FICTION: THE PARADOX LOOP
They called it the ‘Wells Temporal Interface’ but to those of us who “flew” in it it was ‘The Bubble’.
Only the forward portal journeyed through time. The greater bulk of The Bubble remained at Base where we could live a reasonably normal life, eating, drinking, sleeping and all else.
This arrangement suited us very well and not only us, it allowed every possible cabling necessary to capture every nuance across an entire spectrum of inputs. These could be accessed 24/7 at nanosecond speeds building diverse analyses models in real-time. Our intimate connection also allowed for immediate snapback if this became necessary.
In the forward portal all the exciting stuff took place. We, the six crew considered ourselves the luckiest people in the world. The entire historical time track of Earth was open to us to explore at will. Of course, our opinions on what and where to look were to be allowed only a brief window, the vast bulk of targets had long been chosen by a panel of philosophers, historians and anthropologists along with a range of other academic experts in their fields.
Above I used the term ‘flew’ for what we do within the portal and in case you are one of the few not following these activities this is because our location is always ten meters above the height of Everest as standard. To arrive in the same space as an existing object of any kind would be disastrous. Upon arrival in open space it was to be up to us to guide the portal to pre-decided coordinates.
The above describes how we understood the process and having great faith in our instructions and trainers we had no reason to doubt that all would go well. Perhaps a more sceptical attitude might have served us better, however, none of us could say quite how.
In any event, we appear to be high over what in modern historical parlance became named Nubia. This is beyond doubt an interesting target but it is not the target we were scheduled to reach. In addition to this glitch, we appear to have lost almost all contact with Base. I say almost and I mean 99% by this. We do hear the occasional word. Mostly though we hear only static. And snapback appears to be non-functional.
Below currently we see only endless waves of yellow sand, dunes stretching to the horizon. Access to maps is via the cabling to The Bubble so we must make the decision regarding direction of travel by ourselves. It appears to be midday. We broke temporal surface an hour ago and though we had a decent meal before the flight we will need to find something edible before the next 24 hours pass. The same holds true for water. We could certainly survive longer than 24 hours, but after this point our cognitive functions would certainly begin to falter.
The consensus was that we must wait until nightfall and rely on our knowledge of the star fields above us to guide our choice of flight path.
So it was after a long and frustrating wait that night fell. During those long hours while we waited we were at least kept reasonably cool by the thick filters of the forward portal screen.
Using the constellation Orion, specifically the star Mintaka, along with the North Star and Cassiopeia, we decide on our course and began to journey steadily north.
Below us, seemingly endless dark waves of dunes passed across the lower viewing station. Unable to access the living quarters of The Bubble we made ourselves as comfortable as we could in our flight positions. Hour after hour passed frustratingly slowly to those of us who could find no sleep, including myself. The flow of endless dunes below ought to have had a hypnotic effect on me but the stress of finding ourselves lost, alone and out of touch with the modern world had unnerved me greatly and sleep totally eluded me.
I must admit the dawn when it came was stunning. By degrees, the desert below coloured through every degree of red, orange and dark yellow. It was an absolutely beautiful sight and took our breath away, leaving us free of any thought of our precarious situation for at least fifteen minutes of the new day.
Some two hours later we caught sight of it, winding majestically like some great snake through acres of green, the great river Nile. We continued to travel north using the Nile as our guide.
We have access to some few tools that can help us, primarily access to our onboard computer and a library of infocubes supplied for our reference. Researching these for any clues that might assist our continued survival we began referencing data on a place by the name of Nabta Playa. Now as far as we could estimate from our original target data we were within a time frame between 3,000 and 3,500 BC. Some 60 to 65 thousand years earlier it was estimated this area had been a savanna during the interglacial period of that time. This however was not the most important factor even though it could mean a good food source could be found. The most important factor for us, which came from a mixture of intuition, desperation and sheer imagination, was the modern theory that the megaliths found at Nabta Playa may have had an astronomical origin.
So it was that we began our search for the mysterious stone circles of Nabta.
