Time Is A Gift
They remained frozen in an elfish grin. Then I noticed she was jaybird naked. This Lovely Pebble thing already had a pretty good start on it. After getting my breath back, I extended my hand. I like that much better. Actually, we use formal names in only the most extraordinary circumstances. This is only the third time I have ever used mine.
Ell now appeared vaguely perplexed. I pushed the car door shut then leaned against the cold front fender. Do I have that right? She perked up at that. Well, almost. My travels cross both space and time.
You mean why do I look human to you. Or any advanced creature for that matter. But this is an emergency and emergency protocol is to appear as a non-threatening organism of the same species if that ever becomes necessary. So, I actually was in contact with an alien from another star system. I really need some help here. The failed part has never failed before in the history of space-time research.
The period shortly after your moon formed. My glider flooded under a rushing wall of seawater. It was the boulder that washed in with the water. It struck the subspace linkage. The glider cleaned itself up immediately but the linkage was damaged just enough that it snapped right after I departed for home.
I dropped back into reality here right where I was when I left but billions of years later. The glider came out just below the present ground level. Its failsafe cleared away the surrounding earth so I had access to the surface. But I still need help.
You have only to tell me what you want. I just stood there for a long time.
Life is a gift and time is a treasure - The Citizen
Was this creature reading my thoughts? But so what. It seemed harmless enough. There was an instant response as she caught my reaction. I apologize. I see you humans are creatures who wear garments for other than protection from the environment. Then after another awkward moment, switched inexplicably to a clown suit. I hesitated in surprise. During the pause, Ell got my favorite papasan chair. I settled for the leftover sofa and wondered if that awkward clown suit would come back to haunt her years from now. I understand. Give me some time to think about it. And I must add, I will need your help in removing the defective part.
I cannot do the work required and the glider is unable to do the work for me because of the nature of the defect. A moment later I found myself standing on bedrock at the bottom of the crater. An open door spilled an eerie light out across the night, backlighting the glider in a ghostly radiance.
I had conjured up an image of a sleek machine with graceful curves and backswept wings as its name might imply. But it was just a rugged shipping crate-like affair; not unlike an old boxcar. It was well-worn and grimy from hard use and sat directly on the ground. There were neither supporting struts nor landing gear. Nor wings. Nor apparent engines. Nothing I would have dreamed up as a time glider. Beyond the open door, however, the glider was spotless. Ell stepped up to the opening and invited me in. The interior was well lit but barren. The air odorless, though slightly astringent.
It reminded me of an empty operating room. There were no chairs, no tables. No dials or switches. Just the bare gray walls. And a slight tingle on my skin like there might be a lot of static electricity in the area. Then she pointed down a long hallway that clearly could never fit inside the glider. If the glider was fully operational we could walk back there and see your moon when it appeared twenty times larger than it does tonight.
And your day was a little over three hours long. Just two. Here and there. But that hallway ends not only in the distant past. It reaches across millions of light years of space as well since your earth and our galaxy have moved during that time. As she turned, the hallway to the Hadean rotated from view as another chamber took its place. The little impossibilities that drive the glider in the direction of space and time you want to go.
It connected two unremarkable, consoles about the sizes of small refrigerators. But it did. After the boulder strike that should never have happened either. And I have no way to construct another. Almost anything else could have failed and the glider would have fixed it on the spot or worked around it without my intervention. But not this. I stepped over to the slightly out-of-kilter link. It was about four feet long and as thick as my wrist.
I leaned down to study the broken linkage. I thought I detected a feathery probe sweep along my left frontal lobe. Perhaps a scan for the specific measurement terms needed. Is that a problem? It couples the spatial and temporal flight actuators. Proper coordination between the actuators requires exacting feedback so the titanium has to be pure to minimize navigation errors due to uneven distortions in the metal. Such an entry usually implies pure. I felt a little better seeing that chink in her knowledge.
