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Pandora’s Paradox March 8, 2011

I wrote this story for a friend of mine way back during 10th grade. She was Lit Mag class at the time and part of her grade was to bring in submissions from other students every week. So I dashed this off in a day and haven’t really touched it since. I used Meiko in my first NaNaWriMo attempt (that I may or may not post here) and I just really enjoy her character. I’ve made a few touch ups and clarified a few points. I hope you like it.

Feedback is, as always, amazing.

Time Travel History 1101

Example 13.975 – Pandora’s Paradox

Most architects would have probably chosen not to locate the laboratory right underneath the enormous main staircase that dominated the First Hall. Most certainly upon learning the explosive nature of the experiments destined to take place in that laboratory, all but one would have refused to build it under such an essential structure (three out of ten would have located it in the mountains, six out of twenty would have placed it at the bottom of the ocean, one in five would have refused to build it at all, and every two out of seventy five thousand would have insisted on filling the walls with salmon to prevent the fires from spreading). But for this laboratory the architect ended up being that “but one” and she did build the laboratory, tall and sturdy, underneath the main staircase, encased in four inches of tempered steel and a well supplied sprinkler system. It was a good laboratory.

At this moment, it must be noted that this laboratory was not a particularly nice place to be. Grease spotted and dotted the walls in some homage to the universe, parts lay strewn, and other general things that happen to a normally well-ordered work space when you try to do something illegal in twenty minutes. However, the mess was only part of the problem. The other part was the person overseeing its creation.

“Meiko, this is insanity. This is full blown insanity that threatens to destroy a strong foundation that has existed for several millennia and can only continue to exist if we all do our part.” The girl tightening up some lug nuts spared her fat, older friend a half-glance and contemplated that all of the legacy classes were finally starting to retard her frontal cortex. “Pregnancy does not count as fat, you little monster!” The woman burst out indignantly. Meiko heaved a sigh and yanked her head fully out the engine’s innards. She needed to clear it anyways.

“Yes, it is insanity that you’re here. Amelia, I thought Diane put you on bed rest.” Amelia shrugged indifferently and played with a metal wire that dangling down from her mess of hair. “I don’t have the necessary supplies if you go into labor right here, right now” Meiko warned as she set down the wrench and turned to stalk towards where Amelia was perched on the counter.

“I don’t know.” Amelia said. “A couple rags, a Bunsen burner to sterilize the tools and we’re good to go.”

“Sure. For the first baby. I might even be able to stretch it enough to the second bambino. But you had to go and make triplets.” Meiko admitted cheekily.

Amelia hummed lightly. “I assure you, the product was not expected from the reactants supplied.” That produced a snort. “I would like to also assure you that the legacy classes have not rotted my brain so much that I can’t tell when you’re trying to distract me.” She curled her fingers around the blue laser disk that had been lying next to her on the counter to move it into her pocket.

“You know, you used to say that mind reading was insane.” Meiko pointed out grumpily. She stopped stalking towards Amelia for the time being and moved to sort the tiny nuts and bolts strewn all over the nearby counter.

“It is.” Amelia shot back.

“But you knew why I wanted the laser disk because you read my mind.”

“Nope. Just that you want it.” She said as she unconsciously tapped the device that had allowed her to hear the ‘fat girl’ comment. It looked like a bicycle helmet with wires bursting out from all sides. Not that anyone rode bicycles anymore.

“Oh, really? That’s actually pretty awesome.” Meiko perked up. It was so much more difficult to translate thoughts than it was to translate emotions.

“But if it works so well, how come you haven’t shown it to anyone but me?”

Meiko didn’t hesitate in answering, “The universe isn’t ready for this kind of technology.”

“Cowardly Copernicus.”

“Arrogant Astrophysicist.”

“No, I’m pretty sure that would be Cassandra.”

“I thought she was a Sensible Seer. And a Quantum Physicist.”

“And I thought a person could have more than one defining character trait.” Amelia scolded lightly. “Anyways, if she were here, she would probably be able to tell me what exactly you want with this laser disk.”

“And she would tell you that I need to update some firmware on my old ’29 desktop.” Meiko called lightly over her shoulder. She swept around her laboratory in a frenzy of tidying resulted in the lug nuts sharing drawer space with construction paper and the Zebra Fish using spanners as their new tank decorations.

