Time Travel is not what it used to be



It’s a strange experience being one of those left behind.

I decided to stay put and see what happened here.

Here has changed a lot.

It’s not what it was.

I’m glad I stayed. I wasn’t always sure about that, but I had a feeling leaving was not right for me.

I guess they knew that about me. They knew that traveling no longer appealed to me.

I had found in my travels that the same people who are here are also over there, so might as well get to know the ones who are here. That the circumstances which are here are also over there, even if they appear on the surface to be different, underneath they are similar, so might as well learn to live with that which is around you.

Discover the world in which you are, live here and now, instead of over there and then, dreaming that the people and places in the there and then are better than the ones in the here and now.

They might be, I suppose.

But what if when you get over there, in the then, and you find out that those and that which you left behind was better than that which you are now faced with. Those who are and that which is here and now, after the trip, just are not as interesting as they were from a distance because they are real and not figments of the imagination.

If you succeed in escaping the real for that which is a fantasy, the fantasy becomes the reality and the reality becomes a fantasy. And the fantasy always seems off in the distance, ahead or behind. I wonder why that is, is it because we forget to factor ourselves and what we bring into the equation.

None of this is really a problem if the traveling is done on this Earth in this time zone, you can just use your return ticket, as long as the place to which you are returning stays put as do the people whom you left behind.

But the rules of Time Travel are different. There is no return ticket, not for this trip. And chances are all those you have left behind have also gone, so even if you could return, there’d be no one and nothing here for you to return to.

It’s a fantastic opportunity, but there is no return from there.

It was an opportunity was offered to one and all.

It was offered to me too. They waited until the program was already in full swing, the momentum was high, before they asked me, but I don’t think that was done deliberately, it did however influence my decision. Or so I thought.

Perhaps if I’d been one of the first… maybe not.

They knew I’d say – No, thanks, I’m going to stay right here – because I am that predictable.

Look at someone’s past to determine their future and you’ll know what they will do.

Not because they’ll necessarily repeat what they did.

Some do.

Some don’t because what they learned from their past taught them to make different choices.

The latter is my lot. And they knew it, they knew it even before I took the test to determine it. I knew it too, but I wanted to take the test. Just to see if it revealed something which I did not already know, or maybe to confirm what I already knew.

The test was not optional, so it was just as well that I wanted to take it.

They analysed our past thoroughly to help us determine to where we should travel to back in time.

Of course some objected to this analysis. But they still wanted the time travel trip with all expenses paid, and extras included.

Some objectors felt it was invasive, having your memories and actual past examined by strangers working for a big corporation, but it wasn’t people doing the examining, it was a computer created by other computers which had been created by the grey matter in the brains of thousands of geniuses, without the emotion or other stuff such as dubious intentions and hidden motivations which blurs thinking.

But the conscientious objectors were few compared to the many who objected due to wanting to pick the segment of history they believed suited them the best. They didn’t trust their personal history to choose it for them. What if their memories and past sifted by the computer determined that they should travel to the Bronze Age when they wanted to be in the Renaissance or the Roaring 20’s.

The initial protests died down, and not because the big corporation used devious tactics to quell it. There was a bit of – Go there or else – but the or else wasn’t bad, it just meant staying here and very few liked that idea as much as they liked the concept of leaving here to go there, into the past, into a time where they believed they would find what had been missing from their life here, what they had always been looking for but never found… until, perhaps, now.

And the computer had a way of knowing where there was. People inevitably found that the computer knew them better than they knew themselves. It always chose the perfect time for them, because the programmers had incorporated the Nostalgia Factor, and it was such a strong component of choice that it was impossible to argue with it.

I went through the process. The results determined that here was the only time suitable for me. I agreed, and so I stayed.

If your results were the same as mine you were given the option to go anyway.

This was due to the fairness clause added by those who worked for the big corporation who were afraid they might have to stay behind because of their job and they feared the computer might give them unfair test results.

And you could go anywhere, back to a time of your own choice, but you were warned that the Regret Factor index was high and once you’d gone you’d probably wish you hadn’t and this would make you go insane.

Those of us whose results determined that we should stay were the sort of people who never felt at home in our own past, or all the places we had ever traveled, and we had a very low Nostalgia Factor for previous eras in history as we had concluded logically that we would never feel at home anywhere. Our own brains knew and confirmed that there would be no relief of finally being where we belonged, immersed in the era which would suit us best, surrounded by the community in which we would feel most welcome. We would feel back then exactly as we felt now, and had always felt, only worse because the sense of belonging which we had eked out here by being born into this time and place would be gone.

