Anchors No More #15: Successed To DeathApr 28, 2014
Holly believed what she was hearing but she didn’t want to. How could she want to hear that, let alone admit it was true? She perspired as she listened, his words emetic to her already fragile physical state. “It was all in place,” Daniel said, “as soon as they got their hands on you two and these,” he pointed at the notebooks for emphasis, “they could run their first practical tests within a few months.”
Holly stood, needing to move, feeling dizzy and ill, wanting fresh air, “How could they be so irresponsible? Don’t they know how fucked up that is?”
“It’s not your fault, fucked up is just another day at the office,” James chided. “You know how they work. If they can make a buck and tighten a grip, they’ll kill it right then and there or slowly exploit it to death. Either way…” He didn’t finish his sentence, standing up instead, walking slowly to Holly who was leaning against the table staring at the notebooks.
She couldn’t look at him, she opened the book, read the first page, “Of course it’s my fault,” she said weakly, “I did it,” she turned to James, looked him deeply in the eyes, “I made it.” She looked at Gary sitting at the table next to Daniel and Restrepo. “I’m sorry,” she told him, “I’m so sorry I got you into this. All of you.”
Gary stood and went to her, comforting her as she cried. “It’s okay, Holly, it really is. We’re all here right now because we want to be, we chose this, we chose to be here, it’s not your…”
“But my work caused this,” she said standing straight and leaning into Gary. “I talked you into this. You didn’t even want to do it, but I kept bothering you, giving you shit until you caved in.”
“Is that how you remember it?” Gary challenged, “I seem to remember you bugging me a few times until I read your work and then I instantly and unapologetically leapt at the chance to have my name even remotely associated with the most brilliant work in the history of modern science.”
Holly sneered, picking up her notebook. “You’re delusional,” she said, throwing the notebook at his chest, “What’s in here needs to be outlawed and buried safely in the realm of ‘things we know we could do but know we shouldn’t’. Like nuclear war or drinking bleach.”
“What’s in there changed the world and it can’t be changed back,” James said picking up the books. “But it needs to be.” He tossed the books on the table and stood beside Holly and Gary. “It’s too late to bury it, Doctors,” he told them, “and it’s too late to hide it, all we can do is, well…” he paused, glanced at Daniel, “…our remaining options are a bit more extreme.”
That snapped Holly from her whirl of self-loathing. She walked to the machine, touched the control panel, “What’s your plan?” she asked, turning to the fugitive scientists, “What are you going to do?”
Daniel walked toward her. “They’re going to use your machine. No matter what, with you and your notebooks or without, it’s just a matter of when. Sebastian says they’re close and sometime soon they’re going to work it out and it’s all going to go to hell. I mean, can you imagine what they can do? Intelligence, counter-intelligence, assassinations? Creating multiple dimensions and destroying them just to see what might happen? That’s just the tip of whatever fucked up iceberg they have planned.” He turned to Gary, “They’ve weaponized it,” he said. “They’ve made Time into their personal playground and there’s not a whole hell of a lot we can do without somehow beating them to the punch.” He touched the smooth metal curve of the machine. “We have to.”
“You’re missing the point,” Holly said, “Nobody can use these machines again until we figure out what we did when we used it the first time. We still don’t know if or how we affected the continuum. What happened when we jumped into the rabbit hole? We could only make predictions and guess. Until we actually did it there was no way of telling exactly what would happen.”
She looked at Gary who could only nod his head and give Daniel, James, and Restrepo a solemn expression in support of her claim. “She’s right,” he said, “and those membranes prove that something happened.” He held up the books. “Before we can do anything, we have to figure out exactly what they prove.” He opened a notebook and looked at a page. “We need time.”
Restrepo stood aggressively, breaking the silent observation he had been engaged in for the past two hours, “We don’t have time,” he said, “That’s what you’re not understanding. They don’t have the notebooks, but Vanderhoff took pictures, I know for sure he has copies of at least five pages, I was in his office when he took them.” He walked to the others, “He’s got the people, the machinery, the membranes, and the pages. He’s got the money and the manpower and now that he has all of that, he’s not going to wait. They’re not going to be patient, not anymore. There’s no excuse, it’s full steam ahead and the final destination is pretty damn close.”
“Who’s to say,” James butted in, “that they haven’t used it already?” Everyone turned to him and he smiled a richly shit-eating grin. “What if they used it and this is all in the past, us offering you sanctuary, us trying to work out what we should do next now that the illustrious Doctors Marshal and Neff materialized in their slimy cocoons four years out of time and regrettably unprepared for what their little trip through the temporal sphere dredged up. What if we already did what we were going to do and now they’re ready for us, this time they’re waiting just outside the door, a whole battalion in the parking lot salivating with the anticipation of the garage door raising slowly open and them raining down a storm upon us, a shrapnel hurricane tearing us limb from limb before we can even realize we’ve been had.”
He began to pace thoughtfully, “I mean, come on, it would be easy for them to find us if this all happened before. Our friend here, the man in black,” he said, gesturing to Restrepo, “If they knew five years from now, or ten, or a million, and they what, embedded a tracer in the jeep, or his shoes, in his neck, shit, why not, they would have had plenty of chances to do anything they wanted before anyone had the slightest inclination something should be worried about.” He looked around at the staring faces, “Maybe we’re already dead.”
No one replied as their thoughts turned in disbelief. Holly finally gave a tension-relieving laugh, only a hint of humor within its breathy release, “Fuck you,” she said, her mind temporarily blown.
James smiled, placed his hand on her shoulder, “Now, see what you’ve done.”
© David Edward Wagner 2014. All Rights Reserved.