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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Sci-fi · #2289193
When time streams cross in the multiverse
Harold felt the full force of the explosion behind him lift him off his feet. Trees and pieces of debris flew with him. He was hurled across the field. Then the strangest of things happened; he saw a rip in the sky, and as he passed through it, there was a moment when he was staring down at two fields that were exactly the same except for the explosion. He saw a green and peaceful field on one side and the other dissolving in a cauldron of fire, and smoke. Then the field of desolation was behind him, and he landed in soft mud in the peaceful field. As he rolled on landing, he saw a man in the sky above who looked exactly like himself being sucked into the vortex of destruction that he had just left with horror on his face. The hole in the sky swallowed the man and then closed, leaving just the blue sky and sunshine above and the sound of a robin in a nearby oak tree.

         He sat alone in the field next to his workplace. The tall white concrete of the physics lab loomed behind, casting its shadow across the field. It had not just exploded in an immense fireball. The weather was also different—warm and sunny, not cold and icy like it should be in the middle of January. Dressed as he was in a warm overcoat, he started to sweat in the heat.

         Harold collected his thoughts while stripping off all the extra winter clothing he was wearing. He looked at his broken phone and watch for clues. It feels like summer, he reflected. The explosion never happened, but I know it did because I remember it. I even know why it happened. It is because they went ahead with the experiment in quantum mechanics even though I told them not to. I should have argued my case, he thought; kept pushing and explaining why it was a bad mistake to use quantum entanglement to magnify the effects of a bomb blast, and then the explosion trials of the weapon could have been contained. But I was too busy trying to save my marriage after that stupid fling with Sally at the end of the summer. My wife left me and consumed by that, I did not argue. If only I had not kissed Sally, then my wife would never have left me.

         His thoughts went round and round, and he felt the same death spiral of despair that had consumed him these past four months as his life had fallen apart. He felt ignored at work, his wife left with the kids, and his faith in God was shattered. He had been in a big black hole before the explosion.

         He walked across the field, through a path in the woods, and then two streets over in the housing development to his home. He needed a change of clothes, being overdressed and covered in mud. He dreaded the emptiness of the house, though the sunshine cheered him up. Things appeared to be different, but the same. He recognized neighbors who were staring at him, intrigued by the large pile of clothes in his hand and his sweaty face.

         As he approached the house, his wife, Matty, was in the kitchen with the kids. He studied her through the window for a moment, just happy to see such a familiar scene. But how could this be? She had been absent since the truth about Sally had come out, and she had taken the kids to live with her mother, in the next town. He entered the house, and the coat rail, was the first thing that he noticed; full of all the kids' coats and hats and his wife's also. He'd always been annoyed by the haphazard way his kids left their shoes all over the place around the stand; they had never listened, and yet now his heart jumped for joy at the sight, and he started to cry.

         Matty heard him come in and yelled from the kitchen, "Great you are early, we are just sitting down. Wash up and come and sit with us."

         "OK," he replied with a weak voice through tears. His voice must have broken as Matty came running from the kitchen at the sound.

         "Are you OK? You are crying, what is wrong? She hugged him tightly and then kissed him on the lips.
"Hey, big crybaby, what is going on? Did you lose your job or something?"

         "Matty, you are here; you love me...." Harold sobbed some more.

         Matty took a step back. "You are acting crazy, of course, I am here, I am your wife, now go get yourself cleaned up and let us eat, the food is ready. You can tell me whatever is going on later. Oh, and you promised to take Jill to the dance practice tonight, she has her show on Saturday."

         "But..." Harold thought that was four months ago. In fact, it was the night when he had kissed Sally behind the stage and everything had fallen apart when his wife had caught him in the act.

         "You promised. No buts," Matty said as she returned to the kitchen.

         Harold cleaned up and joined his family at the dining table in the kitchen.

         "Finally," said Jill, her eyes rolling as only a 17-year-old teenager can.

         His son Paul added, "Can we start now, I 'm hungry."

         "Let your father say grace first."

         Harold bowed his head and said grace.

         "Amen!" yelled an impatient family tucking in. Matty studied Harold with a curious look on her face. But the banter between the kids and the sound of hungry teenagers gobbling food soon displaced any strangeness. He glanced at the paper calendar on the wall. In the digital age, it was a throwback to another time. But Matty had always insisted on putting appointments on it rather than any shared digital calendar. But it was set for August.

