(Excerpts from The Time Tunnel*)
Two American boys, Donny and Bobby, while exploring the Transylvania forest, came upon the ruins of some kind of science laboratory. Inside they found various items used in chemistry experiments and a few file cabinets.
In the back of the laboratory was a room with a large hole in the wall big enough for people to walk into. The boys started to enter the hole, but finding themselves enveloped in darkness, turned back. Back outside, they discovered a huge dinosaur skeleton with bits of flesh still on the bones. Remembering that one of the files in the laboratory had said something about time travel, they decided to return the next day to find out if the hole in the back room led to a time tunnel.
The boys enter the tunnel and begin shrinking
The next morning the boys again entered the hole, which in fact was a tunnel leading gently downward. The first thing they noticed as they got deeper inside was a low humming sound, coming in rhythmic pulses from below them but also from all around them.
“It reminds me of the engine of a huge ocean liner,” cried Bobby. They had already been across the Atlantic more than once.
“You’re right!” Donny answered. “On a ship, that sound is everywhere!”
“Do you notice something else? The further we walk into this tunnel, the more it keeps shrinking!”
Bobby cried out fearfully, “And we’re shrinking with it! Oh! Let’s get out of here!”
They tried to turn back. “I can’t!” Donny cried.
“Neither can I!” whispered Bobby. The pulsing sound seemed to be forcing them forward. What could they do? Terror-stricken, they joined hands for mutual protection.
They keep on shrinking
A speck of dust floated by them: it looked like a huge boulder! And they themselves went on shrinking! What had been a mere hint of moisture on the floor became all at once a puddle, then a pond, then a lake. And they were in that lake! Soon, huge monsters were floating in the water all around them.
“They look like paramecia!” Donny cried. “I saw some through a microscope in a pre-science class.”
Bobby shouted, “Look at those whirling lights around us! They look like pictures of atoms I saw last week in a book!”
Donny cried, “And even they keep growing bigger!”
“My gosh!” Bobby cried excitedly. “They look like suns and planets and moons!”
“And still we’re shrinking!”
A large zero and a sphere of light
“Is this good, or is it horrible? We keep shrinking, but still we continue to be ourselves!”
“We no longer seem to have bodies,” cried Donny, “but we’re still conscious!”
“More conscious!” Bobby cried. “I not only see everything more clearly, but I seem to be more aware of everything around me!”
“Oh my God!” cried Donny, “my body seems to have shrunk to nothingness! What is this! A large zero is forming around us!”
All of a sudden they emerged from the tunnel. That large zero had become a sphere of light, surrounding them both like a luminescent bubble. Outside the bubble they saw a countryside of trees, flowers, and great natural beauty.
A border zone between past and future
“Where are we?” cried Bobby.
“Remember what we read in that file?” Donny answered. “The summary, as I still remember it, went something like this:
Time, basically, is an illusion. Whatever was in the past not only was, but is now, and will be, forever. Whatever happens doesn’t really happen at all, except as a mental concept. If one could divorce himself from passing time and reduce his sense of selfhood to absolute zero, he would find it possible to appear again at any specific time, whether in time past or time future.
“My gosh!” Bobby exclaimed. “Then this light around us is that zero!”
“Is this scene around us some sort of border zone,” Donny cried, “between past and future? We must be out of time, as we know it, altogether!”
“Look!” Bobby cried. “Over there! Somebody’s lying on the ground!”
They thought themselves in that direction, and — to their astonishment — the sphere moved with their thought!
“It’s a man!” cried Donny. The man seemed asleep.
“Hey there,” Bobby shouted. “Wake up!” The man slept on. They stared at him a moment in silence. “Are you dead — like that dinosaur out there?”
The man stirred. “Dinosaur?” he muttered as if vaguely remembering the word.
“Yes, dinosaur!” shouted Donny.
“You mean, you actually saw the dinosaur?” asked the man, rising now in panic to a sitting position.
The man’s head seemed to be clearing. “I’m beginning to remember!”
Hansel explains the time-light spheres
The man’s head seemed to clear completely. “Yes! It’s understandable to me now. My name is Hansel, but first, I’ve got to get you out of that time-light sphere. As long as you’re in it, you’ll be visible only to me, because I too came out of that tunnel.”
Donny asked, “So how do we get out of this sphere?”
“It’s easy enough. Its light is a vibration of energy. The time-light sphere formed around you when you reduced yourselves to zero. But now what you need to do is stand up straight in that sphere.”
The boys followed his directions, and to their amazement, they saw the light around them disappear in a downward-rolling scroll. When their arms touched their sides again, the sphere was gone! After also explaining how they could create separate spheres around each of them, Hansel said: “These time-light spheres are very important for you. They will keep you invisible to others, and also inaudible by them. And the spheres will protect you from anything going on around you.”
Egypt and the construction of the Great Pyramid
The next day Donny and Bobby emerged once more from the tunnel in their bubbles of light — calmly this time, however. Hansel, their new friend was waiting for them. After dissolving their light bubbles, they greeted him. The boys were ready for an adventure.
“What if we went back to the time of the pyramids, and saw what the people were like then!” cried Donny. His mother had already told them about those ancient wonders.
“We could see how they built those great buildings!” added Bobby.
“The people who created the pyramids lived in a much higher age than ours,” said Hansel. “They knew how to manipulate sounds, and had innumerable instruments — big drums for the low hum of solid earth; flutes for liquid matter; harps for fiery matter; deep gongs for gaseous matter; and a rushing sound produced by another instrument, which is no longer known today.
“In addition, many priests and priestesses loudly chanted certain sacred sounds. All of these sounds together lifted the huge rocks into place, and inserted them between the other stones in a way that researchers have long marveled over. For in fact those stones could not have been placed as precisely as they were except from above.
