Posts Tagged time travel

[partim] The day of the singularity.

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“But my talent’s switching minds, not,” Ralph said, “Not reviving the dead…”

He shuddered a bit at the thought.  John shook his head.  “You go to them before they die.  And you’ll swap out their minds with a blank one.”

“A blank one?”

“Well, not that you’ll be carrying blank minds around… that would be all kinds of ethical trouble… but you’ve said it’s easier to do visualizing it that way instead of trying to trade something for nothing.”

“How long have you known me?”

“About sixty years.”

“You don’t look that old,” Ralph said.  But really, once you knew, you kind of could—the gentle wrinkles around the eyes were, though not pronounced enough to convey a sense of age, were still a little too deep for a young man—once you knew, you couldn’t see the hints of gray around his temples as the signs of a stressful work life any longer—once you knew, he was clearly an old man, but not frail like I’d expect in a man who just admitted to being maybe 75—even once you knew, you could still not guess him any more than a very healthy fifty.

[partim] The day of the singularity.

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“The doors—” the man started, confused for a moment. The doors were indeed of the push-to-open kind.

“I guess I should start here, then,” he said. “This is the Halkiadakis Institute, of course, I’m John, in this place we… well, everyone coming from the past comes through here. So it has to be kept traditional, so people aren’t disoriented.” He started walking again. “So different areas for different arrivals—this is the Modern area, and I work in the Medieval and sometimes the Primitive—”

“Wouldn’t time travelers be ready for new and strange futures?” Ralph said.

“Oh, we’re not here for time travelers,” John said. “I mean, I said everyone coming from the past, I mean everyone. That’s our mission here, our number one obligation.”

“What is?”

“To salvage everyone from the past. To have made death meaningless. To give everyone, every person who ever lived, another life free of death and hardship.”

“But—everyone does die—or did, back then, anyway—isn’t the past, the timeline, supposed to be immutable?”

“It is—and that’s where you come in, Ralph. Your talent makes this whole operation possible.”

[partim] The day of the singularity.

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The distant future, when I found myself looking at it, didn’t look all that unusual, which worried me a bit. It was an empty room we found ourselves in—and reminded me something of a hospital—dingy white walls, scuffed linoleum tile, and a long mirror along one wall.

Okay, obviously an interrogation room, then? But there was no table or anything—there ought to have been a table, with a bright light over it, and the good cop would be standing in the corner, conflicted, while the bad cop would lean over the table, snarling, yelling—

“Ralph!”

A short, dark-haired human in a lab coat greeted Ralph warmly, starting with a handshake and ending with a full-on embrace.

“I hear it’s supposed to be your first day today,” he said. “Ah hey, sir,” he said, noticing me.

“It’s such an honor to be the one to orient you,” he said, returning his attention to Ralph and apparently trying to ignore me. “Come on, come on,” he said, leading him out the door.

I followed along. The hallway would not have looked out of place in a 20th-century office building. Maybe the future hadn’t changed as much as they’d thought it would?

Of course Ralph asked the question before I could bring myself to. “Hey,” he said, “Hey, what’s up with this future? The doors don’t even dilate!”

[partim] The day of the singularity.

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You can’t talk Ralph out of anything he’s got his mind set on.  Normally I don’t try—too hard, anyway.  But the idea of a future like this was frightening.  A hundred years might not have meant much in the distant past—but just ten years was already making big changes, as the phone in my hand suggested.

I looked up at Ralph.  “I’m not ready for that,” I said.  “Please, Ralph.”

“You don’t need to be ready, babe,” he said.  “Babe, we’re going there to get ready!”

So there was no way I’d win that argument.  I didn’t even get a chance to properly accept defeat, though, before Ralph was dressed and ready and dragging me out the door.  “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon,” he said, as I tried to get my pants on.

“I told you we don’t need the DeLorean for time travelling,” I said, a bit embarrassed, as he headed towards the car.  Seriously, I thought, what would the future think?

He looked it over.  The Chief had never taken good care of it; it was pitted from occasional hail, rusty in places,—and I already mentioned it was in need of tires.  Ever since he got his first job Ralph said he wanted to restore it, but he never could hold on to the money.

“All right,” he said, “All right.  One hundred years.”

He took my hand and I knew I couldn’t fight it.  Somehow it’d become Ralph’s choice to make, not mine, and I was only shaking a little bit as I pulled out my phone.   I blacked out almost immediately.

