Written by my Late Husband “Bill Hibberd” and printed in Mensa, March 2005.
I came across the manuscript recently whilst clearing his work stuff out, and decided that it’s time to get it into print. With the thanks to Amazon, it will be in book format and for Kindle.
The Author “Bill Hibberd’s note
I wrote the short story “In which time stands still” because, having written the article “3D Time Environment” I felt that I had touched on a complex subject but that I had done little to explore, and even less to explain, the logic or rationale behind the idea.
What I am trying to convey is an argument that embraces all the mysteries of today’s science whilst, at the same time, supporting the great thinkers that have helped us to understand our space, our planet, our religions and our science through our history.
I have come to the conclusion that our universe probably did start with a ‘big bang’ although I am not convinced that a big bang is necessarily a big explosion with fire and brimstone.
I have also come to think that having erupted into its post ‘big bang’ state, the universe is compelled to return to its pre ‘big bang’ state.
For us ‘time’ is a linear experience. Why?
Why is it an unarguable constant that, for us, time can only be experienced, not explored? Why does it only allow one-way travel? Why do we always refer to the passage of time as if it were time that moves rather than us that is moving through time?…………………
To read more…..Check with Amazon.co.uk
Here are the first three chapters to wet your appetite…..
IN WHICH TIME STANDS STILL
“Oh for heaven’s sake David what are you on?” Helen’s remonstration was absolutely typical of her reaction to David’s arguments.
David was forever making bold and outlandish statements. Most of the things he came out with could not be argued proved or disproved and today’s statement was no exception.
David was the sort of person who would breeze through life working hard but without obvious effort. Blessed with a canny insight and an uncanny ability to find the easiest way to do a task, David always reached his objectives but to the casual observer it was never clear as to the method he had used.
Helen was an altogether different person.
For Helen, detail was everything. Helen required evidence, proof, detail and co-ordination. Helen’s perceptions of reality were based on a lifetime’s exposure to standards, ideals, and empirical evidence.
Helen was the image of colour co-ordinated sensible dress sense where David, with slightly out of shape jacket, bulging pockets, trousers that were more suited to a time when his waist was three inches bigger and curly collared shirt seemed to have dressed almost as an afterthought. For David, clothes were just something to keep a person warm and to carry things in. For Helen, clothes ‘maketh’ the man or in her case, woman.
That these two people should be such good friends was one of the biggest mysteries of the institution where they both earned their living.
“How can you possible say that there has to be at least one more dimension than we know about? That is so typical of the way you think. Go on then prove it!”
“I don’t have to prove it. It’s obvious, just think about it Helen. People claim to have seen ghosts, spacecraft, aliens, we experience unexplainable phenomena things happen that just cannot be explained and yet they can all be explained by the fact that there just has to be another dimension.”
“Rubbish! You can’t just say that all these things can be explained just by introducing another dimension. If there were we’d already know of it. We’d have reports and sightings. We’d already be exploring it and learning of its properties. Good grief, David, there’d be papers on it!”
David helped himself to two portions of sticky toffee pudding, which he put on his tray next to his soup and bread roll. Balancing the tray on his hip and holding it with one hand he used his other hand to rummage in his jacket looking for change. The tray shook precariously but in typical David style, remained securely lodged in place. Not a drop was spilled.
Helen’s tray contained a bottle of water, a clear plastic cup, a chilled salad a small pre packed biscuit and her purse.
Helen moved around the awkwardly shuffling David reaching the till first.
“I’ll show you what I mean over lunch.” “Okay David, thank-you (to the cashier), you show me over lunch.” And with that Helen moved to a table near to the exit.
When David caught up with Helen he had made some additions to his tray. He had three straws, two menus and a number of paper towels.
Helen passed him a spoon for his soup.
After a few moments and most of the soup, David continued where he left off. “Okay Helen. You say that if there were another dimension we’d already know about it. True?”
“Of course we would. How could we not know about it?”
“If I can prove to you that it is almost impossible to observe another dimension but at the same time demonstrate that an almost undetectable dimension exists, will you believe me when I say that there has to be another dimension? Well? Will you?”
Helen knows that whatever her answer, they are about to embark on one of their famous debates. Debates that force her to re-evaluate her ideas and test her understandings and her perceptions to the limit. Debates that have, over the years, helped to make her the person she is today.
She mumbles into her salad knowing that David will swing into action regardless of her reply. It’s why she loves him so much.
As a teenager, Helen was very much a loner, never finding it easy to make friends or mix with classmates. Helen was the quiet mouse in the corner of the class. If she knew the answer she would hope that somebody else would offer an answer before the teacher started to call out names to prompt a response.
Helen was one of the ‘packed lunch’ girls and her lunch was essentially the same as the one she was eating with David today.
She would find a table alone and systematically work her way through her healthy choice menu while reading one of the classics. Helen didn’t bother with magazines finding them frivolous and she didn’t do her homework at lunch times because if it was meant to be done at lunchtimes it would be called lunchtime work and also because to do homework in school would draw unwelcome attention.
It was during one of these lunch times that she first noticed David. He was with another boy and they were having a heated argument about sport. Not the usual boys type of argument about who made what play or who scored which goal in a specific game in an obscure year. No, they were arguing about the speed at which the ball passed the batsman-comparing cricket with baseball.
