Conversations With Myself

A Novel by Altimexis

The Whispers of Time
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Book Three • Chapter 11 — Detonation

May 1984 • Chris-18

“What’s up next?” I asked Chad as I slipped a fresh blank tape into the VCR.

“Devil in the Dark,” Chad replied as he looked up from the program guide.

“That’s the one where the they go to rescue a mining colony that’s under attack by a silicon-based monster, right?” I asked.

“Yeah, it’s one of my favorite episodes,” Chad answered.

“Mine too,” I agreed. “It turned out the spheres of silicon the miners were destroying were the creatures eggs. Stupid miners.”

“Humans are always stupid in science fiction,” Chad commented. “I think it’s a law or something,” he added with a laugh.

It was the week before Memorial Day and Chad had the week off to prepare for his finals. He was more than ready, however, and studying was the last thing on his mind. His term papers were done and unless he royally fucked up, he was on track to maintain his perfect 4.0 GPA. Since I’d already finished my coursework for the year, Chad and I decided to spend the week together.

It was almost eight o’clock on Tuesday, May 22, day three of the great Star Trek marathon. One of the local stations was showing all eighty episodes over the course of a week. Starting on Sunday at 8:00 AM, they were running twelve episodes a day. Breaking an hour for the news at noon and at six, they were finishing up each day at ten, leaving ten hours for sleep and other, ah, personal activities. The final eight hours would run all afternoon and evening on Saturday, leaving the morning for the usual cartoons. It was the perfect way for a couple of gay SCI-FI geeks to spend the week.

After ensuring that the VCR was set to the right channel, I retreated to the family room sofa and snuggled up with my boyfriend. Grabbing the remote, I turned the TV to the VCR channel, so I could make sure the VCR was recording properly. It was my intent to record the entire Star Trek series on VCR tapes using the high setting, saving two episodes on each tape. Even bought in bulk packs of six tapes each, recording the whole series was costing me over a hundred dollars, but it would be worth it in the end. The tapes would last me forever, and the image quality would be pristine.

When eight o’clock rolled around, I hit record on the VCR remote and settled back to enjoy the show with my baby. We never wore pajamas to bed anymore, preferring to wear our tighty-whities. Since both my parents were at work for the day, we saw no reason to get dressed and so we snuggled up together, skin to skin. It would have been rather romantic if it hadn’t been for our shared passion for science fiction. Instead we found ourselves engrossed in the action on the tube, but that was fine. Watching Star Trek together was way better than just making out. Besides which, there were lots of commercials!

Before things got started, however, ’cause we’d just gotten up, I made some of that coffee Professor Dawson got me hooked on, and I set out some boxes of cereal, a pitcher of milk and some bowls and spoons. Once the program started, Chad grabbed a box of Cap’n Crunch and I grabbed the Fruit Loops — how appropriate. Pouring myself a full steaming mug of coffee, I added a little milk and sugar and started to drink it.

“I can’t believe you actually drink that vile stuff,” Chad commented as he wrinkled his nose. It was so cute to watch him do that, but I had to set the record straight.

“This isn’t your parents’ coffee,” I countered. “This is Starbucks, and it’s really good,” I said as I handed him my mug. We’d swapped plenty of spit, so there was no reason we couldn’t share.

Taking the mug from me with evident trepidation, he responded, “I didn’t know you could make Starbucks at home. I’ve never tried it before, ’cause I just don’t like coffee.”

When I just kept looking at him expectantly at him, nodding my head encouragingly, he finally took a sip, and then he smiled and took a much larger sip. “Wow! This is really good! A bit strong, but the flavor’s so rich. Kinda like chocolate, only better. I could really get used to this.”

“Told ya,” I replied. “It ain’t Folger’s.”

“That’s for fuckin’ sure,” he agreed. When Chad just kept on sipping away on my coffee, I chuckled and poured myself a fresh mug.

Looking at the tube, Chad began chanting, “Here come the monster… Here come the monster…” and quickly, I joined in, “Here come the monster… Here come the monster…”

“Chris,” Chad began, “do you think that maybe there could be life based on silicon?”

