A Sick Man’s Dream
    What is an hour of your life really worth? The time spent toiling in an office would surely be worth less than a ride on your first bicycle. How can a value be placed on a day in the life of a person. Any given day could be exultation or despair. Time bending technology was a useful tool to transport an individual instantly over practically any distance, but it came at an extreme cost, a cost in real time. The first experiments in Python’s new weapon, the Time Light Interface, were considered a fabulous success, and the program was fully funded as soon as the Governor made his first trip. In order to give the project a suitable range Steely Dan was erected in a matter of weeks. Power was siphoned off the grid to run the project, and other programs were left unfunded to hasten the completion of the brave new instrument. The shorter the journey the smaller the price to pay, yet the operatives who made several journeys were soon to be haunted by a phenomenon they called time slippage. The creators may have known full and well of the possible side effects of using vast amounts of power to bend time and space, but it is easy to believe that they did not wish to tarnish their achievement, so they downplayed any possible negative effects. But there was a downside to the equation.
     The cost of moving backwards in time, among other things, was a algorithmic loss of future time. After several months of experiments in travel, the Argonauts, as they had called themselves, experienced a devastating acceleration in aging and loss of memory. As a single use the effect was hardly noticeable, but in the repetition of the process, the effect was gradually accelerated. Time bending theory states that in order to survive disintegration the body must arrive at its destination before it is destroyed, if only fractionally before. The traveler, as they departed from the obelisk, was literally crushed and torn apart simultaneously by magnetic acceleration. Every Argonaut was believed to experience a “little Death” when passing from the compression stage of the operation through the Light Motion Interface. The traveler then arrived on the decompression side of the journey, the mirror, before their journey commenced. In other words before their death had occurred. The compressor was Steely Dan, which consumed the power needed to bend time and transport the operative, the de-compressor was the mirror that reflected its signal.
     Once the process started it could not be undone. Many of the first travelers were important people on thrill rides. The voyeuristic surveillance apparatus meant that a father could appear through a closet mirror at the first kiss of his underage daughter, or the last moments of a dear friends life, or, naturally, when an adversary was at their weakest and most exposed. Many powerful friends of the Governor arranged for voyages as they were called. The side effects were not long in becoming apparent. The effect became noticeable after only about a half dozen uses. The early enthusiasts were all scientists and government officials. They began experiencing the loss of childhood memories, but it was not only the traveler that lost real time memories, they were collective memory losses. It was gradually realized  that they were being wiped from history. Reality remained the same, but their part of it began to erode. It was very hard to detect, because only pictures from the past remained unchanged, memories all faded. Accelerated aging was another phenomenon, but it became impossible to ignore. Tiny lines began to be seen in the young faces of the Argonauts. As the creators began to sense the changes and search the data, they were loath to admit their discoveries. Government investigators eventually discovered that the scientists were the first to start refraining from the use of the newly discovered amusement. This was not overlooked when retribution came, which IT carried out.
     Other side effects started to become obvious to those who had the most hours of travel. The interval between compression and arrival began to stretch. The space that was travelled began to be filled with slow moving streaks of light. They were believed to be benign fellow travelers or sub atomic particles, but this was not the case. One technician devoutly coined the name cosmic angels, but this euphemism was short lived. His theory was revised when the first traveler disintegrated. The traveler was intent on catching his cheating mistress. When he arrived on the de-compression side of his journey he sprayed out of the mirror. The interceptors, as the light streaks were re-christened, were theorized to be light splitters, their mission to diffuse the light in transit, the effect of which was devastating. The Invisible Man called them la mano de Dios.
     Suddenly the whole project took on the highest security rating, and time bending became a weapons system. A large number of scientists disappeared and the project was personally  taken over by the Governor. There was also a significant drop in rider-ship. It was quickly understood that a few short trips were relatively safe, but continued use was at your own risk. I say risk, but you get the picture. All the early enthusiasts were either killed or died of old age within the year. Light travel officially became the domain of IT. The loss of the organic machines to the vacuum of time bending was not a “real time” loss. Their lives were considered practically worthless.
     Before he left his security job The Invisible Man had become familiar with the new weapon. I knew that he had access to practically all covert projects. Travel was becoming very difficult between Downwrdspyrl and the Funny Farm, and it was whispered that people were once able to travel through mirrors,. One late night at the Funny Farm I asked him if use of the covert technology might help us travel. He looked uncharacteristically pained at the suggestion. He gradually explained everything I already related. The nature of the interceptors was not worth the risk. He explained that the Governor was paranoid that the power of his new precious device could be turned against him. He needed to be able to interfere with all and any transportation during unauthorized usage, and curb the popularity and appeal of his new discovery. To this end he had the military create and arm the interceptors. The layers of deceit were beginning to stack up, not an unusual event in the halls of government. The Invisible Man said the power of the device was not something he could interfere with. As a tear rolled down his cheek he told me, “The first interceptor casualty was my Father. The man with my Dad’s mistress was the Governor. He cared enough to send the family some flowers.”