It was my finest hour. After working for 20 years on this, my team has finally cracked the code. We now have the solution. Something craved by masses. We have gained insight into a dimension that never gave us a chance to explore on our terms. We tried to understand man’s greatest ally and his worst enemy. We tried understanding why it was so reserved. We tried understanding and challenging the pre-conceived notions about it in this world. In a world when Interstellar travel is a possibility, this shouldn’t be far long. That was our confidence and motivation that drove us till here. And with this, we would be expanding our knowledge. About worlds that exist in another dimension. Worlds that exist beyond the conventional 3-dimensional worlds. And we have solved that challenge. We have solved the challenge that was in this world for a long time. We have created a machine that has the ability to cruise through time as it wishes. Now, we have the ability to explore time on our terms. And with this, I can proudly say that we have reached the stage to expand our dimensional consciousness.
But, as with everything, this comes with a price. A price, which I am sure no one is willing to pay. The machine is ready, but before this can be sent to the general population, it has to be tested. In all possible ways. But this was not a machine that could go through quality checks like any other machine. It works in a vortex. It manipulates the very fabric of space and time. And to test in that environment is an uncertain situation that no one can predict the outcome of. And none, among my team, was willing to take the risk. They would be happy living a life where they didn’t know whether they have done amazing ground-breaking research or just worked under another lunatic who was smart in his work. So, when all doors closed on me, I have taken up the challenge myself. I knew the risks that were involved. I knew the challenges that were involved. I had many restraints. I cannot change the events in the past. Any event modified, might cascade and end up in the whole project not existing at all. Ah, the grandfather paradox again. I had to be careful. I had to make sure that I had gone back to the past and came back. Without changing anything there. This has to be done, very meticulously.
It has been decided a month ago, that I would be the one who would be traveling in the machine to test it. My team had no idea of what could be done to prove that I actually had been to the past. The only way that some of my wonderful team members could think of was to capture a picture that proved that it was at that time. What could be so unique to the time that I went to? Or what unique event happened in the time that I could go and capture? I was at a loss of thoughts. I had to do research on that now. It could be anywhere in time and space. And where would that be? Should I go the age of dinosaurs? Or should I go to the age of Christ? Where should I go? And more importantly, to when should I go?
I was lost in thoughts. And the month had gone by, in me trying to understand where and to when I should go. And I have been writing everything in my diary since then. There were days when I had lost hope in my quest. My calculations are right in every aspect. I have checked everything more than 10 times before I have calibrated that in my machine. I have made sure always. And in those times that I lost hope, I thought of that one time, that had actually pushed me towards this event.
It was a long time ago. It was before I started on this project. It was a special day. A wonderful moment, a monumental one, I thought as I ran towards the professor’s cabin. He was a busy man, but with the many annoying emails that I have sent over the past month over my proposal, he had accepted to see me. He was a great man. A great physicist, known for his conceptual clarity. He knocked down people with his clarity when he was in any argument. And that had increased disrespect all over the world. And he had given me an appointment for a theory that I have formulated. I spent nearly two years on it. I forgot socializing, I spend hours and hours reading research papers, journals, and whatever relevant to the topic of time and building time machine. There was previous research, which said that a time machine needed infinite amount energy to function. My research was focussed there. Can we build a time machine that can be used at energies that a normal appliance, like a toaster or a heater?
And I had pestered him for a while before he accepted my request. I had a few hours before my appointment, but I couldn’t stop my excitement. I rehearsed my part of the presentation more than 10 times and after that, I have also rehearsed his lines. The professor accepting my proposal and giving me the support, in all ways, to make this project a success. Everything went according to plan. I had my presentation ready. I had a wonderful proposal. I have reached his cabin at the appointed time. But the part I had rehearsed for didn’t give me the results that I had rehearsed for. He had rejected my proposal saying that it was too good to be possible. But how could he do that? If it was any other professor, I would have gladly accepted that saying that he didn’t know. But it was him. How could he not see this wonderful thesis? How could he say that it was too good to be possible?
