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December January Challenge - alternate worlds

PostPosted: December 26, 2018, 01:21:56 AM
by Wormtongue
Merry Christmas, everyone who celebrates it. herewith, five tales of the Trousers of Time


PostPosted: December 26, 2018, 01:23:10 AM
by Wormtongue

by: Robin B. Lipinski

TheThe steamsteam roserose asas ifif itit werewere inin dancedance. SteepingSteeping liquidliquid ofof chamillechamille fragrancefragrance waftingwafting everever soso gentlegentle itit broughtbrought memoriesmemories toto herher eyeseyes.

“”SuchSuch aa nicenice morningmorning ChesterChester,,”” thethe womanwoman saidsaid asas sheshe reachedreached downdown andand pettedpetted herher catcat.

ThisThis womanwoman waswas aa lonelylonely womanwoman whowho foundfound friendshipfriend andand peacepeace withwith fewfew otherother peoplepeople,, butbut ChesterChester waswas trulytruly aa greatgreat friendfriend andand companioncompanion.

AsAs thethe teatea steepedsteeped,, enrichingenriching thethe hothot waterwater withwith thethe acidicacidic flavorflavor ofof teatea,, thethe womanwoman droppeddropped twotwo cubescubes ofof sugarsugar intointo thethe cupcup..

“”OffOff youyou gogo ChesterChester,, gogo findfind yourselfyourself somesome micemice,”” sheshe saidsaid,, laughinglaughing asas thethe chubbychubby felinefeline waddledwaddled offoff in searchsearch ofof aa sunnysunny sitesite toto sleepsleep.

ReachingReaching forfor thethe cupcup ofof teatea finallyfinally readyready toto bebe savoredsavored, thethe heartheart ofof thethe womanwoman diddid whatwhat allall heartshearts eventuallyeventually dodo,, itit stoppedstopped justjsut asas herher fingersfingers graspedgrasped thethe porcelinporcelin curvecurve…

TheThe cupcup fellfell toto thethe floorfloor,, shatteringshattering intointo piecespieces,, followedfollowed byby thethe dyingdying bodybody.

SoonSoon therethere waswas silencesilence. ChesterChester waswas purringpurring contentlycontently onon thethe windowwindow sillsill. BackBack inin thethe kitchenkitchen,, thethe spiritspirit ofof the womanwoman roserose asas ifif itit tootoo werewere likelike thethe earlierearlier steamsteam fromfrom thethe teatea…

“Who are you?” She said as the spirit saw another spirit next to her.

“Who are you? The other replied.

“Are you…me?”

“I…think you…are me?”

Below the two Chester’s purred in the two worlds so much alike yet so very different.

A world from a window...

PostPosted: December 26, 2018, 01:24:20 AM
by Wormtongue
A world from a window...

by Sergio ‘ente per ente’ PALUMBO

Reality was like smoke in their city. This didn’t mean that nothing was set in stone or that nothing was fixed. On the contrary, their world was made up of unending vapours exiting the caves that lay underground, and this was a fact. Other than that, after the catastrophic events of the last centuries, dust and sand had started covering wide areas of the planet and everything had taken a turn for the worse, as everyone knew. Greik Klunl was well aware that their world was headings towards a ghastly end, and the place they lived in was like a lost vessel sailing over very dangerous waters which would inevitably bring their ship to destruction, because it was no longer seaworthy. Even the people on-board had proven to be incapable seamen, as they simply couldn’t do anything to change their future, so whatever terrible end they were doomed to face could not be escaped.

Greik’s homeplanet was situated within one of the furthest and smallest arms of their huge galaxy – one that was almost empty of star-systems capable of sustaining life. Given the almost endless distances involved, their own species had never been able to find the right technology to build starships that might cover such wide spaces and take their inhabitants to other worlds so their civilization could continue by creating colonies elsewhere. No interstellar engine had ever been invented that was good enough to allow safe travel outside their system. They hadn’t even been able to accomplish cryotechnology, the use of very low temperatures to send inhabitants to other planets while being asleep so that they could be reawakened once the designated destination was reached and populate a foreign world.

Greik knew all that, the same as all the people on their world. They were simply too far away from other stars, with no means to send communications to other intelligent beings, even if they existed somewhere, on those unreachable planets.

This was why their scientists had tried their best to go a completely different direction: the only good discovery they had stumbled across was a path into a parallel space. Actually, even this wouldn’t be enough to save them, as Greik knew very well.

