In 1964, John Bell came up with a way of testing whether quantum theory was a true reflection of reality. In 1982, the results came in – and the world has never been the same since!
It was a loud bang, then a bright light. A shout soon followed, guttural and full of sorrow.
It was the summer of 2097 and I was fresh from the wars, on my way home, and less than 100 meters from her, Gracie, jogging briskly, trying to keep the grin off her face. A face untouched by me for five years; years filled with perfumed letters and intense longing.
We reached each other finally and the hug was euphoric. There were no words spoken, only tears and the ecstasy of lovers reunited. I should have stayed. If only I had stayed.
She knew what I had done for her, what I had sacrificed. But I really didn’t care. She was enough. She was everything.
We stayed there, together. Two of us under the soft blue light of Earth’s second artificial moon, Kondar.
“Poetic Waxer, are you?” she asked. I had no idea what she meant.
That was when we heard the noise. My heart-rate skyrocketed as my war-honed instincts kicked into overdrive. I handed her my jacket and raced towards the commotion.
A long time ago, that soft whisper would have halted whatever I was thinking of. But not anymore.
I wish it had.
Because as I reached the door of the shed where the noise originated from and saw no one, as my gaze roved restlessly over the small shed-slash-barn, I felt a familiar tingle in the air.
The ballistic shell landed right on top of Gracie, obliterating her completely. There was another shout louder than the previous, and filled with heartbreaking despair. It was from me, from the depths of my soul.
“Appearing instantaneously at another point in space at a certain distance from your previous location? What would happen to the atoms in that space?”
“Okay? What are you driving at, Gorbachev?”
Ismail Gorbachev was a revolutionary physicist and war criminal. I saved his life in the war, when we were on opposing sides.
Over a decade later, the rebellion has been squashed, and I’m back on the blue moon. Many things might have changed but Gorbachev still owed me.
“I’ve done it. It was real hard work. Nobody said this was going to be easy, of course, and if anybody would do it, it would have been me. But still, a decade!”
He threw his hands in the air, feigning exasperation, but the glint in his eyes was unmistakable. Gorbachev wasn’t lying.
Time travel was completely illegal. In fact, building a time-travel device was tantamount to a public execution. The Time Preservation Force ensured it.
You traveled back, or forward, in time and you were pulled back instantly and executed. But what Gorbachev was talking about involved quantum entanglement, not time travel itself. The subject would still be in his time, in his space, but would be able to perfectly resonate with a version of himself using his unique quantum signature.
“It’s genius really,” Gorbachev liked to praise himself. “You could be in your room, asleep but at the same time, in the future, doing whatever you want. It's still being developed, of course, but that's the goal!"
“My God. I’m truly impressed.”
I praised him a lot too.
“Yes. Yes. Of course, it’s all hush-hush but the first testing is tomorrow and even the TPF are on board.”
The TPF recruited anyone smart enough to build a time machine, or find a loophole like Gorbachev. But something like this couldn’t be risk-free.
“Are there any drawbacks, Gorba?”
He went silent for a while.
“Yes. Yes. Of course, there are some…complications. Some parts might go missing, lost in time, you know. Perhaps a kidney. Or a shirt. But that’s why we have testing, right? Like you Earthlings say, Testing is the first thing.”
“Percentage probability of failure?” I asked.
“Yes. 43%. But we can reduce it. That’s why we have—”
“Testing. I know. Any chance we can do the test early?”
It took the scientist a while to understand what I was saying.
“No. No. I’m not doing that, I’m sorry.”
Yes. Yes, you are.
As I felt myself disintegrate an hour later, my body disappearing right before my eyes as Gorbachev fiddled with the controls on his bulky machine, a lot went through my mind.
Firstly, my life wasn’t flashing in front of my eyes so maybe I wasn’t dying. Also, this was a one-way trip. I was supposed to appear as myself, walking towards Gracie. But now, I would throw my jacket as far away as I could, and we would make a run for it.
I also took a letter with me. Maybe I would give her in case I had to leave again. I had written different things I shouldn’t say to her as she was my elder brother’s wife.
Everything that could have gone wrong did.
I didn’t materialize as myself. I appeared in the barn-slash-shed without my legs, arms and the letter I was holding. The searing pain made me scream even as realization dawned on me. I barely had time to dwell on that as I disintegrated again, my skin fragmenting and turning to dust.
The TPF must have flagged my teleportation as time travel. My life was over. It was short and it was stupid.
I’m writing this as a Kondar scientist is getting ready to send me somewhere I might not return from. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
I’m doing all this for you.
You know exactly how I feel, don’t you? Even if I don’t say it.
Damn, I suck at writing letters.
All I want is to see you again, catch a glimpse of your smile, and bask in your radiant presence.
Now, I’m waxing poetic.
It’s time. Maybe I’ll see you soon. I really hope so.
I love you. I love you, Gracie.
Your Poetic Waxer,