Posts tagged Paradox
Posts tagged Paradox
“Where do ideas come from?”
I asked to the expanse around me, the moon creating weird patterns in the ground beneath me. The plaza had a rustic tone with its stone roads and lamp lights. The man by my side looked tired, yet he smiled at me. A wary smile, a knowing one.
“They come as much from within as from without, you told me once.” He said, cryptically, putting all his weight on the rail, showing his back to the city below us.
“What I mean is…” I couldn’t really articulate my point. “This idea you’re telling me… If I am to believe you, I have met you before?” The stranger gave a dry chuckle.
“No, no. But you will meet me again in a few years. And, for me, it will be the first time.”
I couldn’t put my mind around that. I decided to chalk it up as a stranger’s fancy. “Ok, nevermind. So your idea is…”
“Your idea, actually”. The stranger sounded less than certain about that. He brought his cigarette to his smiling lips, a thoughtful expression on his face.
“Ok… so my idea… It’s a novel idea, really. But how could I go about doing that?”
“That part lies completely with you, I think.” The man looked worried now, as if doing a particularly troublesome equation in his head.
“Are you alright?” I said, unable to ignore this man for much longer.
“It’s just… We are caught in a cycle here, one which I am at the end and you are at the beginning”. He was sweating now, as if making a great effort. “That would be alright, I’m used to the strangeness of time travel. But now I can’t take your question from my mind” I remained silent, the sudden talk of time travel was weird enough, but it explained his claim that I would/already did meet him. “‘Where do ideas come from?’… I can’t say whose idea this was.”
“What do you mean?” inadvertently, I began to remember all he had said. His claim that I had told him the idea and he, in turn, was telling a younger version of me that same idea.
“If I am telling you this idea, and in a few years you decide to tell me that same idea and I end up coming back in time and telling you the idea… where did the idea originate?” I had gotten to that same conclusion, in my silence. Whose idea was it? But a different question was nudging me.
“Before that… why didn’t you take the idea back in time and made yourself famous with it, instead of telling me?” I thought it was a fair question. But a part of me realized that I was accepting the idea of time travel quite easily. I was probably just humoring the guy.
“But I couldn’t, could I? I don’t know anyone in this time that could help me and I have no idea how to go about doing a project of this caliber…” The man sounded defeated, having to admit his flaws.
“Okay… but why did future me tell you?” It sounded harsher than I intended.
He hesitated for a while, words caught in his throat. “I… really don’t know. Perhaps you remembered me?” It made sense, but it relied on my wanting to perpetuate the cycle.
“But if I already was rich from this idea, why would I need to close the cycle?”, but before the man could answer I already knew. “I became afraid that everything would unravel… That if the cycle was broken, I would never have heard the idea in the first place…” But I wouldn’t have believed in the whole time travel thing really… would I?
“I personally think that you saw me younger than what I am now and all your reservations about this story disappeared.” The man was looking to the ground now, keeping his balance on the rail, as if he was going to be sick. On top of that, he seemed to be biting his lip, as if keeping something to himself.
“One last thing, though… the time travel bit. How did you do it?”, I asked with more curiosity for the man’s mind than the actual phenomenon. Since we were in the realm of the hypothetical, why not go all the way?
The man didn’t answer for several seconds. I could see his eyes widen as realization washed over him. He stood up and looked me with a wry smile and glowering eyes. “So that’s why you told me, of all people.” He laughed, a course and low laugh. “I told you, then”. He seemed in a world of his own, and I didn’t want to snap him out of it. “I thought I never told you, someday you just… knew”. Seeing my confusion, he cleared his throat and continued. “Since I was a kid I was able to make a few jumps in time, it took me several years before I managed to control it, though”.
That gave me pause. We stood around, looking at the old city below us, to me an old friend using his usual clothes, to him an acquaintance using bizarre threads. The smoke fused with the fog that engulfed the city streets. If this man was crazy or simply making fun of me, I couldn’t decide. But his idea was solid and probably worth a lot if well developed. And he was handing it to me without any interest for himself. I would do my research, see if he wasn’t trying to make me step on any toes, but my mind was already far off, developing the idea further, fleshing it out. In my absent-mindedness, though, I failed to realize that several minutes had passed, and that the man by my right was no longer there. I scanned the plaza and saw I was alone, smoke and fog protecting me in a ethereal blanket.
The years were kind to me. The idea grew as far as my mind could groom it and further still, as my empire stretched it thin. The origin of the idea though never left me. In troublesome nights I remembered the fidgety man, the fog and my confusion. It was only fifteen years later that I saw his face again, but for a minute I thought him a son to the real man. It was an eerie effect. The man’s comment all those years back kept ringing in my mind. “I think you saw me younger and all your reservations disappeared.” Apart from the physiognomy, there was little resemblance between the man I now saw and the man who gave me my company and life. When our eyes met, his filled with a glimmer of recognition and giddiness. He ran to me, a youth’s energy burning behind eyes that showed a weariness I associated with the man from all those years ago.
“Pa? I did it, pa!”, he said to me. “I did it!”. Seeing my confusion, he paused and straightened up. “Oh, sorry. You don’t know me yet. Sorry.”
Comprehension dawned upon me and I’m sure it was plain on my face. “So you’re my son?”
“Yes!” he said, again eager and relieved that he didn’t have to do a lot of explaining. “In a few years I’ll be born and you will help me control this time travel thing, little by little.” He began to fumble with his pockets. “You said that if it wasn’t for me, you would have nothing. And for us to have the life we have, I needed to control my abilities and talk to you in the past.”
“I did meet you once before.” I was numb, my voice sounding miles away. “But why didn’t you tell me…” Despite the crowd that walked around me, I felt alone. The man - my son - had already disappeared again, as abruptly as he had done all those years ago.
He was born two years later and, in his sixth birthday, he asked me “Dad, where do ideas come from?”. I laughed, confusing the child to whom I knew I owed everything.
“As much from within as from without”, I said.
I have my reservations about this one, but I’m reasonably proud of it (for the content, not as much for the form). I know Tumblr isn’t a good place for walls of text, I’ll try to keep my short stories shorter from now on, if only the occasional literary behemoth. Do tell me what you think of this one, if you’d be so kind as to read it.