“Meiko, just last week I watch you break down your’29 for parts. And besides, you thought I knew why you wanted the disk and that would easily justify why I am currently withholding said bit of overpriced plastic. Want to try a more believable story?”

There was a lengthy pause as Meiko turned her attention back to the engine and Amelia carefully removed Meiko’s Marvelous Mind-ReaderTM in a show of good faith.

“So… why does it have to do with why you invited me here today?”Amelia prodded.

“You invited yourself. And I let you come because my calculations indicate that I need another body in the room in order to make this thing work. Preferably Cassidy but she’s off at the University this weekend. I need a quantum physist’s help.” This mollifies Amelia somewhat, if only for a second as the implication sunk into her. Meiko looked up in time to see this. She harrumphed. “It’s not time travel, I swear, Amelia. I learned my lesson last time.”

“Then why are the ‘Clocks’ internal engines and rear propulsion thrusters lying all over your laboratory?” Meiko lay down the purple wrench and slowly got to her feet. The grin on her face when she turned to face Amelia could only be described as possessed. With an idea.

“Not time travel,” Meiko spread her hands out carefully. “Dimension jumping.”

“Oh sweet Jesus,” Amelia moaned, rising to her feet. “What in all of the stars-”

“Wait. Hear me out.” Amelia settled heavily on a new counter, shoving a few atomic models out of the way. Her crossed arms and scowling face only served to drive Meiko on. “There exists at any given point, in any given time, in any given space, a thousand other possible other universes. Here, do something.” Amelia quirked her left eyebrow in disbelief. Meiko pounced.

“See, in another dimension you didn’t quirk that eyebrow. You quirked the other one. Or you didn’t quirk an eyebrow at all. Or you quirked it to lesser extent. Orrrrrrrrr…” Meiko stopped dramatically, black braids flying everywhere. Amelia thought it was sadly comical the way she sucked in a heap of air and quickly literally puffed up with pride.

“Oh dear God help.” Amelia muttered without hope.

“Maybe in another dimension your hair is purple. Maybe you’re a guy. Maybe you’re not pregnant. Maybe I’m a guy. Maybe we’re both-“.

“Meiko!” She stopped her rant and looked curiously at Amelia.

“You’re not wearing the helmet.”

“You’re too predictable. I know what’s going on in the under aged genius head of yours.” Meiko stuck out her tongue, but could really only shrugged in resigned admittance. “But you are only the Imperial Historian. How did you get this thing to – hypothetically – work?”

“Imperial Historian among an astronomer, a quantum physist, three biochemists, a pathologist, microbiologist, chemical engineer, neurological scientist, pediatrician, OB/GYN, six politicians, seven therapists of varying specialties, two blacksmiths, and the Imperial Record Keeper.” Amelia sighed heavily.

“Fine. Let’s suspend reality a little longer. What exactly would be the point of seeing into all these alternate dimensions? What are we going to do with them? Stare and see how much better our lives could be if the Crown Prince hadn’t tripped over that pebble last week?” Meiko stared at the ground, and began to nibble nervously on her braid.

“We could create our own.” She said it very carefully. Quietly.

“You’re crazy.” Amelia said bluntly. Meiko opened her mouth in protest but Amelia plowed on. “You have two loving parents, a little brother that adores you, and a job that garners the respect of the entire planet (and you love it), dual citizenship because you were born on Earth, and you and your whole family is filthy stinking rich.” Meiko’s face burned with blush and shrunk smaller and smaller with each presented point.

“I just want to try. Think of it, we could really show people what it’s like to live in a world without crime or what will happen if we keep polluting the universe.” Amelia had to sigh.

“Good luck finding that one. It’s probably one in a googolplex.”

“I finally got it to work. Please Amelia.” Amelia rolled her eyes. What could it hurt? Radiation poisoning wasn’t an issue anymore, they’d solved that years ago, and with this kind of thing, the chance of failure was high. Seeing the okay in her friend’s eyes, Meiko darted forward before she could change her mind, and threw the red switch.

Sparks. Flash. Then a smell like rotting garbage and backed up plumbing.

” M-m-mei-ko…” Amelia coughed as threateningly as she could.

