loop

5 July 2017 11:50
skonen_blades: (Default)
I walk into the room and see myself there on the bed.
Dead or sleeping, I can’t tell.
I’m scared.
I hear a footstep behind me.
I look behind me and see myself walking up to the room.
We make eye contact and I quickly look away.
I look back at the bed.
The body in the bed opens its eyes and frantically gestures for me to get under the covers.
I dive into the bed with him.
As I do, he scurries under the blankets to hide.
He hides very well because when I look down at myself, it looks like I’m the only person in the bed.
I take his place just as the other me comes into the room.
I close my eyes and pretend to be asleep.
It occurs to me that the me in the doorway might actually think I’m dead if I do this.
I open my eyes just in time to see that doorway me is scared of something behind him.
I motion quickly and quietly with my hands, telling him to get into bed with me.
He does.
I dive under the covers just as I hear the third me get to the doorway and
I open my eyes and I’m in a hallway.
At the end of the hallway, I can see the door to my bedroom.
There’s someone standing in the doorway.
It’s hard to tell from behind but it really looks like me.
He’s wearing the same clothes as I am.
As I start to walk towards him, he turns and sees me.
Shocked, he turns back, staring into the bedroom.
He leaps away from the door into the bed.
I can’t see him anymore but I hear some tussling of bedcovers.
I walk up to the doorway of the room.

I walk into the room and see myself there on the bed.



tags
skonen_blades: (hamused)
It was a beautiful night to watch the stars go out.

The grass rustled softly in the wind. Small waves scudded across the pond as other families unpacked night time picnics. The clouds had been removed for the viewing so we could see the beautiful night sky in all its milky, glittering glory.

The man beside me is over 700 years old. He has two friends here that are the same age but they all look like they’re about thirty. I call him grandfather but I’m told there are a whole lot of ‘greats’ in there. He is a war hero. He is the reason we’re here. He speaks to me in ancient English. My mind translates.

“When humans discovered FTL travel, we came up on a lot of people’s radar. We had unknowingly joined a club and that club had enemies. Immediately, we were contacted and drafted into the conflict that raged across the stars.

We proved instrumental. In a strange twist of fate, our bodies were more resilient than most and our minds were able to withstand the chaotic dimensional tortures of n-space without the need for anesthetic. All the other races needed to go blind through the wormholes. Not us. We could pilot a course.

The shattering of reality outside the jumpships doesn’t squeeze the human brain. Being all meat and being stupid works to our advantage. When we see something we don’t understand outside the portholes and viewscreens, we can just shrug and go about our business. We can turn our inquisitiveness on and off. That is rare, apparently. Even automated ships can’t adjust properly in n-space.

So we were asked to pilot ships with sunkiller weapons to end the war once and for all. The good half of the galaxy depended on it, we were told.

We bent reality, folded space, and hopped in and out of the fabric of spacetime with technology customized especially for us. Zipping in and out of our dimensional plane, we supernovaed 23 suns and genocided 800 enemy races. We were successful. If there had been surviving enemies, we would be infamous.

But there weren’t.

The good guys won, kid. That’s why you’re here. And your mother and everyone on this planet and thousands of others.

Now look up.”

I looked up into the night sky.

“We jumped around an awful lot during our mission, kid. We bent a lot of light. For me, it happened a few weeks ago but those lights up there,” he motioned with his hand to one part of the sky, “Y’see, they’re 700 light years away. The light from our battle is just reaching your planet now. That’s how I’m 700 years old by your clocks. Now watch.”

My grandfather looked at an ancient chronometer on his wrist and then raised his eyes up to the sky. Everyone around us did the same.

It took an hour but I could see some of the stars up in the sky grow and fade, blooming and folding away into nothing. Constellations losing teeth and limbs.

It’s been peaceful for us humans and the other races in the coalition since the slaughter. Seven centuries of peace.

My grandfather and his fellow soldiers cheered and drank smelly liquids that came from their ship. I was told we don’t have any of what they were drinking here on our planet.

The rest of us just watched the stars go out like a reverse fireworks show, feeling sadness instead of joy.

My grandfather and his friends are laughing and crying at the same time.




tags
skonen_blades: (hamused)
I was a time traveler. I say ‘was’ because it’s apparent to me now that this was a one-way trip.

I realized I was a god as soon as the pain stopped.

I could hear all the other gods, shouting in my head. Billions of them ordered into groups and catalogues. Every thought that ran through my mind accordioned new sub-menus out, giving me access to the proper people. Polite queries were flooding through me like water through a dam.

I wanted to respond but it was hard to do because of all the screaming I was doing.

It was a social network in my mind. Nodes of location and profession grew and pinpointed depending on my attention. Closing my eyes did nothing.

Most countries I recognized. Some I didn’t. I shied away from the nodes labeled with the names of planets. I only recognized half of the professions. Even though I could hear everyone, I was somehow not going insane. My brain must have been augmented, too.

I looked down at my arms. Light blue with a faint tracery of new lines on the skin. I wanted to get a closer look and immediately I could see the manufactured hairs on my arm in electron microscope detail.

I started screaming again. This was not my body.

I remembered stepping out of my time machine into an alley in what was supposed to be the year 2120. Immediately, I had trouble breathing and my eyes started watering regardless of the air filter and goggles.

Then fire lit up my veins like vegas and I went down.

As soon I came in contact with the future, I was registered as a pure biological and 'updates' began pouring into me from the picotech floating in the air. According to the tech, I hadn't been updated in a long time.

It was like plugging a gaming console into the ancient internet after two years of not playing it. Immediately, downloads for the OS and all of the games would pour in with a need for a restart. It took a long time.

Well, I've never been hooked into this network and according to its data, I was in need of a full reinstall.

I was in a coma for two weeks. Upgrade after upgrade slammed into my twitching body. I lay shuddering in the hospital while concerned medpeople monitored it all. The future ran through me like a train.

I am now connected to worldmind, overnet and airmesh. My eyes are sniper scopes and my skin is an air filter. I am blue.

I cannot go back. This future lacks the technology to regress me to my former self and the body I now possess would create thousands of patents that haven’t been invented yet if I went back.

