Dear Readers and Listeners, today's tale is about creation of wormholes and time travel. If you have not already become a member of this site and joined my mailing list, please do the needful. Your support is crucial to my work as a writer and podcaster. Please leave your reviews on the story. Your views help me evolve as an artist. Enjoy.
Welcome to OBSCURUS, your weekly dose of paranormal fiction. Every Wednesday OBSCURUS features new short stories and serialized novels written by novelist, screenwriter, and voice-over artist Biswajit Banerjee. The realm of the paranormal stretches far beyond the usual horror story. So, while you will get to listen to lots of ghost stories on this podcast, there will also be many tales of lesser-known paranormal themes. To get us started, here's your host Biswajit Banerjee.
HOST TALK 00:00:47
Hello and welcome to OBSCURUS. My name is Biswajit Banerjee, and I am your host for this show. Today’s story is about time travel.
Before we start the tale, I urge my readers and listeners to visit my website biswajitbanerjee.com for information on my books, movies, and voice-over projects.
I will be glad if you find time to also visit my second website obscurus.buzzsprout.com, which is totally dedicated to this podcast. You will find all OBSCURUS episodes, their transcripts, and chapter markers on the dedicated website.
And now it’s time to dive into the story. A zoologist’s friend claims to have devised a way for traveling to future and past spacetimes. What is the truth? Come let’s find out.
ACTIVE BRIDGE 00:02:08
Written and performed by Biswajit Banerjee
Around two years from my retirement as a Professor of Zoology in the University of Delhi — July 2018 to be precise — I received an invitation from Professor Emily Walker to spend a week or so in her beautiful house in a small Alaskan township. After her hugely successful career as a physicist and academician, Emily was spending her post-retirement days virtually in the lap of pristine nature.
Retirement from the University of Alaska Anchorage, where she worked as a prominent faculty member in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, didn't mark the end of her quest for knowledge. In her letter, Emily wrote she had built a laboratory in the topmost level of her mansion, and for about four hours every evening, she experimented with certain strange properties of time. May it be noted that the invitation came in the form of a letter — a paper letter — and not an email. Why one should write a letter on paper instead of sending an email in this digital age of ours — you will soon know.
Emily and I had first worked together on an international science project in Geneva in 2001. Since then, we had been good friends. In the following years, I had the privilege of working with her again on several projects in various parts of the globe, including one in Prayagraj, a place I often refer to as the heart of India.
Coming back to her letter inviting me to the beautiful Alaskan township — I would have said 'no' as there were too many official and personal issues that needed my constant attention around that time. But I said 'yes.' Do you wish to know the reasons? Well, maybe I should reproduce the part of the letter that made me accept the invitation. Here is the excerpt -
Believe it or not — I have found a way to generate wormholes. You might recall I discussed the concept of wormholes with you at length in Prayagraj. I also told you about my wish to make wormholes that can connect two different spacetime zones. Imagine connecting with your ancestors or meeting the great-grandchildren of your great-grandchildren at a distant time in the future. Book your tickets for the USA if you wish to see me create wormholes. One more thing — of course, it goes without saying — do not talk about it to anyone. I will tell the world all about wormholes and how to make them at an appropriate time. The matter is so confidential that I chose to send you a paper letter instead of an email. Well, emails leave digital footprints behind, don't they?
Need I tell you now why I said 'yes' to her invitation? What she said practically meant time travel was possible. With my level of curiosity peaking, I was with her within a week of receiving the letter.
The mansion was a dream house. And the place it was located in was paradise. The abundance of colors with a clear dominance of green and yellow would beat the imagination of the best of poets. Paper birch, balsam poplar, larch, quaking aspen, white spruce, black spruce, and many other varieties of trees cushioned up the highs and lows of the region.
All the houses in that part of the world were stunning — but Emily's mansion stood out. Both the externals and internals of her home were nothing short of poetry in wood and bricks. The laboratory at the top level was well-equipped to support her experiments. Perhaps she spent most of her life savings on the house and the laboratory. Oh, by the way, she was unmarried. Understanding the nature of time and space is all that mattered to her. Tying the knot would not let her give her hundred percent to physics, so she chose to be single.
