The Grip of Time

in writing •  7 months ago


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I didn’t know what to do. There was nothing I could do! One mistake; that’s all it took. One mistake to forever cast mankind into the depths of chaos and misery. A fate no one should have to bear yet all mankind; generations till the end of time on this planet and maybe beyond are doomed to nothing more than stark survival. Nothing more than constant suffering and anguish. All from my doing. All from one inadvertent mistake. A mistake that cannot be reversed. Oh how I tried to reverse it but to no avail. I toiled over what had transpired for lack of proper attention and vigilance. Days, weeks, years even, but no way to undo what I have accomplished so expertly and unwittingly. For this, I am sorry... truly sorry.

In my youth I would ponder on occasion the validity of Hell. Of course there are tales and writings of past generations professing to its existence but, even as a young boy, I was suspicious of such a horrid place. I still don’t know if there is an actual Hell with all its sufferings but hell on earth is a certainty. And if there truly is a God, he has a sense of humor to rival none. Or he’s of a masochistic nature as no "god" would allow such a travesty of epic proportion. I don’t know. Any sort of divinity seems far from this place, that’s for sure.

My name is John Colder and I am a time traveler. At least I believe that’s what has been happening to me. And I am making this recording in the hope that someone, somewhere, may make some sense of all this and maybe, just maybe, figure a way to right the wrong I have inadvertently thrust upon this seemingly fragile world.

This all began when I was but an effervescent and inquisitive boy. I was about eight when my uncle had finished his "experiment" and began to play with it. This experiment that seemed to haunt a mind the likes of which few could match. He was a truly brilliant man. An esteemed scientist well liked and admired throughout his and other prestigious fields. A man that did nothing but tinker with a machine that was rather ugly and looked somewhat strewn together.

The year was 3022 and mankind was doing well. We were traveling to the stars and exploring other worlds and doing a pretty good job of preserving a bright and bountiful future for generations to come. Yep, we were on our way to greatness! 'Were' is the operative word here as all that promise and hope of a bright future is gone—all of it… forever. All from an experiment gone horribly wrong.

I am no scientist or really have no technical ability at all. Never did. But I learned the machine. I used to watch my uncle fiddle and test. He developed a routine, I remembered, that he would employ before every jump. He would do the same thing every time and I was attentive, unbeknownst to him, to his every move. I used this ritualistic sequence as my basis years later when beginning to learn how the thing worked.

Looking back, I could have disappeared into some nebulous dark corner of the time stream or just plain blown-up myself and the machine never having started the path we are all on now. That first jump was critical—very critical. Somehow, some way, I got it right! I wish I'd gotten it wrong.

At first glance the operation of this machine looks complicated but it really isn't. I guess you could say that about anything, huh? Nothing's complicated once you learn it. But it really is easy and I can pinpoint any time and any place too! This thing not only moves you through time it can move locations as well! It took quite a while before I figured that out. There's a sort of global positioning compass thing on there that can plot the entire planet and position you any place you want! But you have to be really sure about your new position or you could end up in some really bad situations. I landed in a prehistoric swamp once and it took some pretty fast work to jump out before sinking into the muck!

My uncle said this thing was powered by a sort of quasi-quantum singularity. He'd found it during one of his "black" excursions into the galaxy. He described is as like a black hole but not really. It didn't have the massive, inherent gravitational pull but, once the machine was activated, it would create an artificial pull and that's how it bent time. I don't really remember all of it because I was too young to grasp many concepts. All I know about the power source is it's in the middle of the machine and sealed in some kind of super-powered electro-magnetic chamber. It's protected by the electro-magnetism powered by the singularity so it can't be messed with. I watched a scientist try to mess with it and it fried him. I mean he burnt to a pile of ashes in front of our eyes! I'll get into that in a moment.

So how did this all go haywire? Just what did happen to the time stream? Scientists—that's what.

I was on one of my normal jumps into the future. The year was 5176 and I remember, in one of my many conversations with people, talking to these scientists about the theory of time travel. I'm not even sure just how the subject came up but there i was talking about time travel. I was pretty obtuse in my conversations but I guess I wasn't obtuse enough as they kept throwing theories at me and judging my responses. Looking back I believe I know the point where they clued-in to my being from not their time. I found it difficult to fit in in daily life. It was the little things that tripped me up. As I wasn't raised in their time I knew little of what you could call common knowledge. The histories of certain subjects, common social customs, how the damn toilets worked! You know, the little things! And as an adult you can't just ask how this and that works as it's common knowledge! Time travel can get a little tricky sometimes. It's the details that get you. I thought I covered my tracks well and, for the average individual, I guess I did. But the more astute, the scientists, were suspicious early on.