I was devastated by the time I came back. And I came back to an empty apartment, not the fun filled one, with my girlfriend, as it usually should be. It took me a while to understand that something was amiss in my own home. When I understood, I guessed this to be a bad dream. Then I found a letter, from my girlfriend, explaining that she was not happy for the past few months and she had decided to move on to somebody else, who would care for her interests, rather than some stupid science fiction thing. As I read through the letter, I remembered all my actions in the past two years. I had been completely involved in preparing this proposal that I hardly came to my apartment. One day out of the entire week, I used to spend with her. I tried to reason that if I made this discovery, then the entire paradigm of the world would change. Initially, after all, the fancy words, I think, she had tried to cope up with the fact that she would not see me much, as she used to before I had started on this. And slowly, it has come to this. Her leaving me. That too when I needed her the most. But can I blame her? I wasn’t there when she was in my situation and now, I am having a taste of my own medicine.
Devastated by the events that happened back in the day, I went to the nearest bar. I tried not to make contact with anyone there, as I was not really interested in any conversation today. I was wishing that this was a bad dream and this would all go away once I woke up. Wake up, body. Wake up. I muttered under my breath, hoping that would be a signal for me to wake up. My trial was in vain. I was thinking what other ways were there for me to wake up, rather than accepting the reality of the situation. I ordered a beer. I don’t know why I did that. I usually don’t drink beer. As I slowly sipped the chilled beer, I saw someone looking at me. He turned his gaze when I made eye contact. I brushed it off, feeling that it was probably nothing. And this happened again, a while later. Again and again. I didn’t understand what was happening. Was he trying to talk to me? But he doesn’t look familiar.
He then moved towards me and nervously spoke. “Hi,” he said.
His face seemed familiar, but I couldn’t place it. His voice was weary, of age. He looked 60 years old. What was it that made him so familiar, I never had an idea. He was wearing a tweed jacket, a black pinstripe coat, a white crisp shirt, a navy blue tie and black trousers. A combination that I liked. A combination that always makes me feel as if I was some authority.
“Hi,” I replied back. Although I was in no mood for a conversation, this gentleman felt like he was friendly. And something in my head told me that I could talk to him. Was it his age that makes me feel that? I never understood it till now.
“You look blue. Is everything okay?” he asked me. Direct to the point. Was my sorrow that obvious on my face? I always thought that I was a master at hiding my emotions. Probably, a major part of my girlfriend leaving me. Okay, don’t go there.
“No, sir. I had a bad day” I replied. A part of me hoped he would leave me after that. A part of me hoped he would ask me what happened. It was a mix of emotions in my own head.
“You know, you could share,” he said. I felt happy and sad. But I decided to go with the voice in my head. Tell him. And I narrated the entire story that happened. He was listening genuinely and intently. How much patience does somebody need to listen to a story full of sadness completely? I was thinking in my head.
“There, there. Bad things happen, my boy. You know, I am a scientist myself. I think what you said is entirely plausible. I know a person and I think you should visit him. Don’t tell him that I sent you. But tell him that fate had brought you there and you have an idea that you want to propose. He would definitely take up your proposal” he said handing over a card. There was not much consoling, but he had given me an opportunity. Probably, he was not the greatest professor, or somebody I would go to, but I thought that I will take up on that opportunity.
“I think I shall take off. I have some plans that I need to see carried out” he said, getting up from there. As he stood, I stopped him and asked him for a selfie. He had agreed and we took a selfie. He told me that the selfie we took might be dangerous if he ever showed it to anyone and asked me not to show. I think he was just saying stuff, but I obliged. I promised not to put it anywhere or show it to anyone. That reminded me of the picture and I went back to see that. I have forgotten his face a while after our meeting, but not his advice and contact. I have taken up the opportunity and that had given me immense results. And that was the opportunity that changed my life. It was because of him, I am here today. And his memory, although faded from my brain many years ago, had come back, today, as if it happened a while ago.
I open my hard drive, where I had stored all my photos, and brought up the selfie that we took together. The observation I had made was quite shocking. The face felt even more familiar. And immediately, the question that was killing me for a month has been solved. I immediately understood where I should go.
The old man in the photo, was myself.
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