Category Archives: Cautionary Tales

Time Looping for Lovers and Holidate Skipping

heartAs Valentines Day arrives in your home timeline, some of you will be making preparations to make the day special. Romantics sometimes like to loop the day in order to make it perfect. Time looping for lovers is a longstanding tradition. Just be careful to take precautions not to loop independently of each other, as this will almost certainly end in a heartbreak paradox.

Those of you not involved and without romantic prospects for the day, may feel tempted to time travel right over the holidate. This may feel less sad than napping in your sweatpants all day, but, alas, it is not.

Flipping the dial to the 15th is not a solution for loneliness. There is nothing to be learned by taking a pass. You might feel it is not worth growing a day older to suffer through a solo valentines day, but you don’t know what is coming unless, of course, you  have traveled along your future timeline and seen it — which would mean you’ve already skipped the day, and whatever opportunity it held, and written it off to an alternate timeline in which a different version of yourself had the courage to see it through. You won’t know who you might meet tomorrow, unless you see the day.

Of course, you are not prohibited from blanking the 14th, anymore than romantic couples are prohibited from looping it again and again (though anything more than three loops is gouache). It has been suggested by some that the two practices cancel each other out and bring space-time into balance, but that hardly seems in the spirit of adventure of a true time traveler.



Dwelling on the Past is Not the Same as Dwelling in It

Stafford Brent’s time travel license has been suspended for 6 months while he is being treated for retronausea.

Stafford returned to Oxford more than a dozen times before we made him stop. Each trip made him a little sicker. Each trip brought his youth so near he could almost taste it.

His younger self  grew troubled by the lurking figures — men he thought might be identical triplet brothers. He thought they resembled his uncle. But if he had identical triplet uncles, surely someone would have mentioned it to him. In his present, the cricket season is wet and each splendid play he makes is accompanied by a cheers from three men that do not belong.

He spotted these men — these triplets — peering out from behind the trees surrounding the pitch, the corner of the field-house, or once, on top of the clock tower with binoculars. He’s seen three of them at once, on different corners of the field. Triplets. He can’t imagine there are more, but in fact there were five Stafford’s lurking about at one point, craving one more moment of the glory of his/their youth.

On a date with beautiful South American girl named Alicia, the young Stafford felt like he had been followed. Every happy moment is soured by these men who insist on watching him. These uncles of his are not nearly as clever as they think they are. He can’t enjoy his youth with is older self watching. The older Stafford has blundered into existence a whole new timeline in which his younger self can experience none of the older man’s joy. The very moments the older man keeps popping back to enjoy are ruined. This Stafford will never return to relive his youth, because his youth was spoiled by his own future creepiness leading him to be a better man.


Every Time Traveler Has a Secret

Every time traveler has a secret. For some it is complex, for many it is regret. Who else would abandon the present for a reality that isn’t their own? I will admit I collect these secrets. People confide in me, and I try to be worthy of that trust. When Lois Kent, Q42, first told me she had lost a child I told her I was sorry and I warned her against traveling back to try to change the past.

Lois went back just far enough to save her son. She screamed and railed at the doctor who, in her timeline, had given up too soon on her infant. She did this as her other self, her past self, lay scarcely conscious in the delivery room, as her husband, her past husband, looked on, astonished, as an older version of his wife screamed and was taken from the room by security. The baby was saved. But what then?

The timeline diverged. Where was our Lois to go? She could not stay there, pitted against her younger self in a battle to decide who should raise the child. Most time travelers will tell you it is a difficult thing, getting along with yourself. Lois could not come back here. This timeline is too painful, though she does feel some relief knowing her child exists in some form of reality.

I am posting this story here because, at a meeting a few weeks ago, she has asked me to. She doesn’t want the secret any longer. Those of you who know Lois (Q42) know  she has spent years studying and cataloging the alternate works of Hilda Belcher, a breif friend to Georgia O’Keefe, and highly talented painted. She posts many of her found works at her webs site redacted.