Come to find out, once they had a suspicion of my being a traveler, they had me followed. They knew every step I took and some of those steps led them to my machine. I would make the occasional visit just to make sure its presence was still unknown. Well, it was unknown until I led them straight to it!

I went to check on it one day and there they were—fiddling with it! They were trying to turn it on! I startled them when I approached. That's when one of them got a little hurried and careless, or brave, as he continued to mess with the power source. Fried him good too! One minute he was there; then a blue flash; then a pile of ashes. I had no idea that would happen messing with the power supply because I was never dumb enough to try it! The others turned white as a ghost when they saw their colleague reduced to nothing. I'm sure my reaction was similar as well. They were a bit more careful after that.

They basically held me hostage for months pumping me for information. They kept all this to themselves as no authorities were involved. I told them very little as I didn't really know much about the machine's construction or the theory behind it. And what I did tell them I held back even more! In the end it didn't really matter. With the copious amounts of notes and videos they had they must've figured it out because on my next jump the timeline was destroyed; utterly destroyed.

Escape from these guys was not easy either. I had to trick them into it. And that took quite some doing!

Once these scientists were fully stumped I convinced them I needed to show them how to operate the thing. They knew this but they also knew I could easily jump. And they were right!

It took some doing but I convinced them I couldn't jump before they could reach me to pull me from the machine. I said the process took too long and I couldn't move that fast. In other words, I lied.

They were very cautious though. They stood right by me ready to pounce if I even came close to anything resembling a jump. As they had never seen the machine in action they had no idea if everything was working the way it should. This I used to my advantage. I made sure to fumble around and get things a little wrong. I began to build my case against their tinkering with the machine. The more I did things wrong, the more I blamed their ignorance of the machine and their attempts to start it that had caused all things to go crazy. Because I knew my machine I could make her cough and wheeze and do all sorts of odd things.

Soon I had them second-guessing their actions so i put the juice to 'er. All the while I was telling them to stand back as I didn't know if I could stop the "overload" I was expertly manipulating. The machine created her field and began to whine in the proper tone. The blue, electric mist scared the hell out of 'em! Me screaming obscenities and warnings added to the effect. They thought it was about to explode! Two of them ran from the area! The blue lightning began to form and I knew there was no stopping me. If they tried to get through the lightning they would end up like their colleague of dust! In a split-second, I was gone.

I didn't really pay attention to where I was going I just dialed-up a time and went. I ended up in the late nineteenth century and it was a mess! There were people living in the streets, well if you could call them that, they were dirt paths really, with garbage everywhere. I was in, what should have been, downtown Chicago. There were hovels for homes; no built structures. Everything was makeshift. It was a filthy existence.

Yes, something had changed and I know it was all due to the scientists.

They must've gone and had their way with the timeline and consequently changed it forever. Who knows how far ahead or back they went. Who knows how many travelers are out there. We may never know. All I know is time on Earth is like a tightly entangled lump of string with knots throughout that can never be untangled. Not by me anyway.

Once I was free I tried to see how far into the past of I could jump before the timeline changed. As far as I can tell it's been infected by these scientists since the beginning of time! There's no point to start with! I even tried to go back and eliminate my entire lineage. As you can see that didn't work either.

The burden is great knowing what I have done. I even contemplated taking my own life so as to put an end to my misery. I thought I would just jump into oblivion. It can be done. Then I thought I should just jump the prehistoric and let nature have at me. But I'm too much of a coward. I couldn't bring myself to it when it really came down to it. So I do what all I can do. I travel each day to a different time and leave this message in audio and written form so as to let the generations know what has happened and who is responsible.

But I'll never stop, never give up! This is too important! I will continue to jump until my last days to maybe find the solution to a problem I created. There is always hope. Even if fleeting at times. I will never stop. Just now, I am out there looking for clues, looking for answers and with luck I can stop this.

I am John Colder, destroyer of Earth signing off.


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