It was a mild autumn evening. The weather was grey and a light breeze caressed his face. Jules Verne sat on one of the benches in the botanical garden, facing the lake.
It was cold in Amiens in October 1895. The pigeons were clucking to keep warm and the ducklings were all out of the water. As he usually did after lunch, he took a piece of bread out of his woollen coat’s pocket and began to feed the animals in the park.
Jules was desperate. Inspiration had left him. He wondered if he was at the end of his writing career.
- "And you, what do you think?" he asked one of the pigeons that came to eat the dry bread.
Suddenly, two more landed at his feet to enjoy the all-you-can-eat buffet. Jules examined them... They were perfectly identical. How could this be possible? The two birds were eating face to face and it was as if they were looking in a mirror.
A flash of genius struck Jules. He ran as fast as he could towards his office at 2, rue Charles-Dubois, jostling some passers-by. He went up the stairs like a marathon runner, opened the door, locked it, grabbed a sheet of paper and a pencil and started to draw.
It was the first sketch of what would take up most of his time from now on. He was going to build a cloning machine.
It would be the greatest invention of all time. He would be the talk of the town. For weeks, Jules Verne did not leave his house and was only fed by the old lady downstairs who was beginning to seriously worry about his health. But he was far too busy building his machine. Technical drawings were piling up in the room, as well as all sorts of metal parts that littered the floor.
Three months later, the machine was ready. The moment of glory had arrived, he thought. He would finally prove to the world that he was the greatest visionary of all time.
Already known for his past novels, he had no trouble getting the word out in the quiet town of Amiens. The leaflets read: "Great performance this Monday, January 8th at 9 o'clock in the morning, the great Jules Verne invites you to discover his revolutionary machine!"
On the D-day, Jules prepared himself carefully. His machine was already there, waiting for him. He dressed in his best suit, took a deep breath and left his house to join the crowd. There were already a lot of people in the square that morning, impatiently waiting for the performance to start.
Jules Verne climbed the steps to the podium in an implacable silence. Everyone was waiting for his announcement. - "Ladies and Gentlemen... You think you have seen everything, you think you know everything there is to know about our world, but you are wrong. Today, we are going to defy the laws of physics!"
A mix of excitement and stress was beginning to take over. He knew he would have to be his own guinea pig. He couldn't fail or it would be the end for him.
He grabbed the white sheet that covered the machine in the background and pulled it frankly. The crowd marvelled as soon as he did. The machine was splendid and futuristic for its time.
Jules Verne took a deep breath and opened the door to the metal machine. He stepped inside and began his adjustments. The machine began to make a very loud noise and everyone covered their ears. It was as if it was about to take off. Thick grey smoke was coming out of the vents and pipes.
Suddenly another, much higher-pitched, noise spread through the square and with a shrill sound, an extremely white light invaded the whole town. As windows broke and screams resonated, panic took over. Then the light refocused directly on the machine and in less than a few milliseconds, the machine disappeared.
"Where the hell did it go? "What happened to him? "My God, this is terrible" The square filled with chatter.
Jules Verne had just entered the Metaverse without realising it. Without a sound, lost in space-time, plunged into total darkness, Jules was locked in his capsule without being able to do anything. He didn't know it yet but he was travelling through an entire century.
Suddenly the light came back on. He opened the door. He was stunned to discover his favorite place completely changed. Shops had replaced his newsstand, the buildings had changed too, not to mention people’s clothes… They were walking around like nothing happened. But what had happened?
He saw someone passing by with a newspaper in their hands: "New pandemic, 2021 hit by coronavirus."
- "WHAT?!!" Jules had jumped 126 years into the future!
He wasn’t yet aware that the machine had actually worked...