Saturday, April 22, 2017

Flurry: The Butterfly Effect (Part II)

Kallias Bran rearranged the documents on his desk for a minute and stood up, placing his reading glasses in his front pocket. “You going after the people making the snow?”
“Well, we were going to look for help from someone else,” Ace said. “We don’t know who is causing the snow.”
“I have a pretty good idea.”
“You know who’s doing this?” Serkan asked, surprised.
He smiled. “I’m gonna give you a minute to think it over, Serkan. You possess a connection to these people, one that Ace and I do not...except through you.” He had to keep going when Serkan wasn’t getting it, “who do you know might have the money and resources to alter the weather...and is possibly named something, uh, related to the weather?”
“Oh!” Serkan finally got it, of course. “Of course! Snowglobe!”
“That’s right,” Bran confirmed. “I’ve been investigating Snowglobe Collective for years, but I’ve not been able to get very close.”
“Well, what do you know about them?”
“I know that the top leadership is comprised of temporal manipulators, like you three. I don’t know who they are, and I don’t know what they’re trying to do.”
“It looks like they’re trying to control the weather,” Ace said.
“Yes, but to what end? Are they trying to help, or is control the keyword here?”
“What about this doorknob?” asked Serkan, holding it up in front of him. “Could we use this to sneak into the Snowglobe headquarters and get some answers?”
Bran smiled again. “I’ve tried that before. Like I said, they’re powerful time manipulators. They have, like, wards against that. In the future, weather control will be ubiquitous, and worrying what tomorrow brings will be a thing of the past. I believe these people jumped to that future, stole the technology, and are currently attempting to reverse engineer it for their own gain. They’re not taking any chances. It will be their most guarded possession.”
“But we can stop them,” Ace proposed. He placed an affectionate hand on Serkan’s shoulder. “Rather, Serkie here can stop them. If they have temporal wards, then he can get through them.”
“Ehh, not necessarily,” Bran argued. “He has the ability to stop people from using their powers, but he doesn’t block all temporal manipulation. Afterall, this all started when he fell into The Gravedigger’s open grave, and ended up in the past. Why just now he used The Doorknob to access this dimension. He obviously has the ability to experience temporal manipulation when it comes to objects.”
“Oh, that’s true,” Ace realized.
He separated a few pieces of paper from one of the messy stacks on his desk, one of which was a crude blueprint of the Snowglobe headquarters. “I actually think the entire building is designed to protect their power from outside influence. They may not know about you specifically, but they know they’re not the only time travelers out there. They’re not interested in letting anyone through who isn’t one of them.”
Ace placed his other hand on Serkan’s other shoulder. “Then we’ll have to find a way to make Serkie become one of them.”
“Ace,” Serkan said lovingly. “I’m not going to be promoted from security to executive management overnight.”
“Maybe it’s time you bite the bullet and go have a conversation with Lincoln Rutherford,” Bran suggested. “From what I gather, he understands what it’s like to pretend to be a business magnate’s security guard.”
“We need to talk to Andrews first, though,” Ace told them. “We still need to someone on our side who might actually have a chance of fixing this.”
“Unless he’s part of this,” Serkan posited. “Like I said, I barely know him, and you don’t know him at all.”
“I know him,” Bran said. “Well enough, at least. You wouldn’t be the first of his kind that he’s met. You should go. I promise to take care of Paige.”
Paige finally revealed herself from the bathroom. “I can go with you. I can help. I can take pictures.”
“No.” Ace knelt down to be closer to Paige’s level. “One day you’ll be able to help with things like this in profound ways. Ways that we can’t even begin to predict. You’re going to become a lovely young lady, and an important woman in history. Right now, you’re vulnerable. You’re young, physically small...and untrained. You just don’t have the experience we need for this, and we can’t be worrying about what might happen to you. One day, you’ll get your shot. It is not today.”
Paige always appreciated them talking to her like she was an adult. Her birth parents had been absolutely awful to her, treating her more like a rabid animal than a person. Their trip to Stonehenge together was just a front, for they treated her just fine in public, preventing anyone from knowing what was really going on. Harry Potter couldn’t come close to understanding what Paige went through back in the 20th century. What she needed was to feel like she mattered, like she could contribute. She also needed discipline, and boundaries. She wasn’t allowed to help with the Snowglobe problem, and she needed to be told this straight up, and also be told that they won’t be sheltering her forever. Because it was true, they always knew that she would grow up to be a strong, independent woman. For now, she needed to stay alive long enough to realize those days. Bran could give her that. “Okay.” She went back to her bedroom and started packing.
“Thank you for this, Kallias,” Serkan said.
“In my younger days, I would have jumped at the chance to go with you. That’s just not me in anymore.” He placed his reading glasses back on his face, but purposely askew so that he looked silly. “This is me now.”
