Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Time-Traveling Slinky

Time travel is hard to write. Seriously. Well, at least it was for me because I made the “mistake” of going on line to learn all about it. Yes, I read all about the Theory of Relativity. Einstein is smarter than me, believe it or not. I read all about worm holes and temporal paradoxes. I read all about the scientific “rules” of time travel—some geniuses have five rules; some have ten. All agree that to time travel forward is possible if a method of traveling faster than the speed of light can be devised, and time travel backward is impossible unless a time machine exists in the past. And no one can do anything that would alter the time continuum unless there could be alternate universes, which most clear thinkers say there couldn’t be. No one can go back in time and alter history because everything has already happened and alterations would have a ripple effect that couldn’t happen because events are already fixed in history.

But people love time travel, right? Creative thinkers—like writers…like me—think that the idea of time travel is all that matters. It’s no different than for readers who like aliens. If a reader enjoys the creative possibility of aliens, then they can enjoy the story. And who cares if there really aren’t fairies, vampires, unicorns, magic beans, Greek gods, super heroes, or talking rabbits? It’s just a story. And that’s why we can accept time travel in Back to the Future, The Terminator, Looper, The Butterfly Effect, The Time Traveler’s Wife, Star Trek, The Time Machine, and Timeline among dozens and dozens of other books and movies. Everything doesn’t have to be possible; the writer just has to make it seem possible.

So I spent lots of agonizing hours fretting anyway—of course. That’s just how I am. Finally, I settled on a mode of presentation. OF COURSE IT’S NOT POSSIBLE. As my wife became fond of saying, “It’s fiction. Time travel doesn’t exist. Do what you want.” Of course my story can be meticulously analyzed and found flawed. Of course it doesn’t meet every scientific principle, but it’s a story—made-up fiction to be enjoyed. And I think I did it in a way no one else has done it. I’m quite proud of that.

Instead of looking at time travel and time machines, I looked at time. And I made up a theory of how time exists on the spiritual plane. Then I created a time traveling “slinky” to stretch in and out of time and place, not because of a time machine, but because of a gift and because of a mission that was assigned to him by three angels who exist on a different plane than humans and understand time in a different way. It’s “explained” in the excerpt below as Cole Flint, the time traveling teleporter, has time explained by Perisa, a principality—an angel—after Cole learns of his abilities and his mission.

“This [time traveling and teleporting] is a lot to take in…even to believe. How is it possible?” [Cole asked.]

“Time on earth is perceived linearly. But that’s not how time really works.”

“Then how does it work? If all I have to do is picture where and when I’m going, I want to be able to visualize how it works too.”

Perisa smiled and stretched out a wire—where it came from was a mystery. “Do you recall how people once thought the world was flat?”

Cole nodded.

“They couldn’t comprehend how it could be round. But it was, regardless of what they thought. Well, people think of time like a timeline,” she explained as she stretched out the wire.

“But it’s really round?”

With a hand on the end, somehow Perisa fashioned the straight wire into a perfect circle. “Like this?” she asked Cole.

“Yeah…no beginning, no end. It sort of makes sense to me.”

Perisa giggled. “Well, that’s not how it is, Cole.” With a quick couple of twists of her hand, the wire formed into a coiled spring. “Time is more like this. No beginning or end, but all time is piled on top of each other. In the spiritual realms, past, present, and future are all happening at the same time.” She then pressed the spring with her thumb and compressed it into a solid piece of metal. “It’s not really a spring, though. Everything that happens on earth is happening on a linear timeline—at least it is to the people living here—but in the spiritual world, it’s all happening at the same time…except to you. You are the spring…sort of like a slinky. You rise out of time, stretch in whatever direction or time you want, and then settle back into the metal.” As she spoke, the “slinky” she mentioned rose out of the metal and dropped back into the visual aid, theoretically into a different time or place.

“I don’t know how you’re doing that, but thanks for the visual. You gonna give me the magic wire in case I have to explain things to the wonder girl?”

“What wire, Cole? There’s no wire,” she said as she held up her empty hands. “I know you have questions, but I need to say goodbye for now. I sense your anxiety…and sadness. You must deal with that in your own way, but please know that I will be watching…and please be careful.”

So Cole Flint, in an attempt to protect Hannah Carpenter from people who are seeking the Staff of Moses, the relic that Hannah is possessing, takes her back in time, and thus starts an adventure. In the process of transporting her in time and place, she keeps making contact with a grizzly bear and the King of Jordan. The adventure—WHICH I MADE UP—follows many of the rules of time travel—you know, those scientific “rules” about something that doesn’t exist? And some of the travels don’t follow the “rules,” leaving paradoxes. Yet, the end result is a mission is accomplished, a mystery is solved, and characters are involved in an adventure that is sure to be enjoyable to read. So relax; sit back and enjoy; and read another of the many varied tales of a time traveler that is impossible fiction but no more impossible than Harry Potter or Percy Jackson or Edward Cullen or Willy Wonka or Doctor Jekyll or Spock or Gandalf or the Incredible Hulk. It’s a story to be enjoyed—not believed. It’s an adventure to pique the imagination and to defy possibility. It is Jumper.