The future is sorry. It says so. Here. In my mind. Everyone one earth apologizes and is happy to meet me. The other planets are knocking on my mental firewalls with well wishes. They all feel bad, like they sprung a trap on me. But they’ve never met a time traveler before and they want to talk.

I have five options of travel if I want to see other planets, seven if I want to leave this body here.

The blue skin around the corners of my mouth hooks up into a smile.

I think I’ll go to Mars.


tags
skonen_blades: (hamused)
The ship had stopped in between Earth and the moon, twinkling like a massive cathedral made of glass and crystal. No shockwave or energy point. It was just suddenly there.

Our Earth defenses reacted immediately. The defenses of the asteroid belt and Mars rendezvoused with us around the alien craft.

We surrounded it, pointed weapons at it, and screamed orders at it to stay still and be calm. It didn’t react. It was hard to tell if it was following our orders, if it was truly dead in the water, or if it had even heard us at all.

The world was watching and the space defense forces of three solar governments were bristling with fear in a pinpointed sphere of death around it.

A hardy space marine scout advanced on it. I was that scout. I was old and experienced but I was also expendable.

I pushed forwards through the tense silence of space until I was right beside the ship.

I had no need to storm an airlock because there were vast open portals in the sides. There seemed to be no need to shield its crew or contents from the vacuum. I thumbed my jets forward, nosing my way cautiously into the interior of the ship.

A curious phenomenon awaited me. The ship appeared to only exist when light was hitting it. The hull and interior were only visible when the light of the sun or my suit’s flashlights played across it. Anything not being illuminated was transparent to the point of not existing.

The ship was half here and half not here. What I could see of the ship looked like ice or clear glass but when I reached out to touch it, my finger slid off of it. Completely frictionless.

According to our sensors, it didn’t have any mass. Obviously impossible yet here I was looking at it.

Movement caught my eye and I snapped my weapon up.

I saw the crew.

Odd, transparent, segmented snake-like creatures that flowered into an ornate nest of tentacles halfway up. They had the same properties as the ship itself, completely disappearing when in shadow. It was hard to tell if they were manufactured out of the same material as the ship or if they were merely in the same state of existence.

One thing was for sure; they were reacting to an emergency. I couldn’t detect any visible damage but the creatures were running around in what looked like panic even though they were ignoring me completely.

My headlamps were bringing the chaos into sharp relief. I wasn’t even sure if they could see me. They made no effort to avoid me yet somehow they never collided with me.

This looked like a cockpit of some kind but from what I could see through the translucent walls, the same activity was taking place in similar rooms. I couldn’t detect a central engine or chain of command.

Experimenting, I turned off my head lights and spun slowly to look behind me.

Lit by the sun from behind, my long shadow was a perfect me-shaped hole in the floor with only the depths of space staring back at me. I nudged down towards it and dipped a toe into the hole.

And my toe went through the floor.

I recoiled. “I’m leaving the ship!” I said into my comm. I couldn’t help thinking about drifting through a wall only to have the light change its angle when I was halfway through and trap me there.

Another part of me did not want to be aboard when the aliens fixed the problem.

I needed to leave. The ship didn’t appear to be a threat. It was just stranded.

I left the ship and angled back to my waiting defense craft to debrief. I was going to recommend waiting.

Over the next hour, darkness washed across us all as we drifted into the Earth’s shadow.

As soon as the ship was completely shadowed by Earth and no longer in the sun’s rays, I told the ships to turn off any lights they had trained on the ship.

As soon as they did, the ship disappeared. When we turned our lights back on to where it was, there was only empty space.

The scientists still puzzle over that crystal ship, theorizing how it could have broken the light barrier with its massless form. They talk about how photons or solar winds must have confused its tech somehow.

What lightless planet did it evolve on? How could it have form and no mass?

How could travel to infinity but only through the shadows?




tags
skonen_blades: (hamused)
I never want to come back but here I am again, watching the massacre of my ancestors.

Back in these times, they used what was at hand to execute a mass of people. There were no guns yet, no chemists yet to produce a lethal gas and there were no buildings in the village big enough that my people could be locked into and burnt.

The attackers were merely using spears, torches, pitchforks and pointed sticks to corral my ancestors up to the edge of a very high cliff outside of town. Soon, they will force them off the cliff on a long trip to the rocks tearing through the violent, cold waves below.

I invented the world’s first time machine. I have found that it’s quite easy to change history.

Once.

I went back in time, intending to help my ancestors become rich. I gave them patented ideas years before they should have been invented. I explained myself as a traveling businessman bringing them ideas from the mainland. My ancestors lived in a village outside of Ireland.

They talked openly about their inventions, confident that they could sell them to their fellow villages or at least barter for passage to the mainland to set up shop at some of the larger markets.

There were suspected of being in league with the devil and sentenced to death. There was also not a lot of due process back then.

My ancestors were treated like diseased blood cells. They were surrounded and driven to messy end.

Do you understand? Everyone with my last name was herded to a sharp drop. They all died. I know it. I’ve watched it fifty-six times now.

And here I am. I still exist. I’m hovering near the cliff edge and I cannot control my machine.

Every time I try to leap back to the present, I am brought back to this moment in time. When I try to go back further to right my wrongs, the same thing happens. I can’t leave my craft to change what happens and no one appears to be able to see me or my machine floating in the air.

It’s as if I’m doing penance for my crime on some universal space-time level.

And there they go. Nudged off the edge of the cliff like so many reluctant lemmings. Men, women, and children screaming their way down to the unforgiving ocean.

Soon enough, the villages go back home, satisfied at a job well done and a crisis averted. The bodies of my people lie dead and broken in the undulating surface of the cold atlantic.

The cliffs are silent. And I disappear go back and see it all again.


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skonen_blades: (hamused)
I’ve been schismed out. Shook loose. I’m walking around this laboratory and it’s difficult. The air is thick. It takes effort for me to breathe. I’m not sure how long I have to live.

Next to me, the other scientists ponder the place where I was standing. They’re looking quizzically at the space where I used to be in the machine. They’re frozen in time. Either that or I’ve been sped up. I prefer to think that I’ve been quickened. To think that that this machine has slowed the universe is too extreme for me to contemplate.