November 8, 2110

[partim] The day I first travelled in time.

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NSFW (tame M/M/M/M shenanigans) below cut… »

[partim] The day I first travelled in time.

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November 7, 2000

Ralph’s movie marathon lasted till well into the morning.  He’s beautiful when he’s fixated on something.  But I still wasn’t all that keen on the idea of time travel—actually, I might have been worse off, given how so many of the plots focused on how badly time travel can mess things up.

“I’m less than encouraged,” I said.

“Forewarned is forearmed,” Ralph said.  “We know to be careful.”

“We?”

“What, what, you think you’re going out there without me?  No wonder you’re scared…  You and me are traveling together, of course.  Wild dogs couldn’t keep me away.”

“But bringing you with me… I don’t even know how I can make that work,” I said.  “Actually, I haven’t learned to do anything yet.”

“We could try setting up a time machine,” Ralph said, totally ignoring my concern.  “Dude!  We totally have to use the DeLorean!”

So of course me and Ralph ended up at his parents’, where their old DeLorean sat on blocks between a rusty pickup truck and the barbed-wire fence surrounding the property.

“This is gonna rock so hard,” he said.

“Aren’t we gonna want tires?”

“Well, probably,” he said. “But we’re not going to do much travelling till you get practice and we know what we’re doing.”

“Restraint!  I like that.”

“Besides,” he said, hefting the laptop, “the battery in this thing wouldn’t let us get far, anyway.”

“Bah, now you’ve got me worried.  What if we get stuck?”

“We’ll play it safe… first trip will be to fetch a better computer.”

“I can get behind that,” I said. “So, five years?”

“Fifteen.”

“Ten.”

“Okay, okay, deal.”

We got in the car, me at the wheel.  “Now, to get this straight, I’m not actually driving anywhere, no eighty-eight miles per hour, nothing—this is just a container?”

The most appropriate container available,” he said.  “Come on, let’s do this.”

I slapped his gut teasingly.  “You’re still ten years old inside that pork barrel, ain’tcha?”

“Oh, shut up,” he said, handing me the computer.

I opened it up.  “How do I start?” I typed.

I don’t have a way to interface with the car; you’ll have to charge it yourself.  But just give me a date or time and I’ll modulate the energy accordingly.

“It’s talking like a person again,” I said.

Ralph looked over my shoulder.  “I hate you.”

“Sure you do,” I said, and typed in “Nov 7, 2010.

OK.

And I felt the charge.  I won’t say it was electric, though there was some of that—a  feeling in the fur like it was full of static—but mostly it was a kind of intensity.  I was eager to move, and felt like I could run and just keep running, or jump over a house, or punch through a wall.

But I didn’t know how to let it out.

“Your fur’s turning purple, tiger,” Ralph said.  I looked down and saw the charge crawling up my arms.

“I don’t know what to— how to—”

Ralph grabbed my hand and slammed it down on the dash.  There was a bright flash.  “Push hard,” he said.

“Push how?”

“Your hand,” he said. “Press down hard.  That’s all.  Just push against it.”

I pushed hard on the dash, feeling that intensity focus itself and leave me.  I watched my fur go back to its original colors, the white light pulling at intervals around my hand.

Then it was all gone, the whole car flashed white for a moment, and then—I felt a different kind of surge, as though I’d been plunged into warm water.  My eyes shut reflexively.  When I opened them again, I saw it did indeed look kind of like water—full of blue and purple light refracted in the fluctuations of what I could only call the timestream.

I heard Ralph’s voice, almost unreal sounding:  Beautiful.

I felt a pleasurable sort of sensation wash over me and for a second felt as though my whole body were about to dissolve into Time—and then all my senses blanked out.

November 7, 2010

The next thing I knew, we were back in normal time and Ralph was already talking.  “I know, right?”

“What?” I said.

“You were shouting ‘Fuck, fuck yeah!’”

“I was?  Reflex, I guess,” I said, checking myself over.  “It did feel pretty good.”  In fact there was a damp spot in my shorts.  It hadn’t felt that good had it?

A bearded man knocked on Ralph’s window.  Ralph rolled it down.

Welcome—to the world of tomorrow!” he said, in full drama.

“What,” Ralph said.  “Steve, is that you?”