"Well Doctor Russell, I congratulate you, we are to be the first to know the truth."
"I know the truth already, Dr. Terrance, there this journey is simply my way of confirming it to ones such as yourself."
Dr. Terrance chuckled good-naturedly and smiled, "We shall see." At this Dr. Russell frowned.
"Terrance, I've always held you in high regard. Without your genius in the field of quantum mechanics this would not have been possible. However I've never understood how a highly educated man such as yourself could hold the beliefs that you do."
"We've had this discussion before, Russell. My belief in the divine origins of the universe is not only supportable by the facts, but it is not unprecedented in the field of science. Einstein himself believed in a creator."
Dr. Russell smiled, "And yet, in your field of study, you've violated his belief that God would not play dice with the universe."
"I, being only an ignorant man, am not equipped to say HOW God runs his
universe. I simply observe the world around me in an attempt to know more about the mind of the creator."
"That, my friend, is easy. There is no creator; the universe is the
creation of chance, a random occurrence that has culminated to our present day. We impose order on our environment as rational beings. In a very real way, we are becoming 'god' in that we are the ones who determine the purpose of this essentially absurd world."
The microphone on the white wall behind the two men buzzed to life and a voice said, "Would you two quit gabbing? The scientific world is being held up here."
The two scientists laughed good-naturedly, and finished donning their gear. They were in an essentially blank room, with white walls and indirect, overhead lighting. There was a simple, streamlined metal pod in front of them with the dramatic words Quantum Bullet emblazoned on the side. An opaque, thick glass screen high on the wall masked the control booth with the sensory equipment and co-workers monitoring their progress.
The Quantum Bullet itself was a miracle, the Holy Grail of scientists and science fiction writers everywhere. It was the fabled "Time Machine" of H.G. Wells, and had been in development and testing for nearly twenty years. All that was over now. Regular trips had been made into the past proving both the reliability, and the safety of this device.
Doctors Terrance and Russell finished snapping their helmets into place and, looking like some strange, futuristic beekeepers, they climbed into their respective seats in the Quantum Bullet.
"Zero Hour is coming up, fellas," the man in the booth spoke, "You have two minutes before we send you into the great unknown."
"The great known," each man thought to himself. They waited in relative silence; each lost in his thoughts, as zero hour approached. They were going to do something dangerous and, one might consider, foolhardy. They had each signed waivers, and taken their lives in their hands. They were going all the way back, as far as time would take them. At ten seconds until zero hour, the man in the booth began counting aloud. 10...9...8...7... Each man's stomach knotted up inside him in excitement. They were FINALLY going to prove the other wrong...6...5...4 The Quantum Bullet began to hum around them, it's metal walls became liquid, then transparent, and their bodies began to tingle...3...2...1...0. Suddenly the Quantum Bullet disappeared, and the men inside were reduced to Quantum probability curves, projected backward in time.
The scientists in the control booth marked their path backwards in time with an air of detachment, although each was as excited as the next.
"They are approaching the hundred year mark,"
"Speed it up a little. Take them up to a thousand years a second and hold for five seconds. Then begin slowing their progress a little. There's no telling what will happen when they hit the time wall."
The "time wall" was a term Dr. Terrance had coined. It referred to a theoretical point in the past and/or future where time suddenly stopped. This was, of course, assuming that there was a beginning and an end point to time. There was no real way of knowing this without sending someone there. The staff had agreed to let the Quantum Bullet go back as far as 20 billion years before they pulled it back. This was the farthest general prediction for the beginning of the universe. Beyond this point they could be reasonably sure there was no time wall.
Of course monitoring the time travel was a tricky business. The probability that they would reach their calculated destination was good, but there was also a slight possibility that they might not. What would happen if they didn't reach their destination was unsure. Nor was the possibility very great. Something like the possibility of being hit by lightning. Still it existed, and should be accounted for. A probability curve was just that... probability. They could predict where the machine was, or what it's course was, but not both. One had to be derived from the other. This added to the fact that the machine, and the people in it, did not EXIST in the real sense of the word. They had the potential to exist, but would only actually do so when they where defined at a set destination.
There was no sensation in timelessness, where one did not exist. Terrance often felt that if he could just open his eyes to eternity in those moments, that he would be able to see the face of God, looking on from timelessness. And suddenly, he did.
Slamming into the time wall was actually nothing and everything like slamming into a wall. The suddenness of existence being forced upon him made him gasp, but that was not all that made him gasp. He took no notice that Dr. Russell was no longer beside him. For from the moment he gazed through the canopy of the Quantum Bullet, he felt as unreal as if he was still simply a mathematical equation. What unfolded before him had a realness rivaled by any of the pitiful things he had previously thought of as substantial. A terrible VOICE spoke... no, boomed... no, whispered through the air, the space, the mind, the very delicate fabric of reality. It was not a voice, but a will. It was more than a will, it was a passion, a desire, a love, a FORCE beyond anything known. It was all that was known. When it spoke there was a need, a desire, a compulsion, there was no other choice, there
was OBEDIENCE. It said in a language that was no language, but pure
communication, pure transmission, pure being, and in a wonderful wordlessness it said, "Let there be light," and the being formerly known as Dr. Terrance beheld the face of God.
The warning was communicated by a soft, unthreatening red LED, but it might as well have been glaring with the brightness of the sun, for it immediately commanded the attention of everyone in the control booth.
"Sir, we have a problem," one of the female techs spoke in calm, even tones.
"Report," the department head said, his face set grimly.
