Copyright 2017, John Manimas
Kelso nervously tapped his tablet keys. He knew it would work. It had to work. The past is present. There is no way this could go wrong -- so long as the Spiral Passage Protocol was followed precisely. Then again, he worried. Kelso was a natural-born worrier. A little OCD. But he was a good worker, and he knew it. His degree and his happiness depended on it.
The Section 5 MagBots were doing fine, checking out at ninety-nine to one-hundred percent every day. His uncle had played a major role in their development, being keyed to the atomic structure of magnesium. Being mineral-based, the organic obstacles in bio-based robots did not apply. There still was the "present only" school of thought harassing the scientific community like guard dogs. Snapping and barking. The Buddhists. Arrogant, but so often right. Well, this time they would be wrong. The memory records were perfect. A miracle of modern electronic science. Neural life memories constructed entirely of minerals, metal and crystals, perfect memories with no hormones, pheromones or nonsensical "spiritual" neurons. Yes! the past is present. The past is always present, and we can get to it with or without having a memory of it. Kelso and his young team would prove that once and for all. The controversy would be over. And he would be respected throughout the world.
The nagging opposition came mostly from the skeptics on the issue of human returns. Organic humans had been sent through the Spiral Passage four times with mixed results. Troubles that imitated the symptoms of mental illness. Severe rashes, hallucinations, all similar to what one would expect from the drugs necessary for psychological and physical preparation. After all, you are traveling to the past and coming back. Stress is to be expected. WTF. The most formidable obstacle though, was the lack of automatic revision. There were no signs of change in the documented history. It looked like we had to change the history manually, as though the changes made in the past had not actually occurred. This was obviously the most obstinate piece of contrary evidence. If the past had been changed by the bio-travelers, why did everyone not have a changed memory of history? Why were the history books not changed? Or were they? Was the change so profoundly deep and pervasive as to be undetectable? Did the memories of our history change without our knowing they changed? Kind of like blind reincarnation -- like having had a previous life but with no memory of it? All we remember is the one life we have now. Likewise, time travel has changed our history, but we only remember the changed history and we have no record whatsoever of the history prior to the adjustments made by the visitors to the past. That could be the solution, the key to time travel. Weird, but logical, in a way. The reality could be that history changes repeatedly, but we only have a record, our memories, of the most recent changed history, and all previous histories are gone forever. Makes sense, in a crazy sort of way. The universe is not required to comply with human logic.
This experiment, designed by Kelso, was the path to enlightenment. We send Magbots to the past, but FIRST we remove their memories of the past. He was rushing through the final review of the life-memories of the Section 5 Magbot community. There were three-hundred and forty-four of them. They started with three-fifty but six had died. They possessed the most realistic and interesting memories that humans could compose. All as interesting as the characters in a Southern novel. More interesting, maybe.
We will delete their life memories and the hypothesis of the experiment is that knowledge of the past, which means memories of the past, do not need to exist in order for the past to exist. Memories are memories. Records. They exist in individuals as a tool for learning and understanding. But individual memories do not need to exist in order for the past to exist! I am brilliant! Kelso thought to himself. The past IS always present, you Buddhist assholes, and it does not go away just because we get Alzheimer's! Even when we have no record of the past and our memories of history are gone, the past still exists. Of course it does, idiot. Why wouldn't it? Einstein got it. The space-time continuum. It is like a ribbon of highway. We can go back to it whether we remember the way or not. One does not have to remember where Cleveland, Ohio is in order for Cleveland to exist.
Millie (MBK459782), born Chicago, Illinois, rough childhood, once fell out of a third story window, nearly raped twice by old men, won a scholarship for study of history at the University of Chicago. Remembers her mother vividly, black woman with red hair, type of person everyone loved.
Peter (MBK742903), born to unmarried and extremely independent Genevieve Colland, world famous landscape artist. Peter has an early history of drug abuse, chronic abdominal pain poorly diagnosed and memories of long bouts with depression. However, he is financially and artistically successful as a writer of biographies of uniquely creative people.
Denise (MBK242685), memories of childhood loneliness, birth mark on left arm, mildly narcissistic image of self as special, possibly having a special purpose in life, but plagued by periodic self-doubt and self-defeating behavior. Memories of love affairs with three powerful men, each ending in a quiet but permanent separation.
Tim (MBK444396), a man deeply troubled by his superior mathematical knowledge and his semi-autistic alienation from almost everyone. His mother loved him, but she died from an accidental poisoning. He does vitally important work and is greatly respected, but his heart and mind live alone in an uncomfortable world of emotional people he does not understand.
You can't invent these stories, Kelso thought. They are all as realistic as the lives of real flesh and blood humans. They ARE stories of real flesh and blood humans, all borrowed wholesale in the interest of science. Now, all of their memories of who they are, and the history of the world, will be deleted from their mineral-based electronic memories, and THEN we will send them back to the past, a past which to them, does not exist, because they have no memory of it. What a brilliant experiment! The ultimate proof that the past is always with us, always present, whether we remember it or not.
The time had come. Kelso initiated the memory removal protocol which had already been approved by his Doctoral Committee. Next, the Cornell Time Travel Project, housed at Liberty Hall, would take over the implementation of the Spiral Passage Protocol. The only problem that remained was the updated return verification procedure, which was designed by Doctor Okalaho and his team from Harvard. A record of world history, and a random selection of Section 5 personal histories, would be preserved in an isolated cryogenic molecular structure bank. For the first time, the old history would be documented -- by humans -- intact and protected while the new history was created by the robotic visitors to the past, even though the Magbots had no memories of the past! Kelso reminded himself to breathe. The past is always present!
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