Time travel isn't as fun as you think
There is another dilemma when it comes to Destiny. If you believe in no higher power than the universe, then consequently, you probably don't believe in destiny. You probably believe everything is just a roll of the dice in a chaotic universe. But then, we must look at it closer, and if one admits that there is nothing besides atoms bumpings around, one must also assume your brain is also just a bunch of atomic interactions governed by laws. Therefore, free will is an absurd illusion, upon this belief, we realize that with good enough math, one could predict everything that could happen, that the universe, is by its very nature, destined. So, fittingly, Destiny, as an idea, is inescapable. Either a higher being has directed the universe, or the universe is directing itself, and therefore, your destiny is will find you.
-Paul Meyer, The Worshipers Dilemma
The crash was sudden but not entirely unexpected. One moment I was ripping down the highway, an expanse of concrete and cars surrounding me. I swerved towards the truck, questioning my own sanity.
And then boom, all eighty miles of my speed were discharged into my body. I was expecting to crash into a truck moving in the same direction as me, but instead, I got a stationary tree.
My body flew forward at more than 80 miles an hour. I would have flown straight through the windshield and who knows how far into the forest, but thankfully my future as a one-time human projectile was prevented by the seat belt and then the airbag. I've always thought of the airbag as a nice fluffy pillow that saves you from the steering wheel. Save me, it did, soft it was not.
So, my first experience of time travel was not entirely comfortable, to say the least.
The change in landscape was jarring enough, ignoring the pain, which really could not be ignored. The car had slammed into a tree that had not existed a moment before. Actually, I think that's a bit misleading - because not just had the tree spontaneously appeared, but so had the entire landscape around me. The bright road highway had turned into a dark forest. So I guess it would be more accurate to say I spontaneously appeared in the unsuspecting forest.
Thoughts swam through my head like it was filled with sap, luckily instinct decided I was no longer a responsible decision-maker, which I grant makes sense. I had tried to crash into a truck.
It took over and fumbled for the door handle and stumbled out of the car, grabbing the backpack off of the passenger's seat because I vaguely remembered that was important.
Night blanketed the forest outside the car. The stars winked and glimmered through the branches above. It was too dark to see the ground, so I did not notice the large root until I tripped over it.
I resisted the urge to curse since it didn't seem like a very respectable way for the first person from the 21st century to greet the prehistoric world. So instead, I bit my tongue and sat up on my hands and elbow. The ringing from the crashing faded from my ears, and the churning of the entire world settled. I could hear the crickets, the creaking of wind through the trees above, and the peaceful sound of liquid leaking from the vehicle behind me.
'That's probably not a good sign,' I thought. A moment before it happened, the image of the flames I had seen while undergoing Destiny's Touch was brought back to my mind.
And then, with a loud whooshing, the forest around me was lit up for a moment as fire engulfed my car. As the brief explosion expanded, sending flickering red light over the tree and plants around, a wave of heat hit my body, and fire momentarily surrounded my legs.
Like I said.
'Well, I guess that's those plans out the window,' I thought distantly, remembering all the supplies in the car.
The roaring of fire subsided and settled to lesser to a consistent but growl of flames.
I knew my legs were still a bit too close to the burning car, but I didn't feel it much,
You gotta love shock!
You may imagine that a day like this could not get much worse, but through the mist of adrenaline and pain, I heard crunching as something moved in the woods.
A large shadow moved towards me, and the thought that I was going to die uselessly flitted across my brain.
And then, from shock, pain, and the blood loss from the leg wound I was not yet aware of, I fainted.
And that's how I, Mathew Meyer, the first-time traveler, met the ancient world.
But before we can discuss the consequences of that crash, I'm going to have to start three weeks before it, when destiny came knocking and woke me from a literal and figurative stupor.
I rolled over in my bed and slapped the snooze button on my phone. 'I need sleep,' I justified as I curled back up in the warm blankets. Hiding from both the sunlight streaming through the window and the feeling of disappointment in myself for sleeping past 11. 'It's for my health.'
I had stayed up until 4 in the morning before reading about various weight loss and workout strategies - for my health.
I had set my alarm for 10:00 and snoozed it every 15 minutes for the past six snoozes, and though my sleepy brain tried not to do the math, my three 3 years of college mathematics that sat so usefully in my mind figured it out anyway.
Not working out.
In fact, I hadn't done much of any of those things in weeks.
