View Full Version : Short Story: Time's Lives

Eldritch Knight
2011-05-17, 03:21 PM
Please feel free to comment; this is only the first draft, written yesterday in about 25 minutes stream-of-consciousness.

Time’s Lives

By: Eldritch Knight

When I was in college, studying for my bachelor’s degree in religious education, I was repeatedly told that I should be prepared for the unexpected in any ministry role that I might have. I now know that they weren’t kidding around. I had only been at Calvary Baptist Church for 6 months when I was called to visit a patient in hospital as soon as possible.

When I arrived at the hospital, I was shown to a private room, and told that the patient inside was dying, and needed to talk to a pastor. I remember asking, “Why call me? Why didn’t you call the hospital chaplain?” The nurse answered me, “He asked for you specifically. He didn’t say why, exactly, but he stressed that it had to be you that he spoke with before he died.” I remember thinking it as very odd, because I had yet to establish a network of contacts in town. This was actually my first visit to the hospital. Anyway, the nurse gestured for me to enter, and then turned to resume her duties.

I entered the rather sparsely furnished room. Aside from the bed, window, two chairs and a nightstand, there was little if any personal touch to the room. Lying in the bed was an old man, probably about 80 years old or so, looking quite weak. He looked up at me and greeted me with, ‘It’s about time.’ He pointed at a chair and said, ‘Sit down. This is going to take a while, so you’d best get comfortable.’ So, I sat, and waited for him to speak.

He turned and looked at me for a good long moment, and then he gave a short raspy laugh. “You’re younger than I expected you’d be. You don’t normally see many young pastors these days. Still, it’s good that you’re here. You’re the only person I can trust to record this story exactly as I tell it.”

I interrupted him, “Wait a moment. You want me to record your story? Why couldn’t you have asked one of the nurses to do this, or have gotten a computer with dictation software?”

He glared at me, with eyes that had been hardened with the weight of many years. “I’m getting to that, boy. Don’t interrupt me again. I need you to listen carefully.” He sighed deeply, shut his eyes, and bowed his head. He then turned to look at me and started to speak.

“I never thought I’d end up like this. I always thought that I’d have enough strength to do everything that I had set out to do. When I was younger, probably about your age, I believed that I could change the world. I had the love of a brilliant young woman; I had created a plan that would let me achieve everything that I had ever dreamed, and I had a firm knowledge of who I was and my place in the world. Then, in an instant, everything changed. The girl that I had loved for so long and so fiercely left me, with barely a word of explanation. She was there one day, and gone the next. I was devastated. It felt like every dream I had ever crafted had turned to dust in my fingers. I no longer had any sense of certainty or direction in life. I was cast adrift in a vast, malevolent universe.”

He paused, as if to consider his next words carefully. He turned and looked out the window for a moment and then continued.

“But I didn’t stay that way. I felt like I had entered my own personalized hell, and I was now determined to find a way out. I had always been interested in the sciences, chemistry, biology, but my favorite subject was physics and quantum mechanics. So, I went back to school, and worked on getting a doctorate in the subject. I had a new plan, a new dream. I was going to devote myself to the cutting edge of science, so that I might one day make a discovery that would accomplish all my previous dreams, in an even greater way. It took years, but I eventually found what I was looking for. You see, I had always believed that time travel was theoretically possible, and that is what I was devoting myself to. I was going to discover time travel, and then use it to improve the world. I was going to use it to prevent the greatest mistakes of my life, and to better the lives of everyone I had ever known. Of course, my single greatest reason was to discover the truth of what had happened so long ago. Eventually, after 30 years of trying, I succeeded.”

“Time travel? That’s science-fiction! It’s impossible!” I argued. “You’re out of your mind, old man, and I don’t see why I have to listen to this any-“

“Enough!” he shouted. “I knew you wouldn’t believe me, that’s why I brought proof.”

He turned and opened a drawer in the desk and pulled out a leather pouch. He turned and handed it to me. “Open it,” he said, “and you will know that I am telling you the truth.”

I opened the pouch and poured the contents out into my hand. It was full of coins. I picked one at random and held it up. It was clearly a Canadian coin, but it did not have the Queen’s portrait on it. It took me a while to recognize the portrait, but it was that of Prince William. I turned the coin over to look at the date. 2027.

“How do I know these are real coins? They could have been faked.” I said.

