Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

The Grandfather paradox states that a time loop will be created if you go back in time to kill your grandfather. If you kill your grandfather, you will end up not existing. But if you can’t do it, then he will not be killed by you. So he’ll exist, and you’ll exist, and he’ll be killed, and you’ll be erased, and he’ll exist again, and you’ll exist again, and he’ll be killed again, and you’ll be erased again, ad infinitum.

She came back to 2036 shaking and crying. She was wet and her hair was tangled. It must have been raining in 1978. I immediately got a towel around her and took her off of the temporal reception platform. She was steaming from the transition. She collapsed into me and we both lay down in the middle of the lab with the technicians staring.

“Oh god, what does it mean? What does it mean?” she kept saying.

Dr. Lauren Kim. The scientist responsible for the time machine, was here in my arms, soaking wet and obviously shaken to her core after her fourth trip back in time. The first three had gone quite well and she’d returned as her usual curt self. This trip had caused something to go wrong.

“Dr. Kim.” I said. “Doctor KIM!” I shouted. She focused on me.

“John? Oh John.” She said to me. She’d never called me John in my life. I didn’t even know she knew my first name. “I wasn’t thinking, John. He was there. He was going to die. But I saved him. The bus was coming so fast. It didn’t occur to me… I mean, I knew what would happen if he died but…”

“Dr. Kim?” I said, ice forming in my stomach.

“My great grandfather, John. I saw him. I looked him up. I found him and I went to observe him. I don’t know what I was thinking. I felt compelled. It went against everything I know as a temporal scientist. But I had to just see him, y’know? So there I was. On the street corner, and the bus ran a red light. And I…and I…oh god.”

“What did you do, Dr Kim?” I asked, already dreading the answer.

“I saved him. Oh god, I saved him from certain death. I ran and gave him a tackle into the gutter and the bus missed us both before crashing into a dumpster. My great grandfather would have been crushed. He was only nineteen. He hadn’t met my grandmother yet. He thanked me.”

“Dr. Kim” I whispered. Nervously, I looked around the lab at the other technicians, at my own hands, at Dr Kim. We all still seemed to be here. Nobody was going invisible or winking out of existence. Would I even know it if they did?

“If I hadn’t have been there to save him, he would have died. And none of this would exist.” She looked around wide-eyed as if seeing the lab for the first time.

“Dr Kim.” I said. “Take a deep breath. Calm down. The lab is here. We are here. If there is a paradox, it’s not affecting us. Or at least not yet. Or at least this universe. Listen to my voice. We’re here.”

Dr Lauren Kim looked at me. “Are we, John? Are we here?” She put a hand on my face and then she passed out.

She’s in sedation in the recovery room now. I’m not sure how to handle this. The universe seems stable. Nothing about the world seems different.

Does the paradox exist if you save your grandfather?


Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows