Something involving time travel.
|Written By: -AD
RULE 1: DO NOT ALTER THE LINEAR PROGRESSION OF TIME.
RULE 2: DO NOT USE PARADOXES AS TOOLS.
RULE 3: DO NOT INTRODUCE TECHNOLOGY INTO A TIME PERIOD WHICH IS NOT READY FOR IT.
RULE 4: DO NOT CHANGE EVENTS WHICH YOU KNOW THE RESULT OF.
RULE 5: DO NOT TRAIN YOUR RECRUITS WITH THE MOVIE SERIES BACK TO THE FUTURE.
RULE 6: DO NOT INVENT TIME TRAVEL.
RULE 7: DO NOT INVENT THE CONCEPT OF TIME TRAVEL.
RULE 8: DO NOT CONVERSE WITH YOURSELF FROM THE PAST IF YOU HAVE NO RECOLLECTION OF SUCH A CONVERSATION.
RULE 9: DRESS FOR THE TIME PERIOD YOU VISIT.
RULE 10*: EVERYONE MUST SUBMIT TO THE AUTHORITY OF THE POLICE.
(CHANGE TO RULE 10: THOSE THAT OUTRANK THE POLICE DO NOT NEED TO SUBMIT, HOWEVER, SUBMISSION WOULD BE HELPFUL.)
Some things just don’t make sense. But there have always been certain people who will devote their short lives to the understanding of these completely incomprehensible subjects. People like Newton, Socrates, Archimedes, Marie Curie, Pierre Curie, Darwin, Hooke, Kepler, Tesla, Mendeleev, Oppenheimer, Bohr, Pascal, Aristotle, Plank, Boyle, Galileo, and Einstein have all exerted a tremendous effort in the pursuit of fitting everything into a neat little package for the layman to gaze upon and be completely dumbfounded. However, despite our very best efforts, some things simply remain out of our grasp. Take physics for example. The human race still does not understand exactly how gravity works even though it is a part of their everyday lives. A pessimistic person might think that the atom should have been forever out of the realm of comprehension for humans while a particularly optimistic person might think that an intimate understanding of faster than light travel and the center of a black hole are right around the corner. These completely incomprehensible concepts are part of our everyday lives but we accept them as fact. They act of their own volition, not waiting for humans to figure them out. So, with all these incomprehensible concepts we accept as part of our daily lives, one would think that adding just one more would not make that much of a difference.
Sometime after the World Wars, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Y2K scare there sat a young sleeping man in a dark room surrounded by desks. The uncombed jet-black hair on his head settled with most of it pointing straight down into the desk. Next to his head and the slowly congealing puddle of saliva there was a pair of thick rimmed glasses. At the sides of the glasses, the two earpieces thinned to give the optical instrument a sleeker look. All parts of the glasses that were not lenses were covered in a black plastic coating, probably to prevent breaking. The sleeping figure wore the dignified all-black suit-and-tie uniform of a preppy private school. Whatever school he went to called for its students to wear jackets during the winter because over his untucked business shirt was a slightly worn all-black suit jacket. The sleeves of the jacket, as well as the legs of the slacks, were folded in due to it being a hand-me-down of a slightly bigger ancestor. Most items on the sleeping student showed a family with conservative tendencies when it came to expensive goods. In fact, everything the young man was wearing was bought at a discount except for the three lapels on his jacket. The first lapel was that of a white roman numeral for 3. The second lapel was a white chess piece king, complete with the cross on top. The third lapel was the symbol π (approximately 3.14) colored white to juxtapose against the black of the suit jacket it was attached to.
The young man heard a quick rasp at the wooden door to his left and was suddenly awoken from his slumber. He jolted up in surprise at the sound, muttering something about a denial to an accusation which no one actually said and slowly got to his feet while simultaneously placing his glasses on the bridge of his nose. While stepping toward the door he motioned briefly as if he was about to attempt to fix his untucked shirt, askew tie, and unbuttoned jacket before realizing that doing so would simply be too much work. Once the unkempt boy reached the door he jiggled the handle briefly. A thought managed to claw its way to the surface of his groggy subconscious that the door was locked. He turned a dial over the handle and the door swung open toward him.
“Mr. President,” a voice from the hallway said, “it’s just about time for the Chess Club meeting. Can we come inside?” Outside the door frame, there stood a large male student who stood at least two inches above the President. The new student’s brownish hair was cut very short in a military-like haircut. Student B wore a permanent solemn expression as if he always had to take everything seriously.
“Oh, that’s right,” the President stepped out of the way so that his rugged compatriot could get through. After the student with a buzzcut walked through the door, ten-or-so more students filtered through the door. One student hit the light switch on their way through, causing the President to wince.
The room was named the Chess Room four years prior to these events. It was called this because it was where the Chess Club would meet every week after school. But there is a rather popular rumor in the school that, years ago, a teacher taught classes in what is now the Chess Room who was so invested in chess that it caused his life to fall apart. Eventually, this teacher was fired after all his students’ grades dropped due to him not actually teaching. But before he left, this teacher wrecked the classroom so badly that it could no longer be used for teaching. The man was arrested, though there is no record of his incarceration, and for some reason the room was given to the Chess Club. Most students know this rumor probably isn’t true because the Chess Room is adjacent to the Music Room and Debate Room. Despite the falsified origins of the Chess Room, it is still unique in its own ways. From its origins four years ago, the Chess Room, like all the other club rooms with capitalized titles, has always been under the ownership of the current President. This confusing ownership system is due to how the section of the school where the clubs are located isn’t owned by the school, but a rather eccentric philanthropist who set very strict guidelines for ownership of the wing. Ownership (and decoration) of the Chess Room is especially complicated because the Presidency is given to whoever is the best chess player. So naturally everyone was falling over themselves trying to gain ownership of the Chess Room. During one semester, the Presidency changed hands more than fifty times between five seniors over a bet. The Chess Room was a chaotic place until last year when a Sophomore heard of the competition and decided to enter. He beat the then-President easily and took the Chess Room for himself. Over the next two weeks the student faced many challengers, none of which were a challenge. Eventually the challenges stopped and this student still holds the Presidency.
During the meeting, the President played against four people. First, he beat a newbie in less than ten moves. Second, he won the game but lost two pawns in a game against a senior who assumed that his seniority would give him an advantage. Third, the President did not allow himself to lose any pieces and it took him a bit longer with thirty-two moves. The fourth game was interesting as a freshman girl sat across the table from the President. She wore the same uniform as the President (plus a knee-length skirt) with a roman numeral 1 lapel and a white pawn lapel. The two of them sat down and the President was suddenly bothered by his appearance. For a moment or two, he cursed his shaggy hair.
The girl made the first move when she placed the pawn in front of her king forward two spaces. President: Pawn to C5. Girl: Knight to F3. President: Pawn to D6. Girl: Pawn to D4. President: Pawn takes pawn at D4. “So, how often have you played this game before?” the President asks the girl as her pieces slowly move to annex the middle area. President: Queen to A5. Girl: Knight to B3.
The girl looks up in surprise as if she cannot believe that someone just spoke to her, she temporarily focuses all of her mental power on just speaking, “A-actually I h-have a lot o-of experience with chess. B-but I’m no where near as good as you.” But she’s beating me! The President mentally exclaimed. President: Queen to C7. Girl: Bishop to E2.
As the two of them slowly whittled away each other’s forces, they gained an audience as whispers of, “The President is losing,” filled the room. Girl: Bishop takes bishop at B7. The President ran one of his hands through his hair, a sign of stress none of the new members had seen and the old members had only seen rarely. He thought things like, Is this chick a supercomputer? She’s making her moves way faster than I am. However, none of this was helping him. Girl: Rook to F1. President: Rook to G4. Girl: Queen to F3. President: Queen to C7. Girl: Knight to B5. President: Queen to B8. They kept playing until the girl had a well set up fortress of pawns and rooks and queens and knights while the President only had the king, one rook, one queen, and an assortment of hodge-podge pawns. President: Queen to F6, check. Girl: King to G2. President: Queen to C6, check. Girl: King to F2. At one point, the large student with the buzzcut attempted to give the President advice before being told, “I know!” Miraculously, the President won with only a handful of pieces left. President: Rook to H2, checkmate.
When the President won there was a collection of reactions ranging anywhere from shock to relief to annoyance. He let out a sigh of relief when the game was finally over and said to the girl, “Wow, that’s gotta be the closest anyone’s ever been to beating me. Also, would you mind telling me your name? I’m surprised I haven’t met you before at a tournament.”
“Umm…” she whispered, “Jessica Ozark.” The President was about to respond in kind before Jessica stood up suddenly, screeched something along the lines of “Thank you!” in the President’s direction, and ran out.
“Interesting girl,” the President murmured seconds before laying his head against the desk and promptly falling asleep. New members of the club looked at the unconscious body of the President in horror, thinking that he just had some sort of brain aneurism from thinking too hard but the senior members had seen this before and they returned to their games. Less than five minutes after the game everyone, except the asleep President and the student with the buzzcut, were gone from the Chess Room as if their leader falling asleep signified an informal departure bell. The student with the buzzcut and militant buzzcut stepped toward the President who said in a muffled tone, “Christ, Matt, I almost lost.”
Matt was taken back slightly by the President’s sudden change in tone. “Legitimately?” he asked, “I’m pretty sure the overall sentiment was that you were going easy on her… Mr. President.”
“You can drop the formalities. The potential rebels left a while ago. Also, yes I legitimately, while trying my very hardest, almost lost,” the President sat back up and attempted to straighten his messy hair before giving up, “That’s why I faked falling asleep after Jessica left. After the game against her, I was so mentally spent that any half-baked chess savant could probably beat me. But we can’t tell the junior members that.”
“Of course, Mr. Deaves,” Matt refused to adopt an informal tone. The year before, after Deaves overthrew the then-President, Matt challenged him to a game. However, the President either did not know how or did not care enough to change the rules put in place by the previous President. The previous President put in place a rule that any new challenger would have to wager something of equal value in order to challenge him to a game. When Matt challenged Deaves to a duel for the Presidency, he offered his permanent acknowledgment of the power of the President. Deaves accepted before mopping the floor with him. When Matt started referring to him as Mr. President or Mr. Deaves, he quickly changed the rule so that an offering wouldn’t be necessary to challenge him.
“You do know our agreement isn’t legally binding. You don’t have to treat me like royalty,” Deaves attempted to convince Matt.
However, Matt’s expression remained completely unchanged despite the best efforts of the President. He said, “With all due respect, sir. I feel much more comfortable referring to you in ways that are respectful to your rank.”
“Whatever,” the President groaned with a dismissive gesture, “so, what do you think about that girl from before?”
“I’m in no place to make a commentary about your and her move choices, sir. All I can say is that the two of you seemed to be losing pieces in relatively similar intervals. However, while the game was being played I assumed that this was due to you going easy on her because of her timid nature.” Matt’s eyes flickered contemplatively for a moment before he said, “Nothing about her would cause someone to think that she’s a chess master.”
“Au contraire, everything about her screamed chess master.”
“How do you figure that?”
The President stood up, somehow making him look even smaller in comparison to the behemoth before him, and gestured for Matt to follow him. “She had every nature of the wallflower down to the s-stuttering S’s. A person like that would be ignored by any ne’er-do-wells and helped by the nicer kind of person. Hence, she probably believed that I would be distracted. If I had been, there probably would be a different person sitting here.” Deaves locked the door as they exited the Chess Room.
“If you don’t mind me asking, sir, why do you think that’s the case?” Matt walked a respectful three feet away from the President.
