Conversations With Myself

A Novel by Altimexis

The Whispers of Time
 
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Book One • Chapter 12 — Unraveling

May 2011 • Chris-45

As I drifted in and out of sleep, I thought about last night and the incredible sex I’d had with Frank. Perhaps he was right. Perhaps we weren’t supposed to know each other in this reality — in this timeline, but what did that matter to me. I was growing increasingly fond of him. He was a great lover, he was a kind person and he had a sweet soul. Finally after all these years I had found a kindred spirit, and to think we had grown up in the same community and I had to come all the way out to California to find him again.

Slowly, I opened my eyes with tender thoughts of Frank dancing in my head, but as my vision came into focus, what greeted me was not the short, graying blond hair and blond mustache of Frank, but the long blond hair of Jen, my ex-wife! I was not in Frank’s townhouse in Santa Clara, but in my old house in Oakland Hills — a house I had not set foot in, other than to visit my daughter, in some five years! I was back in my old bed, with my ex-wife, living a life as if trapped in some time warp. What the Hell was going on?

I closed my eyes and kept them closed for a good long while, and then slowly opened them again, but the vision was still the same. Taking a deep breath, there was no mistake; I could definitely smell the distinct smell of Jen. This was no dream.

Rousing myself out of bed, I retrieved the Chronicle from the front lawn. The date was exactly what I expected it to be — only I wasn’t where I expected to be.

My laptop was just where I used to keep it, but it was the brand new one I now had — not the old one I used to have when I last lived with my wife. Everything was fucked up — it was as if we’d never separated — as if we’d never divorced — as if I still lived with my wife. How could this be?

Firing up my laptop, I started reading my e-mails. Everything was as it should be, except that there was nothing of relevance to my life as a single man. It was as if I’d come to a fork in the road five years ago, and taken one fork, but then suddenly gone back and taken the other fork and now I was seeing my life from the other perspective. This was weird.

Not that there weren’t times I’d wished I’d stuck it out with my wife, but now that I’d found Frank, that was all behind me. Why now?

One thing was for certain — I had a lot of unanswered questions that needed answering, and fast. Perhaps Frank was right — things weren’t as they were supposed to be. Whatever was going on, I needed to get to the bottom of it.

<<<<<<<<·>>>>>>>>

June 1979 • Chris-13

Getting on the school bus, I couldn’t help but remember the events of the previous evening. Was my ‘out of body experience’ really from contact with my teenage self from 1983, or was it just a vivid dream — a product of my wild imagination? It sure seemed real enough. The idea that something so sinister could happen in the future was almost too much to take, and that I could be the key to stopping it was a heavy weight on my shoulders. For Christ sake, I’m just a thirteen-year-old kid!

Just then, I felt a sharp pain in my right earlobe. God, how I hated it. It probably meant Mellman was behind me. I felt it again, followed by the words, “Hey, twerp.” Yup, Mellman. What an asshole! Then he snapped my earlobe again. Usually by now I’d be turning around and telling him to stop tormenting me as tears welled up in my eyes, but then I remembered the advice I’d gotten last night.

“So you fancy my ears, now, Mellman?” I asked with a devilish grin, which got a round of giggles from the kids all around us, causing Mellman to turn scarlet red. “Maybe you’d like to kiss my ears, or lick them instead,” I said with a seductive sounding voice.” The kids around us were even more hysterical the way I said it.

“What are you, some kind of faggot?” Mellman practically shouted.

“I ain’t the one who’s the faggot, Mellman,” I replied. “You’re the one who’s been pervin’ on my ears all year.” I just finally figured out what all the flickin’s all about. “Sorry, Mellman, but I ain’t interested. Go flick on someone else’s ears,” I said in as sultry a voice as a thirteen-year-old boy could muster.

The whole damn bus was in hysterics by now, and poor Mellman looked like he wanted to disappear under his seat. Yeah, he could still probably beat the crap outta me, but I’d obviously earned the respect of everyone else on the bus. What I did took guts. That’s what my future self was referring to, and it felt great!

<<<<<<<<·>>>>>>>>

May 2004 • Chris-38

“Hey Dad,” Andy said as he grabbed the carafe and poured himself a mug of coffee. Clad only in his boxers and a smile, he was growing taller and more muscular by the day. He really looked like a teenager now. Next year he’d graduate from high school, thanks to having skipped third grade and to early graduation. He was growing up so fast.

Grabbing a pop tart from the toaster, he started to wolf down his typical breakfast as he quickly read the sports section while I perused the front page. We each had our priorities.

“Your sister up yet?” I asked, innocently enough.

“What?” he asked in return.

