The Woman Who Fell Into Time

A particle accelerator accident creates wandering spacetime distortions that allow random people to time travel.

woman falling“Why won’t you people tell me who you are?”

Maria Calvert, Ph.D in Applied Physics, manager of Superconductivity and Magnet Circuit Systems for the Machine Protection and Electrical integrity group for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), had been isolated in a windowless interview room in the administration building at CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research near Geneva, Switzerland) for the past four hours. The man seated across the table from her seemed kind but unrelenting. She hadn’t been told his name or who his two colleagues were, or even what agency they represented.

“I’ve told you Dr. Calvert, my name is unimportant. What happened to you earlier today is. Can we go over it again?”

“I’ve already told you every…”

The man, dressed professionally and generically interrupted. “Just tell us your story again, Dr. Calvert.”

She’d only been allowed out of the room once, to use the bathroom, accompanied by the lone female of the group questioning her. She felt grungy, sweaty, out of sorts, and totally betrayed by her co-workers and supervisors. Why had she been abandoned to these people? Why had the LHC collision accident done…this to her?

“Come on, Doctor. Just tell us again what happened.”

Maria closed her eyes and instantly her Daddy’s face appeared to her. No, two faces, one dying, and one very much alive.

“The first collision between two protons had just occurred in the LHC’s main ring and data was being fed to the mainframes. Then, a few seconds later, there was a vibration lasting just for a moment. After that, all hell broke loose and every alarm…”

“Yes, we know all that. I’ve gone over the technical details with the other members of your team. I want to know what happened to you.”

Maria closed her eyes again, and this time she couldn’t hold back her tears. “My Daddy is alive.”

“I’ve read your official bio, Dr. Calvert. I’m aware your father is living.”

“You wanted to know what happened to me. This is what happened to me, dammit!”

The man sat calmly facing Maria. The other two in the room shifted their stances uncomfortably, seemingly preferring to stand rather than take the other two available chairs.

“The alarms started sounding…and then I wasn’t at the LHC anymore.

“When I was eight-years-old, my Daddy died. Dad and Mom had taken me out to a fancy restaurant for my birthday dinner. We were eating. Then my Daddy was choking. I was screaming. Mommy tried to get help but no one could do anything.”

“He died right in front of me…or that’s how I remember it.”

“But that’s not how things happened, Dr. Calvert.”

“I know. I changed it. I saved his life.” Maria’s hands started to shake.

“The alarms started blaring and then I wasn’t at the LHC anymore. I was at the restaurant. Not eight-year-old me, but me. Who I am right now.

“I must have fallen backwards because I was sitting on the floor right behind Daddy. He was choking. I didn’t even think. I…” Maria lost her voice. Tears were falling on the table top.

“Used the Heimlich maneuver,” the man finished her sentence.

“I saved his life. I looked right at my Mommy…right at me.

“Then I ran out of the restaurant. Somehow, I got back to the LHC control room.”

“Yes, your co-workers estimate you had been absent for just over…” He briefly consulted a notebook on the table in front of him, “…four minutes. You had vanished right in front of everyone, and then you were back.” The man paused, took a handkerchief from his inside jacket pocket, and gave it to Maria.

“Thank you,” she said as she wiped her eyes. “Yes, that’s right. That’s what happened.” She released the handkerchief but didn’t give it back to its owner.

“Can I please call my Daddy? I haven’t talked with him since…since…”

“We’ve had a team interview your parents in the U.S., Dr. Calvert. They’ve verified that on your eighth birthday, your father had an episode while eating at the…” he looked at the notebook again, flipping through pages, “…Bistro Angele in Napa, California where he choked on a bit of his entrée. Fortunately, a woman was able to render assistance and clear his blocked airway, most likely saving his life.

“Although their description of her was incomplete, this being almost twenty years ago, from what your parents said, that woman looked a lot like you.”

“Then you believe me?”

“Yes, Dr. Calvert. Of course we believe you. Belief isn’t the problem.”

Maria could only stare incredulously. What else could be the problem?

“The instruments recording the particle collision were able to detect multiple anomalous events, someone used the word ‘bubbles,’ emanating from the point of the collision. As nearly as we’ve been able to determine, you fell through one of those events.”

“Time travel.” Maria was whispering.

“Let’s not attach that name to anything right now, please.” It was the first time the man seemed even slightly upset.

“An unknown number of similar events, perhaps hundreds, perhaps a good deal more, accelerated away from the LHC main ring at the same time you had your…experience.”

Maria’s eyes went wide. “But if there are hundreds…if anyone else should fall into them…”

“Yes, that’s the problem. The events are no longer detectable. They could be anywhere. Any place. Any time. You can’t tell anyone what happened to you. We are quarantining everyone present when the…incident occurred.”

Maria started to object. “Temporarily,” the man added. You will all be expected to sign non-disclosure statements which, if violated, will have exceedingly uncomfortable consequences.”

“Something tells me I don’t want to know what ‘uncomfortable’ means.”

“No, Doctor. You don’t.”

The man stood, picking up both his notebook and handkerchief. “I believe our business is concluded here. My companions will escort you to a holding area where you and your team will be processed. You’ll be released in a day or two after we’ve put the official story in place.”

“What will that be?”

“We’ll think of something. We always do. Good day, Dr. Calvert.”

The Large Hadron Collider has been shut down for emergency repairs after being infiltrated and immobilised – by a weasel.

The unfortunate creature did not survive the encounter with a high-voltage transformer at the site near Geneva in Switzerland.

The Large Hadron Collider was running when a “severe electrical perturbation” occurred in the early hours of Friday morning.

Spokesman Arnaud Marsollier said little remains of the weasel and the transformer connections had been damaged by the electric encounter.

He told the BBC it would take a few days to repair the damage caused by the weasel’s visit.

-Press Release, 29 APR 2016

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