I spent the first two days of my tour exploring the place. The hillocks blanketed by an abundance of green, the clear sky, the musical chirping of birds, and the occasional glimpse of the Alaskan wildlife — I discovered the William Wordsworth inside me. But the loveliest place was the creek the natives called the Realm of the Gods. Sandwiched by trees, the creek moved southward to meet a rivulet.
Boating on the realm of Gods was like a journey into the soul of beatitude. An old ferryman with a flowing beard moved his oars in a manner I can best describe as lazy elegance. It was as if he needed to exert no force for propelling the boat. The music the blades made with water reached out to my soul. This was blessedness in its most lyrical material avatar. The creek with its clear waters coursing on a bed with countless pebbles was alive — or, so I felt.
We met early the following day under a tree in the garden surrounding the house. Sunlight pierced through the overhanging foliage to fall on the arrangement of bamboo chairs and table. A young lady working as the housekeeper placed a tray with a teapot, two glass cups, and a dish full of biscuits arranged as two concentric circles. I pulled a chair to a convenient position and sat in it, stretching my legs. After pouring me a cup of tea, Emily sat down across the table from me.
"How has the trip been so far?" Emily asked after the housekeeper left the spot.
"Like a dream."
"It's good to see you are enjoying the visit."
"But Emily today ..."
"Oh yes, I know what you want to say — you want me to demonstrate the creation of wormholes."
"Indeed, you are spot on," I smiled.
"Soon, we will be in the forest with my equipment for the demonstration."
"Are we going to the future?"
"We may if you want."
"You mean we can also go to the past?"
"Sure, why not? The wormhole makes both forward and backward movements through time possible."
"How can it be, Emily? As far as I understand — moving ahead in time may be theoretically possible, but going back in time simply cannot happen."
"What makes you say that?"
"Well, there are certain theories and ideas which prove backward time travel is impossible. The grandfather paradox is one example. Let's assume going back in time is possible. What if a time traveler goes to the past and kills his grandparents? This will prevent the birth of one or both of his parents. Now, without his parents, the time traveler couldn't have been born. So, who is the one who goes back in time and kills his grandparents? Logically, he is a non-entity because he is never born."
"The grandfather paradox has several variations. What if the time traveler goes back in time and shoots himself dead? Now, since he dies in the past, how can the time traveler exist in the future to be able to go back in time."
"Exactly, then how can going back in time be possible?"
"The grandfather paradox and other riddles can be easily solved if we think of a system wherein one who travels back in time doesn't possess the powers of changing the past in any way. Under such an arrangement of things, the time traveler will be able to witness the past or the history as it unfolds but will not be able to participate in that history. This doctrine is called Novikov self-consistency Principle."
"Well, yes, I have read about it, but my understanding is limited. After all, I am not a physicist like you."
"Hey, don't say that again. In the inter-disciplinary science projects, you were one of the biggest contributors, and you spoke about certain ideas of physics that many professional physicists wouldn't know."
"You really think so, Emily?"
"Of course, I do. Anyhow, you can tell me what your doubts are about traveling back in time subject to the condition that the time traveler wouldn't be able to change the past."
"Just one question — will the people involved in the past be able to see the time traveler?"
"No, Rajesh, the people of the past will not sense the presence of the traveler, the being from future."
"Okay, so, for the time traveler, the experience would be like an ultra-realistic multi-dimensional movie."
"Well, you couldn't have described it better. The wormhole that takes you to the past is like a multi-dimensional movie theater. I call such wormholes passive bridges. 'Passive' indicates the incapability of the traveler to participate in the past events, and 'bridge' means the linking up of the present spacetime with the past spacetime, the destination of the time traveler."
"And what would you call a wormhole that takes you to the future?"
Emily smiled. "I call a wormhole that takes you to a future spacetime as an active bridge. The expression is self-explanatory — 'active' is an indication that the time traveler can participate in the events of the future spacetime he or she has moved to, and 'bridge,' of course, means the link-up of the present spacetime with the future spacetime."
"Can a wormhole that helps one move into the past act like an active bridge?"
"No, Rajesh, that's impossible according to theory."
"Wow, I am all ready to travel in time."
"In which direction? To the past or to the future?"
"I would love to witness the past."
"Can you take me to any era?"
"Absolutely, just tell me which spacetime you wish to visit."
"Let's go to the late cretaceous period and watch the tyrannosaurus in action."