They could afford to take a second to laugh about how he looked. But then it was time they went into their bedroom, and packed as well. Serkan still needed to get dressed.
“Paige, make sure you pack your heavy coat! We don’t quite know how the weather will affect the pocket dimension!”
“Okay!” she called back.
“That goes for you too, Serkan,” he said.
“” That was weird. He wasn’t going to call him that again, for any reason.
After everybody had said their goodbyes, Paige and Bran were safely back in the secret pocket dimension, and Serkan and Ace were on their way to DNA Research Labs, Inc. Yes, a company called DNA was confusing, but it was a pun, and Duke Norbert Andrews was sticking to it. It took a while to get all the way up to the top floor. Of course, Andrews was already hard at work with his team, trying to figure out what the hell was going on. He didn’t have time for visitors, but once Serkan claimed to the front desk security that he had some insight into the mysterious weather phenomena, he was ushered in.
“Mister Demir?” Andrews asked, closing the door between them and the frantic meteorologists in the conference room. “You look...older?”
“I can’t explain why that is, Mr. Andrews, but please, let us keep our conversations quiet. If you ever see me again, I may not...uh...quite remember that we spoke of today.”
He lifted his head inquisitively. “You’re not Serkan.”
“Not exactly.”
“What do you know?”
“Snowglobe Collective is doing this. We don’t know how, but we know they’re involved.”
He casually walked around his desk and sat down. “Of course they are. I worked that out on the slow drive over here. With a company name like that, you’re just asking for people to make a connection between you and Christmas in July.”
“Do you know how they might be doing this?” Ace asked.
Andrews just looked at him.
He introduced himself, “Horace Reaver, sir.”
Andrews noticeably twitched at the sound of Ace’s full name. “I have no idea, but it is not without precedent.”
“It’s happened before?”
“1816,” Andrews began. “It’s also known as the Year Without Summer. Frost killed off a great deal of agriculture, leading to food shortages in North America and Western Europe.” He tapped a few keys on his keyboard and the flipped his monitor around to show the Wikipedia page on the subject. “But that was after a massive volcano eruption. Nothing like that happened here. The snow has merely materialized.” He tapped a few more keys and switched it to a series of maps and diagrams that Serkan was not educated enough to comprehend. “And it won’t end here. These weather patterns make absolutely no sense, but we can still do minimal forecasting for the area. It’s going to get worse...unless someone finds a way to stop it.”
“Do you have any ideas?” Serkan asked.
“Besides storming Snowglobe’s castle and shutting down whatever it is that have that can alter the weather? No. Nothing can reverse this, because that technology simply does not exist. Global climate control is something my lead futurologist predicts won’t happen until next century, at best. We’re not even working on it right now. This world requires too many microsolutions before we can even begin exploring it. It would seem that Snowglobe has skipped ahead on us.”
“But it’s out of control,” Serkan added. “I mean, that is unless they actually wanted a winter wonderland in what’s supposed to be the summer.”
“No,” Andrews agreed. “I imagine they stumbled onto something they don’t understand, and it’s backfiring on them.”
“Can your team do anything?” Ace asked.
“Honestly, I have them all working on different avenues, but no. No one, as far as I know, is equipped to handle this sort of thing. Like I said, the tech doesn’t exist. If Snowglobe doesn’t stop it, no one can.”
“We might be able to.”
“What do you know? Be honest? Whatever your secret, I can handle it.”
Serkan was worried about altering the timeline, but that ship has appeared to have sailed by now. The original 2024 didn’t involve mysterious freak weather, so he might as well go full force and just read Andrews in. If he couldn’t be trusted, then all hope was lost anyway. “I’m from the future. From what I remember of this year, this never happens. Somehow I changed something. I had some butterfly effect on Snowglobe, maybe just by being one of their security guards.”
This gave Andrews pause. “You work there? At Snowglobe?” He didn’t seem shocked by the revelation that Serkan was a time traveler, though.
“Just as a guard at one of their warehouses,” Serkan explained. “Nothing big. Nothing that can help us.”
“Don’t be so sure about that. It could be our way in.”
“I don’t even have access to headquarters.”
“Not yet, you don’t.” Lincoln Rutherford, Esquire had come into the room.
“Mr. Rutherford, thank you for coming. What are you thinking?”
Rutherford was on the City Frenzy council, both now, and in the future. Serkan and Ace encountered him a few times, and he proved to know a lot more about time travel than anyone else. He and Serkan made each other uncomfortable, though, so when they came back from 1971 Stonehenge, they decided to stay away from him completely.
“I’ve been keeping my eye on you, Future!Serkan. I’m glad you found some nice kind of life since last we spoke.”
“We’ve done our best,” Ace responded. “Would you be able to help us? This time?”
“The problem at hand,” Rutherford said, “is that you can’t get into the building. I think I may have a way for you to do just that, and to get the executives to trust you. But you’re gonna have to trust me first.”
Oh, no. “What?”
“It’ll require some deception...and a hint of violence.”

