Monday, 13 May 2013

About Time - A work in progress

This is the first chapter of a story I was working on a while back that kind of fell by the wayside. It's a story about time travel that starts in Dublin 2013 and moves around from there. I've decided to post a chapter here and then read it back and see if its worth continuing with. Feel free to comment, positive or negative... I can take it!!!

Chapter 1

Before we begin, I have to explain that I am a genius. I am not trying to be vain or big-headed about this, but it is something you need to know from the outset. And incidentally, I am not talking your average fourteen year old, top-of-the class-in-school kind of genius either. I am more your Albert Einstein type of genius. Though in fairness, old Albert didn’t speak until he was two years old, which makes him a bit of a late bloomer in my opinion. I’m not knocking the great man of course. He was obviously extremely intelligent, and some of his work on relativity was obviously ground breaking, even if he did need two attempts at it. Still, that whole E=MC2 thing was great for its time. I’m just saying that we should not necessarily use him as a benchmark on the genius scale. 

Now I know you are probably sitting there wondering how anyone can be so big-headed. After all I’m not stupid. But if we are going to go through this story together there are a few things that you will need to understand at the very beginning, and the first, and most important is that I am a genius. If you were here with me I could produce letters and certificates from MENSA or from Trinity College Dublin where I completed my Masters in Applied Quantum Physics before my thirteenth birthday. But you are not here, so you are just going to have to take my word on it. Otherwise you may as well just close the book now and go back to whatever you normally do to pass the time.

The second thing you have to understand if this story is going to make any sense at all is that everything you were ever told about time was wrong. Well, almost everything. HG Wells got a few things spot on, and the writers of Dr Who were not too far off the mark on occasion either. Time Travel is not only possible, it is essential. At the moment you are travelling through time and space at a speed of 1 second per second. Congratulations. You are officially a Time Traveller, and you will be until the day you die, at which point, your body will continue without you in some shape or form. 

The tricky part is not travelling in time, it is controlling your speed. And actually, once you get the hang of the whole thing, it’s really not that tricky after all. But I’m getting ahead of myself a bit here. The best way to tell the story is probably to stick with the traditional sequential approach, so we’ll start at the beginning and work forward. And I suppose it really all started last spring, when I was preparing to deliver a dissertation on “Energy Loss in Quantum Tunnelling” to the Max Planck Institute in Munich. I was in my office in the Hamilton Building in Trinity College Dublin, polishing off a packet of munchies and wondering whether I should deliver it in German or English. I was also trying very hard to keep my hands away from a spot the size of Vesuvius which was festering beneath my chin and likely to erupt at any moment. Suddenly something struck me. It was a scrunched up A4 page that had been ripped from a copy book and thrown with remarkable accuracy directly through my second floor window.  

I flattened the page out on my desk, and found a scrawled message from my older brother, Jack. “Dinner is at six-thirty. See you at Pav in 10.” The Pavilion Bar is the area of the college overlooking the cricket grounds where students like to hang out in the sun and pretend they are being profound as they knock back pints of lager. I had little time for alcohol, but Jack was nineteen and was in his first year of an Arts Degree, (English and History). He seemed to spend more time in the bar than in classes, and with his year-end exams only a few weeks away would have been better off focussing on a few books in the library than a few beers in the Pav, but I suppose it takes all sorts. 

I only had ten minutes to finish up and get over there to him, so I turned my attention back to my dissertation. There was something niggling at me though. I could not quite put my finger on it, but there was something about having only ten minutes to finish up, and wanting to get so much more done in that time that was drifting around in my head like a butterfly. For a couple of seconds I tried chasing around my head after it with a metaphorical net trying to catch it, but with no success. Then I decided to lure it in, so I shifted my focus back to Quantum Tunnelling, and waited for my Eureka moment. And then it came to me. A flash of inspiration hit me on the head with all the force of an apple falling from a tree, and in that instant I knew that I had mastered the secrets of time travel that had evaded the greatest minds in history. 
Then I had to run off to the Pav and on home for a fried chicken dinner.