The Ravenous Nature of Time in The Gateway
“We begin to die as soon as we are born, and the end is linked to the beginning.” Bret Harte, Author, 1836-1902
I want you to take a moment and think about the place that you call home – the physical place you live in, the community you engage with, the characteristics of the metro or county the defines your existence. Day to day, we think of these places as static and stable, that’s part of what makes home our “home”! But this comfy feeling is really just a biproduct of the short time scale of human existence. If we zoom out on the scale of time, what you’d see is that the unchanging place you call “home” is really just a historical blip.
Time gnaws away at everything…
So, what about your beloved childhood house with all those fond memories? Well, just a short ways off in the scale of time, that house is now someone else’s ruins – if it even exists at all. Sure, the decay may take a while, 50 years… 100… 500… Hell, 500 years is nothing relative to geological time, which spans millions and millions of years. Over that long, even mountains wither away. Everything we know is fleeting, it just doesn’t feel that way until we reflect back on our lives years later. But, no humans ever get a chance to really see this effect of time, even with a 100+ year lifespan.
That’s what makes The Gateway such an interesting place! The fictional land of The Gateway was once a thriving beacon of advanced civilization, progress, technology, and fairness for the people living in it. However, it was mysteriously destroyed before the events of The Aria of Galvanize, leaving the protagonist, Incarnate Number Seven, stuck fighting off monsters and psychos in the remnants of this formerly glorious civilization.
Incarnate Number Seven has the strange opportunity to see the world through two perspectives – the past and the present. It just turns out that her present is set centuries after her past, in a Gateway that’s all but disintegrated thanks to time and catastrophize. This is one of my favorite features in writing The Aria of Galvanize, and when reading Post-apocalyptic literature more broadly. We get to see the way things were, to have they have become (usually for the worse).
Maybe my imagination is too active… but sometimes when I walk around in one of those elegant skyscrapers in a massive city metro, I like to look past all the busy, professionally dressed people to what might be taking place in this building centuries down the road! Sure, maybe that city is doing better than ever, and the city raised that specific building to build an even taller, nicer one. It happens all the time. But… what if 300 years from now that very building is still there, and instead of being populated by people working to create new things the building is infested with wild animals or violent human raiders? If that were true, then the question that immediately comes into my mind is, “what the hell happened?!”
Well, in The Aria of Galvanize, The Gateway takes the forms of a brilliant civilization OR a collapsed land of violent decay. Sometimes I describe the same building twice, once for the past and once for the post-apocalyptic present. It gets a bit tiresome, but it really does make me think about what a functional world would look like after centuries of decay.
So, this brings me back to the original exercise I described – think about your own home, community or region. The things that you know about those locations WILL change over time, maybe for better or maybe not so much. But if you drag the time scale out far enough… well all those places you care about are almost certainly gone, especially when you start to talk about 1,000 to 10,000 to a million years down the road.
Yes, time is an unstoppable destructive force, it’s kind of a jerk like that! But rather than getting stuck on the depressing realization that nothing is permanent, I like to bring my mind back to just how incredible and valuable the “present” is. If all the places we love are doomed to destruction somewhere down the road (hopefully well beyond our lifetimes!), doesn’t that make them feel even more special? That we get to experience life during such a brief and fleeting moment of time that will never exist again like it does now? Well, that’s pretty amazing!
At the very least, I’m just grateful that right now we’re not living during the possible post-apocalyptic epoch that may lie somewhere in humanity’s future…
To read more about The Gateway get your copy of The Aria of Galvanize available July 3rd!