Maybe we were more alike than I had first thought. What levels of expertise did the builders have in working with titanium? Another twinge of satisfaction. But I can get a metallurgical analysis to see how pure it is and what minor impurities it might have, if any. But I think we can get pretty close to what you need. It took me a moment to catch on. A thought? I can appear to touch you and cause nerve impulses so you to feel my imaginary touch but I exist only in the machinery of the glider. I never exerted any actual force on you. Or more accurately, your brain lives in. You are actually a projection of your brain just as I am a projection of the glider.
Much like me. No light reaches your brain. It converts nerve impulses from your retina to represent the bright world around you just as the glider creates the surrounding world for me. Since your retina transmits trains of nerve impulses telling you about the outside world, the glider uses those same neurons to introduce impulses that create the images it wants you to see. You experience me; sight, sound, touch; through the same conduits you would perceive other humans. Your phantom self controls your body to do physical things. A body now seriously limited.
This was a lot of information for an old man to take in all at once. I sort of froze. Was I dealing with a woman in a clown suit or merely the glider itself—a damaged piece of alien hardware using its legerdemain of superior technology to trick me into fixing it? Did Ell really exist? Or was she merely a contrivance of the glider? Who or what exactly was I conversing with? The phrase cogito, ergo sum popped into my mind. How much you figure it weighs, anyhow? After a brief sense of disorientation I found myself still sitting in the living room staring at Ell.
I blinked twice before I spoke. Only you can know about this for obvious reasons. If word got out about an alien time glider in a hole in your front yard… well, you can imagine. This has never happened before. All the witnesses see are visions of their own kind performing routine activities. This is the first breakdown that has left a glider on the surface of a planet with a civilization and no way to leave without help from that civilization.
I suspect you already see the catastrophe that would result from humans having access to a glider. I thought about the possibilities. It would soon be the end of humanity as we tinkered with history. The future. It would probably start with killing Hitler and go downhill from there. Changes radiate out like a chain reaction. One imperceptible change causes two more inconspicuous perturbations until billions of revisions have propagated throughout reality. And the rate of change accelerates forever once set in motion. Let me give you an example. That study was never completed but we did trace back as far as two amphibians battling over a sunny spot on a rotted log.
The winning amphibian had the exact gene sequences leading to humans. So I was somehow the product of the proto-lizard winner? Surely I descended from the loser somehow. At only one brief moment in all of creation was the microscopic sperm carrying half the specific DNA sequence defining you in contact with the egg carrying the other half. If the meeting of those two miniscule gametes had been delayed even a few seconds, a rival sperm would have won the battle and your single chance to exist would have vanished forever into that great, cosmic realm of missed opportunities. And their parents.
In fact, if a person with a time glider wanted to get rid of you, they would only have to intercept your father shortly before you were conceived. I finally stopped her. I get it. But right now we need to get that broken part up to my car somehow so I can order up a replacement and get you out of here. You can fill me in on how lucky I am later.
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I liked your initial projection much better. The next morning my depression had abated somewhat as I savored the challenge of coming up with a replacement control rod for a time machine. It had taken me most of the night to make up a rope ladder, climb down into the crater, remove the broken rod and climb back out. But I finally had the titanium bar in the trunk of my car headed down the mountain to the office. She seemed quite concerned about that. I had no idea what kinds of payments she could offer but planned to discuss the matter that evening.
It was becoming apparent I was in an even worse bargaining position than a Neanderthal might be in negotiating with one of us modern humans. The gate guard waved me into the company parking area, and I headed for the procurement office. By lunch, a company in Connecticut that fabricated titanium parts for nuclear submarines and high performance aircraft got the contract with a promised rush delivery date of seven days. Ell was waiting in the living room when I got home. I just voiced the words internally. Ell pushed forward in the papasan chair studying me as I crossed the room.
She flopped back into the cushion. That was a deeply held intent. The glider is designed to detect an intention of threat in neural patterns. In your case, the threat was to yourself, though. Even then, there was no way to know how you planned to end your life. Or even where.
Only that it was imminent. I pondered that explanation for a moment. It made sense. Sort of. Then it occurred to me this thing might be able to implant any thought in my head it wanted me to have. Then again, maybe it had just planted that thought. I sighed.
