Return to the Cave of Time!

The time has come once again to embark on an exciting Choose Your Own Adventure! This time we are braving the classic "Return to The Cave of Time", only in its updated and expanded iPhone edition. So even if you've run it before, prepare yourself for more adventure, more challenges, more harrowing excitement than you remember. Once more, into the breach!

Your heart races as you make your way through Snake Canyon, looking for the entrance to the Cave of Time. About midafternoon you reach the familiar grove of pine trees near the cave entrance, only to find that landslides have covered it over.

You'd think something as well-known and (presumably) massively important as the Cave of Time would have some sort of guard or janitorial service, but whatever, this is ADVENTURE!

You are not one to give up easily. You search the floor of the canyon, looking for another way in. It's not until the sun is about to go down that you find one, a hole barely big enough to squeeze through, hidden by clumps of sage. You crawl in on your hands and knees, and then along a tunnel that you hope leads to the main chamber of the cave.

The tunnel seems endless and keeps curving to one side, as if it might be going around in a circle. After a half hour of crawling, your hands and knees are sore. You feel a tightening of muscles in your throat -- the beginning of panic. There's not enough room to turn around, and your'e not sure you can back out!

The only thing to do is to keep going, so that's what you do, painfully crawling around a bend to the right, then one to the left, in total darkness. Stopping to rest, you hear a voice singing ahead of you, an eerie tune with only three or four notes. You crawl on, and a minute later reach a dimly lit chamber. A thin, ghostlike figure with a long white beard is singing. Seeing you, he sings a few more notes, then holds out his arms toward you. As if to answer your question before you ask it, this strange man -- if he is a man -- says "You have found the Oracle of Time."

You are amazed to meet anyone in the cave, much less an oracle. You feel a flash of fear, afraid that you are in his power, but as you study his face, you can't help but smile. There is a playful, impish look in his eyes. You wonder if he can tell you some things you've wondered about, so you start asking questions: "If you are the Oracle of Time, can you tell me, What is time?"

Brilliant. It's the Oracle of Time, so naturally we ask him what time it is. I hope he answers "Buy a watch, idiot!" or "Half past kissing time, time to kiss again!" which, given our excitement at his impish smile and our hopes for "meeting someone" might be very appropriate.

The oracle is silent a moment, then answers in a firm voice: "Time is what keeps everything from happening all at once."

You are not sure what he means by that, but you continue: "When did time start? And when will it end?"

"Would you like to see?" he asks.

You gulp in amazement. "Sure."

"What then -- the beginning of time, or the end?"

What shall it be, intrepid explorers?

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(Text and images ©1985, 2010 by Edward Packard.)