Friday, April 21, 2017

Microstory 565: Government Used Interstellar Travel for Decades

Just over three decades ago, this publication ran a story about the Brihd investigators and their fruitless attempts to figure out what had happened to the majority of the world’s incarcerated criminals at the time. Their investigation ended within five years, even though prisoners have continued to disappear over time. Early on, there was one far-fetched theory that now seems to have been proved true. I’ve been granted access to one of a secretive multinational governmental organization’s most classified projects. A competitor of ours most notable for his conspiracy theories, and his alias, Olkin has been using illegal tactics on his own to investigate this secret organization, which was so good at covering its tracks that it was apparently on no one else’s radar. Sadly, a rogue faction of this group grew overzealous, and decided to end Olkin’s life to prevent the evidence he uncovered from being released to the public. Due to the fact that this information will be coming out either way, the true leaders of the multinational organization have decided to come clean about their involvement in probably the largest coverup in human history. This will be just the introduction in a series of articles about a new technology that is not so new to some of us.
In the year 2200, a group of scientists figured out how to access another dimension. This dimension, known as a simplex dimension, was clearly the most important discovery ever. They decided to continue studying it in secret. Twenty-seven years later, the first spacefaring vessel capable of maintaining integrity within what’s known as the orange plex was completed. It took off on its maiden voyage, its crew fully aware that they may never find a way back home. They did, and in fact learned that doing so is actually not all that difficult, in relative terms. They, and this newly formed multinational, have been exploring the galaxy throughout this whole century. In 2067, they started a plan to relocate every prisoner on the planet with a severity level beyond two. Yes, as it turns out, the theory that they were moved to an exoplanet turned out to be entirely true, finally validating all those that believed it. Its precise location, however, has not been released. The multinational went out to several other star system, planting offworld bases on most of them, and gaining insight into the way the universe operates on a cosmic scale. An interesting aspect of this, however, is that it is physically impossible to travel straight from one star system to another. Scientists and explorers have been looking for ways to do this for decades, always to no avail. Any traveler wishing to reach beyond their own world, no matter what, without fail, will always have to first make a stop in what’s been determined to be the center of the universe itself. Researchers are still unsure what to make of this phenomenon, but they have come up with a name for it. It’s called...The Verge.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Microstory 564: Prisoners Fall Off the Face of Gavismet

