By Mr. Ngaihte (19 Mar 2010)
Alex Hartdegen is a scientist living in 1899 New York City. Obsessed with the idea of time travel, he teaches at Columbia University as a professor of "Applied Mechanics and Engineering" and gets into trouble for his radical theories. He is a pen pal of Albert Einstein. As he goes to the park to meet his girlfriend Emma, he becomes distracted by an early motor car beside the park gates. He puts himself in immediate good graces with the driver who, while refueling, forgot to activate the parking brake something Alexander does quickly when it threatens get out of control.
Forgetting the flowers, he meets Emma at the skating rink; they walk through the park where Alexander proposes to Emma. However, the romantic moment is short-lived: a robber emerges from nearby bushes and holds a gun on them. As the thug attempts to take Emma's engagement ring, Alexander tries to intervene; during the struggle, the gun goes off and Emma is fatally wounded, dying in Alexander's arms. For the next four years, Alexander spends every waking hour in his laboratory working on his time travel calculations. Eventually, he succeeds in building a working time machine.
His self-imposed exile has led to him being ostracized from his oldest friend David Philby, who eventually arrives at the lab to confront Alexander who in turn flies into a rage. Philby invites Alexander to dinner in the hope it would cause him to leave the lab and eventually return to a normal life, but Alexander postpones the dinner until the following week; after Philby has left Alexander remarks that in a week they "wouldn't have had this conversation".
With the time machine finished, he travels back to that night four years ago and intercepts Emma before she was destined to meet his 1899 counterpart. Escorting her away from the park, they walk back to her apartment where he leaves her out in the street to purchase some flowers. However, despite Alexander having removed her from the danger of the robber, Emma is knocked down and trampled by a horse and carriage outside. The horses were spooked by the early motor car.
Alexander realizes bitterly that if he prevents one means of Emma's death, another will take its place. Disenchanted with the prospect, he decides to go forward in time to find out if there are any answers in the future.