“Her intentions were to end the game as quickly as possible,” Deaves frowned, “she feinted a defensive maneuver while she was actually making an offensive one. I barely escaped with a loss of a knight.”
A muted realization hit Matt as he said, “If what you’re saying is true, then what’s to stop her from playing you again every meeting until she wins?”
“Ugh,” the President groaned and ran his fingers through his coarse hair, “I should probably re-institute the Challenger Rule without citing any reasons. But, the members present would quickly figure out my reasons.”
“This girl is dangerous, sir.”
“I know, Matt.”
After conversing about the best way to deal with the emerging issue, Matt and Deaves adjourned the meeting. The President checked his stainless steel watch, three twenty-seven, while he traveled to the school’s student parking lot. In space 144, surrounded by several empty spaces, there sat an ancient gray Ford Mustang from an era several years before the President’s birth. He threw his bag into the back of the once-expensive car and stepped into the leather-clad driver’s seat. Deaves took off his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose, thinking about potential next steps in the game between the Presidency and Jessica Ozark. Three possible next moves: (1) Do nothing. No. (2) Re-introduce the Challenger Rule and be seen as a hypocrite. What did I say when I canceled the previous Challenger Rule? Oh yeah, “Anyone who needs such a rule doesn’t deserve the Presidency.” (3) Make a new rule that requires a three day cool down period between challenges. This is the most likely, however, the members would lose some faith in me when they realize I’m afraid of this chick.
Deaves placed his glasses back on the bridge of his nose before he turned the keys, turning the car on. It revved to life with only one clockwise rotation, signifying that the car had been upgraded sometime in the last few years. The President’s father was particularly attached to this car so he added a myriad of renovations to it. Everywhere in the car had something declaring the decorating sense of a teenager in the eighties from the fuzzy dice hanging from the roof to the eight-ball adorning the handle of the stick-shift. As far as Deaves could tell, nothing out of the ordinary occurred on his transit back home.
By the time the President pulled into his driveway, the conversation in his head was just winding down to close. A pawn storm that week could easily be subverted by a few En Passant maneuvers here and here. But that would open your bishop to a simple pin maneuver. Hey look, there’s the house. The house was nothing particularly impressive, but it got relatively cramped with the nine people living in it. These people being: himself, his father, his mother, his grandfather, his grandmother, two younger brothers, his older sister, and his older sister’s husband. After parking the Mustang, he stepped out and retrieved his bag. Deaves pressed a button next to the door which led into the house from the garage, causing a metallic whine to resonate through the house. However, the noise did nothing to lessen the screaming that invaded the President’s eardrums as he entered the house.
His slightly older sister screeched something along the lines of, “Do something!” prompting the President to question, violently, just what was happening. “Sigmund,” she said when she saw the President, “Grampa is in some sort of a coma and we can’t wake him up!”
Sigmund, all thoughts of anything even remotely related to chess now out the window, scanned his sisters face. A remarkable amount of expletives rose in his mind out of fear when he realized the expression on her face was far too emotional to be fake. “Why are you talking to me!? Call 9-1-1!”
“Henry did that a few minutes ago,” she said, referring to Sigmund’s brother-in-law, “he told me to wait for the paramedics.” Usually she was not the type to do what other people told her, but this was a special exception.
In a zombie-like trance of terror, Marie Deaves-Royce (spelled “Mary” by everyone) scurried over to the house’s front door. Before she could leave her brother called, “Oh yeah, so when did Henry call the ambulance?”
The President’s expression tightened almost imperceptibly when she said, “About seven minutes.” Mary would have asked about the reason for this question if her mind could have grasped any concept beyond waiting at the door at that moment. Sigmund hurried up the stairs in a panic very similar to the one projected by his sister until he reached his Grandparents’ bedroom. He slowed to a contemplative stroll once he passed the threshold. His expression relaxed into a hard blank stare when only Henry and the silent form of his Grandfather faced him.
