I recently found an old short story of mine, I wrote it in the high school subject English. Inspired by The Physicits, Measuring the World, Copenhagen, Life of Galileo and In der Sache J. Robert Oppenheimer (not available in English) – books that were part of my high school end exam in the subject German – it revolves around the responsibility of science. Maybe I portrayed Dr. Drake a bit too lenient, after all not publishing means keeping his hard work secret and renouncing all scientific fame. But then again “the welfare of the whole planet is at stake”. Have a read for yourself… 😉
The Short Story
We are in the Kramgasse in the old town of Bern. It is a morning in autumn, it is cold, the alley foggy and empty. Almost empty. There is a young man walking with long strides through the fog. He is tall, wears a long black coat with raised collar, gray trousers and brown leather shoes. His hair is disheveled and his look resolutely. In his left hand he is holding a brown leather briefcase. “Dr. Nicolas Drake” is written on it in clear font – his name. Suddenly, a second man appears out of the mist. He is old, has deep wrinkles and looks weak. The old man is walking towards Drake. “Do you have time to walk and speak with me for a while?”
A smile is on Drake’s face as he is answering. “Time is not my problem. Not anymore.” Together they are walking on slowly. “It’s crazy”, the old man begins, “about one hundred years ago a man exactly like you has already gone through this alley. He has refuted the constancy of the time. Fourty years later over a million people were killed by a bomb, which was based on his theories. Now you even make an end to the continuity of the time. Don’t you fear the consequences?”
Drake is looking at his briefcase. “I have no idea why you know about it, but I have discovered the theoretical foundations for time travelling. I am on the way to publish my thoughts and calculations at the University of Bern. This is one of the greatest dreams of humanity. Now we can not only travel through space, but also through time! Imagine all the possibilities: You want to know everything about an era in history? Well, go there. A tragic accident happened? Prevent it, no problem. The bombings in Japan that you mentioned? You can undo them. Isn’t that great?” It seems as if the wrinkles on the forehead of the old man are becoming even deeper.
With a cold voice he says: “No, trust me. I know what I’m talking about. The world is not ready for this. It will never be. With a time machine you are not only able to subjugate all the people in the world, but all the people in space AND time. You are able to let all your opponents disappear, change everything the way you would like to have it, start a terrible reign of terror! With the time machine, the world as you know it will not exist anymore. Instead, there will be tyranny, slavery and darkness!”
The speech of the old man is confusing Drake. It seems as if he had really experienced such a reign of terror. “But shouldn’t at least the scientists learn about my findings?”, Drake wants to know. “No, they shouldn’t”, the old man replies with a remarkable certainty, “the welfare of the people, no, of the whole planet is more important than science. Keep your thoughts and calculations secret, enjoy freedom and security. Without the time machine everything that happened can’t be changed. You are today what you have done, thought and said yesterday. Isn’t this a great feeling?”
“You really make me think”, Drake admits, “but there is one thing that I would like to know. Who are you that you know all this?” Now there is a smile on the old man’s face and he is fishing a business card out of his jacket. “Here”, he says as he is handing it to Drake. “Dr. Nicholas Drake – inventor of time travelling” is written on it in dark letters. This really changes something in the mind of the young Drake. He knows that he has to do exactly what the old man, no, he himself has told him to do. While he is feeling this sensation, the business card and its previous owner are slowly disappearing. Just as if the future had changed and they no longer exist in time and space.