“I asked you if your sister’s up, yet,” I repeated.

“Dad, what the Hell are you talking about?” my son asked me once again with the most puzzling expression on his face.

“You know, your sister, Karen. Twelve years old, reddish blond hair, freckled face, loves science fiction… Karen,” I reiterated.

“Dad,” Andy said with the most serious expression I’d ever seen on his face, “I’m an only child. I don’t have a sister. You told me that Mom got pregnant when I was two, but I don’t remember anything about it. The baby was stillborn. At least that’s what you guys told me. I don’t know if it even had a name, or if it was a boy or a girl.”

Suddenly, I felt faint. How could this be happening? How could Karen be gone? My reality was changing, but if that were the case, how could I be aware of it? Why was I aware of it? Something was drastically wrong.

<<<<<<<<·>>>>>>>>

May 1983 • Chris-17

Professor Dawson said he wanted to see me first thing this morning before school. I wasn’t sure what he wanted, but it must have been important for him to get me out of bed so early in the morning. What seventeen-year-old wants to get up before the crack of dawn? At least he was serving me breakfast.

Pulling up in front of his house, I got out of my car and rang the doorbell.

“My, don’t you look positively… like a zombie,” the professor laughed at me as he held the door open. “Come on in, Chris,” he said with a surprisingly warm smile. I could smell the scent of bacon and eggs inside, and it was clearly waking my stomach up, a loud rumble attesting to the fact.

“Would you like some coffee?” Dawson asked me as I made my way to the kitchen.

“No thanks,” I answered. “I’ve never cared for the stuff,” I admitted as I sat down at his kitchen table.

“That’s because you’ve never had real coffee,” he said as he poured me a mug of coffee anyway, adding a couple teaspoonfuls of sugar and a generous amount of cream, stirring it in for me. “I had this shipped here from Pike’s Place Market in Seattle, from a little-known store that will one day be known as Starbucks. One day, there will hardly be a corner in America that will be without a Starbucks coffeehouse. Remember that name, Chris, and when their stock goes public in 1992, buy it.”

“I’ll have to keep that in mind, sir,” I said, as I smelled the aroma of the coffee. I had to admit to myself that it smelled heavenly — nothing like what my parents drank. Tentatively, I took a sip and although it was very strong, I was instantly hooked. No wonder Starbucks would be a hit.

Digging into my bacon and eggs, I asked Dawson, “So why’d you ask me over here this morning? I’m pretty exhausted as it is from my session last night with Chris-13.”

“You did really well with that, Chris… really, you did, and I hated to wake you up so soon afterwards, but we really need to talk about it. I couldn’t just let you head off to school this morning without debriefing you, and you were just way too tired afterwards to do it last night. You were still under the influence of the Valium we injected you with, and with a half-life of eight hours, you’re still somewhat under its effects. Too bad Ativan won’t be invented for another decade yet, or so I’m told.

“In any case, I wanted to go over your conversation with Chris-13 with you while it’s still in your mind. With my photographic memory, I can hold on to the details of it for you, and then we can communicate it back to our counterparts in the future on another night, once you’ve recovered from last night’s session,” the professor explained.

“I see…” I replied. “Now I understand why you wanted to see me this morning. It makes perfect sense.”

“Good!” Dawson exclaimed. “Then let’s get started.

“First of all, how did Chris-13 react to your presence in his mind? How did he perceive you? Was he frightened, curious or what?”

“His first reaction was one of curiosity. Right away, he knew it wasn’t a dream. He was very perceptive, and he thought of the initial feeling as more of a portal opening to another existence than that of an ‘out of body experience’. He’s the first one of us to do that, and I find it amazing, ’cause it’s right on target. He even recognized it as a portal existing within his own brain. How cool is that?

“Anyway, when he first saw me, he thought of me as a teenager that might be a close relative, but he couldn’t place me. When I mentioned the old TV show Time Tunnel, however, he immediately brought up episode four, which is where one of the main characters, Tony, meets himself as a boy. He knew right away that I was himself, communicating to him from the future.

“Next he admonished me about the dangers of altering the past. I explained the reasons for OTT, using the simplified explanation as we’d planned, and he was stunned by the implications. We left it that we would be in touch, and I gave him some pointers about dealing with bullies. Depending on the outcome, we can now make more significant, targeted changes to undo the mistakes that may have led to humanities self-destruction.”

“Hopefully, Chris-45 can provide feedback that can give us some guidance on where to go from here,” Dawson agreed. “In the meantime, if you’ll help me clear the table, we can get you off to school,” he said with a smile.

