When I was quite young, I found a book in the Consortium's chapel that explained the universe's love for us. She, the universe, so greatly longs for us to partake in her miracles that she delivers wake-up calls. Some wake-up calls are obvious: job loss, infidelity, death of a loved one. Others are less-apparent: depression, debt, injury. Personally, I felt as if the universe ignored me for years (except maybe to take from me), then one day, all of the sudden, it decided I was needed and began to shriek at me until I responded.
My wake-up call wasn't an illness or an omen, but literally a rift in the space-time continuum. One night, while I was reviewing Consortium research that I had taken home, a rift appeared in my bedroom. I had no idea, then, what was happening. Before I found it, I felt tremors shake the house. I peeked out of the study's window, but nothing appeared different outside. An old gentleman and a young woman walked down the street, hand-in-hand, as if they couldn't be bothered. No Gracity weather alarms were sounding. I ran to my room to check my phone for a notification, but instead I found a hole in the air between my door and bed. There was an absence of light, except for what I guess were stars. It emitted no sound, if anything, it vacuumed all sound into its depths. I stared at it longer than I intended, finding myself dwelling in the peace that occurs right before your life is going to change forever. I reached out into the hole, thinking that if nothing was flying into it, it was probably safe. My hand disappeared into the hole, but I didn't feel anything. I pulled out my hand and it was fine. I half-ran back to the study. I pulled up the Consortium database, but logged in under my mentor's name. Casimir had higher security clearance than I did. I searched the physics database for anything that resembled the mysterious hole in the air in my room. Not even Cas had clearance for the results listed. I searched through the reports that I could access and download, but few described what I was looking at. I finally found a partially redacted report from 2032, 30 years prior, that described the increasing absence of rifts. The database had been archived when Patriarch Glilore had taken over in 2035. I threw on a coat and ran down the street to the Consortium library. It was closed, but my laboratory pass granted after hours access. I found the archive database and searched for rifts. The system prompted me to verify my identity before continuing. Because the Consortium was always updating security measures, I didn't think much of typing in my name and passcode again. There were a multitude of results. Not knowing how long the rift would remain in my room, I printed the first ten reports I saw and ran them back to my house. The rift hadn't changed at all. I grabbed a stack of hi-lighters from my desk and spread everything out on my bed.
I discovered that rifts once occurred with great frequency. It was clear that no one understood what prompted a rift to open, but it was suggested that rifts opened to allow the opportunity for an individual to change something in the past. Some believed rifts were a physical phenomena that allowed mankind to return to a time to make a change that would prevent the universe from falling apart. I scoffed at this. What could happen on one planet that would affect the entire universe? Earth was just a speck of dust compared to everything else out there. Others believed that rifts were opened by a deity to save the souls of sinners who died before they could repent for their sins. One report mentioned a group that believed rifts were a demonic perversion, creating temptation to sin. They believed that we shouldn't have the power to change time. Rifts were a test to a believer's commitment to their tent that everything that has already happened was meant to happen. Their god didn't make mistakes. Tension between the various school of thought led to the civil war of 2033, right before Glilore had taken over the Consortium. I knew that Gracity experienced a civil war in it's recent history, but no one ever spoke of it. It wasn't forbidden outright, but highly discouraged. In my youth, I pestered Cas for information about the war, but eventually gave up when none of my requests were granted. "Those who escape hell never go back," was all he ever said about it.
Reports described rift travel to a previous day, month, or year, for most, but up to a century for a few. The only consistency in the reports was that travel only occurred one way, to the past. I read that at one point, all rifts had to be registered before anyone traveled back in time, or no protection (clothes, food, money) would be offered for the traveler. Some shared the details of their travel upon arriving in the past, others chose to keep it a secret. Part of the unrest was caused my registering travel. Citizens asked what right the government had to dictate time travel. I even found a few opinion pieces in which it was debated whether or not we should change the past at the discretion of an individual or being whose motives we could not see or understand. Popular opinion suggested it was the responsibility of the one to whom the rift opened to decide if they would travel and make the changes. Though it was described as optional, I saw no cases where anyone chose not to travel through the rift.
A rift opened in my bedroom. It was clear that the rift was meant for me, but what could I change?
Now, having been here in 2032 for little more than a month, I still don't understand what it is that the universe, is asking of me, but I believe that the civil war is at the center of it.