"This sounds like a true zoologist's desire."
"Oh yes, it will be a true delight to see those wonderful creatures. Incidentally, the tyrannosaurus or T Rex, as the common expression goes, ruled the region we are currently stationed on — do you know that, Emily?"
"Yes, I know. So, are you ready to meet the T Rex?"
"I can hardly wait to be in the late cretaceous period."
"Come along, Rajesh," Emily said and got up.
I followed her to the lab. She picked up her equipment, and we were ready to go!
Emily set up her equipment around a hundred meters from the realm of Gods, the creek that soothed my soul a day before.
"Check the machine monitor," Emily said, "I am leaving the space parameter unchanged and setting the time to sixty-eight million years back from today."
"I still can't believe we will travel back in time."
"Better believe it, Rajesh. The wormhole will soon be ready. And we shall witness what happened in this very place sixty-eight million years ago."
After readying the equipment, she pulled a lever, and the atmosphere around began to change. The light got dimmer, and the air felt heavy. In less than a minute, space ahead of us looked warped, and a tunnel emerged. The spaces inside or beyond the tunnel were not visible.
"Do you see the tunnel, Rajesh? That is the wormhole — on the other side, you may find a T Rex."
The wormhole's opening constantly changed its size as the translucent warped space vibrated under the influence of unknown forces. I rubbed my eyes — no, this was no dream! The creek and the trees beyond it looked distorted — it was as though I was watching them through a deformed glass.
"Let's enter it, Rajesh, come," Emily said and picked up the equipment.
Am I really going to travel back in time - I asked myself as I followed Emily into the wormhole. Strong currents of air brushed past us as we traveled through the tunnel. The journey lasted for about a minute. And then there lay a world before us that existed sixty-eight million years back — the late cretaceous period. Then, there was no trace of the creek. Instead, there were rows of conifers. Thick bushes — green and yellow — filled up most of the space between the trees. Large insects flew around the trees — gall wasps, aphids, and the cretaceous grasshoppers. The pterosaurs, the flying reptiles, commanded the sky.
Suddenly, a pterosaur dashed down toward us. Alarmed, I made space for it only to find it picking up an insect from a nearby tree.
"Don't worry, Rajesh," Emily said with a laugh, "the creatures here can't sense our presence."
We walked to a stretch of open space for a better view of things. A line of white oval structures close to a dead bush caught our attention.
"Is that a dinosaur egg site?" I asked.
"Yes, look — some eggs are moving."
It wasn't long before some eggs broke and baby dinosaurs hatched out. A hyperactive baby strayed away and tripped over. Dust stuck to the egg jelly spread all over its body as it got up. Then a deafening roar filled the air. Some of the forest trees moved due to the angry creature making its way through them. Soon we beheld the monster — a T Rex. With a body as big as a school bus and a head long enough to match the average human height, it walked towards the babies.
"Is she the mother," Emily said.
"The two walking legs bear all its weight."
"What's the purpose of the tiny arms close to the head?"
"Well, we cannot tell for sure. Some scientists think of them as mere evolutionary scraps. And there are others who think they helped the T Rex in tasks such as injuring preys and balancing the body while getting up from a resting position on the ground."
What happened next was unexpected. The T Rex opened its mouth and picked up the dust-laden baby by its neck.
"Won't that hurt the baby?" Emily asked.
Before I could answer her question, the giant smashed the baby against a rock at some distance from the egg site.
"Disgusting," Emily observed, "why would a mother do such a thing to her child?"
The T Rex repeated the action. Two shots against the hard rock were enough to kill the baby. Then the monster picked up the tiny lifeless body and devoured it. Meanwhile, the other babies had sensed the giant's intent and scattered in all directions. They were too slow for the devil. Over the next few minutes, it killed several of the newborns and ate them.
"What a monstrous mother!"
"That's not their mother," I replied, "take a careful look. Those are not T Rex babies. The killer is not a parent."
"Oh yes, you are right, Rajesh."
After the T Rex had consumed more than half a dozen newborn dinosaurs, it turned its face in our direction. Its fiery eyes indicated that it was in a mood to hunt — the monster needed a lot more food than a few baby dinosaurs to support its massive body. It slowly stepped toward us.
"Hey," I said, "it is headed toward us."
