The characters of the story are mostly not named (at least the ones who live in the present). The Psychologist, the Young Man, the Mayor, the Doctor and, of course, our narrator are invited to dinner to the Time Traveller’s home. The Time Traveller tries to persuade them that time travel is actually possible because the time is nothing more than fourth dimension that can be crossed back and forth. The guests politely express disbelief, so the Time Traveller takes a small model of the time machine, turns it on and makes it disappear into thin air. The guests are really impressed and gladly agree to come to another dinner after a week.
When they gather next week, the Time Traveller is nowhere to be found. Finally he appears, late for his own dinner and looking as a survivor of a shipwreck. He limps, his clothes are torn and dirty and the time machine he exits looks like it was heavily beaten. The Time Traveller starts to tell the story about his adventures.
His goal was to find the time of the Golden Age of humanity. He wanted to be more precise, but the machine wasn’t calibrated well enough and after turning it on the Time Traveller plummeted through the millenia to the year 802.701 A.D. To his greatest sorrow, he saw everything in between this year and present so briefly that he still can’t say when the Golden Age shall start. The year he landed in was certainly the age of decay. When the Time Traveller stepped out of the time machine, he saw countless ruins around. Beautiful palaces, abandoned gardens with the most perfect fruits the man can imagine, but no sign of humanity, no remains of the old world.
When the Time Traveller became almost sure that there was no one around even vaguely resembling humans, he encountered strange creatures, tiny, beautiful and fragile. They called themselves Eloi and were charmingly silly and peaceful. Eloi community was kind and cheerful, but they seemed to completely forget everything that makes humans human. They didn’t know the alphabet, had no idea about physical laws and, although they enjoyed the company of each other, they seemed incapable to grasp the idea of compassion and helping each other. In a nutshell, they were humans, who mentally degenerated to the state of the capricious, pampered kids.
After a joyous feast with Eloi and eating a lot of perfect fruits, the Time Traveller decided to return to his machine but it was nowhere to be found. In panic he started searching around and finally saw that the pedestal of one of the giant statues had a niche inside. It seemed that someone put his machine into that niche. The Time Traveller tried to pry it open but failed. He decided to try again tomorrow and returned to Eloi settlement for a rest. During his way back he saw a female Eloi drowning in the river, absolutely incapable to swim. No one of the others seemed to care. The Time Traveller rescued her and soon befriended the little Eloi, learning her name - Weena. Weena then followed him everywhere, sleeping nearby and eating together. The only place she refused to approach were the wells that she was instinctively afraid of.
At night the Time Traveller noticed the strange creatures that vaguely resembled apes and cavefish simultaneously. He began to understand that something was incredibly strange and wrong in this world. Why Eloi were dressed in gorgeous gowns if they were incapable to sew? What for were all those wells without water around their settlement and why he could hear the noise of the machines near them? Why Eloi were so afraid of darkness and why there were no ill or old or dead? At last, who were the apelike creatures he saw at night?
Later, secretly observing the creatures Eloi called Morlocks and asking Eloi themselves he understood that Morlocks lived underground, in the deep caves where the ancient and incredibly complex machines still worked. The Morlocks were degraded descendants of the workers who have maintained the machines for millenia and still did exactly the same even not knowing why. So the machines kept Eloi - whose ancestors have been the pampered aristocrats - alive and well and for a reason. While Eloi were purely vegetarian, Morlocks went hunting at nights, catching and eating Eloi.
In the next morning the Time Traveller returned to the statue of the White Sphinx he examined before. But when he was trying to open its bronze pedestal again, he heard strange sounds, resembling a laugh. He saw a pair of dark eyes that reflected light like oil, obviously not belonging to any Eloi. It was Morlock looking at him - a small but much stronger creature, obviously not accustomed to the daylight, with pale skin, long muscular arms, absent chin and strangely lowered head. The Morlock ran away and the Time Traveller followed him. The creature disappeared in one of the bottomless wells. The Time Traveller saw the web of the ropes and sticks that was too weak for the body of a grown man but he descended into the well nevertheless. Weena almost followed him there, but her fear was too strong to overcome and she stayed outside crying in despair.
He discovered that all the wells were connected to a single ventilation system. The Morlocks dwelt beneath it. It were they who hid his time machine and, as the Time Traveller would understand later, having natural curiosity to everything mechanical, they disassembled, examined, smeared and reassembled it just out of instinct. The Morlocks walked along the endless corridors, fixing and examining the enormous machines that make clothes and other things for Eloi and deliver them to the surface. When the Time Traveller proceeded further, he saw a horrible dining room - long rows of tables with raw chopped meat lying on them. The meat was of disemboweled Eloi.
Finally the Morlocks noticed him. The Time Traveller had no other weapon than matches - but when one was lit the Morlocks ran away in terror - the fire seemed to frighten them too much. The Time Traveller also fled, soon chased by the Morlocks who saw that the creature that could make fire turned into prey again. The Time Traveller was lucky enough to return back to the surface when it was still day outside, so the Morlocks didn’t follow him.
Now he was even more determined to retrieve his time machine. He also understood that Weena - his only friend who developed something resembling compassion and connection to him - was also endangered. He took Weena with him and they went away to look for some place where they could be safe. On their way the Time Traveller accidentally found a building he called The Palace of Green Porcelain. It was a museum. In the Palace he found some more matches, oil and an old rusty lever. The Time Traveller picked the lever up to try to pry open the pedestal of the Sphinx with it later.
When they were exploring the museum the sun went down and Morlocks crawled out to hunt. They easily tracked the Time Traveller and Weena. The Time Traveller fought them with matches and lever but that time the Morlocks were prepared better. He managed to defend himself, but screaming Weena was dragged away to one of the wells to be slaughtered and eaten. Enraged by his loss, the Time Traveller fought his way with fire. The huge old trees accidentally caught fire and lots of Morlocks died in it.
Using fire as a distraction, the exhausted and injured Time Traveller returned to the White Sphinx - just to see that the pedestal was already opened: the Morlocks hoped to lure him into a seemingly enclosed space. He saw that the Morlocks tried to use the machine, but couldn’t, because the key detail that switched it on was disassembled and the Time Traveller carried it with him. Before the Morlocks approached him, the Time Traveller got into the time machine and travelled anywhere he could - just away from that place.
But his machine was still not in tune. Instead of moving backwards in time he again moved forward. He made some stops trying to adjust the machine and saw the gradual decay of the planet and the Sun itself. The life forms degraded, became simpler and simpler. The mankind ceased to exist long ago. At some point he was attacked by the giant crabs. This world also seemed to have only two species: herbivores and carnivores. Herbivores were the giant butterflies, eating the lichenous primitive vegetation. Carnivores were the crimson giant crabs that hunted the butterflies when the insects grounded to eat.
The last specie he encountered was a tentacled shapeless black something, crawling the barren ground under the thin atmosphere and the huge unstable red sun in the sky. The Earth stopped rotating and the radiation of the now red giant Sun burnt away all the life, leaving a silent lifeless rock. Understanding that he just didn’t have any more future to travel to, the Time Traveller finally took time to adjust the machine so precisely that he returned in that very day he started from, being late for his own dinner for only half an hour.
If the previous story was hard to believe, the current is impossible to believe. The audience is shocked and some of the people outright say that it is lies. Furious, the Time Traveller shouts that he will bring the proof of what he just told, jumps into his time machine again and never returns.