… Really? The transition really kicked your ass then if you don’t even remember that. You know, this is why I was against this whole program from the beginning. The human body was never designed to bend in the ways needed to travel 4th-dimensionally – which, by the way, involves shunting your entire self into a set of higher dimensions that are not particularly friendly to biological life, and then, sort of… twisting just so until you reach the right 4-dimensional spot, and squeezing yourself out like toothpaste from a tube back into your original dimensions. This explains why you feel as if you’d been turned inside-out. You have.
I’m supposed to assure you it’s perfectly safe – and it is, at least physically. Other than the re-entry burns, but those will heal. It’s the mind, really, that suffers. Human minds are quite flexible, but they’re classical machines – don’t believe any of that new-age crap about the human mind being a quantum device, if that were true, we could never have achieved time travel; your brain would have spattered all over the timestream if it was. Quantum effects are amplified in the higher dimensions, you see. Which reminds me, drink this. Tastes horrible, I know, but the good news is it’s mildly radioactive-
No, don’t spit it out, go on, drink it, it’s only mildly radioactive and you need it to stabilize any chronally unsynched particles still inside you. Good, good, there you go, drink it all.
It’s supposed to taste like chocolate. I’ve never quite understood how they managed to get something like chocolate so wrong. Maybe they put in too much barium? Not enough cesium? Ah, sorry, I’m getting distracted. Now, let’s see here, let me pull up your record and… there we are. Oh, you’re a sergeant! Look at you! The military was always one of our biggest sources of funding, you know. Which, I suppose, is to be expected. I suppose they wanted to go kill Hitler or some such rubbish. Would never work, timestream just sort of splinters off. Not quite an alternate reality, just more of a temporary fluxloop, an eddy in the timestream, if you will, and then it all stabilizes again. We’re still working on figuring out how and why there seems to be a ‘prime’ timestream that all alternates return to, that’s one of the great mysteries of our age, but if we’re going to figure it out, well.. this is the place, no?
Where are we? Why, we’re at Point Zero. Very clever, really: Point Zero is a facility existing within an artificially created timeloop that actually closes in on itself, creating its own self-perpetuating forever-now. We use it as a buffer for bouncing between the main stream and the alternates, you see. Going directly between them is nearly impossible, due to the power requirements, but Point Zero is, as our engineers like to say, ‘everywhere you’re not’. When you slip out of one stream, we’re there to catch you, prep you, and send you where – and when – you need to go. Which reminds me, have you remembered where you’re supposed to be heading? Your file here is very sparse, not a lot of info-
Oh, no, I’m not the only staff here. Or, rather- well, I suppose in a manner of speaking, I am the only staff. I’m just spread out over uncountable timeloops. I did say Point Zero is a self-closing loop, right? Well, the loop is 24 hours. This building you’re in? It has 10,000 rooms. All going through the same 24 hours in a loop, you see. And I’m in each of them, simultaneously- though I suppose it doesn’t seem that way to me. In the room behind me, there’s the me from ‘yesterday’, and in the room in front of me, there’s the me from ‘tomorrow’, who I will become in 24 hours. This is room 7,429 – did you know the average person only lives 27,375 days? It’s true. I’m spending over a third of my life here in Point Zero. It’s.. oddly peaceful, you know? Those Temporal Protection Faction terrorists don’t really understand the beauty of the timestream, really. They think we’re polluting it, harming it, somehow, but they really don’t get just how resilient it is.
Oh, looks like your vitals are done, and you’re perfectly healthy. Some unexpected trauma along the side of your torso there, but nothing to worry about, I’m sure- say! I don’t often do this, but would you like to say hello to tomorrow? Or rather, tomorrow-me? It’s against protocol, but, really, not like it will break anything, here, let me just open this window and-
What.. what is this? So.. so much blood. And the door to the other room is open too, blood there, and.. oh, that.. that’s me, there, in the corner, what happened- aghk!
I… I see. You’re… with the TPF… knife… surgically implanted…
You… musn’t… Point Zero… will… destabilize… crash into prime timeline… chaos…
… I’m sorry.
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6 comments on “The Trouble With Time Travel – original short story”
THIS! This I like. I’ve always been a fan of time-travel fiction, and I hope to see more like this and the universe you’re creating, either via more short stories, or the obvious “use it as a setting for a game.” request.
Regardless, well done Daniel(sp?).
For any medium reason I was always enchanted with the Futurama effect of time travel, where time has enough presence to preserve itself that it will do some crazy ass shit in order to guarantee that everything goes as it already has. Even if you have to sleep with your own grandmother.
Past Nastification is only one aspect of the highly complicated reasoning involved in a stable time loop. Just make sure you have a backup universe to escape to when things go wrong.
Also this guy deserved to have everything go wrong for failing to obey even basic stable time loop security precautions. Whenever he is due to receive a visitor he passes himself a note from the future via the incredibly convenient time door to let himself know whether or not that visitor is or is not going to be safe. Failure to receive a note should trigger an immediate lockdown and a re-shunting of the visitor into the heart of a star for safe decontamination.
Ideally he spends his last few days writing down a complete list of noteworthy events that occurred to him during his residency, and then passes that back to his first day whereupon he reads it and is prepared for every possible catastrophe that could happen. Then on his last day he creates the report again, but copies it from the original to ensure that there aren’t any continuity issues.
This is basic stuff people!
Hah! Great stuff, Jake. I’m glad we have people on board who are ready to do things right if/when we invent time travel.
“What do we want?”
“When do we want it?”
I’ve put a lot of thought into this from the various RPGs I’ve played. And also because I’m incredibly pedantic. My friend and I have also come up with a pair of question and response phrases in case we are ever impersonated. We say the first set to each other in the event we are ever confronted with our own duplicate and one of us must decide who to shoot.
We say the second pair in case our identical doppleganger is a mind reader and has stolen the first pair from my mind, in which case the second pair indicates that the entire security process is compromised and there’s no safe way to tell us apart.
I haven’t had many characters who’ve had to deal with time travel but I always enjoy the idea of an action scientist who is driven harshly to testing the limits of causality. And at the risk of having to build a new character would start by attempting to shoot himself in the pasthead, on the off chance that time would correct this mistake by making him secretly immortal. Or enter paradoxtown, which is also fine cause I’m probably dead in that Schrodinger fashion.