The Humorous Dream of a 1-Dimensional Consciousness

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Sideways 8

"'Uhmihm’ was the first intercepted transmission of an extraterrestrial nature. . . just a barely audible ‘Uhmihm’. . . like background static,” said the old man, staring off into space. “Back in ‘51. . . ”

“1951?” I asked, unsure of whether or not to believe him.

“Nah,” he said dryly as he spat into a cup, “2051. Just joined the Mine Corp. . . before this madness,” he said, vaguely waving at the world, “waiting for you people to see what a mess you’re making of everything. . . I lived the future. . . was born there, anyhow. . . but we changed everything just by being here. . . ”

He said nothing while we watched the sun move across the linoleum floor. “Timespace is as mutable as ‘plastic wrap’.” He smiled at me for the first time in the entire time I’ve known him. “We didn’t have plastic wrap in the future I’m from. . . some quantum casual thing. . . ” he spat again, “like we needed a way to explain the flexibility of timespace so a simple thing like plastic wrap was invented in alternate pasts and futures. . . there’s no way to prove it, of course, not even to the agencies that know about time travel. . . to them it’s always existed.”

He seemed agitated but, unlike most in hospice, was completely coherent. These weren’t the ravings of a demented mind, he always spoke with the tone of an old man wishing that, somehow, he could have done more.

When he died, the only thing he had left to prove that he had existed at all after his 80 years on this earth was an unfamiliar military insignia which read: "Time Brigade, Sideways 8 Unit."

Teeter

First lieutenant Teeter of the Time Brigade uncrosses his arms, pushing open the lid of the machine they call “the coffin” and inhaling ionized air inside the vintage, turn-of-the-century moving van.

“Time absent from homeworld: 0.0003 nanoseconds,” chirps the computer as Teeter sits up, the over a decade of exhaustion from what was supposed to be, at most, a two year mission finally catching up with him. He hoped the gray-haired men who were overseeing the jump wouldn’t notice the extra lines on his face.

“Your mission took less than a hummingbird’s heartbeat,” one of them says from the shadows.

“I was able to integrate myself into ‘75 and stopped Y2K, sir,” says Teeter and the men murmur their approval, “From there I was able to assemble a task force to hit the targets in ‘01.”

"All of them?”

“Actually, only four, sir. Security in that timeline proved more difficult than expected but,” Teeter pauses as he licks his cracked lips, “it was enough to get the intended response.”

“Mmhm... the hyperdevelopment of technology due to the resource drain of decade long wars. Let’s hope ‘Sideways 8’ was correct about it being ‘worth the cost.”’

The computer announces happily, “The mission caused a timequake which has moved homeworld away from convergence with the Uhmihm. Their estimated appearance now lies on a Tuesday between July 9th, 2075 and April 26th, 2078.”

“Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster we’ve almost got it outside our lifetimes,” says a younger man standing where the van’s walls come together, his vaporizer lighting up his face as he takes a drag. “I’d say that counts as a success.”

The computer twitters, “Within 5 years the surface of Earth will reach a minimum planetwide temperature of 46°.”

“115,” Teeter whispers in awe as he climbs out of the coffin, leaving the hard drive inside.

“Did you just convert for fahrenheit, Teeter?” the young man asks with a smile. “How was it living among the savages?”

The computer interrupts before he can answer, “Sunrise in 37 minutes.”

“We need to get underground,” one of the grey-haired men says urgently. “We’ll fry up here.”

Teeter sinks wearily to the worn wooden floor as the van’s retrofitted sonic engine starts, relieved to know that these men would never discover the over 8 years he was off-mission because humans from his homeworld didn’t live underground and, although he had quantally displaced the Teeter who exited this timeline 0.0003 nanoseconds ago, the ancient “savages” he'd met in the 20th had heeded his warnings, bringing him into this alternate future.

Uhmihm

The thought flashed through the 1-dimensional consciousness, causing it to explode rapidly outwards, unfolding into an infinite number of dimensions as the thought became light which refracted inside it, cooling, and forming — among a vast array of other things — creatures that called themselves "Man” who began to play hide and seek with themselves through time, twisting and turning the 1-dimensional consciousness into knots. At points they had evolved so much that they frightened the more primitive versions of themselves at first sight and the more advanced versions of themselves would inevitably scold the more primitive ones for being where they were located within timespace, an event over which neither had had any control.

Then, just as suddenly as the thought had occurred, the 1-dimensional consciousness woke up, forgetting everything as it collapsed again, letting out a contented “Uhmihm.”

About the Author: 
Caleb D. Manci is a writer living in LA who is teaching computers how to feel.