I intended the "wednesday writings" to be individual exercises or stories but since April, I have been continuing the same story thread and doing some general free writing using the same characters and continuing the plot. There are some definite continuity issues in the overall course of the story, but I have slowly come upon a cohesive plot (which will require significant editing of earlier editions to make them valid). You can find the entire story by clicking through the following chronological links:
- Morning Machinations
- Communication Between Friends
- Daydreaming Decisions
- Off to the Park
- Coming Home
- Revealing Photographs
- Just a Dream?
- At the Tower
- The Watch
- Evan (part 1)
- Evan (part 2)
- Evan (part 3)
- Formulating a Plan
- Testing the Boxes
- Out of Time
- A Problem of Paradoxes
- Taking Charge
- The Chase Begins
- Friends Reunited
- Unraveling the Plot
- Applying Pressure
- Parallel Theories
- The Enemy?
- You Say We Need a Resolution?
Ok....so, back in the segment labeled "The Enemy?", I had come to a potential stopping point for this particular story. That ending may still be THE ending for the story. But part of me wanted to explore additional resolution(s) so I continued on last week. This week, I set up for a conclusion but (somewhat to my annoyance), it seems Gabby wanted to throw another wrench into things. So, instead of fully wrapping things up this week as I had planned, I now have another fiasco to try and deal with next week. Hopefully everything will turn out alright.
Leap of Faith
Carlisle took a step closer as Gabby took Evan's hand and let him help her to her feet. She stared at the two men in turn. Evan broke the silence first.
"OK Gabby. What's your plan?"
"We do what he asked in the first place. We go back and change the events that led to the death of his wife and daughter."
Carlisle scoffed again and turned away.
"No. Wait. Don't you see? If we stop their death. Then we break the chain of events that led to the creation of the time machine in the first place. Which means Dalton couldn't have done all the awful things he's done."
Carlisle whirled back around and stepped quickly up to Gabby, an outstretched finger waving menacingly at her.
"Which also means the time machine won't be created to allow anyone to go back and save them. Creating an enormous paradox."
Carlisle interrupted her again.
"Dalton was talking about simple paradoxes. About maneuvering through minor loopholes of possibilities. You're talking about unraveling an entire cycle of events. The implications could be disastrous on a universal level."
"Or, they could work out just fine."
Gabby and Carlisle both turned to Evan. His eyes were partially closed and his face was pensive. He started talking, slowly at first, then with more and more enthusiasm, the speed of his speech growing with each passing phrase.
"It's true there would be a paradox. But the extent of the paradox could be contained within the box itself. Carlisle. When we initially spoke of paradoxes and unavoidable catastrophes, you suggested the possibility of setting events in motion, then returning back through the time machine before any repercussions happened. I don't remember the details exactly, but it had something to do with distancing yourself from the Event Horizon of the potential time implosion of the paradox."
"I never said any such thing! The mere idea is ridiculous. A paradox is a paradox."
"No, no. You're right. You haven't said it yet. In this time. But later in our development of the machine, you and I had a discussion. You suggested that, theoretically, if the time traveler made calculated changes. If he set events in motion with enough complexity. That the end result would be a paradox that somehow existed naturally without affecting the time traveler or the nature of space-time."
Carlisle sighed and looked at Evan.
"Obviously I have no recollection of this conversation. And with my current perspective and knowledge, the very idea is ludicrous. If I said it then, I either had some grand new insights into the nature of space-time or I was suffering from a momentary lapse of intelligence. By the same token, you could be lying about this whole conversation. Coming up with some half baked story to convince me to help you and your little girlfriend."
"To help us do what? Destroy the universe? What possible motivation could I have for lying to you about this? If it's not true. If you didn't speak of the possibility in a way that convinced me of its viability, why would I have any reason to try and convince you? If a paradox is unavoidable. If our efforts would create an Event Horizon that could potentially destroy us all, why on earth would I try to convince you to help us?"
"Maybe you're as crazy as he was?"
Carlisle motioned to Dalton's dead form on the floor beside them then turned away from the group again. No one spoke for nearly a full minute. Finally, Carlisle turned back and faced them. He didn't even glance at Gabby but instead walked straight up to Evan, brought his face inches from Evan's face and stared into his eyes.
"I can't argue the potential fact that sometime in the future we had this conversation. Deep down, I can find twinges of logic to it and part of me wants to believe in the possibility of significantly altering the timeline without catastrophically disrupting the universe. Just tell me again. Make me believe that I actually said what you said I said. And I'll help you if I can."
He stared silently at Evan. Neither of the men blinked. Gabby watched expectantly, holding her breath.
"You did say it was possible. You not only provided elements of hope but you seemed genuinely convinced of the probability of success."
The two men continued to stare at each other. From Gabby's perspective, she felt like she was watching some strange staring contest. Finally she stepped forward and spoke, putting her hand on Evan's shoulder.
