Saturday, October 20, 2012

In which I pretend the dream I had last night might seriously interest someone as a time travel story/series of stories

So, last night, after waiting to long to get to bed anyway, I forgot to take my sleep aid.  I didn't have the energy/motivation/spark-plugs necessary to get up and take it, so I stayed in bed and hoped that lack of sleep would do the job itself in a few hours, a few hours later still nothing, I knew I needed to take my sleep aid, but I didn't have the energy/motivation/spark-plugs necessary to get up and take it, so there I stayed.  I might have gotten some sleep during the night, maybe.  But most of it was spent not-asleep, but at the same time often not fully awake.  Tired as all hell and as deep into darkness as I have been able to make the place of my sleep, I went into that place where, though one is still awake, dreams come.

It's happened twice in a row now, see the footnote that ended up being larger than the main post here, in which I describe the last time I had a night like this, I'm going to call it a trend and say that when I know I'm awake but dreams none the less come I experience them as movies or TV shows or something  of that nature.  Something watched, not something experienced.

I wonder if such experiences should be studied more for their possible link to mental health problems.  Perhaps some problems involving believed hallucinations are almost exactly the same thing but without the realization that what is happening is a dream.  Perhaps hallucinations in general are more closely related to the dreams of the sane than we realize.  All who dream have hallucinations, after all.  It's what dreams are.  But they're never labeled with such a hurtful word as "crazy" for it.


Not sure where the time travel came from, but this one had clear roots in seeing at least part of all of the following movies:
The Secret of NIMH
The Art of War
Resident Evil: Apocalypse


It started with a time travel experiment gone wrong, and the rules in this, as with many things in dreams, were not consistent, also the beginning wasn't consistent with the backstory, which obviously didn't exist yet for I had not dreamed it yet.

The beginning, such as it was, was that the time travel experiment accidentally flung the time travel creator into the future (his brother was present at the experiment but not flung into the future) and it had a sort of "It's a Wonderful Life," vibe going on because the world without him was a horrible place.  (The world had been without him because he skipped forward via time travel)  The family business had become an evil megacorp, his home had been torn down, things were evil and dystopyian overseen by his gone-evil big sister and her ever present aide, and stuff was generally bad.

Also the world had become flat, just because evil sister could, and one of his last acts before trying to go back and fix things was to travel into space in a Winnebago (not a Spaceballs' Winnebago with wings, just a Winnebago) and broadcast his message to from humanity to the rest of the universe, in case going back didn't work (he had to steal some component which would be dangerous and potentially lethal so he was well aware he might not even get to the go back in the first place.)  The message was, basically, "I invented time travel.  If you're considering it, don't.  It is a bad idea.  Do not try this thing."

He hadn't taken into account that the rotation of a flat earth means that what is way up in space when the earth is perpendicular to your distance from it's center might actually be touching the earth, or near enough, when the earth moves closer to parallel to your direction from its center.  (By the way, the earth wasn't just flat, it was square.)

Thus hordes of goons started coming toward him across the flat earth when the rotation brought the Winnebago into reach and he narrowly escaped by using the family gift of jumping.  Not Jumper jumping, physically jumping great distances.  Not Hulk distances, more like John Carter distances.  Come to think of it, that might have to do with seeing some of the The Matrix recently.

So hero goes jumping back toward the center of the square earth where evil headquarters is located, in a plot to steal necessary component for time travel device.

At some point before this I should have mentioned apparently loyal family butler who has been awaiting hero's return and helping out.  He helped out with this part too.

So they get necessary component, and then apparently loyal family butler turns out evil and takes the component for himself only to have it be quickly stolen back by Actor Too Prominent to show up this late in the movie (don't remember who, but it was a specific person) who therefore must be an important person.

He takes hero by the hand and they jump onto waiting dragon (genetically engineered, not fantasy born) and we finally get to backstory:


The Hero was the youngest of three children.  Sort of Secret of NIMH aged (converted from mouse to human, of course), though the order of ages was different.  (As was the number of children)  He was constantly bullied by his older brother, his sister was just surviving.

The time travel accident somehow caused hero to disappear as a child of that age, even though it definitely took place as an adult.  The only way I can reconcile this with later rules of time travel, is if the experiment somehow slingshotted hero back to childhood and then bounced him forward into the future from there, with further inconsistency being hand-waved away by the fact it was an accident, not how things normally work.

