Conversations With Myself

A Novel by Altimexis

The Whispers of Time
 
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Book One • Chapter 10 — Conundrum

December 1989 • Chris-23

What the fuck was I doing back in St. Louis, and on Christmas Eve, no less. I should be in California with Jen and Andy, celebrating our first Christmas together as a family, but instead I was spending it in a miserable Days Inn out by the airport, listening to an endless stream of piped-in Christmas music that I couldn’t seem to get away from.

On top of that, I was lugging around a twenty-pound prototype for a new portable Macintosh computer that Apple had just introduced to the public. The University had lent it to me to use to work on my PhD thesis, but the black-and-white screen was nearly unreadable and the damn thing was agonizingly slow to use, and it crashed all the time. I guess I couldn’t expect much from a prototype.

Well, I’d made a promise to Jack Craegan that I’d spend the winter break with Marion Dawson, and that’s what I was doing. For a couple of weeks, now, his counterpart in the future had been in contact with him and together, they’d been working on building a time tunnel machine in this time period. Dawson said they’d been making good progress and he hoped to be able to have a working TTT prototype before I left for California. If it worked, I’d be taking this one back with me and he’d build another one for himself.

I could have never gotten this far on my own — that was for sure — and it still worried me that we’d unleashed a madman in the process — but what was done was done. Dawson was already in the loop and there was no turning back now. Short of killing him, and in the process destroying all our futures, there was no way to erase his knowledge of OTT.

At that moment, the phone rang and I answered it.

“Hey Chris,” Dawson’s voice boomed through the receiver. “You got plans for tomorrow?”

“Other than working on my dissertation and calling home, no,” I admitted.

“That doesn’t seem like fun,” he said. “Come by my place at two, and I’ll fix you a nice Christmas dinner.”

“Please, you don’t need to go to any trouble on my behalf,” I said.

“It’s no trouble at all,” he said. “I know you’re not exactly on speaking terms with your parents, and I don’t have any family here in town, so there’s no point in each of us spending the holiday alone, is there?”

“I suppose not,” I said with little enthusiasm.

“That’s the spirit!” he exclaimed. “I’ll see you at two.”

With that, he hung up the phone before I could really answer him, one way or the other.

“Oh well,” I said out loud with no one else in the room. “I guess I’m going to spend Christmas with Marion Dawson.”

The next morning I woke up bright and early — I couldn’t really help it with all the noise in the hotel, and with nothing better to do, got a quick bite to eat in the lousy hotel cafĂ©, then returned to my room to work some more on my thesis.

At noon, which was ten AM back home, I called Jen and we spent nearly an hour on the phone talking. I cringed at the thought of what the phone bill would be, but talking to her and hearing little Andy cry on Christmas Day was an absolute necessity.

At 1:40, I left the hotel, arriving at Dawson’s house right at two o’clock.

When he answered the door, I said, “I would have brought some wine, but by the time you invited me, the liquor stores were already closed.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Dawson boomed as he invited me into a house filled with wonderful aromas. “I’m just glad you were able to bring yourself.”

“I had no idea you knew how to cook,” I said with some surprise.

“Well, I can follow a few recipes, and I did have some help.”

Just then, a couple of college-age guys and a boy who looked to be about fifteen or sixteen walked up behind Dawson. The boy was wearing a tank top and shorts, and was barefoot. Everything about him screamed prostitute.

Seeing the look on my face, Dawson explained, “Every now and then, we get request to take in kids who live too far away to come down here to participate in our weekly sessions. Bryson lives in Lawrence, and his parents are infirm and just couldn’t drive him into town every week. He’s only fifteen, so he can’t drive himself, yet.

“If a kid shows particular promise, I’m more than happy to take them in. I don’t charge anything… I just expect them to help out with chores and meals, and they go to school here, of course.

“Dan and John are a couple of my students at the University. My house is so much bigger than what I need for myself, so I’ve always rented out rooms to my students. Dan and John actually share a room, so it’s a particularly good deal for them. The two older boys then put their arms around each other, making it clear that they were more than just friends.

“Do their parents know about your… history?” I asked.

“Of course they do,” Dawson answered, “but as you know, I was completely exonerated, and they’re perfectly satisfied with that. Bryson certainly hasn’t minded the arrangement, have you Brys.”

Looking right at me, Bryson said, “Chris, I’m gay, but my parents would never understand. Living here with Marion and the college guys, I have my freedom. It’s wonderful livin’ in a place where I’m accepted, and I’ve even got a boyfriend. Marion’s never, ever tried anything with me if that’s what you’re worried about. It’s a win-win situation for me.

