Fun with time paradoxes! What more can a man want? Warning!: May cause headaches in case of mishandling, contrary to popular conception, time paradoxes are not made to be understood.
--JU-JA-Buing, great philosopher of the fourth millenium (language devolved a little bit by then)
Monsieur Scrúje was resting in his maison, near a fireplace stocked with various near-extinct types of wood from all over the globe, burning. Contrary to what his detractors said, Scrúje was not tight-fisted. Not in the least. He appreciated the good things in life, like being the sole owner of various magnificent works of art only to keep them locked up and not allowing anyone but him to see them. Or buying various species of animals on the brink of extinction only to train his aim by letting them free and hunting them for sport.
Because Scrúje loved himself, and thus wanted to demonstrate the deep infatuation he held for every tiny little perfect bit of his body by buying himself presents. Presents only for himself, because he despised people. Filthy little people, the poor ones couldn't rise above their petty misery and envy, the rich ones couldn't rise above their backstabbing greed. And then there were the little ones. Oh, Scrúje didn't want to start with the little ones.
He did like Christmas, mostly. People came in bands, in swarms and took money in his bank, money that they would give back him, with interest, lovely interest. They would use that money to buy and buy and buy as tradition mandated. To buy, especially for the little ones. Scrúje hated the little ones. That's what he hated most about Christmas. That and that he had to close the bank.
He tried to keep the bank open in his first year, but the employees entered a strike. Of course, they were poor. Lazy, miserable envious poor, sucking the money out of his pocket, his hard-earned money, but putting nothing back in. Sucking up and gobbling up the world's wealth and leaving almost nothing to the true hard workers. Scrúje learned his lesson, and the bank only had three other strikes since then. Of course, he raised the interest rates, out of spite. Lovely interest.
Scrúje loved the interest, the way his money multiplied. The way he made money out of money. He laughed at people that sold jewels, food, or even drugs, thinking that they would get-rich-quick with that. No. Scrúje sold...no, rented money, with interest. Lots of interest. He blessed his already long-gone parents that left a wealthy legacy to him. Money. Lots of it. He managed to multiply many times the sum over the years, but he would be nothing without initial capital. He loved his parents.
He looked out of his large window, made of Amazon wood and Saharan glass, by French artisans. The employees were leaving the bank early for their paid days of laziness. The scum. Scurrying back to their lairs, to their clans of he didn't know how many dozens of little ones. Annoying filthy disgusting little ones. Then he heard a faint sound coming from somewhere else in the maison.
The servantes had already left the home, having finished their jobs long ago, and Scrúje had no majordome. A thief, probably. He took his revolver from the headboard and went to check the noise.
The noise was coming from his study, the whole room was a lovely piece of work with the floor made of hardwood, the walls covered in dark-blue wallpapers, and a large painting of himself made by a nice Spanish portrait-painter. But the room seemed eerily gloomy. And his painting, terrifying in its enormity.
"Ah, yes, just like me!" Scrúje heard a voice behind him, and a man in a seemingly expensive blue suit, blue tie, blue shoes. Blue was Scrúje's favourite colour.
"Who are you!?" Scrúje yelled, momentarily forgetting his revolver, and stepping back, startled. The man approached him, he sported a large, probably cumbersome bracelet on his right wrist, and he was about fifty years old. He was quite handsome though, and the grey of his hair was like a frame around his thin face. He had green eyes. He also had a small, nearly imperceptible cut on his neck. He was so very handsome, Scrúje thought, right before his conscious mind realized the truth.
"What you mean? Never saw a mirror in your life? I am you, tomorrow," was the revelation that followed.
Scrúje was momentarily shocked, and let his revolver fall to the floor, "But...how..."
"No time to explain!" the other said, pacing around the room, "This night you'll be visited by three versions of you. You from 1999 B.C., you from the distant Gollygolly galaxy, and you from...the future! They will try to show you the error of your ways, try to make you a better person, you know the routine. Don't let them. If you don't let them, you'll leave this night with this," he motioned to his wrist.