“Oh, my!” exclaimed Donny. ” Why don’t we go there and see for ourselves?”
They scrolled up their time-light spheres, and found themselves suddenly on a wide, sandy plateau. They remained in their spheres, invisible to and inaudible by anyone else, but finding it easy to communicate with one another.
The three of them watched the pyramid’s construction rising quickly (they swept forward over the many years it took for the pyramid to be finished). Suddenly they saw before them — not a great pyramid of rocks, but a smooth, gleaming white sandstone structure, shining for many miles, reflecting light over the flat desert.
“Centuries later,” Hansel told them, “when modern Cairo was built, people took the surface stone from the pyramid to construct their homes. Long ago, it wasn’t the massive pile of blocks seen today. Instead, the pyramid stood gleaming in the desert.
“One interesting fact about Egypt,” Hansel concluded, “is that, as a civilization, it started at its height. There is no indication of an earlier rise from obscurity.”
“Do you mean,” Donny asked, “that all of Egypt’s known history has been downhill?”
“That’s what the evidence shows.” Hansel answered.
“Shall we try going to the future — maybe tomorrow?” Hansel asked.
Bobby said. “Oh, I’d like first to go to Atlantis!”
“Atlantis!” cried Donny. “I know nothing about it. But they were highly advanced then. Do let’s go there first!”
“Very well, then,” Hansel concluded. “Tomorrow: Atlantis!”
Atlantis and the conquering of nature
“What was Atlantis like?” inquired Bobby, eager with anticipation. “I once asked Daddy about it,” said Donny, “and he answered, ‘It can’t have existed.’”
“Well, here’s something to think about,” said Hansel: “Atlantis was situated (this seems obvious) in the Atlantic Ocean. The nearest land mass west of it could easily have been Mexico. Consider, then, the names of many cities in Mexico: Acatlán; Mazatlán; Zacatlán; and names without the first or the last ‘a,’ but with that strange ‘tlan’ sound, like Ixtlán; Ocotlán; Tepoztlán; Tezuitlán.
Often you can find clues to the past from the sounds of language itself. I don’t believe that ‘tlán’ sound is found anywhere else on earth. Certainly it must be very uncommon. And, as part of that puzzle, what about the name of the ocean itself: “Atlantic”? I know of no connection between that name and any ancient language. Where did it come from?”
“Gee,” said Donny thoughtfully, “that is a good argument!”
“And anyway, I’ve been there!” said Hansel, clinching the matter. “Atlantis existed all right! Atlantis was a very high civilization. On it there stood, at its center, a huge crystal. That crystal gave energy to the whole island.
“Were the Atlanteans a scientific people?” Donny asked.
“Too much so!” said Hansel. “Everything was man-made and artificial. They believed in conquering Nature, not in working with her.”
Hansel and the boys enclosed themselves in their time-light spheres, and Hansel (who alone knew where they were going) willed themselves back to ancient Atlantis thousands of years ago.
On arriving, they found themselves in a gleamingly white city — super clean, super neat in its construction, super efficient, super — well, super everything! High buildings towered around them. People rode about in neat, small metal “sheaths,” easily avoiding contact with one another. If one car happened to touch another, the surfaces of both cars adjusted instantly, bending softly inward to avoid any damaging clash.
After scrolling down their time-light spheres, the three travelers found there were no sidewalks. They stepped onto a flat square and found themselves almost instantly transported up two storeys to a translucent sidewalk. Beside them they saw a beautiful shop window in which were displayed styles of clothing they’d never before seen, nor even ever imagined. Fascinated, they entered through an open door.
Just then, a lady passing by them, also going in, cried out, “Great Crystal! What are you three doing dressed like that?”
Later, after Bobby, Donny and Hansel were again outside the tunnel, they reminisced about their recent visit to Atlantis.
“Well,” said Hansel, “bleak is what we found it to be underneath that outward glamour.”
“Yes, bleak. That’s the word!” cried Bobby earnestly.
Forward to a glorious future
“At last, it’s time to soar off to the future!” Hansel said to them. ” Let’s go forward very slowly. That way, you’ll catch a glimpse of other time zones on the way.” They enclosed themselves in their time-light spheres, and moved slowly through time….
After they had seen enough, Hansel spoke: “I thought we might go further still — thousands of years into the future. Would you like to speed up? The boys agreed and all of a sudden, passing time became a blur of quickly changing scenes; then a simple blur of colors; then, white space.
Suddenly they landed on a flowery meadow. Scrolling down their time-light spheres, they stepped out of them (so to speak) onto the meadow and looked about. The weather was balmy. A soft breeze played over long meadow grass as if on harp strings. As the breeze did so, it created delightful, slightly energizing sounds, within which subtle melodies seemed to be playing.
They noticed that their own bodies seemed lighter, almost airy. Everything around them was graceful. Even the trees grew gracefully. And the hills seemed somehow to have been molded into harmonious shapes.
A beautiful horse ran about freely in the meadow. After making a few turns about the periphery, it trotted over to Donny, butted him playfully, ran off, then came back and nudged him — all this with obvious affection.
“Look!” cried Donny. “It wants to make friends!”
With their bag of three sandwiches, which they had brought with them, they sat on the grass under a graceful tree and ate them. Their brief repast finished, they stood up. Just at that moment, a visitor appeared. He was tall, dignified, apparently middle-aged, draped in a long blue robe, the material of which seemed soft and completely comfortable.
“Welcome, Friends!” said the man with a kindly smile. “I thought I would wait until you’d finished your meal. My name is Satyan.”