Dr. Rex Wilson was a devastated man. His whole life he had strived to make a difference by inventing something that would be a breakthrough to humanity. He wanted to create something that would be associated with his name a hundred years from now, and he was coming very close to that goal.
For twenty six years the United States government had funded his project of mass energy transference research and development. In layman's terms it meant that Rex was attempting to develop a transportation device that would allow a man to instantaneously move from one place to another. This was done by disassembling the person's matter and converting it to energy, moving the energy to the destination and converting it back to matter.
Rex knew that twenty-six years was a long time to spend on this project, but he knew that he and his staff were making progress. They were able to move objects on the microscopic level by inches. Science was not something that could be rushed, and he was more than confident that within his lifetime he would see a fully operational transporter. He knew that without his ingenuity and dedication the project would be a failure. But that did not matter any longer, because the project was being stripped out from underneath him.
The government had decided to cut funding for the project in a last ditch attempt to make it appear as if they were trying to eliminate the budget deficit. Rex knew that in an election year they always made it look like they were trying to accomplish this goal. No one seemed to care they might cut spending by a million dollars a year but increase military spending by ten times. That was considered okay.
Rex also knew that without government funds, the project could not continue, because no one in the private sector would fund the project. If successful, the transporter could drastically change the corporate world and destroy industries. A working transporter would mean no more use for aircraft, shipping, and to some level, automobiles. These were billion dollar businesses and there was no way that they would allow his project to continue.
So Rex was desperate. His entire life's work was about to be shattered, and he would rather die than let that happen. So he was working late in his laboratory programming the latest prototype of the molecular transporter for one more transport. He would be increasing the scope of the transport much beyond the transporter's design, and did not know if it would work. He also knew that to transport what he had in mind, it would need enough energy to power the city of Chicago for a day, so he made sure that the backup generators were functioning correctly.
He also knew that since it was himself he was planning to transport from one side of the room to another, he might end up dead, and not able to tell anyone about the feat. He looked up at the security monitor and was sure that it would speak for him.
He brought the transporter on-line and began the countdown at sixty seconds then walked directly in front of the lens of the transporter. When the count was down to three seconds, a beam of light struck him and by zero it totally covered him. His sight became foggy, so he knew the process was starting. Soon all he could see was similar to a snow filled television screen. It felt like an eternity until he began to see shapes again, but he could tell that he had moved. There was the outline of men standing before him in what was a very changed version of his laboratory, where the lights were dimmer than he recalled.
One of the figures stepped forward and into the light.
``Dr. Rex Wilson,'' he said. ``We've been expecting you.''
Rex gasped when he could see the details of the man. He wore some kind of body armor and a hood that covered most of his head. But when the man walked out from the shadows Rex could see that the man's skin was a bright gold. It was a gold so bright that it glowed.
There was a flaw in Rex's elementary transportation equations, and what it caused was the time he was in the transporter beam to slow relative to that of Earth. So what seemed like merely seconds to Rex was really thousands of years. About three thousand years to be exact.
At first Rex was again devastated by having moved three thousand years into the future in what seemed to him to be only seconds, but he adapted to the situation quickly. The people of this age tried to bring him up to date on current events and the state of the world's current transporter technology. He had at least been right about the reaction to his risky experiment. His actions had insured that the research that he strove so hard to complete would continue. In this time, transporter technology had now advanced to its full potential of instantaneous transportation, using such low amounts of energy that even Rex would not have thought it possible. He stood in the future, alive and able to see the results of his life work, and more than that, the continued development of the product he had fathomed three millennia after it had been perfected.
Having seen a working transporter, he readied himself for the journey back through time. This was not his home, nor did he feel like he could ever feel in place in this world, which was so different than the one he remembered. He longed to return home and tell the congressmen, who labeled his work a useless waste of taxpayer dollars, of the new technology utilized throughout the Earth of the future. Surely this advanced race would have found a way to send him back through time the same way that he had come. He soon learned that even this advanced civilization did not have a way to return him to his own time to his dismay.
Time transportation was a one way street. The scientists at the College of Transportation Technologies, assured him that they would be unable to send him home. While it could be theoretically possible, it would take the energy of ten thousand burning suns to create enough energy for the journey. So, feeling alone, he was stuck in the future.