Henry Royce-Deaves looked surprised when he saw the President enter the room. Henry stood an even 6’0”; under a less stressful scenario Sigmund might have been annoyed at how everyone he had talked to in the last hour, other than his sister, had been a few inches taller than him. Henry was a first year medical student who had been dating Mary since his senior year of high school, so he was the obvious authority to defer to in terms of health. In fact, he had just returned from class as seen by his lab coat. The President thought it was interesting how the white lab coat juxtaposed against his dark-brown skin. “Hey Sigmund,” Henry intoned, “the ambulance will be here soon.”
“So, when did he die?” Henry gasped as Sigmund casually noted the death of a family member. “Yeah, yeah. The ambulance would’ve been here by now if you told them he was still alive,” Sigmund peered down at the body of grandfather. The wrinkled face resting on the bed looked peaceful to an extent. It struck the President as odd how such an unimposing figure could cause so much turmoil. He always liked to imagine that he was one of the few completely objective people left on earth, but Sigmund knew that he would not be able to look at the dead body as he was if he knew his Grandfather any better. Sigmund’s parents told him that they had met at some point when he was about three and he had heard from his sister just how great he was. In fact, their grandparents had only been living with them for a week or two and Grandpa had been on a ventilator for half of it.
The expression on Henry’s face made it evident that he had no idea how to deal with this scenario. Any talks he had attended on how to deal with a grieving family did not prepare him for an unemotional family member. Henry decided to remain business-like in his speech, “Just a few minutes ago,” he sounded grim but not somber, “I attempted to resuscitate him but he’s completely brain dead. It was probably an aneurism but I can’t know for sure.”
Ambulance sirens slowly got louder when Sigmund said, “I never knew the old guy particularly well. But Mary did. As I’ve been told, our parents were basically absent up to the point that I was five and she was nine so he raised her to an extent. So his death will be a lot like the death of a parent.”
“Aren’t you at least a little upset by his death?” Henry snapped, “I mean, you two were related.”
Sigmund chuckled to himself, “I probably am. But there will be enough people grieving without me being an emotional wreck. Realistically, the only reason I’d be sad right about now is because that’s what’s expected of me.” Henry was about to make a scalding comment when he was silenced by footsteps coming from downstairs and the President making a shushing gesture. “Do you love my sister, Henry?”
“Why? Yes, of course, but…”
He was cut off again, “Then ignore me and just be there for her. Don’t your vows say that you’re supposed to do that?”
Suddenly paramedics along with Marie Deaves-Royce burst into the room, filling it almost instantly. Sigmund thought to himself after seeing how panicked everyone was, Looks like no one sent them the memo. Henry and the President could not do anything other than get out of the way of the paramedics as they lifted the body of Grandpa Deaves out of his bed. The only thing that sparked an emotion in Sigmund was the expression of hope evident in his sister’s face. Henry left at his wife’s frantic urging; leaving the President alone with a few moments of silence and the grim knowledge of what would follow. Sigmund’s thoughts were preoccupied with what emotions he would be facing at the hospital when he felt one of his leather shoes kick an astray object on the ground. Invectives toward careless paramedics and general disorganization rose to the surface of his mind as he rushed over to where the object landed.
Sigmund Deaves reached down and picked up a small black pocket watch, chain and all. He could briefly remember his grandfather walking around with the timepiece so it would be bad form if he brought it broken to his deathbed. A button on one edge of the oblong timepiece caused the cover to flip open when Sigmund pressed it. He let out a sigh of relief when he saw that there was no apparent damage. But he also thought it was weird how in the middle of the clock was another circle. At the top of the inner circle was the number zero and at the bottom was the number 1000 preceded by a positive and negative. The arms held steadily at 4:05 and the President checked his own watch to make sure the time was correct. However, he was surprised that it had a big crack down the middle and purported a time of 3:54. His confusion only lasted a second or two before a hurried, “Come on!” jolted him up.
