Like Gabriel

Hey guys, 

We have added a short story section to the site. The first addition is  ‘Like Gabriel’ , a glimpse into the possibilities of time-travel and its potential ramifications on humanity. Hope you enjoy 🙂

LIKE GABRIEL

We do it more frequently, more often than we should in my opinion. Sometimes in groups often on  our own. I prefer that. A few twists there , a little push here and zoom zoom you’re seeing stars.

We just couldn’t believe it at first… wouldn’t believe. Most of us thought it was a giant con, some sort of virtual reality. The guys who invented it, so proud at first, standing so tall , were driven from conference rooms like vermin, squeaking nervously, bundled up together in a quivering mass. It took years to convince their peers, the other jealous scientists. More years to convince the politicians , and money of course. It took a lot longer to convince us, the jaded, faithless masses.

The footage wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen before. The cities of the world are built over vast stores filled to the brim with clips and snippets of those who were here before us. Everyone trying to make their mark somehow. We are forced to watch these regularly, to remind ourselves how far we have come. ‘Propaganda’ my father calls it. I don’t know why. I think it’s important not to forget. Especially now. We have a more compelling reason than ever to know exactly how they behaved all those years ago.

Not everyone gets a chance to do it. As with all new technologies , those with means get the access. I imagine as it grows it will become more widespread although it can’t really become too much of a commodity, it’s too dangerous.

We are wealthy so I am getting my chance soon. I have to attend evening training classes three times a week at the nearest lab where we sit through hours of do’s and don’ts. Someone had the bright idea to have virtual classes but since the black deaths of last century this has become practically taboo. The images of thousands of children lying on beds, all bloated from atrophy, their bones like glass ready to shatter from lack of sunlight, their souls empty from lack of human contact other than their parents, still haunt our screens.

‘ How could they be so foolish ?’ Mum wiping tears from her eyes would whisper as the images flitted across our screens.

‘ Yeah surprise surprise humans need exercise and human interaction to survive’. Dad would roll his eyes at the stupidity of the governments who thought that virtual schools were the key to the future.

‘ More about saving money and lining their pockets than anything else’.

The class instructor is an experienced ‘traveller’ as we call them.

‘ Never become complacent!’ He starts every class with those words. ‘ They might look the same as us but inside they are completely different’.

‘ What do you mean ?’ We all roll our eyes, everyone in this class should at least know this. The instructor shifts nervously and the guy who asked stares back unaware of how scarily stupid that question was.

‘ How are they different?’ The instructor is asking again because I think he still can’t believe he’s being asked this question especially by someone who is getting the opportunity millions of others want.

‘ Their brains obviously’. A few nervous giggles fill the room.

The guy still looks blank and the instructor makes a note in his book.

‘ Are they smaller than ours ?’ It’s embarrassing at this stage.

The girl behind me whispers ‘ Smaller than MOST of us’ and I too giggle nervously. This guy won’t be travelling anywhere that’s for sure.

‘Aaanyway’ The instructor isn’t even going to bother answering that question ‘ You are very lucky to be doing this at this time. For years we could only observe from a distant. Obviously you’ve all heard the stories about those who were ‘spotted’ and the ramifications this can have on the entire ‘travel’ scheme.’

We all nodded and some of us shook our heads with disbelief at some of the ‘incidents’ he was referring to. Lights being left on by accident on our travel pods, forgetting to switch our halos to infrared visibility. That scares me the most. The pollution is so bad there and I’m terrified that my halo will malfunction and well then… I’ll just die. Our lungs are not adapted to that environment. I shiver thinking about this.

‘ Look they’re different but sometimes not THAT different, they love, they lie , they cheat they dance , they listen to ‘music’ just like us.’ He pauses.

‘The biggest difference you will see is how they view the world. Their beliefs , they’re expectations of the future’. It can be very sad for us to witness these. The temptation to put them right SHOULD NEVER be given into.

‘Like Gabriel ?’

‘Like Gabriel’.

Gabriel is one of the most famous maybe for us. There are countless others who couldn’t keep their mouths shut. We’re still not sure of the consequences. There are those who argue that it’s all supposed to happen this way anyway. It doesn’t really matter what we tell them.

‘It’s fucking dangerous’. My Dad is particularly opposed to this train of thought. ‘ Their minds are not prepared for it. Why do you think they have ‘hospitals’ full of nutters as they call them’?

He looks at us waiting for us to ask why. We don’t. We know he will tell us anyway.

‘People don’t believe them. They think they are crazy, spouting stories of messengers , ghosts and monsters’.

‘ Now Frank that’s not strictly true , those hospitals have genuine cases of mental problems’

‘Well sure we all do but there is or should I say was a huge percentage of people falsely committed.

It still blows my mind how my parents talk about the past as both a ‘was’ and an ‘is’. My Dad still can’t get his head around the fact that time is a loop as opposed to the line he was always taught in school. We tend to use the present tense as we view it all as parallel to us. On opposite ends of the loop if you think about it.

‘I mean it’s so selfish of us to think we can just give them information and then leave them behind to deal with it’.

In one of the classes, the instructor is reminding us that there were no warning mechanisms in place for black holes.

‘ You mean they just get sucked into them?’ The class is horrified. I’ve heard all this before at home but a shiver still makes its way up my spine.

‘ What do they think happens?’

‘Well obviously there are loads of unsolved cases’. The instructor shakes his head at the horror of this thought ‘ They think the worst of course- rape, murder, abduction’.

We are all silent with our thoughts.

‘ I mean sure sometimes it’s true but often it’s just a black hole pocket, so easily identified now that we know how’.

‘ That of course’ and his voice becomes very serious now ‘ is one of the main reasons that our travellers will long to break the code of silence.. obviously’.

We all nod. The power of being able to tell someone that their loved one is not missing or suffering but suspended in time is a burden we all carry as the knowledge of our generation cannot be imparted with those that came before. The black hole brings no suffering as far as we know. It merely suspends the body and preserves it. The person for all intents and purposes is asleep but the body is intact for ever, showing up later or earlier on some point of the time loop. Dropped off like a pod somewhere. The person then wakes up with no recollection of where they are from or what time they have come from. Scientifically fascinating but quite terrifying for the person involved. Luckily with our knowledge if they are dropped off here, we can assimilate them back into life quite quickly. Sometimes I just feel so lucky to belong to this time , I could cry.

After class I chat to one of the guys who is quite cute. We’ve been flirting for weeks. His father works as part of the main team who make the journey possible, so he is pretty clued in on how it all works.

‘Any interesting stories to tell ?’ I am fascinated as we both wait for our coffees to appear. The server arrives with two frothy cups and I am glad that coffee is one thing that stood the test of time.

‘ Well one guy actually fell in love’. Vic (that’s his name) pauses to swipe his card on the server’s chest as her screen scans his pupils.

‘Thank you sir.’ This coffee shop uses the upper class English accent for their servers which they think gives the place extra class. My mother thinks it’s ridiculous and I have to agree with her.

‘So anyway this guy is doing his thing just walking around, going to cafe’s, museums, churches the usual, when he meets this beautiful girl. I mean not like most of  the other starving girls you’ll see at that time. This one is rubenesque not fat but curvaceous’.

I grin, I’m pretty curvy myself.

‘ Well he starts talking to her, which is fine , just general light stuff like we’re supposed to’.

‘ I don’t think I’ll be able to do it to be honest’ I cringe imagining an awkward conversation of trying not to say something that will make me sound crazy. Some guy had recently written a book full of the hilarious things travellers have shared with him about conversations they had. I could see myself contributing to it quite easily.

‘ You’ll be fine’ Vic’s smile makes me think anything is possible.

‘ So he ends up falling straight away for this girl and misses the trip back’. My heart stops. This is another one of my biggest fears about the journey. What if I’m left behind ?

‘ So what happened ? Where is he now?’  I’m enthralled, I need to know.

Vic looks around to make sure no one is listening.

‘ This is highly sensitive information ok ? You can’t tell anyone’. We’ve been told that if we don’t make the journey back we are left behind and our air supply will run out before the next ship can come to take us back. I’m imagining the worst.

‘ Well the guy is feeling like he is suffocating and he is freaking out and he pulls of the mask and ..’

‘AND … ?’ Shit don’t leave me hanging Vic !’

‘ Nothing’.

‘What do you mean nothing ?’

‘ I mean nothing happens, he is breathing fine and he has no fucking mask on’.

‘You mean ?’

Vic is nodding  like the cat who got the cream.

‘ It’s a hoax, just to get the people to come back’.

‘Shitballs.’

‘ Yeah I mean I kind of guessed that before I heard it but fawwwk’.

I am floored. I have never even suspected. The prospect of the journey just became way less terrifying.

‘ Are you sure ?’

‘ I overheard my Dad talking to the other guys from work and it’s one hundred percent accurate I swear’.

‘ Did they guy make the next trip back ?’

‘Nope he is holed up with that pretty girl’.

‘ Not for long’. I say this and am surprised when Vic asks me why.

‘ Well he will either have to tell her and sound crazy.’ It’s in our contract that if we break the rules we suffer the consequences on our own. I just thought that meant suffocating but this could be worse.

‘ How could living out the rest of his life with a woman he loves be worse?’

‘ Well he’ll either divulge the truth and sound like a lunatic or he will live the rest of his life having to lie to everyone. Having to pretend he doesn’t know anything beyond what everyone else knows’.

‘ Orrrr he could invent something amazing that’s totally been invented already and be like a genius of the time’.

‘ That would be pretty clever and cool. I mean what better way to share your knowledge of the future than invent it ?’

I leave Vic my mind filled with wonder.

‘ Don’t tell anyone please. It could be very dangerous if it got out. People would just stay there, fuck up the system’.

‘ Why’d you tell me ?’ I know why. His kiss answered my question.

Months later and I am strapped in my seat and the technicians are checking my heart rate and fiddling with all the bits and pieces. I look outside the window and see the reflection of the pod in the glass laboratory and the big acronym of the men’s surnames who invented this travel machine. ‘ Giles, Oliver and Dunne’. These are the names that will last forever. I close my eyes and let them take me where I never thought I could go.

© Slumpless

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