Anchors No More # 32: A Definite Chain of EventsAug 26, 2014
Guns raised, tempers growing more volatile and unstable with each passing second. Gary couldn’t think, there was only a blank white slate where an idea should have been. Then someone said, “Let me explain,” and he looked around, trying to locate who spoke. He was more surprised than anyone was to realize it was he himself who had uttered that desperately underwhelming plea.
The three ARLIS guards appeared uninterested in explanation: their rifles remained locked onto their targets. Two of those targets, Restrepo and Pierre, seemed no more concerned with explanation than the guards were. The pair kept the sights of their weapons trained on the ARLIS men. The remaining two targets, Daniel and Gary, were frozen in place. Daniel stared at the lab shift leader, Warren, a man with one hand hovering dangerously near an emergency alarm.
The one bright spot Gary could decipher was that the three scientists awkwardly positioned in the line of fire grew still with the knowledge of the hells they stood between: they did not want to die and were unanimously inclined towards a reasonable resolution of the moment. Gary saw the chance for such a conclusion quickly dissolving and he slowly raised his hands shoulder height, stepping slow and boldly into the center of the scene.
“Please,” he said, “we can all start shooting and kill each other and get killed and all that but I don’t want to die, and none of them want to die,” he said to the nearest guard, gesturing to the cowered scientists, “and no matter how much you believe in your cause, you don’t really want to die for it. None of us want to die for it but we are all willing to. That’s not the question, that’s true.”
He turned to the two guards across from him on the other side of the scientists, “The question is really, ‘what can we do to make sure nobody dies here today,’ and then come up with the simplest solution.” He met eyes with one of the guards, “We can complicate it again later. But for now…” he let the unspoken proposition linger in the electrified air.
The nervous theorists thought it was a great idea, silently sinking together to the floor, getting lower as guns failed to waver. With no backup plan should his little speech fail to sway, Gary continued, “And it’s not just us, if we don’t finish what we’re doing, a lot of people could die. More than you could imagine.” He looked at the scientists, he looked at the guards, “I am Gary Neff and this is Daniel Hobbes and this isn’t about any revenge or terrorism or whatever you want to call it. We’re here because what this technology can do in ARLIS’s hands is too dangerous.”
He pointed at the temporal device, “We’ve done the calculations, Doctor Holly Marshal is with us and I can assure you her projections are more accurate than yours,” he made sure to meet eyes when he said this, driving it in, “and she wants it destroyed. It has to be destroyed and the work on it burned. No one can use this machine again, it has to stop.”
“You have no right to walk I here with a gun and demand anything. Who do you think you a…?”
Gary shot the seated scientist a glare, “It’s really not about me,” he said, shutting the man up, “It’s about this.” He took a slow step towards the machine, aware of guns following him, aware of guns following guns. He stopped next to Warren, speaking to him now, “We have documents, proof of the TechnoIndustrial Military Complex’s intentions for the device once it’s running.”
Turning back to the scientists on the floor, to the guards bearing down upon them, Gary said, “We can affirm without a doubt that they can, they want to, go back. They planned it out, they can go back five seconds, create a perfect in every way replica of our existence and drop a couple dozen nuclear bombs at strategic points, get the simulation room of a lifetime.” He made sure they understood, “There’s pages of this stuff,” he said, “Chemical weapons in the major cities, pandemics of infectious diseases, whatever kind of wacky shit they dream up they plan on doing, treating all of these split worlds like virtual playgrounds for their tacticians and statisticians. That is your children, your wives, your friends, you…again and again and again.”
He looked them over, making his last bid, “But it’s not just that. Moving backwards in the continuum results in split dimensions, we know that, each one branching off at the moment of entry: distinct and discreet realities mirroring our own in every meaningful physical and experiential way. Here, now, we remain unaware, unaffected by it and it from us, at least to a point. Things will eventually collapse when a certain compounding effect takes over and it becomes… unable to sustain itself any longer.” He noticed he had been staring at the machine as he spoke, touching it with familiar affection.
He turned back to the guard he had been staring at, “They’re going to do unimaginable things and what about the future of the worlds they demolish? You know the ARLIS brass in every dimension are going to protect themselves, just keep gathering data from both ends of the split. They’re going to be prepared to survive anything they concoct in any alternate environment. But your wives? Your mothers? Children?” He paused glanced at Daniel then at Warren, “And that’s not even the point is it. What about when they start doing experiments in the other dimensions? Splitting off more layers of existence and then that layer splits, not once but countless times? Down the veins of the rabbit hole until it all implodes?” He surveyed the room, it had grown completely silent, one guard let his gun waver as he looked over at the guard next to him, unsure what to do.
Daniel hesitantly stepped forward, gently saying, “We don’t want to ask for your help, we can’t ask that of any of you, but we do want to ask you to please not get in our way. Just give us blind eyes and a head start, it’s all we can reasonably ask.” No answer though heads did turn and eyes did look into other eyes. One guard lowered his rifle, the two others did not. Restrepo kept his gun at the two while Pierre trained his barrel on the guard who had set down the weapon. Moments of silence followed, a stalemate finally interrupted by a definite chain of events.
© David Edward Wagner 2014. All Rights Reserved.