Helen had never been interested in sport before but this question touched a nerve somewhere. Her interest piqued, Helen listened as the argument ranged back and forth between the two boys until a bell sounded the call, ‘return to classes’.
It was the first lunchtime ever, in which Helen didn’t read her book.
Moving onto the first of his desserts, David started to move his fork around, waving it in the air in front of them both. Sometimes the fork was over the plate of food. Often it wasn’t. It was as if he was rehearsing what he was going to say. Helen knew him well enough to know that David was, in-fact, so keen to embark on his subject that his hand gestures were incapable of waiting for his mouth to empty and today’s sticky toffee pudding was especially tasty and, clearly, exceptionally sticky.
Helen knew she was smiling and she did her best to make hers an expression of anticipation. To laugh now would possibly result in them both laughing out loud and sitting opposite David when he laughed out loud was potentially hazardous. To do so while he still had sticky toffee pudding un-swallowed was much too great a risk to even contemplate.
“Look around.” The instruction came before David had even finished his mouthful. “Look around.” he said again – swallowing. His fork exemplified what he was instructing Helen to do. Fortunately, today’s sticky toffee pudding was extra sticky and what was stuck to his fork remained firmly in place.
Helen obliged. “There!” David exploded “See? You looked around but you failed to look up or down. Look around again.” Thinking that perhaps the ceiling had been painted or the floor tiles changed, Helen did indeed look around. She looked into the corners of the dining area. She looked up at the roof tiles and down at the floor tiles she studied the walls and tables. She even managed to look, fleetingly, at some of the other diners. Not an easy task given that, by now, most of the other diners were looking at her.
She noted nothing worth the attention, and said so. “The point is,” David said, “that you can look all around. You can look up, down, left, right, behind and in front. You can look in any of the directions you choose.” Completely un-impressed with David’s excitement, thus far, Helen merely replied with a hesitant “yes?” which sounded much more like “so what!” than she intended.
“Okay, now I’m going to hold this straw in front of your eye and you have to look through it. What can you see?” Helen could see hair sticking out of David’s right ear but she was pretty sure that was not the answer he was looking for. “Just the side of your head,” she said. “What else?” Helen started to worry that perhaps he DID mean for her to examine the hair sticking out of his ear. “Nothing.” she said. “Exactly, all you can see is straight ahead of you and if you were at this end of the straw you would only be able to look back along the same length, forward and backward. No right, no left, no up, no down. Even if I point the straw somewhere else, be it the floor or the ceiling even one of the walls, the same rule would apply. You would only be able to see along the straw. If you were inside the straw you would only be able to see along the straw and nothing through the sides of the straw.”
Helen thought David seemed inordinately pleased with himself given that he had done nothing extraordinary, yet. This looked as though it was going to be one of David’s more progressive subjects after all there were two more straws, two menus and a pile of paper towels on his tray yet.
David reached for his second dessert.
The second dessert had cooled significantly and the stickiness had increased considerably. “Nnnng.” he said. Frustrated at his inability to articulate even the word ‘now’, David’s fork went into overdrive. Helen slid her chair back a little from the table and gave a warning look to a passing diner who changed direction and passed them by a good table length away instead of squeezing through the gap adjacent to theirs.
David attempted an early swallow and Helen was sure she could see the dessert’s entire journey from David’s mouth to his stomach. “Now,” he said. “Without moving you head, or eyes, up or down look around the room again and tell me what you can’t see.”
Despite the improbable nature of the question, Helen complied. Remembering her earlier acquaintance with the room, Helen was able to report that she could see nothing of the floor or ceiling inside a relatively short distance. David was already reaching for the two menus, which he arranged, again in front of Helens face. One was held flat just below her eye line the other just above and parallel to the first. Helen dutifully reported that both the floor and the ceiling had now been removed from her sight.
“So,” David fed back, “with the two menus obstructing your vision above and below you can only see along the flat surface. Your vision is in a sort of sandwich, which means you can look sideways, and along the plane of the menus but not at an angle through the menus. If I tilt the menus so that they remain parallel but are pointed so that your visual plane is up, or down, or left or right of where we started, you see different things but the same rule still applies; you can only see along the plane of the menus or from side to side within the plane of the menus. Yes?”
As Helen answered, David was already moving on from the menus and reaching for his can of coke. Wondering what was happing next Helen could only marvel as David summarised the fact that through the straw you could only see forward and back; between the menus only along, or side to side and yet, when David had told Helen to look around the room she had the option to see in any direction she chose. As David concluded his summary, the coke can returned to the table and in one smooth flourish David had popped the ring pull. Helen almost escaped the exploding liquid as the thoroughly shaken can expressed its contents all over the table, the floor, David and Helen. “I knew I’d need these,” said David reaching for the paper towels.
It was somebody’s phone making an insistent repetitive racket that had been substituted for a ring tone that caused them both to look at their watches.
David swept his brown saturated paper towels into a soggy ball, which landed, on his tray. Standing he brushed crumbs from his bread roll from his lap and departed.
Helen resealed her now empty salad container with plastic fork inside. Placed what was left of her bottled water in her bag placed the contents of her tray onto David’s tray. Stacked the trays and slid both the trays into the self-service used tray slot near the exit.
Smiling after him, Helen followed in the direction David had taken knowing that today’s subject was going to be one of David’s ‘multi lunchtime’ specials.
To read more, check out “In Which Time Stands Still” by Bill Hibberd at Amazon.co.uk