“I don’t doubt that there could be life based on anything,” I replied, “but not intelligent life. All you need for life by definition is a self-replicating process. Although you have to be careful with that definition. The lipid bi-layers that make up cell membranes are capable of self-replication in their own right, but that doesn’t make them alive. They can make more membranes, but they can’t reproduce.

“But I see no reason that a silicon-based life form couldn’t exist,” I went on, “It’s just that the options for evolution would be limited. Carbon is just so much more versatile and there are so many more combinations of molecules. The odds are already stacked against the formation of intelligent life… it took billions of years to evolve on Earth, after all… so it’s hard to imagine getting as far with silicon, within the lifetime of a star.”

“But silicon can form semiconductors!” Chad pointed out. “Imagine a life form with a brain like a computer!”

Laughing, I countered, “It’s one thing to imagine silicon compounds coming together to form chains of molecules that then become organized into a form that self-replicates, like our DNA. The human brain uses electrochemical reactions, which are a natural extension of organic chemistry.

“There’s no process we know of in which semiconductors can replicate. Certainly not a natural one. I can’t imagine the complex design of even a basic transistor coming into existence spontaneously, let alone an integrated circuit. On the other hand, intelligent organics like ourselves are plenty adept at designing and fabricating semiconductor-based intelligence. Asimov predicted that one day we’ll become cyborgs… that we’ll augment our brains with computer implants. Actually, I think the odds of that happening are far better than not.”

“I agree with you,” Chad responded, “but I think it’s even more likely we’ll replace ourselves with completely artificial intelligence. Whether we do so intentionally or not is open to question, however. Actually, I think it almost inevitable we will invent artificial sentient beings that will overthrow us and wipe us out of existence.”

“It makes for great science fiction, but no matter how advanced we learn to make artificial intelligence, pursuing neural networks and fuzzy logic or whatever, I think artificial intelligence designed by humans will still lack spontaneity. Oh, we could design a doomsday machine… we’ll see an episode of Star Trek dealing with that later in the week… but in order to be deposed by our own A.I., we’d have to program it in such a way that it would conclude that we’re a threat to it. There’d be no intelligent reason for it to get rid of us unless it perceives us as a threat. Possible, but not likely…

“Have you read Arthur C. Clark’s Space Odyssey? Not just seen the movie, but read the book, that is.”

Looking at me like I was crazy for even suggesting he hadn’t, I went on, “As you may remember, the beings that built the monolith and effectively created us, started out as corporeal beings, much like ourselves. Eventually, they learned to build thinking machines, not with the purpose of replacing themselves, but as a better vessel for their intelligence, and so they downloaded their consciousness into their new machines. Rather than traveling in space ships, they were the space ships. It didn’t stop there. They eventually learned how to alter the nature of space and time itself, and how to inject their intelligence into the substance of space and time. It was the machine versions of themselves that built the monolith and created us, but they’d long since moved on, leaving their machines to manage their creations, including us.”

“I’d forgotten about all that,” Chad acknowledged, “but now that you mention it, I clearly remember it. It’s all fascinating stuff. It's really fun to think about what forms life might take in the future… like watching Star Trek. Star Trek wasn’t perfect, but it was way ahead of it’s time.”

“For sure,” I agreed. “One thing’s certain, though,” I continued. “No machine or space-based being could be one tenth as sexy as you.”

“That has to be the cheesiest pick-up line ever,” Chad responded with a laugh, “but I appreciate the sentiment.”

That led to kissing, which led to making out. Soon the TV was temporarily forgotten and our briefs were discarded as we achieved numerical satisfaction.

By the time we got back to watching the series, it was almost time to insert another tape into the VCR, and so I got ready to do so. Next up was episode 27, The Alternative Factor, which frankly was one of the worst Star Trek episodes ever. In fact, it was so bad that it made for some great laughs as Chad and I picked it apart for its ridiculous concepts of matter and antimatter.

The last episode before the news break was as outstanding as the other had been bad. Episode 28, City on the Edge of Forever was one of the first and certainly the best alternate reality episodes of all time. The idea was simple — could one person have prevented World War II. In an alternate reality, one did. In saving the life of that one person when she would have otherwise been struck by a car, Bones inadvertently changed the course of history, allowing a pacifist movement to flourish at a time when American participation was essential to winning the war. Truthfully, it wasn’t all that realistic. America already was pacifist at the start of World War II, and it took Pearl Harbor to force our hand. When Germany declared war on us, we had no choice but to become involved in Europe too. No amount of additional pacifism could have prevented that. Even so, it was a great episode and thought provoking.

