Timely Persuasion - Online Edition - Chapter 21


Now We Are Twenty-One

    Shortly thereafter, the experiment had an accidental breakthrough that took time travel to the next level.  A mixture of drugs, electricity, and self-replicating nanotechnology allowed for a microscopic time machine to be injected directly into the bloodstream of a subject.  With the machine in the man rather than the man attached to the machine they were able to internally amplify the right brainwaves and theoretically take control of the body in the past.

    This time, the theory was almost right. 

    Instead, they had stumbled upon the type of time travel that I had been experiencing all along.  Invisible to any person, place or thing except for myself, yet able to fully interact with only a past image of me.  They had control of the body, but only through brute force.

    The sponsoring doctor became the first guinea pig for this new method, and it worked marvelously.  He was only sent back a few days, but his reports as to what he saw and how he met with his past self astounded those involved.  Initially he was met with the same doubt that older me had, but when he started recounting conversations he was never present for after eavesdropping on them in the past as a ghostly observer he quickly won over his critics. 

    Self-interaction both intrigued and terrified the doctor.  Upon discovering this side effect of time travel he became obsessed with it, seeking in vain to understand and ultimately suppress that ability.  The Catch-22 was that studying self-interaction required self-interaction, and the only person who could track the results was the person being studied.  Concerned that others would want to expand this interaction trait to work universally, he adopted this subset of the experiment for himself, while the other scientists continued to fine-tune the injection serum to see how far they could push it.

    The process was tweaked and enhanced on other subjects until eventually they had another breakthrough.  Instead of being limited to their own experiences, a time traveler could now go to any time where humans had memories, riding on a huge subconscious peer to peer neural network of brainwaves carrying messages from the future to the past.  The more people with memories, the easier it would be to get to that time.  And more people with the same memory gave more pathways to more times.  The overlap was the key.  This left the window of opportunity at roughly the age of the oldest living person in the traveler’s true present time.

    Although the traveler was still only able to interact with their own past selves, they could go anywhere as an observer.  The plan was to use this discovery to study history, creating more accurate accounts of events by having multiple firsthand witnesses on site to record what went on in an unbiased manner.  But first they needed to test it, and for this they needed older me.

    The needle pierced his skin, and a new age began.  Having lost the ability to travel in his own head, the new and improved time travel injection method gave older me less flexibility to put right what once went wrong.  The stowaway style trips were much better suited to his agenda.  He had to find a way around this, as well as a way out of the hospital to have more freedom to set things right.  The old, IV based machine had been retired, so that was out.  Realizing that he no longer needed (or at this point, wanted) to be on site to blink, he hatched his theory on using a cause and effect pair to give his younger self the ability to time travel, thus springing himself from the hospital. 

    Knowing the doctor would try to find him, he realized that his younger self would be better equipped to save his sister from Nelson than he was, especially if he could get in touch with a self who was still reeling from her death and open to the possibility of revenge.  That was what led him to me.  He stole a syringe, blinked, and never looked back.

    “You’ve been traveling in time non-stop since then?”

    “I wouldn’t say non-stop, but I’ve only been back to the present once if that’s what you mean.  What’s there to go back to?  This place?  I’ll take my chances as a man out of time.”

    In a lot of ways I agreed with his plight.  I had been afraid to go back to the present after ending up in that hospital, and my fear turned out to be correct.  But something confused me.  “I moved away after my sister died.  Shouldn’t that have been enough to get you away from the study?”

    He shook his head.  “I thought of that.  You didn’t leave the first time; I talked you into going west for that exact reason.  But I came back and I was still here.  I’ve been afraid to try again since.”

    “What does that mean?”

    “I guess it means they would have found you one way or another.  And since you’re here now, that appears to be true.”

    I returned to my earlier question.

    “I still can’t believe we caused all of this.”

    Older me put a hand on my shoulder to console me.  “It’s not your fault.  My sister lived, but I inadvertently killed your sister.  You can’t save her, but you can set it right so the next versions of ourselves and our families can avoid the same pain.”

    “You’re just fiddling with the words to make me feel better.  Is there really a difference?”

    “On a broader level there is, but you can view it however you’d like.”

    “In that case, won’t everything just undo itself when I don’t go into my younger head to set her up with Nelson?”

    “Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way,” he said straight faced while I cried, killing my last ray of hope.  “Once a head trip is made it becomes a brain pattern.  You’re essentially becoming your conscience, and with or without you the same message and actions will live on.  It’s only full body time travel that needs to be redone each time to ensure proper flow.  Or at least it seems to be, it’s all...”

    “I know.  Theory.”

    Regardless of his attempts to sugarcoat it with semantics, the simple truth was there.  All the times I felt like I was to blame for my sister’s death, I was technically correct.  Me, myself and I:  partners in crime.  And I could have fixed it all, but instead I made it worse.  She was still alive, but she was he, and he was with him.  It was all a big mess that would continue to repeat for generation upon generation of other mes.  The revelation had already left me dejected, and as the pronouns kept on circling I started to feel sick.  There had to be a way to fix this thing.