He reached in and pulled out the rose. It had rotted in a matter of seconds, or so it seemed. The once lush, green stem had bent inward, drooping in his hand, and the red petals had mostly fallen off, save for a few that looked almost the color of dried blood. Peter's eyes stung with its beauty.
Charles and Sato, after taking a moment to verify the radiation was at safe levels, entered the chamber and crowded him.
"Extraordinary. Our test, it appears, was successful," Charles said, a healthy dollop of pride in his voice. "Were our calculations -"
"My calculations," Peter interrupted.
"Yes, of course. Were Dr. Izof's calculations correct?"
"Hmmm," began Sato, examining the wilted flower, "it appears this is about a week old. I would say it is absolutely successful."
Peter smiled to himself.
"Gentlemen, we have made history," he said with an air of wonder and triumph. "We have built a time machine."
It had taken several months of testing, each time with a different flower or object, including several watches, a hamburger and three gerbils; only two of which survived, thanks to Sato forgetting that gerbils couldn't live two weeks without food and water of some kind. At last, after he had worked out the precise power output required, he was ready.
He looked down at his desk. Staring back at him was the smiling face of his wife, Vivian. She was standing in front of what had been their summer home, her face caught in laughter at some forgotten joke, frozen forever in time.
Time, he thought to himself. He reached out and ran his fingers over her face, leaving small smudges on the surface of the glass. He turned and opened the lower right drawer of his desk, spotting the item inside. Next to his magic 8-ball and two empty pill bottles sat a worn purple box, tied with a faded gold ribbon. He eyed the empty bottles. How many times had he considered taking all of the medication at once? How many times had he wanted it to just be over? And how many times had he pulled himself back from the edge, driven by one chorus, singing out his purpose to him over and over again.
His eyes drifted to the box, and he considered taking it out, but was interrupted by Tiffany's footsteps. By the time she entered, he had already closed the drawer and purged his mind of unpleasant thoughts.
"They're ready, Doctor," she said quietly, averting her eyes as she often did in his presence. He nodded solemnly and stood up, readying himself for the final test.
"Is it prepped?" were Peter's first words as he entered the room, his bifocals glimmering in the strong lights from the experiment chamber. Sato walked up, clipboard in hand, and nodded.
"Hamster this time, yes?" he asked. Peter nodded distractedly. Sato smiled in his usual way and went off to check on the rodent. Peter had considered the next series of events carefully.