Between Realities

“Is the Einstein Rosen Bridge prepared?” Commander Dalton asked as he perused the myriad of dials and computer screens within the control room aboard the orbiting International Space Station high above the Earth.
“Affirmative,” Captain Jake Sollenson replied almost absentmindedly while making minute adjustments from his pilot’s position aboard the exploratory craft. The tiny ship was dwarfed by the sheer size of the massively large wormhole entrance it floated in front of in preparation for the very first jump through time and space by representatives of humanity.
If the whole magnificent structure could have been physically weighed, it would in effect be the equivalent of 100 million solar masses.
“Casimir energy levels appear nominal Jake, er sorry, I mean captain. The wormhole is about as stable as its ever going to be.”
Lieutenant Becky Rawlins, the tiny ship’s other crewmember and the ISS’s chief scientific technician, briefly forgot the proper command protocol before reporting in her familiar almost cold, matter of fact, automaton like voice from where she sat behind Jake’s piloting position.
The sound of Dalton’s voice echoed within the cramped confines of the tiny ship’s cabin courtesy of the loudspeaker above their heads in a metallic tone.
“Countdown to jump in 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 – execute!”
Jake fired the engines for the three second burst needed to achieve forward momentum.
The theoretical scientists back at JPL had calculated or rather surmised that the wormhole itself would take care of the rest of their trip within its relatively unstable interior as it propelled them along its entire length like an animal ridding its intestines of a troublesome blockage.
As he attempted to keep the ship in the centre of the hole, buffeted by unseen forces, Jake’s eyes took in strange images reflected back to him by the wormhole’s inner surfaces, none of which he recognised. It was as if he was being given a glimpse of another world, either lost in time or light years away from the familiarity of the orbiting ISS and Earth.
What no one within the Earth’s scientific community knew was exactly where the other end of the wormhole was likely situated, or indeed how far away.
Maybe it would bring them back to the Earth in a former time, or would it be Earth in our future? Maybe it would spit them out somewhere far across the galaxy. No one really knew for sure. Come to that no one knew why it had suddenly appeared six months ago either.
The only thing that anyone was certain of was that it had appeared either by accident or design. The wormhole offered theoretical physicists a golden opportunity to put their ideas about the, until now, highly controversial and theoretical Einstein Rosen Bridge debate, into practice.
The whole hazardous exercise was seen as a heaven sent opportunity given the stalled talks over the current problem of deep space propulsion. Senior members of the space programme saw it as a calculated leap of faith into the unknown, fuelled by mankind’s inability to produce some form of practical and sustainable deep space mode of transport.
In terms of propulsion up until the wormhole had appeared a few months ago, the best that leading scientists across the planet could come up with was either the continued use of rocket propulsion or some form of nuclear or solar wind power.
~~~
Jake’s mind wandered dreamlike in spellbound wonder as the ship continued on its journey into the unknown.
All normally accepted concepts of time and movement seem to disappear inside the wormhole. It was almost as if they were not moving at all. There were none of the usual indicators with which to judge your motion and speed except for the constant supply of new almost kaleidoscopic views of other worlds appearing on the inner walls of the wormhole from wherever their ultimate destination may be.
Both Jake and Becky had volunteered for this extremely hazardous and yet exciting exploration into the vast unknown realms of space and time, realising that they may in all likelihood never survive, or be able to return. For the meantime at least they were able to still communicate despite the perculiar properties of the wormhole’s construction. But how long that would last no one knew…
Becky continually fired neutrino transmissions of data back the way they came; hoping upon hope that commander Dalton and the rest of their colleagues back aboard the ISS received them.
With the recent discovery of neutrino burst technology, hailed as the communication system of the future, the old two way voice system with its inherent time delay was deemed unusable considering the dampening properties of a wormhole. Utilizing the new technology was at best a calculated gamble. After all, no human had ever entered a wormhole until now. Everything they did and experienced, was a first for all mankind.
After what seemed like barely a few minutes, the ship reappeared somewhere in space once again.
In these specific circumstances reliance on any kind of manmade timepiece was useless given the additional problem of the time altering properties of the wormhole.
Both Jake and Becky watched the rear monitor as the ship drifted slowly away from where they had just exited the other end of the wormhole.
Becky suddenly gripped Jake’s head in her hands, jerking his gaze away from the rearward view and back to the screen showing the ship’s forward camera view.
“What the hell?”
“God almighty Jake look, just look!” Becky almost screamed in terror as she temporarily lost her legendary self control.
Ahead of the tiny ship with its crew of two lay a wall of wormholes stretching away in all directions as far as the eye could see.
“Christ Becky, take a look behind us!” Jake shouted, almost deafening her, forgetting for the moment the close physical distance between them.
Becky returned her attention to the rearward facing camera just in time to see the wormhole behind them evaporate into nothingness.
“Well there’s no way back for the moment, so which one of the wormhole bank around us do we choose?” Jake said quietly as he tried his darndest to sound in control despite the gut wrenching fear knotting in his stomach.
A tear slid slowly down Becky’s cheek which she quickly wiped away before making a comment.
“Hmm that one there maybe… Hell Jake how do I know!” she screamed, sobbing uncontrollably.
“Try sending another burst communication back to the ISS Becks,” Jake suggested placing what he hoped was a reassuring arm around her.
“How for Christ sake, the wormhole has vanished genius –duh!  And will you quit calling me Becks!” she yelled in frustrated anger.
Jake was on the point of steering the tiny craft towards the nearest wormhole entrance when Becky screamed again, this time with a mixture of relief and sheer delight.
“Jake the wormhole has reopened. Let’s head back before it closes again.”
After once again reappearing opposite the ISS, Jake eased their way towards the docking bay utilizing the small ship’s attitude boosters.
Almost as soon as they had returned the wormhole closed and disappeared forever, never to be seen again in our lifetime.
~~~
“Come on my dear; put your cosmos experiment on standby now it’s time for bed.”
“Oh but mother I was just about to get some new friends to play with.”
“Now Godle don’t try my patience it’s time for bed.”
“But mother…”
The whole wormhole system and its pictures was nothing more than the cosmological equivalent of an underground railway system created by a childlike entity in another reality which had somehow found its way into ours.
Little did he realise that his ideas and experiments would continue to influence the way we evolve in our own reality as they had up until now. Maybe at sometime in the future his experiment would break through again – maybe…