Rex glanced up at the gibbous Earth that hung in the evening sky of the moon. He was at Lunar City, the capital of the moon's colony, but this was not the moon that he remembered. This moon had a breathable atmosphere, and vegetation that drastically changed its milky white appearance that he remembered. The craters that had overwhelmed the satellite were now rounded hills that houses stood upon.
The power of man overwhelmed him. The ability for the human race to be able to turn this lifeless satellite into a habitable world was more than he could imagine. The transformation of the moon to its present state had been the first work of its kind, but he was told that the work that was done on Mars turned out even better. He could not think of anything better then than the transformation of the moon he now saw before his eyes.
Within a day of his arrival, he had been transported here. He was assigned a man named Merlin to protect him and help him adapt to the changes that had happened in three thousand years. Merlin seemed to stare when Rex displayed amazement over feats that were thought common or ordinary in this time. Rex noted that he was staring at him at the current moment.
``Will you explain to me, Merlin, why it was that I was brought here?'' Rex asked.
``We've been through this a thousand times, Doctor. Your arrival was expected, and the leaders of Earth felt that it may be dangerous if you were to stay on Earth. There are too many people that would want to see the man from the past. It could lead to huge crowds, riots, and possibly threaten your life. Everyone on the moon has a security clearance, and must be obedient to the law or they will be shipped back to Earth since the population is significantly smaller, the risk of the same dangers are significantly less.''
``I see.'' Something about the matter did not make sense to Rex, but he thought better not to press any further. ``I don't believe that I have asked you this before, but why have you been assigned to watch over me?''
``It's my current assignment,'' Merlin said tonelessly.
``Were you forced to do it?''
``Of course not,'' Merlin smiled briefly. ``You see, the person that would be in charge of your safety would have to have certain qualifications. The language has changed significantly over the last three thousand years. The English that you have learned to speak in your time is not the same English that I have grown up with. By comparison, you can see how different English was when Shakespeare wrote his literature. That was a mere five hundred years of difference.
``I have always been interested in history. When I was a child I involved myself in many old history books, but have been particularly fascinated by the history of the twentieth century. By reading the untranslated history books of your time, I was one of the few who was considered for the position, since I am one of the few that have such a vast understanding of the language. When I was chosen, I was honored.''
``Why?'' Rex asked, not really seeing what kind of honor could be gained from being an escort.
``Let me try to explain. . . you are a physicist. How would you feel about meeting Einstein? What if you were able to walk down the street with him and talk to him? Would that opportunity not be one that you would like to experience?''
``I see what you mean.'' Somehow Rex could not picture himself being compared to a genius like Einstein.
Later, Rex turned his thoughts to a much more difficult question, one he thought would possibly offend Merlin. He had still not gotten used to the bright gold skin color that everyone had. Merlin had explained that by choosing a universal skin color for all the human race and genetically altering everyone to be the same skin color, it stopped racism in one step. They adapted the color to a unique color, thus not making any one race superior, but creating a new master race.
They had offered to modify Rex's genetic code so that he would not stand out, but he would need time to consider that. In fact, Rex did not understand how this change of skin color was endorsed to stop racism, because it would force everyone to drop the pride in their heritage and, in essence, lose their sense of identity. He could not imagine the NAACP endorsing this type of movement, or any group whose pride in their heritage was strong. Unless -- had the human race finally realized that stereotypes about a person's heritage, nation, or the like was just sheer stupidity? He could not believe that was the answer, because if that were the case, human's would not need to have changed their skin color at all.
Those prejudices were still alive and well. He could see them in everyone's eyes when they got close enough to see he was not a member of this new race. A look of astonishment and anger would take over, which the individual would try to hide but could not. Everyone seemed to show this reaction. That is, except Merlin, and he wondered why.
The door signal sounded, and Rex glanced at the clock Merlin had made for him. Rex had not been able to adapt to the way the people of this age told time, as a fraction of the amount of the day that had passed. Instead of saying nine o'clock in the morning, people would say nine twenty-fourths, or simplify it to three eighths. It was really irritating, so Merlin had a group of engineers create a digital clock for him and it now read two o'clock.
``Enter Merlin,'' he said, and the door lock unhitched.
