Through A Wormhole Darkly
October 16, 1944, Der Riese Facility, Germany
The burst of light blinded everyone in the chamber as Private First Class Gunther Bauer emerged from the traversable wormhole. He just returned from a trip fifty years into the future and everyone involved in the Future Third Reich (FTR) Project was eager to hear about it.
1994 had shown him amazing and unusual sights. There were women wearing almost nothing, walking around with tattoos and men with ears and noses pierced like circus freaks…and the sounds…they were everywhere, non-stop, loud sounds and traffic, lots of traffic and in the sky, jets propelled at amazing rates of speed. Bauer was chosen to take part in these experiments because of his electronics background and military assignment as a radio operator and he prided himself on keeping up with the latest in electronics technology but nothing could prepare him for what he saw.
There were people carrying black boxes half the size of a radio transmitter (but with far less dials) that emitted a variety of sounds and music, places that looked like coffee houses filled with all races of people, but no conversations were taking place, instead each person was focused on individual screens attached to typewriter keys, everyone absorbed in typing, typing like secretaries in an office, hardly ever taking their eyes off the screen.
He’d seen the television with its infinite number of programs and even more impressive array of colors, dazzling colors like a vivid dream. One time on leave in Berlin he’d seen the “people’s television” being offered at the Fernsehstuben (television parlor) but this television of the future was light years ahead in comparison. The television showed him (in a program called a documentary) that the future offered space travel, technological advancements and gadgets of every shape and size he didn’t understand, but he was fascinated by it all. As the first soldier to time travel, he was given strict orders to observe and take notes on scientific advances. It was Hitler’s purpose with the FTR Project to learn as much as possible so that his scientists could then develop this technology to further advance his power.
Gunther was the perfect Nazi soldier for the job: flawless physical appearance, dedicated whole-heartedly to Hitler and just-plain curious. Others in his unit kidded him about being “too Aryan” because of his extremely blonde hair and white eyebrows, but Gunther was also easy-going and could always laugh at himself. But when he walked out of the wormhole everyone knew something had changed in him. Bauer’s eyes were bulging out of their sockets. He was sweating profusely and could not keep his eyes on any one spot, scanning the room constantly, but these were all strictly outward signs. No one but Gunther could hear the shrieking, screeching man’s voice that resonated in his brain. He began screaming to this voice no one else could hear: “Shut up! It is infuriating. Stop it! Go away!”
He pointed to the wormhole claiming a demon was nearby then laughed maniacally, but a roomful of lab techs and scientists were ill-equipped to handle what came next. Gunther leapt at the nearest assistant, slamming his teeth with full force on the man’s face and bit off a large chunk. He grabbed clumps of the terrified man’s hair and was pulling them out by the bloody roots screaming, “Die devil, die” until finally a guard knocked him out with the butt of his rifle.
Some of the staff suggested that the Führer be notified immediately of this unsavory development. Dr. Reinhardt, the program’s director and his assistant Oskar Engle vehemently rallied against informing Hitler, arguing that in order to determine if Gunther’s mental state were a fluke or the norm, they would have to obtain a larger sampling group. Initially, the others agreed to this logic and twenty-four other soldiers were sent through the wormhole, one at a time.
With each new subject, Reinhardt adjusted variables (different departure times, giving the subjects various drugs, including ample doses of Pervitin, the methamphetamine drug used by soldiers on the front lines, starving some, over-feeding others) to see if the outcome would change. Unfortunately, each returning soldier displayed similar psychotic episodes soon after emerging from the wormhole, but none were as extreme as poor Gunther’s. When Hitler was finally informed of these developments the project was cancelled and each soldier, including Gunther, was taken away, quietly and mostly in strait jackets, to Theresienstadt concentration camp where they were left in their mentally unstable condition to die, unattended.