         Harold suddenly wondered what the date was, "My phone broke, and I forgot to check the date. What day is today?"

         "Tuesday, August 29th, silly," said Jill, rolling her eyes again. Harold remembered a time when that made him mad, but now he loved the sight, and he smiled at her.

         "Thank you, Missy. Are you ready for your big show?"

         Jill gave him a smile and nodded by way of response. Harold went silent. He was back in time, back to the moment before everything fell apart. He could undo all the mistakes he had made, not kiss Sally, not lose his wife and family, and be ready to fight the decision at the physics lab. He had been given a second chance, but how could this be?

         He drove Jill to practice. Sally was the mother of one of the other girls there. She sidled up to him in a flirtatious manner, but he cold-shouldered her and went and talked to one of the fathers instead, wanting nothing to do with that woman. He loved the way Jill danced. Even her mistakes broke his heart and made him love her more.

         Later, in bed with his wife, she finally asked him what was going on.

         "Just a bad day at work," He kissed her, and they made love in a way that was all about her.

         The next day, Matty was all smiles at breakfast, and the whole mood of the house was altered by that. Even the children seemed to behave as they got ready for school, got on their bikes, and cycled off.

         At work, he set a single big goal for the next four months: stop that experiment at any cost. Jill's dance came and went, and Harold did not leave Matty's side once during the performance, avoiding all contact with Sally. Sally got the message. His efforts at work started to pay off, and people started to understand the power of what they had conceived. With the benefit of hindsight, Harold was able to enforce limits in the plans as well. The launch date in January never occurred, and the world did not end.

         One day after work, he went to the pub with his colleague for a few pints of beer.

         "Do you believe in the concept of a multiverse?" Harold asked.

         "I cannot say; you could never prove this," said his colleague.

         "I am thinking that time is like a river moving constantly from source to ocean. It has only one direction. But there are multiple rivers and quantum entanglement between the rivers. So maybe a massive explosion could tear a temporary hole in the side of one of these rivers, causing it to diverge into a parallel timestream. Now suppose further that timestreams may be faster or slower than each other, and the possibility exists that someone could jump back into a parallel universe where time was still at an earlier phase on the timestream than in the timestream you were in originally."

         "So you could step back in time and save the world?"

         "The world, your marriage, everything that matters, by not repeating the mistakes you made."

         "Personally, I believe we only get one chance in this life, and then we face our Maker. It would be nice to jump timestreams and bet on the winner of the Super Bowl before the season even starts. God, in his wisdom, could create more than one universe." Harold knew his colleague was a Christian, which was rare in the scientific world, but he was now open to these possibilities, and so he listened.

         "What if our Maker made a multiverse of parallel timestreams? Each one is a kind of backup for the other," continued his colleague.

         "A master programmer with parallel processes designed to accelerate reality to its conclusion by running the different threads simultaneously rather than in a single sequence, yes, I like it." Added Harold.

         "But maybe our sins break the multiverse, causing tiny inconsistencies that cause the quantum entanglement between the different rivers to become unhinged."

         "Then the multiverse is tending toward chaos, with each river having its own unique character. The parallel processing breaks down as the threads produce conflicting results," said Harold, wondering now what God thought about such chaos.

         "I think the Creator of the multiverse could still handle it and wrap things up with a big Judgment Day in which all these realities came together in a single outcome and a new beginning. New heavens and earth and everything. Maybe the logic of his programs has already anticipated the impacts of every conceivable sin." Harold nodded as his colleague continued.

         "It adds to the idea and grandeur of incarnation and judgment. Jesus comes into all the timestreams as the same God, making his singular sacrifice on the cross, and somehow what he does in each slightly different stream fundamentally reverses that trend toward chaos and dissolution. God's injection into all histories puts them all back on his trajectory."

         Harold laughed. Yes, he could believe, from his experience, that grace and mercy were somehow working through even the chaos of a multiverse. Then he wondered at the man sucked into the vortex upon his arrival. The Me of this universe, who would make all the mistakes I made to break the other universe, sacrificed to save this timestream from the same fate. The consequences of his sins suddenly seemed quite overwhelming, and he realized that, completely unscientifically, only a blind trust in the goodness of God could see him through the chaos.

         "It is a great theory and a mind-blowing view of just how awesome God is. Of course, we cannot prove it. Do you want another beer?"

The Science Fiction Short Story Contest  (18+)
A contest inspired by the serious need for more good sci-fi
#2140378 by BlackAdder


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