Merlin entered with a strong smile on his face, and Rex hated that fake smile. ``You're a little late today.''
``I think that you are mistaken,'' Merlin said without removing the smile from his face. ``I'm always here by seven twelfths.''
It wasn't worth the effort to argue with him, so Rex pushed the thought aside. Merlin was wearing a head-band with a red dot surrounded by two circles. Each head-band indicated the current day's activity, which was a common custom among these people. Rex had not seen this symbol before.
``Where are we going today, Merlin?''
Merlin smirked and leaned his head from side to side as he talked. ``Today we are traveling to the dark side of the moon. There a lot of interesting things for you to see there.''
Rex thought a moment. ``Yes, but really there is no dark side to the moon. The moon rotates like every other planetary body, and the sun will shine on all sides of it. I would think that your people would have a better way of describing it.''
``I refer to the terminology of your time. What I really meant was that we are going to the side of the moon that always appears dark from the Earth, because the rate of rotation is so slow that from Earth we only can see one side in the sun's light. Is that better?''
``It's just one of my pet peeves is all. I hate inconsistent statements.''
``As I have learned.''
``What will we do once we arrive there?''
``It's better not to describe what lies ahead, but there are a lot of interesting things for you to see. We have all day. You can ask me any questions that you wish, and I will try my best to answer them.''
``Or not to answer them.''
Merlin's eyes widened as they always did when he was interested by something Rex had said.
``I thought I had explained that there are certain things you cannot be informed about. I have my orders.''
Although Merlin was very irritating, he was the only one Rex had that was close to being a friend. Rex had found qualities in the man he really liked. That is, if Merlin was a man. It was impossible for Rex to tell the men apart from the women. They all wore the same style clothing and hair, and Rex could not even tell by the tone of voice. All of these things had also been genetically altered. Men and women all used the same public facilities, including the restrooms. The restrooms no longer had the familiar urinals for men, but contained stalls with doors, allowing an individual to have complete privacy. Somehow that made Rex uncomfortable.
The ground car they rode in sped into the darkness of the horizon. But when Rex expected the light to fade into complete darkness, it didn't. It dimmed to a light equivalent to that of dawn. Rex looked into the sky to see several shining objects, and he had to shield his eyes.
Merlin said, ``The dark side of the moon is not truly that any longer. To have the vegetation continue to grow, a certain amount of light is required. The fourteen day period of darkness that is exhibited on each spot of the planet due to it's slow rotation would prevent the vegetation from developing properly. These satellites circle the planet and light the darkness when it is needed.
``What you see in the sky are satellites that reflect enough of the sun's light onto the dark side of the planet for vegetation to survive.''
Rex was in awe. It was amazing. Truly amazing. He couldn't speak for several minutes.
When he regained his senses, he was standing in line with Merlin at the Western outpost's cafeteria. Food was placed on his tray as he walked in single file with everyone else.
Rex noted a stare every now and then, due to them noticing the difference in his complexion. He had a hood over most of his head, to hide his dark hair, which was a bright contrast to everyone else. This helped hide some of his differences, as he also wore the plastic like body armor. What really seemed to cause the stares was not his skin color or his hair, but only when the people were close enough to see his eyes -- at least that's what he thought. He had noticed that everyone had light colored eyes of blue or green in contrast to his dark brown eyes. He meant to ask Merlin about this when he had a chance.
``I'm still amazed by the artificial lighting of this side of the planet.''
``I'm sure you are. I -- like most of the citizens of the moon -- are accustomed to it.''
``Just like everything else around here,'' Rex muttered.
``What was that you said?'' asked Merlin.
``I still haven't found many aspects of your culture to be appealing.''
``Really? How interesting. Like what?''
Rex glanced around the room.
``Everyone dresses exactly the same, minus the head-bands. Everyone looks the same. Everyone sounds the same, minus you.''
``How do you mean?''
``If you can't tell, I don't think that I can explain it.''
``Please do. I find our conversation most appealing.''
Rex raised some of the meat-like substance to his mount. It seemed to melt once it touched his tongue. This was one thing that he did like about this culture. He had never tasted meat like this. It tasted similar to chicken, yet different, like nothing that he had ever eaten before.
``I must ask you. This food. I know I've been eating this same kind of food for the last few days. What is it?''