(Also, to make this consistent with later things the whole square flat earth thing would have to be dropped.  But it was silly anyway.  Space Winnebago goes too, genetically engineered dragon stays.)

This disappearance of hero as a child caused oldest brother to run away in shame, believing it to have been his fault.  His only companion in a childhood lived in squalor in abandoned buildings being a cat he named Dragon.  The cat was grey and unkempt.

It would be revealed that his actual dragon is named Dragon not because of a lack of originality, but because it was named after the cat.  He refers to it to others with whom he is intimate as his cat and calls it "kitty" in intimate moments with the dragon itself.

It would also be revealed that part of the reason eldest brother was such an ass was also shame, and trying to hide that by asserting his dominance over everyone he could.  He was as the eldest child, and still as an adult, almost entirely illiterate.  Rather than seek additional help, he BSed his way through things and tried to hide it.

When Hero asked where Eldest brother had been all this time, it would be revealed he'd been there all along.  By means of holographic trickery (remember, this is The Future) he had been living as evil sister while sister was truly in control as ever present aide.  Thus he was the puppet and target for assassination, while she was in control of the whole world.

When they finally got the time travel to work, the two (hero and elder brother) were returned to their childhood bodies, memories intact, treating each other with respect, and working to get elder brother to learn how to read, and above all else taking pains to not be complete jerks to their sister because they knew that in any decent world she would turn out good, not evil.

It seems like all is good, but then it will be revealed that some hitherto unknown organization has been monitoring the [technobable] and now knows that time travel is possible.  Sinister music plays.  Credits role.


This definitely comes from the Resident Evil films, I haven't seen the third one but of the three I have seen they always end in a reversal.  The good guys win, it's a happy ending, and then something happens to turn it all around.  It's like someone read Aristotle on drama and took one part, and one part only, of it to heart.  At the very least they should have looked at the part about what makes for a good reversal, better still would be to realize that drama was only half of the equation even in the time and thinking of Aristotle when it came to works with actors, satyr plays were either not counted by Aristotle as being important or lumped under comedy (which would seem a mistake, but then we are talking Aristotle so mistakes are the opposite of out of the question.)  For the purposes of this discussion at least.

It's just that the comedy section of the work has been lost.

There's a fictional book, and a movie based on the book, about a creepy murder mystery surrounding the last surviving copy of the comedy section in 1327.  They've been recommended to classes I was in as very good by both a Classics professor and an English Lit professor (who was teaching Ancient Lit at the time) but creepy murder mystery is not my thing, even if it does star Sean Connery, so I have neither seen nor read it.

The point is, you really don't need reversals, especially not last minute unforeshadowed reversals, but the stories in the dream had it and I think they were stealing from the Resident Evil films in doing so.


Next takes place with the three children as teens or adults, or both (time passes, after all), and sister is the primary protagonist.  She dresses in at least one scene like Elektra from Elektra for no good reason.

The details have faded, as details of dreams do, but I remember a couple of things.  The jumping remains a mainstay of the family, some early genetic engineering perhaps, the film takes place in the future, there is a major plot point about an accident while the three are on futuristic motorcycles.  What is a futuristic motorcycle?  I don't remember.  But they were definitely futuristic.

And that's when the zombies came.  Their name, "the outsiders," feels to me like it came from No Escape, which is a movie that contains no zombies, their being zombies is definitely from Resident Evil.

There's a cure, but only if you get it before the infection is complete.

But before we get to that, time travel has advanced.  The three have devices, watches, which facilitate their time travel now where before a giant machine was needed.  They can go into possible futures and record information on the devices, and bring it back with them (just as they retain their memories), but not to before the devices were created.  They do this very rarely as it involves creating a future, and then destroying it when they return to the point in time whence they came (the future develops from their absence since they can't return until after they've gone) in an attempt to preserve what came from these destroyed timelines they never just get the information they might be looking for.  They get everything.  Every extant book, the entire internet, every piece of information that has been digitized that they can access.

It may be a small compensation for being brought into and then erased from existence  but it's what the children can do, and so they try to preserve the memories of those who were but never were in the futures visited that will never come to be.