“Just one of those coins? Possibly, but if you look at all of them, you’ll find they all have dates after 2011. If they were all fake, wouldn’t they all have the same date?”

I looked through the coins to find the earliest date. 2016. It still bore the Queen’s portrait. I was beginning to be inclined to believe this outlandish tale.

“I still have my doubts, but I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt.” I commented.

“Wonderful. There were some catches to the process I had created. As you clearly do not have the background in science that I do, I am going to give it to you in layman’s terms. My method involved the creation of a stable Einstein-Rosen Bridge, amplified through the use of Earth’s magnetic field.”

“A wormhole, you mean?”

“Precisely. By using the earth’s magnetic field to act as a focusing lens, I was able to specifically target the exit point of the wormhole. My goal was to go back to 1997, and work in the background to improve the state of the world. Before you ask, no, I had no intention of intervening in any major historical events. The results of doing so would be unpredictable, and could have resulted in the world being much worse than the one I was intending to create. I felt it better to improve the lives of individuals, rather than improving the world as a whole. Unfortunately, like Einstein, math was never one of my strengths. My slight miscalculation ended up causing me to emerge from the wormhole in 1967, years before I had even been born, much less the people I most wanted to help.”

“So what did you do? What could you have done?”

“What else could I do? I was going to have to wait one way or another, so I did something that any Canadian time traveler would do. I placed a bet on the Maple Leafs to win the Stanley Cup, and invested the resulting winnings so that I would have a sustainable income without needing to work. Of course, I recognized that amassing a fortune would in itself change things, so I kept it quiet, and took a job manning the shelves in a library.

A few years later, I decided that I was going to spend sometime travelling the world, bettering it in a few places here and there. I spent sometime in Tibet, India, and Egypt. I always liked studying history, and I thought I’d be foolish if I didn’t spend sometime walking around the most ancient lands of our planet. Eventually, of course, the time for my plan came, and I returned to Canada.

Now, I knew that I couldn’t just walk up to my past family and started meddling in their lives. For that matter, I was not keen on the idea of interacting with my past self, especially considering any of the changes I had made were going to make his life completely different than mine. So, what I did was this, I helped anonymously. I only helped in little ways here and there, such as making an anonymous donation to their church when it was in financial difficulty, or encouraging others to help when there was some difficulty. But it wasn’t just my own family that I assisted. I helped the families of anyone I knew when I was younger. I saved an old friend’s brother from drowning, stopped another friend from being killed in a car accident, stopped more than one suicide, and also helped a few people get a better start in life than I remembered.

But none of that was my primary goal. I still had no real idea as to how I was going to pull it off, when it struck me. I was now old enough that I would not be recognized by anyone who knew me as I was then. So I realized that I could now act a little more directly than I could otherwise. It was now 1999, and I was starting to feel my age. When I first went back in time, I was 43 years old, but I had spent 31 years waiting. While I had all the benefits of the medicines of the early twenty-first century, the human body could only live so long. I was first put into the hospital in December of that year. I had a chance to meet an interesting man there, your Grandfather. He told me much about you, and I knew then that you would eventually be exactly who I needed to help me.”

“Wait, you knew my Grandfather? I was little more than a kid when he died.”

“Yes, I know. He must have set such a great example for you. Anyway, with my health starting to be problematic, I needed to act a little more directly. So I started attending the church that I went to as a young man. I thought that if I could offer words of wisdom or encouragement to him that he might be better able to avoid the mistakes that I made. It worked fairly well. Sometimes he would listen to me, other times he would walk the other way. I am fortunate he never questioned how well I was able to give insight to the things he was dealing with.

Eventually, he went off to college. It was a different college than the one I had originally chosen, so from that point on I knew that I would have little control over what happened. I was rather surprised to find that the girl I loved had decided to attend that college as well. They met, and fell in love, and I felt certain that I had succeeded for him where I had failed for myself.

It didn’t last. In fact, things got worse for him than they ever did for me. She ended up leaving him earlier than she left me, and I was certain he was going to kill himself. But he didn’t. He ended up learning from the experience far faster than I ever had, becoming a far greater person that I had ever been.”

“I’d call that a success, wouldn’t you?”

“You tell me. How much did it hurt when your fiancée left you?”

“Wait. How could you possibly know that? No…. No way. That’s not possible!”

“I’m sorry. I failed us.”

2011-05-29, 08:50 AM
That's a neat little story. I like it!