The Curse of Time


Despite the countless fictional time travelling scenarios on offer these days and in the recent past via science fiction novels, short stories, along with film, radio and television like the excellent Dr Who series, are we meant to be able to travel in time?
If it became possible in the future, how would time travel affect us?
If you travelled forward in time, would you age? Or, if you travelled back would you grow younger, or merely cease to age until you returned to the present?
Another problem to consider is if you travelled back in time to the same location you set off from, would you appear at a lower ground level, or even below water? With the passing of time the surface of the ground we walk on today has gradually raised from where it was even a thousand years in the past. Given that irrefutable fact if you went forward, apart from possibly rapidly ageing, would you find yourself swallowed up beneath that age’s current ground level?
Regarding communication with those people inhabiting the particular time period you have travelled to, would anyone either in the past or the future be able to understand you? Would you be able to understand them? After all, language is constantly evolving.
Would you be physically different to those inhabiting both the future and the past? Regarding the past the answer is definitely yes. Our ancestors led a far more physically demanding lifestyle than we currently do. Whether or not the people in the future would differ physically is almost an unknown. And yet as we have progressed over the last few hundred years we have become used to a less physical way of life. If mankind progresses at the present rate, the people of the future will undoubtedly become even less reliant on the physical aspect of their bodies than we are right now and more reliant on technology.
A final thing to consider is disease. Each time period has/had its own particular set of crippling diseases. How would our bodies cope with plague for instance if we went back in time? Would the people in the past and in the future be struck down by the diseases we currently suffer from if we travelled in time?
Above all, if you found yourself permanently trapped out of your own time could you survive? Are we not merely a peculiar adaptation of our own present time and environment? Would we even be tolerated in the past or the future?
All of the questions I have raised here are largely ignored by writers in the world of imaginative science fiction time travelling tales. But what if?
Food for thought I think…

