–said the Ticktockman. That’s Harlan Ellison’s classic story, “Repent Harlequin,” said the Ticktockman, in case you missed it somewhere between 1965 and now. Not to spoil it (how many of you are going to actually read the story, if you haven’t already) but the reason Harlequin was called to repent was because he caused the schedule to be off by six minutes. And that threw off another schedule, and another, and another, causing chaos in all the world’s schedules. No wonder the Ticktockman was pissed. Six minutes off? Oh, the horror. But nothing should be scheduled that close.
If the Ticktockman,who was in charge of the world’s TIME, was going to be so anal about six minutes, he should grab a brew, put his feet up, and chill, baby. Nothing needs its corsets pulled that tight. Failing to chill, he should be able to stop time and fix it.
I’m sure TTman would know this, but what actually happens if you stop time? Does everything, meaning EVERYTHING, except you (otherwise what would be the point) stop? Do you have to weave your way around frozen people, cars, bicycles, and dogs as you go about your business of robbing banks, doing research for that report you had a few too many happy hour drinks to do last night, wander through a NFL team cheerleader’s (or players if you swing that way) locker room, or perform those experiments that would get you locked up if the universe wasn’t frozen. And if it’s frozen, how would you interact with it. Would water flow, electricity spark, the air itself move? Those things move through time. It takes time for a drop of water to move from the faucet into a glass so you can drink it. If all time is standing still, that can’t happen and you’d better have had a two liter bottle of Mountain Dew in your hand when you flipped the switch. And maybe a large SCUBA tank on your back, too. (See below for a possible solution)
If you touched somebody (hey, you there, mind out of the gutter) would they be hard like a statue or soft like a real person? Could you move them, say out of harm’s way? If you could move them, would they stay where you put them when time started again? Would saving them screw up the future, or fix it?
That all seems much to complicated, forget stopping time, how about going back in time to fix those six minutes. Being an obssesive TTman you go back a week to try to stop the Harlequin from his dasterly deed. So what’s it like when you jump back there? Do you appear like a ghost, moving about but not affecting anything, not noticed by anybody (remember, no locker rooms)
but able to see all? Or do you pop into existence, just another Joe or Jane Doe among the masses. Except now you’re in Paradox Land. There’s two of you where there should be one, breathing extra air, drinking extra water. What happens if your new twin sees you? What if you touch? Do you, the interloper explode, fade away, pass right through, get sent back to your own time (and stay there you evil doppelgänger)?
Whatever happens, just by being there, you’ve created a new time line, different from your original time line. Say you find your six minutes, reset the clock, realign your precious schedule and it’s time to go home. But, now you are in a separate time line, one that you’ve affected, one that would not exist except for you. So, if you flip the switch, push the button, click your heels to go home, where do you go?
Because you’ve been gone for two hours, your original time line (TL) has changed and is now a different TL. The TL you’re in is the one where all is right timewise, to you. Your original has moved on without you and is still missing six minutes. If you stay where you are, there’s the doppelgänger problem, and, being the obsessive power-hungry Ticktockman that you are, how is that going to play out with your twin TTman? And, if you flip, push, click and leave there you might go back to a third TL where you were gone, and came back – but would the six minutes be there when you got back?
Who knows? Who cares? It’s all too complicated so all you Ticktock men and women – take a toke or three, eat a pizza, eat the six minutes, and take a time out, man.
What if you went back in time and everything and body was frozen, except you and anything inside a ten foot diameter bubble around you? People inside with you could walk with you, after you answer their, “What the hell is going on and who the hell are you?” questions and they don’t punch you out. This could be a pain in the ass, especially if you walked too close to moving car. But it would be good if you went back to save somebody from some nastiness. Or were planning on robbing a bank with an accomplice, assuming that accomplice was reliable. What would happen if you died in the bubble? Would it disappear – you’d be dead in the future so couldn’t come back to be killed in the past, so ….. ? Could it be hijacked? Would the hijacker be able to go back to the future where he’s never been? Would he have to choose between staying in the bubble (a sort of weird existence) or stepping out and freezing with everyone else? Or would those outside be experiencing a regular life and only from inside the bubble do they seem to not move? Or… or… or…? Time out!
What if instead of going back in time you went back in place. I wrote a screenplay called Time For Love where a woman invented a way to jump through space back to the position where the Earth was four years ago. She ended up going back 30 years where she met herself as a kid. They were afraid to touch fearing the adult would be zapped back to her time. But was that right? She went back in space, not time. She physically went back, in some beam me up metaphysical disassemble reassemble way. How would going back that way affect the future? You’re going from a fixed future to a fixed past, it shouldn’t affect the future that’s already happened. So, would there be two Earth’s? Or… or… or…? Paradox time out! (if you’re interested in my screenplay, drop me a comment)
What if you were 40 and went 30 years back in time and suddenly you were you at 10 years old, knowing what you know now. Ah, the possibilities.
Whenever you go, no matter how you get there, time marches on so enjoy it while you got it. Be the Harlequin, not the Ticktockman.