``Ah, the krundoc. Yes, it is a fine meat that is produced by the fine advancements in genetic engineering. In fact, some of the best krundoc production takes place just south of this outpost.'' Merlin took a spoonful himself.
``I'd like to see what these krundoc look like.''
Merlin swallowed hard. ``Possibly if we can fit it into our busy schedule we'll stop at the ranch.''
``I'd like that.''
Merlin smiled. ``Please continue telling me how you think everyone looks alike? From my point of view I can distinguish one individual from the next.''
``Yes, but-- I don't know how to put this.''
``Feel free to say it any way you would like. I promise not to take offense no matter what it is you say. You need not worry about being overheard, if that is a concern. Few people understand the dialect we are using.''
Rex hesitated a moment deciding if he should go ahead with what he wanted to say or not. He raised his shoulders slightly and finally said, ``O.K. Your people look so much alike that I can't tell the difference between a man and a woman. I can't imagine a society that doesn't display that characteristic. Mankind does still reproduce sexually, do they not?''
Merlin's face flushed slightly. ``I assure you that males and females do still exist and reproduction is the same now as it was in your time. The reason that you cannot make the distinction between the sexes, is because you are not supposed to. Part of the reason that we are wearing the chest plates -- that is part of our everyday wardrobe -- is to hide the females breasts which, by the way, are much smaller on average than the ones of your time.''
``Another genetic change?'' Rex asked.
``Yes, they are now only large enough to produce milk for children, and not to display the sexual physique of your time.''
``I'm a little confused, though. If you can't tell the difference among yourselves, then how do meet someone of the opposite sex?''
``The marriage ritual of our time is much different than yours. Our genetic information is stored at the time we are born, and it is studied and examined. Once a year our patterns are run through a computer system and matched with other compatible patterns of other single people. A small group of the matched people - an even number of men and women -- are brought together, and in a private ceremony our sex is revealed.''
``So, you are forced into this matchmaking process.''
``Not at all. We get to choose a mate from one of the people in the group, but if none of the selections appeal to us, we can simply leave until the next match is made.''
``It leaves a lot of spontaneity out of a relationship, doesn't it? I mean, your choices are narrowed severely, aren't they?''
``Each person in the group are matched for near perfect offspring. There's no risk of birth defects, or any risk of disease.''
``But what about love? You can't be expected to find someone you love that way.''
``In your time, you were confined to find a mate who lived in a close vicinity to where you lived. Say, you lived in North America, but your perfect mate, or your perfect love lived in Asia. You'd never meet her, would you?''
``In our mating process, the matches are searched throughout the world. And as far as happiness, the rate of divorce is less than one percent. Can you say the same for your time?''
``That doesn't mean that the people are happy.''
``No, but it does not mean that the people are not happy.''
``Are you married?'' Rex asked.
``I am afraid that is none of your business, or anyone else's.''
``So you're not married. How many times have you been through this mating ritual of yours?''
``Can I just say that I have yet to find someone that I feel comfortable enough with.''
Rex heard a slight inflection of tension in Merlin's voice. ``I'm sorry, Merlin. I didn't mean to offend you.''
``It is I who should apologize. I realize that my culture is very different than yours. I should not allow myself to be upset by your questions.''
There was silence between the two and Rex noticed that there were several people that kept looking at him. His hood had pulled back away from his face, so he pulled it forward, trying to look like everyone else.
``You know,'' Rex started, trying to change the subject. ``I've noticed the discomfort when people realize how different I am. But their reaction to me is different when they get closer to me. I can see shock in their faces.''
``It's your eyes.''
``Only the primitives of this time have brown eyes.''
Merlin scowled. ``Never mind. It's just that very few people within our culture have brown eyes. Everyone is genetically engineered to not have them. When they see someone with brown eyes, it's a surprise.''
``Surprise is not what I see in their eyes. They look at me as if I am not human. No matter what my genetic features are I am still human.''
``I agree, but don't judge my culture by how they react to something that is different to them. They are not used to things that are different.''
Rex had the feeling there was a lot more to it than that, and he knew it had to do with Merlin's mention of primitives. Who where they?
