Conversations With Myself

A Novel by Altimexis

The Whispers of Time
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Book Three • Chapter 10 – Russian Roulette

May 2005 • The Origin of Time

“It’s beautiful here,” the young boy commented as he looked to the southwest, across Crimea, toward the Black Sea. To his right, the city of Sevastopol could be seen in the distance. Directly ahead lay the extensive facilities of the Soviet naval port with its secret submarine base. The boy was well aware that in the original timeline, the entire complex had been converted to a museum, a relic of the Cold War; hence to him the presence of the submarine base wasn’t a secret at all. Of course in the new, alternate reality, the naval port remained fully functional and had even been enlarged and modernized.

“Looks can be deceiving, Andy,” the professor responded. “Crimea represents the confluence of several great cultures and has been heavily fought over for centuries. Today it is Ukrainian in name only, ceded by Russia as a means of solidifying their relationship with their southwestern republic. But as you can see, in ‘giving’ Ukraine Crimea, they are merely extending the Soviet military presence over their empire. This isn’t a democracy but even so, increasing the Russian presence in Ukraine lessens the risk of a Ukrainian uprising.”

“But when the Soviet Union falls apart as it did originally and as it ultimately must,” the boy continued, “Russia will be caught with their largest naval base on foreign soil. That sort of thing wouldn’t be a problem for the U.S… American military bases are located in countries throughout the world… but an independent Ukraine will never trust the Russians, and Russia will never allow a military base on soil they don’t control. Russia will be forced to retake Crimea from Ukraine. They’ll probably make it look like some sort of secession from Ukraine… but it’ll amount to taking the province by force.”

“You’re probably right, Andy,” the professor agreed, “but your father’s contamination of the timeline with knowledge of the future will only make the Soviets more determined to hold onto power.”

“None of that will matter if we succeed,” the boy countered. “The Russians may get another chance to get it right when we restore the integrity of the timeline, but little good it’ll do them if they only use it to make the same mistakes all over again. And without the contamination from future knowledge, they will make the same mistakes all over again. Of that I have no doubt.”

“You should be careful what you say, young Andrew,” the professor admonished his young charge. “Although nothing you say is untrue, you must always keep in mind that here, there are ears everywhere.”

“And eyes too, comrade,” the boy responded.

“Oh, there you are,” a balding, middle-aged man said as he approached the pair. “It is warm for May, no? We have some more questions about your formulas, Andrew. Could you please follow me.”

As it was evident he wasn’t being given a choice, the boy turned to follow the Russian scientist, but when the professor also turned, the scientist said, “Professor Dawson, it is only the boy that is needed at this time. We will come get you if and when we need you.”

“But Andy is only a boy,” the professor protested. “He’s just sixteen. Don’t you think it would be helpful to have an adult whom he trusts present?”

“I can assure you that won’t be necessary. Many of our best university students are even younger than he is, and anyone who is capable of cutting off their own finger doesn’t need an adult to babysit them. Surely you can see this, no?”

Before the professor could answer, the boy reached out and grabbed the professor’s shoulder, saying, “Don’t worry, Marion. I’ll be fine. I know what I’m doing. Trust me, I’ll be OK.” The boy continued to stare into the his eyes until he finally nodded. The boy let go and followed the scientist as he led him away.

The professor worried as he watched the boy go. He knew the boy was capable, but he was just sixteen and oh so very na├»ve. The professor had decades of experience in dealing with the Russians. The boy was a novice in all respects. The boy would fill him in on what happened later, but he would have much rather been present for whatever was about to happen. He couldn’t help but worry that the boy would be mistreated and forced to reveal things that shouldn’t be revealed, but then the boy himself had told the professor he was counting on just that. The professor couldn’t help but wonder what he meant by that.

In the meantime, the boy was led to a waiting limousine and got into the back seat along with the scientist. “Would you like to stop by your apartment first, to get some clothes?” the scientist asked.

Laughing, the boy answered, “Compared to what I was used to wearing, or not wearing, before I came to Crimea, if anything I feel overdressed. But if it makes you feel uncomfortable to see me this way, I’ll grab a shirt. Otherwise I’m good the way I’m dressed if you are,” he said with a knowing smirk.