They had held high hopes when their science had proved that there were other universes, and that they could be detected, and maybe even reached one day, without the need to transverse the deepest recesses of space. They had believed they only needed to work harder to reach them. But, now, after almost two centuries of failure, the results remained disappointing. And there was no time left for their world, or for themselves, as the surface of the planet they lived on was quickly dying: within only a few months everything would be dead.

“If we just could buy more time, maybe another fifty years,” Greik said in a low tone while touching his long brown beard. “Maybe new scientists would be born who could find a solution.”

However, there was no chance for this to actually happen.

They had devised a mechanism to spy on one alternate dimension which was where they wanted to go, but they still lacked the right technology to break through the wall that kept them separated from that parallel space. The energy required to shatter the wall between them was simply too high, much higher than any of their machines could ever generate, undoubtedly. And so all the researchers like him, young and old, knowing of this, at times crowded around a sort of window to that parallel space. It remained a window that couldn’t be climbed through unfortunately – a window that no one could get past. A very cruel view, indeed.

This was what they had now: perfect vision into an alternate world that might have once been theirs to colonize, if only they had been successful. The oldest scientists said that, given their level of technology and physics, it would likely require a century or more to develop what they needed to allow a safe transition for a living being to that place. And they didn’t have that much time left…

With no hopes of receiving help from any other species, and no way to find a way to get to that parallel space that appeared so promising and delightful, their days were numbered. And the sights you could see through that window - opened thanks to a powerful mechanism about the size of a city – just increased the regret because they knew it would never be available to them. There was no way to safely take their people there, and no way to buy more time in a desperate attempt to continue their research and save their lives.

All they had was that large, thin sheet of ice-like window with a view into that other world.

On one side there were barren lands, desolate dead areas, lacking water and resources, with earthquakes and sandstorms and vapours that had proven to be deadly to their species. On the other side there were tall modern buildings, seas with thriving life, birds in the sky and animals in the forests, and people who walked happily in the streets of seaside towns.

Greik could easily recall old sayings, like ‘Live for today, forget about tomorrow’. The problem was that they had no way to forget about their situation, nor any way to escape their reality!

The two universes couldn’t communicate and they probably never would.

As the researcher stepped closer to the thin sheet of ice-like matter, his eyes stared again at that beautiful view of a better, richer world.

Greik remembered another saying: ‘Regret about a missed opportunity is the worst hell that a living soul can inhabit.’ He reached out and touched the closed portal. “We envy your world, and your life. But it’s not your fault that you can’t help us. You don’t even know about our people and the problems of our planet… and you probably never will.”

Why TooKay?

PostPosted: December 26, 2018, 01:25:37 AM
by Wormtongue
Why TooKay?

by Michele Dutcher

There is a quote: Love others as you love yourself. But this is only a good thing if you really do love yourself, because what if you despise yourself? Beyond this, would you trust yourself if you met yourself? I keep asking myself these questions for reasons that may become obvious in my tale that started 3 years ago.

I was standing at a bus stop in a downtown somewhere on Earth, when I heard a husky voice calling out to me. “Sir, excuse me sir.”

I rolled my eyes, angry, asking myself why I couldn’t even catch a freaking bus without someone trying to hit me up for money – as if anyone at a bus stop had money to give away.

Before I could turn around, the voice had grown closer, asking this time: “Charles, is that finally you?”

I turned to see a well-dressed man in his late thirties. Looking closer I noticed a long scar running down his left cheek and across his throat – it was covered partially by a closely-trimmed beard. As he extended his hand in greeting, pulling me aside, I was overcome with the idea that I should be able to put a name to the face but I was at a loss to do so.
When it was clear we were out of earshot, he introduced himself. “Charles,” he began, “Charles, it’s me – or rather, I’m you.”

I pulled my hand away and stepped back. “You have me mistaken for someone else…” I said angrily, certain he was in need of mental help. But as I studied his face and his build it became impossible to not see the resemblance. “What the hell?” I stammered.

“Charles, at long last. I have been looking for you and I knew you had to be here somewhere close.”

“Are you…are you my twin?” I asked almost in shock. “I didn’t know I had a twin.”

“No I am not your twin. If you will let me buy you lunch, I will explain.”

And so we began our odd relationship, me and myself, Charles me and Charles him. There was a quiet Chinese restaurant across the street and we went there to talk. It makes me angry now whenever I pass that restaurant that has been closed now for decades, recalling how charming I was, how open.