“I’m gonna try to talk my parents into lettin’ me stay here for the rest of my high school, too, rather than drivin’ down once I get my license. I like it here. I like livin’ with Marion.

“By the way, Marion tells me you’re gay, too,” Bryson said. I practically choked when he said it.

“How you figure that?” I asked, trying to seem non-plussed.

“He says he’s got it all figured out, how you’re really gay and in the closet, but living with some girl you got knocked up.”

“I happen to love that girl… that woman,” I countered.

“You can love someone, regardless of gender, Chris,” Dawson said. “I’ve seen it happen time and time again.”

Wondering why neither Bryson, nor Dan and John were home with their families for Christmas, I asked them just that.

“It’s really hard on my parents to prepare a traditional Christmas anymore,” Bryson explained, “and Marion was kind enough to pick me up and drive me here, all the way from Lawrence. I spent Christmas Eve and this morning with my parents.”

“And we’re not welcome in our homes anymore,” Dan added. “Not since our parents found out we’re gay.”

“There are five other kids who room here with me,” Dawson went on, “and they all are with their families today. I’m afraid to say that you’re spending Christmas with the rejects, including me.”

I was a bit surprised by the whole situation. It really did seem that Dawson was on the up-and-up. Perhaps the total extent of his proclivities was trafficking in child porn, after all. Not that I could condone it, particularly since there certainly were victims involved.

<<<<<<<<·>>>>>>>>

January 2011 • Chris-44

Santa Clara, California, in Silicon Valley: although not the heart of Silicon Valley, this was certainly a part of it, and one of the nicer parts. In fact, this was the original center of Santa Clara County, once one of the richest fruit-growing regions in the country. The area used to be filled with orchards as far as the eye could see, before companies such as Hewlett-Packard, National Semiconductor and Intel had bought up much of the land and built their labs and their factories. And what was left was turned into housing developments and condo complexes — strip malls and golf courses — and the ubiquitous freeways, highways and roadways, none of which moved very well most of the time.

Today, on a rainy winter day, the entire valley was blanketed by a smoggy brownish fog so that even the nearby mountains disappeared from view, leaving the visitor to wonder how a town like Mountain View got its name.

As I exited Interstate 280 onto Saratoga Road, I was struck by how different this part of the Bay Area was from where I lived in the Oakland Hills. Here, it was so flat, but so green. One almost didn’t get the feel of being in a desert here, whereas there was no escaping it where I lived. There was a lot of parkland in Santa Clara, and it was clear that this was an older part of The Valley, with traditional Spanish-style houses to be found in abundance — at least where they hadn’t been torn down to make way for McMansions.

The address I was looking for was inside one of the nicer townhouse complexes. Turning into it and finding a spot in visitor parking, I located the townhouse I was looking for, and rang the doorbell. It was getting late — close to eight o’clock, but that was not, too late — at least I hoped it wasn’t.

The door opened and it was him. Frank Sanford. I knew the face immediately. He might have been some forty years older than the boy I’d kissed in my dream, and we both had less hair, but it was definitely him.

Suddenly, a look of shock spread across his face. “Chris? Chris Michaels? Is it really you?” he asked.

How could he possibly know me? This didn’t make any sense. Until last night, I’d never seen his face before in my life. Unless there was some memory I had suppressed all these years, there was no time we’d ever met. This was all a giant mystery to me.

“What are you doing here?” he asked. “Please, come on in,” he said as he opened the door wide for me.

I continued to stare at him as I walked inside, an almost insatiable urge to kiss him washing over me — an urge I didn’t obey.

“How did you find me Chris?” he asked. “How did you even know of me? You shouldn’t know of me. Not in this timeline. Not in this reality. You’re not supposed to know of me, Chris. Not in this reality, you’re not.

“I know, I’m not making any sense, am I?” he asked.

Before I could even answer him, he said, “Come on in and I’ll make some coffee. I have a wonderful Kona blend that I know you’ll love. Come on in and we’ll talk. We need to talk, but we need to be careful.

“I’m not supposed to know as much as I do, and neither are you. The knowledge of other timelines is a very dangerous thing.”

“Frank,” I finally said, as I moved past him and inside his town house condo, “you’re acting like you’re seen a ghost, and perhaps you have, but we have to talk about what you know about these other timelines and alternate realities.”

