The Autobiography Of A Lateral Time Traveller
(Author's Name Withheld)
Edited By: Forrest Wayne Schultz, Chairman
Paranormal Research Institute
Grantville, Georgia USA
Paranormal Research Institute
Grantville, Georgia USA
April 25, 2014
My editorial responsibilities have been purely custodial in nature. At the author's request, there have been no alterations, deletions, or additions to the text he wrote and placed into our custody for publication at this time. We certify that this is indeed the verbatim text of the author and that we have found no reason to question the author's integrity or sanity. This article constitutes the introduction to the book by the author, which is now being printed and will be published soon.
Copyright 2014 by the Paranormal Research Institute
I had always wondered whether alternate possible time-lines really exist but I never thought I would have the opportunity to find out. I have chosen to remain anonymous and to delay publication until this time because I have no wish to be ridiculed or advised to consult a psychiatrist, nor do I wish for myself or the others involved to be harassed by questioners. To protect my anonymity I shall only disclose those details needed for you to know what happened in order that you my get some idea of what it feels like to suddenly find yourself in a different time-line. Those interested in research into this subject may consult the organization publishing my account.
If you have not surmised as much by now, let me warn you right here at the outset that I am not a writer and I am not trying to entertain you. If you are not interested in alternate time-lines I would advise you to stop at this point. Let me also warn you that I can offer you no scientific explanation for what happened to me. Although I myself am a scientist in this time-line as well as the one from which I came, and although I have spent many hours discussing it with the researchers in the institute publishing this account, we are no nearer to an explanation now than ever. Nor have we built any machine which can travel to other time-lines, such as you read about in science fiction stories. Nor did I travel here in one -- at least not one piloted by me.
Here now is what happened. One day (without any warning that anything strange was about to happen) while I was at home alone one Saturday morning while walking through the living room, I suddenly passed out. When I regained consciousness I found myself lying on the floor of a strange house dressed in clothing I had never worn before. I was assisted to my feet by a man I had never seen before dressed in a butler's uniform. He addressed me by name (Dr. ________) as though he were my servant, which I soon discovered he was.
As an avid science fiction fan with an especial interest in time travel stories, the first conjecture which entered my mind was that I had travelled to an alternate time-line where I was being mistaken for my alternate self who had lived in that line prior to my transport there. Subsequent investigations amply confirmed this hypothesis. In this new time line I have the same name, bodily features, voice, temperament and abilities, so that no one has suspected anything. I am also the same age because I arrived during the same hour, day, and year when I had left my original time-line. Therefore it was indeed a lateral time travel, i.e. a travel sideways to an alternate possible history of the world rather than a travel backward or forward to a different time within the same history.
As quickly as possible after my arrival here I devoted as much effort as I was able to finding out what my alternate self had been up to, and in what respects this time-line differed from the one I had left. I soon learned that many things were different both in my personal history and in world history. My studies indicated that apparently this time-line diverged from my original time-line in approximately 1959. The divergence may have happened earlier than this but it cannot have come later because there were many events in this time-line after 1959 which are different from those which occurred in the other. I was able to determine this because my transport did not result in the loss of memory of my knowledge of the time-line in which I had previously lived. Also, the transport itself did not add anything to my knowledge about this time line. What I have learned about this time-line I had to discover after my arrival here. All of the time-line differences I have discovered are on file at the research institute mentioned above where they are available for study. Here in this introduction I shall give an overview of them to be followed by a detailed examination of some of the major ones in the chapters to follow. Although there are many differences in world history (different Presidents, different wars, etc.), the differences most significant for me are those in my personal life. Actually, the world here is not much different from the one I left.
As mentioned above, I can find no differences in my personal time-line prior to 1959. I have here the same birth date, parents, siblings, home town, and educational experience up through 1959. I also attended and graduated from the same college there as here, but some of the courses I took after 1959 are different, as my transcript indicates. After graduation the divergence becomes great. In this time-line, my alternate self went on to graduate school for a Ph.D.; in my previous time-line I took degrees in theology and philosophy and ended up as a Professor of Philosophy of Science. Here my alternate self after some post-doctoral studies pursued an empirical research career, including one major discovery which proved to be lucrative.
Fortunately, since my transport here occurred early on a Saturday morning, I had the rest of the weekend to familiarize myself with the career which my alternate self had been following so that by Monday I was sufficiently familiar with the duties and schedule expected of me. Another fortunate factor was that "my" schedule for the week ahead involved preparation for some special lectures I was to give concerning "my" latest research, so that by the time I returned to "my" lab the following week I was well acquainted with the subject and able to resume the work just as thought I were my alternate self.
In fact, in some ways I was better prepared than he due to my knowledge of my former time-line. There were some discoveries made there which were not made here which I was able to incorporate into my work. Also, my philosophical training helped me to find some flaws in the logic and theoretical structure of my alternate self's work which he had not seen. In this way I was able, as the saying goes, to have "the best of both worlds"! There were, to be sure, some tricky situations which developed, such as not recognizing someone I was supposed to know or "forgetting" some important matters, but fortunately the reputation of my alternate self for absentmindedness usually covered over such matters without much difficulty.
There were a great many differences in my personal life as well. For one thing, in this time-line I am married to a different woman! This presented, of course, a very tricky ethical dilemma for me, as it would for anyone who takes the prohibition against adultery seriously.
How I resolved this ethical problem as well as the ethics of stepping into the shoes of my alternate self will be discussed in the chapters to follow. All I will say here is that for me the crucial factor was the fact that my transfer had displaced my alternate self from this time-line. I never saw him or had any indications that he was still here. I also learned that immediately before my transport, my alternate self was wearing the same clothes, and was standing at the same spot where I landed when I arrived here. Because what had happened was a clear case of displacement, I felt it was incumbent upon me to assume the responsibilities of my alternate self. Whether this was the right thing to do I am not completely sure, but it is what I did.
What I have written above is both the introduction to my story as well as what happened during the first six hours here in this new time-line. I arrived here at 9 AM and spent until 3 PM acquainting myself with what my alternate self had been doing in his scientific work. I spent from 3 PM through 5 PM getting information on his wife. (The butler me that she had phoned and said she would return at 5 PM.) I quickly looked through all the relevant files and documents and photographs I could find pertaining to her. The results of this search are noted in the beginning of the first chapter. The drama which ensued when I met her comprises the rest of that first chapter -- and what a drama that was!!
By the time you read this I will no longer be here but will have experienced a different kind of transport, and in this new and better world on high I believe I may find some answers.
I do not remember when I first imagined this story, but I do know that I did not write it down until June 4, 1986. When I saw how much fun it was to write and how much fun it was winning the short story contest in which I entered it, I decided to write down all the other short stories I had imagined, and henceforth I have usually written down each one shortly after imagining it.
Each of these stories is written as a narration by the main character who is a scientist or engineer or academic. By doing so I am able to write my stories in my natural writing style rather than vainly attempting to write in a “literary” style.
I do not recall why I chose ALTT as my entry into the contest but it is not surprising that I did so because time travel stories are among my favorite kind of science fiction. The wording of the story here (April 25, 2014) is the same as the original with a few exceptions. The second last paragraph was not in the original story. I also changed the address of the Paranormal Research Institute from Riverdale, GA (where I lived in 1986) to Grantville, GA (where I have lived since 1991). AND, of course, the website address was added (there was no world wide web in 1986!).
The story itself is simply what I myself would do if my travel to an alternate time line were to displace my alternate self from that time line: I would assume his responsibilities.
I do not know if alternate time lines exist but I do know that the Infinite Omniscient Mind of God not only knows all actualities, He also knows all possibilities, a very important point which few theologians ever mention!
I hope you have found this story to be interesting.