When the news came on, I went to make us some lunch, a wholesome meal of grilled cheese sandwiches on rye bread with potato chips and toasted onion dip. Good thing we didn’t mind sharing a little onion breath with each other.

“I know that time travel is theoretically impossible,” Chad began, “but if you could go back in time, I wonder what would happen. Would it even be possible to change the future like that?”

This was getting perilously close to TTT, but Chad didn’t know that and there was little harm in having some innocent conversation, strictly on science fiction, and so I answered, “It’s not that time travel is impossible, but there are insurmountable barriers to its application in space-time.”

“Yeah, that’s true,” Chad replied, “but that assumes you physically need to go back in time to change the past. The only barriers are to sending mass back in time, but what if you could send information back in time. Information has no mass, and so there should be no barriers. All you would need are tachyons. If you could find particles that travel faster than the speed of light, you could use them to send information back into the past. Of course you’d need a way to know that information was there, back in the past. Otherwise you couldn’t retrieve it.”

This was no longer perilously close to TTT and theoretical. This was TTT and I needed to find a way to nip the discussion in the bud without making it obvious. The last thing I needed was to let something slip that might encourage someone else to pursue TTT on their own.

“I think you hit the nail on the head, Chad, when you spoke of not knowing the information was there. For example, let’s say you built a machine today to record everything that happens in the world and to store it safely in a time capsule, ready to be retrieved from the future when something really bad happens. You know… something terrible… and maybe you could stop it if you knew what led up to it or something. But unless the machine had some way to send back a warning from the future, you’d have no way to know that a catastrophe was about to happen or that information was coming your way from the future that could help you prevent it.

“Did you ever watch Logan’s Run? The TV series, not the movie,” I asked.

“Of course,” Chad replied. “The movie was OK, but the TV series was great.”

“Well there was an episode that involved exactly this kind of scenario, except that a scientist did have to travel into the future to retrieve the information to return it to the past. But that’s beside the point,” I explained.

“The gist of the episode was that it was time travel itself that led to Armageddon. Time travel was the ultimate weapon and people were willing to go to war to make sure that they had it and their enemies did not. It was the very development of this technology that resulted in global thermonuclear war and the end of civilization.”

“Then I guess we’d better leave the development of a time machine alone,” Chad replied. “Even if sending information back in time were possible, which it may well be, it wouldn’t be wise.”

How right he was about that! Unfortunately, I would receive a reminder of just how right later that week, the next time I contacted Chris-13.


May 1998 • Chris-32

“He wants to do what?” I asked my younger counterpart, incredulous that Dawson would even suggest such a thing.

“He wants to warn the Secret Service of Kennedy’s assassination,” Chris-25 confirmed.

“Doesn’t he recognize the insanity of that?” I asked. “Sure, everyone likes to think he would have ended the war. I’ve certainly wondered. We had friends who lost their brothers over there. We went to school with vets on the GI bill. What would have happened to them if they never were drafted? What if instead of ending the war, preventing the assassination actually prolonged the war. Fuck, we might’ve been drafted.”

“Not likely,” Chris-25 countered, “but Kyle might have. As it was, he had to register for the draft… remember that?”

“Pretty hard to forget,” I agreed. Kyle was our older brother by nearly a decade. “His lottery number was only seventeen. It really freaked him out, even though the draft had ended a few years before.”

“Would there have been a Johnson presidency? Would there have been a Great Society? Would there have been a Nixon White House? Would there have been a Watergate? Would the world be better off or worse off now? If Vietnam had ended earlier, or later, might that have been enough to derail OTT? Would the resulting paradox cause the end of the world?” Chris-25 asked

“There are too many ‘what ifs’,” I concluded.

“I’ve been told that Chris-13 has argued with Dawson ’til they’re both blue in the face,” Chris-25 went on. “I can’t exactly talk to him under the circumstances, but Chris-18 has tried talking to Dawson in his time period too, only to have the older Dawson reinforcing the Dawson of 1979. The only thing stopping him has been Chris-13’s refusal to help him, but Dawson has been threatening to get another student to help, even at the risk of exposing someone else to TTT.”

“Dawson sure seems hell-bent on rewriting history, no matter the costs,” I commented. “He may be eccentric and a bit reckless, but I’ve never known him to be irresponsible. It doesn’t make sense.”

“Do you think maybe he knows something we don’t?” Chris-25 asked.

“You mean like maybe he’s been contacted by his future self, from inside Russia?” I asked, astonished that Chris-25 would think such a thing.

“Why the Hell not?” Chris-25 countered. “He’d certainly have access to the technology…”

“Would he?” I challenged. “I would think the Russians wouldn’t let him anywhere near functional TTT. Not unless he were supervised and on a tight leash. The only way they’d let him actually use TTT would be if they wanted him to.”


“Wait… you mean the Russians may be using the Marion Dawson they have… the one they abducted or who defected… to communicate with his past self in the U.S. and talk him into doing their bidding?” I asked. “But that’s absurd! Surely the Russians must know that TTT involves the transfer of more than just words. In TTT the brain waves of past and present self become synchronized. Past and present become as one. It’s impossible to deceive using TTT. If the Marion Dawson in Russia is being coerced in any way, the Marion Dawson in America will know about it. He’ll know the truth!”

“But what truth will that be?” my younger counterpart asked. “Will it be the truth that the Russians have brainwashed their Marion Dawson to believe after years in isolation, or will it be the truth of a Marion Dawson who would take advantage of an opportunity afforded by the Russians to contact his younger self?”

When I showed nothing but confusion, Chris-25 explained, “I guess what I’m suggesting, in the event that the Russian Dawson did contact the American Dawson using TTT, is that, there are two possibilities.”

“In the first, Marion Dawson was abducted by the Russians, but he remained true to himself. The Russians forced him to yield TTT to them, perhaps using his lover as bait, or perhaps through actual torture, but Dawson would do anything to fix a past he has created. In that scenario, he would do anything necessary to gain access to TTT, even offering to do the Russians’ bidding to throw America off track, but then he’d do just the opposite once he made contact with his younger American self. The Russians would have no way of knowing what he’d done until the changes wrought in the past came to fruition. I’d like to think that’s what might have happened, but it’s hard to fathom how preventing the Kennedy assassination could make things better for the U.S. in spite of first impressions. It could mess things up for the Russians even more, however, which is why I think this scenario must be considered.

“The second scenario is that the Russians have brainwashed their Marion Dawson and he will not only do, but think whatever they tell him to. In that scenario, if his handlers tell him that preventing the Kennedy assassination would make the world a much better, safer place, he would believe them and do everything necessary to make it come about.

“The biggest problem with the second scenario, as I see it, is that I cannot fathom why in fuck the Russians would want to save Kennedy’s ass. True, Oswald had his connections to Russia and many conspiracy advocates thought Kennedy was assassinated in retaliation for his handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis, among other things, but preventing the assassination by having Dawson give the Feds an anonymous tip could only work against them. Oswald would have been discovered and his Russian connection would still have been there. Jack Ruby might not have succeeded in killing Oswald and Oswald might have ultimately talked. That in itself could have led to war… nuclear war. Maybe not, but the Cold War could have escalated into something much, much worse.

“No, the Russians had every reason to let America dig itself in, in Vietnam. The waste of our resources, the social unrest and the loss of faith of the American people in their government only served their interests. Why throw all of that away while taking a chance on a much worse outcome?”

“Those are good thoughts,” I admitted, “and your arguments as to why the Russians would not have wanted to disrupt the Kennedy assassination suggest a very plausible reason for Dawson to have considered trying this gamble on his own. Of course, he may have decided on this course of action without any contact from his Russian counterpart whatsoever. Still, I think Dawson’s smart enough to recognize the peril involved in changing the past so dramatically, and I doubt he would attempt it without considering the alternatives. Just because his Russian counterpart told him to do it doesn’t mean he’d jump off a cliff and take the world with him.”

