It Must Be Done.

September 9, 2015 § 2 Comments

It must be done. I nervously glanced down at my watch, calibrated to detect the precise instant in time I had entered as well as to keep track of the relative time that had passed since I had begun my travels. It was 6:43 pm, September 18, 2139. Ten minutes until show time.

I discovered the mechanism for time travel approximately five days prior to now; or, rather, I have lived five days since I began traveling in time. The mechanism of my travels is rather simple, yet it took me years to create. Any child past 7th grade (or is it 6th grade curriculum now?) knows that the space-time continuum of Minkowski Space may be manipulated by an extremely strong gravitational well.  It is also known that it is possible for this well to bend the plane of space-time so much it that it doubles back upon itself, creating a kind of “hole” where the two points in the plane intersect that connects one part of the plane to another and therefore connects two instances in time. Most believe that this kind of hole only occurs within the vacuum of space and would be impossible to create here on Earth. I, however, managed to achieve this feat, an accomplishment I now regret with the deepest passion. I created a machine that uses gravitons, the boson particle that carries the force of gravity, to create a strong enough gravitational well to bend space-time and create a doorway that remains contained and closable through the use of counteracting anti-gravitons that act as a kind of “push to the pull,” per say. It took a lot of calculating, but I managed to figure out how to calibrate the machine so that I can control what instance in time that the door opens into down to the second. The machine is a masterpiece. And now I hope to make it so that the masterpiece never comes into existence.

7 minutes until I complete my mission. When I created the machine, I never thought of any negative implications. I understood the hypothesis of the ripple effect, that a small change in the past could greatly alter the future, but I was a stark believer in my own hypothesis, that the ripples would have negligible effects on human life and that so long as you mapped out the effects precisely, you could travel freely into the past, altering it in whatever which way you want. I believed this earnestly, and spent five days mapping out paths, planning a test, a simple test, to see if my hypothesis was true. All I did was pick some flowers, five to be precise, a simple week before my own time. I brought these flowers back to my original time (creating a pretty decoration), and checked to see if my simple action had any effect at all. It had.

After studying the incident my action had altered, I concluded the following had occurred: the flowers I had picked were to be admired by a young three-year-old girl precisely two days after I had picked them; her stopping to simply smell the flowers had allowed the girl’s mother time to grab her before she mindlessly ran out into the middle of the road; without the flowers, she did not stop, and was hit and killed immediately. I had removed the flowers; I had killed a three-year-old girl.

Two minutes left. I wait patiently for my past self to leave the lab; it is the day before my inspiration, the day before the invention of the time machine. I know what I have to do, but still fear and doubt creep into my mind as I prepare to destroy my life’s work. It is not just the years spent conceiving and designing the machine that I will be losing; when I destroy the machine, I am consciously destroying any version of myself (and truly any version of the world) that had contact with and was affected by the machine. In that way, this mission is suicide. I am destroying the version of “me” that I know as me. I feel like I am facing death, but at the same time this “me” will actually never have come into existence, so is it really death at all? These questions make my head reel; I cannot think about them now. I must complete my mission. The experiment that led to the death of the little girl is only an incident that will repeat and be amplified a million fold if the machine is allowed to come into existence, for if not I then others using my work will create such machines and affect many futures. One small ripple can combine with many ripples to form a tidal wave, and I cannot allow that to happen.

One minute. I walk into my lab seconds after my past self walks out. I leave the note I have written outside the lab, explaining everything about what happened, why I must do this, and why I, or the past me, should discontinue all research on time travel. I am not sure whether or not the note will cease to exist with my own existence terminating, but no matter; I mustn’t bother with the petty details and just do what I have to do.

I insert the drive into my computer, implanting a virus I created specifically to wipe out any electronic trace of my work, deleting everything. Smiling softly, I turn on the gas nozzle of an old burner, letting the smell of rotten eggs fill the room. I know once I light my match the room will go up in flames, but I do not worry about burning. I will cease to exist, never having existed in the first place. I know what I have to do. It must be done.


A wormhole connecting two sides of space-time By Panzi (English Wikipedia) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

A wormhole connecting two sides of space-time
By Panzi (English Wikipedia) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons


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§ 2 Responses to It Must Be Done.

  • bryantp1 says:

    This will be short but I just wanted to say this blog post is great! Such an awesome time travel paradox. Well done.


  • crmitchie says:

    I was wrong. I was so very, very wrong. How could I have overlooked this possibility? Was I so naïve, so caught up in my own meaningless calculations that I failed to consider this seemingly obvious circumstance? It seemed as though the solution was so simple. Destroy the machine. Halt all progress. Erase this version of myself in exchange for a past that is safe from the future. Explain it all away with one silly little note; one little note to convince this new version of me to forge a new path, far from space-time continuums and anti-gravitons and little girls picking flowers…

    I was so pleased with myself, so proud. Honored that I had taken the higher ground and sacrificed my life’s work for the greater good. Perhaps I found solace in the fact that I committed a truly noble final act. Or so I thought. For you see, nothing is ever really final. I assumed I would disappear in an ephemeral cloud, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. What I wouldn’t give to be dust now. Instead, I’m caught. Trapped in limbo between the dimensions, I’m forced to be a passive observer. I float from one realm to the next, a ghostly memory of former self, if you can really call it a self. I embody the essence of what I once was. Oh, at first it was magical. The wonders I saw! Sights and sounds beyond the comprehension of earth-bound creatures. To think I once felt accomplished achieving passage into the fourth dimension, when I have seen so many more dimensions now…

    Perhaps I could’ve been happy if I had continued in my wide-eyed exploration. But I couldn’t help it. I was curious. Something deep in my core drove me back to where it all began. I ignored the sense of foreboding that grew as I made the journey back to my world. Our world. It was the girl; I couldn’t let her go. I wanted to watch her get scooped up safely into her mother’s arms. I needed to see that she was okay, that she grew up to be a painter or a doctor or a mother, anything, as long as she lived the life I had once stolen from her…

    In the end, it was the note. I had so carefully crafted a warning to this new version of myself that my research would bring about dreadful consequences, consequences that were unbearable. Mankind was not meant to manipulate time. But I didn’t think it through. With that note, I acknowledged that time travel was possible. And this new version of me, too similar to the old version of me, couldn’t let it go. The lure of other dimensions was impossible to resist. Helplessly, I watched this new version construct a machine, my machine, again. I watched as this version ran all of the possible calculations, convinced that the ripples would indeed have negligible effects. This time, the chosen souvenir from the past was a forgotten newspaper left on a park bench. Again, I observed with horror the consequences of my foolhardy actions. The girl, the same little girl, was supposed to pick up the newspaper. In it, she would see an advertisement for a carnival. After endless amounts of begging and pleading, she would convince her mother to take her to the show. While they were at the carnival, the family home would burn down, thankfully with no one inside. But she never saw the paper. And they never went to the carnival. And the little girl was trapped in her attic bedroom, consumed by the flames…

    Each time one version of myself tries to prevent the creation of that cursed machine, a newer version of myself arrogantly invents the device again. It is a never-ending cycle, creating layer upon layer of universes and dimensions and versions of me. All of us are powerless to put an end to it. We are forced to stand by, helplessly, and watch. And with every new layer, she dies again.


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