[00:00:05] Pioneers of The Continuum.
[00:00:07] A story for English learners.
[00:00:09] Episode eight, "The Last Frontier", starring Christian Saunders from Canguro English.
[00:00:17] You can find the interactive transcript, subtitles and vocabulary for this episode for free at leonardoenglish.com
[00:00:26] As I wandered around my apartment, the morning after my trip to the future, one thought occupied my mind.
[00:00:38] I had to get out of here.
[00:00:40] By here, I meant this… false timeline. I had to get back to MY timeline.
[00:00:47] When I got back, the team were calling me JEROME. And they said I looked different - they expected my hair to be blonde instead of brown. And THEY looked different to me, too! Winston had that little moustache. Jacob was gone and replaced by an entirely different person! He said his name was George.
[00:01:09] After some discussion, it seemed obvious what had happened. Instead of returning to my own timeline, I had returned to a PARALLEL timeline - a time in the present which was similar to mine but not exactly the same.
[00:01:26] In the future that I had visited, I met unfriendly “people” who were part human and part machine. I had learned that they wanted to put a stop to time travel. But why? And did they send me back to the wrong timeline on purpose?
[00:01:43] What’s more, although none of them had mentioned it before, the other team members had also experienced differences in their timelines since returning… but subtle ones. Winston’s neighbour no longer had a dog. Marcie’s mum called her by a different nickname. Ellie found cow, not soy milk, in her fridge that she could have sworn she would never have bought. Little things like that.
[00:02:12] The differences were small enough that they hadn’t mentioned them to anyone… until I returned with a different name and different coloured hair! Had EVERYONE returned to a different timeline? Time travel was turning out to be more complex than any of us had imagined.
[00:02:29] This couldn’t go on! Last night, back at my apartment, I called my mother and when she picked up the line, I didn’t recognise her voice, there was a woman with an American accent on the line! I was supposed to call my girlfriend, but I didn’t dare - she’d call me Jerome or have no idea who I was.
[00:02:51] And half the stuff in my apartment was different - the furniture, the books, the clothes. Why was the sofa yellow? I couldn’t live here like this!
[00:03:03] On the way back to the lab, there were protestors again. “NO MORE EXPERIMENTS!” one sign said.
[00:03:10] Perhaps the protestors were right, but before stopping any further experiments, I needed to get back to my own timeline… I needed to get back home.
[00:03:21] Inside the lab, I told Winston my idea: “Send me to a parallel timeline in the PRESENT! It doesn’t even matter if it’s my own original one, but I need it to be closer than THIS.”
[00:03:34] Despite being the supposed visionary, Winston always took time to come around to new ideas.
[00:03:41] “I don’t know,” he said. “We agreed that we would do seven trips and then spend a few months analysing the outcomes before travelling again. We have to be responsible scientists.”
[00:03:53] I held my hand up to my forehead. “Winston, that’s easy for you to say. You belong here, even with that silly moustache. I don’t. I just want to…”
[00:04:04] Winston held up his hand to cut me off. “If you travel to an alternate present, there will already be a Julian there.”
[00:04:12] I corrected him, “You don’t know that. What happened to the ‘me’ from this timeline? He’s probably in my world, eating my mum’s cooking and dating my girlfriend!”
[00:04:24] Winston rolled his eyes. “It’s a crazy idea and you know it.”
[00:04:29] Marcie chipped in, “I don’t think it’s crazy at all, Winston. You mentioned responsibility. Don’t we have a responsibility to fix what we’ve messed up? And it’s technically possible to do, right?”
[00:04:41] Just then, Gabriel burst into the room. “Team,” he said, out of breath, “We’ve got trouble! The authorities are raiding us. They’re trying to get in the building right now as we speak.”
[00:04:54] Winston looked worried. “Can our security hold them off?”
[00:04:58] “No,” replied Gabriel. “We’ve got eight guards but they’ve sent about 20 agents. We can probably keep them out of the building for just a few minutes and we can hold the lab for another 20 minutes or so.”
[00:05:10] Back in my timeline, the government had been getting less powerful and large corporations had been getting more powerful. In my timeline, it was unlikely that the government would raid us, but here, it must be different.
[00:05:27] The idea kept flashing in my mind: I had to get home.
[00:05:32] Our lab area had extra security and only the seven of us were ever allowed to enter - we even did the cleaning ourselves. But government agents could break down the door eventually.
[00:05:44] “Listen, everyone,” I said, “Once the authorities get in here, they’ll shut down the lab, confiscate the equipment and I’ll never get the chance to return. Come on and help me! We’ve got just enough time before they break in here.”
[00:05:58] The others nodded. “We should all go,” said George, Jacob’s replacement. “Wherever we end up, at least the authorities may not be onto us. And if it’s no good, we can time jump again.”
[00:06:10] “But me first,” I insisted. “And make it permanent… no one hour safeguard. No chronotrigger. I won’t be coming back.”
[00:06:20] Everyone stood silent for a moment, but then sounds of shouting and commotion from the front of the building jolted us into action.