Merlin continued to show Rex the sights of the moon city, and they did not arrive at their hotel rooms until one twelfth (two a.m.). Rex almost collapsed when he entered his room. He was able to hold out until he could undress and splash a little water on his face. He glanced out the window at the shining objects that were in the night sky, and within minutes he was asleep.
After about four hours Rex awakened and could not fall back to sleep. He rose and pulled on his chest plate, stopping only long enough to take a sip of orange juice. Although the orange juice tasted somewhat blue to him, if that made any sense. He needed to walk, alone. That was a luxury that had not been given to him since he arrived here. Merlin had always been at his side. While he had never been told he would not be allowed to travel on his own, he had been warned that it would not be a good idea. He chose not to heed this warning or even leave a note for Merlin.
After about a half an hour he could see a tall building to the south, which stood in the vast openness. He thought this must be the krundoc ranch that Merlin had mentioned to him. After another hour of walking, he stood before a small fence that he was able to climb easily. There was silence as there had been on his walk to the ranch. The silence was broken as he heard a cry that sounded human, although it contained no distinguishable words. He ran in the direction it had come from, the large building that Rex had associated with being a barn. He entered the door and walked quietly into the shadows. He saw a naked white man clutching a child, while two golden figures were beating him, then finally wrenching the child from the man and walking away.
Rex approached the white man who lay on the ground. His hair was dark, long and ratty and he was running his hand through his scraggly beard.
``Are you okay?'' Rex asked.
The man grunted, startled by his words. Before Rex could stop him, he was up and running away. Rex pursued him into another larger room, which was a barracks, having cots lined up throughout the room. Other white men and women were sleeping on this cot, until the man he was following began grunting again.
Everyone in the room awoke and approached Rex, surrounding him. He could feel the fear in the room. With the hood pulled over his face, they must have thought he was another of the golden people that worked on this ranch. He pulled the hood back to reveal his white skin and heard gasps and more grunting.
``I mean you no harm,'' Rex said. The room lit up and golden ranchers entered the room breaking through the crowd of white people to get to him. Before they could pull him away he noticed that all the naked people had brown eyes.
Rex had been taken into a small room where he sat for more than an hour. Three men sat across from him and had been spitting out gibberish that he had no clue to understanding. The only words that he could make out were who, where and why. Other than that, he was literally in the dark.
When Rex tried to say anything, they were just as confused about understanding him. One of the men questioning Rex had pulled out a long metallic stick that looked to Rex like a cattle prod. Obviously, it was a tool that the men used on the white men when they were disobedient. He sighed and dropped his head into his hands, wishing he could find a way out of this.
His wish was answered as the door swung open and Merlin entered the room. Merlin had a long, heated debate with the three men until they were finally convinced to let him leave in Merlin's custody. Once they had gotten in the ground car and were heading in the direction of the hotel, Merlin let him have it.
``What were you thinking? I warned you about wandering off on your own. If I had not found you, you'd be in big trouble. You realize that, right?''
``Yes, but I never thought that anything like that could happen. I couldn't sleep so I thought I'd go for a walk. I saw the large building and figured it was where the krundoc were, so I thought I'd go have myself a look.''
``Well, you got a look. Are you satisfied?''
``Those men and women?''
``Those are not men and women.''
``They looked like it to me.''
``They are a genetically created subspecies of the human race. They have been developed because their flesh will yield the perfect food for us. Easy for us to digest, absorb and metabolize. You liked the food yourself. You said so.''
``Had I known where it had come from, I would never have tried it.''
``They have no intelligence so they lack the one true feature that separates animals from mankind. I knew that you would not understand, so that's why I avoided bringing you here.''
``If you think that I would object to the breeding of human beings for food, then you are exactly right.''
Merlin inhaled deeply and wiped a hand across his sweat covered forehead. ``Let me try to explain it to you in another way. You don't object to breeding and eating other animals for food do you?''
``Animals are not human. They are not intelligent or sentient.''
``Neither are the krundoc. They have had those features removed.''
Rex paused a moment gathering his arguments together. ``I saw one of those men, trying to protect one of the children from those ranchers. You can't tell me that was not a human characteristic.''
``It was an instinct, nothing more. Other animals would do the same.''
``Then those ranchers beat that man, and I could feel his pain. Like I would feel anyone's pain had they been beaten in the same fashion. I could read his emotions.''