Taking a closer look at the bracelet, he noticed it was a strange machine full of blinking lights and whirring sounds and screens and antennas. Like every good scientifillic-looking machine. "It's the 'TARDIS'," Scrúje was going to interrupt him, but he quickly explained, "Yeah, I know. Our self from 1999 B.C. told that an English guy got him drunk at a party before he went to 1999 B.C.. It's pitiful when people can't even come up with their own Sci-Fi sounding names."
A long silence followed, a silence only broken by the future Monsieur Scrúje.
"Well, now I need to make myself scarce and prepare for when you'll need me again. Remember! No matter what we tell ourselves, just ignore it. Otherwise you'll never get the TARDIS, and I would never exist. And believe me, you want me to exist so that you can be in my shoes and see what I saw. It's great," he said, with a smile, then he pulled some things in his bracelet and pushed a large blue button and in the next second, a medium-to-loud sound sounded, a sound Scrúje never heard before, and the other him was no longer there, not a sign existed that he ever was.
Scrúje had been thrown off balance, so he sat on one of the mahogany chairs, and stared at his portrait. He shook his head. If it wasn't himself, he would've thought it as a hallucination, but he knew that he would never hallucinate like this, he was perfectly sane, much saner than the average, and he couldn't help but trust himself. He was so persuasive and trustworthy and intelligent. How could Scrúje even doubt that he was real?
Lost in his musings, he almost didn't notice another sound, coming from behind him, a sound much a like the first one. He got up from his chair and turned around and faced himself in an unusual attire. Something rather crude, different from the fine cloth he usually wore, and cut in a preposterous way, showing too much thing, and on his head there was that silly thing Ancient Egyptians wore on their heads that Scrúje couldn't, for the love of him, ever remember what was called.
It was reassuring, however, that even in that strange set of clothes, he kept his composure intact. "Oh, hello there," he said, somewhat nervous, and scratched his left arm, "I'm sorry, it's not my first time meeting myself, but you probably don't know anything about how it works, so..."
"Will you give me the TARDIS now?" Scrúje asked himself.
The other one took a little time to answer, visibly uncomfortable with the situation, "Well, it seems I ended up coming too late, he already found you, huh? Oh well, might as well try anyway. Man, it brings back memories," he scratched his left arm again, it was in a unhealthy colour between purple and yellow that Scrúje didn't know the name.
"What happened to your..." Scrúje started asking but shut himself up before he could finish. Momentarily angry at himself, he waited for the answer that surely was coming his way.
"I'd better not tell you and risk messing the timeline, you know how those things go, if it didn't happen to me, I'd better not do it or I'll cease to exist. But you'll know, don't worry," was the only ominous answer. "So," he said, changing subject, "Ready for some time and space travelling?"
Scrúje raised his eyebrows, "Don't I need one of these to travel?" he asked, pointing at the bracelet.
"No, I can travel with more than one person, or even animals and inanimate things, as long as the total mass doesn't exceed 6000 kgs, and the total volume doesn't exceed 1045..." but Scrúje was the one that interrupted him this time.
"I could care less about the scientific specifics, I guess. But probably not much. So, care to just do what you want with me so I can get my own TARDIS?" was the quick, sharp, interruption. A new light was lit in the eyes of the unusually dressed Monsieur Scrúje, and he restored his pride, smiled, scratched his arm and said.
"I see I was still sharp back in my young days," he complimented.
"And a tough bargainer," the other added.
"And had a... tremendous force of will."
"And smart, don't you forget smart."
"Never," the Scrúje from 1999 B.C. said, and pulled some levers, pressed some buttons, and touched some screens, "Time for some childhood regressions," and they, smiling at their own sharp wit and smart use of puns, departed.
It was a short trip. Scrúje expected blue flashes, swirling purple fogs and particularly bright colourful lights. There was none of this. If he didn't look around only to see he was in a completely different place, he would not have noticed anything. There was no movement, no sounds, no visual clues. Time travelling was kind of boring.
"Yeah, I know. I was disappointed my first time too, I sometimes watch this series that I...er...inspired, and even back in the sixties it had a better time travel effect. I got drunk in a party and mentioned the TARDIS...er... in passing...anyways, turns out there was a man listening a little too intently, and he stole the whole dammed thing," Scrúje explained.