Out of an extreme distaste for creating and then destroying timelines and thus people, and extreme moral qualms, the children try to keep their time travel mostly limited to quick jumps into the past.

Basically save scumming as an integral part of the plot.  Also known as, that thing from the movie Next.  The movie would start with sister having to use this technique to try to get the antidote for the zombie plague before injured people turned.  And a dog, somehow a dog was involved.  It too needed the antidote.

The same few minutes, repeated over and over, in myriad different ways, until she got it right.

And, during this, organization from before would appear and make themselves known as an enemy in their attempts to use this moment of vulnerability to steal the children's technology.

So it would be combat between zombies, people with guns, and people who can jump high and fight impressively and have the power to press rewind if things don't go their way.

So imagine the combat and movement of The Matrix, combined with Mirror's Edge, combined with Resident Evil, combined with the conspiracy side of Deus Ex, and quicksave as a part of the plot (which sort of harkens back to the film Slipstream when looked at as a plot element, or Prince of Persia for that matter.  Haven't played the Prince of Persia games.)

Eventually the children would realize that they'd have to go back to the beginning and do a better job of keeping themselves secret.

So, again, they are returned to young age.

Enter a big fat foreign dignitary.  I mean that quite literally.  He is both very tall and imposing, and very wide and imposing.  He speaks some (presumably fictional) foreign language with great artistry and skill, proving him a quick witted and intelligent individual by means of his speech alone.  This is presumably his native tongue.  He speaks English fluently enough grammatically, but with an accent so thick almost no one can understand him.  He is convinced that when he is not understood while speaking English it is because the listener is a dolt (one of his favorite English words) and couldn't possibly have something to do with how he is speaking.  For him the fault is always in others, not himself.

The parents of the family are honored to have him come to their house for a dinner or something, the children don't think much of it, but one of them takes video of him, from the top of the stairs, as he's leaving, just because whichever child it is likes video.  It's shaky and bad, as such video made by small children is.

The turnaround for this section is the discovery that a section of this video is gone.  Somehow removed, though no one was in the house since it was taken.  The parents think it odd, but eventually pass it off as a camera problem, the children are more suspicious.

Then the reveal of why the section is missing.

The secret evil organization, who I'm going to call the Illuminati though I believe they were nameless in the dream, would be shown to have been watching, live, on the video camera as the tape was produced.  A character based on Eleanor Hooks from The Art of War has them notice, and zoom in on a tag on the family dog's collar that appears to be entirely decorative in an abstract line art kind of way, she realizes it's not and has the foreign dignitary steal it, that's what's missing from the tape.

At sort-of-Illuminati headquarters they've scanned the design etched into the tag and blown it up to immense size and as they look at it they realize it's work on time travel, incorporating technology that doesn't exist yet in the schematics.

Thus, again, they're onto the children and will be the primary antagonists going forward.

Having big fat guy be evil should be able to be offset by having big fat people who are not evil.  The children, as they grow into adults, are all of combat-ready athletic builds, but it's not like they'd be the only not-evil people in the movie.

[Footnote on the credits comes from hereish.]


The children have lived, mentally, pretty long by now, they've worked on time travel multiple times over, they're tech savy, combat savy, and have a knowledge of what's coming.

Their work is done in secret, underground, in hidden or forgotten places, but it is done well, and for the first time they let others into it.  Two others, at least, end up with the time travel watches, and the ability to synchronize them remotely is worked on so that, for them all to go back (and thus none of them to lose memories) they don't all have to be in the same place.

They work on a get out of death free card, where the watch is connected to their biosigns and if they're killed  it'll automatically send them back some minutes to when they're not dead, preserving the memory of how they were killed so they don't make the same mistake next go round.  (Before they had to count on living long enough to send themselves back, or having a surviving sibling go back and save them.)

But all this time, unknown to them, illuminati-type-people are trying to steal their tech.  The children have suspicions, and semi-successful precautions, but counters to their technology are created.  The ability to jam time travel, the ability to hitch a lift on a nearby person's step back.

Though the other side never develops the ability to travel through time on their own.

The at least two people who are entrusted with watches are sister's current boyfriend, and a girl/woman about their age who has gained their trust.

