Pillars #writephoto

Pillars

pillars

 

Voices resonate here, voices from the present, but also voices from the past, maybe from a long gone past. Those who erected these pillars knew how to build, to last. Their footsteps, perhaps even the sound of their tools, chiselling the stone, can still be heard.

A little further, the sun shines in the courtyard. Did they hold councils here, did the walls hear judgements, or laughter, or even the sound of water rising? Where did they go? Did they leave their work behind, did they travel far, did they leave our world? Were they time-travellers?

On the threshold #fivewords

Weekly Writing Challenge #136

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As he stood on the threshold, he sensed how brighter the light was, on the other side. There lied all the secrets, the rich treasures of the past. He took one more step.

There was a faint taste of wood smoke in the dry, vibrating air. In his mind one question lingered: would he find his home?

Photo: ancient village in Northern Arizona, © 2015 Honoré Dupuis

In the Land of Ago

A reading of 11.22.63 by Stephen King

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How often do we think: “If only I could change this”, or, in whatever form, “if only I could have a second chance, go back, and do something different”? Going back, erasing, and changing the past is an old dream, the subject of countless tales and fiction works. Of course there is a second law of thermodynamics, to keep things simple, that says “no-can-do” – but still…

But imagine one could go back, reverse entropy, and travel back in time, would it be possible to change anything? Or, is the past resistant to change, obturate enough to stop, or at least oppose, a time-traveller interfering with what was, and, maybe, should be? And, even if the time traveller could change the past, what would be the cost? Perhaps more ominously: what would be the consequences?

Changing history is a special case. History, they say, is written by “the victors”, whoever they may be. It can also be rewritten, and this without, perhaps because of (not), going back to the past. There is the “official” version, and the “conspiracies”. A long-lasting, and still sinister, such story is that of the assassination of President Kennedy.

Jake Epping, not a crying man, is an English teacher at a high school in a small town in Maine. The year is 2011, and this is the end of term. Jake is, unique among his school colleagues, the customer of Al Templeton, the proud owner of the fat burgers diner. More than just a customer. He’s soon someone with whom Al is about to share a deadly secret. At the back of Al’s diner trailer is an anomaly: a fissure in time. Al has a mission, one he cannot complete, for he is dying of lung cancer. He wants Jake to take over, as he has identified Jake as someone who could, who will, bite at the bait. So Al teaches Jake, explains how this could work, and Jake listens. There is a first trial, then another. On the other side of the fissure it is Spring 1958, and America is young. Jake likes what he sees. He enjoys the fresh taste of root beer, the sweet air. Jake also has a personal objective: to prevent a domestic tragedy and help his friend Harry Dunning. The first leg of the story is there: the killing of Frank Dunning. Jake, armed with Al’s mission and notes, as well as dollars of the time, embarks on the journey.

Saving the Dunning family will take two attempts to get it “right”, or so Jake thinks. Then his personal odyssey will start , on the road to Dallas. For Al’s, now Jake’s, aim is to prevent the assassination of President John Kennedy, on November 22, 1963, nothing less. Jake has five years to adapt, plan, live, and, finally, execute Al’s mission.

Jake follows a route of nostalgia: an all-American Ford Sunliner, overnight stoppages in motels, drive-in cinemas, finally a small town, and an equally small school, in Texas. Later, much later, there will be Dallas and the horror. For a while it is (almost) paradise, his class, football, friends, a girl he falls in love with, America’s early 60’s: (almost) perfection.

Jake decides to stay, he won’t go back to 2011. But, in the end, he does. For fulfilling the mission has unpredictable consequences. When, on the threshold of his desperate return, Jake faces a dystopian 2011, he finally understand what Al had missed: that interfering with the strings of time has a price, and this is proportional to the change.

The novel concludes on a note of hope, an ending for which Stephen King credits his son, Joe Hill, at the end of the book.

11.22.63 is a great novel, to read, reread, and cherish. It is also a book to meditate on, seriously, listening carefully to the voice of its author.

Photo: Ford Sunliner 1958, via eclassicautos.com

 

#FiveSentenceFiction: Time

AphroditeHe looked back at his footprints on the sand, soon the tide would erase his track, how beautiful this island was in the falling light, he thought.

The beach appeared empty, the only sounds the melody of the tide and the gulls’ s cries, and the wind.

His next thought was that he had failed: they do say that a time machine can’t work, against the laws of physics, the second law of thermodynamics, entropy, quantum energy…

A change in air pressure made him stop, his heart suddenly pounding, slowly he turned round…

She was there, standing tall, naked, her golden hair reflecting the moon light, the body of a goddess, a triumphant smile on her lips, a vision of splendour and divinity, her profile as ancient as the earth, Aphrodite…