March 11, 1980
The past few weeks have passed uneventfully. I’ve been busy with homework and regular work. I had continued to see my grandmother a couple times a week; between making the video and getting the full breakdown on what happens with her grandkids, I felt as if there wasn’t anything left for me to give her. There wasn’t much new going on with me, and I had a hard time thinking of things she would want to know that weren’t depressing. So, we became like old friends; when we met, we talked about our lives on a more surface, day to day, level. It was nice, because it was a level of familiarity neither of us had hoped for when we first met.
I did still keep her out of the loop on the things she would eventually experience. I felt I owed her that, and that hopefully knowing there was less time left than she had originally assumed, that she’d be able to enjoy it more. We didn’t talk about that though.
“What’re you studying in school?” She finally asked one day. I had mentioned something about homework, but we had never really talked about it.
“Right now, just English and statistics, I had to start over when I came back. But I was working on my Phd before that.”
Her face lit up, and she looked impressed. “What are you going to get a Phd in?”
“Physics, specifically, my research was in tachyon particles, and how they work.”
She looked at me with her eyebrows arched in confusion.
“Tachyon particles, are particles that can travel faster than the speed of light. Ultimately, they’re what helps make time travel possible.”
She stared at me, and I could see I had to explain more.
“So, with the time machine that I used to get back here, it was able to use these particles that move faster than the speed of light, to created a field, all heading in the same direction, both on they physical plane, but also on that of time, and brought me back here because I was contained in that field.”
“Didn’t jumping to the speed of light do something to your body? Like wouldn’t you have got whiplash?”
I shrugged. “The way the machine was structured, it helped account for that. So imagine if you were in a car, and you were not only seat belted, but you also had a strap around your forehead, and then the car burst forward zero to sixty instantly, like a rocket, and then stopped just as quickly. Well we figured out a way to account for that.”
“To be honest, there are so many other things going on, that I’m not sure that would have registered with my body. When I showed up, I had aged about a month, and was dumped into the January ocean, and was nearly starving to death. It was days before my body was back to the normal everyday pains, and I suppose the sudden stop and go of the particles may have accounted for the disorientation.”
“So, now that you’re back here, why are you going to school to study the same thing?”
“I have to perfect what I know. I have to get everything ready for 2010, and then I have to be able to adjust everything and improve everything for Sam to make a jump with the machine itself by 2040.” When I said it outloud— when I thought about the fact that I was going to live at least long enough to get the improved time-machine up and running by 2040, even if I didn’t live to see it—I was going to be eighty six years old. I hadn’t thought about my own age or mortality in a long-time, hell, I hadn’t even remembered when my alternate twenty-seventh birthday had happened in November. I thought of myself suspended in time because I had been traveling through it, and it hadn’t been long enough to see any of the age coming through, but surely by eighty six, I would be facing my own mortality.
So for the next week after that discussion, I looked at myself in the mirror long and hard every morning. There were a few hairs that I could see where gray, but because my hair is light enough, I could pretend they were blonde. I had lost a lot of weight in the last year, and while I thought that I looked pretty good, there was no doubt that the skin on my face hung slightly different than when I was this thin just from being a kid.
Then, yesterday, I got the next letter from the mystery traveler, and I was distracted again.
I need you to do me a favor, and you cannot ask me why. This Saturday, I need you to spend as much time as possible, with an upstanding citizen. Could be one of your parents, could be at work, but someone who will be a reliable witness. I can’t tell you why, and I assume you can tell, it’s not something great, but you need to stay visible on Saturday, and it probably would help if you burned this letter too. Write me back to confirm, but don’t reference this letter at all.
Immediately, I felt awful, but I burnt the letter, and flushed the ashes, and responded back with:
I had a lovely fire this morning in my fireplace, and I wanted to thank you for the kindling.
I’ve been on edge ever since, but I agreed to pick up shifts all weekend. In fact, I need to leave for one now.