I was so sure that the voltage was safe. We thought that I might get a tingling sensation, maybe see some borealis across my skin.

But here I am trying to breathe ‘slow’ air, hoping that any of my colleagues are realizing what happened. It’s been an hour so far and I haven’t suffocated but I’ve been light-headed twice. The room seems dimmer. I’m frightened that might be because light is moving slower through my eyes.

I’m scared that if they turn off the machine, I might be trapped here. They need to exponentially dampen back the strata to below where it is in order to get me back to regular speed but above all, they can’t turn it off.

I’m hoping that one of them will understand what happened and hit the switch to dump more polarized electrons into the memory pools. My money’s on Sarah. I’m looking at her face right now.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a human face get an idea this slowly before. I’ve watched Sarah’s face contort from confused from panicked to understanding. Now I’m watching her slowly evolve an idea, hopefully the idea to turn the electron switch.

I’m watching her face move like it’s the hour hand on a clock. I can’t perceive it changing when I stare at it but if I look away for a while and look back, I can see that it’s incrementally different. It’s fascinating to see a brilliant human mind move in such painfully slow detail.

I can imagine the tumblers in her head locking into place and coming up with the dawning of a notion. I can tell that she’ll come through for me because the rest of the scientists are still looking at my empty chair with puzzled looks.

I just hope that I’ll start to see her hand reach out towards the button soon.

I’ve tried to press it and nothing happens. It might as well be carved out of marble like my colleagues.

I tried to yell but it’s too much effort. That was one of the times I almost passed out.

Sarah’s head is turning now, her hair lifting and starting to fan out like the hem of her labcoat. In real time, she’s probably spinning as fast as she can but here, I know it’ll take an hour for her to get to where she needs to go.

I can see that she’s turning in the right direction and I can see her eyes fill with purpose.

I am exercising my patience. I am trying to breathe. I cross my fingers.




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skonen_blades: (hamused)
I seem to have hit a time ‘dam’ of some kind.

My personal temporal relocation prototype device is working perfectly but there is a barrier here.

It’s a blue wall and it extends as far as we can see.

When I say ‘we’, I mean that there are six copies of me here with me.

We are all quite distressed.

When I first arrived here, I arrived by myself. The blue wall looked nothing like my destination. I was trying to go to a future Vienna. I immediately tried to go back home, slapping the button on my time travel belt. That only brought me back here.

I met myself then. We both arrived at the same time, looking at each other in shock, immediately terrified of any sort of paradox. In a panic, we both slapped our buttons to return home at the same time. Stupid. I already knew it wouldn’t work but I reacted instinctively when I saw my copy, just as he did.

It had the same effect as before. We boomeranged back just in time to meet ourselves getting here. Then there were four of us.

The two of us with memories of failing to return home reached out to the two new ones just arriving and told them not to go anywhere. They didn’t.

For a while, we considered our options.

We elected that one of us try to keep going forward and drew straws to select which copy of us would go.

He tried it.

Then there were five of us.

We took apart one of the time travel belts to see if there were any sort of feedback loops in the circuitry or if the power modules had changed. It was experimental technology but with our five minds working together, we improved the design and cobbled something together with a more direct hold on the temporal flow and much more boosted power.

Copy number 5 was the winner this time. He tried on the belt and slapped the button, bidding us adieu. We had a theory that if he was successful, the rest of us would disappear. It was a frightening moment. Copy 5 disappeared in a puff of smoke.

And came back just in time to meet himself again.

Now there are six of us.

We are afraid to go anywhere in time. We’re wondering why we’re the only ones here is this is a time trap. Shouldn’t all time travelers be stuck here?

We all brought enough food and water to last for a week.

And it’s been a week.

It just occurred to me that maybe if we'd sent a time belt back wrapped around some water and food, we could have created an infinite supply for ourselves. Wish I had thought of that a week ago. We have nothing now.

Other alternatives are coming to mind that I don't like. I can see the same look in the eyes of my copies. I've never tasted human flesh and I don't want to.

We’re thinking.



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skonen_blades: (hamused)
April 30/30

29/30

I’ve gone to the future hundreds of times. Even to alternate universes. It’s all the same.

There’s nothing there.

Timecasting is a strange way to travel to the future.

You had to ‘throw’ a receiving station forward in time so that your timechair could land there. A receiving station was around the size of a car.

First, you retarded the receiving station’s constant with a time anchor, effectively nailing it to one single here and now. Like putting your back against the elastic of a slingshot and starting to walk backwards until it starts to stretch. The further backward you walk, the further forward you’ll go when you relax.

The flow of time dams behind the stopped station, becoming temporal gunpowder. It’s like putting a clamp on a hose and watching the water building up behind it. Or shaking a champagne bottle. After a few seconds, a timer turns the time brakes off and the station re-enters the timestream. The backed-up time behind it shoots the station forward. The longer the pause, the further into the future it gets.

Time cannot stand anything going against its flow. The resistance increases exponentially. The most we’ve been able to hold a station back for is three minutes. Luckily, that’s enough power to shoot the chair a thousand years into the future.

You could also say it’s like dropping a huge weight on one side of a seesaw. Whatever’s on the other side of the seesaw will go flying upwards into the air but the seesaw itself stays where it is. The seesaw is our present moment, and the timechair is what gets catapulted.

So after the brakes release the station comes forward, releasing its potential temporal energy, and flies past us in time, continuing on decades into the future. Everything that goes up must come down, to use the seesaw metaphor further, and so the station will slow, pause and then reverse course back to our lab.

At that perihelion, the tip of the parabola, it’ll stay still in one time enough for us to send a temponaut forward in the timechair. Then the receiving station arcs back to us.

As long as the timechair doesn’t move in the future, we can recreate the steps to bring it back. No communication is possible but with a good plan and a decent watch, the temponaut just comes back to the time chair at the agreed upon time, sits down and waits. Suddently, he’ll be back in the lab.

That ‘he’ is me. This time I’m only forwarding a few weeks.

The top secret reason that I’m doing this is because every time I’ve gone forward, all I’ve seen is rolling hills and regularly-spaced mounds of moss jutting up from the ground. In some of these mounds, I can still make out windows. As far as I can see from where I land, there is nothing but grass and ivy and nature reclaiming the city to the point that if I didn’t know the layout of the streets, I wouldn’t even be able to tell that the humps had been buildings. The city has been dead for centuries if not millennia.

