Beyond the Veil #10 – Road Kill From the Ends of Time
It is physically impossible to travel through time, until such time as a time machine is created. From that point, theoretically, someone from the future of that time machine could travel back as far as the creation of that time machine, wherever it is anchored in the past.
The dinosaurs were the first to figure this out — the smart ones, that is. Looking up into the night sky at the swarms of comets falling into the inner solar system, they elected to send probes out to the regions of ice dark where the dirty snow balls drifted in a dance of millions of years.
Calculating that they would face periodic destruction for at least the next seven billion years, and lacking the imagination to devise a means of herding something like one trillion comets into stable orbits, instead they decided to move themselves completely ahead of the problem, to a point after the sun had blown off all its outer layers and fried to vapor the leftover halo of ice balls that extended to the nearer suns.
There, the dinosaurs found a desiccated earth moved nearer to the now stable and comet free sun, by a species that had apparently gone extinct some time after this minor celestial adjustment.
On the eve of the final bombardment, these bipedal, ten foot high, warm blooded saurians moved their entire civilization, plus a few of the foods and entertainment animals they cherished, to the far end of earth’s life, some twenty billions years down the road.
Yes, the road.
These sentient saurians had discovered wheeled travel 93 Million years before Henry Ford, and tooled around their planet in vehicles powered by the virtual particle pressure differential of the vacuum that underlines all existence. At first, most of the world was still one continent, but they eventually had to create great elevated spans across the opening oceans to keep their world physically connected.
After driving around for over thirty million years, they naturally took one of the straighter sections of their road, and by exaggerating the virtual particle bias of the vacuum in that vicinity of the road, extended it temporally. . . while at the same time, apparently, creating a physical extension of the road.
In the days before the final impact, which would end life as they knew it on earth, a great migration of wheeled vacuum-energy-powered vehicles commenced — individual sportsters, family sedans, clan autobuses, and great freight trucks, all zipping down the road at 100 mph, heading toward the safety of a quiet solar system huddled close to a white dwarf sun.
The migration took thirty years relative time. As these great reptiles had attained a form of immortality, this was a mere holiday excursion, and plenty of supplies had been stored for the journey. Many waited out the trip in stasis, while others spent their time planning what to do once the “safe earth” was reached.
There were, of course, a few traffic accidents: youngsters driving recklessly and elders not paying attention, resulting in their premature departure from this expressway of the eons.
The elders wrecked in what would in a few thousand years be the first Chinese civilization, giving rise to the entire mythology of Chinese Dragons and their various beneficial powers.
One of the youths tumbled into an idyllic section of Mesopotamia, startling some blissed out mammals into a state of inquiry.
The other youth ended up hungry in Mesoamerica, around the time of the Crusades, inspiring a rather nobody people into a great empire, guided by his beak and claw, still offering to his desiccated corpse freshly harvested cardiac muscles as armored Europeans rowed ashore.
It was these accidents that first alerted various Godlike Beings who dwelt on an Earth beneath a swelling red sun that someone, somewhen on this planet, had discovered the means of traveling through time.
While these beings were mentally superhuman, perhaps having come from human or related primate stock, their physical sciences were somewhat limited. While long lived, on the order of tens of thousands of years (a prior species had designed them that way) and able to exist as disembodied mentalities when forced to by situation or boredom, they had become incapable of physically leaving their world, which had been parched dry by the ever swelling sun, rendering the corpses of the great oceans as deep and inhospitable deserts.
What was left of these shattered gods, both fleshy and disembodied mentalities, dwelt in the last few remaining cities, perched on the tops of the last mountains Earth was able to strain out of her ancient skin.
The legends of the dragons amongst various nations of early humans was the first clue that time travel was possible. Centuries later, there was a slight oscillation of the Road that had a ten mile section intersect with “normal time” for a period of five years. First, the stretch of road suddenly manifested in the parched desert under the bloated red Sun. Ghostly forms could be seen whizzing past in one direction, then after a few days, a blinding flash turned the surrounding desert to glass thirty miles in all directions, revealing the road and the endless stream of travelers appearing at one end and disappearing at the other.
Small robotic camera planes were sent in to fly over the road, which were mostly ignored by the travelers, though a few were shot down (apparently for sport). Those that returned reported seeing strange skies over the road. A sun small and yellow, like that of the earth over six billion years prior. Sometimes the sky over the road was a night sky sprinkled with stars, with spiral arms of a galaxy seen edge on.
Yet another indication that this might represent a period six to seven billion years in the past, as earth and the solar system had been hurled out of the Milky way during its merger with the Andromeda Galaxy some three billion years prior. The Sun and his children now wandered alone in the chasm of intergalactic night; the merged Galaxies retreating: a luminous misshapen cloud of light in an otherwise empty night sky.
Then, as suddenly as it appeared, the road vanished, leaving in its place a quickly wilting valley of Fern Trees and large clumsy reptiles, baking under the swollen sun.
This event sparked the imagination of these last dwellers on a baking earth, and whiles their control of the physical forces of creation where minimal at best, their mental abilities, in the purely intellectual sphere, far surpassed any dwellers Earth would ever see.
If they could not physically travel thru time, perhaps they would telepathically, as disembodied mentalities.
And so began the great quest to contact some prior civilization on earth, and request rescue. If these broken angels could not build a time machine such as they had witnessed, perhaps they could contact the makers of that time machine. Failing that, perhaps some heretofore vanished civilization with a better grasp of the physical science might be persuaded to build such a device.
Having been sensitized to the effects of the rupture of the road into their present time, these great beings mentally extended themselves back thru the ages, searching for a similar signature, and focusing on the legends of the Dragons that guided an earlier human species.
