Most people assumed when Geoff Lawson invented his revolutionary time travel device, the breakthrough would first be used to better mankind, to gain some knowledge of our inception, to break down the barriers that separate religions, sexes, and societies. Geoff, however, had very different plans.
Theoretical physics had not always been his focus. In fact, no facet of physics had ever held much interest to him. Geoff was, and in some was always will be, an actor. He was known throughout the Windy City for his portrayals of King Lear, Faustus, Iago, Rosencrantz, and most notably, Uncle Vanya. He had won awards. He had met leaders of state. He had performed along side legends of the age. Yet, after what was to most just another weekend in mid-May, Geoff announced his retirement from the arts, effective immediately.
He disappeared into his basement. He enrolled in every online physics, engineering, and theory class he could find. He used his connections to arrange meetings with pioneers of modern science. He hosted lectures. He grew a beard. He developed a taste for aged brandy. And on the rare occasions he was seen in public, he smelled of chalk dust and burnt cedar. His actions were confusing to say the least.
Friends called upon him in concern. They invited him to parties, attempted to entice him with offers of one-man shows and six-month runs. But Geoff was beyond their reach. Their queries and paychecks were answered with nonsensical dribble, the goings-on of a man detached. They sent three different doctors to visit him. Two were never heard from again. And the one that returned had no recollection of the encounter.
Tensions and rumors grew. The circle of people concerned for Geoff’s seemingly worsening state expanded beyond just friends and family – priests, doctors, physicists, neighbors, delivery boys, milkmen, theater owners, the like. There was a wave of Midwest worry over Geoff’s retraction from the world at large.
And then, one beautiful summer day, Geoff emerged. Shaven, sober, smelling nothing of chalk nor cedar. It was as though the previous two and a half years had been a dream. He was charming and talkative. Of course, there were hundreds of questions – what had he been doing? Why had he disappeared? Where were the doctors that had visited him? What had been going on in that basement all this time?
Geoff’s answer was simple and straightforward. “I have found a way to travel through time and have done so.” Shock and silence. Those that had known him well before the two-year lapse, laughed, thinking it a joke. The science community huffed; “It cannot be true.” And his mother, who had never once in her life doubted her only son, gave him a hug, thinking he had finally lost his mind.
But right then, a second Geoff walked through the door, drunk, unkempt, smelling of something normally reserved for zoo feeding areas, and some would later attest, sporting a tattoo down the left side of his neck. The room went stiff. Fear and excitement seized everyone. How could this be?
He began to explain but few were listening. They were still awestruck over the phenomenon. There were two Geoff’s standing there – one clean cut and sober, the other tired and very drunk. He said he had successfully travelled back in time for a very specific purpose, and having accomplishing what he had hoped, returned to share this breakthrough with the world. He also explained the drunken copy of himself was only here for dramatic effect, that he would be returning to his place in the space-time-continuum after the announcement. The room, though not really understanding why, felt some ease knowing there would not be two Geoffs occupying this time space.
That ease was short-lived. The room shivered in fear as an old man, who had been introduced to Geoff at a physicist conference nine months earlier, asked what he had done while in the past, wondering mostly if Geoff’s actions would alter the future in disastrous ways. Drunken Geoff laughed, drunkenly. Sober Geoff explained.
“I went to my best friends bachelor party.” The room released a unified, stupefied “What?!” Geoff proceeded to tell the crowd how two years prior, he was unable to attend his best friends bachelor party and how this was devastating to him. So one night, while watching the late night movie on TBS, he decided, he would find a way to travel back in time and attend this epic event. The crowd was abuzz with questions. They shouted at Geoff for answers and explanations. They huddled around him so tight he could hardly breath. He attempted to answer a few questions, but, after a short time, he told everyone he was very tired after the long weekend of fun, which had actually happened two years earlier. And he went to bed.
Others continued Geoff’s work and did everything imaginable with the mind-boggling innovation. Some religions were abandoned, others strengthened. Science leapt forward, no longer bound by time constraints. The mysteries of history were answered and many of the social stigmas towards race, gender, and other variables were dissolved. Geoff, however, never travelled again. He was quite content with the one trip. And no matter how much people ask him about it, all he ever says about that first trip back in time is, “It was worth it.”