There are deer. There are birds. There are no humans.

The first jump I did took me a thousand years in the future. There have been 58 jumps since then. The last one was just six months into the future with the same results. An impossibly long-dead future just a few days away from this bustling human-dominated one.

I have no idea what it means but it scares me.



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skonen_blades: (hamused)
April 30/30

27/30

I’ve stabbed deep into the envelope around the white dwarf sun at the center of this solar system. My gravity repellers are maxed. I’ve skimmed the perihelion right in the onionskin. I came in at .75c and the slingshot here has nudged me just past full light. This experimental craft is performing perfectly. A silver arrow of flexible diamond called The Needle. The seventeen thrusters that have burst-accelerated me across a fifth of the Milky Way to end up here have all been discarded behind me like Fibonacci-spaced buoys. I was by all accounts the fastest human-constructed artifact in the universe.

I am seven miles away from the surface of the dwarf and here I will stay.

I can look up from my cockpit and see the whorls and radiation of the star as it quickly spins. My ship’s cabin protects me from the effects as does my hubris.

I have found out what happens when a ship with mass goes faster than the speed of light. Caught by surprise, physics found an agreeable solution that I have not found agreeable.

The moment I hit 1.0000001.c, all of my control panels stopped. They didn’t turn off. They just stopped. Anything that oscillated froze in mid strobe. My shuddering, screaming, deafening ship became silent. Oddly, I am free to move about. I can touch everything in my cockpit but I cannot move it. It’s like I am immersed in a three-dimensional photograph.

I am a fly trapped in an amber bulb of time. Why my consciousness has been permitted to remain alert is a mystery. Perhaps something to do with Schrodinger and perception. Even though there will be no outcome, there needs to be an observer.

The folks back home are waiting for telemetry from my ship. By my viewpoint, they will always be waiting.

I have been here for six days so far. My ship has not moved forward and I have not run out of air and I’ve felt no hunger or thirst. I seem to be destined to remain here. In a few years, I suppose I’ll find out if I’m even aging at all.

If I’m caught in a loop, it’s a loop too small for me to detect. I won’t go forward. I won’t go back. I have been put ‘on hold’ by the universe’s laws.

I wonder how many alien astronauts dot the border of light with me, strung out across the galaxy like doomed fireflies in jars.

Perhaps when the universe ends and physical laws break down we will all be set free to complete our parabolas.

Until then, my orbit is not done. My orbit will never be done.






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skonen_blades: (hamused)
I thought about these concepts this morning. It's not really a story but I like the idea of this element.

------------------------------

The miners kept disappearing. That’s how we found tempranium. It’s a new fifth-dimensional element that moves through time but not space. If you have a glass full of the sparkling, blue, translucent metal, that glass may be full for minutes, years, or centuries. But one day it’ll be gone. Suddenly but with no little pop as the air rushes in to fill the vacuum because it will have never been there according to the physics of the stuff. That’s how it appears and disappears inside of mountains without causing massive landslides.

You have to picture tempranium as a lightning bolt going sideways through time. There seems to be several deposits here on earth in the rockies close to where I grew up. There are claims being staked in more countries these days. The veins of tempranium have a unique effect on most intelligent life that’s aware of time’s passing. Any lifeform that’s capable of being impatient, basically. When an upper-minded life form touches the tempranium, they disappear from our timeline and join the tempranium’s constant.

If you touch it for a second, you join the tempranium while time flows around you and you’ll end up one second in the past. Same for five minutes or a year. The problem for time travel is that we seem to keep a sense of time with us when we go. If we want to travel five years into the past, you have to touch the tempranium for five years. That’s a long time to be sitting and holding onto a hunk of metal.

The other problem is that going back in time splits the continuum. You can’t change the past because you go off to a different fork, creating another universe. You are effectively removed from this timeline forever.

If you handle the tempranium with gloves and metal, it’s fine. You won’t get yanked. But skin-on-metal touching will pull you out of this timeline like a loose baby tooth. The physicists reckon it’s because of our ability to perceive it. Something Schroedingery goes on there. Spiders can crawl on the metal and nothing happens. Same with all insects. Dogs disappear. Cats, too. There are still tests going on. It’s an effective barometer to classify life’s intelligence, if a somewhat harsh one.

That’s why we mine it with machines mostly.

The military has made bullets tipped with the stuff. The minute they come into contact with an enemy soldier, that soldier is whisked away to an alternate earth, emptying this present battlefield of another enemy.

We’ve made time-dampening fields to contain the element. The fields also work on humans. That’s how we discovered immortality. Effectively giving us the ability to go forward in real time without aging. So now we can go back in time in real-time and forward in time in real-time.



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skonen_blades: (Default)
Season six of Starfleet Academy had just started on the television. Pizza boxes were stacked high around him. The lights were out. Underwear and dirty clothes lay strewn about the place.

Jim’s laziness was catching up with him. He was growing fatter by the month. His uncle had gotten him work as a janitor in the science wing of the university but he wasn’t liking it. It was only part-time but it was hard on his back and the boss kept disrespecting him.

He reached forward to turn up the volume on the remote control when a flash of light erupted in the front of the television and a large figure stood blocking his view of the show.

He pushed back from the television, scraping the floor with couch. The effort left him wheezing.

“Jim, don’t freak out. I only have a few minutes to talk to you.” The figure fumbled around the boxes and clothes and turned on a desk lamp.

Jim looked up into the face of the intruder and froze. It was him but a few years older. Still grossly overweight and unkempt but with less hair and more grey.

“Jim, I’m you. I’m still the janitor in the science department. They’ve invented time travel. I’m one of the only people that has a key to the place after hours. The whole team has gone out to celebrate and I’m here alone. I’ll probably get fired for doing this but here.”

He handed over a few pieces of paper with some numbers on them.

“These are lottery numbers. Use them wisely and don’t get greedy. Keep the janitor job and don’t spend like a crazy person.”

As he spoke, he grew several gold rings out of his fingers and a gold tooth appeared in his mouth. A diamond stud sprouted out of his ear. Modest but expensive.

“Also, do some pushups and hit the gym. Even a little regular exercise will do the trick. My heart is ready to burst and I’ve been told that I only have a year to live before I need a transplant. Luckily I can afford it so that’s not too worrying but please do that.”

As older Jim spoke, fat melted off of him. He didn’t grow buff but he did look decidedly trimmer. The missing hair didn’t look so bad. There was confidence and a healthy glow to his eyes. His posture improved and he seemed less panicked.

“And Jim, please go back to school. We both have a natural aptitude for math. It’s how I could figure out how to use the controls here. Imagine what we could accomplish if we really applied ourselves! Jesus, if you'd have studied then maybe I wouldn’t have ended up just being a goddamn janitor.”

The older Jim’s stained jumpsuit whispered away in fragments and was replaced by a lab coat and clipboard.

“My colleagues will be back soon. We can’t use the time machine for personal use so I’ll no doubt face disciplinary action if I’m caught. One more thing. Ask Janine out. While my work is fulfilling, I regret not having kids and she was the one.”

There was a pause while an expression shuddered across older Jim’s face.

“Okay I have to go. I need to get home and tuck the kids in and tell my wife the good news. Remember what I’ve said.”

There was another flash of light and he disappeared.

Jim sat staring at the empty space where the older version of him had stood. He slowly put down the remote control, looked around, and started cleaning up his apartment.


tags
skonen_blades: (borg)
We reckoned with a material like this, it would take ten minutes for the event horizon to oscillate down to a state of entropy safe enough to let the test subject come back.

Ah, yes. The test subject. That would be me.

It’s not necessary to travel forwards in time. All that’s necessary is to make a functioning anchor and a bubble around it that will protect you. Something that removes you from the stream. Much like slamming on the brakes on the highway and letting all the traffic go past.

We had the technology and it was right here in my hand. A black stick that looked like the broken-off handle of a sword. We called it the throttle. Three cables snaked out of it into a grey box on the floor the size of a stapler. Not much to look at but the compound in its core was extremely expensive. It would another year to get as much of it.

A hard shake would break the shell on the inside of the throttle releasing a small pocket of reverse-entropy antimatter. The half-life of the antimatter was only a thousandth of a second but in order to process the magnitude of it an event horizon would extend out from our universe like a huge pair of wings into neighbouring timestreams.

To stop the multiverse from collapsing, the theory was that the ‘wings’ would be forced back into our own universe and would fold the other way, along the ‘x’-axis of our own universe. That is to say, along our own timeline instead of interfering with neighbouring possible timelines.

The stapler on the floor worked in a similar fashion to a loop pedal. It would capture the thousandth of a second it would take for the ‘wings’ of the event horizon to re-orient and then play that back to the throttle, giving it false information. Instead of disrupting our timeline, it would simply stack that thousandth of a second over and over until it reverberated down to nothing.

I looked at Gary who nodded at Stephen and he in turn gave Carl the okay. After double-checking his readouts, he gave Jake the thumbs up. Jake pointed three fingers at me, then two, then one.

I shook the throttle.

It didn’t take ten minutes. It took six weeks. I didn’t feel a second of it. In fact, I thought the experiment had failed until I noticed there were seven people in the room instead of four and the clocks were different.

After the de-briefing, I felt a little ripped off. While I’d been gone, a lot had happened. A few celebrities had died, a war had ended, even rumours of our experiments had made it into the pages of the less reputable tabloids.

But for me, it was less than a blink.

The world’s first time traveler. Bah. What a bogus title. At least the first man on the moon had awesome memories of the event.

Time travel is lame.




tags
skonen_blades: (borg)
The Grandfather paradox states that a time loop will be created if you go back in time to kill your grandfather. If you kill your grandfather, you will end up not existing. But if you can’t do it, then he will not be killed by you. So he’ll exist, and you’ll exist, and he’ll be killed, and you’ll be erased, and he’ll exist again, and you’ll exist again, and he’ll be killed again, and you’ll be erased again, ad infinitum.

She came back to 2036 shaking and crying. She was wet and her hair was tangled. It must have been raining in 1978. I immediately got a towel around her and took her off of the temporal reception platform. She was steaming from the transition. She collapsed into me and we both lay down in the middle of the lab with the technicians staring.

“Oh god, what does it mean? What does it mean?” she kept saying.

Dr. Lauren Kim. The scientist responsible for the time machine, was here in my arms, soaking wet and obviously shaken to her core after her fourth trip back in time. The first three had gone quite well and she’d returned as her usual curt self. This trip had caused something to go wrong.

“Dr. Kim.” I said. “Doctor KIM!” I shouted. She focused on me.

“John? Oh John.” She said to me. She’d never called me John in my life. I didn’t even know she knew my first name. “I wasn’t thinking, John. He was there. He was going to die. But I saved him. The bus was coming so fast. It didn’t occur to me….I mean, I knew what would happen if he died but….”

“Dr. Kim?” I said, ice forming in my stomach.

“My great grandfather, John. I saw him. I looked him up. I found him and I went to observe him. I don’t know what I was thinking. I felt compelled. It went against everything I know as a temporal scientist. But I had to just see him, y’know? So there I was. On the street corner, and the bus ran a red light. And I…..and I….oh god.”

“What did you do, Dr Kim?” I asked, already dreading the answer.

“I saved him. Oh god, I saved him from certain death. I ran and gave him a tackle into the gutter and the bus missed us both before crashing into a dumpster. My great grandfather would have been crushed. He was only nineteen. He hadn’t met my grandmother yet. He thanked me.”

“Dr. Kim” I whispered. Nervously, I looked around the lab at the other technicians, at my own hands, at Dr Kim. We all still seemed to be here. Nobody was going invisible or winking out of existence. Would I even know it if they did?

“If I hadn’t have been there to save him, he would have died. And none of this would exist.” She looked around wide-eyed as if seeing the lab for the first time.

“Dr Kim.” I said. “Take a deep breath. Calm down. The lab is here. We are here. If there is a paradox, it’s not affecting us. Or at least not yet. Or at least this universe. Listen to my voice. We’re here.”