Scrúje looked around, he was in a middle-to-high class apartment, the room he was in seemed to be a bathroom, and it was empty. It was all covered with porcelain tiles, and the door was open, which otherwise would have led him to mistake this middle-to-high class apartment for the home of very stylistically impaired alien beings.
"For someone with the power to travel anywhere anywhen, you have a very narrow mind. This is our childhood home," Scrúje said, prompting the other one to scratch his left arm impatiently.
"We're not travelling for fun, I'm here to show you the error of your ways so that you become a better person before..." for a moment, Scrúje expected the other to finish that sentence, but that moment passed, and the expectation disappeared.
"Come," he said, after another moment of silence. They left the bathroom, Scrúje saw his mother, and she was like back when she was younger, and had some old meat over her old bones. Nowadays, she only had the bones. She didn't seem to be noticing the both of them, which was strange, due to the fact that she was lying down on the sofa, breathing quickly, in short breaths.
"This is when she dies, remember? She was very kind to you, and always gave what you wanted, in Christmas, she would always give you a large present with red wrappings and a purple ribbon, those were her favourite colours, and they became yours too," the Scrúje in weird clothing said.
"No. My favourite colour is blue," Scrúje pointed out.
"Uh...I guess I forgot, whatever, the point is that she'll die."
"So?" was the answer. Her short breaths were becoming shorter.
"Oh, I don't knooow, Mr Smartypants! Maybe, just maybe, it was her death that transformed you into a heartless miser?"
"No. Remember, we poisoned her. She didn't want us to fool around with the neighbours daughter. Besides, she never would let us ride the roller-coaster, even though we were tall enough," the short breaths were taking longer to come, her face was becoming blue.
"Oh...I had...er... forgotten that," he commented, scratching his left arm.
"So, why doesn't she notice us?" Scrúje asked, while his mother put her own hands around her neck, as if she needed to make it more clear that she was gasping for breath.
"Oh, we're on a slightly different spatial J coordinates than her. Notice the subtle kabjum light shimmering around blue coloured objects?"
"Kabjum?" Scrúje asked, while his mother started shaking her head back and forth faster and faster.
"It's a colour between Orange and Jejbut," the other answered matter-of-factly, "People discovered new colours with long-range telescopes around the thirty-first century. Strangely enough, most J spatial effects of time-space dissonance are easily recognizable thanks to these colours," he continued blabbing about while Scrúje gave up on asking about J coordinates.
"So, are we done here? I really would like a trying out this TARDIS thing," apparently his words brought the oddly dressed one out of his reverie.
"Oh, yeah, sure...uh...where was I?" he asked, apparently to no one, while his mother drew her last breath, "Oh yes, come," he motioned to a closed door that Scrúje recognized as being his father's room.
A scream of "Ride that pony Scrújete!" was heard from inside. It brought back memories. Really bizarre memories.
"Oh, yes, I know what you're thinking. Yes, that's your sick paedophile of a father, forcing you to rape your sister, the same sister that you loved like a...brother, and that every Christmas would give you a present in pink wraps, pink was her favourite colour, and soon it became yours, too. She committed suicide after more three months of this. Three painful, painful months."
"My favourite colour is BLUE!" Scrúje reminded the other again.
"Oh...yeah, that. I've seen so much sometimes it gets messed up. When you've heard Aristotle, Darwin, Descartes, Nietzsche and JU-JA-Buing from the twenty-fifth century talking personally, the rest loses some of that importance. At any rate, have you seen the errors of your ways now?" he asked.
"Look, I wanted to rape her for a long time, but I needed an authority figure to back me up, so I manipulated my father into 'forcing' me to do that. And, in all modesty, he said I was the best thirteen years old that he ever saw..."
"Okay, okay," the other interrupted him, "I get the idea. I guess I forgot that too...okay...so next I'll show you...er..."
"Look, what happened to my memory? Did I hit my head on a rock too often? I mean, my doctor said that three times a day was okay," Scrúje pointed out.
"No! No, nothing like that. It's just that you're only fifty years old, and I'm...er...one hundred twenty...I think."
