SIDE 1THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
Science is a flame that man has just set alight. Imagining he was in a room — in moments of devotion, a temple — he believed this light would be reflected from walls inscribed with wonderful secrets and pillars carved with philosophical systems wrought into harmony. Now that initial splutter is over and the flame burns clear, he sees a glimpse of himself and around him — in place of all that truth and beauty he anticipated — darkness still…
[FX: music, ambient swirl, the delicate sound of clocks and ambient mechanical workshop sounds]THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
The Time Machine was an impossibility. In the flickering light of the oil lamp it appeared warped and askew — a glimmering framework of brass and crystal — somehow unreal. But the machine was real, my own invention. As a scientist I had long understood that time is a kind of space, a fourth dimension, and with this mechanism I would escape the present moment and explore the future — discover the world set free of poverty, disease, war and see for myself the bewildering heights mankind would scale.
I made a few final adjustments to the machine then sat astride the saddle. Tentatively I pushed the starting lever forward. For an instant I felt a nightmare sensation of falling. I quickly pulled it back — had anything happened or was my mind tricking me? I saw the workshop exactly as before; but wait! The clock had stood a minute or so past ten; now it was nearly half past three! I drew a breath and pushed the lever again — this time into the extreme position.
The workshop became fainter, slowly losing substance and reality blurred…THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
Then night came like the turning out of a lamp. In another instant came tomorrow, then tomorrow night then day again, faster and faster like the flapping of a huge black wing.
The dim suggestion of my workshop fell away, there was a fleeting impression of scaffolding… and then I was in the open!
The sun blazed a brilliant arc in space and I saw the moon spinning swiftly from new to full. The hands on the dials whirled round faster and faster and the sun belt swayed from solstice to solstice. Minute by minute the snow flashed across the world, and vanished, to be followed by a bright, brief spring.
Trees grew like puffs of vapour. In a moment they grew, spread, shivered and passed away. I saw great buildings rise up only to fade like dreams — architecture more massive than anything from my own time yet, built of nothing more than glimmer and mist.
As my velocity through time rapidly increased the surface of the Earth melted and flowed before my eyes. The years flew by — one-hundred-thousand years… two-hundred-thousand years… three-hundred-thousand years!
The machine lurched and swayed. I felt a horrible anticipation of falling, of an imminent crash as I flung myself into futurity, madness growing upon me. I felt I could never stop. But then with a sudden gust of resolve I sharply pulled the lever. The machine went reeling and I was flung headlong through the air.
[FX: the materialisation sound of the Time Machine]THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
I lay on the ground stunned as a pitiless hail rained down soaking me. I was on what seemed to be a small lawn surrounded by bushes. Through the veil of the downpour, I discerned a colossal white stone figure — a sphinx-like creature crouched on a bronze pedestal — and beyond that loomed the indistinct grey shapes of huge buildings.
I got up and turned to the Time Machine. The dial showed 802,701 AD! I looked up again at the crouching white form, and wondered: what had happened to man during that immense interval? Had he become something cruel and inhuman?
The curtain of hail was swept aside, vanishing like the trailing garments of a ghost. Above me, in the intense blue of the summer sky, faint wisps of cloud whirled to nothingness and I began to look less fearfully at this world of the remote future.
So far as I could see, the world displayed harmony and beauty. There was an abundance of blossom-laden trees, flowers and great buildings laced with intricate parapets and columns. Out across the broad river valley I saw the Thames, shifted, perhaps, a mile from its present course — the water shone like silver and the land faded into the serenity of the sky.
Beyond the White Sphinx I saw a palace-like building of altogether colossal dimensions. My curiosity prevailed. I unscrewed the levers that would set the machine in motion, put them in my pocket and hurried past the sphinx towards the building.
The entrance opened into a great hall. The floor, made up of huge white metal blocks, was heavily worn in places as if from the going to and fro of past generations. As I walked between innumerable rows of polished malachite tables it then struck me how dilapidated everything looked. Many of the stained-glass windows were broken and the tables were cracked and covered in dust.