Dr Lauren Kim looked at me. “Are we, John? Are we here?” She put a hand on my face and then she passed out.

She’s in sedation in the recovery room now. I’m not sure how to handle this. The universe seems stable. Nothing about the world seems different.

Does the paradox exist if you save your grandfather?




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skonen_blades: (Default)
The Introdus happened in late 2021.

Seven hundred thousand time travelers showed up around the world.

The showed up on fire.

The showed up in clumps in the larger cities and by the singles and pairs in rural areas. Most of them were burnt beyond recognition.

Only sixty-eight of them were saved and of those, only sixteen were able to maintain consciousness. Of those sixteen, ten of them were only able to scream and scream and scream. They were sedated into comas. The six that were left were able to talk.

It was hard to get intelligible stories out of them.

There was a lot of confusion at first. The fact that these people appeared out of the air was hard to make the public believe. It was thought that a worldwide firebomb campaign had begun until the corpses and survivors were examined and not a single one of them could be identified. They simply weren’t on our books.

Scientists measured closer and verified that on a quantum level, the bodies were not from ‘here’. No one could confirm that they were from the future but that was the story those survivors told in slivers, gasps, and broken metaphor. Through shattered teeth and pain medication, though burnt faces and time-jumbled brains, through hand signals and languages evolved further from our own, they told us when the universe would end.

The invention of time travel triggers an event, they said. Once a switch on a time machine was thrown, the universe took notice. Some of them said that it was God, the Devil, Shiva or a giant mouth of fire descending through the clouds. The images they provided were delusional ravings. Entire continents becoming open sores, tentacles reaching down from the stars, the air shattering impossibly like glass, and dimensions bifurcating like paper being crumpled into a ball. No two of them were alike save for the fire at the end and a horrible universe-wide sentience saying "NO". A combustion not just of the body but of the entire existence of a dimension.

Each of the six survivors claimed to be from a different time and each one claimed to have invented time travel on their own with no help. If that was true for all seven hundred thousand of the travelers, then they all came from different Earths. The odds of them all discovering time travel independently on the same planet were too high.

They all had tried to escape the cataclysm that had suddenly appeared by using their invention. Some of them had fled to the dinosaur times, some had gone back two or three years to warn themselves, and some of them had set their dials to the far future.

But they’d all ended up here, burning and screaming, at September 18th, 2021 at 9:18 PM Pacific Standard Time.

The theory being introduced by the Pope is that the travelers have been sent as messengers. That whatever force destroyed them and sent them here in suffering did so in order to tell us that time travel must never be invented.

For once, the church and most scientists seem to be in total agreement.

By papal decree, UN Security Council ban, and unilateral G20 accord, research into time travel is prohibited and strictly enforced.





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Flee

24 May 2011 14:59
skonen_blades: (Default)
I picture an office full of dancing bears kept at their desks by the memory of chains that are no longer needed. Clown noses bobbing in their hot chocolate, humming circus music to themselves as they debug spreadsheets and enter data, claws filed to blunt nubs so they can work the keyboards. It’s unnatural to see a bear sitting in a chair. It’s unnatural to see a bear typing in front of a computer monitor. Pterodactyls would look more at home there. Ancient. Age. It’s an overhand pitch of mortality straight into your bank account.

We are entertainment for someone. Maybe God created us out of sheer boredom just to watch us dance. I know I’d have a grand old time seeing the messes we get ourselves into. It’s like a rom-com with frequently fatal consequences. This spinning rock has been a theater for too long. Finance has driven us to a cliff and it must drive us into the sky. Money must make us go the distance and walk the spiderweb tightrope to other planets. If we are a disease, they let us spread. If we are able to overcome out greed, then let us spread. Either way, we need more than we have. If we have a failing, it is that.

Let the grass be greener on Mars. Let it be greener on the moons of Jupiter. Fly me to the moons. Bears can dance ballet in low gravity and flightless birds will fly. We need to places to be able to flee to. We need places farther away to dream about again. We need adventure on a massive scale. We need trips that take months again. We need colonists conquering lands with no indigenous peoples.

We have no clear way of staying here but we have a very clear way of leaving. Up. Out. We cannot loosen the belt of the equator. Fly away.




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skonen_blades: (Default)
Detective Peterson was reviewing the interview footage of Kyle Raven. It was late at night and Peterson had looked at the footage many times. He was troubled but he couldn’t figure out why. He rewound the video tape and watched it again.

“That’s the thing, right?” Kyle Raven manically rabbited on during his interview, “If time travel ever gets invented in the future, they’ll come back here. Or before here. Right?” He was pure sinew, no body fat at all. Kyle Raven looked like a human rat. His eyes burned out from his head like meth-addict searchlights. “And they’ll mess it all up. Everything. Causality will fracture the universe. We’ll be screwed.”

“The voices told me this.” Kyle said gravely and then suddenly chuckled, “The visitors showed me.” He banged the table with his fist and thrust his chin up like an angry king. “I have a job. If you’re wondering where all the time travelers are it’s because I killed them.”

Detective Peterson and his crew had just pulled sixteen bodies out of Kyle Raven’s basement. The man was a psychopath and delusional. Peterson had seen this before, people lashing out at imagined threats. Aliens, illuminati conspiracies, demons, fairies; all conveniently taking human form and needing to be killed.

“I’m not the only one” said Kyle. “I’m one of many. The visitors employ a large number of us. I’m a temporal cleanser. A timeline deputy. You can’t stop us. I don’t care what happens to me. I’ve saved the universe sixteen times.”

One thing that was bothering Detective Peterson was that the FBI had showed up immediately along with several other black cars with no markings on them. They’d loaded up the bodies and taken them away. They had the proper authorization and there had been no trouble. In cases of this magnitude, the FBI was usually involved in one way or another but it felt unusual to him.

Peterson had helped excavate the bodies and some things didn’t add up. A body from what looked like one of the oldest graves came out looking like it was freshly buried. A stink of putrefaction was wafting out of it but the skin of the corpse appeared fresh and young. One of the bodies had what appeared to be a glass prosthetic leg. Two of them were tall enough to be professional basketball players. One dead girl’s cel phone kept vibrating in her pocket as the team lifted her out and everyone’s phone in the basement vibrated in time with that girl’s phone for six rings. Peterson was the only one who noticed that and he had kept that to himself. Then there was the five-year-old with grey hair and a business suit.

