He was a math professor, taught at the nearby university, stayed home to work in his garden during the summers, never went to bars or restaurants, and only once in a blue moon could be found at a museum or gallery opening. Except for his students, with whom he felt most confident, being around others stressed him out, crowds caused severe anxiety and palpitations. Usually hovering somewhere between circumspect and paranoid, he feared displeasing by doing the wrong thing. He remained apart from his neighbors, never attending parties or get-togethers, not even at Thanksgiving or Christmas. He had no friends, only colleagues, preferring instead to spend time at home engrossed in some personal project, hanging out with his cat, Dominoe.
Maudlin was his middle name; chagrin his disposition. Although ordinarily attributing the nightmares to forebodings of doom, on more lucid days he saw them as either images of archetypes emerging from his unconscious, or memories long forgotten and unwilling to come forward, depending. Moreover, his preoccupation with practically every field under the sun seemed to evoke and was usually accompanied by a nagging feeling of abandonment, as though the two were somehow connected.
However, Jeremiah Zad was about to step beyond himself into a world he couldn't imagine; the source of his mysterious nightmares revealed.
It was the middle of July. Recently having purchased the lot abutting his backyard, extending his garden, he was out working it. The lumpy overgrown field had been lying fallow for as long as he could remember, so he busied himself digging and leveling--grading--as a prelude to cutting out furrows and laying paths of brick and slate. He took great care with his garden, his creation. It wasn't just a place to grow flowers and vegetables, it was an embracing world of shapes and contours and colors and different living things sharing the same space. He could sit in it for hours, watching the insects, the bees and butterflies, work his garden. It was the center of the universe; he was at peace here. He'd thought about building a gazeebo, even went so far as to procure plans, but changed his mind feeling it to be too intrusive. He preferred a few simple wooden chairs and a small table to hold coffee cups and the occasional beer.
It was midmorning, the sun already quite warm. Zad had taken his shirt off and was enjoying the exercise, shoveling away dead soil to reach the rich humus below always satisfied him in a very visceral way. He felt he was doing something good for the Earth, scraping calluses away so its skin could feel the sun's nurturing warmth once again. Having already accumulated a small pile of rocks, he wasn't surprised when his shovel clinked on something hard. He got to his knees to uncover the offender. Clearing away the dirt around it, he noticed its shape was rather regular, not like a rock at all, at least not the ones he was familiar with. Sitting back on his haunches, he studied the green one-foot-square object. On its surface, ridges appeared to arise from beneath for a short span, only to dive back into the surface again like some Escher drawing, black damp soil filling the pits and crevices. Although that property had been cleared about the same time as his, no building had ever stood on it. And how long this, whatever, had been buried in the ground, weathering the seasons, was anybody's guess.
He dug his fingers down along its sides, about eight inches to the bottom, and lifted it. It was heavy, too heavy for a rock of the same dimensions. He carried it to his basement and laid it on the workbench. Taking a rag with some solvent, he wiped away the green patina. Judging by its density and the coppery color, he guessed it to be bronze, but he wasn't certain. There was something about the refined smoothness of the ridges, like a polymer, and odd translucent quality as it refracted light from the overheads, that bothered him.
For the next few hours he meticulously cleaned the artifact, digging with a variety of steel tools, including a sewing needle, and brushing, using an assortment of paint and calligraphy brushes, finishing with cotton swabs. When completed, he gave it a thorough wipe with a delicate, non-acidic solvent, not wishing to abrade what appeared to be metal or introduce tiny molecular holes that might decohere its surface tension. Completely focused and absorbed, this was the kind of job Jeremiah seemed cut-out for. It was also quite satisfying to be able to apply some of the knowledge he'd acquired over the years.
Under the bright shop lights, it glistened. He carried it to the coffee table and plopped into the over-stuffed couch. Tilting it up, he saw that the bottom was flat and featureless. Examining the designs covering the top and sides, a single convoluted pattern filling the left-top struck a chord of familiarity. He wasn't sure if he'd seen it in a book or elsewhere in his ordinary travels. Forcing himself up from the plush couch, he went upstairs to his library and selected a few books. One on architectural motifs from around the world, and another specifically covering Arab and Asian worlds, for starters. He grabbed two on archaeology depicting finds from various ancient cultures and another on world religious, philosophical, and mythological symbols and images. For good measure, he threw in a book on the occult. And as an afterthought, added Man and His Symbols by Jung to the stack and carried the collection downstairs, laying it next to his discovery. Perhaps, he thought, excited, I've found something valuable and significant. Maybe it was stolen from a museum and hidden here long ago, the thief dead or in jail.