<<<<<<<<·>>>>>>>>

February 1990 • Chris-23

I was still in St. Louis and work on my dissertation had ground to a halt. If I didn’t get back to it soon, there was a very real risk I’d fall so far behind that there wouldn’t be enough time to catch up before the summer, when I was supposed to begin work on my post-doc in Rankin’s lab. I was pretty sure he’d grant me a little leeway if it was necessary in order to complete my dissertation, but that largesse had limits. Also, the last thing I wanted was to delay my start at Livermore, putting the timely development of TTT at risk.

Still, there was little doubt that I could never have completed work on a TTT apparatus without Dawson’s help, and the only way to get that help was to remain in St. Louis. At least it seemed we were finally ready to make first contact with Chris-16, and a good thing it was too. There was no way in Hell I was gonna miss my son’s first birthday. Tonight was gonna be the night. Dawson was insisting that I make contact first, as I was the only one who could ultimately complete an unbroken chain of communication from 2011 back to 1978. It pained me to think that Dawson wouldn’t be around in 2011 and he was very circumspect when it came to why he wouldn’t, but it wasn’t like we had a choice in the matter.

After I made contact with Chris-16, we would recalibrate the equipment and then it would be Dawson’s turn to make contact with his former self in the same time period. We both felt it essential to make first contact on the same night in 1983, although I was really nervous about doing it on the same night in 1990, especially because I’d still be under the influence of Valium and wouldn’t be able to help much if something went wrong. It took a little arguing with Dawson, but since it makes little difference whether establishing a link to eight years in the past versus seven years and 363 days, we would wait a couple of days between the two of us. I would make contact tonight and Dawson in a couple of nights from now. But to our counterparts, first contact will have occurred on the same night.

<<<<<<<<·>>>>>>>>

February 1983 • Chris-16

Ah, a Friday night in February, just over half-way through my junior year of high school. Tomorrow morning I’d go for another session with Professor Dawson, learning advanced math and physics. At this rate, I’d be able to start college next year as a sophomore, or maybe even a junior. Yeah, things were going great! Soon I would be leaving for California and, although I might return home for the next few summers, this summer would be the last summer I’d actually still live in St. Louis. Soon I’d leave Missouri for good and although California might not be my permanent home, the one thing I was certain of was that I’d never live in St. Louis again. I doubted I’d ever live in the Midwest again, for that matter, unless it was perhaps in Chicago. No, more than likely I would go to school in California, settle there and ultimately die there.

Somehow my room just seemed too small for me now. The twin bed just didn’t fit my body anymore, and everything looked like it was designed for — well, a teenager. But I was almost 17-years-old now. I was almost a man in every sense of the word. Somehow the idea of still being under my parent’s roof was — nauseating. I was counting the days until I left.

Sighing, I reached up and turned out the light, then I lay down and prepared to go to sleep, but naturally, my thoughts turned to sex. I might be nearly a man, but I was still very much a teenage boy. I didn’t have much going on socially, though, but that was OK. High school kids were so immature anyway. Girls still didn’t do anything for me, which was getting to be a real concern. I sure as Hell didn’t want to be queer, but more and more, it was thoughts about doin’ it with guys that would get me off in the shower. That would never do, that’s for sure. I’d just have to work harder to try and get off thinking of girls.

Speaking of which, now was as good a time as any to work on that. Pulling down the covers — I was already in the nude, as I’d been sleeping that way for a couple of years, now, I started jerking it while I started thinking of some of the hottest babes in the junior class. Candice Brewster — now she was one hot chick. She had long, straight platinum blond hair, a killer smile with perfect, straight white teeth, and man, did she have large ones. She had to wear a size D cup.

As I continued stroking myself and fondling my package, I thought about what she might look like without her clothes. Yeah, that’s right. Under all that stuff she usually wears is a lot of beautiful skin. Imagine what it must be like to touch her, to run your hands all over her? Man, that would be great! It’s too bad she has a boyfriend. Yeah, that Scott Giles is a lucky dude.

Now Scott I’ve seen in the nude. I can imagine what he looks like in the flesh. Yeah, it’s easy to picture the sight of him touching her, of him running his hand all over her body, of him fondling her tits. And I can picture her feeling him all over, feeling his pecs, his abdomen and fondling his package. Yeah, and he has one mighty nice package, too.

Oh yeah, and I can see her going down on him, taking him into her mouth, deep throating him as her tits hang down. Yeah, that’s so hot. God, I’d like to trade places — with her!

And that did it. That’s what pushed me over — the thought of me deep throating Scott Giles. Damn!

So much for trying to be more straight. If anything, I only proved I’m queer. Fuck!

