Thursday, June 10, 2021

Microstory 1644: Fickle Fortune

Time is pretty complicated, and time travel makes it more complicated. There are those who don’t see linear time, or who have no use for it. Some can go back, some can skip, some can slow it down. Some can enter spatio-temporal dimensions, or even spatial dimensions. Some universes take this to insane levels, like Salmonverse, or parts of the Composite Universe. But there is one general constant, and that is that time still does move forward, one a time. It’s just certain people that are manipulating it, or moving about in some weird way. You can probably kind of see where I’m going with this, and it’s that this universe today is not like that. If you’ve read enough comic books, or listened to/watched soap operas, you’ll notice some funny things going on. One particular superhero was a high school sophomore when he was introduced, and even though later stories could take place after decades, he’ll still be a sophomore. Or maybe they show him in college, but a new writer will come on board, and want to go back to those high school days, and no one in the story will acknowledge these discrepancies. It’s called the sliding timescale, and it’s generally used to maintain the general concept behind a character whilst being able to introduce real-world developments, such as technological advancements, or topical global conflicts. Superhero A didn’t have a cellphone when his first issue came out in the 1950s, but he does in the 2020s, even though he would be an old man by now, if not just dead. The point is that this is done for practical reasons. The artists want to keep the story going, and they want to keep revisiting the same characters, but they don’t want to be stuck in a particular time period, and they don’t really want anyone to least not permanently.

Fickleverse is like that, except it’s real, and the residents are fully aware of it. They’re so aware that it doesn’t even seem strange to them. Time does not flow linearly, and it does not flow at the same rate—or even always in the same direction— for everyone, and this doesn’t generally bother them. Some children stay young for an extended period of time. Others will age too fast, often because some profound moment in their lives has transformed them into a different person, which only the illusion of the passage of time can meaningfully express. For some, they’re still driving around in petrol automobiles, and not presently cognizant of the fact that people in the next town over have hovercars. There are some other consequences too. In other universes, shows and movies will cast actors to pretend to be their character, but something will change, and that role will have to be recast. That will happen in fickleverse too. Your daughter might not just age before your eyes, but may even become a completely different person overnight. She’ll have the same name, and she’ll believe she’s your daughter, and you’ll believe she’s your daughter, but you will notice that she’s not the same daughter you had yesterday. You’ll just accept this, and you’ll love her just as much, because that’s how the world works. The interesting part about this, and how it pertains to the bulkverse, is that it’s unclear how time will affect a visitor, so it’s best to just avoid it. The Ochivari, in particular, can’t make heads or tails of how it works, and what their environmental potential is. Can the world be saved? Are the humans destined to destroy their Earth? When time can go in reverse as easily as it moves forward, there’s no way to know what has happened, let alone what will happen. So they just leave it be, and chalk it up to a hopeless cause.

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