Rik Bogen: Timeshifter
It is a cube. A perfect cube, almost, at least down to the quantum uncertainty level where such stuff is important.
Other than that peculiarity it does not seem to be quite ordinary. One can look up to the ceiling, walk on the floor.
This is the space that the two travelers inhabit, surrounded by the four walls.
Each one different — form and function defined. Examine the commode wall; sink, mirror, bowl create the bathroom. Sample the library with its desk, solidly affixed. Same with the sleeping quarter.
The fourth is something else altogether, for it is the portal’s quadrant. This they do not speak of, often. This is the function thru which they shall emerge at the determined when.
When it was discovered the principle of reciprocity in the space-time continuum’s four dimensions seemed merely a mathematician’s amusement. Not until Baxter, et al noticed that when any three were limited, to the max, the fourth became quite flexible. As it turned out the X, Y, Z, coordinates, our usual physical notion are relatively easy to affix in place, quantum uncertainty again, so time became literally bendable now; the two occupants of this “here” are just ordinary men, selected somewhat randomly for this experience.
No unique characteristics, talents, education necessary, only their humanness qualified them for this experiment.
Yes, an investigation! The usual scientific type’s thinking with a bureaucrat’s face; mix it up real good, smack it, and see what happens.
The idea is this: re-entry into the time stream requires a certain finesse for the human subject to adjust successfully.
So, without instructions, the boys are popped into the future “then” and observed.
The anecdotal evidence is sketchy, a sample from some returnees: “I didn’t see it coming,” “What happened?” “Oh Shit…”.
Little or no data from those who, it is hoped, survived the transition. They simply did not come back.
There are other problems with the concept when actualized. A lack of communication from the time 1/time 2 within the stream is of concern. The identification of the subjects of the observers,
However, the whole project is heavily funded with political and societal backing, “money to be made, jobs, taxes…” Rhetoric combines with notions of progress and some vague goodness, benefit to all.
A view from the inside:
“Sixty beats a minute, what’s yours?”
“Somethin like that”
“How can you say exactly with ‘somethin like that’?”
“Yeh, that’s what we got, never minds”
“You know, not back in the days, not there then yet, just not ever, never”
“You think too much”
“Look who’s flappin they yap”
…Some time passes by somewhere, somehow…
“31,536,000 in one year”
“One year! How could you know?”
Revocations, rotations, particle decay, all attempts to measure time
The party guys, as sometimes called, the social scientists by name have many cherished notions with “implementation modalities” attached with regards to this project. Since they came with their own funding were fondly welcomed. The regrets came later.
Intending to watch the re-integration of social entities a peculiar blindness has set in, the obvious fact of the subjects being in stasis, isolation during time 1: Time 2 shift is ignored!
Classes are offered, required. Refused, passed and flunked. Various rationales and reasoned approaches have their popularity.
The suddenness is the crux, but how can it be avoided? It is part of the initial set up. All this is compounded by the sheer numbers involved. 10^4 -> 10^6 individuals!
Believing that sincerity will overcome, mere perseverance prevails, constant tinkering, adjusting the result.
“What’s it going to be, you know, like…?
The forbidden subject, taboo, the one never to be raised! Of course this is the only thing of interest to the both of them and therefore the only thing seriously discussed, outside of just moment to moment ordinary existence.
“Like, what you want?”
“Yeh that would be good”
“Ah …coffee! Good coffee, with real cream!”
“Ouch, that one hurts, you would go there”
“But I can smell it, feel it, see the whorls, exuberant, enticing, in the black red licorice overtone …”
“Enough, your turn”
“O.K. start, I’m ready”
“When do you want it?”
Smacking the wall, percussive pow hitting the tympanum instant with the awareness! Only a book, good thing we don’t read bricks!
Busting into laughter, letting of tension. That fine line between play and practice, inevitable, for keeps.
Testing, hardening, this is the preparation devised in their mutual desperation, an attempt for adjustment into the unknown.
