We were arrogant, ignorant, totally unprepared. Disaster struck hard. We let it. Shame on us. Narcissism, greed and selfishness took over. Fools ruled.
No more. Never again. No looking back. Have to find a clear path to the future. Be ready and alert. When options narrow. Compromise dictates.
Silver. Lots of silver. Silver and glass. A world of reflection. A spot of black. Gray everywhere. But then a flash of green. Sage green. Calming and neutral. I had seen it. I’m sure.
We’d crashed back into the same location. Revisiting the same space. But the time unknown. A zillion lenses reflect. The light refracts. Dances. A solitary reflection forms a sundial showing years. Held in place by a gravitational pull. Nothing floats. Not at this moment nor the next.
We had been on a journey – a mission racing to reach 2185.
Colors blur. Warm and cool alike. We slip past them. Through a hole in the live-wire mesh beneath us.
Time travel, a one-way street, only to the future. Just forward. Never the past. History is indelible. Only interpretation can change. The past a lesson. Can’t be relived – not yet. Retro dreams are mood music. The future is possibilities. Gravitational pull. Accessible when all components align.
time + space
The temperature inside our capsule drops rapidly. Plunges until unbelievably cold. Freezing. Minus forty Celsius preserves and protects us. Keeps us from aging even a day. Our skin baby fresh. Almost a beauty treatment.
Deep-freeze settings. But don’t approach cryonics. We’re alive and alert. Our exhale fogs up. But breathing and heartbeat now perceptively slowed. Bodily functions minimized. Sensitivity calmed.
Increase in oxygen. Intake boosts capacity of our minds. Our perceptions unbelievably sharp. Mechanized blood circulation. Stellar velocity dispersions. All ready and set.
Ginny and I squeeze hands. Tightly. A human reassurance. Warmth returns. Energy renewed. Ready for a lengthy journey. Our permanent relocation into the fourth dimension.
The first couple of days in flight go incredibly well. By the clock and by the book.
Already passing 2033. Ten years out. The world reacts. It wobbles and shakes to rudely awaken us.
The wobbling continues to grows more violent. Seconds later, already in 2034, our engines conk. Warnings ring out to no avail as we inexplicably crash into 2035.
Our schedule forgotten. A-hundred-and-thirty-eight years off course.
Dejection sets in. Ginny and I fight it off. No question. We’re genuinely stranded.
But, somehow, we sense our home base is incredibly close. Firwood. The village has the same geographic coordinates it had in 2023. Nothing else. No signs. Its welcome mat gone. Firwood is no more.
Instead of the village, a stark landscape. No longer quaint… no buildings, streets, fir trees or the slightest scent of nature. No fried potatoes. No people.
In 2023, Firwood still brimmed with life. Now silence reigns.
We had called the place home. Up until that fateful launch. 2185 a futile destination.
Our cabin chilled. Steamed like dry ice.
At the countdown, all systems flashed “go”. Our meticulous prep paying off. A stunning launch in place. On virtual course through time. We soared onward. Past years not miles.
A rocket racing through time. But not space. Relativity challenging Ginny and me.
Then the violent wobble. The conk. The crash. Emergency systems instantly kick in. Alarms sound. Cabin temperature readjusts. Bodies too. Our breathing speeds. Circulation restores. Pulses almost normal.
The capsule door swings open. Air pressure equalizes. Body belts release. We float outside, get up and stagger, blindly stumbling through a cloud of ash.
Lost and dazed. The two of us stare. Dead ahead. Firwood laid bare. The village not visible. Gone. Buried under layer upon layer of ash. Acres of ash as far as the eye could see. Dust.
Gray dust without radioactivity.
Just Ginny and me. The sole humans. Other than Abilene and Savannah. Those two silky A.I. voices from the south. Sisters. Digital twins. Abby and Savvy.
Savvy was with us. Not now. And Abby lost in time.
Savvy definitely was the one. As our navigator, she short-circuited our flight. Said it was to rescue Abby. The sisters halted our journey. Shattered the clock. Wrecked our capsule.
Only they’re essential. We need them both for our escape. And they need us too. An interdependency.
Symbiotic or parasitic? The question reverberates. The answer elusive.
Abby has her various sides. Her changing moods. She did, however, get us another vessel. One in the lab. Not yet serviceable. Not yet programmed to travel.