“Which is why I think he may well have been contacted by his Russian counterpart,” Chris-25 argued. “Regardless of which scenario it is, the important thing is that Russian Dawson believes what he’s communicated to American Dawson to be the truth. Perhaps Russian Dawson knows something about what the Russians are trying to use TTT to do, and he sees taking such a dramatic step as the only way to disrupt it. Or perhaps the Russians have managed to convince their Dawson of much the same thing for their own reasons. Either way, American Dawson is convinced he’ll undo a much worse evil, getting his David back in the process.”

“I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that what you say makes sense,” I admitted. “You’re me, after all,” I added with a chuckle. “Still, I can’t fathom why the Russians would want Dawson to prevent the assassination if that is, in fact, the case.”

“I’ve been wracking my brain over that one too,” Chris-25 answered. “After all, if Oswald was a Russian agent, it should be pretty easy for them to go back and recall him, avoiding generating an international incident or even the hint of one. My best guess is that Oswald really wasn’t working for the Russians, or he was a rogue agent. Either way, they had no control over him and getting to him was beyond their reach.”

“Jack Ruby got to Oswald,” I pointed out.

“True… I guess our parents even saw it on live TV, but I don’t have a better explanation…”

“I do,” I interrupted my younger self. “As things stand, we have TTT going all the way back to late 1961. They don’t. In fact, all indications are that they’ve been unsuccessful in implementing TTT in any time period before they obtained Marion Dawson. They were able to use it to prevent the breakup of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, and they were able to reverse some of the mistakes they made leading up to the fall of Communism. The market reforms they implemented in the early eighties had a miraculous effect on their economy, and their strategic withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1983 is what made it feasible to retake the Warsaw Pact by force.

“But if they have TTT, why haven’t they pushed back further into the past, implementing it in progressively earlier periods as we did? Yet there has been no evidence of Soviet meddling with time before the early eighties.”

“Perhaps they were able to achieve their objectives with only one TTT machine?” Chris-25 suggested.

“That notion goes against everything I’ve learned about politics,” I countered to my younger counterpart. “The temptation for the Russians to use TTT to establish their dream of world domination would have been too great to ignore. Just knowing that, with a few changes to the time line, they could have had a robust economy to rival our own, instead of it being China that would achieve that goal in the end. Knowing that China and Iran would ultimately seek to acquire TTT. No, Russia would have had to act; they would have done everything in their power to do what we did, pushing the technology back into the past.”

“Perhaps they couldn’t convince their younger counterparts in the 1970’s that TTT was real,” Chris-25 suggested. “After all, things were going pretty well for them back then. They didn’t have a robust economy, but they were still in a position where they thought their economic model would ultimately succeed. They had military might to counter our own, we had only recently gotten out of Vietnam and we were still in turmoil from it. Watergate had undermined the presidency. Ford and Carter weren’t instilling much confidence that we could lead, and the military build-up of the Reagan years…”

“Reagan!” Chris-25 suddenly exclaimed. “That’s the reason the Russians wanted to undo the Kennedy assassination. It wasn’t to end the Vietnam War. It wasn’t to save face. It wasn’t in an attempt to defuse the Cold War. They wanted to prevent Ronald Reagan from becoming president. They wanted to prevent a military build-up that the U.S. could afford and they couldn’t.”

“An interesting hypothesis indeed,” I agreed, “but pure conjecture.”

All of this is pure conjecture.”

“True,” I agreed with a laugh, “but it makes for interesting bedtime conversation.”

“That it does… conversation with ourselves. But Chris, I still don’t see why you’re so insistent that the Russians couldn’t have extended TTT into the past.”

“As I was stating before I was interrupted,” I went on, “the Russians had every reason to use TTT if they had TTT. The changes they’ve made so far do nothing to prevent China’s ascendancy as the most powerful economy in the world, nor do they address the growing risk of Islamic terrorism. In fact, their early withdrawal from Afghanistan has only speeded up the ascendancy of the Taliban…”

“The Taliban?”

“Trust me, you don’t want to know about the Taliban just yet,” I explained. “Suffice to say that Islamic fundamentalism and a rising culture of Islamic Jihad will be one of the gravest challenges we face in the future.