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There was no way to think my way safe of this if it were a threat, so I just went with the obvious. Perhaps you could suggest something. You and your glider can offer immortality? Though I currently exist in the, what I guess you might call it the central processing core of the glider, I was in the community mind of the home network before that.
I can transfer myself from one node to another as desired. Even across much of the galaxy if I want.
The glider can handle eight separate, independent personalities. But given a few hours, the glider could upload your entire consciousness to an empty crew slot and into my reality. I had been right. Apparently she could deliver wishes like the fabled genie of the lamp. I leaned back and studied her for a time. There was much to be gained from getting this protocol gift right. If she could be trusted.
DO YOU VALUE THE GIFT OF TIME?
The fabled djinns and genies of legend, however, were noted for their devious and disastrous granting of wishes to those not wise enough to be specific. I could be playing a dangerous game with this creature. Sure, sitting in the papasan chair across from me she looked human enough. The temptress. Naked and lithe. Regarding me with those black ophidian eyes …. Had her cloak of affability just parted slightly in a moment of inattention to expose some hidden dreadfulness lurking beneath? My pulse lit out at a canter even as I fought to quell it.
Surely she could hear the thumping. She had noticed. Her eyes flashed back to blue.
Did I do something wrong. Had I too readily accepted her story? In fact, I should have been dead by now, so what was the worry. Those ancient stories must have had some basis in fact. Were the stories of djinns and genies really stories of encounters such as I was having? I managed a weak smile. She smiled back. This whole event must be pretty hard to take in. But theoretically, I could just take over your mind. Use you to do the work you have volunteered to do on your own. If I tried, the glider would stop me by blocking my communication channels into you.
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And there are good reasons for that. She grew serious. Smarter even than your whole civilization. Once assembled, those machines will quickly create other even smarter machines. But getting those first advanced machines without them taking over is only the opening hurdle.
If that were to occur, all of the Network denizens would be trapped. There is no escape from the virtual world. And worse, whoever controlled that world would be omniscient and could never be forced from power. Once in control, their rule would be absolute and they could punish in any way they could imagine. And they could do it forever. I was a bit shaken. And as I brought in the fourth armload of boxes, one woman started crying. That is, once they're old enough to think about anything besides dinosaurs.
By Stephanie Booth Updated: August 29, Pin ellipsis More. Time is the most precious commodity; these people spend it helping others. Image zoom. He forgot certain words. Then, suddenly, his symptoms became unmistakable. He inexplicably bought two cell phones. Nancy became his caregiver, and she gave up her daily walks, trips to the library, and even Sunday church services to stay with him. There Nancy found a group with whom she could share her feelings. She raised funds and spoke about her experience at health fairs and nursing homes.
Every month since then, in three-hour sessions, she has met with a group of up to 30 caregivers. Their caretaking experiences bonded them, and they married in the two are shown here. When AA advertises the group in local newspapers, Nancy insists that her home phone number and e-mail address be included so people can reach her directly.
Many days she is on the phone for hours, offering an ear as total strangers pour their hearts out. As long as I am physically able, that is what I will do. She needed help moving furniture into the garage for an upcoming yard sale. Max had fainted at work and been taken to the hospital. An intrepid adventurer and skydiver, Max had always been in excellent health. But when Mary Beth got to the emergency room 10 minutes later, Max no longer had a heartbeat. In the following days, Mary Beth was shocked to learn that the condition has no warning signs.
Each year, 4, people under the age of 35 die of SCD. To date, teenagers have learned that they are at risk for SCD, including year-old Konrad Mueller, who is now being treated for a rare congenital heart disorder. She spends 40 hours a week fundraising, planning events, securing volunteers, requesting donations of supplies, and coordinating each day of testing, which entails hauling EKG machines around in her station wagon.
She also recruited three cardiologists to supervise the testing and interpret each EKG result. The work is exhausting and emotional, but Mary Beth can't imagine a more meaningful use of her time. She says, "I will work as many hours as it takes to make Max proud and spare another family from our grief. A longtime member of the congregation, Jocelyn had witnessed parents struggling to provide the basics for their families.