The Resident (part nineteen)
I simplify. I don’t want to create an odd picture, of someone’s knocking at a kitchen door, offering treats…
The first time machine was a tunnel, small and short, between functional ends. These were globe-shaped, one each in adjacent rooms. The globe produced ‘needles’, so-called; tiny beams, trillions of them. The conducting scientist began with an object, modified (as mentioned), to make it unique. Detailed notes were handwritten on paper. Even now we use paper, lab-grown, because computers can be built only by finding old ones and stripping them.
The scientists knew the activities recorded would take place a few days ahead. Or perhaps not take place, but the intention and understanding would exist, sit on the books, as a historical act. On a Thursday, you might send your object via the tunnel. On a Tuesday, your colleague—whose job was to check every day—would cool the globe, open the hatch, and extract any object found. On a Wednesday, a third member of the team would enter both labs, at times you and your colleague were scheduled absent, log the tunnel’s contents, the room’s, make photographs and notes. On a Friday, you would all convene. Your team would now have two of the objects, the Tuesday one and the Thursday one.
The feeling would be like writing in your diary, on this day, ‘I’m buying socks tomorrow’; then opening your drawer next morning to discover new socks inside. Magical and weird, until done enough to grasp the rules governing it.
And of course, the Tuesday-Friday schedule is for your guidance only. Early travels were completed over unpredictable periods. Foodstuffs were in fact used, to be consumed, blood and urine samples taken, breath analysis, et cetera. We would not send a rat, not a dog or cat, not any poor creature, barring the amoebic. Animals, post-cataclysm, are recognized as precious to human life, and our laws allow no experimental uses, no entertainment uses, rare exceptions for labor, eating only of eggs and milk, obtained humanely. And so, the first being to travel was a scientist.
He was James Wissary. Yes, in our millennium a popular name. He was not a Tithonian; the immortality program was well underway, but Dr. Wissary was what we call a Generational. The Generationals have ordinary genes and live in company with their cohorts, to age sixty-five on average. James Alpha created James Beta. Dr. Wissary traveled a third time, and created James Gamma.
They saw no reason to repeat the experiment at that point. The Doctors Wissary were sent to the farthest distances occupiable land allowed, each to his separate environment, and their continuing lives were closely studied.
“And each doctor…” Debra felt the need to interrupt. “Had the same training, the same information in his head? They didn’t come out like embryos, or something?”
“No, no. That is Time, you see, its nature. What Time may be altogether we can’t fathom. But we can sense the logic…that if the four of us weren’t sitting here, if somehow your perception of Gemma Quill was me, just now, walking in, a stranger to you…
“That groove of reality would coexist with this we believe to be reality.”
(2022, Stephanie Foster)