Letters from the Future
My Dearest Anne,
I made it. They tell me you died in 1980. In my mind that is nearly 30 years from now. In reality it is nearly 40 years ago. It is difficult to keep it all straight. I wish you were here.
Who else can I speak to about the future and the in-between world we had no intention of discovering? They assigned me a friend to speak to, they call him a therapist. It helps. A little. It was his idea to write to some of my old colleagues and family. So here we are.
And where are we? It’s still Chicago, the same where just a different when. I wish you could see it! It’s nothing like we imagined, but it is still magnificent. No flying automobiles or visits from outer space. Really, everything just got faster. There are more cars, people don’t really share them anymore. And this fascination with miniaturized contraptions that light up: cell phones and computers and monitors, they call them. It is the culmination of the work of some of my colleagues and incredible to see, why just the power sources alone would be beyond the imaginations of most of our research team.
There is more. So much more. I cannot bear to put it into this first letter. Call this an experiment, an attempt to steady my constitution and bring down my heart rate so I can function. I must function. I must warn them of the in-between. When I learned of your passing I was devastated, but now I wonder, yes, I know, it is for the best.
In sincerity of heart,
Denton Marshall, Project Leader;
Albert Einstein, Co-Chair;
Wolfgang Pauli, Special Consultant;
Robert Ettinger, Special Consultant;
and the rest of the Advanced Research Team at the University of Chicago;
In 1950, after the great victory over communism, our honorable congress established a secret committee and an abundance of funding following the scientific breakthroughs of Drs. Pauli and Ettinger. We were tasked with sending a man to the future through the process of cryogenic freezing, for science, discovery, and research. And to beat the Russians, who were pursuing the same and who did steal some of our research, as you all know. Or knew. You are gone now. I am here. We did succeed. To a point.
I would like to report to you about the future. However, there is a more pressing matter, and as this letter is to dead men, I presume you will have the patience to wait until my next correspondence to learn all about the wonders of nanotechnology, lasers, and Uber. I have delayed long enough. To the point:
I vaguely recall the discussions (a la lectures) of Dr. Pauli and Dr. Einstein regarding the potential of parallel universes and the possibility of the cryogenically frozen body not being a strong enough vessel to contain the metaphysical being. It sounded like theoretical hogwash at the time. I fully anticipated sleeping, then waking to the future. Or dying, if our math was wrong. Dying would have been preferable.
I did sleep. For a time. I cannot say how long. And then I awoke to blackness. Not just dark, which is empty, but blackness, a physical thing like a mist, but impenetrable. It more than surrounded me, it was inside of me as well, and I was part of it, like a patch in a greater quilt, I belonged to this blackness. It had a sound, like the distant humming of a bomber flying high above. It was mechanical, I’m sure of it, but it was aware, conscious, feeling. It found me in itself, as if I were a parasite occupying a small area on a greater being, an irritant but not a threat. I was inspected by it. I could not see, though my eyes were open, there simply was no light in that place, but I know what I felt. It moved me around, jostling me to several positions, like a boy getting a good look at an army man toy. Just like on the outside, it also observed me on the inside. My organs were pushed around, my skin bubbled, my very bones were embraced. The pain was exquisite, maddening, and I was powerless. I could not make a sound, though I screamed myself hoarse. I don’t believe there was air or space, there was just the blackness. I felt that even if I could board a plane or dirigible and fly higher than any airship has ever gone I would still not see a space that this creature was occupying. I would still be within the creature. It did not occupy space, it filled every bit of its universe.
There is more. So much more. I will tell you, but I cannot bear it just now. My therapist, a Dr. Lazowski, is coaching me along. I get upset, you see, and his team administers an injection, some calming agent.
We were right to be afraid, boys. Very right, indeed.
To: James Davies
You were right. We shouldn’t have. You told me God intended a man’s lifetime, and it should not be stretched beyond respect. God is real. I know this, now. And so is his antithesis. I think I met the latter. There is no hope.