Truthfully, the scientist was a closeted gay man who found the boy to be extremely attractive. Without a shirt on, the raw sexuality of the boy was almost overpowering to the scientist, but the last thing he wanted was give any appearance of concern and so he said nothing, merely instructing the driver to proceed to the base. The scientist was unaware that the boy was fully aware of the effect he had on the man, and more than capable of exploiting it without the scientist even being aware of it.

 The limousine drove the two of them toward the naval base, through a series of checkpoints until they pulled into an underground parking facility. The scientist then led the boy through another set of checkpoints and into a rather nondescript, windowless building.

After being led down a series of corridors, the boy was brought into a room with a folding table at which were seated a group of scientists. The boy had already met most of them, so he simply nodded his head in tacit acknowledgment of them.

In stark contrast to the men, who were all dressed formally in dress shirts with ties, and some of them in jackets, the boy was wearing only a skimpy pair of athletic shorts with the waistband of his boxers stylishly visible, and sneakers without socks. If he felt any discomfort at the disparity in the attire, or from the chilly temperature of the room, he certainly didn’t show it. If anything, the lack of clothing seemed to give the boy an added sense of confidence that exceeded the sum of that from the eight senior scientists present in the room, combined. In a sense it was the boy who held all the cards and everyone there knew it, which presented its own particular set of risks to the boy. If the boy was aware of those risks, he didn’t show any sign of knowing so, which put him at a distinct advantage, regardless.

The room itself was rather plain. It was rectangular with cinder block walls, painted an ugly shade of gray. Along one of the short walls and one of the long walls were old-fashioned black boards with chalk and erasers. The one nod to technology, if it could be called that, was an overhead projector and a pull-down screen. There was no video, no Internet nor any sort of connection to the outside world in evidence – not even a telephone. The conference table itself was of a folding type no longer used in the West, and it appeared to be so flimsy that it might collapse under the weight of the overhead projector. The conference chairs were simple armless folding metal chairs hardly worthy of prisoners, let alone the important men assembled around the table. None of them, however, seemed to be aware of the drabness of their surroundings, and if the boy was aware, he certainly didn’t let on that he was.

Some of the men began speaking at once in Russian, apparently unaware that the boy had studied the language and understood every word they said. Although he was somewhat fluent in Russian, having completed more than two years of it in high school and being a fast learner at that, the boy had no intention of giving away his advantage and so he remained silent. Instead he filed away in his brain everything they said that he might be able to use later.

“Andrew,” the most senior of the scientists began in English, seemingly unaware of the boy’s preference for the diminutive Andy. “We have studied the equations you prepared for us and I must say that we are intrigued by the formulations. The concept of time as a quantum state is ingenious and it would seem to explain how knowledge of the future can be used to modify it. But you have suggested that time is, in fact, not altered but rather it is split, and that this presents a danger. You believe that time can become so fragmented by the changes we have made that the very fabric of the universe can unravel. You suggest that all the things we have done… all the positive changes we have made that have strengthened the USSR and provided a better life for our citizens, must be undone for the sake of our very survival. Yet we can find nothing in your equations to support any of this. How do you expect us to go along with your requests for equipment… how do you expect us to support you in your experiments… based solely on your hunch?”

What the men didn’t know was that the boy had been very careful in the formulations he’d shared with them. Although he’d allowed them the knowledge that he saw time as a series of quantum events, as was necessary to make his point, the rest of his equations were a fabrication designed to trick them into giving him what he wanted. Granting them full access to his derivations would have been far too dangerous. Although it was doubtful they would have understood them well enough to put them to use, he couldn’t take the risk that they might, even in part. He therefore needed to present a plausible alternative – one that would be convincing enough to grant him access to the equipment he needed. It also had to be plausible enough to fool the professor, as he couldn’t take a chance that the professor, knowingly or unknowingly, might compromise his plan.

However, the boy was well aware of just how mistrustful the Soviets could be, and he assumed correctly that this skepticism extended to their scientists. Therefore he formulated a plan in which he gave them just enough to spark their curiosity but laced with enough blatant errors to stoke their egos when they discovered them. He would then allow them to correct his errors, complete the alternative formulation and design the very experiments he needed to run, under his guidance of course. Although the resulting data wouldn’t fully support the formulations, they would give him the information he needed, along with access to the right equipment, to carry out his plan.