About fifty zolmas off the coast of the mainland lies an island called Brihd. A century ago, Brihd discovered a way for its citizens to live in harmony with each other. Most people outside of their little country don’t believe it, but they claim to have built for themselves a paradise. They supposedly live in peace without crime or poverty, which they enjoy primarily because of their isolationism. But they are not completely cut off from the rest of the planet. They have also formed a sort of world police, and though many countries do not recognize their authority, with each case they choose, they’re generally allowed to cross borders and investigate. For the most part, they do a decent job of keeping crime down in other countries, and so we let them continue. After months, however, in a secret compartmentalized investigation, the Brihd world police uncovered a conspiracy that goes far beyond anything any nation has seen thus far. They’ve learned that every single prisoner with a severity level of three or above has completely disappeared. While overcrowding was once a problem in the majority of regions all over the globe, they are now mostly bare, left only with inmates with a strong chance of being released within a few years. The Brihd investigators, once realizing that something was amiss, began searching for not only answers, but a physical location.

The investigators possess at the moment only two theories for what happened to these prisoners. Either they were killed in a major holocaust, or they were all redirected to some hidden mega-prison. Neither of these makes any sense, though. We’re talking millions upon millions of people, from every single prison, in every single country. All jurisdictions so far have shown to be mostly empty of inmates. There is just no one place in the world that could account for these people, even if they’re now only corpses. If they didn’t leave a trace of where they had gone, then we should still be able to find some evidence of them now. There simply isn’t enough room on the planet...which is why some theorize that this is exactly where they’re not. They believe that the prisoners were all relocated to some secret off-world site. This is just as unlikely, however, as the nearest possible habitable planet is about .05 polmas away from our solar system, and we’ve only recently begun exploring the outer planets of our system, none of which can support life in any practical way. The amount of time it would take, at current technology, to reach another star system, lies at around a couple dozen years, and that’s assuming prisoners could survive on one of the neighboring exoplanets. Furthermore, this would also require a sizeable amount of money. Not only would we see evidence of that, but it would be more cost-effective to just leave them where they were. Believe it or not, this is actually the most plausible scenario. Brihd investigators are currently devoting the majority of their resources to figuring out whether it’s true, and if not, what the truth actually is.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Microstory 563: The Quake That Never Was

Two weeks ago, a minor seismic tremor shook the Usonian west coast. No big deal, we deal with them every time. No one was hurt, and we suffered very little damage. But something was different about it. This tremor wasn’t supposed to be minor at was actually shaping up to be the largest in recorded history. Science, for now, has given us no way to significantly predict major seismic activity before it begins, but the same does not go for predicting an active tremor’s growth. By measuring the increase in intensity over even a short period of time, seismologists have learned to determine just how big the quake will ultimately be. This on its own serves little practical purpose, for getting the word out to the public how bad it’s going to get once it gets worse than it already is can’t ever really help. However, this research is a necessary step to predicting quakes with enough time to warn people of its danger, and even possibly halting a quake’s progress. This may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but it’s technically already happened before. With this one. Several separate teams of seismologists were in decent enough locations to measure the seismic activity for this particular tremor. By combining their data, they discovered that it was simply not as large as it should have been. Its ultimate effects should have been devastating for anyone close to its epicenter. So why was it so minor? Well, technically it wasn’t, because what actually happened was that it simply stopped. After but a few moments of a steady increase in intensity, it suddenly began to dissipate at an even faster rate; faster than could be considered physically probable. Plenty of scientists in the field are studying the possibility of halting quakes, but as far as the industry as a whole knows, no one has been successful. It’s possible that this research is being done in secret, yet no team has come forward with their findings. They are either keeping it under wraps even still, or something else is going on. Already, certain religious groups are using this as an opportunity to promote their faith, claiming some divine intervention. We may never know what truly happened with this tremor, but I think most of us hopes that it happens again.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Microstory 562: First Completely Self-Sufficient Building To Open