Its Solar Time Coordinates (STC) beg aloud, requesting the latest update. Tests to be run. Everything itches to be launch ready. A rather dicey affair. But a start. A definite start.
green, sage green
“Hey, before we go anywhere, I need to find Abby’s purse,” announced Ginny, again using Savvy’s words. “A small, leather pouch. Green, sage green.”
“Sage green?” I had seen it. But where?
“It’s sitting in one of the time capsules,” she insisted. “Trust me, Gorman,” Savvy butted in. Still with Ginny’s voice. “It’s critical. Abby will do everything for you if you find it.”
“I just want to get to 2185 safely,” I grumbled.
“Just trust her,” says Savvy, her hand on my shoulder. Reassuring. In no way suggestive.
“Why?” I persist, not letting on. “What’s in her bag?”
“Her life. Her personality. Her knowledge. Her motivation. And everything else.”
“The key to her communications?”
“To her ESP…”
“Her subliminal transmitters.”
“Hey, Gorman! ESP is just connectivity. We all have it.”
“Two way or one way?” I hold back a cough from the ash. “Just have to plug in. It’s about your focus.”
“Gorman, we need your help,” insists Abby, her eyes intensely focused. “Think! I know you’ve seen her bag.”
“Only a flash of that color…”
much too fast to see…
“Okay.” She stares. Uncomfortably. “But where? In the lab?”
“Not sure. The color just shot past. Came and went.”
“Concentrate, Gorman, please!”
Something distracts me. I drift. Feeling a minute vibration beneath my feet, I bend over and sweep away a mound of the dust.
A single, shiny railroad track appears.
I sweep away more. The reflective track momentarily blinds me. I put my ear to the ground. An intense vibration tosses me back.
“It’s the rocket rail line,” announces Abby with a grin. “Travels at the speed of light. Fastest ever. For now.”
“Where does it go?” I ask Abby.
“To the capital. Missed it in a blink. Much too fast to see. Same as the sage green.”
“Yes,” I smile and look up to see a familiar face.
“Ginny!” My smile is gone. “She has you. Doesn’t she?”
“No one has me,” insists my partner, staring me down. “Come on!”
“Then, tell me…” Our eyes lock on one another’s. “The face is yours. The body too. Your voice. But who am I speaking to?”
“To me, Ginny… yes.”
I blink. But she doesn’t.
“No, Gorman, you’re not that crazy. Sure, maybe I could be Savvy.”
“She has you. You’re in her clutches.”
“In a way, but not quite…”
“She’s reading you with her ESP.”
“Perhaps… Only without her, we’re lost.”
“With her or without her. Ginny, talk to me. Your thoughts clear?”
“Never been more lucid. Just try to accept the twins. You used to.”
“They were our friends.”
“Gorman,” Ginny’s voice drops. “We need your help.”
“To get us out of here?”
“Before disaster strikes. A natural one may be coming soon.”
“Abby thinks so?”
“The three of us do.” She nods and plants a kiss on my cheek.
“Thanks.” I return the gesture, feeling her telepathy creep into my thoughts. “So, tell me! Why’re we back in 2035?”
with the sunrise
“Abby was stranded here. Crew 27 took off and ditched her.”
Ginny’s voice trails off as Abby adds: “I was watching the sunrise. Shouldn’t have been. I lost my focus for a sec. Then, it was too late. They were gone.”
“Through the ash?” I rub my eyes.
“It’s clearing,” declares Abby. “I’d scooped up some ginkgo leaves from the ground. And was chewing on them. For some clarity.”
“But the original trees are gone,” I remind her. “None exist anymore.”
a state of mind
“They do!” announced Abby. “Promise. They’re just buried. Deep.”
“Beneath all the layers of ash?” I ask.
“Their green leaves have all turned yellow. Check the stacks of fallen ones with their autumn colors… Take a virtual x-ray shot and study the pattern.”
“And?” I close my eyes, puzzled as I comply.
“It’s comprises something between a map and a blueprint,” notes Abby. Her thoughts penetrating. “We follow the lines,” adds Savvy.
“They will lead us to 2185,” says Ginny, planting another kiss.
I squint. Trace subliminally. Follow my power of recall. Ginny’s voice waits. I need to confirm. Also the color of the leaves painted on Abby’s time capsule.