As we cleared the table, Dawson, said, “There’s still some time before you have to leave, so there’s no need to hurry off. Besides,” he added, “it looks like you got a grease stain on your shirt, and one on your pants, and there’s certainly no need for you to go all day wearing them in school like that. Why don’t you give me your clothes, and I’ll get the stains out for you. By the time you have to leave, your shirt and pants will be dry and ready to wear.”

Dawson held out his hand to me. I honestly couldn’t see the stain he was talkin’ about, but I wasn’t about to argue with him. I felt kinda funny takin’ my clothes off in front of him, but he was my professor, so what was the harm?

I unbuttoned my shirt and handed it over to him. He took it from me and washed a small part of it with soap and water, and then he rinsed it and patted it dry with a towel and hung it up on a hanger. Toeing off my shoes, I handed him my pants, and he followed the same procedure. He then tossed both my shirt and pants in his clothes dryer and set it for thirty minutes on low heat.

That left me standing there in nothing but my briefs and socks. Now I really felt funny, but this was only Professor Dawson, after all, and I felt completely safe with him.

“Chris, why don’t you lie down for a while, while we wait for your clothes to dry,” he suggested.

“I’m afraid if I do that, I’ll never be able to get up,” I laughed.

“Don’t worry,” he said with a grin, “I’ll make sure we get you out of here in time for school.” As he suggested this, he reached out to me and took my hand in his, pulling me to my feet and led me to his living room and over to his sofa.

Propping my head up on a pillow and for some reason, pulling off my socks, he said, “Make yourself comfortable. Enjoy your rest.”

Sitting down on the floor next to me, he said, “You know, you’re a good looking boy, Chris, but you’re going to have some tough times ahead of you. Scientifically and mathematically, you’re brilliant. If it weren’t for your research being top secret, you should get a Nobel Prize for it. Hell, if you manage to save the world and can ever publish a treatise on what you did, you probably will win the Nobel Prize.

“But you’re still a human being, Chris. A very lonely human being with sexual wants and needs like everyone else,” he concluded.

Whoa, what the fuck was an older guy like Professor Dawson doing talking to me about this shit?

Placing a hand on my shoulder, he continued, “You’re going to spend most of your life trying to convince yourself that you like girls… that you like women, when even now you know deep down inside of you that you’re a hundred times more attracted to guys. In spite of your feelings, you’ll go out with dozens of women in college, and eventually get a steady live-in girlfriend in graduate school.”

He continued squeezing my shoulder, and with what he was talking about, I couldn’t help myself — I was hard, and he could see it. Continuing, he said, “Finally one day, a very handsome fellow graduate student will catch your eye and you’ll go out to a movie with him, and then you’ll go home to his apartment afterwards and find out what sex with a guy is like, and you’ll discover what you’ve been missing over the years. But when you return home, your girlfriend will have some news of her own for you… she’ll tell you she’s pregnant.”

When Dawson told me that, my eyes flew open wide and I practically sat up on the sofa, but he placed his hand on my chest and used it to push me back down. “In the end, Chris, your children will be the joy of your life, and you’ll come to love your girlfriend… your wife… but the marriage won’t last in the long run… and you’ll wind up being a bitter middle-age gay man like me.”

“Why are you telling me this?” I asked Professor Dawson.

“So you’ll know you have a choice, Chris. I think you can have your cake and eat it, too. Your future wife’s name is Jen… you’ll know when you meet her… she can still give you your children, but there’s no need to deny yourself what you crave now, and there’s no need to stick with a marriage that’s a sham.

“There’s a kid who lives out in Mehlville named Frank Sanford. He’s your age, and he used to be one of my protégés. Unfortunately, his parents found out he’s gay, and they didn’t think it was wise for him to attend our Saturday sessions, being in a nearly all-male environment like that, as if they could change him,” Dawson said with a laugh.

“The two of you have a lot in common, Chris. I think you’d really hit it off. I think you’d make good boyfriends. Needless to say, you’d need to keep your relationship close to your chest, but your life would be so much better with a boyfriend in it. You’d be so much happier. If you’d like, I could give you his phone number, but the rest of it is up to you.”

This was the very thing I’d been trying to avoid for the past five years. I got off thinking of boys. That meant I had to be gay, and somehow Dawson had found out. But he said he’s gay, too, and what he said about having my cake and eating it too made a lot of sense. Maybe I could be bi-sexual, I think it’s called. Maybe I could have sex with both boys and girls.

Did I really want to have an actual boyfriend, however? The thought of it made me hard, and Dawson, noticed, and he smiled. Was I brave enough to have a boyfriend? What would my parents think? Did I really care? Did they even have to know?

