Time travel conundrums

Background: Writers group assignment – Short story on any topic. Words required – Approximately 900. Words used 895. This is a short Sci-Fi tale that could be part of a longer story.

If you’ve never traveled in time before, you may be forgiven for thinking that it is an instantaneous phenomenon. The truth is that it is a rather complex process and it takes time. The traveler has to be disassembled atom by atom by the sending port and reassembled piecemeal by the receiver or assembler as it is now known, or will be known, depending on where you are in the time field.

The sending end is easy because your mind goes straight away. The first bits to be disassembled are the parts of the brain that make you conscious so you fade into oblivion for a while and when you reassemble you have a feeling that a small bit of your life has gone missing. Of course that has no basis in reality because, if you have traveled tens or thousands of years through eternity, what does it matter if an hour or two goes missing?

Well, here I am assembling in a café in downtown Las Vegas, and because I’ve done this before, it is more of a curiosity observing the process than a worry. By the time my mind swims into the new reality, my body has already achieved a fair measure of solidity and realness. The people around me know nothing because part of the process is that reality changes as the time displacement occurs. The young blonde woman at the table with me had never heard of me an hour ago but as I merge into her time phase, reality re-gels and she will never know that I am a newcomer to her scene. It has far fetching consequences of course but the point is, everything adjusts as we go along so there are no surprises.

There is another problem of course. The place you leave from may be quite different to the one you arrive in.  You might leave from a forest and appear in a hotel lobby. You may leave from a lobby and materialise in a ruin or high up in a tree-top. It is always best then when travelling through the time fabric to set the thing up in a methodical way. To prepare for this trip, I did a survey beforehand. My setting out place was a remote rock platform high above the Arizona side of the Grand Canyon, way back in 2079. I had rented a place-shifter bubble from a local transport hire joint and shimmered to a spot way up at the top of the Grand Canyon where I thought it likely that my machine would not be discovered, if I returned not too long after leaving. A cave would have been a more secret place of course, and for going back in time that is often a good option. One can generally determine when a cave was formed and how stable the mountain around it is. Going forward though it’s a bit dodgy. You could arrive to find that the walls of the cave you departed from have collapsed and you are buried under tons of rock. You would instantly be crushed and that always makes it difficult to repeat the experiment. Anyway I had located a safe spot for the advance survey and materialised in a place where I could walk until I found a hiking trail. One’s clothes travel with one when one travels in time like that, but bigger object just won’t move through the gravitational flux with you so you can’t take your own transport. This meant that I had to arrive dressed as a bedraggled hiker and pretend to be lost in the mountains. The ruse worked and a kindly walking party with a multi-seat canyon-jumper bus gave me a lift into the city. There had been an awful lot of development in Las Vegas in the past 863 years but the city still stood and it remained a major entertainment and conference locale. Fortunately nobody cares how you dress in Las Vegas. There are plenty of weirdos there and my old-time hiking garb was disregarded as a personal eccentricity. I had chosen a restaurant in a new casino development as being a suitable place to appear on the next occasion when I did my real trip. I took careful note of the exact time and date too of course and that meant I could even choose who would be there when I rematerialized the next time round. This was how I managed to appear next to this gorgeous blonde at the table with me. I could not take photos because cameras don’t do the time warp thing that well but I made careful mental notes of how people were dressed in Las Vegas in 2932. I had to look the part when I returned, especially if I wanted to make a hit with Leilani. It was quite a challenge to simulate those clothes that shimmered and changed colour all the time but that’s another story and I managed to get that together.

Now Leilani was a delightful creature. I had only seen her before of course but I’d never heard her say a word except to the waitress. It was quite an experiment therefore. We might be totally incompatible characters and then it would seem very strange that we were together. Feint heart never won fair maiden though and I relished the experience.