And I wasn't getting very well rested either, since I was spending most of my time justifying the fact I should be in bed and thinking of all the more productive things I could be doing.
I smacked my mouth. It tasted stale and like all the worst parts of being alive. Sleep faded back, overtaking my frustrated mind. 'This is probably why Jenna left you,' A corner of me thought.
'That is an unfair argument strategy,' I countered as I slipped back to sleep and stayed there for several minutes. Then, my phone rang, the sound cutting through the sleep and laziness. I shot up, blankets and pillows flying off of me. The ringtone seemed absurdly loud. I might have let it keep ringing and tried to ignore it, and I'm surprised I didn't. But it seemed the only respectable corner of me had been waiting crouched to spring at the slightest chance to actually get something done.
I sat up, blinked hard, clearing the sleep from my mind. And then, I answered.
"Hello, this is Matt," I said like I wasn't sitting in bed in sweat pants.
"Hey Matt, it's Charlie!"
I laughed, as a greeting, and because I hadn't heard Charlie's voice in so long. It reminded me of a time long enough ago I had forgotten the crappy parts about. "Charlie, long time no talk! What's going on?"
"Oh, just the biggest thing!" Charlie had a way of talking about everything as if it was the most significant moment in human history, so I was not entirely convinced.
"What's that?" I said, sliding out of bed and beginning to pace around my apartment.
I heard Charlie laugh on the other end like an excited little kid, "I'm working in France now on this new project-So remember back when we were both at university getting our bachelors for physics, and we had that obsession with nacked singularities?"
"Sure," I said. Charlie was an absolute genius, but also so nice that he assumed you were too.
"Well, we did it. They tried it. It just got declassified, well, kinda. It's bigger than the hadron supercollider. It took lasers and electromagnets and diverting part of Paris power, but they were able to get a nacked singularity to exceed lightspeed. But they figured out a way to get rid of the blast of energy, which caused more than just gravitational waves. It opens up a tunnel for a non-zero amount of time-" he was talking like the words were all pushing and shoving to charge out of his mouth.
"Wow, wow, Charlie, slow down. What's going on? Declassified?"
He took a deep breath, "The government was trying to make a bomb, using a little idea that came out in a paper forever ago. Create a naked singularity, and before Hawking Radiation can destroy it, get it orbiting -well, spinning - near lightspeed, and therefore rip a hole in spacetime. The hole then collapses as reality nits back together, releasing a huge blast of energy."
"Uh-hu," I said, vaguely understanding him.
"It works great on paper, really well in fact - creating a blast more than 100 megaton blast. That's double the power of the best A-Bombs. But it wouldn't work as a bomb. To tear the hole, you need a machine that's has a 52-kilometer circumference. That's not the type of thing you can drop out of a plane. So, they handed their research over to us, we got to work, and saw something else. They just wanted to rip open a hole in spacetime for the blast, but if you can get rid of the blast, then you've simply created a hole in spacetime." He paused, "with the right finagling you can keep the hole open, and make it a bit bigger. We're just now figuring out how to determine where- sorry when - the tunnel opens up to." He paused and took a deep breath, "The hole, is literally a rips open spacetime, allowing you to... I mean with you could theoretically..." He laughed, "you can use too... y'know..." He paused as if saying it might break the beauty of it.
My multi-college dropout brain began to fumble with the facts, "Are you saying -" I paused too. It was too holy to say, like speaking God's name. "Are you saying you can actually keep it open long enough too..." I paused again.
"Yes," Charlie said.
We both sat in silent awe for a moment. And then it occurred to me that I existed. "So, where do I come into this?"
"We want to hire you, here, we'll fly you out to Paris for the interview and stuff. It's too hard to explain over the phone. Are you game?"
It was like my brain had been hooked up to an electric wire. I didn't need sleep for days. I then realized in conversations you're supposed to respond to what people say, "um, yeah, I'd be flattered. When, where?"
"I'll email you the details. But I don't want to interrupt anything that's happening with you. Feel totally free to say no. We could find another person."
I laughed, "Are you kidding? No, I have nothing going on, and if I did, I'd cancel it!"
"Sounds great! Just don't tell anyone since this is still technically a National secret. See you soon!"
He hung up.
I leaned against the wall and stared down at my feet.
They'd done it.
They'd discovered Time Travel.
And they wanted me to be a part of that.
Take that, Jenna!