“B-b-back-d-d-door.” Meiko hacked out. They stumbled out into the hallway. After a few moments of clearing their throats by almost hacking up a lung, they both breathed deeply and straightened up to survey the hallway. It was unchanged, as they had always known it.

“It didn’t work.” Meiko noted mournfully. Amelia sighed in relief.

“I think it’s for the best. Who knows where we could have ended up.”

“Richard could have been sexier.” Meiko offered.

“My husband is sexy enough as is, thank you very much,” Amelia replied dryly. “I think you need to refocus your life if finding me a sexier version of my husband is your main priority. And all this messing with the frame of reality is just a little too far outside the realm of safety that your parents approve of.”

“Think of the benefits!” Meiko said as she pushed the door to the still-smoking laboratory shut. It was only slight bent and mostly filled the doorframe.

“You already mentioned them. All of them could be achieved here with a little forward thinking are hard work.” Amelia said. She turned and started down the hallway with the certainty that Meiko would follow.

“I could have made certain people nicer,” Meiko muttered. “Made them less likely to get their feathers all ruffled over silly little things like turning the buildings into custard.”

“Everything started to cave – flow or whatever – in on us. I think most of the reactions were pretty accurate.

“It was so promising though!” Meiko wailed as they began to walk towards the cafeteria for an overdue late night snack. “It could have led to the creation of a safe time-tunnel! And that’s just one possibility. The applications were endless!” Amelia rolled her eyes. Not again.

“Meiko, despite all your meddling, you’re a good friend and you’re going to make a great godmother. That would be a little difficult to do though, if you hadn’t been born.”

“We fixed it in the end,” Meiko playfully whined.

“True. But you’re about to enter high school, starting looking after your godchildren, perhaps you should leave those kind of experiments alone for a little while.” Amelia remarked, her now-I’m-acting-mature-and-showing-wisdom-so-little-girl-you-had-better-listen tone filling her voice. Meiko smirked, recognizing the tone, but deciding to let it be.

“Oh, so you and Richard decided on the names already?”

“Yup. Well two of them anyway. Daley for Diane and Haley. I owe it to them for all the trouble I’ve caused them. Edwin for my dad. But we thought you should name the last one. What do you think? It’s going to be a girl.” Meiko scrunched up her face in careful thought and opened herself up to the universe. It was important to allow The 2 x 4 of Inspiration room to hit.

“Pandora.” She announced as they rounded a corner.

“Pandora? It’s pretty I suppose. We’ll call her Pan you know.”

“So? I like it. She can be my special apprentice. Help me with my research and experiments and such.”

“Uh, I think not. She’ll be your goddaughter, not your slave.”

“But if she wants to?” Meiko prompted mischievously.

“Then she may,” Amelia conceded. “Duchess Pandora Alyson Conleigh…” The recitation of what was to be faded down a hall that is not worth following. But from whence they came, the door creaked open from Meiko’s laboratory. A small blond head popped out and looked around at the hallway curiously.

“Mamma? Did you call me?”

“Pandora, come on. Aunt Meiko said we just need to get her purple wrench and then she’ll take us to ride the dinosaurs.” The little girl made a face a bossy brother. Ordering her around like that when he was only 3 minutes older than her!

“I’m coming Edwin. Don’t forget about Daley.” She shrugged and turned around to dart back inside.

Endnote: The above is an “authentic” (originally constructed by the Earthstar, thus subject to the expected weaknesses and critics of her all-knowing claims) transcript of the happenings of August 8, 2367, in which Doctor Meiko Ho and Doctor Amelia Gilbert-Evans unknowingly laid the basis for time-travel by means of adesococe paradox (involving descendents). This experiment, thought failed at the time, somehow was successful in weakening the reality curtain, allowing three children a few moments later appear, making comments about traveling in both directions through time without risking their existence (Jameson 401). However, if it has been successful, the resulting fluctuations from the distortion within the space-time fabric should have killed any unborn beings residing in Doctor Amelia Gilbert-Evans, thus meaning there would have been no children to go back in time and establish the definite possibility of safe time-travel (remember that safe time-travel involves finding the proper dimensions of your current time stream that has simply remained “stuck” at the desired time). Thus, the case of Pandora’s Paradox.