Title: Once, All Of This Was New
Character: Walter (Gen)
Summary: When Walter was young, the future held so much promise…
Author's Notes: For fox_las and the prompt of someone reading about themselves in a book.
Also for writers_choice, this is "remember."
The book was packed away in one of the boxes from his old lab, and when Walter came across it late one night he realized he'd almost forgotten it existed.
"Eyes On The Future: Ten Scientists Of Note" the cover proclaimed. Walter set down the sandwich he'd been carrying, and opened the book to the frontispiece. "Time is a river," it said, and he chuckled to himself.
More of an ocean, really, though we didn't know it then.
He began skimming through the pages until he found his own chapter, titled "The Man Who Chased Tomorrow Into The Past." A bit pretentious, he thought, but catchy nonetheless. He picked up his sandwich and kept reading.
The author had captured most of his precocious childhood correctly, though Mother wasn't nearly as flighty as described, goodness no (Walter supposed his early experiments with vegetables and gunpowder might have influenced her temperament a bit). He'd had so many ideas during the next few years, and he'd tested increasingly complex theories and won several science fairs. But he hadn't lost his early promise after that, merely moved on to more interesting pursuits. Of those, a primitive memory-transference helmet had proven somewhat successful, while the shapely brunette and the lysergic acid had not.
All three had been tremendously captivating at the time, however, and Walter regretted none of it. On the contrary, he still revisited two of the three with some regularity to this day...
The book did tend to paint him as something of a mad scientist. Oh, it was tiresome—impossible to escape it, really. One did what was necessary and followed the questions wherever they led. If they happened to go in unexpected directions, one had to be willing to try new tactics, new paradigms.
Three decades after the book was written, everyone was still fixated on the radioactive wind gauge and the chicken. It was just as well he'd never mentioned the bergamot oil, or he'd never have heard the end of it.
There was an entire section on a fellowship at Northwestern, which rather surprised him. Those seventeen years in that mental hospital must have taken quite a toll! Or perhaps it was a side-effect of too many encounters with psychotropic stimuli…
The book went on to laud Walter's accomplishments in matter theory and particle physics, while noting the dangers inherent in each discipline. The conclusion was just as he remembered:
"With his genius and broad spectrum of talent, Walter Bishop could as easily destroy the world as save it."
Footsteps approached from the outer entrance, and Walter's heart lifted as he recognized Peter's distinctive tread. He put the book down, his smile tinged with remorse.
Or perhaps, he thought, even a little of both.
- fin -