``Pain and suffering are not universal to the human race, or have you never seen any other living thing suffer?''
Rex did not have an answer for that. He had been sheltered most of his life, spending most of his time with his nose in a book, or in front of a computer terminal. He seldom even watched television in his time, unless there was a documentary on some technology that he was interested in.
When Rex did not reply, Merlin continued. ``The question is a matter of where to draw the line between humanity and any other species. If the ability to feel basic emotions like pain were taken into consideration, our food choices would be drastically different. But as a scientist you must realize the necessity of the food chain, with humanity up at the top.''
As a scientist, he did understand, but as a man of compassion he did not. He tried to think of a way that these men were different from other animals, and the answer was their appearance. Was that a good enough reason? Appearance. Then a realization dawned on him.
``That's the reason I must be kept in seclusion, isn't it? The krundoc have pale skin and brown eyes like me. When people see me up close they think that I'm one of them, and it insults them. If you hadn't been expecting me, I probably would have been captured and been on the plate for dinner. Wouldn't I have been?''
A tear ran from Merlin's eye. ``Yes,'' he finally said.
For a year Rex remain isolated while he considered being genetically altered to fit into this future society. He never felt so alone in his life as he searched within himself for an answer to his conflicts. Merlin was always there with him, but that made little difference. He was blocking everyone out as he had done three thousand years earlier, when he was working on the transporter project.
It took him several months but by listening to many conversations, he slowly picked up the language of the people he was surrounded with. Once he understood the language, he made it a task to begin speaking it himself. He never talked to anyone else, but practised whole conversations when he was alone in the apartment he had been provided. Since he was talking only to himself, he had no idea of how good he was speaking the language, but it was the best he could do. He had no one else to confide in.
Merlin entered his room one morning and found Rex staring at himself in the mirror. ``I was wondering,'' Rex said. ``Would it be possible for me to simulate what I would look like if I decide to go through with this genetic change that you continue to badger me about? I mean, if I could see what I would look like, then maybe I could slowly become accustomed to it.''
Merlin smiled, ``I suppose that we could get some make-up, contact lenses and a wig. That would at least let you see what your face would look like. Would that be okay?''
``Sufficient,'' Rex said, smiling.
On the next day Merlin had the materials that they had spoken about, and it only took about an hour to put the make-up on. When Rex looked in the mirror, he was shocked at how different he looked.
``No, you look human,'' Merlin stated, excitedly.
``I've always looked human,'' Rex said. ``Now I look like a modern day human.''
``Let's just say that now you look like what people today think is normal.''
Rex agreed to that, and when Merlin left he continued to stare into the mirror for a few minutes. After that time, he put on his chest plate, some black gloves and walked out the door. It was never locked, and he had earned Merlin's trust over the last year since the krundoc incident. He would not be expected to wander off again without Merlin at his side.
He entered the community transporter room in the center of his building, where he and Merlin had gone hundreds of times since his arrival here. Now would be the true test of how well he understood modern day English.
``Destination?'' the attendant asked in a bored tone.
``Library,'' Rex answered. He thought it would be better to keep what he said short and to the point.
``Step on the platform,'' the attendant directed, without giving Rex another look as he began punching in the destination coordinates on the console.
Rex could not believe he had gotten away with his masquerade until he saw the shimmering light, and was on the steps before the moon library.
He began to sweat when he walked up to the librarian who stood behind a desk, hoping that the gold make-up that he wore was not washing away. The librarian wore a chest plate with a red cross on it, and a head band with three slanted lines on it. Both were symbols of help. Rex asked for help, and was relieved when the librarian said that several people did not know how to use the machinery of the library. Few of these people would come to ask the librarian for help, however, but would spend hours at one of the interface terminals punching buttons at random, until they learned how to use it the hard way.
It took the librarian less than fifteen minutes to explain how to operate the terminal, and then Rex had the information of the world at his fingertips.
It had been a lot harder for him to learn how to read modern day English than it had been to speak it. But every morning he had scanned the morning paper that was posted on his apartment console. What he had was a decent understanding, and learning to speak the language had helped immensely.
Now as Rex sat before the terminal, and he had all the library information at his disposal, he did not know what he should access first. His doubts in this world were so great, he did not know what he should believe. With that being the case he had no basis to draw conclusions on.
