Coltrane filled our glasses and put the box on the table between us like a challenge. Corrine paged through the heavy book and read for a long moment. Then she quickly paged to the back of the book.
“What’s it say?” I wanted to know but I didn’t want to know. In fact, I was starting to hope that this was all a dream and that we’d gotten into a car wreck on the way to the party and were in the hospital. Funny how the thought of concussions and broken bones were more comforting than time travel and invasions.
“It says that I never married, I have no children, and I’m a captain in the United Nations Defense Research Division in 2035. According to the book, I invented time travel to go back find a way to save the world.”
Coltrane had a smug look on his face. She handed me the book and I read her entry. She also worked with a Charles Almstedt who, according to his entry, had developed some sort of temporal stasis device that allowed travelers to interact with people in the past.
“How does that work?”
Coltrane looked at Corrine, expecting her to answer. She widened her eyes at him in response. He drank some wine and got comfortable in his chair.
“Time is a problem.”
“Oh I don’t think it is,” I said with some heat.
Coltrane put up a hand to halt my tirade.
“A math problem. Mankind thought it worked in a linear fashion. Your wife here, she discovered that it works just like light. It is both a particle and a wave. It’s not linear at all.”
“It’s a fractal,” she muttered. I glanced at her and she was staring out at the ocean. The sun, not surprisingly I guess, had not set but still hung in its beautiful colors just over the edge of the water – exactly the same as it had been the 30 minutes or so that we’d been there.
“A fractal?”
She nodded, “It builds on itself – a never ending pattern.”
Coltrane nodded. “Ever hear of a time paradox?”
“Where you go back and become your grandfather?”
“Exactly. That doesn’t happen. Instead, a time traveler is just an observer – unable to interact with the people from the past or future. It’d be hard to stop an event that happened in the past without being able to interact with that past. So Charles Almstedt figured out to make that interaction happen.” At my blank look, he said “It’s a device. Here, this is mine.”
He passed me his pocket watch. Inside, in addition to the normal gears, it held a glowing ice blue gem that occasionally flickered to yellow.
“Why does it do that?” Corrine asked.
“Oh, that means I should probably land us.”
“This van flies?”
“It’s a V-8 450. You bet it flies.”
Coltrane took his watch back and went inside. The deck we were sitting on shook for a moment and then stilled.
He called to us, so we went inside and he opened the sliding door.
“Voila, year 2000, Rochester, New York.”
Rochester was where Corrine and I first met, and where we fell in love.
“Why here?” My wife asked.
“Tell Henry about his entry.” Coltrane answered.