"OK. Great. So, we agree it can be done. Do either of you know when Dalton's daughter was diagnosed with cancer? I'll just go back to a few months before that and do something to convince him to take her in sooner as well as to provide documentation about some of the risks involved in the process that killed them both. Do you remember what it was called?"
Both Evan and Carlisle looked over at her and started speaking at once. Their voices were a concerned mumble of overlapping sounds. She held up her hands and they stopped speaking. Carlisle started again first.
"It was 4 and a half years ago. She was diagnosed with leukemia. The treatments they used were standard. But Samantha didn't respond to the chemotherapy which led to the stem cell transplant. It was during the transplant that his wife's heart gave out. And then Samantha's body rejected the transplant anyway."
"How did you remember all that?"
"Because it wasn't new news to me. I've been Dalton's friend for years. Since their death, I've practically been his only friend. He's become distant. He's ostracized himself from everyone at the university. He cut off contact with his family. I think the only reason I stayed in touch with him was because he sometimes relied on me to test out his theories. He'd run ideas by me and I was the only one who didn't say he was crazy."
Evan cut in.
"OK. The point is. She was diagnosed with leukemia and given normal treatments but they failed for one reason or another. I don't see how we can change that. If she's not going to respond to treatment, there's nothing we can really do to change that."
"Perhaps not. But we could convince him to look at the stem cell idea sooner rather than later. We could also propose either finding another donor or dropping hints as to the cardiac stability of his wife."
"I'll figure it out. I know I can do this."
Both men turned to look at Gabby again. The look on Carlisle's face suggested he had almost forgotten her presence.
"I'm sorry dear. But I don't think you'll be going on this expedition."
"He's right Gabby. The kind of convincing and coercion required here can't be done by a total stranger. It's up to Carlisle or myself to do this."
"Actually, it's just up to me. Unless I'm mistaken Evan, you only met our dear Professor Dalton two years ago. Of the 3 of us, I am the only one who is not a stranger."
Silence hung in the room once again. Gabby cleared her throat and spoke again.
"But maybe he'd respond better to a stranger. If I convinced him that I was a medical authority? Or a psychic or something? Or maybe I tell him all about the time travel. Give him proof by telling him things I could only know if I was a time traveler?"
"I'm sorry Gabby. It just can't be you. Why are you so insistent on going anyway?"
Gabby stared down Evan's eyes intently. He could see the pain and frustration mirrored there. She felt a sob welling up in her throat as she spoke.
"Because I'm the one who's lost the most. I'm the one who has the most to gain. He took my mother. He took Julie. I have to get them back."
She took a half step forward and collapsed into Evan's arms. He held her upright and hugged her to him. Carlisle stepped forward and placed his hand on her back. He gently stroked up and down her back as he spoke.
"You have lost so much Gabrielle. I too have lost a friend out of this. He may be an eccentric and egotistical friend, but he is a friend. And he's threatened my own life and your life if we continue down this path. I cannot delude myself into thinking my own life safe simply because Dalton lies dead before us. In fact, having him dead puts my own life more at risk since it was he who would save me."
Gabby stood straight again and looked back and forth at the group.
"I may not have lost as much as you. Nor has Evan. But for what we must do and the way in which we must do it, I must be the one to go back."
Carlisle fumbled with the time machine for a moment and then began pacing the room then turned to face them again.
"Where is the other box?"
Evan and Gabby looked to each other then back to Carlisle.
"I have an idea, but I will need the second box in order to carry it out."
"I think it's back in the dining room."
"No. I hid it after locking Julie back in her room and waiting for you all to return. I'll go get it."
Gabby walked out into the hall and headed towards the storage closest where she'd stashed the box. She pulled it from behind a pair of boots and stood in the hallway, staring down at the box. She pulled open the lid and closed her eyes as she lightly brushed her fingertips over the controls. She thought of Julie lying motionless on the floor of the dining room. She thought of her mother. Of the vision she'd seen in the box a few days before of her mother alive and well in her apartment.
Her heart grew heavy and she felt her throat constrict as tears tried to form again. Her chest tensed and the world around her grew suddenly cold. Opening her eyes, Gabby stared down at the controls. She took a deep breath and started turning the dials. She heard footsteps shuffle behind her as she adjusted the date, setting it for nearly 5 years in the past.
Evan's voice called softly. It seemed distant. Like a dream. The footsteps grew louder. As she turned, she saw Evan at the far end of the hall.
His eyes caught sight of the open box in her hand and he started sprinting down the hall at her, shouting at the top of his lungs.
"Gabby! Stop! What are you doing? Carlisle! Come quick. Gabby! Drop the box."
It felt like time had already slowed down and she was a mere observer of her own life. She looked down at the controls. A hint of hesitation flew through her mind and then was gone. With a deliberate breath, she pushed the button and felt the world around her shift and change as she was sucked into the box and pulled through time.