He breathed deeply and thought that he should focus on the one matter that concerned him the most. The possibility of returning to his own time. Could he believe these people when they told him it was impossible for him to return? That was the first axiom he should try to eliminate. It was a place to start anyway, and he could go from there.
After about a week of being a regular at the library and studying the matter, he could find nothing to disprove that time travel was a one way street. What seemed odd to him, was the fact that all scientists that were documented were in total consensus on the issue. In Rex's day he knew that all scientists could never agree on everything. This one fact caused him to continue his research.
He spent days on end studying the mathematics and schematics of the transporter in detail. The documentation he had was twenty years old, since current innovations were protected from public access, but he felt it was a lot better than the information that was three thousand years old which was locked into his mind.
After a month he thought he might have found a small flaw in the mathematics. Not a large one, but one small enough to cause a problem. And anyone knew that in math, a small error could lead to disastrous consequences down the road. The error dealt in canceling out the mass of the object being transported with the amount of energy required for the transfer. Rex could acknowledge the two could be proportional, but mass and energy were never exactly equal unless a total transfer could be made. In the case of transportation, mass was changed to energy and energy to mass. Therefore, energy was also needed for the conversion back and forth and could not be canceled out.
He began working out his own mathematics until he came up with his own set of equations, not much different from the ones that were widely accepted. The only difference was when equating moving an object back through time, the amount of energy was not the large amount that the people of this time had thought. In fact, the amount that would take him back through time, was barely more than the amount that he used in his apartment for a month. He had a solution to the problem, but what should he do about it? That was the question.
The last time Rex had taken it on his own initiative to solve a problem it had resulted in his being displaced in time. He had no one here he could totally confide in either. The only person he could talk to was Merlin, and exactly how much could he trust him? He had no other choice.
Since Rex had been here, Merlin had continued to be Rex's guide and only real contact in this world. Rex had to admit he had become quite fond of the man. Merlin had done everything within his power to make Rex feel comfortable here in this world, and Rex knew it was not Merlin's fault he was not happy here. When they met for lunch the following day, Rex thought of a way to break it to Merlin about what he had been doing the last couple months.
``Merlin,'' Rex said slowly, ``I've something I'd like to talk to you about.''
``Fine, fine,'' Merlin said. ``Is it about changing your skin color permanently?''
``No, not really. I don't know how to tell you this, but I've been doing something a little sneaky since you've given me the skin make-up.''
``Yes, I know, you have been going to the library,'' Merlin stated.
``I would not be doing my job, if I did not. Do not be angry, it is no big deal and certainly not forbidden. It is my job to watch you and make sure that nothing bad happens to you. You wanted to go off and explore on your own, so I allowed you to think that you had. I was hoping that it would make you more comfortable.''
``But how did you know?''
``Quite easily. I followed you that first day, and everyday since then.''
``I assure you that it is for your own protection. The government wishes no harm to come to you.''
``So you've reported everything I've been doing.'' Rex was angry he had not realized he was being followed. He did not even realize Merlin had switched over to speaking modern language, and that he had done so also.
``No, I'm to report only events that are deemed as being dangerous to you or anyone around you. A trip to the library everyday hardly falls under that category.''
``I see. Well, I have something to tell you. I think I've found a way to travel back in time.'' He paused a moment. ``A way for me to get back home.''
Merlin listened intently as Rex explained the that he had discovered in the transporter's design. At the end he turned to Merlin and said, ``Well, what do you think I should do?''
Merlin crossed his legs and then said, ``As a government delegate, I should tell you to write up your findings and turn them in. But as your friend -- and I do consider myself your friend since you have confided so much in me -- I would say you should perform whatever research you need to do on your own.''
``I don't understand,'' Rex said. ``Why?''
Merlin shifted his position in his seat again, the discomfort he felt becoming obvious. ``There is more at stake than just making a scientific discovery. If what you have concluded is correct, and there is a way to travel backward in time, my government would never allow you to leave. Your returning to the past could alter our present and endanger this society. If you go back through time, you would tell them about our society, and the disgust that you feel towards modern man will be felt by the people of your time. It could drastically change the time line.
