Eternally Grateful Aug 15, 2021 12:58:35 GMT -5
Post by Radrook Admin on Aug 15, 2021 12:58:35 GMT -5
I am sitting within an egg-shaped titanium-plated sphere peering through the small bulkhead porthole. There is nothing outside but a thick mist being swirled by the howling wind. Where is the Temporal experimentation facility complex? The last I remember I was adjusting the time machine’s date back to the moment of departure, the year 2125, and the next, I must have suddenly blacked out and have just reawakened. The machine altitude meter indicates that I am atop a mountain approx 22,000 feet, and what little I can see through the fog is the nearby edge of a cliff. How did the machine attain this altitude?
Unable to find some rational explanation, I perspire profusely, and my hands begin to tremble. I do computer systems scan searching for anomalies. There are no unusual power-surges nor deficiencies. All seems to be functioning within acceptable parameters. No breaches in the titanium outer hull that would induce any dangerous temporal anomalies are detected. The chronological-destination-meter also reads correctly. That reading was confirmed audibly moments ago when the computer announced:
"Temporal Destination Reached.” Yet this is not the destination I departed from. I carefully triple-check all the gauges, but once again everything checks out fine.
"Damn!" I shout and slam the palm of my hand against the bulkhead in frustration.
Yes, we were aware of certain dangers involved, but nothing as strange and as inexplicable as this was deemed possible. Desperately I modulate the sphere's radio receptors for some indication of life, somewhere outside, but I receive only static. I need to get back. But if indeed there is an undetected malfunction, then any attempt might make matters worse. I might become inextricably stranded where I don’t belong or worse yet where I cannot survive. An arbitrary arrival at an unknown future location also runs a much higher risk of collision with something totally unpredictable that might be occupying the destination's three-dimensional location.
If the malfunction escalates during the transition, then the risk is of moving too far into the past where Earth ceases to exist. Too far into the future, and Earth is engulfed in the flames of a swollen sun turned into a red giant, and I will be roasted alive on arrival. Either way, I die.
As if to intensify my mental anguish, a strong gust of wind rattles the time machine threatening to topple it over the edge of the cliff upon which I am perched. If indeed this is the world I left behind, then something horrible must have happened. Radar detects no movement for miles. Panic almost causes me to throw the machine in reverse to back to where I just departed, but hesitate. I don’t belong there. What effect will my presence there have on the future generations? Any slight variation deemed insignificant can have profound impact. Two people prevented from meeting might mean the immediate nonexistence of thousands in the future, and I will have murdered them as surely as if I had shot them in the head. Yet to remain here is to die. I must find an answer. An acceptable way.
Perhaps, just perhaps, there has been some kind of global war. Yet, there is no evidence of radiation fallout. Or perhaps some alien invasion in which Earth has been Terra-formed into this? Yet where are the signs of life? I try to communicate with earth satellites to get a surface-scan but only silence. I try to contact our moon base and then our base on Mars, but that also yields no results. Finally, I attempt to contact Earth’s asteroid mining colonies and the same. Only a steady, uniform static.
But this is impossible! I have carefully modulated the gauges to return me only one minute later than the time I had departed. All this happened in just one minute? Nonsense! Such drastic changes require much more time. Or do they? Suppose, just suppose, that the time travel itself provoked some kind of change, some temporal inevitable chain-reaction that we failed to factor into our calculations.
Or suppose that the attempt to go contrary to lineal time itself damaged the very fabric of existence, causing a paradox that the universe could not permit and therefor negated by doing this in order to readjust? After all, hubris and its consequences was something we never seriously considered but always spoke of it in a joking roundabout way as something reserved for the minds of the ignorant and the uninformed.
Would the gods or God punish us for our defiant imprudence? Of course we did not believe in gods or even a God. All that had ever come into existence for us was via mindless chance and mindless chance alone. Had we been believers in a deity or deities, then we would have been much more careful lest we brought divine anger against us.
So in our materialistic certainty, we proceeded to create this machine that went contrary to how things were established and had existed. Brazenly and carelessly, we took it upon ourselves to reset the universal parameters so that we might become the defiant and proud exception. No, not to meddle and change history if possible for the better or reset the future, since that would endanger even our own existence.
We had done neither of these things. The mission consisted only of a very brief arrival at night in New York’s Central Park, and nothing more. No external meddling in Earth’s history. Absolutely no interactions with the residents of that time. So what could have gone wrong to affect the future so drastically except an angered deity exacting punishment for our unforgivable act of hubris?
Which of those two possibilities had caused the phenomenon really didn’t matter. Both were equally unfixable in that present, so I had to try to escape either into a better future or back into a survivable past. Assuming I would be permitted, of course, and that thought began to play havoc with my mind and my former non-negotiable convictions began to weaken.
As an adult atheist, I had never prayed before. Praying was for the ignorant and superstitious, merely an utterance that never traveled beyond the human skull. Yet now, as the possibility of dying a slow death trapped in this time machine, in this wretched place became more and more probable, I fervently wanted to pray to whatever powers existed for help.
I slowly began to I recall how my parents had always taught me to recite the Lord's Prayer each night before bedtime. How I had memorized it word for word and would never go to bed without reciting it. How nights would feel more secure and peaceful when I did, and how they were full of turmoil and worries when I did not. It had been as if I had placed the burden of my existence on Him and needed not to worry. As I pondered, I found myself unstrapping myself from my seat and dropping to my knees. Folding my fingers as I had done as a child and lowering my head humbly in recognition of a higher power. I tightly shut my eyes and implored the almighty to have mercy on my soul and to forgive me if I had indeed offended him with my mindless display of hubris.
I cannot recall how long I knelt there in fervid prayer. It could have been minutes or perhaps even hours. I do know that when I had finished my prayer, the time machine suddenly lurched as if impelled by an exterior force. I hurried to my seat and strapped myself in and saw the gauges blur as the computer monitor display went crazy. Then suddenly the numbers stopped. The date read year 2125.
After a few moments of total silence, there was a sudden loud tapping on the time machine’s outer hull. Then finally
“Joseph! Joseph! Are you all right?” the familiar female technician's voice of one of my colleagues crackled over the intercom.
By the grace of God I had been allowed to return home and for that I would forever be grateful and forever respectful.