The Last Syllable of Recorded Time
by Oonah V. Joslin
Dr. Geetler had a feeling of deep déjà vu like he’d had this same feeling of déjà vu a couple of times before. The cornea scan, the buzz of the door, the antiseptic white of the corridor, Teal Cunningham saying “How’re you doin’ man?” then the green screen, the pulse. It had something to do with the pulse.
He stared at the data as if it hurt, the way he stared at the data every day since he’d stared at it on July 11, 2011, the first time he’d managed to measure the quake. It had taken a while for him to recognise the effects because of the nature of the anomaly.
First of all it was virtually undetectable, and he’d decided to measure only because of this persistent feeling. He managed to “see” it only by shooting lasers at the event horizon — the term is usually reserved for black holes, but it seemed to fit the bill. The pulse hit the planet in a wave in all directions simultaneously and it apparently did nothing — except that Geetler was sure it did. Only nobody noticed it.
For a long time even Geetler didn’t notice. At first it was just that feeling of déjà vu. He sold his house to set up research because no evidence, no money; no money, no evidence. He built the pulsometer and logged an event each time it happened.
On the 13th another one hit, then the 17th, 19th, 23rd, 29th. Each time the pulse quickened by minutes. Geetler knew he’d recorded data but there was no standing record; only the last reading on July 31st. And so he had to wait a further six years for more proof and sure enough, 02.02.17 it came and 03.02, 05.02 and always it quickened by an increasing factor of primes.
But once more the data but for the last reading disappeared. Only his belief in his own sanity and in the veracity of the scientific method held him on track. He believed it to be there. He’d created the instrument. He knew he’d taken readings. It was all about pulses and primes. But who would believe him on such scant evidence?
People, it seemed, were oblivious. A quake would come and wipe out the previous hours and they’d all start again and time just flowed on as normal until the next prime pulse. Geetler had taken to writing data by hand when he realised that computers invariably reset themselves after each time pulse, as if the pulse had never existed.
Then he discovered that he, too, was affected. No matter what method he used, only the last data in any pulse sequence survived. He took to regressive extrapolation. He knew what the scientific community would call that: falsifying data. But at last he had built up solid data from each final event for the past three decades, from 2017 to 2053, but that wasn’t much. If he went public they’d think him mad.
There was absolutely nothing anyone could do about the prime pulses anyway, and even Geetler wasn’t sure what would be the final outcome of these time quakes. The number of minutes between pulses, like the dates, followed the pattern of primes. Today the quakes were down to hours apart. At least he thought it was today. The pulses were getting faster.
He wondered what might happen. Would everyone repeat the final 23 minutes of their lives, then repeat the final 19, then 17 and so on down to the final 2? And what then? Would the pulses play out in milliseconds? Nanoseconds? Would time reset itself again this time for good? Would the final quake leave Earth to its history? Or would they all grind to an irrevocable halt, all motion ended, time suspended for eternity?
Geetler stared at the data. It had been updated just three minutes ago. He shut his eyes, took in a deep, and perhaps a final breath and waited and wished he was gloriously deluded.
Copyright © 2011 by Oonah V. Joslin