After speaking some more in Russian, much to the boy’s amusement, the lead scientist continued, “Andrew, I am troubled by your treatment of the universe at the beginning of time. That there is a beginning of time is to your credit, but if we follow your equations, the expansion of the universe would have occurred at more than twice the rate predicted by the current evidence, and the speed of light would be half of what it is. How can you reconcile this with reality?”

Expecting this to be the first question, the boy was elated. He smiled and responded, “You have made the assumption that the speed of light is fixed and that it is constant throughout the universe, and that it has been the same throughout time. However time itself is a quantum property. It is not continuous and it is not universal. Therefore the speed of light cannot be fixed. It can’t even be isotropic. Of course none of this is apparent because the speed of light serves as the yardstick by which we measure time. Hence it will always appear to be constant. Look more closely at my formulations and you’ll soon realize that, in fact, this cannot be the case.”

This touched off a firestorm of conversation in Russian, during which the boy clearly heard one of the scientists say, in Russian, ‘He’s right, Sasha.” After perhaps an hour of animated discussion, during which the boy waited patiently, standing at the head of the conference table, not showing even a hint of the annoyance more typical of teenage behavior, the lead scientist began again.

“Andrew, there seems to be a discrepancy on page forty-seven, in equation 14.7. The third term would seem to assume a locally-invariant speed of light, yet that clearly cannot be the case if time is discontinuous.”

“Hmmm you’re right,” the boy responded. Careful not to show it, he was ecstatic. They’d taken the bait!

The boy and the scientists spent several more hours in the conference room, discussing his mathematical formulas. Of course several more ‘mistakes’ were found, and each one required extensive revisions to the remaining equations. Twice they took breaks for meals, once for lunch and once for dinner. Given the drab surroundings, the boy wasn’t expecting much, and so he was pleasantly surprised when the food turned out to be quite good.

It was already dark out when the boy was returned to the apartment he shared with the professor. Although they could come and go as they pleased, the apartment was within a fenced compound, and there were security checkpoints everywhere, so in reality their freedom was quite limited. The boy entered through a filthy, unlit corridor as was typical of Soviet apartment buildings. Using the key he was given, he opened the door and entered into the common living, dining and kitchen area that served as the main room of the apartment. In fact, the only other rooms were a bedroom with a double bed that they shared, a bathroom with a tub and a small washing machine, and a tiny toilet room. A small closet provided the only storage space for both coats and clothing.

“Good evening, Andy,” the professor said with a warm smile as he sat at the table and ate some soup and bread that he’d prepared for his evening meal. “Have you eaten? There’s some soup left if not.”

“Yes, thank you Marion,” the boy answered. “Actually, they fed me well.”

“At least that’s something for all your efforts,” the professor replied. “How did it go?” he asked.

“Very well, I think,” the boy answered. “They seem to have a much better understanding of the nature of time as I see it… enough so that they found several errors in the derivation.” Left unsaid was that both the boy and the professor knew the errors were planted and intentional, but that was something that could never be discussed. Their apartment of all places would be certain to be bugged. “If there are any remaining errors, I’m sure I’ll find them when I revise the derivation.” The boy was, in effect, saying that the scientists in fact missed some errors, but that these would be corrected in the final version.

“How long will it take to finish the revisions?” the professor asked. Both he and the boy knew that the revisions were already done. All the boy had to do was to pull out the revised copy and submit it to the lead scientist for distribution to the others. However, if he submitted it right away, they would know that the errors were an intentional deception. He needed to wait long enough to make it appear that he needed sufficient time to revise his equations… hundreds of them.

“They’re probably expecting it to take me several weeks to finish them up,” the boy commented. “A week should be sufficient time to complete the work,” he added. “Then they’ll realize what they’re up against.”

The boy’s statement was telling. Truthfully, the entire team of Soviet scientists working as a group couldn’t have completed the revisions in a month, much less a week. The Soviets already knew that the boy had extraordinary talents. When he turned in the completed, revised derivations in just a week, they would realize just how extraordinary he really was. Many of the scientists undoubtedly would have gone home, expecting it would be months before they would have to return. They would all be stunned when they were recalled to Crimea

The boy was an incredibly valuable asset to the Soviet Union – someone who could help them rewrite history and someone who could help them develop the technology to bury the West in their wake. But he was a loose cannon and that made him dangerous. The Soviets would have loved nothing more than to find a way to control the boy, getting him to do their bidding exactly as they pleased. However, he had already demonstrated his level of determination and they were not about to let the boy chop himself up, piecemeal.

Conventional methods of intimidation would be ineffective with this boy. Already a cadre of adolescent psychologists had been assembled to observe the boy surreptitiously and to come up with strategies to motivate him to do their bidding. What the psychologists didn’t realize was that they’d already lost control of the boy, not that they’d ever had it. The boy was already manipulating them and not the other way around.

Stretching his arms over his head and yawning, the boy noticed an unpleasant odor and said, “Phew, I need a bath, but it’s too late.”

“Not much we can do about it,” the professor commented in reference to the fact that the building only had hot water for a few hours in the morning. “Besides which, you know I kind of like it when you smell a bit funky.”

“Randy, are we?” the boy replied with a devious grin on his face. Although nearly fifty years separated them in age, they’d found they enjoyed providing each other with more than simple companionship. The boy, for his part, had just spent hours cooped up in a small conference room with nothing better to do than listen to scientists who barely comprehended his work. He was practically bouncing off the walls and, strange as it might seem, sex was the perfect way for him to release all his pent-up energy. After all, he was a teenage boy with raging hormones.

As the professor carried his dishes to the sink and rinsed them out, the boy kicked off his shoes and dropped his shorts, leaving only his boxers with their shameless bulge to reveal his intent.

Extending his hand to the professor, who clearly was admiring the boy’s torso, he led the two of them to the bedroom where the boy proceeded to remove the professor’s clothes. He left his boxers for the professor to remove, as he knew the professor liked this. Within seconds they were lying on the bed, up close and personal with each others)’ private anatomy. The first round didn’t take long at all, but they still had hours before they needed to get to sleep, as there were no plans for the next day that they knew of. Over the course of the past several months, with no access to girls or women, the boy had become adept at several variations of gay sex and on this night, he would have a chance to use all of them.


November 1979 • Chris-13

“I don’t understand,” I stated after Professor Dawson related the difficulties his counterpart in 1965 was having contacting himself in 1959. “I thought there was no reason you couldn’t go back as far as the technology would allow. You yourself said that vacuum tubes have been around, practically since the turn of the century.”

“The ability to manufacture vacuum tubes with the precision needed for TTT, not to mention the ability to machine the Quartz detector did not arise until late in the Second World War,” Professor Dawson pointed out, “but that was two decades before 1965. Digital stepper motors didn’t really exist back then, but analog servomotors with precise bearings should have worked as well. I don’t get it either, Chris. The technology should have worked, but my counterpart just hasn’t been able to reach back that far. He can reach back to late 1961, but not further.”

“Did something happen in 1961 that disrupted the formation of temporal quantum pairs?” I asked.

“A major nuclear event would do it,” Professor Dawson suggested, “something that would generate intense radiation across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, or if close enough, that would generate an intense barrage of particles. The only thing I can think of that would do it would be a solar flare of epic proportions. The last such beast occurred a century before.”

“Would it have to be in this timeline?” I asked. “Could an epic solar flare have happened in an alternate reality?”

“A time discrepancy of that magnitude would take human intervention on a scale I don’t even want to think about. If we learn to do that, truly there is no hope for us.”

While I was contemplating the gravity of what Professor Dawson had suggested, another possibility dawned on me, and so I asked, “What about a nuclear test? They were still done above ground back then.”

“That’s an interesting thought,” Professor Dawson responded. “I’d have had to have been very close to it though, and the only test big enough was conducted by the Russians in October of 1961. It was code named Tsar Bomba and was many times bigger than any test of a thermonuclear weapon, before or since. The word on the street is that it generated a huge EMP that wiped out electric circuits in much of Eastern Europe, even though the blast was thousands of miles away.”

“An EMP?” I asked.

“Electromagnetic pulse,” Professor Dawson explained. It’s like an electric shock wave powerful enough to fry transistors and burn out the filaments in vacuum tubes. Tsar Bomba did far more damage to the Soviet electronic infrastructure of the time, such as it was, than it did to the intended target. After that both the Russians and the U.S. focused on building clusters of smaller, lighter bombs that could be launched on a single rocket. These so-called multiple reentrant vehicle bombs or MIRVs, could knock out several simultaneous targets and do a lot more damage.

“However, I was right here in St. Louis on October 30, 1961, the day of the Ill-fated test. I was well shielded from the blast by thousands of miles of intervening earth.”

“Neutrinos from the blast would have reached you,” I pointed out.”

“Yes, and they would have passed right through me without affecting the paired quantum states.”

Thinking about it some more, I had another thought and asked, “would you have had to have been there at the time of the test? Could the quantum states have been affected if you’d gone near there at some time in the future?  Or in another timeline?”

“Now that’s an interesting thought, Chris,” Dawson related. “A blast that size would propagate decades into the future, and the past. It would take more than a brief encounter, though. I would have to live there for perhaps years to see an effect.”

“But isn’t that what’s gonna happen?” I asked as a cloud seemingly descended on the room. We both knew the Soviets would stop at nothing to get their hands on TTT, even if it meant kidnapping a prominent scientist from America. We already knew that Professor Dawson was gonna disappear in the future – that he either was kidnapped or forced to defect. If that were the case, it was indeed likely that the quantum states in his brain had already been altered and that he’d never be able to use TTT past 1961.

Then getting a thoughtful look on his face, Professor Dawson continued, “You know, Chris, we may not have to go back to 1959. 1963 might be good enough. Vietnam was started by Eisenhower, followed through by Kennedy and escalated by Johnson, but it’s Nixon’s war. An anonymous tip is all it would take to change all that. If Kennedy hadn’t been assassinated, Vietnam might have ended before so many Americans lost their lives. I might have even gotten my David back —”

Was he out of his fuckin’ mind? The assassination of President Kennedy was a horrible national tragedy, but it happened. It was history now. So much had happened in the world since then, it was hard to imagine the potential unintended consequences of changing that one act. God knows I had every reason to want to turn back the clock and put an end to Vietnam before it became the horrendous killing machine it was, with a momentum all its own, but would saving Kennedy have brought the war to a close any sooner?

Everyone said he would have ended it, but could he have? Wars have a life of their own and God knows, as much as most people wanted to end it, was America really ready to turn tail and run? Could we have just abandoned an ally and let the Communists win? Could we have negotiated a peace that amounted to abandoning those we’d sworn to protect? Given the choice between saving face and actually losing the war, I had no doubt we’d have found a way to get out while we could. Trouble was, no one thought we could possibly lose the war back in 1963. Could Kennedy have made us think otherwise? Was he really ready to take on the so-called military industrial complex?

No, reversing the Kennedy assassination was a crapshoot at best. And look at what had happened since the Kennedy assassination! Johnson may have become embroiled in the war and it cost him a second term, but he changed America like no president since Lincoln. Would the Civil Rights Act have come about under Kennedy? Could it have? Would there have been a Great Society? As bad as the riots of ’68 were, how much worse might they have been if blacks still had to sit at the back of the bus? The turmoil of the 60s had been horrible and the race riots of 1968 had devastated entire black communities, but I had little doubt that America wouldn’t be what it is today had we not gone through all that turmoil.

But Professor Dawson wasn’t seeing any of that, no matter how many times I argued with him about it. No, he seemed Hell-bent on saving Kennedy, convinced it would bring his David back. He was certain the ends would justify the means. I wasn’t sure how I was gonna do it, but I was gonna have to find a way to keep Dawson from changing the past. I might have to get help from my counterparts in the future, but I was gonna have to find a way.

The author gratefully acknowledges the assistance of David of Hope and Anthony Camacho in editing this story, as well as the support of Awesome Dude for hosting it.
This story is purely fictional and any resemblance of characters to real individuals other than named historical figures is purely coincidental and unintentional. Some characters may be gay and at times engage in homosexual acts. Because the story explores characters at various stages of their lives, they may be underage during early sexual explorations. Obviously, anyone uncomfortable with this should not be reading the story, and the reader assumes responsibility for the legality of reading this type of story where they live. The author retains full copyright, and permission must be obtained prior to duplication of the story in any form.