Boyfriend will end up psudo-sacrificing himself by grab-lunge-push-pulling (how do we not have a verb for this?) male evil leader off a raised catwalk, but sister, boyfriend, and male evil leader will all make the trip back within moments of hitting the ground.

In an unusual turn of events boyfriend ends up not where he was in the past, but where male evil leader with whom he was grappling was, doubtless caused by the mix of technologies involved.  Turns out male evil leader was into bondage of some type and they're in a place set up for that purpose, which could have unfortunate implications but see above about big and fat guy.  Things can be fixed by showing a variety of people into that, spanning the good-evil-neutral range.

This allows boyfriend to escape, (male evil leader is tangled, boyfriend is not) but he's now somewhere inside evil lair and slightly injured.  (Evil people have their homes and such inside evil lair, it saves commute time.)

At a similar time and place girl/woman who got time travel watch is revealed to be a double agent when she's forced to plead with her boss (Eleanor Hooks inspired woman) to stop time travel jamming in the area long enough for her to make a step back far enough to save an innocent from zombies.  She bases this on maintaining her cover.  (Other person present doesn't realize time travel is being jammed, so it looks like she's just refusing to help.)  She'll eventually be revealed to be a triple agent (on the protagonist's side all along) who no one knew was a triple agent because she was afraid if she revealed the double agent status (needed to become an open triple agent) she'd lose the protagonists' trust.

At some point in here there's a voice over from sister explaining that it's not all as easy as it seems in telling the story, and showing a difficult situation from her perspective.

She's trapped at the edge of a river or canal.  Snipers and ordinary guards have her pinned down, others moving into position to get a clear shot, Eleanor Hooks character openly taunting her (though clearly inspired by Eleanor Hooks from The Art of War this character differs strongly in that she likes to be there, in the field, when an operation takes place.  She's a battlefield leader, even if she stays toward the back where it's safer.)

Sister tries to run to the building for cover and make an impressive series of jumps, misses the last one.  Breaks many bones, in great pain travels back.  She tries to come in from the side, unnoticed, gets shot and left bleeding on the ground.  She tries to do many things, each one ending in pain and having to travel back to before she was injured.  She explains that to the outsider her life looks like impressive successes and flawless combat, from the inside the life of a time traveling combatant such as herself is one of endlessly losing in injury and pain until you find that one way, that one path that leads you to your objective.

(I think this might have been the scene where she was dressed like Elektra for no good reason.)

Finally she makes it, but is soon on the run again, forced to dive into a water system, protected from the bullets fired at her by the water, she discovers her time travel device is being jammed, worse it's being tapped, monitored, and copied, so that the sort-of-illuminati will be able to make their own time travel devices.

She is forced to escape, low on breath, without the use of time travel to avoid handing them the secrets they want.  Nearly dies.

Not sure where the brothers or the genetically engineered dragon are at this point (I think dragon named after the cat named "Dragon" should exist by now in the timeline.)

But in the end it all comes back to evil lair headquarters.  Zombies are on the approach from one side, barely being outrun by triple agent girl/woman and the person she rescued earlier (also a girl/woman, probably, but not definitely, somewhat younger than triple agent.)  Boyfriend is already inside, trying desperately to evade detection, the trio of siblings are making their infiltration attempt from the non-zombie side.

Finally they all meet up and are able to figure out how the kind-of-illuminati first found out about them, and work out a plan on not having it happen next time.

They make their daring escape, they rebuild their technology.  Finally finding a way to bring the time travel watches back to before their creation, and distributing them to a handful of trusted people.  And they have to be trusted.  This part is all about trust.  Sister has to believe that, even if she and boyfriend should have the worst break up in the history of breakups, he will still, for the rest of his life, work to keep the technology out of the wrong hands even unto the point of death.  Even unto the point of death that the time travel can't fix.

Triple agent has to be trusted that she really is loyal in spite of the deceit before.  Everyone given a watch needs to be trusted absolutely and completely, because they are being given the power to destroy the world. Travel back a generation, change something, it doesn't even have to be something big, the next generation will not be born.  Others will be born in their place, but to give those potential others life means killing off the world that they know.

And not just destroy the world, but control the world, imagine what could be done with the knowledge of what the future brings.