Well, not much I could do about tonight other than to clean up. After doing so, I turned over and prepared to go to sleep. After drifting in my dream world for a while, I got this strange sense of someone else being inside of my head. No, that wasn’t quite right, either. It was more like a feeling of me being inside of my head. Me — but a different me — a me that I felt I wanted to be — the me from the future. Yeah, I could really feel it, Identify it, you know?

I could even start to see it happening. I almost had this sense of myself, floating outside of my body and looking down on myself. And then I just started floating in space and I saw this image of me coalesce out of a fog. It was real cool, too. It looked, just like me, but like a version of me from a photograph, rather than a mirror, you know? My mole was on the other side and the part in my hair was on the other side — just like the way other people see me. And I looked like a grown-up — like an adult rather than a kid — like I imagined I’d look in maybe six or seven years or so. It was really cool.

“Well, Chris,” the ‘me’ of the future started to say, “I guess you already figured out I’m communicating to you from the future.”

“Pretty much,” I replied.

“Turns out, bud, that we’re gonna invent a machine… the technology for doing this thought transfer way in the future. 2008, to be precise,” the apparition said to me.

“Whoa,” I replied.

“There are only two problems,” my future self continued. “You can only communicate through your dreams, like we’re doing right now, and you can only communicate a max of seven years into the past. I’m communicating with you from 1990. I was contacted originally by the Chris of 1995, but now it’s 1997 in his time frame. He calls himself Chris-30, and me Chris-23, though I’ll soon be 24 and he’ll soon be 31. We’ve been referring to you as Chris-16… and you’ll soon be Chris-17.

“There’s actually a third big problem, Chris-16,” Chris-23 continued. “We can’t send the equipment back in time. In each time period, we have to teach you how to fabricate and build time tunnel technology so that we can extend the chain of communication back an additional link into the past.”

“But why are you doing this? Why are we doing this,” I asked.

Shifting positions, Chris-23 said, “Because something terrible is going to happen in the distant future. We believe that something terrible is gonna happen after 2012 that ends life on earth as we know it. We have strong indications from events leading up to 2012 that whatever it was that happened, it had its origins in the late 1970s. It is therefore our intent to establish an unbroken chain of communication all the way back to 1978 so that we’ll be able to fix whatever happened in the past and correct the damage to the timeline.”

“I see,” I replied, “but how can I, a mere high school student, possibly build some sort of time machine to help with this?” I asked.

“You’ll have help,” Chris-23 answered. “We’ve enlisted Marion Dawson to help with the project as well. He is being contacted tonight by his future self at the same time that you are. He cannot serve as the primary conduit from 2012, as he will not be alive in that year, but he will be alive throughout most of the rest of this century, and he can assist you in building this machine, and in making sure that the project is completed.”

“Oh wow, that’s great. Professor Dawson’s a little weird, but he certainly knows how to build things. That’s cool. Thanks!” I was really psyched.

“Chris,” Chris-23 added, “You’re right, Dawson is weird. If he pulls any funny business, remind him that we can make life difficult for him in the future.”

“Why would I need to do that?” I asked.

“I doubt that there’ll be a need for it,” Chris-23 said, “but he has been known to do some strange things in the future. His role in what we’re calling OTT might make him feel emboldened to do other things, too… things that aren’t related to the mission. If he does, let us know and we’ll take care of it.”

“What do you mean?” I asked again. “Things like what?”

“Chris-16, I’d rather not say. You have a high opinion of Dawson, as well you should. I wouldn’t want to change that. We’ll cross that bridge if and when we come to that, OK?” he asked.

“OK,” I agreed. “I wish you hadn’t even brought it up.”

“We’ll be in touch, Chris,” he said one final time.

“Goodnight, Chris-23,” I sighed as his image faded away.

Before I knew it, the alarm clock clunked, and then it started to hum and only as my mind started to drift back toward unconsciousness did the barest hint of music start to slowly fill the room. God, did I hate that old vacuum tube-based clock radio. As I got up, I remembered the extraordinary dream of last night. A part of me wanted to brush it off as being the workings of my overactive imagination, but somehow I knew it was anything but. I also wondered what in the world Chris-23 had meant by ‘funny business’.

Getting showered, shaved and dressed, I drove over to the campus to meet with Dawson and to see if he’d had a similar dream last night.

When I arrived, I found him hard at work in his office, poring over drawing after drawing of equipment the likes of which I’d never seen before. When I entered, he looked up and simply asked, “What took you so long? I’ve been up ever since midnight, putting everything down on paper that my future counterpart showed me last night.”

