2.22.2016

A Bit of Backstory

This is an excerpt from the backstory behind the sci fi novel I am working on. This is not actually part of the novel, but you could think of it as a prequel - although on matters of time travel, that may not be the best descriptor.
***

Biff was in a foul mood when he got to the conference room. Gary and John were already there with their laptops open. Biff plopped his notepad loudly on the table and sank into a chair.

"I don't think we should attempt this time travel proposal," Gary said, looking up from his laptop and cutting right to the chase. "It's too dangerous. We might re-write history with bad results."

"Yeah, like some of us ceasing to exist, for instance," John chimed in.

"John, I don't think you are understanding the science," Biff said. "Time travel to the past doesn't change history. It can't. Physics prevents it."

"How do we know that for sure though?" Gary asked, smirking.

"Because...math!" Biff raised his voice, exasperated. He slid his notepad across the table toward Gary so he could see Biff's scribbled calculations. "Physics is pure math. When you do the calculations, the results tell you what will happen. And changing history is just not possible."

"Why not?" John asked. "If I go back and kill my mother before I'm born, then I cease to exist, by definition. Can your numbers figure that out?"

"Ye-ess," Biff said in a taunting voice. "You do cease to exist, but only in an alternative universe, completely separate from this one." How I envy the inhabitants of that universe, Biff thought to himself.

"We don't know if parallel universes can exist," Gary said. "If you go back in time and spawn a parallel universe, it might implode, annihilating you and everything in it."

Biff had to admit his calculations did not preclude the creation of a parallel universe that immediately annihilated itself via quantum tunneling, due to the time warp's albeit brief singularity. But it was highly improbable. In fact, the risk of this universe they were currently bickering in disappearing in a quantum tunneling event was just as probable.

"That's a small risk," Biff responded. "And it's mitigated by two important facts. Firstly, the parallel universe would never exist unless you did time travel backwards. So if it imploded and vanished, so what? It's not even a real universe. It's artificially created by the time traveler him or her self." An image of Ruby flashed in Biff's mind.

"Tell that to the inhabitants of that universe," Gary said. "They'll think it's plenty real."

"But they'll all be perfectly alive and well in this universe," Biff countered. "None the wiser. And secondly, the parallel universe is completely separate from the one you time traveled back from. It's annihilation has no effect on our universe by the fact that our universe is obviously still in existence."

"What if the wormhole annihilates our universe in the present?" John asked.

"There's no evidence that it would," Biff replied. "By the numbers." He pushed away the fleeting doubt he felt.

"I don't know if I trust the numbers enough to risk the destruction of the known universe," Gary said. "I'm saying no to this proposal."

"Aw, c'mon, Gary," Biff whined. "Where's your sense of scientific adventure? We could win Nobel prizes for this. There are no laws written yet that say we can't do it!"

"This meeting's over," Gary said, snapping shut the screen of his laptop and standing up. John followed suit.

***

"Say, John, can you do me a favor?" Biff asked at the end of the next day, as John walked through the lab with his coat on and his briefcase in hand.

"Maybe," John replied, pausing and glancing sideways at Biff.

"Ruby and I were messing around with the old Area 51 machines earlier and she wanted me to run some entanglement diagnostics on them to see if we can repurpose them for the mini project," Biff said. "I just need someone to port a couple times while I run the numbers. Would you mind?"

"I'm tired, man," John said. "Can it wait?"

"Five minutes," Biff said. "I'll buy you a beer this weekend, I promise."

John sighed but dropped his briefcase on a chair and went through the swinging doors into the transport bay. He stopped in front of Machine A and signaled Biff to fire up the quantum field.

Biff dialed in the numbers he had calculated. 1960 had to be the right run, he reassured himself. He was just about to press the intercom button to tell John to step into the machine when he remembered the Mini portal and palmed his forehead.

He grabbed the stainless steel case with Ruby's Mini #2 in it and tapped the control panel on the front. It illuminated and he quickly confirmed its entanglement to Mini #1, which Ruby had with her in Melbourne. The panel indicated #1 was turned on. Perfect. Biff picked up the case and carried it into the transport bay. John turned an aggravated stare at Biff.

"Sorry," Biff said, sounding sympathetic, though he was merely apologetic about his own mistake. "I almost totally forgot the whole point of the diagnostic was to measure entanglement disruptions on the Minis after going through a transit themselves." He held up the Mini case and John took it.

"That one's entangled with Ruby's in Melbourne," Biff said. "Bring it back to the lab when you exit Machine B so I can measure how it held up."

John nodded and said, "Fire it up."

Biff returned to the lab and sat down in front of the console. His heart beat rapidly as he double checked the numbers. He flipped up the clear plastic cover on the activation button and his fingers hovered over it for a couple seconds as he took a deep breath.

Then he palmed it and turned to watch through the glass windows to the bay.

The light above Machine A's entry port changed from red to green. John opened the outer door of the airlock and stepped inside, pulling it closed behind him, after which Biff could no longer see his colleague.

Biff turned back to the console and watched the instruments. The Inner AL Hatch Open warning appeared on the screen. Then it changed to Inner AL Hatch Closed. The interior pressure gauge read STABLE. Biff held his breath and waited...

The screen flashed TRANSIT IN PROGRESS and a second later TRANSIT COMPLETE.

Biff lept from his chair and charged through the doors of the bay. He ran full pelt across the large hall to where the iron metal dome of Machine B sat. The light above its airlock was red. Biff peered into the window, trying to see through to the interior transit chamber. It was too dark. The wormhole had already closed.

Then he heard it. It was the faint sound of a barking dog. Biff opened the outer airlock door and stepped in. The barking was louder now. He peered through the window of the inner door into the transit chamber and burst into uncontrolled laughter when he saw the German shepherd leaping against the inside of it. He tore open the inner airlock door and took the excited beast into his arms.

As the dog licked his face, Biff said, "I did it. I f@cking did it!" He took the dog's head in his hands and smiled into its dark brown eyes. "We did it, boy! You are a boy, aren't you?" Biff tilted his head to look at the dog's underside.

Biff heard the phone in the lab ringing, but he ignored it.

"C'mon, boy," Biff said to the dog, which followed him out of Machine B and through the transit bay. "Let's get you some water and a treat." At the sound of the last word, the Shepherd gave an excited yelp and looked up at Biff.

Biff and the dog entered the lab where the ringing phone demanded his attention.

"Hang on, boy," Biff said and reached for the phone.

"Hello," he panted into the phone, still out of breath with excitement.

"What...the F@CK...did you do?" Ruby's voice seethed on the other end of the line.

"What do you mean?" Biff asked. "Except for making f@cking history!" He smiled smugly, though only the shepherd could see it.

"Do you know who just stepped through my Mini #2?" Ruby asked.

"If my calculations were right, you are probably referring to a Mr. John Hammers, yes?" Biff replied.

"Oh yeah," Ruby said. "It's John Hammers alright...an 85 year old John Hammers!"

It took a moment for Biff to register the words and then his face blanched white and his smile contorted into a grimace.

"F@@@@ck," Biff moaned as the receiver fell from his hand and he slumped down the wall to the floor. "I f@ckin' biffed."

Ruby's transistorized voice screamed faintly from the phone receiver as it lay on the floor. The German shepherd started licking Biff's ashen face, but he barely noticed.

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