Time, Running: Prologue

     Alright, so these are the equations that govern time travel.  Really pretty simple, you see, if you can overlook the fact that they’re nonsense and shouldn’t describe anything real.  Exciting to think you can travel to the past or the future with little more than a pocket calculator and a modified jalopy, isn’t it?  Now, let me tell you why time travel is so incredibly pointless.  We can’t change the present by changing the past, and we can’t spend much time in the future without going completely bonkers.  Really, the only time that matters is now, although I have to admit that I still don’t know for sure just how much of now there is.  Once you get to the past, you’ll find that it is actually incredibly easy to do all kinds of stuff there that should, logically speaking, change the present in some way.  That, or you would expect some kind of paradox, right, for killing your ancestor or something?  Except it doesn’t happen that way at all.  The past isn’t set in stone.  Hell, it might not even be set in mud.  Instead, it’s like a whole other world that has no connection to ours except that you’ve been to both.  Shooting your grandfather in the past will not kill him in the present.  Perhaps you will get there and find that he has apparently already been shot in the past, even though you just saw him the day before you took your little jaunt there.  Likewise, when you return, he will still be alive, unless of course something happens to him in the present.  Everything we think we know about the past, about our personal histories, might be completely different from the reality of what we find if we go back.  Assuming that what we find when we go back is reality, of course.  Sure seems real enough if you’re there.  Except there’s something kind of weird about the people, but I could never really put my finger on what it was.  Different, I guess, but not in any way that you can see or hear or whatever.

     Okay, so, the past is like a different world kind of, and somebody else might have already mucked it up from what you think you remember.  Nothing that happens there seems to matter anywhere except there, even if you blow up a building or start mowing people down.  Oh, they react like you would expect, sure, and I can say with certainty that what happens to you there in the past stays done when you get home.  Those of you who make it home, anyway.    So you want to know how it gets even weirder?  Try traveling back to a time period a second time.  Everything might be the same as the first visit, or it might not be.  And you may or may not encounter another you from, I have to assume, an earlier time but later than the time you are visiting.  Like, one time I went back in time and was actually able to prevent a previous future me from doing something I explicitly remember doing.  I even still have the scar I got from doing it the first time, even though I might not have ever actually done it now, except in my memory.  Time travel, huh?

      So anyway, like I was saying, there’s really not much point in going to the past.  You can’t change anything but it, and you can’t really be sure that anything you’re seeing or experiencing there has anything to do with what we like to call the real past.  I went back to ancient Egypt with a bunch of gadgets, but I can’t find any evidence here and now that I was ever there.  Not physical evidence, not textual evidence, not even any legends that don’t leave a lot of room for doubt.  So maybe you’re not even traveling to the past at all, or not our past anyway.  Maybe its just a non-contemporary parallel world, right?  I might be willing to buy that, except for the whole meeting myself there.  And I have never had an encounter with any me from the future.  Not my future from the now, I mean.  I have been the future me who has contacted a past me, but I only remember the encounter from the future side.  So I just don’t know.

     The future?  Yeah, you can use the equations to travel to what should logically be the future, but if anything it is worse than trying to go to the past.  Our brains or something just don’t seem to be wired to deal with it for some reason.  Going to the future is like the worst kind of acid trip or something.  Your senses are distorted, and worse than that assaulted by all kinds of hallucinations or something.  Also, you tend to fall down a lot.  It gets worse the farther ahead you try to go.  I was able to travel a whopping six seconds into the future once, and that wasn’t too bad.  Things were kind of blurry and there was a weird kind of echo quality to the sound, but I was able to function tolerably well.  I of course did not learn much of any value, since six seconds isn’t enough time for much of interest to happen.  If there was a future me to encounter, I failed to do so.  Perhaps I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.  HA!

     One last piece of advice before you go and build yourself a time machine.  Once you are in the past or the future, do not attempt to make another “outbound” journey from that time period.  The equations governing that kind of temporal translation are orders of magnitude more complex than these for just going from now to then.  I tried it once, going from the past to a less remote past while still there.  I was expecting that it would either be a pretty normal past, possibly a little different than expected because of my actions in the further past, or it would be like travelling to future, all distortion and madness, which would have maybe implied that it really was another universe or something.  Maybe I did the math wrong, and one of those results is what would have happened if you did it right.  Instead, all I can remember of the trip is blinding, maddening pain, pain beyond the power of mere words to describe.  I felt like I had been turned inside out and dumped in a volcano and then shot into the vacuum of space.  Sort of.  I can only imagine that something like that would probably feel about as bad as I did then, but who can say?  Just do yourself a favor and stick to one trip at a time.  Get it?

(Time, Running is a working title.)