Nwaokafor Francis, Yenagoa
Mike finds a way to travel into the future only to find out it wasn’t a future worth witnessing.
“No DNA match in our data bank, sir!” said one of the men in the room.
“How is that possible?” rasped the commander.
I squirmed. From the little I could decipher from their conversation, it seemed they had information on every citizen and were perplexed mine didn’t exist. I had so much to say. But I feared it would only complicate issues the more.
“For the last time, who are you?”
My mind began to replay every circumstance that led to my arrival here.
Back where I came from, I was a foreign-trained quantum physicist, turned a system engineer by NASRDA in Abuja. Although I manned the control station for NigeriaSat-2, my interest in quantum mechanics never ebbed away. So obsessed was I about the concept of space-time continuum that I converted my house into a mini-science laboratory. My spare time away from the station was spent in my lab, performing complex experiments.
One evening I stumbled upon a startling discovery: an atomic error in time measurement. Roughly 3×10^-60 millisecond wasn’t accounted for. It was lost somewhere in the stream of events in the universe, which could only mean one thing: the existence of a stable wormhole somewhere in the cosmic structure.
My enthusiasm soared. For sleepless nights I worked on a mathematical hypothesis in relation to its location. To test my theory I hijacked NigeriaSat-2. I then sent optical probe everywhere and to my astonishment a reflection was sent back to me bearing properties of strange-looking dimensions. Further testing revealed a practical wormhole to another universe.
With the help of a team of European Physicists and Engineers I constructed a space-travel machine, which took us seven years and lots of money from investors to complete. On its completion, the housing facility swallowed hectares of arid land in Fanisua amid massive boulders. The machine itself was enormous, almost the size of a medium-sized nuclear reactor. An intricate web of cables connected it to an array of circuitries and parallel computers.
After conducting series of minor tests I volunteered as a test subject.
“This isn’t safe, Mike.” Shockley voiced in concern. “The human atoms even when divided into packets and compressed are still very large to travel through the channel without any loss of data. This… is tantamount to committing unnecessary suicide.”
“Don’t worry, Shockley. I have faith in the machine.”
I walked into the machine’s chamber without giving much thought to the risk involved. Petrov reluctantly preprogrammed the return time. I heard the therapeutic hum of the machine then felt a tingly sensation as it began to dissect my molecules. I took one last look at the tense faces of my colleagues before dissolving into atoms.
I found myself on a tarred road devoid of any moving object or soul. The sky was scorched and the atmosphere was heavily ionized. I could feel static electricity building all around me. Flanking the empty road that disappeared into the horizon were a row of close-set skyscrapers, quadruple the height of Eiffel tower. So grotesque and quiet was the landscape that I felt a trickle of dread run down my spine. Something pricked me on the neck and I blacked out.
I woke up to find myself clasped to a chair in a steel-walled room, facing a visibly angry commander flanked by his two subordinates. When I saw the electronic calendar on the wall I realized I’d teleported into the future.
“Since you refused to talk, I‘ll have to pry it from you!”
My homing device beeped signaling it was time for me to return. The tingly sensation returned and I smiled at the commander. In a flash of white light I found myself back in the machine’s chamber. A wide applause erupted instantly but died the moment I stepped out of the machine.
“Mike, is that you?” Shockley called.
“Were you expecting someone else?”
I looked myself over and gasped in horror. I was only gone for two hours but I looked twenty years older.
However, at the moment I wasn’t worried about me or how to fix the machine. Instead I was struggling whether to reveal what I’d seen. Left for me I would prefer not to. The future I saw wasn’t worth sharing. It was scary. Liberty it seemed was crushed at the heels of the bureaucrats. Nobody deserved to witness such era. But what if I revealed it would the future change? And how would it affect the way things are done now?