When the Germans lost the war, Oskar Engle immigrated to the U.S. and changed his name. With the little money he had saved, Oskar began a new life as Oscar Engel, a local fruit vendor. He was never charged for any war crimes so within a few years his scientific curiosity re-emerged along with the rumors that Hitler had survived the war and was living in Argentina and so he continued experimenting with wormholes in his garage, visiting various points himself in the future in anticipation of the day of Hitler’s return. On occasion he even paid derelicts who were desperate for money to travel the wormholes, but Oscar was unable to figure out how to eliminate the after-effects of the crippling paranoid psychosis which manifested on the traveler upon their return, nor could he figure out why he was immune to these side-effects. He theorized perhaps it was because he was older than the other subjects, but it remained only a theory.
The Nazis accomplished time travel at the powerful Der Riese facility by accelerating one end of the wormhole with massive electrical charges to a high velocity relative to the other, which resulted in the accelerated wormhole mouth aging less than the stationary one so that when a person walks through it, they come out the accelerated end in the future. With the other mouth being stable you could return through the wormhole out of this mouth soon after you left. Oscar’s garage facility was only capable of generating enough electricity to accelerate the mouths of the wormholes he created so that the increments of travel into the future lessened to twenty years instead of fifty. But keeping them stable enough to insure a safe return was more trouble than it was worth so he stopped the experiments by the late ‘80s all together, even going so far as to dismantle his lab and tear down his garage.
Unfortunately, even after Oscar had taken all these precautions, wormholes would randomly appear then disappear then re-appear approximately 2 hours later for a very short time, only to de-stabilize and disappear for good. Anyone entering them could find themselves 20 years in the future with only a short window to return to their present day. Oscar planted a garden to deter anyone from entering his yard. When that wasn’t effective enough, he posted Keep Off the Grass and No Trespassing signs. No one but Oscar knew of the true danger that awaited trespassers.
June 13, 1996, 7:10 PM
“Go get your brother,” said the mother to her oldest son. “He’s gone to the 7-11 to buy more of those Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cards. He’s obsessed with those stupid things.”
“Okay, mom,” replied Sean, happy to get away from the unappetizing smell of the night’s dinner: hamburger mixed with peas and carrots. He was also in no particular hurry to get back home and do his math homework, so he took his time, stopping once to tie his shoe and watch an army of ants devouring a bug on the sidewalk. Then once again to watch a couple of dogs fight.
When he finally turned the corner, he saw his younger brother, Jeffrey, in the middle of being bullied by two other boys. A thin youth, smaller in stature than Jeffrey but with pure anger in his eyes, was clutching his shirt, demanding money. Jeffrey stood frozen with fear. When Sean appeared suddenly out of nowhere and without flinching, demanded of the thin boy to “let my brother go” this immediately elevated him to hero status in Jeffrey’s eyes. The other bully decided it wasn’t worth it and mumbled to his friend, “Let’s go” to which they both left promptly without a word.
On the way home, Jeffrey was silent for he felt embarrassment at not defending himself. Sean pulled a quarter out of his pocket and tossed it in the air.
“Tails.” Despite it being heads, Sean called out, “tails, then said, “Okay, you gotta find me” and this made Jeffrey smile because he enjoyed looking rather than hiding.
Back home, the count was on: “One thousand ten, one thousand eleven, one thousand twelve.”
Sean had just eighteen seconds to hide. Hiding behind the wheel of his dad’s truck was too easy, he thought. He then considered the side of the house—too obvious. He remembered once before lying next to the porch stairs but his giggling gave him away.
Jeffrey was up to one thousand twenty-five when a brilliant idea struck Sean – his neighbor’s yard would be the perfect spot. There were signs to Keep off the Grass but with only five seconds left, he decided to ignore them and dashed across the lawn to the other side of Mr. Engel’s house. There, he found a cluster of rosebushes. They were odd in appearance, elongated with a shell-like sphere surrounding them. Sean could hear Jeffrey approaching. He ran toward the bushes and as Jeffrey came around the corner, Sean and the sphere with its strange-looking rosebushes disappeared from sight.