Tag Archives: time travel

This Being an Addendum Rather than a Conclusion

I have finally come to the conclusion that I will never invent time travel or finish any story because my house doesn’t have a basement. Furthermore, I have come to the conclusion that, even if I burrowed out a basement below my house and axed any animus projections resembling Oso, I would still never invent time travel or finish any story, including the one about Oso and Julia. Despite my numerous attempts to create conclusions, I have failed to erect such a finished structure.

This reminds me of a creative writing/short story class I once took at UNM–oh, heck, why keep the professor anonymous? He was Gregory Martin. His class was memorable for multiple reasons, including his abilities as a memoirist. During one critique session, in which we were slicing and dicing a highly polished, but essentially lacking story by a young woman in class, I asked if this story could simply be considered finished. Perhaps it was time for the writer to move on to a new one. Professor Martin then waxed philosophic about how stories were never finished. This concept disturbed me to the point that my backbone straightened up for an argument with him. It became a face-off–the professor and I arguing over the silliness of an incomplete story which equated to an incomplete life, while the rest of the class fell silent and listened. At the time, I understood what he meant all too well. He was absolutely correct. But it’s crazy-making to never find satisfying endings.

Memoirists understand the world in a different way than you or I. Memoirists don’t like endings because endings signify death. In a sense, their best skill is time travel, and for the express purpose of never concluding anything. I am, you might suggest, projecting my own psychological workings onto an innocent professor of creative writing, who has, no doubt, forgotten the argument that left such an impact on me. I should probably cease and desist before digging my hole any deeper. I really need a basement, though. I need one in order to invent time travel and to finish something, anything, even if I have to fly backwards in time in order to do so. Forgive me, then, because I’m going to continue digging until I’m deep enough to begin climbing stairs that will take me back up to the world of the sky.

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Here We Go Through the Newtonian Time Telescope™!

I know–many of you will now be angry with me because my title sucked you in and subsequently failed to deliver the goods (or will fail to deliver, as we shall see). My brain is in a dither. If I could possibly explain my failure at actually producing my Time Telescope technology as I outlined in an earlier proposal, would you forgive me? Would you buy my excuses? I have one after another: illness, children, Christmas, Christmas trees, driving in the mountains where there’s snow, too many hot drinks with brandy or rum, and too much generalized merry-making to want to bend time through the spherical mirror inside my scope.

That leaves me with more confessions to make. Although I envisioned the brand name Newtonian Time Telescope™ and even found the name to ring poetically in my ears, while the ampersand and semicolon necessary for cute html insignia sent pleasure signals to the dopamine-producing regions of my brain, the truth is I can’t imagine how one could time-travel through a telescope. Presumably, one would have to move faster than the speed of light in order to travel through time. Yet, a telescope simply collects light and, in the case of the Newtonian telescope, reflects this light to the eyepiece using its secondary mirror. This leaves me with a bewildering sense of 17 C steam-punk, in which impossible technology is rendered possible using steam power to produce some kind of Galilean kinematic system. But wouldn’t the steam fog up the mirrors?

So, although I would like to pretend I’ve been hiding away in my basement hammering out this time telescope, my final confession is this: I have no basement, not even a crawl space. I have no place to hide away from the world. I’ve long considered moving to a cave I know of, but the musky smell of wild animals inside it puts me off a little. When Virginia Woolf wrote in her ridiculously long sentences about a woman needing a room of her own in order to accomplish awesome feats of intellectual stupendousness, she failed to mention the part about houses with missing basements or the fact that caves often come furnished with wild animals. Where did she think a woman was to obtain this “Room of One’s Own”? And, then after finding such a place, did Ms. Woolf perceive that a woman might do nothing more intellectually stimulating than stare at the wall in the silent room reserved for her little lone self?

Back to the Newtonian Time Telescope™ and my proposal to the Royal Society of None, I have to admit that my excitement over the idea was perhaps slightly premature. I thought that earlier today, anyway. I thought, what have you gotten yourself into now, Jill? Why did you want to force Newtonian physics into encompassing this sort of nonsense? I don’t know. I can’t make sense of the world; that’s why. And when I write about it, I realize the words are just phonemes that represent stuff like time machines. They’re not real. They’re not really real.

