This is an idea for a short story involving time travel (well, more like time-acceleration) and pregnancy. It’s light on sci-fi and focusses on Human issues, perhaps not even labelling itself sci-fi, as Steven Lyle Jordan discussed in this recent article. It probably isn’t strong enough for a full novel, but it’s a neat concept of an idea that would work as a short story or a subplot in a larger series of novels.
Zhu is our protagonist and he’s a very neurotic man, with trust issues. He’s married to Nikita who is quite quite pregnant. She’s been telling everyone she’s 35 weeks, but in actual fact is 37. But that won’t be revealed in the story until later. In fact it’ll only be hinted at.
Zhu and Nikita both work at Accel Ltd, a high-tech company that uses accelerated time to grow plants incredibly quickly. Zhu is a botanist, or gardener, or farmer. You don’t have to mention his title, but essentially he uses the technology that Accel provide to grow plants and vegetables incredibly quickly, allowing the company to turn a profit. Nikita however is further up the chain. She’s smart, and in a managerial position in the company.
Start of the Story
We begin the story where Nikita is too pregnant to come into work. This has happened a few weeks earlier than they’d planned, and Nikita isn’t taking it well. Zhu tells her to stay at home.
He’s an anxious man, and probably not that smart. He’s discovered that the technology that accelerates time, allowing plants to grow faster, feels great for Humans. Locking himself in with the plants and accelerating time feels like a real buzz, like a drug, and it’s addictive too – not chemically, but gives him a pleasurable sensation that alleviates his worries about his impending fatherhood. Plus it makes the working day go faster.
Time is only accelerated slightly. It’s not like he’ll fall asleep and wake up in a million years or anything.
Zhu is incredibly jealous about Nikita’s acquaintance George, whom he knew she used to date before they got together. He’s a nurse at the maternity ward, where Nikita goes for a check-up, bringing out Zhu’s jealousy and paranoia when they meet.
Some Classic Pregnancy Peril
Something bad happens. Stories need peril. Nikita falls or has a complication, and needs to spend time in the hospital. This adds to Zhu’s anxiety and his jealousy of George. He uses the time-accelerator at Accel even more, to speed up the time between hospital visiting hours.
He also notices that Nikita tells the nurses that she’s 37 weeks pregnant, whereas he’s sure she’s only 35. He even tells the story that they conceived 2 weeks before their wedding, having to get a quick marriage because their parents were traditionalists.
But this confusion about dates leads Zhu to investigate, assuming his wife is having an affair with her old flame George. He finds that she was away at “a conference” a weekend 37 weeks ago. He assumes the baby isn’t his.
Twist or Double Bluff
Building on the theme of unfaithfulness it could be a twist to bring in that Nikita, like Zhu is hooked on accelerating time too. Accelerating herself 3 weeks closer to the end of her pregnancy over the last few months.
But this could be a double bluff. Nikita could have been unfaithful, and is using the exposure to time-acceleration as a convenient excuse. You might want to sum this up at the end of the story, or perhaps not.