The Sentinel v. 1.0
by Kevin Grover
Before I was born, I remembered darkness that ended in an eruption of blinding light. I remembered being pulled from my mother in what seemed like an explosion and being held up by giants. I remembered something I had no right to remember, yet there I was, somehow experiencing that moment with full awareness.
I could be poetic about the moment of birth, but I’m no poet; at least I don’t think I am. The noises came next and then the faces, staring at me in my naked form. I was small and humble. I heard screaming and realised it was coming from my limp, frail new body.
“It’s a boy, a healthy boy!”
The voice rang through my head like a bell reverberating over and over. I wanted to hide away and realised I was being handed to a woman with deep blue eyes and clear shards of tears that fell on my upturned face. The tears merged with my own tears. I was crying, yet I felt calm, not upset and quietly wondering what had happened.
I knew this wasn’t right, no one should be aware at this stage of life. Perhaps we all start with full awareness before losing it? As I lay within the arms of the woman who I guessed was my mother, I began to try and fathom my lot. Was I a reincarnated soul easing into its new body? Or was my awareness part of a genetic code passed down in some freak accident? Was this a dream?
I tried to open my mouth to ask some questions, but I found to my horror that I had no control over it. All that came out was a terrible crying and all I wanted was silence in order to think.
It clicked then that I was hidden and the baby was nothing more than a container for my mind. I had no name, like the baby I was born with. Where had I come from? I wanted to scream out for help as a blanket was wrapped around my form. I could see a rush of images as I was handed around to giants with huge smiles and loud voices.
I wanted to shout out, “I’m one of you!” but there was that continual crying. “Don’t be a baby!” I cried out to a huge nothing. I was watching a movie playing out before me. Then three words flashed into my mind in burning green letters: Purging system.... Restarting...
What did it mean? I had no time to think further because I could feel a mist clouding my mind. The baby was beginning to fall asleep and I felt myself fall into a slumber with it. I didn’t want to sleep; I needed to think this through. What was restarting and what system was purging? What was this baby form I was trapped in?
My thoughts began to swirl in a chaotic mess of questions and I began to slip further into sleep. I found I could retreat to the back of the baby’s mind and get away. As darkness came again, there was one word waiting for me:
When I dared to venture out of the darkness, I was no longer trapped in the body of a baby. I found myself watching through the eyes of a small boy. He was running towards the woman whom I had recognised as his mother. I immediately sensed there had been a movement in time of at least two years. I was able to hear thoughts from the baby and sense a mind forming. It was very simple yet had the need to know, a yearning to learn as much about this world as possible. If he could hear me, I would be able to share a few thoughts.
For a start, I knew the world was a hard place to live in, and life was going to get harsh. There was nothing nice about life. I surely must be a reincarnated soul with such knowledge. I wanted to know who I was, I wanted a name! But there was a feeling within that told me I had to wait. I was here for a reason.
“Peter! Come to mummy!”
The boy, who I already knew was called Peter from dipping cautiously into his thoughts, decided to run toward the family cat that lurked over by the bushes. I watched his mother go out of view and I wanted to look behind at her, but I was doomed to watch what Peter watched, and at that moment it was the tabby.
I badly needed to look at the mother; I felt this was important. This was familiar to me, in a déjà vu sense. The tabby looked up into Peter’s eyes and I looked back from behind my child mask. The cat hissed. It knew I was here, could sense the invader within Peter’s mind. It knew I hadn’t been purged from the system. What did that mean?
The cat scratched with a quick swipe of the paw, and it drew blood. Peter screamed, his mother’s hands closed around him and we were off. I mentally sighed and tried to shout out, “It’s just a scratch from a stupid cat!” I had no voice of my own. I had no body. I was that silent guard within who waited, I was a sentinel.
I began to feel myself drift into Peter’s thoughts and I found it hard to think. I went silent and retreated to the back of Peter’s mind. I was... restarting....
I sat within the darkness on my own for a while. I don’t know how long I floated there, but I was safe. Guardian angels were said to exist to guide a person through their life when they needed guiding. They were always there silently watching and ready to help push them in the right direction. Was I an angel? I had no belief in angels but it seemed to fit my role.
What were my beliefs? I knew I did not believe in God — the entire concept seemed at odds with me. I knew my mind was scientific and logical. Yet here I was in an entirely illogical place. I called out with my thoughts to God; there was no reply. Had I really expected one? Yes, I realised, I had expected a booming voice in this darkness and a white light. I was a mistake in God’s computer code of life.
When I dared to venture out of the darkness of my own thoughts, time had moved on. There were thoughts in Peter’s mind, intelligent ones. I let his thoughts wash over me and the spark of his mind touched me. He was sixteen years old now. My time in the darkness hadn’t been sixteen years, had it?
We were in an empty classroom. Desks with holographic screens formed a circle in a way that l was familiar with. We were sat at the edge of the big desk at the front. Peter looked at a grey-haired man in a brown suit who was obviously his teacher. They were talking, so I listened.
“Is it ever going to be possible to time travel, sir?” Peter asked. He sounded frustrated.
I found the teacher’s name in Peter’s mind; Mr Travers. He smiled at Peter, said, “I very much doubt it. You’d need a wormhole and no one has found one of those yet.”
“What’s a wormhole?” Peter asked. I knew what one was.
“A wormhole is a tunnel that sucks things down through it. There’s an opening and an exit. A black hole is thought to be a wormhole with an exit point somewhere in the past. You can never return from a black hole: One-way travel.” Mr Travers emphasised this by pointing down with his finger.
