This story was written long ago. The year 2000 was but a distant twinkle.
My name is Reinhold Armod. I am the unfortunate man who first tried to time travel. By the time I finish telling my story, the present will have dropped away and my head-long rush past time will have advanced one more ineluctable step.
It started innocently enough. Not pleasantly, but innocently. I was engaged to be wedded on the first day of the new millennium. Yet, one day before that supreme consummation of my desires, Sonia, my finance, was crushed to death by the crowd surge at Times Square. I stood, helpless, about ten feet from my beloved Rumanian ballerina, separated by the incredible mass of humanity that turned out to usher in the new millennium. Sonia’s slim, acrobatic ankle snapped. My scream of despair mingled with the frenzy of the last ten seconds of the year, the century, and the millennium.
January and February came and went with only my most peripheral awareness. The ides of March sparked in me the knowledge that, although time passes, every minute repeats the triumphs and failures of humanity from time immemorial.
My research, unfinished and untended, since the shock of New Millennium’s Eve, drew me back. I enmeshed myself in the space-time continuum of Einstein and the world-line of Minkowski.
A fruitful line of research into the connection between time and energy delayed my doctoral dissertation. But I cared no longer. The idea grew daily that I would soon master the constraints of time and avoid the catastrophe that made my present uninhabitable.
May 18, 2000. How well I remember that day. How often I see it. It was hot in New York. The Mets had lost their thirty-third straight game. The fears that the city would lose the team evaporated under the crush of jeering fans. It was also the day I made my fateful discovery.
I secured the use of the New Jersey cyclotron under a pretense. I stationed myself in the magneto-electric target area. My calculations were perfect. I appeared only a few feet from my Sonia. Unfortunately, my arrival jostled my neighbor, who bumped his neighbor, who shoved Sonia. Her delicate ankle snapped.
I merged with my doppelganger, sure before, though not after, who was who. My horror was deep-felt and self-directed. Just why, I’m not sure, but I decided that I would do no more research. Maybe I can sort out these feelings by thinking them through carefully.
My name is Reinhold Armod. I am the unfortunate man …
Image of Cyclotron. Momotarou2012 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)