With billions of brains working full time,
it’s likely that someone will someday
try to remember this very moment.
If we listen carefully,
maybe we’ll hear them searching,
or see their lookup rippling the shadows,
or feel the rumble of their memory waves.
How does the brain search the past,
seeking stored experience?
Maybe it does something akin to
reliving certain moments,
acting as a kind of time machine.
This invites us to compare
being and remembering.
If we can’t tell the difference between
the present and a perfect recollection
or a flawless premonition
and a deeply vivid dream,
maybe that’s because there is none.
Bobble E. Lee
Suppose you wish to take a vacation to the Battle of Gettysburg. You contact your local time travel agency, pay for the trip, appear at their facilities at the appointed hour, ingest a time travel tab, relax in a comfy bed in a private room, seem to drift off to sleep, and find yourself in a field or on a hill or in the woods or marching down the Chambersburg Pike, toting a bed roll and rifled musket, wearing blue or gray or butternut; maybe you land in mid-battle, Minie balls whizzing by, comrades shouting and falling, chaos everywhere….
In an instant, you forget that you’re time traveling and actually become a person who has always been at the Battle of Gettysburg, a part of history, essential to that moment, quickly absorbed by the flow, forgetting yourself for the duration of your vacation.
This complete immersion prevents you and other time travel tourists from changing the consciousness and behavior of the original combatants. Not only are no additional physical bodies injected into the battle, there is no additional awareness; any of these would change events, shoving the target into a new timeline. Thus the integrity of the past is maintained, even as millions routinely time-travel to that fateful weekend in July of 1863.
So Bobby Lee ends up being occupied by millions of visiting scholars, day trippers, wayward housewives, foreign dignitaries, avid reenactors; his consciousness simply absorbing them, not missing a beat. Despite their historical knowledge, he still fails to heed the protestations of Longstreet and Hood, abandons his tactical defensive policy, insists on doomed attempts to take Little Round Top, and finally orders Pickett’s Division to march face-first into volleys of canister. One might say he fails unfailingly, repeating his actions every time, but it is this precise repetition of events that defines them as happening only once, forever. He always makes the same decisions, the wind blows just so; now it’s silent, the batteries begin, limbs detach and take flight, thousands fall, identical cries of dying men emerge from Devil’s Den precisely now, forever.
A couple of words on how time travel drugs work. Simply put, they act upon the brain, enabling and triggering perfect recall and more. The subject is first sequestered in a dark room, where his or her body will be safely stored in a climate controlled module for the duration of the trip. The drug is administered; within minutes the subject regresses through his or her life history, reliving key events in startlingly accurate and ever-increasing detail, until it is impossible to distinguish memories from reality. At this point, a limited time-slip ingredient kicks in. The subject’s consciousness then goes off the rails, so to speak, and begins accessing events beyond its known past. Up to this point, the process could be explained as simply an incredibly vivid form of recall; after this, the brain is actually scanning the past, beyond its physical history, something like the way we search the internet for stored information.
In short, the brain is a time machine, capable of transporting a person’s consciousness back in time (remembering) or forward (extrapolating, predicting) or even across timelines (imagining). The so-called time travel drugs are simply chemical agents that enhance, enable, and trigger these activities.
So much for time travel tourism. In the highly classified military-industrial realm, several techniques enable time travelers to physically impact the past or future. These methods make use of the Montauk Chair, higher technologies developed by the Days Again government, and Graylien timeline travel secrets. In these cases, time travelers actually create new timelines from old, using targeted events as starting points. When they modify the past, they spawn new timelines and experience what is known as “time slip”, surfing from their original targets to a series of modified timelines. The tricky part, of course, is to navigate such a sequence of alternate universes and return to one’s starting point, more or less intact.
John Pursch lives in Tucson, Arizona. His work has been nominated for Best of the Net and has appeared in many literary journals. A collection of his poetry,Intunesia, is available at http://www.lulu.com/
spotlight/whiteskybooks. Check out his experimental lit-rap video at https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=l33aUs7obVc. He’s @johnpursch on Twitter and john.pursch on Facebook.