“Charles, this will be difficult for you to believe at first, as it was for me – but I am you…from another dimension,” Charles Him explained. I of course recoiled at the absurd statement. “In my world, in my dimension, the lights all went out on New Years Eve in the year 2000. I was walking to the bar – Dan’s Bar and Grill – and saw a huge white snow owl.” He must have seen the shock on my face. “Yes, yes! You saw it too. Then I drank with friends, but in the back of my mind – everyone’s mind – was the knowledge that the lights would go out because of the whole Y2K glitch. Everyone had watched earlier in the day as Sidney Australia went dark.” He paused and looked at me over our orders of bourbon chicken.

“Yes, I remember watching Sidney Australia, the first country to experience the New Year – but the power stayed on, nothing changed.”

“Nothing changed HERE, in this reality,” he said with a hopeless demeanor. “Everything changed in MY reality. The power went off and the world watched helplessly as anarchy rose, one hour at a time.”

“But the power never blinked here. Sure there were a few bugs – there was a DMV in New York that started issuing car licenses for 1901…but nothing more than that.”

“Think back, Charles, think back. Didn’t you feel something shift? As if something just wasn’t right?”

I was quiet now. He was correct. I had always wondered why the power had stayed on that night, I realized that Charles Him was telling me the truth about his world.

"I was trapped there, in that world of darkness and terror for 18 years. Almost two decades, as humanity fell into brutal tribes and then, suddenly, one freezing night as I was heading home – a tear in the fabric of space appeared and I stepped through it believing anyplace was better than that hellish world."

He sat quietly, thinking deeply.

“You seem to have done well for yourself,” I told him, looking at the tailored suit he wore.

“Funny story that,” he said smiling, sitting up. “In the world I came from money wasn’t worth anything anymore – so we stuffed our coat linings with twenty and fifty dollar bills for insulation. When I found myself here, in that tattered coat, with all that money, well, I’ve been enjoying myself – let’s just say that. And now that I’ve found you – myself – I want to share my good fortune with the person I love the most - ME!”

And so we lived well for almost two years, his only request being that we remained close to where he had stepped through, as a reminder of his good luck, and my good luck as a result.

Until that night. We were walking back towards our apartments after a wonderful steak dinner when the air in front of us seemed to rip down the middle, a gaping hole in space twenty feet tall and 10 feet wide. As shocked as I was to see this portal open, the look on my double’s face was even more frightening. He grabbed me by my belt and my shirt collar screaming – “I am not going back! This is the moment I have waited for! Goodbye and good luck!”

That is how I landed here, in this world without light, without hope. As I said at the beginning of my sad tale, if you met yourself would you trust yourself? – I know now that I should have run away from me as quickly as I could.

