'The Omniscient Typewriter'

Mark Sadler

My name is Gordon Dexler, I'm a rather straightforward guy. A 'get what you see' type. I'm an accountant, earn a good wage, and have a comfortable life. But this story is not about me, it's about a strange fellow that I knew called Reldas Kram. I say, I knew him, I guess I still know him, in a way. It started a little while ago. Rel was a writer with a great imagination, his imagination allowed him to believe he was a good writer. I wouldn't exactly call him an author, firstly because his writing was bad, and secondly he had only worked on one manuscript. For no less than 14 years, I should add. The reason it stayed incomplete lay in his inability to resolve the paradoxes that, in his words, "debased the integral infrastructural kinetic-poetry of the narratives integrity", I told you he was bad! This is how Kram eventually dealt with this problem...

One summers evening, the friends, Gordon Dexler and Reldas Kram sat idly in Kram's study. Dexler sat in his usual chair, a large blue chesterfield armchair, sipping a single malt. The study was filled with hundreds of books. Dusty bookshelves stood uniformly against every wall, they stood tall and rigid like guardsmen to an old order. Kram shooting to his feet would hastily march about the room reciting his usual spiel about his writing whilst circling the various small trestles that littered the room. They all housed elaborate monumental structures made from decrepit paperbacks. "I don't get it Gordon, I am up there amongst the greats! Dickens, Hemingway, and Kram!" This scenario had become commonplace in the last few years of these men's life's.

Kram continued: "Even with my obvious literal genius, I can't seem to resolve the matter of the physical and metaphysical paradoxes in my story." "..Or an efficient propulsion or spaceship construction" Dexler smiled wickedly to himself. "If only I could overcome these simple time/space problems, I would be able to complete the greatest fictional story ever told! It would inspire future generations!" Kram, you can tell, clearly believed in himself!

He bent down and picked up a small book that lay on the floor. "I've searched thousands of books for inspiration, to find the text that will ignite my thoughts. Though, I want my ideas to be completely original, it's hard to be original when so many books already exist" Kram announced, looking around at the sheer volume of books.

"I think I need to liberate myself from the history of existing work, I feel trapped by these books. These are too bourgeois, I need to free myself of existing trails of thought."

"Well, be spontaneous, throw all the books into the garden and set them alight! That would show them!" laughed Dexler as he strolled over to a trestle and took the lid off the whiskey decanter. "Spontaneity can't just happen" said Kram "Your best off planning it so you know how to use it." Dexler rolled his eyes and sighed as he sat back into his armchair.

"I think it's because I'm a tortured genius, I'm tortured to not be able to express my genius. Others might never know what an important impact I'm supposed to have on society and the Arts. To have that dilemma in your thoughts is truly torturous."

Whilst Kram continued with his daily prattle, Dexler noticed a strange green light starting to emanate from the corner of the room, he could not tell what the light source was, it seemed to just hover over the corner by the bookshelf. It then faded and disappeared...

"One can't help being part of a time loop, you see! Gordon..! GORDON! Are you listening to me!" "Er... what?! Yes yes... did you not see?...light" Gordon murmured, still distracted. "Yes yes we all know, can't travel faster than...! What was I saying, oh yes, can't help but being part of the time loop. If he goes back and changes those circumstances.., then the result would stop him from travelling and making the changes in the first place! It's a tricky one" Dexler looked into the pale whisky that slowly rolled in the tumbler, strange to have this effect after only a few. Maybe it was bad. Suddenly the whisky started to glow a striking green, refracting shards of light danced round the glass. He glanced up towards the corner of the room again. The corner of the room pulsated a green hue once more. But something seemed to be materialising through it. He could see shapes! Dexler sat there a gasp. Seeing Dexler's slacked face and widened eyes, Kram turned to see what was in the corner. The light shone brighter and brighter until a sudden flash changed the rooms interior space into an all-encompassing flat white material, both men covered their eyes from the sudden optical pain. The room stayed completely empty for what seemed like an age, Dexler was quick to realise that the light had quickly vanished, but that its effects on the eyes had lasted longer.

"Aaaaaa... I'm blind!" Dexler could hear Kram scream.

As the room slowly become visible again Dexler could see Kram was kneeling on the floor, he was staring at the corner of the room, where there stood a man. The figure cut a rather slender and tall shape. He wore a very simple cut black outfit, an outfit Dexler felt neither unusual nor familiar. He stood there looking into some sort of hand held device the screen illuminating his face with flickers of different colours. Both Dexler and Kram just stared at the man. After a little while the man finally spoke. "Ah yes, this is it! The correct time/space coordinates." He slowly turned his eyes up to the two figures in front of him reflecting their gaze and smiled "Ah, you must be Reldas Kram" he said looking at Dexler, "I have never seen a visual image of you but I can tell, ...from the robust cranium" He said with a self-satisfied look on his face. "Actually, he's Kram!" Dexler quickly replied poking his finger at Kram, glad to shift the stranger's attention. "Who the hell are you?!" Kram blurted out "How in god's name did you..."

