Todd Wilson stared blankly at the screen as the morning news was cheerfully being announced by smiling
blonde women. He was sitting at the kitchen table, poking at his food, while his wife Martha sat across from
him applying make-up. It was a morning not unlike any other in every respect.
Perhaps that was why Martha was so startled when Todd started saying things that were so oddly out of
character. "I'm not going to work today. I've been granted all the vacation I'm entitled to and I'm not going
to work for the next month."

(I was so proud to be a part of the team that developed the warp-drive mechanism. It was the most incredible
breakthrough in the history of mankind. We actually figured out how to breach Reality, warp space, and re-enter
Reality at another point. The stars were now in our grasp. We were no longer bound by the laws of physics to be
consigned to one paltry corner in this vast universe. We now could go anywhere. All that remained was to field-test our
marvelous device.)

Todd Wilson was not a spontaneous person, and that was an understatement. "You're kidding me?! What
prompted this? Are you feeling all right?" She didn't have a clue as to how any of this should be taken.
"I've never felt better. Oh, I put a down payment on a Winabago yesterday too. I'll be picking that up later
today. I'm pulling the kids out of school and we're going to have the best vacation of our lives."

(Pilots lined up to volunteer in droves. The first flight was scheduled for the Centauri system and back. No landing
expeditions or anything exploratory, just a there-and back, to be sure everything worked properly. The ship was
launched, the warp-drive was engaged, and it worked, just as we knew it would. They went to Centauri and back in
just under three hours. We had succeeded beyond our wildest imaginings. Only good-old-Fred and I noticed the
strange residual effect that lingered at the points where the warping occurred.)

Martha stared at him, flabbergasted. "You've lost your mind. Todd, what the hell is going on here? You're
usually the most predictable person I know. Are you sure nothing's wrong? Is this some kind of joke?" She
studied his expression. There was none. Whatever he was thinking, it didn't show.
"It's time, Martha. We've put too many things off for too many years. I want us to have the best time ever,
and I want to do it now."

(We studied the effect. We studied a lot of other things too. There was a shift in Doppler readings from the stars that
was unexplainable. Good-old-Fred literally had a stroke and died when we discovered that somehow the speed of light
had slowed. Now I am the only one that realizes what we have accomplished with our brilliance and our science. When
we warped space, we broke the time barrier. We broke it to pieces. Somehow, when we punctured the skin of
Reality, we destroyed something in the balance of the Space/Time relationship.)

He's been having an affair, that's it, Martha fumed silently. He's been having an affair and he feels guilty.
Why else the sudden 180º turn? "Todd, are you sure that there isn't anything you want to tell me? This is
not like you and you know it." Still no expression on his face whatsoever. Damn him.
"There's nothing to tell, Martha. It's time, that's all. This is going to be fun too. The kids are still young
enough that they'll have the time of their lives."

(We perceive the illusions of time and presume to understand it. We see time as a linear thing, and I know now that it is
not. We have always known that time is a very complex thing.  We never knew the extent of that complexity. Now I
find that I'm looking at Time as a cosmic egg, able to endure incredible stresses in some ways, but amazingly fragile in
others. It appears that we have broken the eggshell. You can't put broken eggs back together. All of Reality has been
doomed to oblivion by our presumption, once again, to play the part of God and assume that we have all the variables
covered.)

"Dammit Todd! Talk to me! You've never done anything like this in your entire life. I've never seen you
make even a small decision with asking me what I thought first and then agonizing over it for days. Why
now? What the devil has gotten into you?" He flinched, ever so slightly.
"I just love you guys, and it dawned on me that we've been putting things off for too long. Call it a mid-life
crisis, I don't care. I want us to have this time together now."

(People have been disappearing in increasing numbers. At the same time, other people are appearing, dressed
strangely, claiming to be either from the past or the future. The fabric of space is disintegrating as the flow of time
ceases to exist. We punched a hole in the side of the universe and now all the heat is escaping. Without Time, there is
no medium for Space to exist in, without Space, there is no Time. How could we have been so stupid as to have not
realized that?)

Was that a tear forming? She continued to study his expression, which was starting to soften somewhat.
Was it possible that he had developed a sentimental streak in his old age? "You're serious, aren't you? Just
drop everything and away we go, just like that?"
There was a hint of a smile on his face as his whispered his reply. "Just like that."

(This cannot continue for very much longer. I have done the mathematics a thousand times now. We do not have long.
It won't be very long until all of eternity just unravels and everything will be like it never was. Complete cosmic entropy.
The end of everything.)

She slumped in her chair, overwhelmed. "Oh, and another thing. You wear too much make-up for a woman
as attractive as you are. You don't need it. You're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen."
She stared at him, almost in horror. My God, she thought, I haven't received even the most trivial
compliment in years. Where is this coming from? "Are you really sure that there isn't something that you
want to tell me?"

(It is not perceptible to the naked eye yet, but the sun has become slightly dimmer. The temperature has been slowly
falling. The stars have grown dimmer in the night sky. Humanity is rejoicing in its accomplishment, ignoring all the signs.
We have not only extincted ourselves, we have destroyed the entire universe in the process. I have no desire to tell
anyone what I know. If they believe me and verify my findings, global panic will be the immediate result. The world will
know soon enough.)

"Actually there is." His look became more stern and Martha steeled herself for what she was certain would
be an awful revelation. "Time is passing and you're giving me the third-degree instead of saying thank you
and starting to pack. C'mon, Hon, snap out of it. We're gonna have a ball."  She could not believe what she
was hearing. He's been replaced with a pod-person, obviously. This was NOT her husband.

(There is only one thing left for me to do. Perhaps I am making my peace so that I can die happily. Perhaps I am doing
it for other reasons. I don't know. I only know that Time is quite literally growing shorter with each passing,
ever-slowing moment. All that matters is making my family as happy as possible until that is no longer possible.)

She stood up and reached for his plate. "You're done, right?" He took her hand and stopped her. "I'll take
care of this. For at least the next month, you don't do dishes any more." With his free hand, he gave her a
gentle pat on the butt. "Now go pack. It's the last work you'll have to do for a while." Stunned, she
shambled away.

(I wonder how we will die. Will we even know when it happens, or will it be something prolonged and excruciating? I
suppose that it doesn't really matter. There is nothing we can do to prevent it. This next month will never see
completion. The process is escalating too rapidly. The end is near. I never thought that I could say that with a straight
face and really know it to be true.)

Todd went back to staring at the screen, He didn't move for over an hour, and she was not going to disturb
him. He seemed so preoccupied by the news the last few days. Oh well, who cares, she thought playfully.
Whatever happened to him, I like it, she found herself thinking. There was almost a giddiness to her as she
realized that she felt more excited than she had in years.

(She really is beautiful. No matter what happens, I will never let on to her or the kids what is happening. They will be
kept blissfully amused until circumstances dictate otherwise. I will do this in spite of the fact that right now, I am
probably the saddest man that has ever lived in this world.)

Now that the shock had worn off, she was becoming very pleased with the whole idea of this unexpected
vacation. As she folded and packed clothing, she heard the sound of the children waking, and was excited by
the prospect of seeing their happy smiling faces when he told them what he had planned. All she could think
was, I am probably one of the happiest women alive.

An eternity-that-only-lasted-a-split-second later, Reality ceased to exist.
We Finally Broke
The Time Barrier
Alvin Kalelski
This is just a quick little ditty about life, death, and the end of the Universe.  Have a nice friggin' day, y'all.

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