“So if I found a wormhole I could only travel back in time but not forwards?”
Mr Travers smiled. “Well, we all travel forward in time, only it’s a longer process and it’s called the waiting game. Why do you ask, Peter?”
“I just wondered... I’m reading this book about it. Do you think there’s another way? I mean, what if we all had our own personal wormholes that we could travel along? Could I somehow tap into that?”
“Well... maybe not physically.”
“Thought is energy, sir. Maybe thought can travel anywhere we want?”
Mr Travers’s mouth hung open. Like him, I was shocked by this sixteen-year olds’ thinking. A wormhole that everyone possessed was a startling concept, and I began to wonder if this was the key to my existence within Peter. If we all possessed a wormhole, then such a hole would have a point of beginning, and logic told me this would be at birth. It could then grow with a person’s life.
I fell back from Peter’s mind as excitement rose within. What if I had ended up falling through a wormhole from later on and back to the beginning? Such travel would just mean personal travel along your own wormhole, and if that was the case, I must be Peter from the future! I had no knowledge or memories of this, so if I was, then it did not work as expected. I drifted back into the front of Peter’s mind again and was shocked to sense that time had moved forward by a number of years.
“The past is simply memory, ladies and gentlemen,” Peter was saying to an audience who were sat in a circle of chairs. Some were tapping on keyboards, taking notes, while I noticed some looked bored. “We time travel whenever we think about what happened last week. I am guessing some of you are time travelling now.”
A few of the students chuckled.”Memories seem so complicated, but you can strip them down to a basic computer code that can be manipulated.”
As Peter continued, I delved into his mind and found he was now a professor at a university. He was thirty. If I stayed in the darkness too long, would I next enter the end of Peter’s life and die with him? That darkness would be forever and the thought scared me. Peter’s mind was like fire, burning with a great intensity. His thoughts were always on time travel and unlocking the past. He’d written a book and I glimpsed a copy of it in the corner of his eye on the desk. A Walk in the Past.
I also saw a typed sheet of paper with the title “Sentinel V1.0.” I quickly tried to read some of the words but only got as far as the first paragraph before the view shifted back to the students.
The paragraph read something like:
“The mind is a complex computer program creating thought patterns and recording experiences as it goes. We can take that program apart and create a new code which can be rebooted and purged of all irrelevant thought to compress it in order to re-experience what has gone before. See my chapter on Sentinel Program and practical applications...”
I’d caught a few more paragraphs but it all seemed to be new age thinking about what exactly thought was. I was intrigued by the mention of a program called Sentinel. It appeared to be a program made up of thought...
I knew where we were going. Peter wanted to get back to his past for some reason and he was going to do it one day. It was as though he sensed his own personal wormhole, stretching out behind him like a twisting tunnel, back to his beginning.
I found myself falling to the back of his mind as my attention left the situation. I couldn’t let him do this. It seemed obvious to me it had worked at some point in the future. That time travel had trapped me in memory like this. I was not going to allow that to happen, yet here I was: powerless to act.
Or was I? What if I could somehow get a message to Peter? I had to try. I flew out of the darkness to the front of Peter’s mind. We were sat in a comfortable chair with the lights dimmed. Peter stared at a picture of a woman with deep blue eyes and I recognised her as his mother. I had seen her no more than an hour ago yet for Peter it had been longer: forty years. She had died when he was ten and I could feel he was upset. He missed his mother and the family that had fallen apart after her death.
I saw a glimpse of Peter’s father slumped in a chair, drunk, and I heard and felt the insults and blame from him. I turned my attention away from the photo and in the corner of Peter’s vision I saw a table with some note paper and a pen. I willed him to look at this with all my energy. He turned his head and looked at it. I felt a pang of excitement.
“Now, write what I am thinking, pick up the pen!”
There was confusion passing through Peter’s mind. I willed him over and over to pick the pen up. He picked the pen up. I pushed myself forward and felt myself burst into his mind. I could hear him scream out in terror at sensing my alien presence. I told him through thought how I had always been there. He began to write; or rather I began to write. The first word I wrote in shaking handwriting was:
I then used his hand to write my tale. When I had finished, Peter read it over and over. He then took the pages and threw them aside. I knew at that point he had made his mind up about something. He was going to do it. Do what?
I tried to push into the front of his mind again, but I was thrown back to my prison. I saw him stand and walk across the room to a closed door. He entered a code on the keypad: 2110. It was the year his mother died. No, my mother died. It was the year everything changed for us and the family.
The door clicked and Peter opened it and went into a brilliantly lit white room. He entered a cubicle with a chair in the centre, wires a mishmash around it. He sat down in the chair and looked at the computer screen attached to it. This had happened before for me. I looked at the computer screen and a word popped up:
I tried to push myself into his mind to stop him, but something pulled me back, a force I was unable to fight. I knew then it was an unchangeable point in time. This had already happened. Peter entered the code to start the sequence. He wanted to somehow change events by saving his mother, but he would not have enough awareness of who he was to know this.
He finished the sequence and had only one key to press. His finger hovered over the key. I heard his thought communicating with me. He said, “You’re proof it worked.”
I spoke within his mind in the hope he would hear. I said, “But it didn’t work. When you convert your thoughts to the sentinel program, it strips away who you are. When you’re back in time, you have no idea of what you want to change, because you’re not you anymore. You can’t change the past!”
He pressed the key.
There was darkness before birth...
Copyright © 2009 by Kevin Grover