I emerged from the great hall into the warmth of the setting sun. The world was silent, utterly silent. There were no sounds of animals, cries of birds or the stir that makes the background of life. I climbed to the top of the nearest crest and looked out upon a landscape of ruinous splendour. Where was Man? Had he, along with the other animal life, followed the Ichthyosaurus into extinction?
As I mused over the fate of Man, the moon came up in the north-east bathing the world in silver light. I could see the distant figure of the White Sphinx. There was the tangle of bushes, black in the pale light; and there was the little lawn. I looked again and cold dread crept over me. The Time Machine was gone!
I raced back down the slope taking great leaping strides. When I reached the lawn my worst fears were realised. Frantically I searched the moonlit ruins and in the black shadows amongst the bushes — there was no trace of the mechanism. I was hopelessly cut off from my own age, stranded — a strange animal in an unknown world.
Finally, exhausted and weeping in misery, I sank to the ground and fell into a restless, haunted sleep.
SIDE 2THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
Next morning I awoke, aching, hungry, thirsty and in profound despair. Above me towered the sphinx; its sightless eyes seemed to watch me; it seemed to smile in mockery at my predicament. Then I noticed grooves and odd narrow footprints leading to the pedestal. The machine had been dragged inside — but by whom or, more disturbingly, by what? I resolved to find out, but first I had to find water.
As I walked my attention was drawn by the presence of certain circular wells. I came to examine one; it was curiously wrought and sheltered beneath a bronze cupola — how odd that they should still exist. I peered down into the darkness but could see no gleam of water even on lighting a match. What was their purpose…?
Presently I found myself wandering amidst a tangled waste of variegated plants with wonderfully patterned leaves, huge, sweetly scented flowers and trees bearing strange fruits. This strange, yet beautiful flora was utterly unlike anything from my own Time — surely the result of countless years of cultivation on some vast, unimaginable scale. But the process was long-neglected; the earth had become a waste garden.
Then I heard voices. I pushed through the lush foliage and emerged into a wide, sunlit clearing. Here were a group of figures bathing in a shallow river, but one of them was weakly struggling and drifting downstream. Quickly, I waded into the water, caught her and drew her safely to land.
As she began to revive in the warmth of the sun, I was struck by her beauty. She was an exquisite creature, but indescribably frail. I also noticed a strange deficiency in her companions — none of them made the slightest attempt to help. Like children they simply stood by watching and then, after a while, seemingly unconcerned, wandered away.
Later that afternoon, whilst returning from one of my explorations, I met the girl I’d rescued. I was much surprised when she received me with cries of delight and presented me with several beautiful white flowers — evidently picked for me and me alone. Perhaps empathy had not left the world afterall.THE TRAVELLER:
Oh, there’s no need to thank me.THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
This was the beginning of a friendship between us and over the coming days we learned to understand one another.THE TRAVELLER:
What’s your name?WEENA:
Wee–nah…?THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
I didn’t know what that meant, but somehow it seemed appropriate enough.
