Aphelion Issue 245, Volume 23
November 2019
 
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What They Don’t Tell You About Time Travel

by Martin Lochman


Are you thinking about taking a trip up or down the timeline? Now, before you run off to build your time machine, let me tell you why it’s not such a great idea:

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1/ It hurts. Seriously. Do you really think that getting disassembled at a molecular level, shoved through an artificially created black hole, and then pieced together at the other end is pleasant? Like, say, riding a bus or flying on a plane? Hell no! And it’s not just the transport process — you also get a headache that is out of this world as a bonus.

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2/ It’s expensive. You can’t get the materials you need to put together your time machine in a Walmart or RadioShack. Certainly not the fuel for your energy source — procuring that might even get you in trouble with the authorities, or the questionable characters on the Dark web, or a combination of both!

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3/ Your insurance won’t cover time travel accidents. Of any kind.

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4/ There are barely any destinations which can be considered safe…

The Mesozoic? I bet you are very excited about seeing the dinosaurs with your own two eyes, maybe petting a baby stegosaurus or chasing after a pack of microraptors. Putting aside the highly likely possibilities that you get eaten alive by a carnivore or flattened to a human-sized pancake under the feet of a gigantic herbivore, do you know what none of the countless films, novels, comics, and beautiful scenic paintings of the era showcase? The wide variety of lovely contemporary microbes. Are you inoculated against prehistoric malaria? How about the very early version of flu? Didn’t think so!

The Middle Ages? Sure, they sound all romantic and adventurous on paper but in reality, you’ll probably get killed during your first hour there just because you look and talk funny. Plus, I have one word for you: hygiene!

Ancient Egypt? Why not, if you enjoy slave labor in scorching heat. You can’t honestly expect that the pharaohs will just invite you in for a cup of tea and chat.

Ice age? Neolithic? Ancient Greece? I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.

Oh, and the future? Don’t even get me started…

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5/ Hiding your machine in the handful of those time periods that are safe (look in the direction of a more recent history) isn’t easy. Leave it as it is and you might as well put up a sign saying: “Look at this weird thing that doesn’t resemble anything you’ve seen in your entire life.” Disguise it as something from the era, say a car or a boat, and it might get stolen. Hide it in a forest or in a cave and you’ll probably have a hard time finding it again.

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6/ You can’t change the past. Those things you wish you never said to your parents, siblings, significant others, the awkward situations you wish you could have avoided, the choices you made because you thought they were better than the alternative… yeah, all of them are here to stay, no matter what you do. There are no second chances. The only thing you will accomplish is creating parallel timelines, separate universes where the other yous will benefit from your course-corrections while everything remains exactly the same in your life. Is it unfair? Possibly. But it’s how the space-time continuum prevents paradoxes.

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Did I convince you? No? Well, go ahead then, but don’t tell me I didn’t warn you!


2019 Martin Lochman

Martin Lochman is from the Czech Republic, currently living and working as a University librarian in Malta. He started writing and publishing in Czech but as time went by and his affinity for the English language grew, he switched to English. Some of his flash fiction and short stories appeared (or are forthcoming) in Theme of Absence, Asymmetry Fiction, Aphelion, Aurora Wolf, AntipodeanSF, 101Words, The Weird and Whatnot, and 365tomorrows. You can find him at: https://martinlochmanauthor.wordpress.com/ or twitter: @MartinLochman.

Find more by Martin Lochman in the Author Index.

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