Time Travel Dream

Dream last night:

I am a boy, about 10. My sister and I live with our father, who is a reclusive millionaire mogul. He has discovered plans in a catalog for a number of strange devices. The first one we build is a mass driver (aka railgun) but is weak. You put a dime in the slot in the top, and it fires it out, but weakly. My sister and I fire it at each other, the dimes bouncing harmlessly off and clattering on the floor.

The next device is a time machine. I’m not sure what year it is, 1870 or 1970 maybe, but our father wants to travel forward to the exotic year of 1984. He builds it one night and leaves us, travelling forward in time.

We gather some friends, a few of whom are japanese and work in a nearby japanese restaurant. We activate the machine and jump forward in time.

1984 is strange and bleak, it seems like an economic depression has hit. We manage to locate our father, who is living in a shack. He doesn’t like it here, he wants to keep travelling forward, but the government has taken his time-travel device. He explains that we will have to help him break into the government facility to get it back.

So we head out, the poor millionaire tycoon and the rag-tag group of kids and early teens. We find the compound, there are machine gun nests and searchlights, like a prison, but we manage to get through the chain-link fence and inside the compound.

Inside the fence, it is a yard filled with RVs and other types of mobile homes. They are old and rusted, and parked haphazardly. Some are up on blocks, some rest on flat tires. We begin quietly searching them.

The eldest japanese kid finds the device and brings it to a central area, shielded from searchlights on all sides by RVs. We all gather round.

Our father says “well, I’m headed forward, are you coming with me?”
We shake our heads no. We want to go backward, back home.
“Ok, then,” he says, “I’m off.”
He is about to activate the device, but I stop him. “Wait,” I say, “we are heading back to the past. Can you give us any tips for the future?”

He pauses a moment in thought.

“When you get back to your mother,” he says, “there will be a huge blizzard. But actually, there will be no snow accumulation.”

The device is warmed up, and is starting to hum and buzz, louder and louder.

He steps toward it, and as he is about to go, he yells over the noise, “also, the father will apologize for the water! And the other will perform seppuku on someone else…”

There is a flash, and he is gone.

We gather up, and set the machine to go back home. We activate it, and soon we are back.

The japanese kids head back to the restaurant, my sister and I head to the farmhouse in Ripley, where our mother lives.

We are driving home with her, and we tell her what happened. She doesn’t believe us. Just then, it begins to snow, harder and harder, until it is a whiteout. Our mother says it looks like it’s going to be a terrible storm.

“No,” we say, “it’s like he said, it will look bad, but there will be no accumulation.”

Our mother doesn’t believe us, but 5 minutes later, the clouds have passed, the snow has stopped, and what little fell is already melting. The sun is shining.

She believes, not fully, but a spark. She is sad that our father has left for another time.

A few days later, my sister and I go to the japanese restaurant. We are greeted by our friends there. The eldest boy has always been somewhat rich and spoiled. We had all hoped that the time in 1984, were we had no money, would have taught him some humility, but he is back to being as brash as ever.

His father, the owner of the restaurant, comes in, and tells us to crouch down, in the yoga “child pose”. He walks around, and one by one, he cracks our backs. It feels good, and we are all relaxed.

I wonder out loud if this is what my father meant about seppuku, since we were in a similar pose when our backs were cracked. The restaurant owner asks what we are talking about. We tell him, and he shakes his head. “Such imagination, you children.”

“No,” I insist, “you will probably apologize about the water soon.”

He laughs, and we all kneel at the table, the low kind without chairs. We get our water and the food is being served, when the waitress notices residue on my glass. “Oh dear,” she says, “all the glasses seem to be dirty.”

The father apologizes about the dirty glasses of water.

“You see?” I say. He merely smiles. “A coincidence,” he says.

Suddenly there are shouts, and gunfire rings out. A yakuza gang who have been threatening the restaurant are causing trouble in the street out front.

The father begins to rise, but the eldest son waves him back. “It is my duty to take care of this,” he says, and strides toward the front. My sister and I crawl after him, so we can watch from a safe distance.

The yakuza out front have shot a woman who was passing by. The eldest son goes out and confronts their leader. “Go, now, and don’t come back,” he tells them. He stands defiantly in front of the leader. The leader recognizes him and smiles broadly. “Go home, rich boy,” he sneers.

The son again says “Leave, and don’t come back,” and points down the street.

The yakuza leader’s smile vanishes, and he pulls out an uzi. The son remains defiant, and doesn’t budge. The leader raises the gun, and sprays the son with bullets.

Bloody and dying, the son still refuses to move.

The leader draws his sword, a nasty weapon like a katana, but with a small blade at the end of the handle for close combat as well. The leader plunges his sword through the son. “Just die, and shut up,” shouts the leader.

The son slumps forward, as if to fall over. The sword is sticking out his back. The leader smiles. Then, at the last moment, the son reaches out, and with all his strength, pulls the leader close in an embrace. The blade on the handle impales the leader’s chest. The leader gasps, and blood begins to flow from him mouth. The son smiles, and they both topple to the ground.

The rest of the yakuza quickly pack up and run away.

I go back to the father, in the back of the restaurant, and tell him what his son did.

He is tearful, but very proud.

Somehow, discussion turns to how the son’s head should be cut off and preserved. I explain that lack of oxygen causes brain damage, that if he could be revived, he would be a vegetable. Some of the kids argue that freezing the head would get around this. I shake my head, but conjecture that maybe a pressurized oxygen container might work, since it would force oxygen into the brain.

As we are arguing about how to preserve the head, suddenly the eldest son walks into the restaurant. We all stare in disbelief. Behind him, we can still see his body lying dead in the street.

“But, how?” we all ask at once.

He smiles broadly. “Can’t keep a good man down,” he quips.

“I used your father’s device. I went into the future, and convinced future me to stand up to the yakuza.” He jerks his thumb over his shoulder, pointing out to the street. “That’s me from next week.”

“But,” I say, “what will happen in a week? You’ll just die then!”

“No I won’t,” he smiles, “if I show up next week and ask me to go, I’ll just turn me down. I don’t want to die, I’m not stupid.”

I try to argue about paradoxes, but he waves me off. “I’m sure the universe takes care of itself. There are probably branching timelines or something.”

I shake my head in disbelief.