by Nostalgia

Maybe you looked different when you woke up. Maybe you had a different name. Maybe as you fell asleep you never even existed. Maybe you never will.

Maybe tomorrow you will be renamed, or your gender will change or even your species. Perhaps you left Earth orbit on the 'Intrepid', but now your ship was always called the 'Enterprise'. You can't be certain of anything these days. Flux and chaos are your gods now.

This is a temporal Cold War. You do know what 'temporal' means, don't you, my dear Captain? It means 'concerning time'. Time, that odd, one-sided dimension. The one that always faces forward and doesn't let you backtrack. Usually.

Time is a selfish lover. She takes all you have to give and then leaves you to dust. I think sometimes that it might have been better for all concerned if we had left her to a life of chastity.

When time is the battlefield, all bets are off. No sooner have you won your first victory than the enemy has changed the timelines so that your soldiers were never even born. All very depressing, don't you think?

And confusing. That most of all. I could, if I wanted, kill you in the cradle. You wouldn't be around to be anyone's enemy, so how could you become a target? Does that mean that no one ever wanted you dead, that you lived a long and healthy life until someone went back into your childhood and...?

But maybe that's already happened. Maybe the man you were meant to be is the woman who would have ended this war. Maybe you are already destined to fail. Maybe you are no longer a threat. Perhaps with every breath you are betraying your own tribe.


Cold War. That's a nice translation. I looked it up, you know, to see how my words were being represented. An ideological conflict, the battles fought in far-off lands to save the real protagonists from mutual annihilation. Does that seem an accurate analogy for our own situation? Are our aims really incompatible? Will one of us fall before this can be over? Which of us is Russia? Or are our respective factions minor players in someone else's history? Are we both Cuba?

Of course, that's all assuming that the first Cold War ever really happened.


Who am I? Now you're learning. Though my answer might be wrong by the time you heard it, or it might be so accurate we'd all be destroyed. I'm sure you can work something out for yourself, something that makes sense in the here and now. Which side am I on? Well, which side are you on? And are you sure?

And what are we fighting for? Is there a grand design behind our actions? It's one of the things I'm not permitted to know. I wonder, though, if it's the same goal today as it was yesterday. Has someone retroactively changed the original intent? Was I called into existence in the middle of this little monologue? Does that mean that the first sentence exists only as a falsification? A lie? History is the record of what happened in the past. Or at least, what happened in the past as it exists in this particular present. Does that make the past a lie? Is yesterday any more real than the dream you might have had last night? "Once upon a time..."


I stopped worrying about all that a long time ago (if you'll excuse the necessary pun). I am, therefore I was. Right now, in this moment, I have a past, and a present, and a potential future. This may not always have been the case, but why trouble oneself with the facts? Time doesn't like it when people don't clean up after themselves. If I die yesterday, she will take today from me. Existential angst is an occuaptional hazard. I'm used to it. But you...


You did exist when you fell asleep, but you changed when you opened your eyes this morning. My doing, I'm afraid. Another battle that this time tomorrow might never have been fought. For once I get to see the results of my intervention, at least until I have to change my own history again. I shall gloat until then. We all need a little light relief, don't we, Jonathan... I mean, Jim?


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