Author : Asher Wismer
“I invented a time machine,” said Professor Rudnicki morosely. The whiskey in front of him glinted, a cylindrical crystal promising amnesia.
My hands moved on their own, needing no guidance, wiping a glass that would never be clean. I looked skeptical. “Isn’t time travel impossible, except to the extreme relative future?”
“That’s what they say.” Rudnicki gulped the shot and motioned for another. I poured it.
“Time is relative to our senses, space doubly so. What we perceive to be real is in fact the simple accumulation of expectation; we expect the glass to hold the whiskey, and we expect the whiskey to get us drunk, but only AFTER we drink it.”
“That’s deep, professor.” I hear stuff like this every day; hard not to, when you tend bar near MIT. You pick up the odd scientific fact, and one of the ones I knew about was that time-past was a fixed animal; nothing could penetrate that which has already passed.
â€œOh, they want you to believe that, but itâ€™s not true. All you need is to be able to see past Newton, past the expected… so I did. The human mind is the ultimate time travel machine; it sees into the past without leaving the present. All I had to do was replicate that function. And it worked! I never thought it would go so wrong.â€
â€œWhat went wrong, professor?â€ The second shot sat untouched; he kept reaching for it, then pulling away.
â€œI tested the machine yesterday, multiple times, setting it for no more than hours past. It worked perfectly; the memory of the machine and its contents appeared in my memory right when it should have.â€
â€œWhen something appears out of nowhere in my past, I expect to remember it,â€ he said irritably. â€œAnyway, I showed it to my colleague, Doctor Smith, and he insisted on giving it a test run with himself as the subject.â€
â€œWhat happened, did it explode or something?â€
â€œI do not create machines that explode! That pastime is reserved for the likes of Nobel; all my work is for the human good.â€
â€œSo what went wrong?â€
â€œIn my haste to perfect the time matrix, that which allows a physical object to recreate itself in the past, I ignored Newton entirely. Conservation of mass and energy, the laws of inertia. Reaching the past is one thing; reaching the past and remaining on Earth is another.â€
He grabbed the shot now, threw it back like a man just in from a convent. â€œYes, exactly. The Earth is in constant rotation, the solar system in constant movement. A body at rest tends to stay at rest, a body in motion stays in motion… and our motion today is in a different physical spot in the universe than it was fifty years ago.â€
My hands failed me for the first time in my career. The glass shattered. Rubnicki smiled grimly.
â€œHe must have appeared right in empty space, in the same relative spot that the Earth would occupy fifty years in the future.â€
He stood, no signs of intoxication in his stance, and dropped a ten on the bar.
â€œKeep the change.â€