He noticed that the the figure on the top-left no longer appeared as it had before he went upstairs. He attributed this oddity to fatigue and so decided to nap out for awhile to refresh himself. It was going to be a long night, he wanted to take his time, to study it carefully. He lay down on the couch and almost immediately fell into a deep sleep.
One dream after another played havoc with his mind. In one, a brilliant oily-black erupted into spears of light streaking towards him; each composed of a succession of intense red, yellow, green, and blue sections, each section extending, stretching in proportion to its distance from him, the blue closest, streaming his way. Then without notice, all went black, a cold deadly black. In the background, he heard whispering, the scrape of a chair leg, the striking of a match. He had the weirdest feeling he was standing on a tiny platform surrounded by a very deep abyss. His feet began to burn, his legs and arms felt as though they were being pulled from their sockets. In another, he was seated in what looked like an arcade. Bells and alarms rang, lights flashed bright, insistent, people ran from one machine to another. He could only sit, watching, afraid but unsure what do. Suddenly, sound ceased and his skin felt warm. It was sunny, the air smelled sweet with mimosa and lavender and rose petals. As far as he could see was a grassy plain, trees scattered along its distant edge. Butterflies of indescribable colors, designs, and shapes flitted about from wild flower to flower. He began to relax, to feel at peace with the warm tranquil surroundings, when a blood-chilling roar rended the soft midday air. Ahead, near the trees, a T-rex charged towards him. Turning to run, he saw men in uniform holding strange looking rifles.
Jeremiah awoke with a start, perspiration on his brow and neck. He sat up abruptly, rubbing his head with both hands, fretting and wondering. Ignoring the object on the table, he went upstairs to make coffee; it was a little after midnight, outside was pitch dark. While waiting for the coffee to perk, he sat at the kitchen table, thinking about his nightmares. Where was all this fear and anxiety coming from? Why was he stalked by humiliation and danger? He'd never been particularly brave or daring. He was no mountain climber or bungee jumper, he never drove too fast or walked against the light. He wasn't a gambler, didn't believe in taking unnecessary chances. So why, he asked himself, for the millionth time, is my mind in such turmoil?
With a slice of buttered bread and a cup of coffee, he returned to the basement, deciding to instead concentrate on his backyard discovery. Once again, the patterns seemed changed. Moreover, he noticed a silvery line that looked like the crack for a lid, about two inches from the top. How he hadn't seen it before, when scouring its every millimeter with such attention to detail, unnerved him. Taking a sip of coffee, he remembered; in fact, he knew it hadn't been there. And the designs changing when he wasn't looking? He stared at the object, focused on its every ridge and valley, every nook and pit and pore and cranny, expecting to observe a sudden twist or turn, the slightest movement. His initial childlike excitement shifted into a cold serious frame of mind. This was not an ordinary ornate box.
He rifled through the section of a book covering mythological figures, trying to find that pattern he first saw, even as it faded from his mind. He was a mathematician, perceiving symmetries was natural to him, and so found it troubling that he wasn't able to hold that specific image firmly in his mind's eye. He stopped briefly at ancient Spanish playing cards, then turned to Egyptian ornamentals, and then skipped back to ancient American Indian themes and motifs. By that time, the image had completely evaporated. He slammed the book closed and opened another on Arabic geometric patterns. But it was no use; the image was gone.
He sat back, studied the box and finished his coffee. It could only help. None of the designs resembled people, gods, creatures, flowers, or landscapes, fanciful or real. And nothing he could grasp as a toehold, a piece of something larger, leapt out. With rare exception, he never had any trouble seeing images in cloud formations; he knew the brain was hardwired to perceive familiar, survival-oriented patterns, extensible to the make-believe, and delighted in that faculty. But now, even that imaginative ability failed him. The elevated designs appeared random, entangled, like a field of blackberry bushes. Incoherent shapes and asymmetric clumps of lines haphazardly joined one another. No mazes or spirals or graded dimensions of any consequence, no mathematical series, like Fibonacci's seen in the sunflower, lay hidden beneath as a rule of arrangement. Because of the absence of scale-invariant symmetries, he doubted they were fractals, although he'd seen some that were not self-referencing, mere blobs of convergence and divergence. Moreover, he had no idea how old it was. What themes were in vogue whenever and wherever the box was constructed?