Knowing I was making a fateful decision, I said, “Sure, I’ll take his number,” and Dawson’s face lit up like a Christmas tree.

During the drive to school, my head was in a fog. My mind was simply preoccupied and I didn’t even notice the red light as I entered the intersection at Big Bend Boulevard and Ethel Avenue — a very busy intersection. My car was hit broadside from the passenger side and even though I’d probably have a nasty case of whiplash, I seemed to be OK. The car was totaled, however, and I wondered to myself how this change in the timeline would affect the future.

<<<<<<<<·>>>>>>>>

May 1990 • Chris-24

“So as you can see,” I said in conclusion, “there is strong evidence for the existence of temporal quantum fluctuations that mirror the spatial ones that are already known to exist. If these can be shown to correspond to quantum particles that travel along the time axis, much as we know there are quantum particles that travel along the spatial axes, we may have a means of communicating back in time.

“Thank you.”

“A very intriguing possibility indeed,” my major professor summarized as I brought up the house lights at then end of my general thesis presentation. “And with that, we’ll now open the auditorium to questions from the audience.”

A young woman stood and moved to one of the microphones on the floor of the auditorium and asked the question — a rather obvious one and one I’d been expecting, “Are you suggesting, Dr. Michaels, that we might be able to convert a person to quantum particles, send them back in time, and then reassemble them back into a human being, effectively using this strategy to build a time machine?”

Smiling, I answered, “As nice as that scenario would seem, there’s a number of problems with it, just as there are problems with building a space ship or a transporter using the quantum variation equivalent in the spatial domain. Let me start with the spatial domain first, because I think it’s easier to visualize things in the here and now.

“Recall that with faster-than-light travel, you start with a quantum event that generates particles that travel in opposite directions at the speed of light. When you identify one of these particles, you immediately know the state of it’s mate, wherever it is, so you have effectively determined information on a particle that may be light-years away. Although the information on that particle was learned instantly across all that distance, it still took all those years of travel at the speed of light for the particles to get that far apart.

“Making matters worse, these particles are few and far between. Even if you could find enough of them to gather up and deduce the state of affairs on a planet orbiting about Alpha Centauri in the here and now, you still couldn’t get there any faster than the speed of light. More likely, you’d have to generate a stream of particles to create a data stream with enough bandwidth to form a communication bridge, and you’d have to wait 4½ years for it to reach Alpha Centauri in the first instance.

“Now if we ever did find a way to invent a ‘transporter’ the likes of what they have in the popular Star Trek television saga, you’d have to deal with all of the issues of converting matter to data… enormous quantities of data, and then reassembling all of that data back into matter on the other end. And of course there’s the question of what to do with the original body when you’re through.

“All of these issues apply to space travel, and they would apply equally to time travel. At this point, we aren’t talking about physically sending a person back in time. That’s way beyond anything we’re capable of. That’s like talking about building a space ship when I’ve just discovered fire and conceived of how to send smoke signals.”

The next person to step up to one of the microphones was a distinguished-looking gentleman with a thick, Russian-sounding accent. “Dr. Michaels, these quantum temporal variations. Did you consider the possibility that they might have been the result of variations in the flux of the earth’s magnetic field as it rotates in relation to the sun and the moon?”

‘Where did that question come from,’ I thought to myself. “No, sir, I did not.”

“Well, are you aware of the paper by Sergei, Chekov and Polanski, dated 1979 and published in the Russian Academy of Sciences, that looked at just this problem. They did exhaustive work and demonstrated that the interplay of the earth’s magnetic field and the solar wind, influenced by the gravimetric pull of the moon is sufficient to alter the quantum states of these particles as you’ve so noted.

“You do not need to postulate something so bizarre as temporal variations and the generation of paired quantum states that spread out in time. Everything is entirely explained by the interaction of ordinary quantum mechanics and Newtonian solar mechanics. It is very simple. I have brought copies of the paper. I am sorry, it was only just recently translated to English, but I think you will see the analysis is completely sound.”

My heart sank as the gentleman brought copies of the manuscript to the front of the room. I would continue with my defense, but the outcome was a foregone conclusion. With such new ‘evidence’ presented in such a formal way, there was no way they could allow me to proceed with my dissertation. The members of the committee would need time to read the Russian manuscript to ascertain whether or not it had merit. Whether it did or didn’t have merit, I’d need to include the paper in the background section of my thesis and either debunk it, or if it did have merit, find a way to take its findings into account. In the worst-case scenario, I’d have to revise or even find a completely different approach to my research project before I could complete my PhD. My dissertation would be delayed at minimum a month and quite possibly six months to a year. I might even have to give up my post-doc in Rankin’s lab.

