A Novel Thief

Stealing the future

Mark Starlin
6 min readMar 1, 2022


Jakub Dziubak

Harrison Steamer was a promising young novelist. His debut novel had become a must-read sensation. People (especially his publisher) constantly asked him when his next book would be finished. He always replied, “I am working on it!”

But in truth, he wasn’t. Maybe it was the pressure of writing the follow-up, but nothing Harrison wrote was any good. Everything felt forced. Which only fed his panic.

Harrison decided to use some of his earnings from the first book and bought an old abandoned building. He converted it into a writing space, hoping it would inspire him.

It didn’t. Harrison spent his time pacing the building, still unable to come up with any good ideas for his next novel.

One day in his frustration, he threw his laptop at the wall. The laptop knocked a brick through the wall, leaving an opening where the brick had been.

Harrison grabbed his phone and shone the flashlight through the opening. To his shock, he saw a hidden room behind the wall. And some kind of machine that filled most of the room.

Harrison made a trip to the hardware store and bought a crowbar and sledgehammer. A few hours later, Harrison had knocked enough of the wall down to get inside the room. The machine in the room was now completely visible. Harrison chuckled to himself. It looked like some kind of steampunk time machine.

Why not?, Harrison thought. So he sat down in the seat, set the clock to 25 years in the future, and pulled the lever.

The time machine came to life and started shaking. Harrison’s eyes grew large, and he thought about jumping off. But then it stopped. Harrison chuckled. Must be an old movie prop. Maybe I should write a time-travel novel., he thought. He got up and went back into the other room.

Harrison felt his stomach growl, so he decided to go out for lunch. As he left the building, everything was different. The skyline had changed, cars were different, and people were dressed oddly.

No. It can’t be possible. Harrison thought. He stopped the first person he saw walking by.

“What is the date?” Harrison asked the woman.



Mark Starlin