Change in I, by J. Rohr


Like most physicists, Melinda Barrow never mattered to the public.  Not until she learned to see through time.  The sacrifice of an eye, a cost she willingly paid to prove herself correct, was all it took.  Early in her career she realized that light is the only thing which can travel at the speed of light, a concept that seemed simple, however, it implied to her the possibility of time travel.  Or rather, temporal observation.  The basis of her hypothesis was/is/will be summarized in an article in the June 17th 2056 The Economist.  In truth, this will be an extreme simplification of the process, that what light interacts with can be observed given the right conditions regardless of chronological distance, however, Melinda merely wanted people to understand her accomplishment, though she rarely minded being misunderstood.

Jacob Triffin decided to open a deli after his father died, not wanting to waste his life in the same corporate…

Most of Melinda’s life teachers considered her a lazy student, one prone to “aimless daydreaming about nonsense.”  She considered a career in the arts before recognizing her ability with numbers.  The digits just seemed to click.  What others saw as a tangled mess of hieroglyphic gibberish she perceived as a gateway.  Programmers see code in the same way that geneticists see DNA, that musicians see music, and the same proved true for Melinda when it came to mathematics.  Her sense of reality began to solidify and unravel simultaneously the more she learned about what people knew, or thought they knew, about the nature of the universe.  It made her realize that nothing was ever known till it could be nailed down, and even then the right angle of observation might slant the perception.  “Paradigms organize around perceived facts which leaves the unfettered mind to embrace the infinite scope of the imagination,” a professor told her. “It’s all true until you prove otherwise.”

Jacob Triffin became the youngest CEO in the history of…

Explaining her mechanism at a symposium of quantum theorists in Chicago, Melinda wore the whirring eyepiece proudly.  Despite the initial stir of shock -– most people responded with blatant discomfort at the sight of the flickering outlet where her right eye used to be –- her theory, seemingly proven, elicited a quiet awe.  If for no other reason than the fact that she’d been willing to remove her own eye to prove herself correct.  However, much of what she claimed made too much sense to be ignored.  Of course, to verify her conclusions, someone would have to replicate the experiment.  It took/would take three months to find a volunteer.

Mr. Triffin, as he preferred to be called, liked Montana, but he still felt it practical, regarding his temperament, to move to New York…

Melinda spent most of her twenties as a glorified assistant to Theodore Dryson, whose work attempting to create an artificial sun assured laurels for all associated.  Though, then and for the rest of his life, Dryson often spoke little well of Melinda Barrow.  Many people took that to mean envy, yet Melinda later freely admitted to being a poor assistant.  Her mind still wandered rather than focusing on her duties.  It would be/was a long standing debate among her admirers as to whether this straying attention is what allowed her flash of genius.  The only thing being known is that if she had given primary attention to the Dryson Sun, she might never have embarked on her own research.

Triffy drank a bottle of whiskey a day…

Gordon Lewdall allowed his own eye to be removed and a device built according to Melinda’s design to be installed in his left eye.  “The weaker of the two,” he joked/s, prior to the operation.  The main thing afterward was/is getting used to the lopsided feeling of one’s head.  The device feels awkward, sometimes weeks afterward, being an addition of three pounds in metal and circuitry to the skull.  Once everything seemed operational, Gordon performed the experiment.

A graduate student was/is sent out to perform a random task on his/her own, this action being kept secret from all parties.  Only the student knows what s/he has done on this occasion.  After plugging his socket into the machine, the observer is given the chore of seeing what the student has done on this clandestine excursion, despite the fact this observation is taking/will take place several weeks later.  When Gordon Lewdall unplugged himself from the machine he gave such a detailed account of Abigail Bremahn’s afternoon, four weeks past, he might as well have been with her.  Five other candidates immediately signed on to recreate the experiment.  All verified the device’s abilities.

Professor Douglas J. Triffin was/is concerned from the start.  The day Melinda’s discovery became headline news he worried about one thing.  Light traveling through the aperture might not be a one way trip, and he worried what kind of ripple effect anything from, what the observer would call, the present into the past might have.  “Consider,” he told/tells an interviewer, “This light makes its way into the past having a minute, at first, but over time cumulative effect on the reality it enters.  I may be being overly cautious, if you’ll allow me to put it kindly, however, if this light were having an effect, altering, however slightly, the Past, how would we know?  It’s already the past which has occurred.  How much might we change simply by looking?”

The idea came to her sharply watching the swelling ball of plasma trying to hold its shape, recording numbers about its output, when something struck her about the glow.  It made Melinda wonder about light.  The hardest part was/is/will be figuring out how to dial in on a specific location which is what required the dual mechanism to be developed.  Melinda’s early experiments caused her socket to throb, burning from all the light pouring into the optic nerve, a deluge of information composing a messy collage rather than a coherent image.  But slowly, over time, it came together.  Her initial tests allowed her the confidence to assume the optical augment she’d conceived would be a worthwhile risk.

Whenever someone asked, “Why this design?” she’d respond, “I was monitoring the Dyson Sun, my eyes hurting from the light, and then something just clicked in my head.  I saw the design like an epiphany.  Just popped in there out of nowhere.”

Lucille Triffin’s stillborn son haunted her.  The child she wanted to name Jacob…

Melinda Barrow congratulated Doug Ronsen, “Way to go Doug.  Temporal observation.  I always knew you’d do something epic.  So what’s next?”

Ronsen shrugged, “I was thinking about looking back to when we first met.  You were monitoring the Dyson Sun…”


J. Rohr is an internationally published author. His work has appeared in magazines such as Britain’s Jupiter (issue #39) as well as Annalemma, The Mad Scientist Journal, and Silverthought Press Online. Currently, he runs the blog in order to deal with the more corrosive aspects of everyday life. A Chicago native, he has a passion for history and midnight barbeques.

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