Control

 
It was Friday night and time for the television war yet again. The never ending argument was about to begin in the Montague household over the ownership of the television remote control.
Debbie wanted to watch her favourite soap opera – Lover’s Tryst, while Chuck insisted on watching the football game.
Chuck’s position was that it was the penultimate game before the grand final, and besides, as the head of the household and sole breadwinner it was his right to choose the programmes they watched.
Debbie argued quite logically that tonight’s episode of the soap opera was the cliff hanger ending to the current series, and anyway he could watch the game equally well on the other television in the bedroom.
As usual Debbie nagged, pleaded, sighed loudly, stroked his hair, kissed the lobes of his ears, and talked incessantly in a loud voice about nothing and everything, using anything she could think of to make Chuck’s enjoyment of the game evaporate to get her own way.
When that didn’t work she briefly left the room before returning with the vacuum cleaner and began meticulously cleaning the carpet directly between the couch where Chuck sat with the remote control firmly fixed in his grip, and the television.
She constantly walked in front of him rearranging the position of the coffee table and the magazines on it, repeatedly making him lift his legs as she poked the business end of the vacuum cleaner under the couch, doing anything and everything to obstruct his view of the game while regaling in her most annoying tone, the events of the day.
Despite his best efforts to shut out her continuous annoyingly loud monologue and the noise of the vacuum cleaner, gradually Debbie’s relentless audio bombardment destroyed his concentration. In sheer frustration and anger he pointed the remote at her like a weapon and hit the red button, telling her to “just shut up for Christ sake!”
What happened next stunned both of them as Debbie was instantly struck dumb!
Chuck’s attention quickly returned to the game with not the least concern for his wife’s current predicament. At least now he could watch the game without her constant noise making.
Debbie stood rooted to the spot crying silently with her hands stroking her neck, for the moment totally preoccupied with having mysteriously lost her voice.
Chuck was by now concentrating on the game. As he at last relaxed he put the remote down to watch the play.
Debbie soon recovered from her lack of voice and in her anger she sat down heavily on the couch beside him before picking up the remote to change the channel back to her soap opera.
Chuck reacted equally angrily, reaching across her in an attempt to snatch the remote back from her.
In the vigorous struggle for physical control over the remote Debbie’s finger inadvertently pressed the blue button. She watched with a mixture of horror, revenge and delicious satisfaction as Chuck evaporated in front of her eyes.
Still angry and not the least bit concerned that her husband had vanished she settled down to watch her soap. For the next hour she was totally engrossed in the final scenes of the programme when just before the soap ended and the credits began to roll down the screen, she disappeared to.
Smokey congratulated herself. She smiled her enigmatic feline smile while purring with contentment as she began licking her fur; meticulously grooming herself after retracted her claws.
Pressing the green button had finally brought peace to her house at long last…

A Mouse’s Tail

 
A Door mouse named Sparkle lived in a pile of leaves high up inside an old hollow tree in a forest not far from here.
Once she had warmed up, she was a very busy little soul. But when it was cold, or when it rained or snowed, she simply curled up in a ball with her beautiful golden feathery tail wrapped about her with just her tiny nose poking out.
The winter had been a particularly harsh and cold one. Traces of snow from the last heavy fall still clung to the old tree’s foliage above Sparkle’s nest as it gradually melted in the weak warmth of the early spring sunshine. All throughout the land new signs of life stirred now that the weather was changing for the better.
Sparkle’s nose twitched. A great sneeze escaped as she involuntarily rid herself of a tiny feather that had found a temporary home in one of her nostrils at sometime during the winter while she slept.
She opened one eye and peered out from behind the protection of her tail.
All around her she could hear her neighbours stirring from their winter slumber as the sun slowly warmed the world.
Sparkle yawned, stretched and open her other eye. It was time once more for life to continue in its age old way.
She rolled over and stood for a few moments as her heart pumped furiously, rapidly driving away the torpor she had been in throughout the long dark months of winter.
Sparkle busied herself tidying her nest, grooming her fur and magnificent tail before she plucked up the courage to hunt for food.
It was still too early for her to collect her favourite berries. But she knew her secret larder at the foot of the tree beneath one of its giant roots would be full of the nuts and berries she had gathered last autumn; always providing of course that the squirrels hadn’t found it and emptied it.
Sparkle timidly peered out at the world.
Beyond the safety of her nest she had many enemies who like her were ravenously hungry and would not think twice about catching her for their supper. Fortunately for her, the old tree she lived in already had its new covering of leaves, meaning she could hide from the vigilant eyes of her woodland nemesis, the grey owl that lived close by. If danger presented itself she had an alternative route down to the ground inside the trunk.
Many times during her short lifetime Sparkle had nearly been caught by the wily owl. She had often escaped at the last possible second by diving beneath a leaf, or by clinging to the underside of the branch she was on, before dropping to the leaf litter on the forest floor below where she could quickly disappear from view.
As the sun climbed higher in the sky she decided to take a chance and step outside. She sat in the entrance to her nest for a short time checking for signs of danger before scurrying down the tree’s great trunk to the ground below.
Sparkle uncovered the entrance to her larder and peered nervously inside. Last year, she had nearly been caught by an Adder who had made her larder its new home. But thankfully all was clear as she entered. She ate her fill before beginning her long climb back to her nest, this time in the relative safety of the old tree’s hollow interior.
There was so much to do in the coming weeks. She hoped that the male she tolerated would be back. By now Sparkle was two years old, a great age for a Door mouse. She needed to have a brood of her own before the year turned once again to winter.
The sun disappeared below the horizon bringing the day to a close. Sparkle busied herself before bedtime rearranging the new supply of leaves on top of the old in her nest.
A noise outside her home made her extremely nervous.
When the sun appeared again the following morning, a beam of sunlight tracked slowly across the hollow in the tree’s trunk revealing all that was left of Sparkle. Her magnificent golden feathery tail lay discarded in the now empty nest.
A Pine Martin had found its evening meal…

The world of Ebooks v conventional printing

I was watching the BBC news this morning. The Worldwide CEO for Penguin Books was asked his opinion on Ebooks versus the conventionally physical printed kind. He was initially asked several fatuous questions but declined to descend to the mental level of the interviewer involved.