"One hundred twenty? Hah! I knew lots of vitamin C was a valid lifetime enhancing therapy." was all that Scrúje said.
"No! No. Nothing like that, I mean, they invented clinical immortality in the fortieth century, so I just went there and...I mean...sorry, can't tell you how I did it, or I'll mess up the timeline. At any rate, I'll give up this childhood shit, let's go somewhen else," he mentioned while messing with some levers and buttons of the TARDIS, as their father yelled some incredibly lewd thing again, but I'd better not mention it or any reader that actually managed to read up to this point will certainly give up.
At any rate, when the once again anti-climactic time travelling was finished, Scrúje could see only desert, desert all around. A white-hot desert, white sand, white sun, and a blue sky above him. There was no longer a Kabjum light shimmering around the blue. There was no longer the distant sounds of babies crying and people yelling that Scrúje heard in his apartment, in the city. And there was also a mastaba towering beside him.
"Here we are! 1999 B.C.!" said the Scrúje with the least weird clothes for the time period they were in, with his arms spread wide, in a pose that would be recognized as clichéd in any time period. "This is where I was before I decided to try and save you from...er...so, anyway I was convincing people that building those pyramids is a good idea, and came here every generation or two, as a mysterious tomb designer to show them where to build, this way I'll make a pattern that will essentially be a big 'invade here' sign for when the Gurytpeds come around, so they can trigger the big diaspora of 4056, so I can..."
"Okay, I get it. I mean, it sounds incredibly good, but I want to be able to do it myself, so can you give me the TARDIS now?" Scrúje said, trying another strategy. This didn't work as expected, it only made the other to remember what he was doing.
"No. I came here to do something and I'm doing it. Er...what was...oh yes! Caham. Okay, since the Freud approach didn't work, I want to explain to you why we don't have the right to be so incredibly successful. You see, this mastaba belonged to our ancestor, a vizier to the pharaoh."
"Impressive. I bet he used his mystical dream-decryptographing powers to get the position."
"No, actually he killed every single political enemy of the pharaoh, and threatened to kill him too if he wasn't appointed to the position. But that is beyond the point, he was only the first of a long line of Egyptian aristocrats, that went to Greece and then Rome when Egypt was conquered, bringing all their State-stolen wealth with them. With it, they bought great tracts of land and slaves, until the middle ages, when they kept only the tracts of lands, and levied overly heavy taxes from the peasants. The fortune of our family was built upon the overworked carcasses of our fellow human beings, and we owe these human beings the..."
"Wait," Scrúje interrupted the long-winded rant, "You mean I have blue blood? And here I always thought I was noveau-riche. Wait until I tell the other fellows at the jockey club about it," he said, smiling. This whole trip to the past was making him feel really good about himself. First fond memories of childhood, then the discovery that he had blue blood and was a famous designer of pyramids...or would be...at some point...in the past! To think that only a few hours ago he thought he couldn't think more highly of himself.
The other Scrúje, momentarily frozen with sheer unbelievingness, could do nothing but blink, and say "What...? Look, that's not the point, the point is that we don't deserve all this luckiness and happiness and richness, and you need to learn to treat your fellow human beings better, believe me, if I recall, it won't be long until...something... happens to your timeline, something bad," he said, his finger wagging at Scrúje, sternly, in about the same way a teacher would act with a particularly stubborn student. It reminded Scrúje faintly of something.
"If you told me what it was, maybe I'd take you more seriously. By the way, maybe we could go to whenever you got clinical immorta..." he interrupted himself mid-sentence. With the curiosity piqued, his interlocutor turned around, to some point behind them, where two people could be seen. One of them had a moveable chunk of metal for an arm.
The one with the arm yelled something to them, something Scrúje didn't understand, probably in Ancient Egyptian, because his partner with the weird clothes yelled back. The two silhouettes ran down the dune they were on and came nearby the two Scrújes.
"Holy...I forgot I had come here. The Gurytpeds' invasion, right? Good simple times," said the Scrúje with the metal arm, "He's a newbie," he explained, motioning to the Scrúje beside him, noticeably anxious, "I'm teaching him the basics, you know. I see your arm hasn't fallen off yet."
