Dennis O’Neil: Of History And Time Travel

Okay, pay attention now because this won’t be easy to understand.

First, a couple of news items:

A time capsule buried near the State House in Boston in 1795 by Paul Revere and Samuel Adams was unearthed last week during some repair work.

And scientists have actually seen some dark matter. They’ve been speculating about it for quite a while, but last week a team of stargazers at the Keck observatory in Hawaii actually glimpsed it a long, long way off.

Some of you are probably giving a so what shrug. What has this to do with the midseason finale of the Arrow television show and why am I not writing about that? Because, yeah, that was a hell of a final scene. Well, maybe we’ll get to it next week, if we’re not distracted by holiday matters. Because, you know, the season to be jolly can be a drag and some of us have never figured out how to handle it with elegance and grace.

Anyway, what must have happened back in 1795 was that someone came into Paul Revere’s shop and maybe introduced himself as a friend of Ben Franklin’s – easy to believe because Ben got around – and in the course of some colonial chit chat suggested that Paul might get together with Sam and the two of them might want to bury a time capsule. I mean, why not? Then Ben’s ”friend” might have said that he just happened to have a time capsule in his carriage, parked right outside, and Paul was welcome to it.

Of course, by now you realize that the “friend” was really an alien and what he was offering Mr. Revere was, in fact, a time capsule, but not the kind Paul was thinking of. No, this alien artifact was a cunningly disguised time collector. What a time collector does, as you must surely know, is collect the bits and pieces of time that nobody is using – a nanosecond here, a fortnight there – and just kind of store them until they’re needed, a bit like a Christmas lay away plan. And that’s what the container that Paul and Sam buried has been doing for the past 219 years: collecting.

Now, for who-knows-what reason, the alien has returned. To do that – this is a matter of celestial mechanics – he’s had to reveal a bit of his dark matter home, (He was probably hoping that the folks at Keck were looking the other way.) Why come back now? My best guess is that one of his pals who lives here on Earth communicated across the void and told the pseudo Ben friend that the capsule is to be opened this week. Then? The collected time whooshes out, a mighty tidal wave of chronology, and carries us through the rest of the century, a span full of dangers, some of which could obliterate us. Finis. Kaput. The End. But the time wave will deposit us safely in 2100 and all will be well.

And think of all the Christmases we won’t have to celebrate.