Time Sleeper

It would be nice if a delightful wormhole existed nearby. We could all travel through it to go visit different points of time on holiday. It would be grand fun. However, there is no such thing. Thus, that method of time travel, if really possible, is just a theory on the minds of some. Time travel can be seen as different things when one gets right down to it.

Take an ordinary healthy adult person and pause their body from aging. Do it by freezing them, by stasis, or by injecting them with a chemical. The details on this are not important. Just make sure they are stuck. Make sure the world, and time, moves forward without them.

Now, here’s the tricky part. After the world, and time, has aged a bit, you wake the person. You let the alarm go off blaring. You press play. You unstick them, unfreeze them, or inject them with a ‘go’ chemical. Again, the details are not important.

Time is relative. The unstuck person feels like he has traveled in time. Who are we to argue?

For thousands of years, people attempted to write down history, even attempted to make it interesting by engaging in dramatic and exciting story-telling, but to no avail. Person after person, civilization after civilization just kept making the same mistakes. They kept repeating the same kind of suffering over and over. Growth was limited.

The planet was dying. Something had to be done, so many people volunteered to travel to the future, to be living breathing interactive historians. Why read about a war when you could talk to someone who has seen it? At least, that was the justification for the first wave of time sleepers. Out of the thousands of volunteers, only thirty-two were chosen. An additional forty-eight were chosen to be their care-takers. Among them were pilots, doctors, engineers, scientists, botanists, anything one might need to survive in outer space on a specialty designed space craft that was going to travel away from Earth for one hundred fifty years before coming back. Several generations of the care-takers would have to keep things up and running and to keep the time sleepers stable. That meant generations of families. Over time, it also meant a new religion.

By the third generation, the religions of Earth were no longer meaningful. The care-takers thought of the time sleepers as gods, or as special and holy. Holidays were celebrated in their honor. Children sang songs glorifying their long sleep, their sacrifice. The crew took up hobbies that included painting the time sleepers as they thought they might have lived. Some wrote books fantasizing about what time sleepers would experience during their long slumber and how they might live upon their return to Earth. All of this was fine and seemed to keep the ship running smoothly. However, after three-hundred years, the much-anticipated return to Earth was less than celebratory.

First of all, there were five groups of time sleepers that were sent off. One group every ten years. That’s fifty years of prep work, and a lot of money and time spent on the project. By the last wave, many were forgetting why the project was so important and countries that helped financed it were in periods of transition, and as such, were under new, less motivated leadership. In fact, the final group of time sleepers and care-takers were only able to begin their journey as a direct result of some very generous last minute private donations.

One of those large donations came from my ancestor. I became a history buff because of him. My parents attempted to steer me towards more noble work, but someone has to keep writing things down, trying to teach people to stop bad habits, prevent wars from popping up again. It’s not glorious, but it pays enough to keep an albeit shabby roof above my head, but my poor excuse for a home is another story.

Interestingly enough, all five missions of time sleepers and their care-takers experienced the same shift in belief system. Upon each one’s return, were a group of care-taker descendants in shock and awe that their fellow humans did not come to view their now awaken ship mates as the gods they had made them out to be.  As it is easy to imagine, treating a person with three-hundred-year-old ideas as infallible has negative consequences. Most of the care-taker descendants refused to assimilate into any existing society. They ended up forming their own country, turning otherwise unusable desert land into its own biosphere complete with every single spec and piece of their space craft. They reassembled and transformed them into living spaces. They created farm land protected by artificial domes of impenetrable clear titanium.

At least, that is what people have speculated.  Anytime a person has attempted to get close to it, they get blown up by advanced weapons systems. Where the care-taker descendants learned that from is anyone’s guess, and has left the planet only hypothesizing as to what exactly the whole thing is made of, and what they are doing there.

What about the time sleepers? Well, why live among mortals when you can get treated like a god. Every last one of them went to go live in the desert country, hidden behind weapons beneath isolated bubbles of space age impenetrable biodomes. By all accounts the time-sleeper project was a complete failure. None of the useful perspectives its creators hoped for made it into the general population. All that information just stayed trapped out in the desert, surrounded by a defensive wall of scary looking craters and weapon shell fragments in honor and as testament of all those that got the crazy idea to try to change that.

Selfishly, it’s their decision to go live out their lives in those biodomes that have given my life meaning. No one would need my history knowledge if any of those time sleepers would agree to their original contract and educate today’s fellow man. It’s been about ten years since the last of the time sleepers returned to Earth. Other than this story, there is not much to be said about any of them. At least, there wasn’t until this morning when a young woman knocked on my door.

She claimed to be from the biodomes of the time sleepers. A desert country, which apparently at some point all who live there decided to name Vakoast, making my visitor a Vokoastan. A trivial detail in most circumstances but considering that not much is known about these people, it seems worth mentioning. I believe it is also worth mentioning she is by far the most beautiful person I have ever seen, but that too is another story.

According to her, Vakoast is a new country, and its citizens are only made up of the time sleepers and care-taker descendants of the first space ship. Curious, to say the least, and after I gave her a cup of tea because after all, one does not ask anyone standing at the doorstep without first showing the basic curtesy of hospitality, I asked to know how she found my front door. More importantly, I asked why she knocked on my door since there are many doors between mine and Vakoast. She replied deadpan, “Your door was the first one I saw.”