"The equation suddenly skewed. We are attempting to compensate, but
we've lost their location."
"Well, when they reached the ten thousand year mark, there was a sudden disruption. For a moment, it looked like there were actually two equations, and then their progress blurred between the ten thousand, and the 15 billion mark."
"Pull them back."
There was a pause as everyone worked furiously at their stations. There was really very little they could do. The computer did the actual calculations; the people simply punched the buttons and attempted to troubleshoot in transit. Still everyone knew what the next words would be, and tried to look busy to avoid the crucial moment. Then, at last, it came.
"We've lost them."
Dr. Russell went back, and back, and back. A thousand, a million, a
billion years, until there seemed to be no limit to his acceleration through time. The universe around him writhed and boiled with turmoil, and he spiraled onward, backward in time. Stars sucked light in and planets fell toward them, and they ballooned out, and the universe was white except where the black dots marked the stars. Stars fell together and whirled like an inky pool down a drain, and still he spiraled backward. And back and back and back and back and BACK he went. And suddenly there was nothing. No slam of a time wall, no backward acceleration, no stars, no universe. Nothing.
A hopeless despair of nothingness, all of existence reduced to its
beginning and ending state. Dr. Russell seemed to exist, but could find nothing to support his existence. He was filled with an utter sense of hopelessness, which stretched as far as the nothingness didn't. Nor did the hopelessness end when something began. The something began as a dot of light. And as the light appeared, he flickered into existence, with the Quantum Bullet around him, Dr. Terrance nowhere to be found. This did not, however, interest him, for something far greater was commanding his attention. The dot of light grew, then flashed with the light of a trillion nuclear explosions and continued to balloon outward. It was a boiling, liquid anomaly eating up space like a hungry amoeba, spewing forth pieces of itself as it fled in all directions. It was chaos personified, and yet as the moments went by it seemed to find an order all of its own. It was at
once the most beautiful and the most hideous thing Dr. Russell could
witness. It was incomprehensibly large, for all of matter was encompassed in its girth. And at once a feeling of utter insignificance overwhelmed Dr. Russell. Not only for him, but for the universe as well.
There was pointlessness to it all, now that Dr. Russell finally knew. I am pointless. The universe is pointless. From chaos I came, to chaos I will return. All is nothing. And the utter loneliness overwhelmed him a moment before the hellish wall of chaos, which he welcomed.
The funeral was very nice. The family of both Doctors showed up and the minister gave a nice eulogy commending both of them for their faith and detection, comforting the bereaved with placid images of a beautiful afterlife that awaited them. Neither family could be told the details of their deaths, but the funeral was fully funded by the institute.
Dr. Beuford and Dr. Trent went walking in the spacious garden of the funeral home after the service was completed.
"What do you think happened there?" Beuford could finally hold the question no longer. Trent raised her eyebrow.
"Personal opinion or results of the analysis we've been conducting?" she asked.
"Whatever you can tell me."
They stopped to admire the fountain spewing frothy water into a green pool with orange fish darting through its shallow interior.
"Well," Dr. Trent began, "You know I am not allowed to talk about our
"Yeah," sighed Dr. Beuford, "I know."
"But confidentially, we haven't found anything really." She absentmindedly tossed a coin in the pool, and they continued walking.
"What I CAN tell you," she resumed, "is that the equation simultaneously took two positions the moment before it skewed."
"I've been thinking about that," Beuford said, waving to a gardener hoeing the soil.
"And?" Trent asked.
"Well, you know how Isaac Newton proved conclusively that light was a wave, and then later they went back and proved conclusively that it was a particle."
"Yes, I know."
"And in quantum physics, we've come to realize that electrons take on the path and position we expect them to have,"
"Path or position, we can't measure both at the same time."
"Right. Back when they began finding that nothing was like it seemed in Newtonian physics, they theorized that observation is integral to the nature of what we actually observed. In other words, we see what we want or expect to see because the observer fundamentally effects what he wants to observe."
"I know all this. What exactly are you getting at?" Trent asked.
Beuford stopped and watched the squirrels play through the trees while he gathered his thoughts.
"Dr. Russell was an atheist and a firm believer in the evolutionary theory. Heck, most of us are, but he spent a lot of time fighting against the ignorant opinions of others. Dr. Terrance was different. He was a brilliant man, but he believed in Creationism. He was a Christian and a church-goer, though he never rubbed it in peoples faces."
Beuford paused for a long time. Trent eventually looked up from her shoes.
"I think I see where you are going with this," she mumbled. "You are saying that, because they expected to, Terrance stopped at the point he believed creation occurred, whereas Russell went back to the point of the Big Bang."
"But don't you see what that means? Doesn't that bother you at all?"
"What? That man creates God by choosing to observe Him? No, that doesn't bother me. As humans, we have always had that control on our environment. It is like Dr. Russell said: we impose our own meaning on reality."
"Maybe..." Beuford trailed off.
"What?" Trent asked.
"Well, I've been thinking. I used to go to church as a kid, so I know
something about religion. What if it's the other way around?"
"How do you mean?"
"What if God created a world where He had the possibility to not exist?
What if God allowed mankind to choose whether he believed in Him, and He would only become real to those who believed?"
"...So that those who did NOT believe in Him lived in a universe bereft of His presence? Is that what you are saying?"
"Yes, that's what I am saying."
"Why do you look so worried about this?" Trent asked
"Well, when I went to church, they used to say that a world where God does not exist..."
"... is Hell," Trent finished.