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Murphy’s Law

Andrew Finch was wet, and he was sick of his bad luck. He couldn’t hold a job due to luck, even though he was a genius. As yet, he’d failed to obtain his PhD in physics because he hadn’t made it to the defense of his thesis—due to a car accident. Then, his father, who was also his mentor, had mysteriously disappeared, leaving him to face his lot alone.

Lately, his bad luck had touched his love life. He had finally discovered the perfect woman, the brilliant Elise Murdoch, who was the daughter of longtime family friends. But every attempt he made to woo her went wrong. When he took her to a restaurant and advised her what she should order, she nearly died of food poisoning. When he practiced his declaration of love for her on his neighbor, Elise happened to be coming up the staircase and misunderstood his intentions. That very evening, when he invited her for a walk, clouds appeared from nowhere, and a summer shower poured on them.

Still wet from the shower, he stood at her door. A moment before, she’d slammed it in his face. He envisioned her pale, dripping lashes and red hair made stringy from the torrents. If anything bad could happen, it would happen to him, and not to somebody else—that was the true nature of Murphy’s Law.

Several months ago, he’d decided to give up the laws of physics for researching Murphy’s Law. In a good stroke of luck, Andrew had discovered, while searching through his father’s papers, the original bad-luck Murphy—or so he hoped. His plan, now, was to kill the Irishman who ran his life, and kill his bad luck with it, even if he had to travel to eighteenth-century Ireland to do it. No Murphy, no Murphy’s Law.

He ran home to his family’s brownstone apartment building, stole his grandfather’s revolver, then ran downstairs to the basement, and stared at his father’s computer, which doubled as a time machine. Andrew had helped him build it. He carefully enclosed himself in one of the time travel suits, keyed in the pertinent information, and braced himself. Soon, he felt the earth shake around him, felt himself sucked into the vacuum of time. Eventually, the vacuum pressure let up and shot him out.

He landed in a muddy street and was nearly crushed to death by a carriage. Several dirty street urchins stared at him with wide eyes. He didn’t care. Let them stare. He had one destination only: the pub called The Brazen Head, where, reputedly, Murphy drank his life away.

He pulled off his head unit. “Can you tell me where The Brazen Head pub is?” he asked a ragged boy.

The boy pointed to a sign across the street. Obviously, Andrew had keyed in his destination accurately. Murphy was not going to beat him this time—and yes, time—he had to beat that. He’d programmed the computer so it would send him back after twenty minutes. He certainly didn’t want to get stuck in eighteenth-century Ireland.

He marched across the street, ignoring the world around him, which at any other time might have fascinated him. But right now, the Irish people in it pointed and stared at him. So what if he looked like an astronaut? It was 1790. They probably assumed he was wearing the latest French fashions.

He threw open the pub doors and shouted above the din, “All right, where’s Murphy?”

“Which Murphy would that be?” asked the bartender, and several men shook with laughter. “And what kind of fool Englishman are you?”

Andrew pulled out the revolver. “Dubhan Murphy.”

“Andrew, what are you doing?”

He whirled around. “Dad?”

“Dubhan Murphy is right here; we’re drinking a pint together. Put that gun down and tell me what you’re doing in one of my suits.”

Bewildered, Andrew saw that his father was, indeed, drinking a pint with a black-haired man who was laughing like there was no tomorrow. So that’s where his father had gone. He was busy supping up the soup and brew with the very man whose curse was destroying Andrew’s life.

Andrew didn’t think. He simply aimed the revolver at Murphy’s laughing face, pulled back the hammer, and fired.

The pub went quiet, except for his father, who yelled, “No, Andrew, don’t!”

But he’d already done it. He rearranged his head gear and, before anybody woke up from shock and nabbed him, the vacuum sucked him back to the brownstone. Elated, he pulled off the suit, ran up the stairs, and burst into his apartment. He was finally free from the curse!

“I’ve got to call Elise,” he said to his mom, who was peeling potatoes in the sink.

“Who?”

“Elise, Mom. You love Elise.”

“You’ll have to introduce me,” his mom said.

Dread filled Andrew’s chest. He dialed Elise’s number, and a strange voice answered.

“Is Elise there?”

“I’m sorry, you must have the wrong number.”

“Elise,” he muttered, as he paged through the phone book, searching in vain for the woman he loved. “What have I done?”

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