“But getting back to Russia’s use, or lack thereof, of TTT, I think that all indications are that if they succeeded in extending TTT back to the early eighties, we should have seen changes in history back in the mid-seventies by now. We haven’t.”

“As I think you were suggesting, maybe they just haven’t been able to get through to the leadership in the mid seventies,” Chris-25 commented. “Maybe they just couldn’t convince them that they were for real.”

“That seems likely,” I agreed, “which suggests that the Russians did, in fact extend TTT back to the early eighties, but that they haven’t been able to use it to reach the right people. It’s not that difficult to convince someone of the legitimacy of a contact from the future. All Chris-36 had to do was to tell me of what I’d wake up to the next morning… that Andy would be gleefully playing with his train set… the one from which I’d removed the power cord, and that Andy had managed to order thousands of dollars’ worth of components for his train set over the Internet without our knowledge.”

“The idea of buying and selling over the Internet boggles my mind. You’ve mentioned it a number of times, perhaps without intending to, but in my day, the Internet is little more than a toy. It’s a defense-funded, university-based network with limited utility. And Andy did all that? The little stinker!”

“He’s a genius, Chris. He never ceases to amaze me, and I hear much the same from Chris-38, all the time,” I related.

“I can’t wait,” Chris-25 noted, and then he went on, “Now in my case, you convinced me of your authenticity by telling me exactly what Rankin would say in my interview the next day. That was more than enough to convince me. Yeah, I see your point. There’s always something from the future that can be used to authenticate TTT to the novice participant.”

Then getting a thoughtful look — yes, I could tell through our shared thoughts — Chris-25’s whole demeanor changed as he went on. “There is another possibility... a reason why the Russians haven’t been able to extend TTT further into the past.

“Marion Dawson has been unable to contact himself before late 1961. You mentioned this briefly in passing a few minutes ago, but he hit a brick wall when attempting to go back any further. We surmised that it was as a result of exposure to echoes of Tsar Bomba, the vast nuclear test that apparently fried electronics all across Russia. Perhaps in Russia itself, the effects of Tsar Bomba were so profound that it disrupted the very existence of paired quantum states, well into the future…”

“Holy shit, you’re right!” I exclaimed. “Paired quantum states would have been disrupted for centuries to come near the bomb’s epicenter. The effect would have fallen off exponentially… actually, by the square of the inverse of the radius from the blast… just as in Coulomb’s Law… plus there’d be a reduction from the curvature of the earth but, still, the effect would have lasted for decades, even as far away as perhaps three thousand miles. A lot would depend on location of the epicenter, though. Most of their tests were conducted in the arctic or in the sparsely populated southern steppes.”

“I looked it up once,” my younger counterpart responded. I guess I’d forgotten. “Tsar Bomba was conducted over an arctic archipelago, at Sukhou Nos.”

“Where the fuck is that?” I asked.

“It’s in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago.”

“That sure tells me a lot, I joked.”

“It’s in the far north of Europe,” Chris-25 answered me, “about a thousand miles south of the North Pole and 1500 miles north-northwest of Moscow.”

“Boy, I don’t remember looking that up, but I’ll be sure to do so. If I’m not mistaken, the Earth’s curvature becomes the dominant factor beyond 3000 miles… that much I do remember… so the effect drops rapidly as one gets farther from the epicenter, but then becomes negligible beyond 3000 miles.”

So in eastern Siberia, TTT will be impossible for millennia, in Moscow it will not work for centuries to come, and in what, Southern Europe, it’ll be decades before it can be used, but in Northern Africa and the Middle East, it should work just fine?”

“Pretty much,” I agreed. “I’ll have to look at a good map, but I think that 3000 mile limit includes all of Europe except maybe southern Spain, all of the Soviet Union, half of the Middle East, most of Alaska, none of China and none of the continental U.S. Not sure about Japan. Japan may be OK, or maybe not.

“Fuck, the Russians shouldn’t have been able to develop TTT at all! There’s no way they could have used it to change history. No way in Hell.”

“Could you be wrong about that?” Chris-25 asked. “Could you be off on your calculations?”

