Each thigh was a ton of meat, ivory, and steel mesh. And from the great breathing cage of the upper body those two delicate arms dangled out front, arms with hands which might pick up and examine men like toys, while the snake neck coiled. And the head itself, a ton of sculptured stone, lifted easily upon the sky. Its mouth gaped, exposing a fence of teeth like daggers. Its eyes rolled, ostrich eggs, empty of all expression save hunger. It closed its mouth in a death grin. It ran, its pelvic bones crushing aside trees and bushes, its taloned feet clawing damp earth, leaving prints six inches deep wherever it settled its weight.

It ran with a gliding ballet step, far too poised and balanced for its ten tons. It moved into a sunlit area warily, its beautifully reptilian hands feeling the air.

“Why, why,” Eckels twitched his mouth. “It could reach up and grab the moon.”

“Sh!” Travis jerked angrily. “He hasn’t seen us yet.”

“It can’t be killed,” Eckels pronounced this verdict quietly, as if there could be no argument. He had weighed the evidence and this was his considered opinion. The rifle in his hands seemed a cap gun. “We were fools to come. This is impossible.”

“Shut up!” hissed Travis.

“Nightmare.”

“Turn around,” commanded Travis. “Walk quietly to the Machine. We’ll remit half your fee.”

“I didn’t realize it would be this big,” said Eckels. “I miscalculated, that’s all. And now I want out.”

“It sees us!”

“There’s the red paint on its chest!”

The Tyrant Lizard raised itself. Its armored flesh glittered like a thousand green coins. The coins, crusted with slime, steamed. In the slime, tiny insects wriggled, so that the entire body seemed to twitch and undulate, even while the monster itself did not move. It exhaled. The stink of raw flesh blew down the wilderness.

“Get me out of here,” said Eckels. “It was never like this before. I was always sure I’d come through alive. I had good guides, good safaris, and safety. This time, I figured wrong. I’ve met my match and admit it. This is too much for me to get hold of.”

“Don’t run,” said Lesperance. “Turn around. Hide in the Machine.”

“Yes.” Eckels seemed to be numb. He looked at his feet as if trying to make them move. He gave a grunt of helplessness.

“Eckels!”

He took a few steps, blinking, shuffling.

“Not that way!”

The Monster, at the first motion, lunged forward with a terrible scream. It covered one hundred yards in six seconds. The rifles jerked up and blazed fire. A windstorm from the beast’s mouth engulfed them in the stench of slime and old blood. The Monster roared, teeth glittering with sun.

The rifles cracked again, Their sound was lost in shriek and lizard thunder. The great level of the reptile’s tail swung up, lashed sideways. Trees exploded in clouds of leaf and branch. The Monster twitched its jeweler’s hands down to fondle at the men, to twist them in half, to crush them like berries, to cram them into its teeth and its screaming throat. Its boulderstone eyes leveled with the men. They saw themselves mirrored. They fired at the metallic eyelids and the blazing black iris.

Like a stone idol, like a mountain avalanche, Tyrannosaurus fell.

Thundering, it clutched trees, pulled them with it. It wrenched and tore the metal Path. The men flung themselves back and away. The body hit, ten tons of cold flesh and stone. The guns fired. The Monster lashed its armored tail, twitched its snake jaws, and lay still. A fount of blood spurted from its throat. Somewhere inside, a sac of fluids burst. Sickening gushes drenched the hunters. They stood, red and glistening.

The thunder faded.

The jungle was silent. After the avalanche, a green peace. After the nightmare, morning.

Billings and Kramer sat on the pathway and threw up. Travis and Lesperance stood with smoking rifles, cursing steadily. In the Time Machine, on his face, Eckels lay shivering. He had found his way back to the Path, climbed into the Machine.

Travis came walking, glanced at Eckels, took cotton gauze from a metal box, and returned to the others, who were sitting on the Path.

“Clean up.”

They wiped the blood from their helmets. They began to curse too. The Monster lay, a hill of solid flesh. Within, you could hear the sighs and murmurs as the furthest chambers of it died, the organs malfunctioning, liquids running a final instant from pocket to sac to spleen, everything shutting off, closing up forever. It was like standing by a wrecked locomotive or a steam shovel at quitting time, all valves being released or levered tight. Bones cracked; the tonnage of its own flesh, off balance, dead weight, snapped the delicate forearms, caught underneath. The meat settled, quivering.

Another cracking sound. Overhead, a gigantic tree branch broke from its heavy mooring, fell. It crashed upon the dead beast with finality.

“There.” Lesperance checked his watch. “Right on time. That’s the giant tree that was scheduled to fall and kill this animal originally.” He glanced at the two hunters. “You want the trophy picture?”

“What?”

“We can’t take a trophy back to the Future. The body has to stay right here where it would have died originally, so the insects, birds, and bacteria can get at it, as they were intended to. Everything in balance. The body stays. But we can take a picture of you standing near it.”

The two men tried to think, but gave up, shaking their heads.

They let themselves be led along the metal Path. They sank wearily into the Machine cushions. They gazed back at the ruined Monster, the stagnating mound, where already strange reptilian birds and golden insects were busy at the steaming armor. A sound on the floor of the Time Machine stiffened them. Eckels sat there, shivering.

“I’m sorry,” he said at last.

“Get up!” cried Travis.

Eckels got up.

