Time’s Inverted Places
A science-fiction story about teleportation to another world and the many loops of time
The man stepped outside the teleportation device. He was a curious explorer, taking a chance at a new Promethean fire: the Q-port. This place was his new land and he was its Magellan. Humanity had sent him because this was their last hope. The world was sick and he had to find help. This could be a way to save humanity; he thinks, a gateway across the stars to a new home for everyone.
The Q-port was a sizeable half-dome machine, composed of superconducting coils, Casimir plates, coherent laser interferometers, and a Bohm-von Neumann PWQ-correlator. He was neither the first nor last to use the Q-port, but this trip was a beacon of hope for a dying world. The man, however, felt a stranger to himself; his mind was both distant and foggy. He was a scream unheard — another tree tumbling in an unobservable forest.
But where was he? And who was he? He needed to answer these questions before he would light the cigar or sing those songs of victory.
He did not see a second copy of himself, as was expected. Was it possible it was still back in his world? If so, was he indeed himself or the copy? The identity-paradox was too much right now. And he kept wondering if the theories were wrong and if it were possible, without unified quantum gravity, if teleporting a macroscopic object held to different rules. Whatever had happened, nobody could have foreseen this, he thinks.
The chalkboards of thought and theory stood now in the shadows of the obsolete.
The first thing he noticed was that the world wasn’t precisely … right. For it was inverted, a mirroring asymmetry of the one he left. So when he stepped outside the door of the Qport, expecting to feel the solid piezoelectric ground, he instead felt only air as he fell.
His stomach lurched as gravity pulled, causing his heart to palpitate as the strands of sanity loosened. He closed his eyes, praying it was all a dream. Falling, wailing, grasping at nothing.
In the darkness, he danced upon the edge of the impossible. He screamed until his larynx cracked. Was this how he died? Did the device fling people into a realm of nothingness to fall forever?
The answers were too dreadful to bear.
“Help me!” He croaked. Endless darkness consumed all sound. Then it was over. Light and physicality had returned. A juxtaposition of symmetry now set right, as he opened his eyes.
He was in a room.
The room contained bright ivory walls that seem to be in a constant movement of some odd liquid crystal material, an ephemeral dance of amorphous structures. It reminded the man of a heat haze mirage along a highway on a summer day. Within the walls, machines moaned and creaked, calling out some alien feeling. It looked like some sort of spaceship. This room and place isn’t an organic world, he thinks. What nightmarish dreamscape had he traveled to? What was this…
“Hello, traveler,” A voice said, which the man thought, sounded oddly familiar. He turned to see three people. One of them was himself.
“Where am I?” He asked.
His twin smiled back at him. “Your device sent you quite far,” he said.
“How far exactly?”
“Can you place a number on something so infinitely finite? For this… is the place of opposites, you see. It’s all relative, in the end, I guess.”
“What do you mean? How do I get back? I want to get back to my family. I shouldn’t have come,” He asks.
All three of the so-called humans laughed in unison. A part of him knew what the answer would be to his question; that some doors, once opened, would remain closed forever.
He clenched his fist tightly as he stared at this twin of his. Could it be a ruse? A trick of some sort? Or maybe a dream? What if the device failed and left him with brain damage? So many possibilities, each one with a lower probability than the last.
“You’ve sent a lot of things to this place without our… permission,” his other spoke, walking around the man now, scratching his chin. “And why do you think there is any going back? Or a place to go back to? Why is that you think the universe can allow us both to exist in the same place at once.”
The man’s face contorted. “Err — Is this… a…umm…a parallel world?”
The three men looked at each other. His twin turned around to the back wall and spoke. “Show him.”
The walls, those waving solid metamorphs, changed from translucent to transparent to the vastness of space. The man saw the Milky Way and Andromeda and so much more. There the man saw a trillion worlds colliding, looped and connected by the immense energy and dark matter of existents, chains of black holes to others, across countless times. A thousand wonderments and dreams were fusing as unified reflections. But in each, he saw a twin — a unification of negative and positive, light and dark, malevolent and benevolent. But before he could comprehend its infinities upon infinities, the vision was gone. Nothing more now than a fading ghostly nightmare to be forgotten.
The room, with his three judging faces, returned.
“As you see, what you created was a one-way trip. And you don’t belong here. This room is a safety net from you interacting with our world. This place is our feeding room. It was made of exotic matter to contain us, To make sure we don’t destroy…”
“A feeding what?” He interrupted.
