Author : J. S. Kachelries

I walked into the offices of Temporal Travel Inc. A bored agent three rows back motioned me toward him with his free hand, as he peered around his upturned coffee cup. “Good morning, Sir.” he said as he placed the empty coffee cup squarely on a coaster. “Where and when may we send you?”

I sat down in the large chair at the side of his desk. “Yes, hello,” I said. “My name is Dr. Marc Strohm, Dean of the Physics Department at MIT. I’m interested in going to Princeton, New Jersey, April 15, 1955, at about 1:00 AM. Specifically, the Princeton Hospital. I need to stay about 20 minutes.”

The salesman motioned to his AI assistant to begin the temporal calculations as he scanned the iridium credit transponder implanted in my forearm. He said, “I don’t believe anybody ever asked to go there and then before. Sounds boring. You sure I can’t talk you into Mars, say 3.5 billion years ago? Tropical climate, twenty foot waves slowly crashing onto orange beaches? Very beautiful, and we’re having a special this week.”

“No, it has to be the hospital room of Albert Einstein on the day he died. You see, just before his death at 1:15 AM, he uttered his last words to the attending nurse. Unfortunately, he spoke them in German, and she only understood English. Nobody knows what he said. I’m hoping that during the heightened brain activity at the end, he may have solved the unification problem. Einstein had spent the last half of his life trying to develop a single equation to unite the four fundamental forces in the universe. As far as we know, he never did it. Two hundred years later, we still haven’t solved it. I’ve been studding German for three years for the opportunity to understand his last words.”

The salesman looked disappointed. His commission was based on years traveled, not scientific merit. “Listen, professor,” he said, “what if Einstein said, ‘Nurse, you’re standing on my oxygen hose.’ You would have wasted a trip for nothing. How about the end of the Cretaceous? You can watch The Great Asteroid impact the Yucatan peninsula.”

“Sir, I’m a Theoretical Physicist, not an Astrophysicist, or a Paleontologist. Look, if you’d prefer, I can go to Time Excursions.”

The eyes of the AI began blinking green. The salesman quickly changed tactics. “No, no, no. You’re the boss. OK, I think we’re ready now. Please step into the Phase Transporter, and we’ll send you on your way. You’ll be able to see and hear everything, but you’ll be in ‘phased-time,’ so you’ll be invisible to them. Have a good trip. And, good luck.”

When he shut the door to the Transporter, everything went pitch black. Then there was a flash of intense light. When sight returned to my eyes, I was indeed in Einstein’s hospital room. He lay propped up in his bed. He looked so old and feeble. But even at this hour, as weak as he was, he was feverishly writing in his note pad. I drifted behind him to study his notes. Fantastic, he was working on the unified field equation. I started to get chills up my back. He appeared to be on the verge of something, when his eyes closed, his hand went limp, and his chest stopped moving. The pen fell out of his hand, rolled off the bed, and dropped onto the floor. The attending nurse ran to his side and shook him gently. “Mr. Einstein, are you all right? Can you here me?”

His eyes suddenly fluttered open. He motioned for her to come closer, and whispered, “Gott zeigte mir die Lösung. Sie war… schön.” Then he smiled, closed his eyes, and died.

It was a bitter sweet moment for me. Although I was disappointed, I was happy for Einstein. His last words were: “God showed me the solution. It was…beautiful.”

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