``You must do this alone, and I will help you in anyway I can.''
Rex nodded his head. ``Aren't you worried about what will happen if I return to the past?''
``I am more concerned about you. It is obvious that you are not happy here. If there is a chance you can find a way home, how can I refuse helping?''
Rex accepted that, and realized he really had a friend in this time.
Merlin had been able to get Rex the computer access he needed to be able to perform his research. The technology of the day had also allowed him to design the circuitry that would be needed for the transporter in one tenth the time than in his day. Rex would be able to modify an existing transporter by replacing only one of the circuit boards. When he had this circuit board built and held it in his hands he tried to hide the fear he felt. The last time he had created something had cost him three thousand years because of an oversight. If he made a similar oversight, who knew what might happen.
When he and Merlin walked silently to the deserted transporter room, he tried to push the thoughts of possible failure from his mind. He would be home soon, back in his own lab, only moments after the first transportation had taken place. He pulled the appropriate panel and replaced it with his own. Then he walked behind the control console and entered the coordinates.
It was not until Merlin pulled out a stunner and pointed it at Rex that he had any doubt. ``What are you doing?'' Rex asked.
The transporter room door slid open and another man walked inside. Rex held back a scream as he saw that the man looked exactly like him.
``Greetings Dr. Wilson,'' the man said in his voice. ``My name is Isaac, although that really isn't important. I'm going to take your place on this transportation. We can't risk changing the current time-line now can we?''
``What are you talking about?'' Rex asked. He turned to Merlin. ``Why are you doing this?''
Merlin would not meet Rex's eyes, but Isaac answered for him. ``I'm afraid that you've become a pawn in a little game by our government. Thanks for the modified transporter design. It will come in handy in ironing out mistakes of the past to guarantee the superiority of the human race.
``You see,'' the man continued, ``the main reason you were brought to the moon, is because there is a resistance movement causing problems on Earth. A movement opposed to modern day genetic engineering, and it is growing stronger and stronger every day. The government can't seem to penetrate them successfully. But we know where they have been located in the past. We're going to use this machine of yours to stop them dead in their tracks before they become too powerful.''
``Then why not just kill me. Why go back in my place?'' Rex asked.
``Insurance Doctor, that is why. Great strides were going to be made in genetic research at the same time of your transporter research. When your experiment took place money was shifted away from genetic research and it affected it drastically. If I return with a full transported specification, that will not happen, and the genetic gains will take place hundred of years ahead of time. The current resistance will not have happened, because change will come too swiftly.''
``What makes you so sure of this?''
``We've had hundred of researchers speculating on what would happen if events unfolded in this way. We have computer simulated results.''
``And what happens to me?'' asked Rex.
``I'm afraid after I have returned, you will be genetically altered and placed in an insane asylum, where you can do no harm.''
``Why not kill me?'' Rex asked.
``Come now, we're not barbarians. Stun him,'' Isaac commanded Merlin, but Isaac stood between Rex and himself. The stunner moved slightly and hit Isaac in the back of the head.
Rex had no idea what was going on anymore. Before he could say anything, Merlin wiped his face clean, and exposed his white skin. ``I am with the resistance, Rex. You must go back to the past, and you must do what you have to do.'' They embraced and it was difficult for him to let go. ``You must go,'' Merlin finally said.
Rex stood on the pad, praying it would work as Merlin powered up the controls. There was a glow of shimmering light, and the next thing he knew he was back in his lab. He also thought of Merlin's words: You must go, and do what you have to do.
He knew what the answer was. Genetic engineering was possible due to transporter technology. To make a genetic change to an individual, when the transporter had transferred a person's matter to energy, the DNA pattern was also stored so that the energy could be changed back to its original configuration. If the DNA pattern was substituted with another compatible DNA pattern, a permanent change could be made when the person's energy was translated back to matter. Without transporter technology, genetic engineering would never advance to the level he had witnessed.
He stepped off the transporter pad into the laboratory of his time. It felt good to be back home, but those feelings could wait. He walked up to the molecular transporter console and ripped out one of the circuit pads. He threw it down onto the floor and smashed it into a million pieces. As he was destroying his life long work he made the realization that sometimes it was better to fail.
You can e-mail Myke at: email@example.com
Return to the Aphelion main page.