Looking at the diagrams, I was amazed. Turning to my mentor, I said, “I can’t believe the amount of detail in these drawings. How did you remember so much? I could never remember so much detail, even if I’d seen these diagrams when I was awake.”

“I’m blessed… or cursed… with a photographic memory. That’s one of the reasons I was brought on board for OTT. All I have to do is see it once and I can remember it, even if it’s in my sleep,” he explained.

“I didn’t know that before,” I said in awe. Again, I reiterated, “These drawings are incredible.”

“The fun part’s going to be turning these drawings into reality,” Professor Dawson said, and I nodded.

“Shit, I mean shoot, professor, I don’t even know where you’d begin,” I said as I looked at what to me looked like gibberish.

“Well, the first thing we need to do is to get you up to speed on what this all means, Chris. You need to understand this as well as I do. There are a lot of components that we can find here in the lab, but a lot of stuff will have to be purchased, and it won’t come cheap.

“Some of it I can probably talk my boss into buying under the guise of being for the lab.” Pointing to one of the drawings, he said, “This precision optical stepper motor, for example. That’s something we might actually use for a number of different experiments, so we can justify buying a few of these and he won’t even miss it.”

Pointing to another spot on the same diagram, he continued. “These quartz quantum particle emitter/detectors, however, are going to be a real challenge,” he said with a sigh. “They’re going to have to be custom fabricated in a high-end optical shop. I don’t know how we’re going to justify those, and there are sixteen of them, and we probably ought to order a few spares, just to be safe. Those’ll probably run us a couple grand, each, maybe more… maybe a lot more.”

I whistled when I heard him say that.

“There’s usually a competitive bidding process involved with such high-end purchases,” the professor explained, “and all hell breaks loose if you try to bypass it. I may just end up taking out a second mortgage on the house to pay for it myself.”

“Man, Professor D., I can’t believe you’d do that.” I said. “Can you even get that kinda money for your house?”

“Not even close,” he replied with a laugh, “but I do have some retirement savings too, and there’s a good chance I can get my money back in the future. I have faith it’ll all work out in the end.”

“That’s pretty cool, having sixteen quartz emitter/detectors inside a rotating cylinder like that,” I said, looking over his shoulder at one of his diagrams, but don’t the wires get all tangled up when the thing rotates?” I asked.

“The interconnects are a bit tricky,” he agreed.

“Why not have a stationary array of emitter/detectors?” I asked.

“Apparently, that’s the way they started out in 2008,” Dawson explained, “but the quartz devices had to be much smaller that way, and the machining much more precise. It drove up the cost exponentially, and it would have never been practical to fabricate something like that today. By using fewer, larger quartz emitter/detectors and mounting them in a rotating cylinder, they cut costs and significantly simplified the apparatus in the long run.”

In a flash, I had a sudden epiphany. “Carrying that a step further,” I said, “Why not use a single, large external emitter/detector that doesn’t even rotate, and using a sort of mirror ball, kind of like a disco ball. You know, like in Saturday Night Fever.”

“Saturday Night Fever?” he asked with a puzzled look on his face.

“Surely you saw the movie.” I stated more than asked.

“I hardly ever go to the movies,” he said.

One of his students, Jake, I think he name was, had obviously been listening in and said, “Yeah, that’s a great idea. I saw the movie a few years back, when it first came out, and I know exactly what you’re talking about.”

Turning to Dawson, I explained, “OK, well, in a disco dance, but they had these back in dances in, like, the twenties, too… they have these mirror balls. It’s a sphere that’s covered with maybe a thousand facetted mirrors over its surface. Aimed at the sphere is a single spotlight. The sphere rotates and as it does, it sends little points of light throughout the ballroom.

“We could do the same thing in reverse. Our sphere would be open on the top and bottom, and the mirrors would be on the inside rather than the outside. The single emitter/detector would be aimed at the mirrors, which would direct the quantum particle beam so that it fills the entire volume of the sphere. The sphere would rotate, just as the cylinder does now, so that you would have complete coverage of all points inside the subject’s brain, but it would be a lot simpler to build.”

I could see Dawson’s mind at work as he contemplated what I was suggesting.

“Maybe not a sphere, but a cylinder in which we replace the individual emitter/detectors with mirrors, but the whole thing would be a lot lighter in weight, and the single emitter/detector would be much cheaper to fabricate, because it would be larger. Multiplexing the beam would be a challenge, but it would still be a lot easier than doing it the way they’ve been doing it.”

