LBJ took the IRT down to fourth street USA - and other acronyms.

TOPWOTTICTO
by Ahmed A. Khan ©2021

If I believed in fate, I would laugh. But it is nothing more than an ironic coincidence that I have been assigned to interview the man who claims he can travel in time. And he happens to be her grand-father. So here I am at his residence. My second visit here. I ring the bell.

The man I am here to interview will be sixty-one in a month's time if the Wiki bio is accurate. He is of medium height and build, has a shock of grey hair, a high brow, a grey fuzz on the chin and penetrating black eyes. His voice is soft but deep as he welcomes me.

Coincidence seems to be building upon coincidence because the room where we are sitting for the interview is the same one where her body had been found.

I look around the room with interest.

"Find what you are looking for, young man?" The old man questions cryptically, startling me from my observation. I try to be nonchalant and smile.

"Just getting the feel of the surrounding."

"Atmosphere for the article," the old man nods. "Shall we start the interview, then?"

"Describe in your own words your method of time travel."

"Ah, a comprehensive question." The old man settles back on the couch. "You have heard of black holes and white holes, of course so called trans-dimensional gateways. Now imagine such dimensional gateways existing on a spiritual plane." I try to hide my look of skeptical contempt but he catches it and stops. Then he smiles.

"Surprised that I believe in spirituality?"

I nod, slowly.

"This won't be your last surprise of the day," he says. "Anyway, as I was saying, dimensional gateways exist within our spirit -- within ourselves. Among these gateways is one to the dimension of time. The first step in time-travel is the activation of this dimensional gateway. Immediately after activation..."

"How do you activate the gateway?"

"Sorry, I would rather not discus that right now but I was about to tell you how the gateway works once it is activated."

"How?"

"Are you recording this interview?"

"It is being recorded subliminally," I explain. I have a transmitter embedded in my brain and the receiver is at my house. After I go back home, I will transcribe it from the receiver and send it for publishing."

He nodded. "As I was saying, immediately after activation, the first thing that happens is that I get enveloped in what I call the time freeze zone - TFZ for short. The TFZ freezes time. I am held prisoner in a particular moment - the moment of activation of the gateway - and this moment does not exist beyond me. Thus held in TFZ, I can travel through time."

The guy is more of a crank than I was expecting but he has great imagination. I listen silently while he continues to spin his imaginative tale.

"The TFZ is an essential part of my time travel. It holds me frozen in "my" time so that anybody from any other time cannot see, hear, smell or feel me - simply because I am in "my" time and hence non-existent in any other time. In other words, I am not there, yet I am there. For that particular time I do not exist but for me that time exists. Beyond this I cannot explain it to you. When I return from my journey, I arrive in my time precisely the instant that I left, and automatically, I am free of the TFZ."

"So how do you control your journey through time? How do you go where you want to go?"

"Good question. My movement through time is controlled through my will. I can terminate my journey through time whenever and wherever I desire."

"This way, you can move both forward and backward in time?"

"Yes, with equal ease. So there! Such is my way of time-travel. I call it TOPWOTTICTO."

"Huh? Come again?"

He smiles. "Listen carefully: My way of time - travel is The - Only - Possible - Way - Of - Time - Travel - I - Can - Think - Of - TOPWOTTICTO. Get it?"

"Why do you call it that?"

"Because it is the only way I have come across that avoids all the paradoxes involved in time-travel."

"Well, let me get my mind around it a bit. You are able to observe the future without physically interacting with it. But then, wouldn't just the knowledge of the future affect your behavior in the present? Isn't that paradoxical in a way?"

"I see that you are an intelligent young man. Does TOPWOTTICTO involve paradoxes? I have thought over this a lot but so far, I have not been able to come up with a satisfactory answer. One day, I hope to know more about TOPWOTTICTO.

"You are quite given to acronyms, aren't you?"

"I guess, I am, but then so are all scientists. Haven't you heard of WIMPs and MACHOs?"

"Weekly Interacting Massive Particles and Massive Compact Halo Object," I felt like showing off my knowledge of science.

"There you go. So, using TOPWOTTICTO, I have explored various moments of the past and future. I have seen the ups and downs of humanity. I have observed the near destruction of the world in the not-so-distant future. I have also seen the very distant future when humanity reaches the pinnacle that it could reach. "

I decide to puncture his balloon. "You do realize that your story is hard to believe."

He smiles again. He smiles a lot. I don't like him.

"I know," he says. "In spite of this disbelief, I can use TOPWOTTICTO to benefit humanity. I can uncover crimes without being observed and rid the society of such criminals." He looks at me with such intensity that I feel my breath constrict in my chest.

"For instance," he continues, "traveling through the recent past, I saw a ghastly rape and murder being committed right here in this city - in this street - in fact, in this very room."

I start to get up but suddenly, there is a gun in his hands and the gun is pointed towards me.

"Sit," he says. "The interview is not finished yet."

I sit.

"The girl who was raped and murdered was my own grand-daughter, and the murderer has not been caught till now. Using TOPWOTTICTO, I have explored two alternate futures. In one, I don't do anything and the murderer goes free to commit more such rapes and murders. In the other, I take action. So I choose the second future. Do you know what I am going to do?"

"What?" I whisper.

"After we are done here, I am going to go to your place and destroy the recording of this interview."

"Wh-wh..." I find it hard even to speak.

"I am going to kill you, of course, and I would not want the recording to be found by the police. I have no intention of getting caught, and I know I won't be caught. TOPWOTTICTO has shown me that."

"Why d'you want to kill me," I yelp, fear making my hands and feet go numb.

"Because I know you are the murderer of my grand-daughter," he says and raises the gun.

x x x

Once again Ahmed has honored this website with one of his terrific stories. This one shows his versatility and skill as he merges the first-person viewpoint with present tense and suspense. Thanks buddy. You keep writin' em, I'll keep posting 'em. -GM

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