The crazy thing was that we knew my theories on temporal quantum variations were valid. We had the ultimate proof in TTT, but couldn’t use any of it in my dissertation.

That it was a Russian guy who had come forward at my thesis defense was not lost on me. From everything I’d gathered from my conversations with Chris-31, this shouldn’t be happening. Since we’d brought Dawson to California, things had been happening, and sending him back to St. Louis had only partially restored the timeline. There were still occasional ripples, and this was a big one. I couldn’t help but wonder if TTT had fallen into the wrong hands.

<<<<<<<<·>>>>>>>>

As Marion Dawson stepped off the airplane, he was greeted warmly by the smiling KGB agent. “Welcome to Moscow, comrade,” the agent said as he firmly shook Dawson’s hand.

“I never thought I would betray my country,” Dawson said, matter-of-factly.

“You didn’t betray them, professor,” the agent said as he guided his prize through customs and immigration. “They betrayed you. Your lover was so cruelly taken from you nearly thirty years ago, at the very beginning of the Vietnam War… a war without purpose… an unjust war, and yet your country did nothing to get him back.

“We can offer you a new start with David. The truth is, America will make an utter mess of the future. They will say they won the Cold War, but all they succeeded in doing was to break the back of the Soviet people. Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia and the GDR have all left the Warsaw Pact, Germany will reunite, and the West will push the borders of NATO, right up to our doorstep. Soon the Soviet Union itself will crumble.

“America will say the world is better off without the USSR. They’ll say the world is better off under American hegemony, with only one superpower. And yet in the coming decade, they’ll make enemies of the Islamic nations, lead the Chinese astray, nearly bankrupting them in the process, and lead the world toward the edge of the cliff of global warming.

“The Soviet Union can do so much better for the world. We’ve made our mistakes in the past, but with the benefit of TTT, we can learn from the mistakes America made in its past and its future and the mistakes we made in ours, and build a command economy that actually works. You’ll be a part of that future, comrade.”

The two men continued to work their way through queue after endless queue as document after document was signed, stamped and processed. Finally, they made their way to a waiting limo outside.

The KGB agent opened the door, and waiting inside and watching TV was a boy who looked to be about twelve or thirteen. When the boy saw the professor, his whole face lit up.

“Professor Dawson,” the agent began, “I have the pleasure of introducing Sasha. He’ll be your houseboy in your new dacha for as long as you want him there, and of course we can get you another when you wish. Sasha speaks fairly good English and he will help you to work on your Russian. He’ll cook and clean for you, and keep you warm at night.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Sasha,” Professor Dawson said as he slid in next to the boy.

“I’m really delighted to meet you, Professor Dawson,” Sasha said in return.

Turning back to the KGB agent, Professor Dawson said, “With all due respect, I think you got it wrong. Yes, there were allegations of things I did with boys in the past, and my government did try to frame me for international trafficking in child pornography, but those allegations were entirely false. I’ve dedicated my life to helping boys to be all they can be… not to doing them harm. I would never harm a child. I would never force a boy to have sex with me.

“I’m gay, comrade, not a pedophile or a pederast. The only one I want is my David. He was the love of my life.”

“Perhaps our information was wrong,” the agent admitted, “but you like to be around teenage boys nonetheless, don’t you?”

“I take great pleasure from watching them grow, but I cannot and would not enter into a sexual relationship with a boy. There has been no one else since I lost David, and as you know all too well, I’d do anything to get him back.”

“We’re counting on that,” said the KGB agent as he smiled, “and for your role in our work, you’ll be rewarded very handsomely indeed, and by the time we’re done, we’ll have a monopoly on TTT.”

“I’m a bit concerned about that,” Dawson interrupted. “There’s an inherent paradox in modifying the future, since the very technology we’re using came from Christopher Michaels’ work in 2008. If you alter the course of his work and prevent him from developing the technology in the first place, a paradox will result in which we may never become aware of the technology in the first place.”

“Already taken care of,” the agent stated emphatically. “We’ve made sure that our own scientists have the right background and direction to discover the technology in the here and now, today in 1990. That way, we don’t need to wait for Michaels to discover it in 2008 and send the knowledge back into the past. If we invent it first, we won’t need the Americans. We’ll then be free to eradicate their history of TTT development without fear of how it might affect our efforts. In fact, we’re already working on doing just that.”

“It’s still a pretty risky proposition,” said the professor stated in some alarm.

“Nonsense,” the agent countered. “You leave the espionage aspects to us, and concentrate on the science of TTT, and on enjoying the companionship of the little beauty sitting next to you.”

END OF BOOK ONE

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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