A Telephone Box Paradox




This is a continuation of the narrative that was set up in RPC-474. Please read that first before reading this tale.


A Time Loop

An old man is travelling through space and time in a small telephone box to reach an unreachable destination. He had already written his last words to the people he had left so long ago, and is now heading to, in his mind at least, the conclusion of his journey. He does not know where this box is taking him, and he is truthfully afraid. But beyond that fear, is the excitement of solving an unsolvable problem, and that is what is currently giving him strength in the most dire of times.

As the box finally settles down on this final destination, the old man begins to feel rejuvenated. The years of his life wore off, reducing him back to the young man he once was when he first ran away. This newfound youth confuses the formerly old man, as it is, of course, scientifically impossible. His confusion is increased as he steps out of the tiny telephone box, and into a room that one may describe as quite scholarly.

Lining the vast room were bookshelves, all of which were filled to the brim of various subjects of scientific degree in a multitude of languages. In the middle of the room was a printing device; large, complex, old. The formerly old man, a man of science, was confused by its build, as it seemed impossible to do the job that it was built to do, however despite this impossibility, fulfills that purpose. Next to the device was a large chalkboard, filled to the edges with arithmetic and calculation, whose code was being written at that very moment by an old hand.

“You cocking cunt!”

The formerly old man stood still, as the woman in front of the chalkboard turned her gaze upon him. She was old, too old to be alive, but here she stood. Here she was furious.

“Look at you cocking about in your little red box, gallivanting around like you’re in a Delorean or something! Do you realize how many bloody timelines you have caused with your so-called experiments?”

The formerly old man was brimming with excitement, despite the verbal abuse being hurled towards him.

“Ah ha! So I was correct! I was creating splintering timelines!”

The still old woman was dazed at this statement, as if she was trying to process what was just spoken. After a moment, she spoke more softly.

“Yes, that is correct, Mr. Esquire.”

The formerly old man known as Theodore Esquire finally stepped out of the tiny red box, his gaze fixed upon the old woman.

“So you must be Aurelia then.”

“Indeed, I am. I am the author of the Time Traveler’s Handbook-”

The Definitive Guide to Not Fucking It Up, yes I am aware of RPC-916. I have a copy of my own thanks to my little… experiment.”

“RPC-916… oh you and your Authority’s way of just boiling down the fantastical to the most mundane of classification. It honestly would be an art form if it wasn’t so cocking moronic.”

Aurelia walks towards the tiny red box, seemingly eager to examine it. Theodore notices her facial expression, and is somewhat confused, as he has been since he first arrived.

“I am going to assume that this machine isn’t yours?” Theodore asked.

“You would be correct in that assumption, my boy. I merely try to help others correct time, not create means of fucking it up even more.”

Aurelia pulls out a magnifying glass from her suit jacket and continues her examination.

“So who would’ve made this then, if not you?” Theodore continued with his increasingly stubborn questions.

“Oh, probably one of my competitors. Some of those jackasses seem to love to muck about with the space-time continuum.”

“Competitors..?” Theodore was even more confused than he had previously thought possible.

“Of course! What, did you think the concept of Capitalism was only possible in your time?”

Theodore was reaching maximum confusion, however he supposed that that answered some of his questions. However there was one question that has been nagging at him since he first stole the little red box.

“Well if you didn’t create it, how did it end up in Site-313?”

Aurelia pauses her examination, and turns her attention to Theodore.

“That, my boy, is a good question… how did this box end up in the Authority’s hands for a brief moment?”

Aurelia walks towards the chalkboard, ushering Theodore to follow her.

“Tell me, my boy, are you familiar with the Bootstrap Paradox theory?”

“Why yes, of course I am familiar, it was a subject of one of my favorite show-”

“Good good, so you are aware of the concept, let us apply it to your predicament.”

Aurelia draws a straight line on the chalkboard, then a dot on the far left side.

“This line represents linear time, this dot here marks where the box first arrives…”

She then draws a dot in the middle.

“…This dot represents when you stole the box…”

She draws another dot on the far right.

“…and this is where you are now.”

She connects the middle dot with the far right dot in a curved line.

“This is your journey, albeit without the filler bits. Now, if we were to assume that you take the box back to the time where it first arrives at Site-313…”

She draws another curved line, connecting the far right dot to the far left one.

“…it would create a closed time loop.”

Theodore looks at the conclusion, his personal conclusion still being that of confusion.

“If that was the case, then how did the box end up in the time loop at all?”

Aurelia jumps up with joy, a giant grin on her face.

“That, my boy, is the paradox!”

Theodore's only expression upon this revelation is that of confusion and puzzlement.

“But how does that make any sense in the scientific scheme of things?" Theodore asked.

Aurelia’s grin returns to its former frown self.

“It doesn’t, but with time travel, these sorts of things tend to happen more often than you think.”

The duo begin to walk back towards the red box.

“So here’s what we’re going to do: we are going to send that box back to the time it first arrived. If nothing happens, we can safely confirm that this is a time loop. If it explodes upon arrival, well… not a time loop. Got it?”

Theodore looks at Aurelia in awe.

“But… what’s going to happen to me?”

Aurelia looks at Theodore, then turns her gaze elsewhere.

“My boy, it has been over a millennia since someone has found me in this place. I have to tell you… being a scribe is a lonely, finite existence. I am in need of a student, an errand boy, and well… you’re here.”

Theodore confusion leads to contemplation, which leads to glee.

“Ms. Agustalis, it would be an honor to be a student.”

“Good! Now let’s get this hunk of junk off my property!”

Theodore runs into the tiny red box, and proceeds to punch in the Space-Time Code. After successfully inputting the code, Theodore runs out of the box, where it dematerialized one last time. Then, silence; a beautiful, calming silence. A silence that was then broken by Theodore.

“So… what now?”

Aurelia simply smirks as she continues looking onward.

“You see, my boy, Time has a funny way of-”

As she spoke, a new, tiny red box materializes in front of the duo.

“…being on time.”

Theodore was awestruck, and confused once again.

“How’d you know that was gonna happen?”

Aurelia turns towards Theodore, and simply points to her head. After getting rewarded with a sigh from Theodore, she speaks once more.

“So, my boy… are you ready to run some errands?”

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