Author : Garrick Sherman

Sarah settled back into her seat on the time skipper. She picked up a magazine and tried to read, but found she couldn’t focus.

“Are you alright, dear?” the old woman in the next seat asked her. Sarah realized that she was bouncing her leg energetically.

“Yes, sorry, I’m fine. I’m very excited,” she replied.

“It is exhilarating, isn’t it?” the old woman remarked enthusiastically. “Oh, I remember when they first told us about time skipping. The notion of dipping into a black hole’s gravity, then pulling yourself out with another black hole, and if anything goes wrong in that nanosecond—“ she clapped her hands together like smashing a bug, “—pow! You’re done for!” she shook her head. “It sounds crazy, but it’s really amazing, don’t you think?”

Sarah nodded weakly. She didn’t like to think about the crushing gravity that would be pulling her into the distant future, but gravity-travel turned out to be simpler than flying at relativistic speeds, so she had no other option. Sarah found relief in her version of the trip: she pictured herself as a caterpillar being wrapped in a black hole cocoon and then bursting forth in the future as a beautiful butterfly.

The intercom buzzed. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. At this time all final preparations have been completed, and we are ready to depart. According to regulations we are required to provide a five-minute last call to withdraw yourself from this craft. Remember, there are no means to travel back in time: once you have committed, you will be unable to return to the present. If you are having second thoughts, please contact one of the attendants in the front or rear of the skipper. Thank you, and we will be departing shortly.”

When the COM had clicked off, the old woman turned back to Sarah. “What makes you want to take this leap, sweetheart?” she asked.

The question flooded Sarah with anguish. She thought of her loss and her pain, and her need to escape such a pitiless world. For her, the answer was to skip ahead. She didn’t care what the future held, just so long as it was something—anything—else.

She tried her best to fake a smile. “Just the excitement of something new,” she lied.

“Oh, yes, same for me,” gushed the woman. “Who knows what we’ll find? Unbelievable technology, aliens, a deserted planet—anything at all would be magnificent!”

The speakers hummed. “Ladies and gentleman, please take your seats as we begin our jog to the black hole.”

Sarah gazed out her window at the glowing globe below. From above it seemed beautiful and serene, and for a moment she almost regretted leaving. Then the engines roared to life, and she watched the planet shrink into the past.

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