"I believe most of your questions will be answered with my introductory speech" the strange man said, with the confidence of someone who knew the rooms layout well, he quickly turned and sat on the wooden chair that stood by the wall, then he carefully placed the device onto one of the little trestles.

"Please sit" gesturing at Kram to another nearby chair, "and I will begin." Both Dexler and Kram glanced at each other in total bewilderment.

The man had a particular gracefulness about him, a confidence in the space that they all existed in. An understanding of where he was that did not need something as crude as visual observation. He had short neatly brushed back hair, one wouldn't quite say blonde but it had an almost brilliant sheen to it. His skin was very pale, it seemed partially transparent. A man, clearly not of the outdoors. A well-defined face and a strong nose, his face, although a little strange invited warmth. Like that of someone who enjoyed the closeness of others but had little time for it. Dexler found it hard to pin down his age, clearly a man of experience, maybe early 50s. But the youthful body suggested he was younger.

Kram and Dexler, were numbed by shock, but they did not feel threatened by this apparition. They could not muster the physical and mental energy to do anything other than to except the stranger's invitation for engagement.

"Right, firstly I can't tell you my name as I'm not allowed to disclose personal information. But I can tell you that I'm a Level-1 scientist for AMEST. Or to use my official title, I'm a Geo-Theoretical Engineer of Experimental Abstract Physics.

AMEST is a secret department within the National Militaries Research Resources. Oh yes, AMEST is the Advanced Military Exploration in Space-Time. The product of our research is the operating machine called Sisyphus. It is this machine that brought me here. I can't tell you exactly when and where I'm from, as this information may endanger my mission.

The research we have been conducting over the last 16 years have yielded some of the most amazing results. Beyond anything we expected really. It's funny, when I think about it, we would not have been able to complete our research if I had not had a random encounter with a book I saw on a friends bookshelf. Maybe fate was giving us a helping hand. We were able to complete our research due to some of the ideas presented in this book. It's interesting how science fiction can influence science and become a reality." He said, grinning a smile that stretched ear to ear. It was through combining our studies into 'Super String Theory', 'Quantum Entanglement-Assisted Teleportation' and Kram's 'Theory on Di-Linear Sub Diffusion' and resolutions to the inherent paradoxes we would face. I'm the world-leading expert on these fields. Well, here, maybe the second." The visitor laughed excitedly. He turned his green eyes towards Kram and winked. "It seems fate brings me to Kram again in the presence of a vast book collection." Kram sat there with a look of stupefying confusion covering his face. This statement appealed to Kram's sense of self belief, in his megalomaniacal believe that he was destined for greatness, but he was having a hard time accepting "his" genius, as he didn't really understand what the visitor was saying.

"Your idea of the time travelling operating engine in your literal masterpiece was really..." He seemed to hold his point searching for the perfect words. "...truly ground breaking and revolutionary, the single most important piece of Art the world has ever had the fortune of receiving, more critical than the rest of the world's civilisations cultural contributions combined!!" He climatically announced flaring his left hand into the air, like a fanatical Shakespearian believer. Kram's mouth and eyes widened further, the face of someone increasingly becoming converted.

"It was the underlying breakthrough our work needed."

"Wait, wait!" Dexler interrupted, you don't mean this Kram?!" nodding his head towards his friend that sat next to him. "The man has not written a single piece of literature!"

"Not so" the visitor continued in a calm manner whilst brushing dust off his jacket sleeve. "The Novel Kram wrote changed everything." You mean those stupid pages that Kram's always wittering on about?" Dexler challenged. He looked over the Kram to see his reaction to all this. Kram just sat there in his armchair staring at the small table on top of which lay a hastily shuffled set of pages. The stranger noticed Kram's fixation. "Are those the pages?!" He whispered whilst slowly getting to his feet, as if he were about to come in contact with the original copy of the bible. "Do you mind if I have a little read Dr. Kram?" he asked, never taking his eyes off the pages. "Doctor?! You do have the wrong guy, Kram isn't a Doctor" Dexler explained. "Hmm? Oh yes, the honorary doctorate was given posthumously, because of the great contribution to science..." the stranger's sentence tailed off as his attention still belonged to the pages. The visitor's hands hovered for a moment over the crumbled sheets of paper, he seemed to be basking in the holy temperament of the circumstances. Finally, the visitor picked up the pages and started scanning his eyes through the pages. "I see it's not finished" the visitor asked flatly "Well er... not quite" responded Kram "I'm just finding the answers to the paradoxes that occur in the story..."