"Relax, Rajesh, it doesn't even know we are here."
The T-Rex took some more steps forward.
"It couldn't be going anywhere else, Emily. The T-Rex is coming toward us."
"But how can it be? The theory clearly tells us …"
"Don't get bookish. Let's go back to our era."
"What you are saying is impossible. If it can see us, we become active participants of these events, which happened sixty-eight million years ago. By this argument, we shall be able to alter events of the past."
"Forget about those theories, Emily; let's go back. Trust me, it is coming toward us. If it paces up, we will be left with little chance."
The monster advanced further with quick steps.
"Yes, perhaps you are right. Let's go," Emily said.
We turned around and ran toward the wormhole. The thumping footsteps behind us now left no scope for doubt — the wormhole we traveled to reach the late cretaceous period was an active bridge, and now we were being chased by a T Rex. Destiny played a cruel game — Emily stumbled over a rock and fell to the ground.
"Oh, I think my leg is broken."
"Get up, Emily," I said, looking at the T Rex that was not too far away now.
"I can't get up."
"I will pick you up."
"No, you won't be able to run if you pick me up, and both of us will die."
"There's no time left, Rajesh. Save your life, get back into the wormhole."
"No, I won't go alone."
"Don't be a fool; save your life," Emily shouted.
"Can't we change the era with the time machine?"
"Not possible, Rajesh. One wormhole is already existing. So, unless we dissolve it, we cannot make another wormhole.
"Then let's dissolve it and make another."
"We don't have time for so much work. Can't you see how close it is to us now?"
"Please leave, don't waste time. You can't save my life. But you can save yours, Rajesh. So why should both of us die? Go, I say."
My heart bled as I got back into the wormhole, leaving my genius friend behind. This time I flowed in the direction of the strong air currents and reached the other side within seconds. And in less than a second thereafter, the wormhole disappeared. Tears emerged in my eyes, for I knew why the wormhole dissolved with such suddenness. The T Rex must have picked my friend up along with the wormhole creating equipment, and its teeth must have pierced — oh no, I don't wish to imagine what happened next.
Back in 2018 — I reported to the police that my friend had gone missing. What I essentially told them was this — Emily and I had gone for a walk to the forest. Shortly after we had started walking through the trees, I realized I was all alone, and Emily was not by my side. So, I frantically looked for her in the surrounding areas and shouted at the top of my voice to draw her attention wherever she was. But I couldn't find her.
After the search operation of the police failed, they got suspicious of some foul play on my part. Since the investigations were on, I was forced to cancel my return ticket to Delhi. After about a couple of months, when the investigating authorities realized there was not a single evidence to suggest I had been guilty of some crime, they let me leave their country.
By the way, the police also searched Emily's laboratory. They found no materials or machinery remotely related to my brilliant friend's work on time travel.
Today one of India's leading newspapers carried a report which triggered the memories of my visit to the small Alaskan township in 2018. I am reproducing the pertinent part of the report …
On Wednesday morning, a group of paleontologists excavated the fossil of what is believed to be a massive T Rex that lived around sixty-eight million years ago. Most parts of the skeleton of the creature are intact. The strangest part of the find is the presence of human bones inside the T Rex skeleton. Prima facie, the creature consumed the human no matter how weird it sounds. A strange-looking machine was also retrieved from the animal's frame. This machine, some researchers believe, must have been built by humans. And this machine, a coterie of scientists, believe caused the death of the T Rex. They have advanced the hypothesis that the sharp edges of the equipment must have left deep cuts in the vital parts of the creature's organs, thereby causing a slow death. Nobody has any idea how human bones and a human-made machine entered the inner system of the T Rex.
I put on the television. All major international news channels ran the same news item. The presence of human bones and a human-made machine inside a creature that lived about sixty-eight million years ago puzzled one and all.
I am so happy they are puzzled. Puzzles that are beyond human intelligence have humbling effects on men and women. These mysteries often puncture their bloated egos. I shall guard the secret all my life and hope you will do the same.
Thanks for listening to OBSCURUS. If you like what you heard, please subscribe and visit biswajitbanerjee.com for more information about Biswajit's books, movies, documentaries, and other creative pursuits. We shall see you next Wednesday with another episode of OBSCURUS. Till then, take care!