We could see that Nabta was located at 22.507967°N 30.725600°E and by following the contours of the Nile that we meticulously observed below we determined that we would arrive there in five hours.
You may ask what we hoped to find there. The sorry truth is that we were desperate. We had continued to try to regain contact with Base but this had proven futile. We were now at the stage where even the slimmest hope drove us. What that hope was would astonish you if I related it to you now so I will instead continue my narration.
We arrived at Nabta Playa just before noon. No human habitation could be seen. The megaliths however stood out from all else to be seen. We were shocked at the number of stones and their alignment. Central was a circle of megaliths with three stones within it corresponding to the position of the stars in Orion’s Belt. Also within the circle were six additional stones with no apparent alignment associated with them. Off to one side of the circle were stones in a clear pathway or runway alignment.
From our studies, we had determined that following our intuition we must by some means reach the years 6,000 BC and 16,500 BC. By observation, we followed what appeared to be the logical path provided by the landscape below.
Aligning the portal above the first stones we moved slowly toward the stone circle ahead. Arriving there we hovered in wait of we knew not what. Were we mad? There was no logic involved, only that mix of intuition and desperation I spoke of earlier. We waited.
A good ten minutes passed with the circle and nine stones below us clear as day, unmoving, unchanging as the seemingly eternal desert around them.
Then, almost imperceptibly a mist slowly formed between us and the stones. This mist then began to swirl partially hiding the stones from us. Suddenly some powerful uplift occurred which sent us flying kilometres high in the air above the circle. As suddenly as we had flown up we plummeted down again to hover once again in the same position, central to the stones as before and at the same height. However there was something that was no longer the same, the stones were far larger than before and more precisely defined.
Suddenly, taking our breath away we flew upward once again. The same sequence reoccurred as before and down we flew. When the window cleared this time we gasped at the changes we saw below. Each stone was now tipped with a metal sheath and all were linked by cabling. The whole array looked like nothing other than an ultra-modern telescope or radar complex.
We peered down in awe at the clear evidence of complex technology below us. Undoubtedly we had arrived somewhere around 16,500 BC after a major booster surge at 6,000 BC. What else might we find here? An advanced civilization? Aliens.
Slowly we became aware of several blurry shapes moving within the circle. They moved with some clear purpose and appeared to be carrying large objects using some form of electronic beam in front of them. Counting the blurs we made six in all. The large objects could be made out to be massive stones with the same shining tips upon them. These, the blurs placed very precisely within the surrounding circle.
Slowly it began to dawn on us what we were observing. Though we had no time to consider these thoughts at that moment as suddenly our connection to base burst into life. The primary controller was urgently and repeatedly using her call sign. Shocked at the sudden sound of her voice urgently calling us we all started in fright intent as we had been on what was going on down below.
Responding as soon as our shock would allow we coordinated the snapback procedure with base. Turning once more to observe the scene below we found the six new stones gleaming and connected by cables to all others across the entire array but there was no longer any sign of the moving blurs we had seen there previously.
Just then the sand below blew up in violent gusts and swirls obscuring everything from our gaze.
The next moment we heard the primary controller voice the words we had longed to hear all through our incredible experience. We were home.
The next few days brought it fully home to us what had occurred on our fantastic voyage through time. The onboard data capture devices had captured everything on film. It had become clear immediately as soon as analysis was begun that something equally dangerous and miraculous had taken place. It had long been held in speculative fiction that a certain paradox was an inherent danger during time travel, that you could meet up with yourself or selves.
It became clear that we had entered such a paradox situation, a loop in time whereby we had somehow engineered our own escape from an event which would not occur for more than 18 thousand years. Those six blurs had been ourselves fixing in place the last six elements required to provide the power to get us home.
This explained our rescue, performed by ourselves. However, there was a further question which remained unanswered. Where did we source the technology to do this? What possible technological know-how could explain the event we had just experienced? And who could have provided it?
These were questions that would only be answered once further trips were arranged when the glitch that had sent us there was resolved. And one last question… was what happened to us planned by those who created the technological device that had saved us? Was time travel going to advance to the point where we would create them ourselves, all the way back then?