Jonathan Terrington – Deakin University
It began with a murmur of consciousness. A murmur so soft we could barely decipher it. Yet every man could hear that pulsing summoning call. It was the voice of the people in dissent against the natural order of events. It became the voice of a generation pushing for progress.
Our Timely Debt – Sir Robert Fynch (circa 2034 AD)
Time has been my constant companion but she has never been my friend. Together we dance through the elemental boundaries of corporeal existence; never touching as we march side by side. I have come to know, as well as any man can boast, her intricacies and her flowing form. I recognise her footsteps; I understand her soft and husky voice. Above all else I understand her tears and her pain. For my great crime is to stand convicted as her jailer.
– From the works of Timothy Fulton, a revolutionary scientist in chrono-engineering shortly before his death in 2037 AD
My narration finds its beginning in the year of 2049 AD, but my story itself begins long before I write these words. It is odd: how time catches up to you in the end; how she forces you to reveal your deep and dark secrets? I would never have sat here fifteen years ago and written what I am now revealing to the world.
In many ways it is a pity that I would never have written such a thing. Because now that fact means that all the history I have experienced up to this very point will itself be proven falsely paradoxical. How do I know this? It’s because with these very words I am rewriting time itself. Or rather I am bringing about time’s true passage with each and every stroke of ink.
Who knows what the new future holds for me. Will I find myself a failure; a homeless drunk sitting in the rain clutching at passers-by and asking for loose change? Will I fall into the new pattern of reality as one of the few lucky enough to attain the echelons of fame and fortune? Or will my world remain unchanged? I do not know.
That is why I must record my brief tale so as to remember the truth – although I laugh at my use of such a word. Do I even know what truth is anymore? Or has the truth become relative – an objective abstraction that my actions can undo? Is the sky really blue or have my perceptions of reality convinced me of this fact? Is this world real or do I simply believe the evidence provided by my physical senses? Which way is up and which way is down? Do I really know? And do we as a society really care or are we too busy living our virtual lives where everything – even time itself – is under our control?
That is our problem as I see it. We have become convinced that we are the gods of our time and that whatever we can do we can do. We never stop to question the results – and why should we? Why should we question whether we should moderate our own destinies in such a way?
If I have confused you with my philosophical questions I beg forgiveness. Yet in an ironic way I somewhat fulfil the true purpose of this paper. This is after all my philosophy examination paper of oh so many years ago.
What place do my rambling thoughts have on such a paper? Perhaps you have asked yourself this question already. I have few answers, all I can say is that I owe it to others to attempt to record something of the facts surrounding my history and therefore the philosophy which has shaped my world. Is not the purpose of my paper to explain the essential being of reality? If indeed you are reading this then it means I succeed, if not then all is in vain.
Seventeen years ago a discovery was made which has shaped our current society in ways we never thought possible. Scientists had always believed in the potential of time travel or time manipulation. Yet they had all viewed time from the narrow linear perspective. That is that time could only be observed as traveling along one pathway forwards and backwards.
Along came Timothy Fulton, the man responsible for perhaps the greatest discovery of all time. He recognised time as existing in a different form with three-dimensional properties and performed research to indicate the truth of his theories. It was his belief that time was not a linear progression but rather an already established sequence of events running in conjunction with a multiverse of other events. That it may be possible for spaces in time to briefly be jumped over was his initiative.
That it may be possible for an individual to bypass certain events in life. In this way it may be possible to skip ahead to the end of the long two hour family reunion knowing that you’d already experienced the event itself. Rather like skipping chapters in a book or a film. Fulton’s brilliant idea was not limited to the theoretical. His genius proved capable of creating and marketing a device capable of skipping through events in time. Times considered ‘boring’ or ‘uneventful’ could be skipped through making life like the highlights reel for a sporting match. You no longer had to wait a week for the latest book or movie release you could experience it the next minute with the click of a button.
Yet there was a catch to this invention. One no one properly foresaw. It was an effect which has come to be known as the ‘Time Debt’. While we believed we could skip through events in time, time itself had a different opinion. We could skip the hour of the maths lecture but sometime in the future we would have to re-experience that hour of the maths lecture. You could fast forward a week to watch a movie but you would pay for it later by revisiting that lost week.
‘Time Debt’ was not as simple as merely re-visiting events either. Many discovered, as I in my foolishness have, that your actions could change your future.
Let me explain it this way. Let’s say that you were in jail and had six months until parole. So you decide to skip six months into the future. You end up in a world where, as you understand it, you’ve reached parole and can enter the world as a freed citizen again. But what if when time catches back up to you, that you change those events? What if you die before parole? What if you break out of jail? One simple change in a sequence of events on your behalf changes everything in your future in an instance…
I know it probably doesn’t make much sense the way I’m explaining it. After all I’m hardly an expert on chrono-engineering. Unless you consider personal experience as a qualification.
All I can state is that I myself used the ability to time jump. I skipped through my philosophy examination in order to experience a future where I received the highest grade possible and made it into my University Course. A future founded upon the lie which I fed into my device – a virtual fabrication and one which now has arisen to haunt me.
Now after fifteen years of profitable work, and partying hard, time has caught up with me. I have been forced to re-write the exam, which I had received the highest possible mark for. But that exam was written after intensive study and preparation. Preparation lost to time itself. Now all I can write here is the beginning of a narrative which extends back fifteen years, a narrative which now in itself creates my future. A narrative which earns me little on a crucial exam, save for psychological evaluation or congratulations for writing a fantastic fictional narrative – but certainly not a pass for philosophy.
Yet I am not the only one. By the day, by the hour, and by the very minute, futures are altered and changed according to the simple choices that all of us make in our society. The Fulton device is not solely to blame for the choices we have made. It is a device that simply reveals the future as it should have been – rather than the future as we chose to make it. And by our choices we have become the anachronisms. We have become people out of time and out of place. People ruined by ill choices and haunted by our ignored pasts.
I do not know the future that I will stumble into. I only know that I am prepared to accept my failure and face that future. I cannot ignore my past any longer and I cannot continue to skip through time. Every moment exists for me to treasure and I will treasure this new future no matter what it may be…
This examination paper written by Benjamin Daniels was dated to the year 2034 AD and filed among many other examination papers from the time. No further information about Mr Daniels.
Jonathan Terrington is a current student at Deakin University, halfway through the arduous but exiting process of becoming a teacher. He first discovered literature at the young age of seven and has begun attempting to create his own, with varying degrees of success.