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Time Again Chapter 40



“Professor?”

“Yeah?”

“What did you mean when you said that Paul was an anomaly?”

“He doesn’t meet y’all in the different timelines. I don’t even think he existed in them.”

“How is that even possible?”

“Possible and impossible? Everything is impossible in the minds of so many right up to the moment when it happens. And then, still, some refuse to believe it.”

“You’re saying that anything is possible?”

“Wouldn’t that be nice,” he chuckled. 

“Hmmm . . . If this is the only timeline that Ocean doesn’t die, and this is the only timeline where she meets Paul, then does her meeting him save her?”

“Doubt it. There are a few things that are different about this timeline, like you naming yourself and then tracking me down 28 years later to do something just as stupid again. That’s never happened before. And your friend, Becca, this is the only one where she paints dreams. And your friend, Muses—her sister—this is the only timeline where she becomes a musician.”

“That I have a tough time believing. Music is alive in her soul. What was she in the other timelines?”

“. . . it’s best if you don’t know those things.” 

“But you can?”

“Unfortunately.”

“And you know with %100 certainty that in every timeline when you have contact with Ocean, she dies?”

“Yes, Fish, I am certain.”

A shiver ran down Ish’s spine as he thought about how many times The Professor must’ve seen his daughter die.

“Time is like a spider-web that is exponentially bigger than what we are capable of imagining. But if you pull on one string, the rest of the web feels it. All of our actions have consequences and being able to travel backwards doesn’t change that—like people assume.

“‘Time is a spider-web; time is a river; time has a memory; time is alive; time is light; time is speed; time is a maze; time comes to collect; time is entropy; time is repeated patterns; time is a circle; time is bigger then we can imagine, but here you go, here is a metaphor so you can try to imagine it.’ Ishamael said, mimicking The Professor, “Everyone describes the same phenomenon so differently, Professor. Why? Why is it so different in the mind of the individual? Why can’t anyone paint a clear picture of it?”

“See this fog, Ishamael?”

“Yeah?”

“Try to grab it.”

Ish hesitated before saying, “You can’t catch fog.”

“And you can’t catch time.You can only experience it,” The Professor said. 

“Try to paint your psyche, Ish. Or, try to paint what it feels like to be alive.”

“I see your point now, Professor.”

“If everyone were to paint what being alive feels like to them, you’d get billions of different pictures, and not one of them would be the same—similar, sure, but no two would be the exact same.”

“I get it, Ed.”

The Professor stopped suddenly. He was looking out into an empty lot with a giant boulder in the middle of it.

“Here we are, Fish-Vampire, this is what I wanted to show you.”

“What is it?”

“Look! What do you see?”

Ishamael walked towards it, scanning the empty lot. Nothing stood out to him; nothing seemed worth noting; it looked like a regular empty lot. 

“I see dirt and rocks.”

Jinx jumped off the cart and ran to the boulder, jumping on top of it, and licking it profusely.

“Exactly!”

“. . . So?”

“Come! Come!” he waved him toward the boulder. “Look at this! Incredible, innit?”

“Er, sure, Professor, very cool.”

“You don’t really see it, do you?”

“Er. . .”

“What kind of stone is this, Fish?”

“The big kind?”

“Yes, yes, it’s big. But, FIsh, this is marble.

“It is?”

The professor took his sleeve and cleaned off a spot on the stone. “See??”

Ishamael leaned closer to look at it. Then he reached out and touched the spot that he had cleaned.

“You’re right, this is a giant marble stone,” Ish said in awe. “It is just sitting in the middle of California?”

“Oh, Fish, it’s been here way longer than California has.”

Ishamael continued to run the dirt off of the marble. 

“Parts of New York were built on top of Marble.”

“Were they really?”

“Eh, depends on who you ask.”

Ish glanced at him in confusion. 

“Any idea how old this is?” The Professor asked him. 

“Old.”

“Yeah, Fish, it’s pretty old. Imagine if she had a memory. The stories she could tell us.

“Marble is the daughter of Mother Nature and Father Time. A resilient lady, isn’t she? She could remember a flood from hundreds of years ago; or a volcano erupting; or a change in temperature or pressure; or if humans ever chipped away at her; she remembers and can tell us about the past—if you're willing to listen.”

“You mean the natural erosion of stone can be studied, and if you know what to look for, then it can reveal glimpses into the past?”

“The future is only built upon the past. That’s The Arrow Of Time, Fish. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t parts of the world that don’t hold the past, present and future in them.

“Unconformities, huh? Speculations on ‘lost’ time? I know it a little, but it’s been awhile.”

The Professor walked to a part of the giant marble and studied it carefully. Then, to Ish’s shock, he started to climb it.

“Professor?! Are you sure about that?” Ish called out to him.

“Don’t worry, Vampire, I learned how to climb from Jinx.”

He looked down and winked at Ishamael, then kept climbing. 

When he got to the top, he pulled himself up and sat down on top of it right next to his cat.

“C’mon, you’ll miss the moment if you don’t grab it. Come! Come!” He patted the spot next to him.

What the hell? Ish said to himself. This crazy old man.

He walked over to where The Professor had climbed up and started his short ascent to the top of the marble.

 He got to the top and sat down next to The Professor and Jinks. They looked out into the foggy night sky. 

“We are scientists, Ish. We see the world through a certain lens, a lens that drives us to ask questions and try to find the most rational and logical answers to them.”

“I think we are Mad Scientists, Professor.”

A deep and booming laugh came from The Professor. 

“That might be true. But, listen, Fish, what I'm about to tell you is from my scientist hat.”

“Er, Okay?”

“Time is fundamental.”

“. . . Professor, how do you know—

—Have you heard of assembly theory?”

“I know of the general idea.”

“The universe is too big to handle itself.”

“You’re all over the place, Professor.”

“Remember Carl Sagan? Well he was wrong. That picture—wrong. We aren’t that small because we are also the tool that captured that picture, as well as all the ideas and inventions that have led us up to that. We are growing, Fish. And the universe is expanding. We put things together and create new things on top of new things. We are evolving. We are the universe. And we cannot contain ourselves.”

Ishamael sat there, not sure what to think. The Professor was somehow both more sane than he expected but also way more crazy. 

How many different theories on time does he believe in? He is contradicting himself, isn’t he? But something resonates . . . he thought.

“If time is an arrow—if it is in fact fundamental—then how can we go back, Professor?”

“This is why we aren’t supposed to, Fish. It’s not natural.”

“Alright. . .”

“Don’t worry, I’ll still help you. I just want to make sure that you know what we are doing clearly. Oh shit! It’s starting. Look past the fog, Fish. See it?”

From the top of a giant marble, Ishamael looked out to the night sky. A silver streak could barely be seen through the fog. 

Another quickly followed. 

And then another. 

“It’s a meteor shower?” he asked. 

Then, out of nowhere, the fog split—and much faster than it should’ve—it lifted completely. 

The sky became alive with light—some stationary, in their usual spots—and some zipping across the sky.

“Holy shit.”

The three of them watched the meteor shower, even Jinx was sitting up looking out to the sky. 

Eventually, Ish turned to The Professor. 

“How’re we going do it, Professor? How’re we going to send me back?”

The Professor smiled at him and got up. 

“You’ll see,” he said. 

Then, he slid down the side of the marble like it was a slide.

Crazy old man.



('Time Again' will be out soon)


CH 2/17/24

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