Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer
Consciousness seeped back slowly; recognizable sounds gradually replacing static; blackness giving way to a dull aching in his head. He resisted the urge to open his eyes.
“How are you feeling?” The voice reminded him of someone, a woman he knew? He couldn’t quite put a finger on it.
“What happened? Where…” Memory of the moment started leaking back in, vaporously thin and with apparent gaps. “My experiment, my lab… did something go wrong?” He risked a look, blinking back against the light.
“No Rick, everything went pretty much the way I’m sure you envisioned it would.” Blue eyes smiled at him from beneath blond bangs, she looked not unlike like his assistant, and yet subtly different. “This will just take some adjusting.” She studied his face for a moment, thrusting her hands deep in her lab coat pockets before turning away.
The walls seemed to vibrate with light, crisp luminescent tile covering the room floor to ceiling. “Is this the past?” He half whispered to himself. “Or is this some other part of the complex? I don’t know this place.” From the corner of his eye, he could swear her hair was darkening, shortening, but when he looked at her, it was the same shoulder length mahogany cut as before. Was it brown before?.
“No, you haven’t been to this place, and this isn’t the past, not yet.” She turned to face him, her voice almost reproving. “You can’t simply wander backwards in time Richard, I’m afraid your concepts and equations are interesting, but flawed.” He found himself captivated by her eyes, chestnut flecked with amber. “Time is all about absolutes Richard. Moving forward. Displacement equations were what you should have been looking for, but I think they’re a little beyond your comprehension. No matter though, ideas like yours are precisely why we’re here.”
“I don’t understand.” The room seemed to be fading in and out of focus, he could barely make out the books on his bookcases. “Here? In my study? Why are you here?”
“You’ll make a fine teacher Richard, you’ve got so much of the future in you, I’m sure you’ll do wonderful things.” Her glasses glimmered in the pale firelight, hands stuffed into the pockets of her cardigan.
Richard stared down at the tome open upon his desk, following the same lines of text over and over several times without reading it.
“Santayana?” A woman’s voice. He met the gaze of his teaching assistant, wrapped in her cardigan in the corner chair on the other side of his desk.
“What was that?” Had he said something just then? He felt a sense of unease, as though something was about to happen, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on what.
“You said ‘Those who do not learn from history’…” She began to repeat the phrase.
“Are doomed to repeat it.” He finished it reflexively, then paused, the words familiar on his tongue, but with no idea where the thought had come from.
“Santayana isn’t it?” She regarded him quizzically. “Are you ok? You look a little lost.”
“No, I’m fine, I think I’m fine. Santayana, yes, yes you’re right.” He pushed back in his chair, rubbing tired eyes and feeling suddenly so very old. “We should pack up for the night though, I’m tired, and I’ve got a class to teach tomorrow.” Class to teach. Why did that seem so foreign a concept? He must be tired, he would sleep, and everything would be better tomorrow, he was somehow sure of that.