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2 Degrees

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Time travel; thought to be a physical impossibility, was finally figured out in our year 2180. To simplify the impossibility of it, to travel through time you would have to travel faster than the speed of light, which a scientist here by the name of Albert Einstein has proven to be impossible, at least by means of propulsion. The only way we found possible to travel through time was by the use of cosmic forces that already had the gravity and power to bend light, for example a black hole. A black hole is a place in space where gravity is so strong that not even light can escape it, to the point that they are actually invisible to your eyes because there is no light to see it.

We’d messed around with a few different methods and found 2 that worked. The first was the use of a “tipler cylinder”, which simplified beyond simplification, is a cylinder of incredibly dense mass, kind of a black hole in the shape of Pringles can, that if it spins fast enough can grant you time travel. Well if you enter the Pringles can directly you’ll eventually be pulled towards the center which is where the gravity is greatest, so great in fact that no means of propulsion will be strong enough to get you out, and you’ll be stuck there forever. Instead, you fly at the cylinder at an angle, and if done correctly you should spin around the cylinder and when you approach the middle of it; because of the incredible gravity and the angle you’re traveling, it will have a sort of sling shot effect, and as it propels you to the other end you will have traveled in time relative to how fast you were traveling, how fast the cylinder was spinning, and what angle you took. As you can probably tell, even simplified, that the process is pretty convoluted and extremely dangerous, even if the math is supposedly done right, which is why we don’t use it.

Our second method turned out to be a lot easier to use, but it is also very temperamental. These are called wormholes, which simplified is a point in space-time that connects to another point in space-time, and in-between these points in a sort of hollow cylinder, which instead of traveling around at an angle, you travel through. Now normally these aren’t traversable, but with the artificial induction of a material you call “exotic matter”, you can stabilize these corridors and travel through them without them collapsing. Naturally these require much less calculation making them easier to travel through, however there is a catch. A wormhole can only be used to travel through time to specific place/time, which is wherever the wormhole existed to begin with. So for example you want to travel back to the year 1700 using a wormhole; that would require the wormhole to have existed in the year 1700 for you to use it.

Luckily for us, we found one such wormhole, and pretty remarkably close to our planet too. We call this type of wormhole a “primordial wormhole”, which just means that it’s been around since close to the beginning of the universe, but it was extremely small. When we discovered it however, because of the expansion of the universe up to this point, it was stretched to a point where we could observe it. This is what sparked the race for time travel, and every superpower we had were all racing to see who would achieve it first. 13 years after its discovery, the lab that I was working in finally figured out how much exotic matter it would take to stabilize it and send a ship through safely. We were ecstatic, but with our current technology we would only be able to send a ship with room for 1 through it, and with our competitors working furiously to get the same number we had recently discovered, we had to choose fast. There were 28 of us “qualified” (we had never tried anything like this before, hard to determine what qualified someone when you hadn’t done the experiment before) to take the ship and go, so we drew names out of a container. What everyone else had failed to notice is that I replaced half of those slips with my name during the celebration, so my chances of getting chosen were pretty damn high. Naturally I got the vote, so we got preparations finished as fast as we could and two days later I was ready to head out. With final goodbyes to my team and what little family I had, I shot through the great beyond.

The trip through that space is tied for the worst experience of motion sickness I’ve ever had. Going through it at first was like flying through a stupidly large, menacing storm cloud. Lightning struck the ship and sent it spinning as I’m strapped into a chair praying to anything that’ll listen to see me through this alive. As if to mock my prayers I looked through the main monitor to see the nose of the ship stretch almost infinitely out in front of me as the walls started closing in, and for a second I swear I was 2-dimensional. Then just as quickly as it happened, everything seemed to snap back to regular proportion and I left the wormhole, witnessing something stupefying. As it turns out the wormhole was much older than we had anticipated, and as well as I’ve been able to estimate, maybe 30 minutes after the big bang and our universe started, I arrived. Light, brighter than any you’ve ever seen, streaked across the infinite darkness as clouds of cosmic dust flew around my ship, catching the glints of the light through different angles so every time I looked they were a different color. I was dumbfounded; completely unable to move I’ve never concentrated so hard on just seeing, for this was the birth of my universe, or so I thought. I don’t know how long I sat there before I turned around, but I eventually knew I had to get back, to let everyone know what we found. As the ship made a 180 though, I saw only the infinite expanse space beyond me, the wormhole was gone.

I can’t tell you how long I stared, utterly devoid of feeling. I couldn’t understand it, I had used it to get here so why the hell wasn’t it here?! I used every machine on my ship to try and find some trace of it, locate any anomaly that may have moved and I didn’t notice it, but all returned negative results. Then realization hit, and I understood that I was never going home. I floated there for hours, laughing hysterically as I pretty rapidly lost what little sanity I had left, and then I passed out. I awoke with an empty feeling, and while playing a fun game of how I would kill myself, another thought occurred to me. On the ship was a cryogenic stasis pod, used normally for travel across long expanses of space, but would hopefully keep me alive long enough. I set the ship to conserve as much energy as possible while keeping me in stasis and searching for an anomaly that might be able to bring me back. I entered the pod, and despite being of little faith, prayed for the second time in my life.

I don’t know how long I was frozen, but I awoke when my ship detected a tipler cylinder with the right rotation and gravity to hopefully take me back to my own time; maybe there was someone listening after all. I spent hours upon hours making sure I did the calculation right; I was only going to get one shot at this and if I fucked it up I’d be trapped and crushed under the enormous pressure instantaneously. I put in the coordinates and speed specifications, told the dead space that I love my family, and initiated the other “worst motion sickness” incident I’ve ever had.

As it turns out, our ships were definitely not made “tipler time travel”. As I approached the middle of the cylinder, my ship seemed to stretch out again. This time instead of stretching forward however, I got to experience the feeling of being stretched and curved, so much so that I surely thought I would tear at the seams. Just moments after passing the exact center however; like an overstretched spring, everything snapped together. When I finished getting accustomed to the 3rd dimension again, I realized that most of my ships sensors and engines were shot. Assuming my calculations were wrong, when I returned to normal space certain particles that made up my ship were in different places, and when something tries to inhabit a space where something else already is, well simply put stuff breaks. None of this mattered to me anymore though, for right in front of me was my planet, and she had never looked more beautiful.

I used what little power my ship still had to get closer and try and determine a landing point when I noticed something off. I scanned the galaxy to find that it wasn’t the fourth celestial body from our sun, but the third. A ran another scan of the surface of planet and found it inhabited by a completely different species than my own. These being were crude; they used strange rolling devices to move across the surface. They all look generally the same, but come in different colors and sizes. They use two limbs to traverse the ground but two different ones to handle everything else. They are grotesque and use guttural sounds to communicate…in fact they call my planet Earth.

You see, a wormhole can only be used if it was in the time/place where it originated, and mine originated in my universe, and this wasn’t mine anymore. Just by being there during its creation I had altered it, and the specks of cosmic dust that hit my ship, that would be my home, had their trajectory altered…what a difference 2 degrees makes

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