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The Time Travelers Dilemma - (1) Entry
Purposefully walking the halls while distractedly muttering the words ‘time travel’ under his breath, Dr. Beccam pondered the cryptic message ‘they used the earth’s magnetic field’. The question had been pondered through time by physicists, engineers, archaeologists, historians, and artists. Time travel was the only breakthrough in science whose existence was known before it was invented, causing even the best of scientific minds to ask ‘how is that possible?’
He did not know that he was a first-hand witness to the reality of the science fiction. In fact, he never knew (or never would know?) he had a role in its invention, except perhaps if he read about it in this story. Oblivious, he continued down the hall, once again muttering ‘time travel’ under his breath.
In the early days of the invention, travel involved only a transfer of subconscious (the old television show Quantum Leap got that part right). However, the transfer was irreversible; there was no return back to the future except by living the life of the one whose subconscious had been inhabited. For this reason, the missions were few and far between, attempting to minimize the unexpected impact on history and evolution. Targets were carefully chosen, only those with near death experiences qualified, and the mission did not end until it reached it’s beginning (a true alpha & omega experience), and once completed was never acknowledged.
I am one of those travelers (and thus the first part of the dilemma). The mission was simple enough, or so we thought. Return to the early 20th Century and investigate the background of a president of the early 21st century period. We were aware of the turmoil of the early 21st century, and had come to the conclusion that the interference with rational thought predominant in the political system of that time was due to an unrecognized outside influence. The second but critical part of the mission was to survive long enough to report back.
We had targeted an earlier event in the life of a child who had grown up to be president. We missed. Apparently the computer had somehow erred with the input for place. Person, place, or thing; they are all nouns to a computer.
I arrived floating near the ceiling of a sanitary room, looking down at a young child’s body on a dentist’s floor, the mother in panic, the dentist calling for help. Fortunately, this dentist's office was in a hospital, as archaic as it was. An emergency doctor quickly arrived and without hesitation injected adrenaline directly into the child’s heart. He had been warned ahead of time and knew exactly what to expect. I entered and quickly became part of the child’s subconscious mind. He would never be the same.
It was 1966. It was supposed to be 1961. Something had gone wrong with the predictive models that allowed us to examine the myriad of possible timeline paths associated with the travel. But as I said, we had started in the early days of the invention, and now here I was, before any knew for sure that it was possible, or so I thought.
It turned out to be a fortuitous accident, since it provided personal contact with first-hand witnesses to some of the associated (but previously disregarded) information we had obtained.
Where Did The Fortune Go?
The Princess and Her Fortune
The place was in Newfoundland, near a U.S. Naval Air Station that no longer exists, close to but still outside the gates. All I knew about it was that was where the father worked. There were two small houses nestled close to an old dirt road, gravel for the front yards. We were in one house. The other house was inhabited by a family with one daughter roughly our age. The girl had stories of the sort that when you first hear them you think they are fairy tales. Having landed in the wrong place at the wrong time, I ignored the story for years, even though someone had gone to the trouble of teaching her a poem to remember it. I did not realize how one seemingly insignificant piece of information might explain a lot of what we had puzzled over. Nor did I realize how the simple recall of a poem would bring the story tumbling back out of memory.
The story went something like this: Her mother was a princess from a country called Prussia. They had lived in hiding during the World War II, hiding from the secret police that did door-to-door searches for those they sought. In the end, their family fortune was stolen by those same police. She had been taught the name of young lad that had turned them in, and had a poem to help her remember. Many from that time knew the poem: “Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie, kissed the girls, and made them cry. When the boys came out to play, Georgie Porgie ran away.” When the loss was brought to the attention of the police, they denied any knowledge of a fortune. It is only in thinking about it later, pondering how it could be that all told the truth, that I realized that if the lad who had turned them in had knowledge of the fortune but the police did not, then perhaps he was the one who took it. She trusted no-one, and it would seem with good reason.
She was killed not too long later when a high speed vehicle came down the dirt road and hit the girl as she crossed the street (or so I was told). Although it was a memorable event in the life of a child, it was not related to my mission; or so I thought. As I look back with the knowledge that powerful people sometimes rise to power because they are willing to prevent knowledge of their wrong-doing from becoming known, I wonder if her story was true, and if her untimely death was due to the wrong people hearing the story. I can only hope this report gets through, so that this seemingly unrelated story can be added to the information used to explore all the possible time threads.
The boy's family flew back home to Washington, DC twice during their time in Newfoundland, once because of the death of an Uncle on the mother's side (there were three Uncles in all), and the second time because the mother's father had a heart attack. One of the occasions was memorable because of the flight back. Air flight was not the usual mode of travel for the 60's, and it wasn't just any military aircraft, but a Marine Corps Commandants aircraft, outfitted with special bells and whistles. The boy was fascinated, but I was reminded of how backwards the technology was during the late 20th century. Amongst the bells and whistles were an air-to-ground telephone, taken for granted now, but unheard of during that time. Even the normal everyday household telephone was not common at that time. Upon approach to DC, the flight commander allowed the mother to phone ahead, so that someone could meet them at the airport. Not just any airport, but Andrews Air Force base, known to the world as the airport that the President used. Worse, and probably unknown to the flight commander, the mother's brother just happened to work on Capitol Hill, an area routinely monitored by the reporters of that time because they had learned that cars leaving that area and heading to Andrews might mean that the President was flying in. Wouldn't you know it, the President was out of town at the time ... so ... when the Mother called, the Uncle left Capitol Hill heading towards Andrews. The family ended up getting off the plane to reporters flash bulbs. The reporters were disappointed. Nothing to see here.
Eventually, the Radio Message
The family eventually left Newfoundland and returned to North Chicago, this time moving into Navy housing, farther away from the ghosting effect near the Airport in Waukegan. The young boy I’d joined was fairly inquisitive on his own, and his parent's encouraged it. When he got his first science kit, it was fairly straightforward to build a primitive old-style copper coil-based amplitude modulated radio. I Morse-coded the predetermined arrival message followed by the phrase ‘SOS Arrived Africa, wrong place, wrong time’, hoping that the generated wave would become coherent enough in the future that it could provide a hint that something had gone wrong, and provide a clue how to look for me. As it turns out, the radio message was received immediately also, and interpreted in all the wrong ways.
Time passed, and my presence became more firmly embedded in the child’s subconscious to the point that the contacts, the whole point of the mission, took place without recording the relevant details that a skilled and diligent investigator would have recorded or remembered.
- The Time Travelers Dilemma - (2) Contacts
This is the second part in a fictional investigative story as told by a time traveling investigator. As Schrodinger might say 'Any similarity with reality is probably true'.
© 2011 FitnezzJim