“I’m pretty sure of them, even in my sleep,” I countered, “but I’ll verify everything when I wake up.”

“Wouldn’t the Russians have simply used an agent from outside the area affected by the nuclear blast?” Chris-25 asked.

“Assuming they even knew about the effect of Tsar Bomba on TTT, it would have been an uphill battle to convince the leadership back in Moscow of its legitimacy. If you tell yourself something about your future, you’re likely to believe it. If, on the other hand a stranger tells a fantastic tale of messages from the future, you’re likely to think the person is crazy, even if the messages turn out to be true. And the Communist leadership in the Soviet Union is paranoid, which makes them far more skeptical than you or I would be.

“One other thing too,” I continued. “Not only would the person making contact with their past need to be well outside the blast area at present, but if they were alive then, they would have had to have been thousands of miles away from the test site at the time of the blast.”

“But if the Russians didn’t use Dawson to develop TTT, what have they been using him for?”

“Fuck if I know,” I replied. “Of course I’m sure their intent originally was to use him to implement TTT. I can only wonder what they did to him when the technology didn’t work. They probably thought he’d deliberately misled them. Or perhaps that’s actually what he did. One of the best ways to have kept TTT away from the Russians would have been to give it to them and have it fail.”

“Fuck, fuck, fuck! They must have tortured the poor guy,” Chris-25 responded as realization dawned on him. “But the Chinese, the Iranians, and who knows who besides should have no trouble at all implementing TTT.”

“Tehran is close enough to the bomb’s epicenter to have problems, but Iran is vast, and they have allies well outside their own territory. Russia does too, but they’re much more problematic, particularly with the changing political landscape over the years. China should have no problems implementing TTT, once they get their hands on the technology, that is.”

“Russia would go to war over this…”

“It’s a distinct possibility,” I agreed.

“But Chris, If the Russians didn’t use TTT to change history, how’d they do it?”

“The good old fashioned way,” I surmised. “By spying.” I shuddered as the implications of that statement dawned on me. “That means they must have a spy at Livermore… someone who’s close enough to TTT to be privy to all the changes we’ve documented in time.”

“Fuck, that’s only a handful of people… or it could be the White House,” Chris-25 added.

“Yikes, I hadn’t thought of that. Yes, the White House has always been notorious for leaks, and they’ve had access to our work all along. But most White House leaks in the past have been intentional. Leaks of sensitive information have been political. I’m not aware of any instances of the White House leaking military technology or strategy.”

“Yeah, I know,” Chris-25 agreed. “That was just wishful thinking on my part.”

“Chris, from now on, we have to treat everyone at Livermore as a potential spy… including Jack… and of course Professor Dawson.”


November 1979 • Chris-13

Professor Dawson a spy. I was having trouble wrapping my brain around it when the professor himself entered the room and sat down next to me. I hadn’t known him long, but everything I knew about him made me think it would be impossible for Marion Dawson to be a Soviet spy. Chris-18 did say that he might not yet be a spy in my day, but we knew he would defect to the Russians in 1990, and he was the most logical person to have been passing them knowledge of the future all along. Everything I knew about him, however, screamed that this could not be. There had to be a mistake.

The professor clearly was excited and I soon found out why. “I contacted myself in 1972 last night,” Professor Dawson began. “He’s been in contact our counterpart in 1965, who’s been working on our counterpart in 1963. Finally. Finally it looks like we’ve gotten through to him. He’s finally on board for preventing the Kennedy assassination. Isn’t that great?” the professor asked. “I’m going to get my David back!”

My heart sank as I realized my worst fears were about to be realized. We’d already made a major change to the timeline in preventing a terrorist attack on the United States that many considered to have been another Pearl Harbor. Even though the attack occurred in 2001, the change that resulted sent ripples through time that had effects, even in my day, more than twenty years earlier. I could only imagine the extent to which history was altered after the event. Now, thanks to the effect of being blinded by love, Marion Dawson was about to make a mistake of similar magnitude, with perhaps even more devastating consequences. I suspected that with this change to the timeline, time couldn’t recover from the rift created in the very fabric of space and time. This time it seemed likely the discontinuities in the timeline would coalesce into a singularity — singularity that would consume all of us, past, present and future.

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.