Sliding from one dimension to another willy-nilly can be dangerous for someone who doesn’t know the tropes. Phineas Pfefferkorn learned that lesson the hard way.
Expelled from his university computer class, when his eccentric attire and boredom-induced nonverbal sonic disruption of classroom decorum exceeded the intolerant professor’s quota of one “sigh per punk,” Phineas wandered aimlessly through the halls of the science building until he chanced upon a keypad-protected research laboratory.
Phineas hacked his way into the lab. He glanced at the labels on a variety of experimental gadgets before deciding to strap on a prototype time machine and trans-dimensional slider that consisted of a backpack and a utility belt with a control panel.
Although he had every intention of following the advice of Horace Greeley, “Go west, young man,” Phineas was thoroughly disoriented by having passed through a maze of hallways prior to his discovery of the windowless lab where the sun didn’t shine. He faced the nearest wall and pressed a button.
Phineas found himself a gandy dancer on a dilapidated railway line.
He pressed another button.
He found himself a Gandhi dancer in the chorus line of a Bollywood biopic.
Wherever he went, Phineas had trouble adjusting.
When in Rome he did as the Etruscans did
He was out of sync.
What could Phineas do when his experiences clashed with his expectations? He sought a palliative for cognitive dissonance. In other words, he changed his mind.
He decided to switch from the adventuresome, go-exploring philosophy of Horace Greely to the marginally more immediate mantra of Quintus Horatius Flaccus, also known as Horace: Carpe diem. Seize the day, or enjoy the day. Take advantage of the situation you find yourself in.
Phineas wasn’t sure which one of the buttons turned the machine off, so he pushed all of them at once.
A steam powered velocipede collided with a triceratops. A super tanker ran aground on Mars. A reality TV show made sense. A super collider produced a particle that weighed less than the fart of an anorexic quark.
What had gone wrong? The answer was simple.
Not realizing that he was in a no parallel (universe) parking zone, Phineas had caused a temporal traffic jam at the intersection of Then and Now by breaking the cardinal rule for amateur time travelers: “Don’t change Horaces while in the middle of a slipstream.”