However when the subject of production was raised by the interviewer, he stated that with the rise of the internet and Ebook readers here in England, in particular the Amazon Kindle, conventional publishing companies like his had suffered a 12% decline in the last financial year, while the figure in the US was 20%.

When asked about the publishing costs involved, he stated that it was no wonder that readers were turning to Ebooks, simply because of their relatively low price, according to him, solely due to the fact that no printing press was involved.

The one thing he did say concerning internet publishing that stuck in my craw however was when he lumped all of us under the banner of ‘self publishing’.

He further went on to add that whenever a so-called ‘self published’ book was successful, He and his colleagues within the mainstream publishing world would think nothing of poaching the book and its author.

If the author involved, whoever he or she may be had proved they are successful, then it begs the simple question – why were they not accepted by the mainstream in the first place when they first submitted their work for consideration? 

Is it any wonder that mainstream publishing is in decline???

Thank god for small press. Thank god for my publisher IFWG, who are small press and not a self publishing concern.

Dhobi

I walked into the autopsy room at the beginning of the day to find a body awaiting my undivided attention which had been found in the woods above the neighbouring village where I grew up.
I was equally shocked and saddened. It was my childhood friend Dhobi.
Back then most of the kids in our village were merciless towards him, throwing stones, shouting obscenities. None of them knew the simple gentle man hidden beneath the grime the way I did.
I was the only kid who didn’t pick on him. There was something very special about this loner who had shunned society for the woods. Never once did I wonder why he lived the way he did, nor did he ever offer an explanation. He was a man of few words.
Dhobi taught me how to live off the land by showing me how to make snares, what plants and fungi were edible and those that were not, and what were best for simple medicinal uses – the extent of his knowledge was endless.
Nicknamed Dhobi (a British military slang term for clothes washing) for as long as he could remember for the simple reason he hated to wash; to keep out the ravages of the elements, he wore all the clothes he possessed beneath his tattered ex army greatcoat.
No one knew where he came from; or cared much come to that. I often asked him, but he merely ignored me. Most parents in our village wanted him arrested, assuming the worst about him and fearing that he was some kind of perverted weirdo.
If my parents had ever found out about my childhood friendship with this solitary man they would have been horrified! I used to walk up the hill from my home in the village every couple of days with my pockets and school satchel stuffed with food stolen from my mother’s larder for him.
Dhobi’s natural gentleness was apparent to anyone if only they would have spent time in his wonderful company.
Mice lived in his pockets. Hedgehogs curled up in the folds of his old army greatcoat around his legs as the sun disappeared beneath the western horizon until it was time for them to hunt for food.
He never ever trapped an animal to eat from his own patch in the woods, just in case he may eat a friend of his by mistake.
Each spring a fresh Cock Robin appeared in Dhobi’s camp and spent its time in the evenings on his shoulder meticulously pecking mites from his hair and beard. Obviously the respect this gentle man had for all wildlife was passed down through each generation of creatures.
On one occasion I watched spellbound as a Sparrow Hawk brought Dhobi a gift of wildfowl.
Dhobi’s greatest friend in his natural world was an old battle scarred one eyed fox that lived with him, keeping him company, sharing the warmth of his constant campfire and at night sleeping at Dhobi’s feet beneath the rough lean-to that was Dhobi’s bedroom, lounge and kitchen. Sparrows nested in the bracken that covered the lean-to, knowing their young were completely safe under Dhobi’s caring eye.
As I began carefully removing his clothing I found among the few personal possessions he had about him, a faded newspaper cutting from the nineteen fifties showing a photograph of him in uniform with a few lines beneath it explaining the photo and giving his real name. On his chest I could see his row of medals.
The first in the line was the Victoria Cross, won for an act of total selflessness in the heat of battle when he rescued his comrades one by one while under constant machinegun fire on a nondescript long forgotten hill in the Korean peninsula.
Whatever happened to him to make him retreat from the world of humanity into the natural world? Maybe Dhobi and his mates fought for a hill too far. No one would know now. No one would care except me.
After conducting a thorough autopsy, determining that he had simply expired due to natural circumstances, brought on by his lifestyle, I had him cremated then took his ashes back to his campsite in the woods he loved so much, where I silently scattered them witnessed by the creatures who called him friend.
Rest in peace Corporal Phillip “Dhobi” Anderson VC…