“We have the technology to go back in time. Why not use it for the key question of the history of all questions? Simon, get me to Jerusalem. Get me there before he gets crucified. The clock is ticking.”
Livia watched Simon as he fiddled with the hand-held comp, madly tapping on its screen, obviously looking for any discrepancies in the prep programming. She knew even Simon’s exceptional mind would not be able to second guess the computer’s algorithms. But, he was desperate–she knew that. She also knew what the next thing out of his mouth would be and she wasn’t sure if she would turn him down. It was nearly three years since his last trip and he almost died on that one. If it had not been for Ruth and her skills as his monitor and the bravery of his backup who dived right in and brought Simon back…well, Livia wouldn’t have Simon as her best friend…her monitor.
“Okay, Livia. If you insist on this target then I’m going with you, or, you don’t go at all–I close it down. No arguments, got it?”
“I thought you never wanted to be a “knight in shining armor” ever again, Simon?”
“That’s a little below the belt, even for you, Livia. Like I said, no arguments. Any negotiation went down the proverbial toilet with that snide remark. So, do I close this down or do I get my vaccinations?”
“Your medical, your vacs and new prep simulations and reconfiguration will cost me some time, Simon. Time you’ll probably use to try to talk me out of it. I am getting so tired of arguing with you. I don’t want to argue with you, Simon.”
“No more arguments–just prep talk. I’ll set the clock for leaving in one month…no, do not say a word about the prep time, Livia. There’ll be double the possible contingencies: two Roman citizens in the armpit of the planet. We can still make the window. I’ll get Ruth to monitor us. Do you have any problem with Ruth monitoring us?”
“Of course not. She’s your sister–your twin–who better? And, she’s the top monitor. If anything happens outside the sims, who better than Ruth, who knows how you think–what you would do? Only, she thinks I’m crazy for wanting to go on this quest, and she won’t like that you’re going with me.”
“She’s a professional, Livia, and she’s known all along that if I couldn’t talk you out of this that I would go with you. We’ve talked about it at length, believe me. She’s a hard taskmaster, though. She’ll put us through our paces and more, preparing us for the worst. She prefers redundant transplants, by the way.”
“I know, Simon. Ruth and I have also talked, particularly about her concerns that you go on another trip, after the Crusades fiasco.”
“Well, nice to hear that you and my sister considered it all along. You could have saved me a lot of distress and ruminations by just asking me to go with you in the first place.”
“It wasn’t a conspiracy, Simon, not by any means. I honestly didn’t–don’t want you to go. I believe it would be easier and safer by myself, but, you’re not giving me any other option..”
Livia realized that they were going to a time when life was fragile–to a place where much of humanity was horribly downtrodden on a planet just like the one she grew up on, only having an entirely different history. Her Earth did not have God, or Jesus or religions. There was no heaven or hell–no afterlife or promise of eternity. No wars were fought in the name of religion and so her planet’s history was not marred with many wars. Livia’s Earth was a peaceful, enlightened and comfortably affluent planet where no one went hungry and over-population never happened. Disease, birth disorders, disabilities, were wiped out early on her planet, and lifespans were long and comfortable–without the debilitating effects of aging. The nuclear bomb was never created and petro-chemicals never used so pollution never took hold to cripple the ecosystems, deplete the ozone layer and instigate global warming. On Livia’s Earth, there was no big business influencing government and no powerful few ruling the powerless many. And, because the people on her planet enjoyed equality and the freedom of self-determination, harsh doctrines such as Communism never saw the light of day.
Livia’s Earth was the heaven that the generations of the other Earth only dreamed of attaining through some cosmic force or supreme being. The questions Livia wanted answered were simple: which Earth was right? Was there a God? Was religion valid or just superstition and hope in the face of helplessness?
Livia hoped she would soon know the answers. Then, she would decide on her course of action, but, would Simon understand?