The box in its entirety radiated disharmony and dissonance. Its overall impression was one of conflicting elements. It was almost as though the various designs resisted awareness, as though they refused to coalesce, to surface and be made conscious. Blurry, anticipatory, predisposed yet remaining unfulfilled, they teased at the periphery of his mind; it was like trying to apprehend the intricate topography of the bottom of a turbid pool.
He could methodically turn pages through all his books searching for a match, a correspondence of type that might point to its origin or the culture that spawned it, anything even close to what he currently saw. In fact, he could spend the rest of his life looking at designs and symbols from all the peoples of the world throughout history, but what appeared straightforward at first, now seemed daunting. He really didn't have the background, only the curious amateur's avocation. The obvious course of action would be to consult professionals in various fields, but now was not the time; his patience was thinning. His usual painstaking strategy when confronted with a difficult mathematical problem he now found strangely annoying. He knew it wasn't like him, but he didn't care. The present situation was affecting his emotions and personality. Steeling himself, gathering nerve, he decided to open it.
Because of its density and color, he guessed the material to be bronze. But it was warm to the touch and its surface seemed too smooth, as though it'd been machined. Placing his fingers on top, he dug his thumbnails into the silvery seam, expecting resistance due to its time under ground. Before he could make the attempt, however, Dominoe, who'd been laying beside him all this time, growled loudly, a deep, guttural sound Jeremiah had not heard before. Startled, and given the circumstances, he paused. His cat's eyes narrowed to mere slits, his white cowl bristled. Jeremiah wondered if he sensed a danger, as cats often do, that humans are unable to see. But some force drew Jeremiah. Something unfamiliar and overpowering possessed him. He struggled to control his emotions, to allow his customary rationality to supercede. But, in spite of Dominoe's persistent growls, he dug in and pried.
The weight of the box kept it grounded; the lid pivoted a half-inch, then stuck. Digging his fingernails into the seam on back, he raised it even with the front. Dominoe growled louder, meaner, and jumped to the table beside the box. Sweat dripped from Jeremiah's forehead. He hesitated. Sitting back, he sipped now cold coffee and stared at the figures on the box. It was all of one piece, but his mathematical mind partitioned it into components, into sets of like and dislike. That much he could garner. Holding his cup with both hands in his lap, he wondered why it'd been buried, and why there? And when? This land was logged once, he knew, but no one's ever lived on it. At least not in recorded past.
Dominoe stopped grumbling and hunkered down, purring. Jeremiah glanced his way. When he looked back, he froze in amazement as the figures slithered and writhed like snakes, changing into completely different convoluted forms, holding still for a long moment, then moving again across the entire designspace. He leaned forward and put his cup on the table, mesmerized. It was somehow using the shoplights to create a holographic image of all five sides, they appeared to hover just above the lid, contiguous, as one whole picture. He got the distinct impression that the box was trying to communicate. Each set of designs now appeared to be interlocked. A word or a sentence or an image of a thousand words; symbols of meaning, archetypes of the unconscious, collective images borrowed from his mind, flitted across the hologram. By some means, he understood, and read the story told by the box.
... of animals coming into being everywhere at once,..., of a beach of fish crawling up from the ocean's edge,..., of gigantic insects and trees covering the whole of the world,..., of a herd of dinosuars being stalked by ferocious beasts,..., of an asteroid impact speading outwards,..., of a man and a woman melding into one another amidst a garden surrounded by all manner of creatures,..., of cave dwellers around a fire and spear hunters walking across a plain,.., of conquest and subjugation,..., of people dancing in a town square and broken bodies strewn by the side of a road,..., of men and women laughing and crying,..,
He saw the story of the Earth and humanity.