Weena tugged at my jacket leading me towards the palace-like building where growing crowds of her kind were gathering near the yawning, shadowy entrances. As we approached we were swept along with them, through one of the huge doorways and into the hall. There were, perhaps, a couple of hundred people in the vast space, most of them already seated before the polished stone tables — the same tables I’d seen before, but now there were large heaps of exotic fruits upon them.THE TRAVELLER:
Tell me Weena, where is does this fruit come from? How is it brought here?WEENA:
I don’t know.THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
This world was a puzzle to me. There were no factories, no railroads or hospitals. I could find no machinery, no appliances of any kind. Yet these people were clothed in pleasant fabrics.THE TRAVELLER:
Weena, what about your clothes. Who makes them?WEENA:
I don’t know.THE TRAVELLER:
Aren’t you at least curious? Who does all the work?WEENA:
I don’t know what you mean.THE TRAVELLER:
Well, then tell me about the older people. Where are they?WEENA:
Oh, I don’t know.While you bathe in sapphire hues My days burn away The past is lost and future too Wasted on games Well I can see the world has changed And you're living the dream But if you don't know love or pain You are living in a dream Can you tell me Is there beauty in truth? Now you tell me Is there beauty in you? Where are the machineries of joy? Have they rusted away? Been replaced by some better toy? And this moral decay? Is it love? Has fluoride dulled your minds? Do you even care? Lost in this plastic paradise On the road to nowhere Can you tell me Is there beauty in truth? Now you tell me Is there beauty in you? THE TRAVELLER:
And the sick Weena? Tell me who cares for them?WEENA:
I don’t know. Please. I don’t want to talk about these things anymore!THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
Weena burst into tears and I abruptly ceased questioning her. This child of the future could explain nothing of the workings of this unknown and increasingly puzzling world. Nor could she tell me who might have taken the Time Machine. Still more disturbing: there were no sick or aged among these people? I felt I was missing some significant, vital clue…
By the fourth day, my explorations were taking Weena and I further afield. Towards the south-west, in the direction of nineteenth-century Banstead, I observed far off, a vast structure. It was much larger than the largest ruins I knew, and had a pale-green lustre like Chinese porcelain. This difference in aspect that suggested a difference in use, and curiosity compelled me to make a closer examination. With a strange sense of freedom and adventure I pushed on.
The sun beat down relentlessly as we picked our way across the desolate landscape. We sought shade from the heat glare against the ruins to discover a massive heap of granite and twisted metal — a dark labyrinth of precipitous walls and broken masonry amidst which flowers were growing. As Weena knelt down to pick a few of them a flow of sadness came over me.
Civilisation had long since passed its zenith. Man had been great, but it seemed his too perfect triumph over nature had odd consequences. With no poverty, disease or challenges to overcome, the weak were as well equipped to survive as the strong. Indeed, better equipped it seemed for Humanity had degenerated — strength and intelligence were gone.
We came to the entrance of a narrow gallery, whose end and side windows were blocked by stone. By contrast with the brilliancy outside it seemed at first impenetrably dark to me. Then I halted spellbound. A pair of eyes, luminous by reflection against the daylight, was watching me out of the darkness…
Suddenly something rushed past me. I turned to see a stooping white figure running across the sunlit space behind me. I pursued the strange animal. For a moment I thought I had lost it, but then came upon one of the wells. I lit a match and peered down the shaft to see the creatures’ large eyes regarding me steadfastly as it retreated into the blackness like a human spider!
SIDE 3THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
I shuddered as the strange and disturbing creature clambered down the well and disappeared from sight. Could this Thing be human?THE TRAVELLER:
Weena, what are those creatures?WEENA:
Morlocks! They are from the Underworld.THE TRAVELLER:
Yes, they live deep under the earth.THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
From the depths came a thudding sound like the beating of a mighty engine. These wells were entrances to an artificial Underworld! My thoughts slipped into new adjustment: mankind had evolved to become two distinct species; the “Eloi”, graceful Upperworld people and these bleached subterranean creatures. The earth beneath must be a vast labyrinth of tunnels where the “Morlocks” lived and toiled to maintain the machines that served those on the surface.
As I leaned over the edge of the well again and a look of horror appeared on Weena’s face.WEENA:
No! No! You must not go down there!THE TRAVELLER:
Weena, I have to go. I must try and find my machine.THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
I felt assured that the Time Machine was only to be recovered by boldly penetrating these underground mysteries.WEENA:
No! You must stay in the sunlight — out of the darkness!THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
Weena pulled at me with her little hands, but I hastily shook her off and climbed inside.WEENA:
Goodbye, little Weena.THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
At perhaps two hundred yards down I lost my footing, nearly falling, and hung suspended from the sheer wall by one hand. Fatigued and my arms aching, I continued my descent. Glancing upwards I saw a small blue disk, in which Weena was a tiny silhouette.