At this point, I am most puzzled, how could it be true? I really had no idea what to say other than the less than poetic response of, “You’ve got to be joking, or sick, or perhaps quite dumb.” It should come as no surprise that this young lady was quite insulted. She set down her tea, got up, and bolted right out the front door. I followed her, and that is when I saw it. There, at the end of my driveway, was a worm hole.

There is so such things as wormholes. Sure, I can recall many theorists describing how a wormhole might work and theoretically how one might take advantage of it, but small enough to exist at the end of a driveway? The pretty lady, still obviously displeased by my previous comment, dramatically entered into the wormhole. Without thinking further, I ran right in behind her.

Clean, yet floral, with a hint of citrus. That is what hit me when I stepped out the other side of the wormhole. Several feet before me was a tidy walkway leading to a pedestal. The young lady I followed into the wormhole was pressing several buttons on it, and I heard the wormhole behind me close, or disappear. The sound it made was not unlike large balloon popping. My ears began to ring. The lady didn’t look back. Before I could walk away, I was grabbed, and my face covered by a black fabric bag. A second person grabbed me. Both were much taller than me, and they each took an arm and lifted me up. They started walking in step briskly in some odd direction away from where they found me.

Apples, and cinnamon. Yes, that’s what I could smell now. Shortly after identifying the aroma, I was dropped, down into a hole. It was a long drop, but after a few seconds, I just sort of slid down the side of what felt like a metal slide. Then, I felt like I was floating for a few moments. I landed flat on my butt upon hard concrete. I uncovered my face. I was sitting in front of my house, with the only thing to show for my journey being the black fabric bag that they put over my head.

It was quiet, perhaps much too quiet. Perhaps, I have become paranoid. I got off my butt and walked to my front door. It wouldn’t open. With a heavy sigh, I remembered I had ran out of my house and concluded the wind must have slammed the door shut, jamming it. I proceeded to fiddle with my front window, to break into my own house.

Well, that’s about when one of my neighbors called the police, who then showed up and arrested me. It did not help that I was holding a black bag. It was confiscated along with my personal belongings. It also did not help that the lady who now lived at my house had lived there for several months, so I was told. I answered all the nice officer’s questions after a short ride in the back of his police car. A ride made entirely strange by his insistence on playing loud heavy metal music on the radio. After a couple hours of unimpressive holding cell experience, a detective found me. We walked to his office, which was just a tidbit larger than a closet. He motioned me inside and closed the door behind us.

He didn’t bother with pleasantries. He just sat down, pulled open a drawer, and pulled out a black fabric bag. He tossed it too me. Citrus and apples with a hint of cinnamon. How something could smell this good in such a filthy place was beyond my understanding. Familiar smells alright, but the bag was a different weight and material. “Yours?” I asked. The detective smiled. “Nope. It’s yours. You mailed it to me two months ago.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Where have you been?” asked the detective.

“I don’t know how to answer that.”

“I had to take that bag up to the university to get that scent identified. At first, I thought you went underground to deal with illegal smuggling, but the academic types tell me that what this smells like are a few extinct plants. Want to tell me how you managed this?”

“Extinct plants? Apples? This citrus smell? You’ve never smelled this before?” I was completely dumbfounded now. It was bad enough that I may have jumped into the future by several months, but to land in some kind of timeline that did not have fruit trees? I really wanted to panic, but given the circumstances, there was little point.

“Okay buddy, I’m going to ask this once, and you better give me a straight answer.” The detective looked serious and mean when he continued, “Are you the lost time sleeper?”

“No,” I said, “but I have traveled through time…I think.”

The detective’s expression changed to worry when he continued. “Look, a time sleeper almost died on the return trip. You know how the care-taker descendants are, right?” I nodded. “Well, they put this time sleeper into a frozen sleep, and he’s been handcuffed to a bed since they got back to Earth. Except, here’s the weird part, he keeps waking up out of deep sleep into dream sleep, but never past that. We know he can hear us, but everything we tell him gets processed in his dream world. Any ideas on how to wake him up all the way?”

“Have you tried scaring him awake?”

“Yes.”

“Filling his room with familiar sounds and smells to stimulate him awake?”

“Yes.”

“Loud music?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t know…maybe have someone sit next to him, talk to him, explain that he’s really asleep and he needs to wake himself up?”

The detective leaned to the edge of his chair and looked right into my eyes, “Professor Vokoast. You need to wake up now. You’re dying. Only you can save you. Wake up.”

The detective smiled with obvious relief. “You finally get it, don’t you? It took long enough.”

I started to remember. My grandfather funded the last time sleeper ship with the stipulation that the crew take me on, put me into stasis. I don’t know recall much past that, but if this detective fellow was telling me the truth. I needed to take some kind of action.

I did the only thing I could think of to get out of my chemically induced time travel slumber. I left the detective’s office, went into the nearest bathroom, and started the faucet. It may be an old trick but leave it to one’s bladder to make the brain wake up.

Professor Vakoast awoke in a hospital bed. Next to him, was a very pretty young lady, and two men who looked familiar, but he didn’t have time to stop and think about how he knew them. Before they could get a word out, he ran to the bathroom and relieved himself. It may not be the godliest of actions, but even time travelers have to urinate.

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