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Prompt 034: Stupid Ass Back-to-the-Future Stories
34. A mad scientist sends you into the future! What year does he send you to? What do you have to do in order to return to your own time?
I have a feeling this is one of those prompts I'd need to be really, really drunk to address in good faith. Either that, or I was on a date and I wanted to impress the woman I sat across from while I wrote.
Let me just throw out the notion of time travel right now. I don't think time travel is possible. At best (and this is still pretty inaccessible), there are alternate dimensions that exhibit different events when compared to our current history. For example, pivotal events in human history represent a turning point: the world is drastically changed as soon as that event comes to pass. If I consider as far back as WWII, think how different life would be if D-Day was a defeat for the Allied powers. What if Adolph Hitler had never been born? What if the French Resistance had successfully repelled the Germans from Paris? What if the Enola Gay crashed into the Pacific instead of making it to Hiroshima?
My point is that, if any one of those events ever went differently, then the passage of time, the events that made up human history from that point on, would be at varying degrees different from what we know. Instead of it being likely there is a single time-stream that can be crossed, hopped-into, or otherwise traveled in your fantastical phone booth or Delorean, it seems just as plausible - or even more likely - that an alternate timeline exists, parallel to the one we are experiencing.
In the limited time I've wasted trying to legitimize the conventional depictions of time travel in films and books (and in my experience, even tabletop board games), there's no way to go back and do the stuff you wanted to do.
Let's discuss WWII again. Say for example, that you wanted to go back and kill Hitler, or sterilize his parents or something. Unfortunately you would have never been born. Nazi scientists would have gone back in time and killed off your parents or your grandparents or something, preventing you from assassinating their leader or castrating his parents or whatnot. So the Allied powers send back commandos to blow up the Nazi science lab, but they're thwarted at the last minute by futuristic white supremacists who traveled back in time to ensure that their glorious leader was conceived and went on to build the Third Reich.
You ever see the film "Donny Darko"? Seeing that finally allowed me to put the notion of time travel to rest. In that film it finally presented a passably plausible explanation for weird coincidences happening in people's lives. Deja vu, witnessing things counter to your intuition, or even people "from the future coming back to warn you" all made sense in a world where alternate timelines were intersecting. There was also the possibility that Donny was simply a divine being deluded into thinking he was merely human and mortal, but that's a discussion for another day.
So, to hell with that mad scientist.