"Well that's the revolutionary aspect! In fact, all the passages that make this piece so masterful are not here. What is this some sort of trick?" the visitor asked attacking Kram with his sharp eyes. "Wha...no... I'll have it finished soon, I swear." Kram said defensively. The visitor walked over to the corner of the room and slumped uncharacteristically onto the chair "I've arrived too early... you must have finished it later than it was reported" the visitor sighed, in an almost defeated tone. Dexler sat up "Why did you come? I mean what really is the purpose of your journey here?!" he asked. The man breathed in deeply and slowly exhaled. "This was Mission-Origo, the revolutionary text that was in the book stands out as such a cognitive leap forward that we wanted to understand how Kram got his ideas! We do not see how a man of this time could fathom them."

"Well, maybe if we give him a moment. He could finish it..." Dexler's attempts at a joke fell flat. "Are you sure that these are all the pages?" the visitor asked Kram. "Well yeah, ...actually there are a few in the bedroom, but I was not sure whether to include those passages" The visitor shot to his feet with renewed vigour "Show me!" he demanded. All three men raced to the bedroom, Kram leapt over the bed with a sense of urgency. He grabbed the lose pages and suddenly with reluctance gave them over. The visitor slowly sat on the bed, eyes darting left to right over the pages. After a few minutes, he suddenly dropped the pages and buried his face into his hands."No, nooo noooo" he murmured to himself. "I'm beginning to think you're not our Kram, your nothing but a bad amateur."

"Maybe I over looked a page, I'll have another look in the sitting room" Kram raced off into the other room. Dexler, feeling sorry for the strange man, sat down next to him on the bed. "What will you do now?! Can you go back?" With his face still buried in his hands "Yes, I should be able to... just that the department does not care for failures, and neither do I. You see, these little trips cost a hell of a lot of money."

Eventually the two men returned to the sitting room. "Hey Kram" Dexler called out "I think he's going to go home if you want to say goodbye! Kram, Kram...?!"

"Oh no!" the visitor shouted "Oh god no! The fool! The stupid bloody fool!" The visitors hand held device that he had left on the trestle had gone. "Well, I guess he's gone in search of his answers" Dexler stated, staring contemplatively at the empty trestle. "Well, what do we do?!" Dexler finally asked, turning his head towards the deflated visitor. "All is lost! I'm stuck. All I'm destined to do now is die here" said the visitor returning to his original chair. His eyes where large and glassy, from the tears that welled up. "My great career and contribution to science abruptly ended because of an idiot!" The visitor, with tears finally streaking down his face, stared longingly at the empty trestle. Eventually, after a long pause, he said: "My training at the academy taught me that you can always contribute wherever you are". Although they didn't mention whenever you are" The corner of his mouth curled up slightly almost into a smile of acceptance. "I guess the only noble thing for me to do is to build a new life for myself here, what's it like living in this time?" asked the visitor brushing his hand through his silky hair.

"It's not too bad, ...oh wait you don't have any form of Identification! No National Insurance Number or Birth Certificate. According to the Government you don't exist, that could make things very difficult!"

"Oh dear" sighed the visitor "and my knowledge of this time is only good in connection with Dr. Kram"

"You're an expert on Dr. Kram, right?" asked Dexler.

"The leading expert from our era! Why?"

"Well, and this might sound a little strange, why don't you just use Kram's identity."

The visitor sat there looking at Dexler slightly mystified "That's not possible, I mean, his friends will know."

"Oh, well I'm really the only friend Kram had, and he has no family" answered Dexler.

"I guess I have no choice..."

"And you could finish his story!! I mean, you know all the bits that are missing, right?"

The visitor stood up and walked over to the pages, "I know the text like my own son, the passages are imprinted into my very soul."

Over the next few weeks the visitor became quickly accustomed to this new time thanks to Dexler's help. He finished The Novel and presented it to Dexler. Taking the pages, Dexler sat down and read it from beginning to end in one sitting. Finally, Dexler looked up from the text into the eyes of the visitor, "This book is truly amazing! It's unlike anything I have ever read. I know a guy, who runs a small publishing firm, I'm sure he would be interested in this."

"I'm sure he would" the visitor smiled "but the world will not be truly ready for its ideas for a while yet."

Dexler's eyes suddenly widened as he gasped, "Your Kram! I mean Dr. Kram! You're the real Dr. Kram all along!"

The visitor stood there stunned by the accusation, but he knew it to be true.

"How funny" laughed Dexler "A good old fashioned time loop, a paradox! Ha-ha."

The visitor, slowly sat down, his face flushed of all its colour, sweat beading on his forehead.

"What's the matter" inquired Dexler "Are you feeling unwell? You look terrible."

The visitor closed his eyes: "As you so rightly put it, we have fulfilled a time loop, but that means it's destined to continue looping, a predestinated paradox... but Krams work, which our research is based upon solved the nature of these paradoxes... If we didn't solve these paradoxes, then our work in non void... a paradox in itself, as I'm here! Which also means our existence seems unlikely..."