But before he could finish, part of the floor opened up as if some trapped door was there, and a creature of sort ebbed through it, filling the bottom of the floor of the room. Without viscosity, it climbed the walls and slithered within the air, as if gravity had no power over it.
“What the…” the man said, feeling his hands tremble as he backed up as far he could go. “What is that… thing!?”
“It is that which makes sure the universes are balanced. Our worlds are twins, one positive, one negative. They cannot touch. For if they do, worlds could be destroyed. And that thing is the great conserved and protector. Our Amarok.”
“What is this place? Why do you look like me? Why are you doing this!?”
They all smiled as the creature filled the room with its maniacal tentacles.
The man knew he was out of time. He thought of the world he left, their suffering. He couldn’t just stand here and die. He couldn’t give up.
“Every timeline has a twin. Every world is a mirror. Every mirror has a face that smiles back. This is your anti-world. Beyond this room is…”
But before they could finish, the man bum-rushed his twin, screaming as he rocketed forward.
“I will not die here! Our world is depending on me!”
“Nooo! You can’t touch…” the other’s exclaimed, but not quick enough to stop the desperate man. Nor was the creature with its tentacles fast enough. It caught a piece of the man’s shoulder and left arm, turning into a mist of blood, but that was it. They were all too late. And ignoring their pleas, void of reason or logic, the man reached his right arm out, grabbing the arm of his twin.
“You fool…” his twin tried to speak, but before his twin could finish, pain and light twisted within every atom of his being.
The man could feel the fission and fusion of pressure and ripping that held no words or descriptions. Before him, the room shattered as if hit by a giant asteroid. A supernova of light enwrapped them in protostar wings and Bok globules of vermillion emerald bursts. Sapphire galaxies and blue stars were born and buried within the decaying of moments. Within the infinite emerged, the finite and within the limited, secrets came and went — a final scream of unblemished endings.
In it, the man saw his children and husband. He saw a once ailing world healed. Maybe it wasn’t this journey, but it was the start of something, a key of some sort. Before he could finish his thought, a world opened like moth wings in the light. In it, he saw his father pointing his hand to the night sky as they were searching for a constellation hidden among the dark sky. He was back in the past, staring at his six-year-old self again.
“Which one is that, my son?” His father asked. They sat on a blanket underneath a July night sky, their telescope seated next to them, their tent and campsite off in the distance.
“Virgo!” He exclaimed.
“Good…good. How about that one?”
“You got it again.”
“Yes, my boy.”
“How many stars are there?”
His father sat silent for a second before responding. “Enough for every hope and dream, my son.”
“Is space infinite?” He asked.
“Like one’s heart and mind.”
“Are we alone, or are there others out there like us?”
“Well, I would think it would be a lot of wasted space if we were alone. Maybe out there in the infinite is our twin world. What do you think?”
“Yeah. That would be the best. Someday I will find those others. And maybe they can help us.”
“I hope you’re right, my boy, I hope you’re right.”
And with that, they continued their conversations about the stars and life and the future. They continued their search as he continued his questions, savoring in those moments shared between father and son. A moment he never forgot. A moment that defined his longing to travel those stars in search of others. His hope that tomorrow a sick planet would be alright.
Why this memory? The man did not know. But he did find them, he thinks. So many loops to life, and how did he not see it? Even now, as the cosmic fires leaped across the entangled vastness of quantum worlds, as another tree fell in the vast multiverse unheard, he felt safe. Next to his father once more, he was at peace as they spoke and searched for those scattered cosmic patterns.
And as he and his twin became light, he and his father also witnessed a shooting star across the night sky.
“Did you see it!?” He exclaimed.
His father laughed, one that carried love and admiration. A laugh that made him feel safe amongst an unsure future.
“I sure did, my boy.”
And as they sat there, father and son again, the expansion and separation weaved those many tunnels, now unwritten in the wearing down of time. There, within the bubbling frothing Planck space, another quantum wormhole collapsed under the dawning sun of a dying seed, as his father spoke of space exploration. Others would bloom, but the story of this world had met its epilogue. But for them, the night carried on with its own magic. But time was never linear. In loops and circles, it brought us back. Those interconnected realms that beckoned wanders into its beguiling tunnels. The temporality of space would always continue, just as love would for every human. And that which was sick would be healed in time’s inverted places.
As his six-year-old self was drifting to sleep, his father told him about the age of humans, about the quest to find another home among those endless stars. He told him about hope and our desire to travel to the edge of the Milky Way and beyond. He listened and dreamed and glimpsed the beginnings of a machine that could one day save them all.
© Bradley J Nordell 2020