Turning to me, he said, “Chris, I always knew you were a genius. Well, you did, or rather, will invent this time tunnel technology in the first place, but you’ve just come up with a much simpler implementation than any of your future selves did. This is excellent.”

<<<<<<<<·>>>>>>>>

March 1997 • Chris-30

“OK,” I said as I sat down for what was getting to be our all-to-familiar daily damage assessment briefing. Little did we know how much damage would be done by yanking Dawson out of St. Louis in 1989, but placing him back there was resulting in a series of timeline changes that would end up filling an entire encyclopedia by the time we were through. Still, the end result was preferable to the total destruction of the future as we knew it that had resulted from our recklessness in the first place.

“So what’s the latest news?” Jack asked as he passed the coffee pot around.

“According to our records, the 1995 American League Championship was supposed to have been won by the Cleveland Indians.” I said.

“But the Yankees won it,” Jack pointed out.

Sighing, I said, “Yes, I know, and the Yanks went on to win the World Series. But before we fucked up the time line, it was the Braves that won it against Cleveland. That switch resulted in significant changes in the spring rosters of several clubs,” I added, “with the result that the Marlins won against Cleveland in 1996 as you know, when originally it was the Yanks.”

“Which means that the entire history of baseball from 1995 on has been altered, and so the ‘Butterfly Effect’ strikes again,” Jack lamented

“Changed outcomes of sporting events should be the worst of our problems,” I bemoaned. “They’re just the easiest to find. However if we go back, I just about guarantee that we’ll find that the major league rosters were affected for a number of years before, probably reflecting a simple change in the minors. Undoubtedly some kid Dawson mentored either did or did not go into a professional career in baseball as a result of Dawson not being where he was supposed to be, and although returning Dawson to Saint Louis restored OTT, it didn’t restore that one kid’s place in history.”

“Fuck! How could one man have had so much of an effect on recorded history?” Jack asked of no one in particular.

“These changes will only get worse in time, and we’re only delaying the inevitable by procrastinating in deciding what to do with him. He’s a valuable asset, but he’s a loose cannon. Right now he’s back in St. Louis in all time periods, with full knowledge of OTT and without any supervision whatsoever. As such, he represents a grave danger. At the least he needs to be restrained.”

“He’s under FBI surveillance,” Jack pointed out.

“One agent checking in on him daily hardly constitutes a short leash, Jack,” I complained bitterly. “If a foreign agent contacts him, we wouldn’t have a clue. At minimum, he needs to be watched 24 hours a day.”

“And what if in so doing, we interfered with the future again?” one of our colleagues pointed out.

Taking a deep breath, I said, “There will always be risks from anything we do or don’t do. The name of the game is minimizing risks.”

“One thing I definitely think we can conclude,” Jack interjected, “is that whatever it was that needed to be restored in the timeline has been restored by sending him back at this point in time. There’s no need to continue to broaden our exposure by leaving Dawson in Missouri. Let’s bring him back here now, where we can keep him under our control. It’s not like he needs to stay at the University, either. Thanks to his past misappropriation of funds, he’s ineligible for Federal grants, and he has others involved with his advanced high school program, now, so that his presence in St. Louis isn’t really necessary anymore.

“We can make use of him now, have him contact himself back in 1990, have him fabricate TTT in that time period for both himself and for Chris-23… or 24, use the equipment to contact himself and my counterpart in 1983, extending the chain of communication back yet another seven years… an extension in time we could never reach without his help. And with his help, we can reach back to 1978.”

“Remember, we are up against a deadline, and we continue to lose time. 2012 is getting closer and closer.” Of course I only had it on Chris-37's word as transmitted back by Chris-44, but I had no reason to suspect either of them of lying. They were me, after all.

“Did you ever stop to think that maybe we are the cause?” Jack asked the group of us. “Look at the daily changes in the timeline that have resulted from our mistakes. Time itself is unraveling, Chris. Maybe we are the reason the world will end.”

The author gratefully acknowledges the assistance of David of Hope and Anthony Camacho in editing this story, as well as the support of Awesome Dude for hosting it.
This story is purely fictional and any resemblance of characters to real individuals other than named historical figures is purely coincidental and unintentional. Some characters may be gay and at times engage in homosexual acts. Because the story explores characters at various stages of their lives, they may be underage during early sexual explorations. Obviously, anyone uncomfortable with this should not be reading the story, and the reader assumes responsibility for the legality of reading this type of story where they live. The author retains full copyright, and permission must be obtained prior to duplication of the story in any form.

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