After modifying their technology so it won't be detected as it was the first time, and realizing that no electronic device can be trusted unless they have personally taken it apart, examined it piece by piece, and put it back together (the video camera that got them this time wasn't supposed to have transmission capabilities) they go back to the beginning again.

I haven't mentioned it, because there didn't seem a good place, but in the first movie romantic relationships aren't explored at all, so sister's position on sexuality doesn't come up when she's evil, but as a hero she's definitely sex positive.

Which makes her comment before going back this time, returning to childhood yet again, which amounts to a sarcastic, "Great, now I have to go another [whatever years] without sex," not seem to come out of nowhere.  Repeating school, being treated as a lesser animal not yet human, these things don't bother her as much as a prolonged period of celibacy because she's of the opinion, brought down from the ancient Greeks, that an essential part of being human is eating and having sex.  She is very far from asexual.


And so we come to the final chapter.  The children and their allies are determined not to make a great leap back again, those are for recovering lost works of literature/other art or maybe, just maybe, saving those whose bodies were never found (also known as non-evil Freejack or Millennium that doesn't suck) but anything that changes the timeline should be minutes, hours at most, so that people's developments are not erased.

The final chapter is about getting it right this time.

And for the first time they are free to work against the I've-sort-of-been-calling-them-the-illuminati without being known to the group.  For the first time they have the information leg up on the bad guys.

Their watches are also synchronized so that one of them finding a need to jump back a significant distance takes the rest with them, so they don't end up erasing each other's memory.  What defines a significant distance is defined fairly arbitrarily because there is a line between, "Someone is facing a problem that requires them to jump back ten seconds 200 times in a row until they get it right forcing me to relive this meaningless/extremely irritating ten seconds over and over again," and "If someone jumps back too far I'll lose this life changing epiphany," and that line can never be drawn clearly.  Whatever the choice, who is to say that a second more or less wouldn't be just as good?

Finally this last chapter is about trust rewarded.  There is no Cypher in this story (like I said, recently saw The Matrix again), no Judas, no one who was trusted with the power over time who betrayed them or abused it.  It is the trust equivalent of, "Just this once, Rose, everybody lives."  (The New Doctor Who, Season 1.)

And, to a certain extent, the literal equivalent.  They can't save everyone, but you can bet that they're not moving forward until that hit and run that happened right in front of them didn't happen anymore and not going to move forward until they find a way to make it through the pitched battle with the just-say-illuminati in which Dragon lives.


* During the credits to this feature there is a section on set with the actress playing the female sibling, her clothing clearly inspired by Elektra of Elektra, as part of it she explains that the outfit is pointless, meaningless, and impractical and if she has any say in it the character will never wear this outfit again, certainly not in a battle situation.  She has no problem with the character being sexy or sexual, but not during a fight scene.

Based on the remainder of the dream, the actress did have a say in it because clothing took a definite turn to the practical after that.


The rules of time travel in this:

If you travel back to a time in which you exist, which is what the vast majority of time travel involves in the story and what the time travel watches are for, you travel back into your own body as it was at the time, but with your memories intact (because without the memories, it would be kind of pointless.)  In later generations of tech your time travel device has its memory storage intact as well.

If you travel forward then you're leaving the timeline, which means you're going to a place where your body doesn't exist.  You show up in the body you left in.  This requires more involved technology than the watches, but getting back, provided it's to a time where your body was in the timeline, can be done with the time travel watches.

If you travel backward in time to a point when your body did not exist, you show up in the body you left in.  This, again, requires more involved technology than the watches, but returning does not provided you are returning to a place and time where your body is.

There are only two cases that don't follow this rule, the first is the initial accident.  Instead of removing himself from the timeline when he activated the machine, he bounced back to his youth first, caused frightening and traumatic damage there (caused his older brother to run away from home, possibly had bad effects on his sister as well) removing himself from the timeline, before being catapulted into the future in a body that, more or less, resembled the one he started in, rather than the child's body that had been removed from the timeline.

The second involved two people (boyfriend, male evil lead) literally grabbing onto one another with different technologies attached to each smashing into the ground at the moment the step backwards was taken.  Their tech was damaged, it was at cross purposes, and it took one of them basically to where was expected anyway (though preserved some of the body position and momentum involved, smashing them floorward there) and the other one to the same place instead of to where his body had been.