“Go out on that Path alone,” said Travis. He had his rifle pointed, “You’re not coming back in the Machine. We’re leaving you here!”

Lesperance seized Travis’s arm. “Wait – ”

“Stay out of this!” Travis shook his hand away. “This fool nearly killed us. But it isn’t that so much, no. It’s his shoes! Look at them! He ran off the Path. That ruins us! We’ll forfeit! Thousands of dollars of insurance! We guarantee no one leaves the Path. He left it. Oh, the fool! I’ll have to report to the government. They might revoke our license to travel. Who knows what he’s done to Time, to History!”

“Take it easy, all he did was kick up some dirt.”

“How do we know?” cried Travis. “We don’t know anything! It’s all a mystery! Get out of here, Eckels!”

Eckels fumbled his shirt. “I’ll pay anything. A hundred thousand dollars!”

Travis glared at Eckels’ checkbook and spat. “Go out there. The Monster’s next to the Path. Stick your arms up to your elbows in his mouth. Then you can come back with us.”

“That’s unreasonable!”

“The Monster’s dead, you idiot. The bullets! The bullets can’t be left behind. They don’t belong in the Past; they might change anything. Here’s my knife. Dig them out!”

The jungle was alive again, full of the old tremorings and bird cries. Eckels turned slowly to regard the primeval garbage dump, that hill of nightmares and terror. After a long time, like a sleepwalker he shuffled out along the Path.

He returned, shuddering, five minutes later, his arms soaked and red to the elbows. He held out his hands. Each held a number of steel bullets. Then he fell. He lay where he fell, not moving.

“You didn’t have to make him do that,” said Lesperance.

“Didn’t I? It’s too early to tell.” Travis nudged the still body. “He’ll live. Next time he won’t go hunting game like this. Okay.” He jerked his thumb wearily at Lesperance. “Switch on. Let’s go home.”

1492. 1776. 1812.

They cleaned their hands and faces. They changed their caking shirts and pants. Eckels was up and around again, not speaking. Travis glared at him for a full ten minutes.

“Don’t look at me,” cried Eckels. “I haven’t done anything.”

“Who can tell?”

“Just ran off the Path, that’s all, a little mud on my shoes-what do you want me to do-get down and pray?”

“We might need it. I’m warning you, Eckels, I might kill you yet. I’ve got my gun ready.”

“I’m innocent. I’ve done nothing!”

1999.2000.2055.

The Machine stopped.

“Get out,” said Travis.

The room was there as they had left it. But not the same as they had left it. The same man sat behind the same desk. But the same man did not quite sit behind the same desk. Travis looked around swiftly. “Everything okay here?” he snapped.

“Fine. Welcome home!”

Travis did not relax. He seemed to be looking through the one high window.

“Okay, Eckels, get out. Don’t ever come back.” Eckels could not move.

“You heard me,” said Travis. “What’re you staring at?”

Eckels stood smelling of the air, and there was a thing to the air, a chemical taint so subtle, so slight, that only a faint cry of his subliminal senses warned him it was there. The colors, white, gray, blue, orange, in the wall, in the furniture, in the sky beyond the window, were . . . were . . . . And there was a feel. His flesh twitched. His hands twitched. He stood drinking the oddness with the pores of his body. Somewhere, someone must have been screaming one of those whistles that only a dog can hear. His body screamed silence in return. Beyond this room, beyond this wall, beyond this man who was not quite the same man seated at this desk that was not quite the same desk . . . lay an entire world of streets and people. What sort of world it was now, there was no telling. He could feel them moving there, beyond the walls, almost, like so many chess pieces blown in a dry wind ….

But the immediate thing was the sign painted on the office wall, the same sign he had read earlier today on first entering. Somehow, the sign had changed:

TYME SEFARI INC.
SEFARIS TU ANY YEER EN THE PAST.
YU NAIM THE ANIMALL.
WEE TAEK YU THAIR.
YU SHOOT ITT.

Eckels felt himself fall into a chair. He fumbled crazily at the thick slime on his boots. He held up a clod of dirt, trembling, “No, it can’t be. Not a little thing like that. No!”

Embedded in the mud, glistening green and gold and black, was a butterfly, very beautiful and very dead.

“Not a little thing like that! Not a butterfly!” cried Eckels.

It fell to the floor, an exquisite thing, a small thing that could upset balances and knock down a line of small dominoes and then big dominoes and then gigantic dominoes, all down the years across Time. Eckels’ mind whirled. It couldn’t change things. Killing one butterfly couldn’t be that important! Could it?

His face was cold. His mouth trembled, asking: “Who – who won the presidential election yesterday?”

The man behind the desk laughed. “You joking? You know very well. Deutscher, of course! Who else? Not that fool weakling Keith. We got an iron man now, a man with guts!” The official stopped. “What’s wrong?”

Eckels moaned. He dropped to his knees. He scrabbled at the golden butterfly with shaking fingers. “Can’t we,” he pleaded to the world, to himself, to the officials, to the Machine, “can’t we take it back, can’t we make it alive again? Can’t we start over? Can’t we – ”

He did not move. Eyes shut, he waited, shivering. He heard Travis breathe loud in the room; he heard Travis shift his rifle, click the safety catch, and raise the weapon.

There was a sound of thunder.

The End.

(Written by Ray Bradbury, grabbed from Scary for Kids)

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