The Scrúje with Egyptian clothes scratched his left arm, "Oh, I'm with a noob too. Very first time, actually...Er...fall off?"
"You didn't know? Damm...sorry about that, my memories of the time before my grafting are a little foggy. They invented better prosthetics at the fortieth-five century, seems they only truly felt the need to do that after clinical immortality. At any rate, get yourself a computer grafted in your brain, too. Helps with the memory. I'm trying to get enough currency to exchange it for even better prosthetics from the Hulligans, but I'm not being very succesful. Their language is weird and all."
"Oh, I see. I haven't done much space-travelling, only lots of time-travelling, getting to know the various time periods. And trying to convince this one to start giving something back to the world," the awfully clothed Scrúje said, "So, how is this galaxy like?"
While the more seasoned Scrújes talked, Scrúje tried to strike conversation with the other newbie, "So, for how long you got your TARDIS?" which prompted the other to make a motion with his head that Scrúje couldn't interpret very well.
"You know, for a while, did he tell you the rules already?"
"No...what kind of rules?" Scrúje asked, very interested, so there were rules, maybe he could find out a way to get the TARDIS with them.
"Well, you know. Like you can't kill Hitler, for instance, which is kinda obvious, of course," he said, with a face that made clear that he discovered it by experience, "Sure, Kennedy is okay, but not Hitler."
Scrúje heard his voice from behind him, "Oh yeah, I remember when I killed Kennedy, first I came from the future to warn me that he was going to start a World War because he wanted to impress the chicks," the voice said, "'Sure, the chicks do dig that,' me from the future said, which I, having started World War Four, can say, is true, 'but we needed to stop him from doing that or humanity will never invent LCD screens before World War Three'. So he gave me some assassin training and some briefing and sent me to do the job, then he told me to go...back...and do the...same...to my past...damm, I forgot that!" having said that, the Egyptian clothed Scrúje fiddled with his TARDIS and disappeared.
"So...any other rules I should know?" Scrúje asked his anxious version that spent much of his time looking around the desertic landscape, while the cyborg-armed one waited patiently for the return of the other.
"Well, you'll find out for yourself eventually. Everytime you do something you shouldn't, a future version of you'll come and tell you not to, then he'll tell you to go back and warn yourself the same way. It's like a system we have," about three seconds before he had finished talking, the Scrúje that had gone time/space travelling came back.
"Well...I guess there isn't much of a point, look you two, I'll get the new one back to T day, you wait for me here or ask directions to the locals," he said, moving towards Scrúje.
"Oh no!" the one with the cyborg arm said, "I'd rather not trust these people."
"Stupid half-blind confused people," the anxious one said.
"Simple-minded lazy dumb people," the one with the cyborg arm continued, with a smirk.
"And the little ones..." Scrúje started saying, smiling.
"Oh, don't get started with the little ones!" the one wearing Egyptian clothes interrupted him, but he was smiling, "Okay, we should get back. If you get the TARDIS, remember to not kill Hitler, in fact, keep the pre-TARDIS timeline untouched, and, of course not interfere too much with your own life before TARDIS. After is okay, before...only if you're well disguised, like I was when I pretended to be our History teacher in High School to make it sure we knew what we needed to."
He fiddled with the TARDIS, brought them back to Scrúje's mansion, waved, and disappeared again. Scrúje sat on one of the chairs again, getting used to the high amounts of instantaneous travel he was experiencing. It was not wholly a bad sensation, but it was disorienting. However, it cheered him up that his future selves apparently didn't suffer from it.
Which brought him to another point, his future selves met one another, and by their reaction, it wasn't that uncommon. In fact, from what the Egyptian-clothed Scrúje said, he could infer that going into the past and teaching yourself skills and sharing information was common. He mused for some moments about what he would do with the TARDIS. He could go back and three times in a row and have a bar conversation with himself, or make an army of selves and conquer...China? South Africa? The United States?
His musings were interrupted when an incredibly cool, calm, and obviously belonging to a wise veteran of many adventures voice said, "Hmm...may I ask you what you are doing all by yourself over there, pal?", from behind him.