Time & Time Again (A Short Story)


I reached out, and I pressed the button.

You know, paradoxes are the strangest things. Time travel itself sounds so easy, and in fiction, it’s always fairly easy. Just get the flux capacitor up to 88 miles per hour, just set the victorian era gears to the correct positions, engage the steam drive and pull a lever. Time travel seems like a fairly simple thing TO DO, once all the science and engineering behind it makes sense to someone.

But paradoxes…They are so weird, sometimes they make sense; sometimes they make none at all. Sometimes we think they’ll exist, and they don’t happen, and vice versa. The very nature of the word paradox can’t adequately explain just how strange they can be, though the definition lends itself to weirdness easily enough. Most definitions say paradoxes may seem illogical, self-contradictory, or even senseless on the surface, but turn out to be true.

Again, fiction seems to cover the weirdnesses the best, but as we all know, life imitates art! So, you’re from the mid 1980’s, and you have a photograph from then when you travel back to the 1950’s, upset the timeline by changing things, and … Wait for it! The photo from the 1980’s, which traveled with you back 30 years, is beginning to change…IN THE NOW, in the 1950’s, even though there are still 30 potential years of further change between it’s present time and space and when it was originally taken. Let me reiterate, this photo from the 80’s is with you in the 50’s, but is reacting to changes you’re making in the 50’s, in real-time.

Yeah, you can put the gun to your head now.

What about limits? If you can time travel, how do you SET a limit on your machine that takes you to an exact time and place? I mean, how come all time travelers don’t all go forward or backward to the same point? Isn’t the very beginning or the very ending the two points of least resistance? Shouldn’t you rubber-band through time to one of those moments?

I’ve read fiction where, if you change something a few thousand years ago, it creates a ‘time quake’ that changes everything through the rest of history in a spreading wave at the speed of two hundred years an hour, (subjective time, obviously). I’ve read fiction that says it’s your speed, energy, mass, or some other ratios to one another that allows time travel to happen.

But again, just rhetoric and hyperbole. I don’t know why I bother…So…

I reached out, and I pressed the button.

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