The Gift

PostPosted: December 26, 2018, 01:26:29 AM
by Wormtongue
The Gift

BY Jontrue

“To be honest it was all worth it.”
“You were always the optimist. We’re never going to see our families again… not that it really matters. They’re all dead in a few months anyway.”
“Everyone dies. We just get to do it in the most spectacular way possible.” The ship groaned around them threatening to rip apart at any second.
“I don’t know if I’d call any of this spectacular. We’re basically flying blind, hoping those scientists know what the hell they are talking about. I mean how can anyone really know this is going to work?”
“Doesn’t matter. If it works — everyone we know and love is dead, if it doesn’t work they’re still dead. The divergent event will create another reality, or that’s what the eggheads believe anyway.”
Sparks rained out of a black console behind the two chrononauts as pieces from the claustrophobic cabin shook out of place. Captain James S. Ricks and Lieutenant Sasha Riely felt as if their bodies were ripping apart and being stitched back together in all the wrong ways. With one final thrashing jolt, the universe went silent. The tiny six-inch circular window above their heads went from black to a cool blue.
“There it is, Sasha, we made it. Can you believe they got it right?”
“Never dowted for a sesent… oh God, somethin’s won.” Vomit trickled out of the Lieutenant’s mouth like a small fountain.
Hearing the distress in her voice, Captain Ricks turned to his co-pilot, her right eye was completely bloodshot. “You’re going to be alright, we’re going to be alright. Pull it together, Riely, I need you to land this chunk of metal.
It was too late Sasha’s brain was bleeding out, there was no response, just a body gasping like a fish on dry land for its last gulps of air, head slumped to the side, eyes wide open.
“Preparing for decent,” Ricks called out to himself. There was no one left, Mission Control couldn’t hear him, Riely was dead or dying, he was simply calling out the procedure he had been training for just like he practiced for the past year. One of the pilots dying was one of the training sessions that they practiced. They knew it was going to be a hard jump, they knew the risks.
The ship sliced through the upper atmosphere with a moan of resistance. The calculations had been near perfect: 1947, the craft had taken them exactly two hundred years back in time. The scientist had determined that time travel was tricky enough without the infinite calculations of appearing inside of an existing mass. Arriving in a new time in vacuum was the safest place to arrive, especially before the skies were littered with artificial satellites.
“Atmospheric insertion achieved.” Thousands of feet below the surface rushed by. The western hemisphere was shrouded in darkness, but the backup navigation systems had come online, and he was in line to make a beautiful landing outside of Salt Lake City. The salt flats were a perfect place to land the craft, even flying blind.
“Reverse thrusters engaged.” Ricks flipped a metal switch above Sasha… nothing. Ricks looked nervously at his speed, way too fast for a landing, he would be ripped to shreds on impact. “Come on, girl — don’t get shy on me now.” His heart raced for just a split second. “Reverse thrusters engaged.” He flipped the switch off and back on. An explosion cracked outside the starboard of the craft. “Shit...” Within seconds, the craft was spinning out of control. Even with all of his training, the centrifugal force was pushing his physiology to the limits, it was all he could do to switch the thrusters off again. “Got to get this lead balloon back on course.” There was no time, the earth was hurtling toward him at break-neck speeds. “Deploying flaps,” the flaps immediately ripped off and fell to the ground. He was hundreds of miles off course, but if he didn’t slow down, he would die and his mission, the survival of the human race would die with him. “Deploying parachutes… now!” A massive popping sound burst behind him. He was going way too fast for the parachutes to be effective. “Impact in three… two… one...”
When Ricks awoke, his ship was surrounded by military personnel. He felt cold, and there was a pain from inside his abdomen like a dull aching. “Internal bleeding, figures. There’s no way these people know how to fix that.” Struggling for the strength he removed his safety harness and released the hatch. It was night time and the dry, summer air came flooding into the cabin with the unfamiliar smell of cattle. “Well, at least we made it. Explanations aside they’ll know what to do with it. They will figure it out.” He craned his neck around to glance at their precious cargo: a black box. The boys in the lab said it could survive a nuclear blast, and by the looks of it, he believed them. Inside was a piece of technology that was invented in 2103, the same year Captain Ricks was born. They had increased the size a bit from the modern standards so the scientists of the 1940s could figure out how to interface with it and reproduce it easily. Inside the box, there were even instructions on how to use it. It… was a solid state transistor.
The scientists of 2147 determined there was no way to save the planet. Technology evolved too slowly to prevent the upcoming disaster. They were out of time and there was no way out. That’s why they came up with a plan to send a transistor back in time to jump start humanity’s technological revolution. A desperate plan to save not themselves, but another timeline. Another version of what could have been. On July 8th, 1947, we were given a gift, the sacrifice of a dying world so that we might find a better way.

Family Obligation

PostPosted: December 26, 2018, 01:27:52 AM
by Wormtongue
Family Obligation

by Lester Curtis

Twenty-seven days and nine fuel stops from Earth, and Leeta was minutes away from null-space dropout into Sayet space, mere hours from his father's home in the Western highlands. His faithful little freighter, Xebec, was unladen of payload aside from one emotionally fraught item.

Leeta ran a hand over his stiff mane. Home again. It was still almost too good to be true: his mother's home-world, the place he'd been searching for since he was forced to leave Earth. Now he was returning his mother's remains to the place of her birth.

The instant he dropped out, he knew that something was very wrong.

In every jump he'd been through, there was always something going on, a variety of mild hallucinations that lasted a few seconds and faded. This time there was total sensory deprivation, no sensation of any kind, except for his rising panic.

Ships got lost—went into null-space and never came out. Is that what's happened to me? But, as suddenly as it began, it ended, and he immediately vomited all over the control panel and himself. And that had never happened to him, either.

He turned the cockpit ventilation up to maximum and verified his course. Then he contacted traffic control aboard the Interworlds Market Collective envoy ship G'Kuhru to report his arrival in-system and to ask for a thorough diagnostic of the Xebec when he got there. Odd, they reported his arrival as a day and a half early.