Peterson had thought at the time that the killer just liked to dress up his victims. He’d seen crazier things done to bodies.

But now here he was, reviewing the interview footage. Kyle Raven was in custody downstairs. No one had rescued him or paid his bail and he was on suicide watch. By all accounts, he was merely dangerously insane.

Something was bothering Peterson about the whole episode. The bodies, the FBI, and this interview. He rewound the interview to watch it again.

Just as he was about to press play, there was a knock at the door. Detective Peterson felt an unreasonable fear in the pit of his stomach.

“Who is it?” he asked.

“FBI.” Said a low voice outside.





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skonen_blades: (Default)
He reeled out of the stinking alley into me. I’d never seen anyone like him and I live in Manhattan so that’s saying something.

For starters, he was nearly eight feet tall and looked too skinny to stand. His hair was several different colours but as I looked at it more closely, it appeared to be made of metal. It sparked just after he bumped into me and the colours in it shimmered and changed like the wings of a beetle before returning to the colours it had been before.

I was fixated on that until I noticed his two extra arms and his tail. I say ‘his’ because his genitals were exposed. He was wearing what appeared to be tight chaps and a red cellophane cardigan.

His backpack was made of metal and smoke plumed out of it. If he hadn’t been staring into my eyes and grabbing my shoulders, I would have backed quickly away from like everyone else on the sidewalk did.

“Pour gras que serachi marta kursk trench ma jakatra, triestin?” he screamed at me. I heard something like a car crash happen deep in the alley. The stranger flinched and looked at me, waiting for an answer.

“Uh, what?” I said.

“Oh. I see. English. Okay. What day is it?” he said to me. His breath smelled like over-ripe strawberries. I noticed his skin was mottled with bruising. He was missing a tooth.

“Uh, Wednesday?” I answered.

He looked at me with that expression like he didn’t understand my language again. He looked at a device on his wrist. I guessed it was a translator. He acted like it was broken. He spoke again, louder and more slowly this time,

“What day is it? Centrus? Martus?” he said.

“Wednesday.” I said back to him.

He shook his head and looked behind him into the alley. There were sounds of a struggle and some impossible sound. If I had to describe it, it was like a sheet of glass being ripped in half. It sounded like something pivotal to reality was being split by force.

“What the DATE, then? The DATE? It’s supposed to be the 46th! Is that correct?” he yelled.

“46th? That’s not….it’s the 13th. March the 13th.” I answered.

“Maaaaaarch” he said and looked at me as if to confirm that he’d pronounced it correctly. I nodded. He looked at his wrist translator in terrified frustration. I realized that his eyes were different colours and that they never blinked at the same time. First one, then the other. Every time.

“Posska DAMMIT!” he yelled and let me go. He seemed to realize that even though I’d spoken to him in the correct language, my information was useless to him.

It was like he was a time-traveler except his frame of reference was useless at his destination.

There was a blue glow from the alley. The traveler who’d accosted me tucked in all four of his arms and ducked into the crowd. It didn’t help.

Tentacles of transparent metal shot out of the alley and entered the traveler's back. He was dragged backwards to the alley’s entrance. He spread his arms wide and grabbed the bricks on either side of the entrance with his impossibly long arms, forming a giant X. He was sweating. He looked at me with clenched teeth. His watch device broke and fell off his straining wrist. He glanced at it and nodded towards me.

“Remember-” he said but a charge of energy came through the tentacles and he shuddered. He was lifted into the air for a moment before disappearing quickly into the shadows of the alley.

There was the sound of thunder and then a sound of reality zipping itself up.

People around me kept on walking, already erasing the parts that had not made sense. I would have been one of them if he hadn't actually grabbed me. I lay on the sidewalk looking at the entrance of the alley. I looked at the wrist device the traveler had dropped. I scuttled forward, picked it up and brought it home.

I’m looking at it right now, daring myself to try it on.



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skonen_blades: (Default)
God give me patience, she thought, as Peter ran into the living room with what he probably thought was another great invention. Peter was wearing a flanged-open broccoli steamer on his head with a crude system of wires sticking out of it like dead flowers in a vase. He was also wearing what looked like most of the entertainment system strapped in pieces around his left arm and joined together with more wires. The iPhone duct-taped to his right wrist was glowing in a series of rapid colour flashes. A bucket was on one of his feet and it sloshed water on the hardwood.

I’m going to have to call the police again, she thought. He’s going to have to go back to the mental hospital. I barely made it through the last stretch. This was supposed to be Peter’s last chance.

“What is it this time?” she sighed.

“It’s a time machine!” he shouted gleefully. His eyes were wide and it looked like he’d chewed most of his nails down to the bloody edges. His lips were raw. He’d shaved part of his head. “It was the capacitor. If I reverse the polarity on it, this should work. I’ve got a line running up to the satellite dish turning the data into energy. That was the power problem I was talking about, remember?”

“No.” she replied. She was actually a little worried. He might electrocute himself this time.

Peter chuckled at his own brilliance and actually danced a little jig of anticipation, splashing more water around.

“Peter, let’s just calm down a little.” She said, starting to stand up and walk towards him.

“Wait! No. I have the prep field humming. Don’t come any closer. This is going to work! Now, I’ve set the reception point to be right here in the apartment in one minute. It’s going to take a lot of power so be prepared for a blackout. It takes a lot to send but it shouldn’t take any to receive. I’ll be okay on the back end. Oh MAN, this is the GREATEST! Honey, we’ll be so rich!” he shouted.

She looked at him warily, really worried now. More worried than she’d ever been, even more than the time with the knife-juggling.

“I’m going to start a song and hit the button. I’ll disappear and then in one minute, I’ll appear right here. For you, there will be a one-minute pause but for ME, it’ll be as if nothing happened! Are you ready? On the count of three.” He said.

“Peter, I’m not sure-“

“ONE!”

“-this is such a good idea.”

“TWO!”

“let’s talk about this.”

“THREE! JINGLE BELLS! JINGLE BELLS! JINGLE ALL THE-“

And there was pop, a shower or sparks from the light socket in the kitchen, the lights went out, and the bucket that Peter’s foot had been in clattered onto its side. Peter was no longer standing in it.

She stood there with wide eyes staring at the spot where Peter had been. She dropped her coffee.

Thirty seconds passed.

She picked up the phone to call the police and actually forgot what number to call. When she remembered, she stopped after the first number when it occurred to her that she had no idea what to tell the police. She waited.
Twenty more seconds passed.

Five. Four. Three. Two. One.

One minute. Nothing happened. Two minutes. Nothing happened.

She waited for an hour. She waited for a week.

That was a year ago. He never came back. Christmas is a hard time for her. She pictures him lost in some cosmic time vortex like in a movie single Jingle Bells over and over again. She keeps thinking he’ll pop back into existence with the rest of the carol on his lips. She thought that maybe he set it to a month instead of a minute. When that passed, she thought maybe a year. Now that’s passed, too. Maybe it was a decade.

Maybe it was a century. Maybe he’s off dead in space somewhere, frozen in the act of singing. It was the not knowing that was eating her from the inside.




tags
skonen_blades: (blurg)
“The thing about navigating at C and a half is that you have to be traveling that fast to navigate. The universe slows once you go past the speed of light. If you go any faster than 2C, you start to travel backwards as you travel forwards. You get to your destination before you leave. That is impossible and it tears the ships apart. No one wants that. Light and a half. 1.5C. That’s the sweet speed when the universe stops.”

She was talking to me after I’d just come back inside the ship. She was so full of herself. I was a first-year telengineer but she was so full of herself. I did sort of do have it coming, though. I left the plate off of the forward buffer sails during the initial checklist. Big deal. There are seven thousand plates on the buffers. I didn’t think one plate would make a difference. I know it’s my first mission but the her voice is really starting to make me wonder what it would be like to see some fear on her face. I don’t like that feeling.

“Are you listening? The entire universe becomes a three dimensional, unmovable photograph. Once you’re holding steady with the buffers holding us at 0 in space but 1.5 at lightspeed, it’s possible to send out a pulse through the super strings. Y’know, like a bat. Do you know what a bat is?” she asked like a children’s show narrator. She waited for a reaction.

I nodded, glowering.

“A very accurate picture of the obstacles on your journey come back to the ship. After that picture is analyzed, you can nudge the ship forward in space to 1.6C and the magic happens. You are transported to your destination milliseconds after you left. You see?”

She clapped her hands once to get my attention, raised her eyebrows and smiled at me sarcastically. I looked sullenly at the wrench in my hand and tightened my grip on it. I hoped this talk would be over before we hit the switch for travel. I couldn’t take another ten minutes of her condescension.

“Do you hear me?” she asked.

“Yes.” I answered. It was an effort not to shout it at her.

She stared at me.

“The. Buffers. Holding us at 0 in space but 1.5 in lightspeed. Doing the impossible so that we can have an accurate picture of the universe at rest. That way, we can move when nothing else is moving. No asteroids, no suns, no DUST can get in our way. We can look at the picture and then we can zip there instantly. Do you understand me? The BUFFERS.”

She was getting agitated. She grabbed my chin and looked into my eyes.

“You left a plate off of the forward buffer sails. We are not holding at zero C any more. According to my calculations, we are holding at 0.0000000001 C. Do you know what that means?” she asked.

“It’ll take a little longer for the computer to calculate a safe route before we turn the buffers off, I guess?” I retorted with a sneer.

“Yes.” She answered. I saw her bottom lip quiver. “Do you know how MUCH longer?”

“I don’t know, a few minutes?” I was already bored with this conversation.

“A year.” She said. “Or close to it. Three hundred and eleven days by my calculations.”

“What?” I whispered.

I looked at her dumbly. I could see tears forming in her eyes. It was going to be a long year.




tags
skonen_blades: (didyoujust)
“The only thing time travel has ever been useful for is petty larceny”, Professor Peterson said from the front of the Temporal Studies lecture hall. “Except for the case of David Macker. Mr. Macker took theft to a new level. Some of you know what I’m talking about.”

Laughter rippled throughout the rooms as students from Universe Alpha One Prime chuckled at the other student’s ignorance. ‘High marks don’t buy you a past’, as the saying goes. As smart as the other students were, their universes were still locked into stable timelines with fixed viewpoints. Universe Alpha One Prime was by definition unanchored, as were the sixty-eight copies of it swirling around the probability sphere at the center of the galaxy. A shifting layer of probability built on a man-made temporal fault left over from the wars. The students from Prime had a disturbing way of changing appearances, changing names, and, worst of all, winking out of existence and having ‘never been’. Students from other universes noticed this but students from Prime didn’t. It creeped the other students out.

“Macker was one of the proto-temponauts. He constructed the first needle and found the energy equation necessary to skip that needle across the face of a time like a hard disk or an old-school record. At first decades and then centuries.” The Professor continued. “He looked up declassified scandals from centuries gone past and used that information to blackmail governments from old pre-split Earth, unaware that his own travels were causing more splits.”

The Zapruder film popped up on the screen in front of the classroom, instantly mirrored in the eyes of the students as they looked at Kennedy’s head snap back and the left, back and to the left, back and to the left.

“Macker took the declassified materials that outlined the entire setup and then went back two hundred years to the administration responsible and showed them the proof. They believed him. He had a shield in place so they couldn’t kill him. All he asked was that they put small amounts of money into bank accounts that Macker knew would still exist in our time. By the time he skated further down that timeline, compound interest had given him more wealth that anyone alive at the time. Then he’d come back here.”

Shots of planet Macker lit up the screen. The Alpha students weren’t laughing anymore. That level of carnage was sobering.

“The problem with his scheme is that is creates a paper trail. He was caught but the siege on his newly acquired populated solar system is still the costliest war ever fought in terms of loss of life.”

Amateur telescope footage came up. Dots of light flared and went out in a corner of the sky.

“Time travel theory is complex. The idea that Macker was repugnant and evil isn’t being debated. His crime worked. You can’t bring a loved one back to life or change the course of a marriage but currency and non-living minerals can shift from timeline to timeline.”

The students were left alone with this knowledge.



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