A Basic Understanding of Time Travel
One-Sided Knowledge is much more destructive than ignorance. It is the father of pride.
-Paul Meyers, The Worshipers Dilemma
Having a mother who is a nurse and going studying human biology at college for that for a while, I've spent a fair amount of time around doctors, but never have I had such a complete roundabout physical. After looking at every corner of me in detail, they took my weight, height, blood pressure, scull circumference, and tooth size. Then I gave them all forms of samples, blood, urine, and DNA. Then a full-body X-Ray, MRI scans, and they sused out of me the two times I had smoked as a teenager.
I bet they could have reconstructed my entire diet and habits from what they learned. And they probably would be disturbed by the amount of Pizza Bites and High Chews I'd consumed within the last week.
After those strange 3 hours, I was released and found Charlie and Josh waiting for me outside of the medical offices.
"How'd it go?" Charlie asked as we began to walk back in the direction of the Joshes office.
"I feel strangely violated in a way. I think I should probably have to sign something before they stick a camera up my butt." I said before I could stop myself.
"You do. You just already did. After all that stuff you signed for Gertrude, we essentially own your body now, medically speaking. If you die, you will be studied for years, and if you don't, you should expect checkups like that at least once a week." Josh said, no humor in his statement.
"We're exposing you to almost entirely unknown partials. We need to keep you healthy," Charlie added, his voice ringing with its characteristic friendliness.
"And if we don't, then how we need to know how not to kill the next guy," Josh said, a matter of factly as we passed Gertrude and her desk. We entered the circle of doors where his office had been.
"Out of curiosity, where are we going?" I asked. As you can see, I'm pretty bad at shutting my mouth.
"The Room of Ra, the center of project Seo." Josh replied as we stopped in front of a large metal door. It was eight feet tall, two men wide, and had a large silver frame and a steel submarine-style crank. It looked like it could withstand a blast from a tank. It was flanked by two gun-wielding soldiers. I couldn't help but notice the British flag on their uniforms. How many governments have their hands in this?
"Good to see you, Steve, Johnson," Charlie said kindly, nodding at each of them. They nodded in return.
"I was wondering about that. Why did you make me sign some of the medical paperwork before the job? In fact, why did you bring me all the way out here, for that matter, just for an interview?" My mind spun on, with each new piece of information forming new questions and new reasons why Jenna was wrong to break up with me.
"We needed to see you, regardless of whether you got the job or not," Josh said as he finished punching a code into the door. "You were of extreme interest to us."
"Why?" I asked, bewildered. Hoping in my heart of hearts for some answer about how I was super special.
"I saw you. When I underwent destiny touch- " Charlie began.
"Remember Charlie, this is not just about the science. Why don't you wait to explain it until we are somewhere with fewer possible ears." Josh said as he finished scanning his thumb and key card. The door hissed and swung out. He stepped inside of the next space. I followed. It was a short hall, ending in another door. It was all a bright painted white, and the walls were made of a sort of plastic sheeting, supported by metal tubing. The lights above were blinding to look at, and illuminated the control panel of buttons and switches along one wall. Josh pulled three wristbands off the wall. "Put these on. We need to measure everyone's vitals while we are in there. Any fluctuation could mean something." He said as the door closed behind us, hissing as it sealed again.
"This is the airlock." Charlie explained as we put on the bands, "Everything inside of the Room of Ra is regulated."
A hissing confirmed this as the temperature and smell of the air changed, a small light above the panel switched from red to green, Josh pressed a button and flipped a switch, and the next door hissed opened.
Josh closed the door behind us, and a silence instantly fell upon the entire room. I didn't realize the pressing deep that had weighed me down in the dome. It must have come so gradually as we approached and been so ever-present I hadn't noticed it until I was gone.
The room was carpeted, the walls were a light grey, and the ceiling a pattern of black foam panels. The place was brightly lit, but there was nowhere I could look to see lights, it was just perminating behind the panels making a sort of optical illusion of no source. In the center of the room was a box, lined in white paneling, and with a glass window to the inside. Beneath the window was a sort of control panel, with switches and buttons and daily. The inside of the box was the only dark space in the room, so I peered in with curiosity.
"What do you think of telescope into the fourth dimension?" Josh said, gesturing around proudly.
I smiled, "it's different. Not as spacey as I thought." To be honest, I was a little underwhelmed.
He laughed, "No, we have no space suits or rockets. We delve through the mind here. We have discovered the slightest disruption can affect our measurements and subject, so this room is completely soundproof. It's actually suspended, an earthquake could happen, and we wouldn't know. The air is completely self-supplied and filtered. Not a single grain of dust floating in this room isn't supposed to be here."
"I feel guilty about not showering this morning then." I joked nervously.
Charlie chuckled, "The Room of Ra is the center of project Seo, and as a result, the center of Athena."
"And," Josh added, "The only place, besides my office, where anything we discover in here can be spoken of, this project is of the utmost secrecy, and nothing we learn can escape these walls."
"So that's what I was wondering about. Why bring me to Athena if you might not hire me? Wouldn't that risk the secret?"
"Because, like I said, you were of great interest to us, Mathew Meyers." Josh said, "But before we can get to that, you need to understand what happens in this room. Charlie, get me the tablet." Charlie went over to the shelving and pulled out a silver tablet, and then came over and handed it to Josh.
"You claimed earlier today to be able to read the paper explaining the science and translate it into simple terms to the rest of us." He looked down his Speedmaster watch, "So, we'll give you fours hours to read that and think up your explanation. Charlie will stay in here to oversee you, and since he has some work to do in here anyway. Nothing you read on that tablet can be repeated to anyone besides Charlie and me, and nowhere besides this room. And that's not just something you'd get fired for. That's years of federal prison. We aren't just advancing science anymore, we are advancing statecraft and governments."
What Gabriello had said came back to me, and my stomach churned. I wasn't just important to the future of science, but the future of war. To think two days ago I was eating frozen pizza in bed. I marveled.
"So, Goodluck, I'll be back in four hours, and we'll see if you can keep this job," Josh said as he walked to the door.
"Sounds good," I said, trying to hide the quivering in my voice. Josh stopped on his heels and whirled, "Oh yeah, just in case your own imprisonment isn't enough motivation, we have agents positioned near your nieces and nephews' house." His lips curved up in a smile, but it didn't extend to his eyes. "Happy reading." He said in a sing-song voice.
Part two of the chapter linked on the side and below (: ====>