[The following test was completed by the Time Travel Panel in collaboration with the Panel on Psychological Anomalies. This transcript, presented in full, represents Time Travel Operational Test 1A001.]
Doctors Leo Fitzgerald and Michael Juengling
Test Subject Tomas L. Sorens
(Mr. Sorens’ volunteer waiver is attached to his file.)
Time Travelers Liam Samel and Cris Higgens
The object of this test is to establish how, if at all, memory might change when events are altered. Mr. Samel’s and Mr. Higgins’ role is to travel to major life moments of the test subject and reconstruct them. The Test Subject’s role is to tell, in detail, his life’s story. For the purposes of this test, the test subject has no prior knowledge his life may be altered. The Doctors act as facilitators, providing questions to the test subject.
[Everything said by the Doctors is restated in italics. Everything else is in Mr. Sorens' own words.]
Test Subject, Tomas L. Sorens, is a man. He is fifty-five. He is married to Paula Sorens (née Rife). He has three children: Liza, Paula, and Duke. He claims, on his initial forms, that he is happy with his life.
Please begin, Mr. Sorens.
I was born on July 5, 2035. The year the war started. My father was the eldest of three siblings. He and his younger brother both fought in the war. My father went MIA on my first birthday and never returned. So many MIA’s stayed in England, so that, for a long time, an embarrassingly long time, I believed my father might someday return home. He never did.
My mother started my education young. I learned to read when I was three. Which is why I decided to teach my children how to read when they were young. My wife might not have agreed, but since it hadn’t done me any harm, I figured, why not?
And what was your mother’s name?
My mother’s name was Liza. Which is why I named my first daughter that. My wife didn’t like that either, which is why we named our second daughter Paula, after my wife. And it must have been a curse ’cause Paula is exactly like her mother. The two of them together is almost unbearable.
Though, don’t get me wrong, I love my family. The best times of my life were spent with my family. We traveled everywhere, until, of course, that became illegal. I taught my son how to play hockey and golf. And if he hadn’t fallen in love with sculpture, he could have been a professional hockey player. Even so, I have some of his sculptures around the house. He’s very good.
What are the names of your children, again?
Liza, Paula, and Duke. I was glad we stopped at three. Paula insisted on four but I put my foot down. Then that mandate went through saying we couldn’t have any more kids. Which, of course, is when I started thinking a fourth might not be so bad.
There was this one time, while Paula was going through menopause, that Duke asked what a period was. His words were ‘stop telling me it’s not at the end of a sentence, it’s at the middle of a girl!’. Which no one had told him. He hid in the closet for the rest of the night we laughed at him so bad. That was also the night Liza met her first boyfriend, Jim. He was the only boyfriend of hers I absolutely hated.
Gosh, raising two daughters was the worst. I always worried that if we’d had more than two children the third might be a girl. That would’ve been tough.
So you were happy to have Duke around?
Nevermind. Tell me more about your wife.
Oh, she’s a trip. We met in college. She was studying physics, and I was a grad student in astrophysics – so dumb. Neither of us ever used our degrees. She went straight to work for the government and I got stuck writing technical journals. Because we didn’t have any kids we both rose rather quickly. My wife was instrumental in creating the Department of History in Congress.
The Department of History? Oh yes. Yes.
Yeah! You know, the head of the department just got assassinated by that hippy group – jerks keep trying to prove history is interpretable. Idiots don’t know what they’re talking about.
I’ll tell you one thing, if I hadn’t spilt coffee on her thesis I would never have met her. As much as I complain about my wife, she really is my one and only. Spilling coffee, you know, it’s like it was meant to be. I couldn’t imagine life without her. Like, I hope I die first so I don’t have to live without her.
One time, while I was in graduate school, I went to a coffee shop. There were three beautiful women all making eyes at me. It was the first time I ever really thought of myself as attractive, like movie star attractive. I was fed up with school. Really, fed up with life. And here it was: a chance to be somebody!
That’s when I dropped out of college and moved to New York. The plan, as I’d seen it, was to join a theater company, get some plays under my belt, get on broadway, and eventually do a movie. I also started doing cocaine. Everybody was doing cocaine, since they legalized it and all. I mean, how else would one work during the day and then perform throughout the night? I certainly didn’t have the natural energy for it.
My friends, the ones I met in New York, were all so smart. They knew more plays and playwrights than I’d ever imagined there were. It showed too. I never found the right monologue. Hell, ‘the right monologue’, ha, I never found the right apartment, the right car, or the right girl either.
I was in one play. A play about the government. That was around the time they started mandating everything: how much coffee you could drink to how many babies you could have. I had to have my coffee, you know!
But yeah, just the one play.
See, I never managed to join a theater company. And I lived in the same studio apartment for ten years. I felt stuck. I was stuck. It stunk.
I lost a lot of friends. I’d get drunk or high and they’d just leave. Eventually I was kicked out of my apartment. No one wanted me.
Then my mother died. I didn’t go to the funeral. I just didn’t want to see her.
I started to try other drugs. Heroine is my favorite. God I love her! Heroine is a god, you know? I mean, I hate every minute of it afterwards but I can’t imagine doing anything different. Life without her, heroine, is unbearable. She’s the only girl that sticks around, you know?
So, when am I getting paid again?
[This transcript demonstrates the first successful test of the Time Travel Panel and its associates. More tests to follow.]