Beyond those two cases, both of which involve accidents, I think the time travel displayed in the dream was kind-of sort-of consistent.


  1. I wish I could remember my dreams in such details (well, dreams that I *want* to remember).

    (Also, I have a lot of dreams where I'm not a character, and probably just as many dreams where I'm both the character and the viewer.)


    1. Normally I don't remember my dreams at all, I think that never being fully asleep might have played a role in the ability to recall this one.


      Also left out of the above is that a lot of the buildings had a very The Secret Staircase vibe where if you just find the hidden door and get through there are unknown abandoned vastnesses to explore above, but I have no idea how that fit into anything.

  2. If I step forward ten minutes, why don't I end up in my-body-in-ten-minutes'-time? What happens if I find and touch it?

    Presumably the body is defined by memories rather than "same matter", given how quickly matter in the body gets replaced.

    Also: have you seen Steins;Gate (anime)? If not... highly recommended.

    1. If I step forward ten minutes, why don't I end up in my-body-in-ten-minutes'-time?

      Because, generally speaking, your body isn't there yet. Unless you've a) already been there (then?) you don't have a body to go to yet, the future is still unwritten and all that, plus, since you're taking a shortcut, even if you could somehow leave your body behind and make this work, your mind isn't taking the slower route so your body would be basically comatose for those ten minutes. What good would it do?

      Second, even if you have already been to a time ten minutes from now (thus it had been written, and written with your body in it) the only way you've still got a body to go to at that point in time is if that future is still the future and not just one of the infinite averted futures.

      To step forward beyond the places you've already been means leaving the ordinary timeline and taking a shortcut, which takes you, and by default your body with you, outside of the timeline.

      So, there are two types of time travel technology at work.

      One slides your consciousness up or down the already established timeline in your body. It's usually used to go back because doing anything worthy of note will un-establish the timeline, and thus mean there is no established timeline in front of you. This is what's seen in the watches.

      On the plus side, it can get you through periods where your body isn't there (skip forward/back using other technology, get back to where you started using this technology) but it can't make a new body for you in those locations so you can't stop in them, only pass over them.

      The second bypasses the established timeline entirely. Want to snap a photo of the first written manuscript of Homer? Want to see what the sun going red giant looks like? It can do it for you even though you presumably don't have a body at either location. It does it by opening up a connection between the two points in time just long enough to spit you through.

      The up side is that you're not limited to times where your body existed. The down side is that, if you use it alone (as opposed to in conjunction with technology 1) you end up at the other side with no way of getting back (the machine stays in the time it was originally) which means you either have to build one yourself or get used to the time you traveled to because you'll be living in it for the foreseeable future.

      The other downside of going bodily is that the plan of, "I'll go to the future to see what breakthroughs I made," is doomed to fail. The future is the one created by things moving forward without you. You left the timeline, and so the timeline is the one that would develop if you just disappeared when you left. Because you did just disappear when you left. You took a shortcut through time, but everyone else had to go the long way. Without you.


      What isn't explored in the story by anyone with access to time travel is using technology 2 to travel within one's own lifetime. Presumably it could, unless the body exerts some kind of pull on the traveler dragging them into it regardless of the technology used, and that would leave the person using the technology in two places (and two ages) at the same time.

    2. Actually, if we assume that nature abhors a two bodied person, we could assume that time travel method two will put you back in your own body if you travel to a time when you have a body, and that revelation, caused by using it to return to childhood at the end of the first part, led to the much simpler and more compact time travel method one.

      Thus we could assume that either method will transport you into your body, if you have a body at that point in time, but method two can also move your current body to another time if you don't have a body at that point in time.


      Which would mean that the only way to be not-your-normal-age during your lifetime would be to use method two to move to a time before your birth, then move forward the mundane way during your lifetime.

      Want to do something when you were six that requires being an adult? You're going to have to travel to before you existed and wait around between six and seven years to do it. Any other method won't work.

      But if that would be how it worked, it brings up an interesting question on what that does to methods 1 and 2 in the future. Which body is considered "your body" for the time periods during which you had two? Maybe it fucks the whole thing up.


      But this is all speculation and not really thought through, I should be doing other things right now.