However if we stayed we might find that our sense of belonging right here, right now, would increase because we had chosen to stay and because the tests agreed that this is where we belonged.

We were exactly where we should be, had always been here, and now we knew that beyond a shadow of a doubt. Here and now was our home where we belonged.

We would also be very useful and find purpose in our lives as someone had to provide support for those who had to maintain the computer. Even after the majority of the world’s population had gone, traveled back in time, the computer would still need to be maintained as it provided a shield to protect the present from the effects of sending so many people back into the past.

Those of us who had chosen, or had been chosen, to stay were not allowed to tell anyone about it. Not because it might encourage others who weren’t chosen to stay, to stay out of fear of going, as no one really wanted to stay. But because we might find the pity aimed at us overwhelming and it might cause us to regret our decision to stay, possibly triggering… something or other… I wasn’t really listening during the briefing. I was glad to be staying, I really did not like packing or preparing for traveling. And the upshot of it was that someone had to stay behind, so it might as well be me.

Most people were eager to go.

The fear-mongering about the present of life on Earth had been very successful in preparing everyone for the big time traveling exodus. There was nothing here for anyone, but back there, in the past, the world’s resources had not been depleted, the environment had not been irrevocably damaged, and there was hope, a commodity which was in very short supply here. Of course there were diseases and other conditions – brutal wars which often carried on for hundreds of years, natural disasters which obliterated islands and nations, extreme poverty, and… no one remembers the bad bits as much as, and in the way that they do the good bits, history has a way of healing itself so it looks rather appealing –  which were of concern, but you could be inoculated before going and travel kits were carefully put together for each person, containing everything they needed to start a new and prosperous life in the past.

No one expected it to be so popular.

Except for those who made a huge profit out of it, but even they couldn’t predict the pointlessness of making huge profits in a time like this one which would soon be obsolete to all those going away.

There were many things which you could not take with you, but it didn’t matter because there was so much to be had in the past which the present and the grim future did not offer.

At first the concept was laughed at. The media had such a prosperous time making fun out of the governments who poured tax-payers money into funding the program. The stock shares of all the corporations which invested in the project plummeted. Anyone connected with it was hounded by mockery.

Then all of that changed. Gradually, but it did, it always does.

Because those behind the program knew that for it to be successful and become part of the global psyche, it had to make a fool of itself first. Word always spreads quicker and deeper when people, the public, have a target to bitch, whine, moan, and bash at. That target becomes a focal point. The more they hate it, mock it, dismiss it, the more the idea worms its way into their minds, hearts and souls, and they just can’t stop thinking about it, hearing about it, seeing it, feeling it. It becomes a part of them and of everyone they know and don’t know.

The first public allies of the program were conspiracy theorists. Through all the data they had gathered of all the conspiracy theories dating back to post-WWII, they were able to prove that this program had been in the works for long enough for it to be a definite possibility. In fact this program explained many mysteries which had haunted conspiracy theorists. It was the only logical explanation for so many illogical things, not only that it connected them all. That explains that – became a popular slogan.

Soon hope replaced doubt. This was the plan all along. The media increased its daily reminders of how awful, dire, doomed civilisation was, but where once there was no hope for mankind, now there was, it was tangible but to get it you had to go back in time for it.

It seemed far-fetched, but so did many of the things which we now considered normal.

The public was still very sceptical, but hope is contagious and defies scepticism at levels deeper within people than scepticism can reach. With the global economy in free fall, resources dwindling, environment disasters increasing, day-to-day life pressures and stresses claiming more lives than anything else, it was only a matter of time before people found solace from the impending apocalypse in the arms of science fiction in the guise of a hero to save us all from ourselves.

What had seemed like an illusion became a reality.

And now almost everyone is gone.

There are about a few million people left behind.

Where the others went and if they really got there… is something which the computers know and confirm, but which is virtually impossible to know.

We could turn the computers off and see what happens here and now if we’re no longer protected from the past and everything which in theory is going on back there.

But those of us here, now… we like it here and now.

Some things never change, even when everything changes.

What do I like best about being left behind…

And, now that I think about it, timewise, I’m not behind at all.

…I like the fact that it is a strange experience.

What do I like the least…

There’s not enough time to think about such things, there is far too much to do in the present to keep us busy for the future which is waiting for us.

Time travel is not what it used to be, these days we do things by moving forward one day at a time because going back is no longer an option.