Upon depicting a scene of a ship rocketing into the sky, it stopped, as did the holographic effect. Stunned, Jeremiah sat very still for a long time; Dominoe hunkered down, quiet, eyes closed. After what had transpired, he debated with himself whether or not to open it. Should he put it back in the ground, bury it, pile stones above it? He needed a drink and reached over to the end table where a bottle of bourbon and a glass sat. Pouring a shot, he saluted the mystery before him, and kicked it back. Jeremiah was a lot of things, but a teetotaler wasn't one of them. What the hell, he mumbled, could it get any weirder? He stood above the box and grabbed the lid, then gently pulled it up the last half-inch of the combing.
Another box lay neatly inside, he wedged it out and placed it in front of the larger. The thought of nested Russian dolls, each containing a smaller version, brought a smile. It looked like silver, but too smooth, once again, like the bronze -- machined-looking. And the massed confusion of distorted shapes in relief was also similar. Its lid edge was set in gold, or something approximating gold. He wondered if he should wait to see if it also performed, but his impatience was growing. He downed another shot, then set about trying to open it. Protected from the elements, the lid came easier. Within was a stone tablet, light brown, flat like limestone or sandstone, about nine inches square, snugly fitting inside. He removed it and studied the pictographs and tiny sketches covering most of it. Holding it, he felt an effusion of emotion, as when finding a momento that strums a chord but fails to convey meaning.
Inclining it against the bronze box, it suddenly glowed. The once unintelligible squiggles and fanciful doodles magically transformed into english. Astonished, he leaned forward, but dared not touch it. He read:
We researched solutions over a three year period.
We finally cracked the mutability problem and discovered the genetic source of its influence by mind. What remained of our database after the accident proved sufficient. We compared molecular chains from the ship's outer skin to patterns of methyl-DNA binding proteins attached to microbial genomes, looking for a match. The idea seemed worth pursuing. With time and luck, we found several candidates and were able to localize a gene family responsible for generating and maintaining the Hawking field. In order to integrate the members into a single unit, we had to perform minor engineering; we don't believe the sequence of attachments we chose to be of any consequence.
Based on the success of this endeavor, we discovered an organic process by which to instill material with fluid memory, and, furthermore, how to conform that material (minerals and metals) to the unconscious strata of the thought-engram complex, thereby linking mind to substantiality. The material is infused with the capacity for mutability by insertion, during a transitional stage in its processing, of a mutated microorganism--encasing the gene sequence--which turns on the material's Hawking-spinor field. Once completed, the organism intertwines with the substance, and, thereby, alters its properties to those of a living thing.
This was a breakthrough by necessity, not having access to the power needed to initiate Hawking field resonance in the crystal lattice itself.
These boxes are metal in a liquid-like form--a protoplasmic metal--their atomic matrix given turgidity (skeletonized) by the self-organizing principle of all organisms. Additionally, they're imbued with other characteristics of living things, including memory and self-replication. Their uniquely metalic quality is mutability, the capacity to morph shape. The engineered microorganisms link together synaptically to form bound networks, and sympathetically reverberate through the unconscious mind aspect of matter, thereby bringing to the fore the material's four-dimensionality, and, in so doing, induce the Hawking-spinor field. This enables it to access the Hawking field created by the Baldwin drive. A feedback loop ensues between the material (partly hybridized metal) of the ship and the time bubble, maintaining its stability. And, as an unforeseen collateral consequence, these networks were found to act as go-betweens, linking the lattice to the unconscious mind of the first individual with whom it comes in contact after synergistic fusion.
Owing to the extreme sensitivity of the alloy, and because of the morphic resonance (the medium) induced by the Hawking field, sentient bioelectric contact psychosomatically channels mind energy and thereby rearranges the inner morphology of the material, mapping isomorphically the unique psychic signature of the contactee. We have yet to fully explore the implications of this phenomenon. For example, its internal structural constancy and resilience over time and the intricacy and intensity of entanglement are unknown. Nonetheless, we have no reason to believe that the arrangement's personal imprinting should affect the material's ability to time travel; in fact, as only living things can travel through time, it would seem to impose another, more refined, dimension of stability, detailing factors of identity--an inverted cone. And besides supplying an unending source of energy for the organisms to process, theoretically, the Hawking field should ensure containment, during continuous internal feedback between the organisms and the metal, by regulating the acquired genetic expression of the crystal structure.
With these and other discoveries and innovations, we hope to repair our ship and return to our own time and world.
However, we are taking a chance. The impurities inherent in the atomic lattice of the isotopes we were forced to use may cause asymmetric fluctuations, which could amplify outside the envelope of containment, adversely affecting the shell of the Baldwin-drive. Perfect crystal alignment of materials is required for stability and cohesion; elsewise, aberrant fluctuations leading to chaotic turbulence might ensue. As you know, Baldwin drive resonant phasing is governed by relativistic spinor-field vibrations, which range over multiple discrete frequencies, each corresponding to a certain shape of the interfacing surfaces. And if, at the moment of temporal-threshold interlock, a precise one-to-one correspondence is not continuously maintained, the asymmetry could (most likely would) compromise the seal and cause the confluent bundle to decohere, thus unraveling the helix of interpenetrating forces.
In which case, the Hawking field would collapse, resulting in metal-organism separation. Thus, joint-field integrity is mandatory as it determines the precision with which temporal interfaces are transited. If the ensemble disintegrates (disentangles) while undergoing a jump, we could end up in any time, our memory impaired or completely eradicated as a consequence of the sudden shift from pure-mind reality to that of ordinary three-dimensional matter. And that's not the worst of it.
The potential for real disaster lies in the fact that even though various forms of matter ordinarily intermingle, at the critical moment of transition to matter, the morphic fields enveloping and coordinating each distinct species exist as potential only. That is, at that instant, each form resides in an undifferentiated state, and is, therefore, faced with an identity crisis. Separate types congeal by the self-organizing affinity of respective properties. But if their emergence is uncontrolled or improperly localized, manifestation can occur at different rates for different forms or randomly throughout each substrate. The primary effect would be total disintegration right down to the particle level. So say the textbooks.
This outer box will automatically absorb and interpret--on several levels of mind and frequencies of consciousness--an account of all life planet-wide for retrieval by future recovery units. The inner one acts as capacitor, modulating active memory absorption as it reinforces and magnifies the strength of the Hawking field. Several have been placed around the planet at selected locations. This combination, which I have imprinted with my own engrams, will be buried on the eastern shore of an inland sea, its location trackable by radiating molecular markers and--we conjecture at this time--through the interconnection established with my engrams.
This time period has many wonders, but its pitfalls are more dangerous than anticipated.
* Engram: 1. in biology, a permanent change produced by a stimulus in the protoplasm of a tissue. 2. in psychology, a permanent effect produced in the psyche as a result of stimulation: it serves as the basis for memory.
** Once the Hawking field was discovered, it was found to be all-pervasive.
Extensive experimentation proved that the only means by which a living being could travel through time was by becoming pure thought. For thousands of years, Mind was known to permeate physical being--matter--but science learned only within the past hundred years that organic material was able to project a mysterious and previously unimagined field, a field that, once activated, reoriented corporeality to correspond to the nature and identifying matrix of pure thought. It had been there all the time.
Now, the longstanding problem with time travel was therefore reduced to trying to infuse metal with the capacity to respond to mind through the medium of brain engrams; the Hawking field proved to be the bridge. The Hawking field is the force governing the mind aspect of matter. Only living things can travel through time, but humans need to be enclosed in a ship of some sort for protection and living quarters. Therefore, the material composing the ship and all its internal workings, right down to the eating utensils, must also be capable of time travel. This is made possible by the Hawking-spinor field. It infuses the atomic lattice of the metal crystals with a sense of awareness, however rudimentary, along with other characteristics of organisms. Ultimately, it's a field of Mind, and even though the Hawking field permeates all matter--else matter would not be--only living things can channel its nature for their own use. Mind is of the essence. The Hawking field is to Mind as the electromagnetic field is to light--two sides of the same coin. Understanding the Hawking field then, and how to implement it, is the greatest breakthrough of this millenium.
To sum up: Mind energy, in the form of the Hawking field activated and pervading all matter composing a ship, is the only way to time travel. The ship and life-forms contained therein are considered mind-ized.
"The thoughts that one creates generate patterns at the mind level of nature." -- William Tiller
"Recently, the use of microorganisms to synthesize functional nanoparticles has been of great interest. Microorganisms can change the oxidation state of metals. These microbial processes have opened up new opportunities for us to explore novel applications, for example, the biosynthesis of metal nanomaterials. In contrast to chemical and physical methods, microbial processes for synthesizing nanomaterials can be achieved in aqueous phase under gentle and environmentally benign conditions." -- Wikipedia
black & white version