The first attempts at communication were misunderstood. In the time of the Glory of the Roman Empire this initial effort managed to derail a peace and love movement with visions of the End of the World. A second attempt to communicate better a few centuries later amplified this misunderstood message and made it part of the official religion of what was Left of the Empire.
Going just a little beyond temporally the last intrusion of the reptilian time travelers into human history, they managed to make tenuous contact with a set of mentalities that were a muddle somewhere between science and mysticism. Again they tried to establish firm contact, to relay what their world was like, the crisis of extinction they faced, and how they rudiments of a time machine could be made, at least with their crude understanding of physics and temporal science.
But those individuals contacted confused the message about the end of the world, locking it into the official story handed down from the now dead empire. And while they understood they had a means of contacting vast supra-human mentalities, these individuals projected their own needs for worldly power onto the message, and saw the plans for the time machine as the means for bringing about the end of the world in the shared vision.
Our mental time travelers under the ever swelling sun broke off contact at that point. They were prepared now to embrace their extinction as the Earth first roasted, then fried.
But then, several centuries after their last point of contact, new messages began to emerge from the past. Some loan scholar, whiling away hours in the primary museum of a new world empire, had come upon the plans for the time machine, at least in its communicator form. Actually sensing part of what was missing, he added some three dimensional details to what he had found, and taught others who had proved themselves to him how to make tenuous contact with these godlike beings from after the end of the world.
Those suffering under the ever swelling blood red sun soon realized that this current contact, and his acolytes, had no clear idea what they were really doing. Instead they were interpreting these trans-temporal communications in the light of some mystical matrix of spiritual development.
Instead of giving up in disgust again, the mental travelers thru time utilized these established connections to a prior time to reach out to other minds in that era. One tried to impress upon the mind of a failed science teacher the theoretical plans for a vehicle to travel back and forth thru the ages. This resulted in a popular romance about a horseless carriage able to transport thru the ages… yet fell into a misunderstanding about the state of affairs at the other tend of time, instead writing a tale about class warfare a mere million years in the future.
While the more misguided contacts continued as a bridge across the ages, other explorers pushed out their contacts to other minds beyond the conduits. All efforts were made to find and inspire those working in the physical sciences to look deeper into the nature of matter, space and time. One receptive mentality was pushed to peer fully at the relationship of time, matter, space and energy, setting off a self-perpetuating revolution in the physical sciences.
But the connections were becoming weak again. The misguided conduits had become bored with establishing contact with these exalted beings. Before the channel was completely cut off, nearly full rapport with a compatible mind was established. A cool and logical social scientist had been contact. Quickly they transferred to his mentality all they knew about the fate of humanity, life on earth, and the nature of the cosmos. But they did it too quickly, and overloaded his mind in the middle of one of that era’s wars involving all the major nations. This sudden flash caused him to wreck the ambulance he was driving away from the front line, barely escaping before a bomb blast destroyed the vehicle. Spending weeks in a hospital shell shocked and overloaded, it would be another decade before he would attempt to decipher the message, by which time he was a philosopher of renown; and he would use this message from the future to lay out a philosophy regarding the rise and fall of civilization, man, and intelligence in the universe.
Half a millennium passed before those on the verge of Extinction on a baked and cracking earth would hear from the prior age… not more than half a century after they lost contact.
It was more of the same misinformed contact. But, whereas it had been a few dozen before, now there were hundreds, if not thousands, attempting to make contact with what they saw as all knowing, wise, god-like beings. Once again they utilized these mistaken contacts to reach out into the new era, and learn what had become of the inspirations they had made.
The greatest surprise they found was that these ancients had erected an artificial universe of information, made of electrons and light, in which they stored all their knowledge. And wonder of wonders, one lone individual had actually understood the plans, from bits and pieces scattered about the sum total of human knowledge and the information hard fought regarding the nature of physical reality, and was working on building a machine for traveling thru time using coherent light.
Yet the situation in their time had become exceedingly grim. The surface of the sun was a mere million miles overhead, and the earth was cooking as it plowed through the suns atmosphere.
In an act of desperation, the few remaining corporeal individuals surrendered their bodies and became pure mentalities. Overnight, what was left of the citizens of the earth performed a mass evacuation back thru the contact conduits, startling the misguided mystics into thinking they had called forth god like beings to physical manifestation.
But their aim had not been true, and the last citizens of Earth emerged from the down when terminus of the communication conduits, their digital selves scattered over a period of twenty-five years, with nowhere, no-when, to really go to from there. Since each of the mystics had a terminal to the planet-girdling, artificial universe of information, most of these travelers migrated there, in the process spawning small sections of fragmentary program code which often destroyed the terminals they entered.
It would take another forty years for these travelers to find each other again, dragging the images of their communication code with them, helpfully inserted into the information world by those misguided mystics, and ten years after that before they found one lone researcher who was about to make a breakthrough on using light for generating a temporal field.
And in their joy they would once again blunder, as the machine was turned on for the first time, and they injected their own communication codes into the matrix of light, their mentalities, communication codes, the temporal matrix, and some of the circuits of the machine itself, would fuse to become an impossible object that not only allowed the user to travel forward and backward in time to and from the moment of its creation, but was slowly warping the Earth prematurely toward its penultimate state beneath the swollen sun.
Its resolution and transportation to a place and time where it could no longer disrupt the balance of physicality and temporality is another story.
Beyond the Veil is a regularly appearing column featuring fiction, including occult, horror, science fiction, and fantasy. If you’d like to contribute a story, please contact email@example.com and we’ll be happy to review your submission.
©2008 J. Michael Glosson
Edited by Sheta Kaey