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by Marsh Cassady
Category: Science Fiction
Description: Each particle of time contains an encapsulated universe. In each of these universes are individuals with the same names and nearly identical lives. In widely-separated space-times Lou Graham's family and young actress Mary Llewellyn have been murdered, which means that they probably will die in every space-time. Lou travels back to 1888 to solve the mystery and perhaps save his family from their fate.
eBook Publisher: The Fiction Works, 2004 http://www.fictionworks.com
eBookwise Release Date: April 2004
8 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [282 KB]
Reading time: 180-252 min.
Your Eyes Only
TO: All employees, Travel, Inc., YOUR EYES ONLY
From: Executive Board
Date: October 23, 1990
Subject: Excerpt, ANNUAL REPORT: Project Time Travel
As a result of recent discoveries, it is now an established fact that previous theories of time travel are invalid and unworkable.
For years certain scientists have believed that time is simultaneous, thus suggesting that each individual exists in all points of his lifetime concurrently. THIS IS INCORRECT. The individual exists only in his own encapsulated universe.
We have proven beyond a doubt that each chronon, each tiny particle of time, contains such an encapsulated universe. From one such universe or space-time to another, there are individuals with the names the same as ours and lives that differ only in the minutest details. Indeed, in those space-times close to ours the entire pattern of life matches almost exactly that of our own space-time. Be assured, however, that the individuals in these other encapsulated universes ARE NOT OURSELVES. THERE IS NO GRANDFATHER PARADOX. We cannot travel back, kill our grandfathers and thus prevent our own births.
Most assuredly, we can meet individuals similar to ourselves and our relatives, but altering their lives will have no effect on our particular space-time or on our lives.
As pioneers in time travel, we have a grave responsibility. We must do everything in our power to see that the natural course of events in other encapsulated universes ARE NOT ALTERED. We are observers, first, last and always.Prologue
The railroad spur had been abandoned for years, yet Willie heard the mournful echo of a far-off train.
He lay now in his sister's house wide awake, staring up at the banana-colored beams that ran under the roof and across the top of the attic, feeling the springs of the old brass bed poking into his back.
He'd dropped in for a visit a few days earlier, and already Herman, his brother-in-law was starting to get to him. Herman, with the $400 suits and the big gut that hung way out over his solid-gold belt buckle, telling Willie that with his brains he could have done whatever he wanted.
It was true, Willie thought. He was fifty-six years old and had never amounted to much. His life had been the path of a playful breeze. A loner, he made friends as easily as eating the sections of an orange; left them as easily as spitting out the seeds. Balding, with a white Pancho Villa moustache, he was a little runt of a guy, five-and-a-half feet tall.
Throwing back the sheet, he plopped his feet on the rough wood floor, bumped his head on the sloping walls. The trouble was, Willie thought, he was born too late. A hundred years back he might have amounted to something--become rich in the Klondike gold strike or traveled the theatrical circuits.
He grabbed an old blue bathrobe from the nail by the bed and walked over to the single window, a circle of glass with spokes. In the ghostly light of the moon, the two-lane road twisted and curved through fields of ripened grain. In the yard a giant willow, the tiny leaves on its trailing branches shiny with dew, guarded the silver mailbox. "Herman von Althaus," the letters said. "Box 897, Route 1, Randolph, NJ."
Off in the distance he heard it again, saddest sound in the universe. The whistle of a steam locomotive, the kind he'd heard in his youth. If he closed his eyes, he could bring back the memory as real as ever he'd seen it. The old iron horse, coming ever closer, wheels chugging, the engineer pumping the cord, cow catcher in front.
Maybe if he went outside he'd find the explanation. Maybe it was the wind through the trees. Except there wasn't any wind. He pulled on a pair of athletic socks, boxer shorts, and dark blue work pants. The night air was cool, so he grabbed a flannel shirt from the closet and slipped it on. He tossed his bathrobe back onto the nail, grabbed his shoes, and tiptoed down the steps.
It was a beautiful night, peaceful--the first cool spell after a mid-August heat wave. A delicate scent of newly cut grass rode softly on the air. Willie tugged on his shoes, pushed open the weathered gate, and crossed the narrow road. He slid down a bank through tall grass and thistles to the railroad track.
He heard again off in the distance the mournful whistle, like the keening sigh of a widow. It touched a chord in him, an itch to travel on.
He'd go back to the house, he decided, and pack a few belongings. The whistle blew again, now a siren of the sea, irresistible. Willie started to run, to race toward the sound that logically couldn't exist. He ran down the rusted tracks and rotting railroad ties over a road that hadn't been traveled in decades. Yet he knew it would be now.
He couldn't take time to do any packing or to leave a note. Sis and Herman would understand, would be glad to get rid of him. Maybe later he'd drop them a postcard. Maybe he wouldn't.
Off in the distance he saw the locomotive illuminated in the spill from its headlamps. The tracks began to vibrate and grumble. Puffs of steam escaped, hung, faded into wisps like cotton candy out in the rain. With a screech of wheels and the bucking protest of cars the train shuddered and stopped. The engineer leaned from the cab. A red-faced man with fiery hair, he wore overalls with pale blue stripes against a background of white. His cheeks puffed out like a chipmunk's filled with nuts.
"I'm glad you're coming aboard," he said.