[00:06:27] Working quickly, I placed myself in the transporter box while the others prepared the machine. It came on and began scanning for quantum entanglement points.
[00:06:39] Winston looked at the screen, and started to speak, “Okay, same time, same place, but parallel universe...I’ve got one! But I don’t like it… only one point shows up when there should be thousands. Remember what happened last time?”
[00:06:57] There was banging on the door of the lab and the sound of muffled voices shouting through the heavy door.
[00:07:03] “Do it, Winston,” I told him. “Do it now!”
[00:07:06] I closed my eyes. We had been to the past and we had been to the future. It was time for the last frontier: I would be travelling to the present. A different present. Hopefully.
[00:07:21] Suddenly there was… silence. I opened my eyes.
[00:07:31] I was in the lab, but it was empty… no computers, no machines, no time travel equipment.
[00:07:39] And standing in front of me, expectantly, was… another me!
[00:07:46] It’s a great shock to come face to face with yourself… It's a bit like looking in a mirror. But my mirror image’s clothes were different. They were much more old-fashioned, like something from 1839, not 2039.
[00:08:04] The other me - let me call him my ‘clone’ - said, “Welcome!”
[00:08:10] “Thank you,“ I said. “What... What’s happening? Where am I? I… haven’t come to the right place, have I?”
[00:08:19] My clone looked at me with something that seemed like pity.
[00:08:23] “No, you haven’t,” he said. “I will explain everything in just a minute… but I’m expecting a couple more to come through. They usually come through at this time of day…”
[00:08:34] I was puzzled. A couple more what? Come through where?
[00:08:38] My clone moved me to the corner of the room. “Stand there, out of the way,” he said.
[00:08:43] And just like that, another me appeared. And then another. And then another. And another.
[00:08:51] There were six versions of me standing in the room. We were all dressed almost completely alike and our hairstyles, everything was the same. Only the clone who had been waiting for me was wearing old-fashioned clothes.
[00:09:08] And only he seemed to know what was really going on.
[00:09:12] “Right then,” he announced. “Call me Julian 1 for now. The first thing you need to do is to open your arm implants and turn them off.”
[00:09:21] I looked briefly at the other Julians. Then, I did as Julian 1 requested. I opened my arm implant and powered down the system.
[00:09:31] I immediately felt different. I felt… freer.
[00:09:36] Julian 1 continued. “ You travelled to the future and the Collective used a virus to control your mind. They made you WANT to time travel again to get home. The same virus infected the time machine and sent you here. It was all part of their plan.”
[00:09:53] The freedom I had felt evaporated.
[00:09:57] Julian 1 continued, “More Julians have been arriving every day. There are over 100 of us now. I’m different. I’m from this timeline. I set up this lab with my friend Winston, to research electromagnetism. We moved the equipment to another room to make space for… arrivals.”
[00:10:19] Electromagnetism? …I thought to myself. But… that’s ancient technology, from the start of the 19th century!
[00:10:27] Julian 1 produced a stack of papers.
[00:10:31] “The first one of you to arrive brought this letter, and I’ve made several copies. Please read it.” he said.
[00:10:37] I took one of the letters. It had been copied by hand. Were there no photocopiers in this timeline?
[00:10:46] I read the letter.
[00:10:48] Dear Time Traveller,
[00:10:50] We have transported you and your colleagues to a specific timeline.
[00:10:54] In this timeline, time travel has not been invented and it will never be invented.
[00:11:00] We simply cannot allow further disruption of timelines. It threatens the Collective and the progress that we have made towards the ideal society.
[00:11:09] We estimate that we will need to send several thousand of you to exile on this timeline. We will send five per day.
[00:11:17] Your team members have been exiled to different timelines.
[00:11:21] Do not make any attempt at further time travel. If you do, punishment will be severe.
[00:11:27] Enjoy your life.
[00:11:28] [signed] The Collective
[00:11:31] I looked up and I glanced out the nearby window. I saw a city seemingly from the past.
[00:11:38] There were factories and houses, but there were no cars, buses, power cables or other signs of modern technology.
[00:11:47] It looked like I would be stuck here in this backwater - a timeline where technology had barely advanced to the industrial era.
[00:11:56] I mentioned before that I’m an optimist. Well, here was the ultimate test.
[00:12:02] “Well, you handsome guys,” I said. “Let’s go see Julian 1’s lab.”
[00:12:08] “Great idea Julian,” said one of the other Julians.
[00:12:11] “I’ll come too,” another Julian piped up.
[00:12:14] “Got room for another Julian?”, said another.
[00:12:16] “Sure, Julian”, I said to the Julians.
[00:12:19] I sighed, looked around at the other mes, all the Julians, and opened the door.
[00:12:26] I was going to need to get very comfortable spending time in my own company.
[00:12:31] Pioneers of The Continuum was a Leonardo English production.
[00:12:39] The story was written by Emile Dodds and me, Alastair Budge.
[00:12:45] Julian was played by Christian Saunders from Canguro English.
[00:12:50] If you enjoy the series then, please tell a friend about it and leave a review.
[00:12:56] Thanks for listening.