At last I came to a narrow opening and swung across into a dark, cramped tunnel.THE MORLOCKS:
Closer. Closer. Come closer. [FX: quiet, sinister, whispering and murmuring]THE TRAVELLER:
Hullo. Is anybody there…? [FX: his voice echos in the darkness]THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
I struck a match to see three stooping white creatures flee into the dark gutters and tunnels.THE TRAVELLER:
Don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you.THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
The air was heavy with the stench of grease and oil and another, peculiar, unpleasant odour. I crawled on through the filth and grime. Presently the walls gave way to a void. Striking another match revealed an immense space stretching into utter darkness. Huge machines loomed, casting grotesque black shadows, and in those shadows were the crouching forms of Morlocks…Oooo, who is this far from home A brother lost and alone Into the unknown he roams To atone for seeds he’s sewn Amidst old stones and dry bones In the place that lies beneath THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
Further ahead, I discerned a white metal table, laid with what seemed a meal — the carcass of some large animal. The Morlocks at any rate were carnivorous! The match burnt down; stung my fingers, and fell, an orange glow in the blackness.
[FX: Sound of Morlocks whispering and chuckling as they close in and surround the Traveller]THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
I could hear slow, purposeful movement. Lank fingers touched my face, I shouted, but the obscene creatures were on me. Striking my last match, I glimpsed their pallid, chinless faces and lidless pink eyes, as they stared about blindly.THE MORLOCKS:
Come closer!THE TRAVELLER:
No keep back. Keep back I say.The communion you seek Lies in the corroded dreams Of the free and wealthy Their greed is the disease That feeds all this poverty Let us show you the lies beneath
Come closer!Here walls drip with the decay Of the same insane mistakes That perfection’s shadows made Us slaves for all our days Our wasted lives so degrade This is what lies beneath What use is your perfect sight? In the kingdom of the blind Where is your wrong or right? There are no answers why Only the lies that divide Here where we lie beneath A black sun will rise and power will fill the void Are we not men! The one true god is the power that will fill the void Are we not men! Are we not men!! We were once men. Pity us! We were once men… THE MORLOCKS:
We are the forgotten! Were we not… once… men…!? [screaming insanely]THE TRAVELLER:
You are not men! You are monsters!THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
I hastily retreated back to the narrow tunnel and crawled back to the well shaft. Suddenly my feet were grasped from behind and I was tugged backwards.
But I had my hand on the ladder, and kicked back violently to escape. The climb seemed interminable but at last I reached the surface and fell to the ground in the blinding sunlight.THE MORLOCKS:
Were we… once… men…? [whispers echoing from the depths of the well]THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
Now I understood Weena’s dread of the dark — darkness was the realm of the Morlocks. These loathsome and deranged creatures might once have been human servants, but that time had long since passed away. Over millennia the Underworld people had degenerated into something subterranean, inhuman and malign, and now they were returning to the surface — changed — and the Eloi feared them!
I, however, came from an age where fear does not paralyse and mystery has lost its terrors. I would defend myself, find a means of fire to use against the Morlocks and break open the doors beneath the White Sphinx. Brandishing a blaze of light before me, I would seize the Time Machine and escape with Weena!
But first we needed refuge. The tall pinnacles of the Palace of Green Porcelain came back to mind. Those polished walls might afford some security and, once inside I was convinced I would be in a better position to defend us against the Morlocks.
Carrying Weena on my shoulders, I headed south-west. She had been hugely delighted when I began to carry her, but after a time desired me to let her down, and ran beside me, occasionally darting off to pick flowers and stick them in my pockets.
We proceeded over the hill-crest towards Wimbledon and came in sight of the palace, silhouetted against the pale sky. In the stillness of evening my senses were sharpened — I fancied I could even feel the hollowness of the ground under my feet; the labyrinth of tunnels where Morlocks scurried like ants below.