He jammed the obsidian pocket watch in his pocket and looped the chain around one of his belt loops before flying down the stairs. Suddenly, the temporary respite SIgmund had enjoyed in the empty room was destroyed by an assault of panicked voices. “We need you in the ambulance with your sister,” one of the paramedics reported. Sigmund wondered whether or not this was the one that dropped his grandfather’s pocket watch.
“But the two of them are married,” Sigmund said, “honestly, Henry is closer to the old guy than I am.”
WIth a look of annoyance the paramedic said, “There’s no time to argue right now. You three are related and there’s only two seats in the ambulance.”
“Fine, whatever,” the President conceded. “Henry!” he yelled and arched his keys toward his brother-in-law, “follow us in the car!” Henry had barely managed to grasp the keys out of the air when he caught a be prepared look from Sigmund.
T-shirt and jeans clad Mary jumped into the back of the ambulance soon followed by Sigmund in his school uniform. In the President’s mind he held a silent countdown until the paramedics attached the heart monitor to his grandfather. When the dull and constant beeeep resounded through the back of the ambulance his sister screeched “NO!” and lunged toward her grandfather. Both Sigmund and a paramedic were required to restrain her.
“There’s nothing you can do, sis,” the President struggled, “all we can do is allow the paramedics to do their jobs.”
Mary looked incredulous, “But he can’t be dead,” she sounded hysterical, “HE CAN’T BE DEAD! Everything he’s worked for can’t end like this!!”
What was that last part? Sigmund thought. Worked for? What was he working for and why does she know about it? When their grandfather’s body jerked up after the first attempt at defibrillation, Mary’s physical resisting devolved into tear-filled hyperventilation. “Clear!” one of the paramedics yelled before the body twitched again. Sigmund noticed that whatever make-up his sister was wearing was leaking down the front of her face. It broke his heart to see someone as strong as her in such a state. A few minutes after the paramedics had declared their grandfather dead Sigmund peered out the window in the back of the ambulance to see his red Mustang following closely behind them. The President was impressed by Henry’s ability to follow the ambulance at such a high speed.
They arrived at the hospital after about ten minutes of running red lights and breaking speed limits. The paramedics had lost much of their momentum when they carried the body into the hospital. Apparently, even they had lost all hope of keeping him alive. Somehow Henry managed to park before the doors opened and was able to grab the crying Mary as soon as she stepped out of the ambulance. At a light trot, the paramedics carried the body into the building where hundreds of people had died. Soon following them was Sigmund with his right hand over the pocketwatch before Mary and Henry supported each other to the door.
Mary and Henry sat on the side of the waiting room opposite the door and Sigmund sat on the side with a clock and the main entrance into the hospital. On the young married couple’s side was an array of seats around a white door with a red cross sign resting above it. Sigmund was completely aware that within ten meters of him were no less than three clocks. Granted, one was broken and another was completely out of his view due to it being attached to the wall he was resting against.
It took Sigmund almost three minutes of absolute silence and bored tapping to realize that he left his bag, and homework, at the house. “Damn,” he muttered to himself. He could recall something urgent on his agenda about derivatives. In fact, he was pretty sure that somewhere a notebook had the words DERIVATIVES! DERIVATIVES! DERIVATIVES! scrawled in handwriting that would be screaming if it had a voice. The plan for dealing with this unforeseen eventuality was not fully formed when a doctor came in with somber news.
The doctor wore a frayed lab coat ironically similar to Henry’s. She had short utilitarian hair which came down to just below her ears. Sigmund thought that her expression was grim enough that it was either very practiced or sincere. Soon after Mary and Henry got to their feet, Sigmund ambled within earshot of the news. He heard the doctor say, “...suffered a brain aneurysm which destroyed all brain functionality. I’m sorry, he’s dead.”
He felt a brief tinge of sadness over the man he had barely known. It wasn’t that Sigmund was a sociopath, he just did not subscribe to many of society’s norms like faking sadness when someone dies. People around the world would briefly say something along the lines of, “Oh, that’s horrible,” when they heard of an event which causes death. Sigmund was not one of these people.