Star’s coffee, “the flavor’s celestial”, says the sign offering 10^3 choices. But it’s like pasta: spaghetti, spaghettini, macaroni, tortellini; all just flour and water with an occasional egg or two, just different names.
A sometimes meeting place for travelers. Celestial taste? Sounds distant and dusty. The java’s good like a chunk of chocolate dirt in the mouth, warm, smooth comfort.
Message for back then “don’t try cigarettetating” Bummer. So far it’s working. A poised detachment, a kind of voyeur. A voyager here and now, perhaps not fully engaged, gear shiftings. Thoughts grinding out and over and over. “How can we see time?” “The stuff itself, the core of it” trying to perceive its passing by the effects on things, being gets to be a bit of a grind also…
A moment’s inattention, a small slip, just a jostle, a spilt cup of coffee…
“Hey, watch it pal, look what you . . .”
“Sorry (wow) it’s cool …”
(Jeez, wandering around like that)
It’s like looking thru the wrong end of a telescope, putting your bifocals on upside down, funhouse mirror time, this getting used to seeing further than ten feet. Distant parallaxes put a strain on the brain. A veneer of unreality covers what used to be familiar. When everything has changed it’s all just the same, but somehow not quite, some subtle relationship has shifted.
Push to talk – to be let in.
“Who’s this?” “Me”, “Velma don’t live here”
Like being stuck between the pages in L.A. while somebody thumbs thru.
“Not here?” “Check at Rick’s place”
Living in some old movie out of focus.
Now here’s a constant, the smell of a dive, juice joint. The very air is permanent, rebreathed. Maybe the faces change, the patrons pass, but the personalities remain.
“Gimme a draft” (Don’t look in the mirror)
Movable partitions, flickering buzz of fluorescent lighting, bad coffee smell. Décor and an abundance of paper define the offices. It is a choice point in the stream of the lives of many in our current trip to the ocean.
Worker/client, makes no difference. A supposed common purpose, goal, is entangled with so many individual branching sources. “It springs to mind” Takes on multiple measured meaning.
8:45 A.M. – waiting – smoke break – braking time into chunks to deny the apparent rushing passages.
Unpunctuality is punishable. The room’s air jiggles announcing an entrance.
“Morning” Three or four eyes snap on the clock ticking on the wall, briefly.
“Well, might as well do this”
Another one, so easy to spot, so out of sync.
Hebefied into total agreement, might as well send this one back to spare him the agony, the state the expense, responsibility?
“How can I be of help, any questions?”
Oh how I hate this job, maybe one day to get one with real hopes.
Soft easy moving air bringing with it scents of wild flowered fields up the curve of the hill from which can be seen the sparkling, brooktrout eye-ball bugs.
The friends sit, just sit, resting the mind.
Time is a still point.
A gentle, somewhat bemused, conversation might ensue:
“Nice spot this”
“Yes, quite a change”
“Thinking back it’s amazing that we’re here at all, given the nature of the place that we were.”
“Oh I agree, both physically and more to the point, mentally.”
“The lack of useful, practical information and the opportunities to practice”
“Yes, but ultimately who’s responsibility is it, really?”
“True, and one can utilize any situation to discover the nature of self, given time.”
They laugh deliciously, savoring the moment.
Cyclists go by, wave hi.
“Cute girls” goes unsaid
“We are going out to dinner Friday?”
“Oh yes, most certainly!”
Just sitting, still mind.
An objective observer might speculate that these two seem quite adjusted to times effects, perhaps to wonder why.
An investigation by retro-scanning thru time and events might detect something but only if the proper questions are designed. That’s one of the problems; ignorance of the true nature of things makes it extremely difficult to know what and where to investigate. What if the very notions of time itself that we hold, cling to, as if ourselves depended upon them for our very sense of existence?
At this point the experiment folded in upon itself and disappeared with a fuzzy pop.