Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

If I was tripping, my colleagues must have been as well because we all saw it. Just us four janitors on the night shift, mops and brooms dropped, staring at the nightmare in the corner of the building. It spoke to us but I couldn’t see where its mouth was.

“There is more than one timestream. They are connected.” it said.

The alien being glowed blue like a special effect from a bad movie. It took up a corner of the warehouse in a way I didn’t understand. My eyes couldn’t focus on it properly. I could make out tentacles but then they would look like arms and then tentacles again.

“To further the analogy, one could say that there are tributaries, rapids, and rivers as well, all cascading madly in one direction towards the unknowable, distant event horizon of the future. They weave, grow fatter, splash apart and trickle, adding ‘what ifs’ to each other’s histories with the participants being none the wiser before splitting off again.

To abuse the metaphor further, I would say that I am part of a corporation that builds dams. We make time lakes. Smooth-surfaced, still and stable.”

I glanced at Stephen. He stared at me in confusion and fear. We didn’t understand what it was saying. But none of us ran away. We all stood, fascinated and rooted to the spot.

“There are beings that detest the constant motion of naturally occurring time. The sudden turns, the splashing arcs, the stop-and-go nature of it. The eddies and small whirlpools of déjà vu and karmic re-entries. They don’t like the bumpy ride.

Some of these beings build crafts to navigate the streams but only the richest can afford to make them sturdy and strong. The poor ones can only strap together the equivalent of a canoe with a paddle.

They pay to take their ships and drift slowly and softly out over the unchanging surface of our time lakes.

As a bonus, our time reservoir generates huge amounts of power as multiverse entropy fights to keep the time going. We let a small stream through near the bottom to keep the universe happy and to keep the lake at a constant level. We rent the surface time and we sell the power. We win both ways.

This is all metaphor, of course, told to you in terms you can envisage.”

The being shuddered and started to lose its consistency. It seemed to go away from us, down from us, and fade out all at the same time.

“It’s hard to talk to entropic, finite beings about this. You are trapped in time but we live on top of it. But I have to tell you what’s happening.

I’ve fallen overboard and I can’t swim. I’m drowning in your dimension. I can’t conform to your angles and time direction. I was by myself so I don’t think there’ll be much chance of a rescue.

Oh no, this is it. I can’t hold on. I’m sinking.”

The creature disappeared with a shudder and a pop and reality wobbled where it had been.

Stephen looked at Jake and Peter looked at me.

We decided filing a report wouldn’t be worth the paperwork seeing as we’d all probably get fired for using drugs on the job.

We agreed to never speak of it again.

But every now and again, I think of the time lakes while I’m cleaning.

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