Then he set about cleaning himself and the ship.
* * *
Stepping out of the Xebec at his father's house, Leeta was approached by his father, Petahkah, his stepmother, Ahluh, and another adult female he didn't recognize—until she spoke to him, and the voice he heard was the same he'd heard on the translator that was found with her before she'd died. This was Ketenn, his dead mother—and she had just addressed him as 'Son'.

The world tilted and went black.
* * *
Consciousness returned, to soft bedding and bright overhead lights, and another unfamiliar Eesah face, an adult female holding a medical hand-scanner. She introduced herself as Doctor Tenpuay, and asked if he knew where he was.

“I was at my father's house ...” But he wasn't in a house. “Is this a shuttle?”

“An ambulance, sub-orbital, but the rest is correct.” She stowed the scanner. “Could you tell me what happened?”

“I passed out, I guess. My mother … she's alive—but--she can't be--”

“I've been her doctor for nine years. She's quite alive and healthy.”

“No—no! She died when I was born! It took me fourteen years to find Sayet, and months to locate my father. I've just come from Earth, where I dug up her body—I have her bones on my ship. I'm not crazy!”

“Didn't say you were, but I need to see those remains.”

“They're in Bay One. The DNA should match! Can you check it?”

“I intend to. It will take some time, though, so go be with your family.”
* * *
The house was different. It had modern lighting and kitchen appliances. Ketenn had an office with a large monitor, and a computer and a null-space transceiver.

Leeta asked what it was all for.

Ketenn sat plaiting colored ribbons into a basket. “They made me the planetary ambassador. I didn't want the job, but nobody else had experience dealing with off-worlders. They finally talked me into it, but I refused to move to the capital. And this big, beautiful old fool--” she gestured to Petahkah, sitting next to her, “--wouldn't leave his forestry and woodworking behind.”

“Where was I during all that?”

“I brought you with me when I came, but you were miserable here. It was hard for both of us; we got shunned and insulted a lot for being from Earth. So I sent you back, and the Griffin company fostered you to a nice couple. They did a good job.” She looked up at him. “You are different, though. How did you grow up?”

“On a horse farm, raised by four men, until I was five, and the Terran government broke away from the Collective and chased all the non-humans out. I grew up with spacers. Learned to fly, and survive; educated myself, largely. But I never stopped looking for home.”

The doctor came in and addressed Ketenn, “He's correct. Those bones are yours, minus about fifteen years; not just the DNA, but an old injury in your foot. We have a proven paradox on our hands. I've sent everything to the G'Kuhru; they'll take up the rest of it now.”

The reply came the next morning. The screen lit up with the image of a t'chak, who introduced himself as a physicist. “Pardon my brevity. We've determined that you, Leeta--” gesturing with a feathered arm, “have crossed a boundary between parallel worldlines. We suspected this was possible, but haven't determined any certain means of either preventing such an event or deliberately causing one, but our advice is, you must leave now.”


“Yes. You—the other you—is headed here now. I fear what could happen if you two were to meet.”

“What should I do?”

“We believe there's a chance for you to return to your own worldline, but you must reenter null-space as close as possible to exactly where you came out, and in the opposite direction. If it works, you'll experience the same anomalies as when you arrived here. And—there's a chance you may not remember being here. Don't take anything with you that you didn't arrive with. Go now, and safe skies to you.”
* * *
Twenty-seven days and nine fuel stops from Earth … Leeta pressed the buttons triggering dropout from null-space...

Home again …

Re: December January Challenge - alternate worlds

PostPosted: December 26, 2018, 03:44:03 AM
by Lester Curtis
I've got the first vote in.

Re: December January Challenge - alternate worlds

PostPosted: December 28, 2018, 07:45:31 AM
by ente per ente
I voted just today, in the,eh :D

Re: December January Challenge - alternate worlds

PostPosted: December 31, 2018, 03:12:27 PM
by bottomdweller
I voted! Really interesting selections this time!

Re: December January Challenge - alternate worlds

PostPosted: January 16, 2019, 09:34:12 AM
by bottomdweller
Right now, if you turn your phone on its side, it looks like the voting graph is giving us all the finger. LOL

Re: December January Challenge - alternate worlds

PostPosted: January 17, 2019, 07:08:07 AM
by ente per ente
Yeah, that's funny,eh :lol: