This is a message from the future. This is a message from the past. This is a message from this exact moment in space and time. I have seen the end of the universe. I have seen the beginning, and I have seen every moment in between. I send my story out into the void. I don’t know who will read it or when they will read it. I just hope that somebody someday will. I hope somebody already is.
If my message reaches those from the past, let the following be known. In the early 22nd century humanity discovers the secret to time travel. They begin small-scale experiments with animals and eventually humans, traveling seconds, minutes, hours, eventually days back and forward into the future. All goes well. Humans appear to suffer no long-term effects from time-traveling.
In 2130, all of humanity gathers together for the next phase of time-travel advancement. A three-man expedition plans to travel millions of years into the past. 65, to be exact. The goal of this mission was for the three-man crew of this expedition to record themselves finding a dinosaur, and also to prove traveling this far into the past was possible. Unfortunately, it was.
The expedition was led by one Henry Williams, one of the pioneers when it came to the discovery and development of time-travel. Joining him would be fellow scientists and good friends Robinson Selkirk, and me. The expedition would take humanity farther back in time than it has ever dared to go, and I would be along for the ride.
The time ago this took place in my life is irrelevant. It’s happening right now. But in terms that primitive humans can understand, this happened a long, long time ago to me, and many memories are hazy. But I still vividly remember the grins we all gave each other as we strapped into our seats and prepared to launch into the distant past. Our machine was a half-sphere, completely white, with a massive window-like door where the other half of the sphere should have been. It was packed very light, with only chairs for the three of us. The sphere itself was self-maintaining. As long as we remained in it, we did not require food nor water nor the need to use the bathroom. We were planning to stay only a few minutes in the past this trip, so food and water were not needed. We also did not age while in it, something that was only understood later, after the launch that fateful morning.
A voice I have long since forgotten gave the countdown, and we launched 65 million years into the past. The time-traveling itself is unremarkable. Much like space travel. I have done it an infinite number of times at this point. You see time on a quantum scale is much more like distance than anything else. In the machine, it took us 1 minute to travel 1 million years, so it was a brief hour journey for us there and back. The travel itself is uninteresting, all that you see outside the ship is complete and utter blackness, and the sensation of moving forwards or backwards in it. As you approach your destination the time between it and the destination bleeds together, so you see flashes of light that gradually enlarge until the moment of arrival, in which the location appears in front of you and the machine stops.
On this particular trip, the three of us didn’t do much talking. We had already discussed at length every possible emotion we were feeling about this trip, so there was no need to discuss anything further. We mostly just sat in nervous anticipation.
Exactly as planned we began seeing streaks of colour mixed with the blackness outside the machine, and exactly 65 minutes after we set off we landed in our destination. It was a clearing within a coniferous forest. We didn’t see any dinosaurs, but we heard several calling to each other. With boyish excitement we prepared to leave the craft.
I don’t remember exactly why Henry got out first. He was the captain, so it seemed natural he would be the first to depart. But though my memory is hazy, I don’t think we ever specifically talked about who would leave first. I think Henry may have just been a random victim of fate.
The moment Henry stuck his leg out of the craft, it turned instantaneously to dust. One moment there, the next a pile of dust. The moment froze in my head. Henry let out a scream of horror. Me and Robinson were unable to do anything as Henry lost his balance and fell out of the craft. The moment his body fell out, he turned instantly to dust, his screams fell silent.
Though my memory of that horrible moment is locked in my brain, I only vaguely remember what happened next. Me and Robinson realized Henry was dead pretty quickly. We mourned for him, but we also tried to figure out what had happened to him. I threw one of my gloves out the door, it turned to dust the moment it left the craft. Our worst fears began to grow within us. We decided to turn the craft around.
Upon our arrival back in 2130, we were questioned about what had happened to Henry. The camera confirmed our story. Robinson threw another glove out of the machine. We were dismayed when it also turned to dust. The tests on the dust confirmed what we had feared. The remains of the glove were 130 million years old.
I don’t know if the year I post this in will be before or after the discovery of time-travel. But if it is before, then let this be known. Time-travel is possible, but those who do it age for just as many years as they travel. You might not feel it immediately, maybe not even for trillions of years, but you will feel it eventually. Time always catches up with you.
Robinson and I spent many days afterwards in a haze, trying to come to terms with the fact we would never be able to leave the Time Machine again. Eventually, we came to a decision that if we were trapped, at least we would make the most of it. We said goodbye to the world that we knew, and we disappeared into time. We traveled through time extensively, visiting as many interesting places and events through time as we could imagine. Every historical event one could ever think of. We witnessed the first human strike a stone together to create a spark. We witnessed the first animal hesitantly crawl onto land. We saw the Big Bang itself. We traveled for a million years and witnessed the heat death of the universe. I have long since forgotten most of the events we saw. I have lived for billions of years, I don’t think the human brain is physically able to comprehend that much time, so naturally there are millennia-long gaps in my memory. But I do know how much Robinson and I saw.
I have long since forgotten what caused it. My suspicion is that we accidentally appeared in a thunderstorm, and were struck by lightning, but I have no way to be certain at this point. But whatever happened our control panel shortened out, and with it went our ability to control where we went. This has been how I lived ever since. Roughly every 10 minutes the Time Machine randomly travels to a new moment in time. 99% of the time it is somewhere black, in the dark endless void of space, though perhaps once a millennium it appears somewhere more interesting.
Robinson and I held on for as long as we could. But the sheer hopelessness and endlessness of our situation began to break us. Robinson broke first, and though many memories have been lost to the void, I will never forget the day I lost him.
Of all the places I have ever traveled, intentionally or not, I have never seen anything more beautiful. The machine had randomly appeared on a tropical island. It was sunset, the sky was painted an unimaginably strong shade of orange. When this was I do not know, but I suspect it was several million years in the future as the sun was much larger in the sky than it was in 2130. We sat in awe and silence just admiring the view for 5 minutes. But we were aware that this paradise would quickly be stolen from us, returning us to the cosmic void of time.
“I’m done.” Robinson spoke with such finality that I knew his decision was certain. I tried to stop him, tried to tell him not to, but he didn’t listen. Eventually I gave up. He gave me one last look and walked out of the machine. At this point he was too old to even fall to dust. He just stopped existing. Disappeared into the sunset.
I had several moments then to follow him. I didn’t. The machine teleported away, and I returned to the black void of time. It has been a billion years since that point, I have traveled many more. I have finally made a decision.
Eventually I will land in a time with the internet. When that happens I will post this story, as my final testament to the life I have lived. Then I will return to the void, and I will wait. It will likely take longer than the number of atoms that can fit in the universe, but eventually I will return to that island with the orange sky. When that happens, I will join Robinson and walk into the sunset. It will happen eventually, and I am willing to wait. I am in no hurry. After all, I have all the time in the world.