Dusk crept over the world and one star after another came out. Weena's fears grew upon her at being so far from home, but I pointed out distant spires, explaining that we would be safe there. As twilight deepened into night, she held on to me, closed her eyes tightly and soon drifted into sleep.
I carried her down the slope, waded through a stream and up out of the valley. From the hilltop I saw a dark forest and hesitated. Weary and footsore, I gently put her down and wrapped her in my jacket. I had seen nothing of the Morlocks and decided to pass the night on the open hill.
Above me, all the old constellations were gone. That slow drift imperceptible in a hundred human lifetimes had long since rearranged them into unfamiliar patterns. I wondered at their unfathomable distance; their eternal journey from an unknown past into an unknown future. The Time Machine's journey dwindled in comparison. And yet, in all those years I had travelled, the religions, science, aspirations, even the mere memory of Man as I knew him, had been swept out of existence.
[The sung thought of The Traveller]I see patterns in the sky Of swirling, burning dust Falling into the night Falling away from us While children play in the rye While the world turns to rust Time is passing us by What will become of us? Thought we’d set the world alight But the stars don’t shine for us We’re just sparks in the night Just swirling, burning dust THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
My vigil wore on and I dozed at times. Presently came a faintness in the eastern sky, a pale reflection of colourless fire. With the warmth of a new dawn came resolve and confidence as we headed out towards the Palace of Green Porcelain.
SIDE 4THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
We found the Palace of Green Porcelain a little before noon. The facade towered regally above us, but the building had fallen to ruin. Only jagged edges of glass remained in the huge windows and massive sheets of facing had broken away from the corroded metal framework. Above the great doors, now hanging open, was an inscription, and I briefly hoped Weena could help interpret this, but even the idea of writing was meaningless to her.
As we passed beneath the archway and into a long gallery, a thick layer of dust deadened our footsteps. In the centre, standing strange and gaunt, was the lower part of a huge skeleton — some long extinct creature. Weena quietly came across and held my hand, as I stared across the vast tiled floor and into the gloomy recesses.
Against the walls were familiar glass specimen cases containing a splendid array of fossils. This grand building was a museum! Judging from its size the museum contained more than fossils; possibly historical galleries; perhaps, even a library.
My explorations took us deeper and deeper into the vast interior. An aisle eventually led us into a colossal gallery dimly lit by narrow side windows. Magnificent globe-shaped lamps hung from the ceiling; many of them cracked or smashed, and on either side were the hulks of great machines — broken and corroded relics from a forgotten, intellectual age.
Suddenly, Weena came close to my side.WEENA:
I want to go home. [whispered]THE TRAVELLER:
There’s nothing to fear Weena. This museum has been abandoned for thousands of years. It’s empty and…WEENA:
It’s the Morlocks!THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
Down in the remote blackness I heard a peculiar pattering noise. I called to mind that it was already far advanced in the afternoon and that I still had no weapon, no refuge, and no means of making fire.
Wait here… and stay out of the shadows.THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
I left Weena’s side and turned to a machine from which projected a lever. Grasping the lever in both hands, I put all my weight on it.WEENA:
Hurry, they’re getting closer!THE TRAVELLER:
I’m working on it! I just need…
THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
I wrestled with the lever.THE TRAVELLER:
…more time!THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
At last the lever snapped off. I rejoined Weena clutching my new weapon, took her hand and we fled from the gallery.
