Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer

It was the one thousandth anniversary since Victor Kent first traveled backward in time. Of course, humans had been traveled forward in time for a thousand years before that. But, forward is easy. No paradoxes to deal with. After all, in the future, you can’t kill your father before he met your mother.

The first company to develop time travel technology was Epoca Inc. In the early days they’d only travel a few weeks into the future to see how some key experiment went. Then they’d return to the present to modify the experiment so it would work better. Of course, this action changed that future, but what difference does that make? Epoca would be more prosperous in the new future. With this philosophy, Epoca perfected time travel in short order. Another side benefit is that Epoca could peek into the future to keep track of any potential competitors, and take whatever steps were necessary in the present (legally or illegally) to make sure their competition was unsuccessful. It’s so easy to determine the future when you control time.

Anyway, on the one thousandth anniversary of negative time travel, Epoca decided to expand the time envelope exponentially. They decided to send me and twelve other scientists backwards in time thirty billion years. That’s 15.5 billion years before the Big Bang. Epoca considered it “an acceptable risk” because astrophysicists had proven that the universe is “closed” (i.e., it explodes, expands, stops, and collapses again, repeatedly for all eternity). They call the collapse “The Big Crunch.” Epoca figured that if they could send us into the previous cycle, we could learn new “inconceivable” science from whatever life forms existed then, bring it back to our cycle, and make gobs and gobs of money. A simple plan, right? Well, not really. I asked Epoca to look a few years into the future to see if we made it back OK. They did, but said we weren’t there because we had crossed the “barrier” (whatever that meant) and would not exist in our continuum until we physically returned. They called it the “Sagan Principle,” after some scientist who lived eons and eons ago. They also said that when theya looked at the instant the ship left, I was on it, so I needed to go because I had already gone. Did I mention that time travel arguments make my head hurt? Anyway, who was I to question Epoca? After all, they could prevent my parents from meeting. So, I climbed into the ship.

As I watched through the view port, the stars began to turn bluish. I guessed it was the opposite of red-shift as my universe collapsed backward toward the Big Bang. It got so bright at T=1,000,000,000 that we had to close the iris. I held my breath as we shot through T=0. At T=-1,000,000,000 we opened the iris to see a reddish universe expand backward. Well I’ll be damned, I thought, the astrophysicists were right. At T=-15,500,000,000 the ship came to a stop. With the universe no longer expanding, the shields began to sparkle like a thousand fireflies. Every alarm on the ship began to go off, including the one labeled “Danger: Lethal Radiation Detected.”

As I was thinking, “Well, this sucks,” I heard one of the other scientist yell, “Quick, get us back, and hurry!”

The pilot replied, “It will take 40 minutes to re-charge the temporal coils. I c’not change the laws of physics.”

“Then we’re screwed,” said the scientist, “because this universe is composed of anti-matter.”

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