Catalyst: In the Beginning
This is a new edition of the novel Catalyst I first published on G+ a couple of years ago. I will publish new pieces of the story every couple of days.
(Shalaye checks that all are here)
Touch the spinning thread of destiny.
Rejoice the portion racing past your fingertips.
Relish your life in fair wonder with others
Until the great destroyer takes us back whence we came.
In the Beginning
Ok, it is time to reveal the truth. Please, sit down. This will take time.
I am a time traveler. I come from the last half of the twentieth century, October 1975 to be precise. But the link between me and Mission Control is faulty. They keep losing track of me. I can’t get back. The future keeps changing.
Back in Mission Control, a team of scientists and academics is still trying “to retrieve me.” They have the best people: Labrinth, Cannonball, and Benedict. I trust them all, and whenever they find me they try to reassure me that everything will turn out ok, but I am still here.
I am still here. Some days I don’t know if I am chasing dreams or being chased by demons.
To make things even harder for them, while I have been lost in the future for 40 years, only 11 days have passed for them.
Perhaps the whole time travel program is being wound back: maybe cost cutting. The future was always a bit of a gamble. UFOs and travel to the planets were still more attractive. Or, perhaps they are lying to me. Maybe they do not want me back. Perhaps they are worried about the contamination of their timeline by, you know, the future or earthquakes.
Sometimes, the specialists at Mission Control seem fine when they find me sailing. But they get manic when they see me during a rerun of Star Trek or Oprah. I do not think they would understand social media, Wikipedia, David Guetta or smart watches.
They have tried to be helpful, in their own way. A while back they worked out how to send Labrinth into the future for short periods. That is not her real name. All the specialists have code names. They gave me a code name too.
For the past three years, Labrinth has been projected into a little Chinese restaurant in downtown Sydney. Only for an hour each time, but it is something. It is a whisper of air from the past, but it keeps me sane. We drink black tea while she chain smokes. Well, I drink tea. I think she pretends, but she probably has a gun, so I try not to notice.
When I was a kid, word around Woomera was that Labrinth was pretty dangerous. She still treats me like a little kid. I watch her eyes narrow when she sees people talking into mobiles and drinking Cappuccinos. Then, she tries to reassure me with cheery stories of the past, how things are going back there with the threat of imminent nuclear war and Elvis.
The whole time relativity thing confuses me. She was the first to tell me that only 11 days have passed back in Mission Control since the accident, although it has been forty years for me. She also told me that the hour she spends with me in the restaurant takes up 3 Mission Control seconds, then she laughed, angry laughter.
On the anniversary of the accident that sent me into the future, they sometimes send small presents from the past: a couple of fat ties and a 20-function pocket knife.
I fear it is all a bit too late. Even if they can get me back, I have aged. Talking to Labrinth, I am sure that Mission Control does not believe in this future. Perhaps it is all too scary. If they get me back, they will probably lock me up. They might lock her up, too.
I need a way to sort out this nightmare. I need to figure out what has happened. I need to find a way home and, perhaps, stop the program from starting.
Until then, what do I do?
At night, I walk under stars in this strange future, thinking about the past and trying to avoid the time quakes.