We ascended a wide, sweeping staircase to enter a ruinous library. Amongst a wilderness of rotting paper — the decaying vestiges of books — I came upon a sealed jar.THE TRAVELLER:
Hmm. Looks like paraffin wax…WEENA:
The dark night is coming. We must leave this place.THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
I smashed the glass. The aromatic odour of camphor was unmistakable.THE TRAVELLER:
Camphor! Weena this will burn with a good bright flame, in fact, make an excellent candle…WEENA:
Please, we have to go!THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
But there was nowhere to go — night was almost upon us. I hurriedly went to examine the airtight glass cases. Then in one of them I found a box of matches! Eagerly I struck one — a flame spluttered into life. Weena stood transfixed by this new and strange thing.These ashes beneath our feet Hopes and tears of yesterday Times when we once dreamed The world could be a better place But we threw it all away Just look at what we’ve done The world we have made Is this what we’ve become? We are prisoners of details Divided and united in fear Wasting our opportunities While time flies by Our world beyond repair But no one cares Just take a look around At the wreckage and the waste Superstitious and afraid What are the use of plans For a future that will never exist THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
Then peering into the gloom I discerned countless pale, wiry forms. Morlocks! The whole gallery was alive with them! Hastily I lit the camphor and hurled it at the nearest bookcase. Ancient books instantly erupted into flame. The fierce heat and blinding light drove the creatures back, but the blaze spread swiftly filling the air with choking smoke.
Suddenly, hands gripped me savagely by the neck. They were on me, pulling me down and biting! And I realised with horror that these vile creatures were not only meat eaters, they were cannibals! I struggled up, swinging my iron bar before me — I could feel the succulent giving of flesh and bone under my blows…THE TRAVELLER:
Weena! Weena! Dear God! The Morlocks have taken her!THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):
I plunged down the stairs in pursuit. I ran through gallery after gallery in a frantic search until I found myself back near the main entrance. Through the black pillars, I saw the flames of the burning museum and the figures of Morlocks — running away! And I ran too. Finally, I collapsed outside, overcome by fatigue and fumes.
I opened my eyes. Above the subsiding red of the fire, above the streaming masses of black smoke, I saw the light of the day. The Palace of Green Porcelain was nothing more than a twisted mass of black metal. I trudged across the barren landscape of smoking ashes and blackened ruins in search of Weena, but could find no trace of her.
I felt an overwhelming sorrow. Weena had surely perished in the fire. Her loss left me absolutely alone again — terribly alone. Exhausted and limping, I began the long trek back towards the hiding place of the Time Machine.
By afternoon I came within sight of the White Sphinx. Here was the same beautiful scene I had seen upon my arrival, the same abundant flowers, the same splendid palaces and ruins, and the wells like blots upon the landscape. Now I understood what all the beauty of the Upperworld covered.
Ages ago, thousands of generations ago a rich elite pursued pleasure and comfort by exploiting the helpless and the poor. Now here was the endgame of all that petty greed and selfishness: a shattered, broken world where feeble, useless Upperworlders lived in fear of the hideous creatures in the Underworld that preyed and fed upon them like fatted-cattle.
I approached the White Sphinx. The bronze panels were open! Inside I could see the Time Machine! After all my elaborate planning I simply walked through the entrance. I checked my jacket pockets for the control levers then suddenly the panels slid shut — the Morlocks had sprung a trap!
I heard their murmuring laughter as they approached. One touched me. I made a sweeping blow and scrambled into the machine, but more of the brutes were on me. At last I fitted the lever and pulled it over. The clinging hands slipped away from me and I sped back through time.
For a long time I must have been insensible upon the machine. Then I saw the dim shadows of Victorian houses and grey streets. Soon after appeared the familiar benches with my tools and instruments just as I had left them. Gently I brought the mechanism to a stop. I was back in the present.
Back in the gloom of my old workshop my adventure seemed unreal. Even the loss of Weena was fading like the sorrow of a dream. I put my hand in my pocket to retrieve the white flowers she had given me — brittle and withered now — several petals fell off and were lost in the dirt and grime of the workshop floor. I stared after them for a moment then turned to the Time Machine…
I don’t expect you to believe my bleak tale of Mankind’s destiny. Take it as lie if you wish — or a prophecy. Say I dreamed it in the workshop. Forget about it, return to the comfort of everyday life, safe in the knowledge that the future is still a vast, unexplored darkness — an unfathomable ignorance lit in a few casual places by what is, after all, just a story, eh. Just a story.