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Chapter Seventeen

June 23, 2014

Village Studios, L.A.

Tangled up in you, feeling so complete
With every single move you satisfy me
Baby just one touch, your breath upon my skin
And I can't help myself, I'm thirsty again

“This is an awesome song, but it’s not me.”

I pull the headphones off and try to give them to Nick, but he shakes his head. “That’s you.”

“Is not.”

“Is too! Don’t make me bring up YouTube to prove it.”

“Nick, I can’t sing.”

“You sing amazing. C’mon Court. Just try.”

I sigh. Ben is back at the house being a bum at the beach, soaking up the sun and meanwhile I am stuck in an epic recording studio unable to sing. The whole thing seems like one big injustice.
“Nick, I will pee my pants if I go up on that stage.”

“No, you won’t. And if you do they’ll just pretend you spilled your water.”

“From my pants?”

Nick just grins. “Babe.”

I exhale. My palms are sweating. I’m itching to take the recording booth apart just to see how it all works. Or maybe I just want to take it apart to prevent having to try to carry a tune. I crack my knuckles.

“How does time travel work?”


Nick picks up a guitar and swings the strap over him. He strums a chord. “Tell me how time travel works.”


He smiles. “Unless you’d like to play nice and sing.”

I close my eyes and sigh again.

“At its most basic level, time is the rate of change in the universe -- and like it or not, we are constantly undergoing change. We age, the planets move around the sun, and things fall apart. We measure the passage of time in seconds, minutes, hours and years, but this doesn't mean time flows at a constant rate. Just as the water in a river rushes or slows depending on the size of the channel, time flows at different rates in different places. In other words, time is relative. Get it?”

Nick grins. “Not at all. But go on.”

“Let me explain it a different way. Human beings frolic about in the three spatial dimensions of length, width and depth. Time joins the party as that most crucial fourth dimension. Time can't exist without space, and space can't exist without time. The two exist as one: the space-time continuum. Any event that occurs in the universe has to involve both space and time. Better?”

Nick laughs. “No. But continue because I’m loving this.”

I roll my eyes. “Time travel into the future happens all the time. Because any event that occurs in the universe has to involve both space and time. Gravity doesn't just pull on space; it also pulls on time. Speed also plays a role in the rate at which we experience time. Time passes more slowly the closer you approach the unbreakable cosmic speed limit we call the speed of light. Fast forwarding in time is actually fairly simple.”

“Totally sounds like it.”

I smile. “You’re so sarcastic.”

He plays another few chords. He looks incredibly hot playing a guitar. “I just love hearing you talk nerd.”

“It’s not nerdy!”

“Mmm,” Nick hums. “Continue. How about time travel to the past?”

I take a deep breath. “It’s extremely tricky. Our basic foundation started with the assumption that as an object nears the speed of light, its relativistic mass increases until, at the speed of light, it becomes infinite. Accelerating an infinite mass any faster than that is impossible. We hypothesized that warp speed technology could theoretically cheat the universal speed limit by propelling a bubble of space-time across the universe. The problem was finding a way to enact it without causing a giant energy zap of the universe’s resources.”

“But you did it,” Nick points out.

“To an extent. See, we discovered Kerr black holes. These are a special type of black hole that has long been speculated to contain the ability to pass through it and exit through a white hole. Think of this as the exhaust end of a black hole. Instead of pulling everything into its gravitational force, the white hole would push everything out and away from it.”

“Is that why you shimmered every time you left?”

I smile. “Maybe. I find that fascinating actually. See, we found a way to harness the energy of the kerr black hole within the small physical space of the compact. The display on the back tells the button how much gravitational force to build up in order to rewind to the time desired. Of course, the most interesting part of this whole thing is trying to figure out whether my travels are really a result of the discovery of a parallel universe or some type of causal loop.”

“And what’s your best bet?”

“Right now I’m thinking parallel universe.”

“And that’s a bad thing?”

I smile. “Not necessarily, but it does bring about the difficulty of returning to my own universe. For all I know, every time I leave you I end up in another similar parallel universe and don’t actually return like you think I do.”

Nick frowns, his fingers spreading over the front of the guitar. “As much as I love conspiracy theories and the idea of other life, this is one time when I wish science would go take a giant leap in the lake.”

"Science is the key to unraveling life's biggest mysteries," I say passionately.

Nick is still frowning, but he looks a little more thoughtful. "So let me give you a science lesson."

I laugh. "You? A science lesson? In what?"

The smile comes from nowhere. "Singing."

“Singing is a form of sustained speech that--”


Nick stands up and I look at him in confusion. I’m sitting on a swivel chair still holding the headphones. He walks up behind me.

“Close your eyes.”


“So I can chop you into itty-bitty pieces. What do you think?”


“I’m the scientist in this room. Close your eyes.”

I sigh (yes, again) and close my eyes. I feel his hands on my shoulders.

“Shoulder’s back. You can’t sing when you look like Quasi-bozo.”


“Whatever. Chin up.”

“This isn’t going to work,” I complain. I tilt my chin up.

“Breathe in and then exhale.”

I comply.

“Tighten up your stomach muscles more when you exhale. The shoulders and chest should never drop.”

I repeat the process. It feels odd to tighten my stomach muscles and I almost think Nick knows what he’s talking about.


“Okay, now do-re-mi me.”

“I can’t.”

“Yes, you can. A tone-deaf frog can do that.”

I stifle a sigh and clasp my hands together.


“Again. Louder.”


“One more time.” His hands spread across my abdomen as if checking to make sure I’m following instructions. I almost forget the lyrics.

Do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do. Surprisingly, by the third time it doesn’t sound as horrible as I thought it would.



Nick laughs. “Yes, really.”
“I still can’t do this.”

“I know you can. Listen to this song three times and then I’ll record you trying it. If you suck, we’ll fake your demise to get you out of tomorrow.”


“Not about the demise part.”

Nick slides the headphones on my head and disappears into the control booth. The song that fills the headphones is different, less sultry. Infinitely more fun. I find myself grinning. By the second time, I’m actually tapping my foot. By the third time I’m mouthing along. I slide off the headphones as Nick walks back in.

“Like it?”

“Love it. Who sings it?”

Nick grins. “You, dork. It was your first #1.”


“Do I jest? You ready?”

I hesitate.


Nick gives me a thumbs up and disappears again. I close my eyes and try to remember the hints he gave me. I almost wish he was back in with me with his hands pressed into my stomach.

Flushed your picture down the toilet
Got your email, I ignored it.
Then you call me
Your voice is so sexy
Heaven help me
It always gets me

I love you, I hate you
I love you, I crave you
You’re driving me insane
I kiss you, I curse you
Sometimes I wanna hurt you

I wish you’d go away
On second thought, please stay
I love you, I hate you
It all just depends on the day

I feel like I am doing karaoke. I’m giving it my all, but I feel like a ham.

So why does my heart find you so TOTALLY infectious?

As the instrumental takes over at the end, I open my eyes and smiles. The sound fades from the headphones, replaced by Nick’s voice.

“Ready for playback?”

The last thing I want to hear is myself, but I nod and clutch at the headphones, ready to rip them off at a moment’s notice.

But as my voice starts, I realize that it really is the same voice I was listening to as I memorized the lyrics. I glance over at the control booth in astonishment. Nick’s beaming. Slowly he brings up his hands and forms a heart.

I can sing.
Chapter End Notes:
Music: https://myspace.com/kristenkukta/music/song/thirsty-again-22630957-22432142
Time Travel Info: http://science.howstuffworks.com/science-vs-myth/everyday-myths/time-travel.htm