Near the heart of the city lies a cylindrical building that runs twenty-four stories in the air. Visually speaking, it is mostly unremarkable. It ultimately doesn’t look like any other building, nor does it take any interesting artistic liberties. What it does have, however, is the ability to run entirely on its own. The rest of the city—energy grid, water treatment, etc.—could be severely disrupted, and it would remain standing. It is the first completely self-sufficient building in the world. Unlike other, more piecemeal, attempts at developing at autonomous structure, the new UI MicroTower does not at all rely on any outside support. First, it’s built using carbon nanotubes, which would allow it to withstand a tremor at even the highest levels on the Leisoke Magnointensity Array. It’s specially designed with insulation and natural venting, which allows it to be heated and cooled while using the least amount of power possible. What power it does use it generates through solar and wind energy. Also on the roof are a series of rain collectors, which act as the first step to filtering and distributing clean water throughout the building. This water is constantly being analyzed and recycled, so that it can be used more than once. As the water flows through the pipes, it generates minimal amounts of electricity, though every bit can help. Once the water becomes too contaminated for reuse, it is diverted to the irrigation system where it provides hydration to oxygen-producing plants, rather that just being spilled out into a creek and wasted. UI would prefer to keep a number of what it refers to as its revolutionary features a secret until the grand opening next month. The building itself was not built to be used as office space or laboratories. Spokeswoman for the company, Janice Fielder had this to say about its purpose: “We weren’t looking to build our new headquarters. To be sure, twenty-four stories would not be nearly enough for a global multi-billion dollar organization. Nor do we require extra space in this region. No, the building is here for you. It’s so that you can see what can be done; a proof-of-concept, if you will. Though some employees will be stationed here to better simulate the office setting, the majority of the business we do out of here will be public tours. While the tower itself will be the primary draw of the tour, we will also be showcasing some of our other latest advancements.” Tickets for the first two weeks of tours have already been sold out to focus groups, but soon, the UI website will soon open reservations for ongoing passes to the new exhibit.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Microstory 561: Bellevue Publicly Condemns GRC Growth

Years ago, the first superheroes flew straight out of the comic book pages and into our skies. The first one had no special abilities, but she was able to mimic them with the use of technology built by an ancient superadvanced race. The next two heroes each came with the same ability; the ability to use other people’s abilities. More would show up later, but it was these two that we knew could help protect us the most. Our worry, however, was that they would one day die, and their power would be lost with them. So a group of scientists came together with a plan. They would study the genetic makeup of Pantera and Candelabra, like Bellevue already was. But they weren’t trying to replicate their abilities via technology, they were just trying to copy them into artificial substrates. These are known as the Genetically Resampled Clones; or GRCs, for short. Genetically resampling is a form of engineered procreation wherein, instead of two parents combining their genes to create an offspring, only one parent’s code is deconstructed and reassembled in a randomized order. The hope was that these clones would carry with them the same genetic markers Pantera and Candelabra accessed for their special abilities, but also be independent entities, rather than perfect duplicates. Basically, the rogue science team wanted to create an army of superheroes, with a stockpile of abilities, that could share the burden of protecting our planet, and do so indefinitely. The ethical ramifications of their experiments were always in question, which is why they conducted them in secret. Even once Bellevue discovered their unsanctioned and underground laboratory, they weren’t sure how to handle it. The right policies and regulations simply hadn’t been implemented to determine whether, or how, this type of research could move forward. They had no legal right to just shut them down, so they began an investigation, and opened a dialogue with the scientists. All involved, however reluctantly so, have today determined that these experiments were unethical, and are now considered illegal. Rumors have suggested that some of the scientists’ experiments were successful, and that some of these clones remain today. If they do exist, Bellevue has not revealed what will happen to them. The documentation for the exact laws that will be passed in this regard can be found either on Bellevue’s, or the Confederacy’s website.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: 2121 – 2123

Click here for the 2017 table of contents.

Just before hitting the water in 2121, the scene changed, and Mateo Matic found himself in the middle of a city. He was just standing there on the sidewalk, as if he had been there for the last few minutes. After a second, though, he realized that he wasn’t in a city as he remembered them. Before him stood a gargantuan structure, larger than anything he had ever seen in his life. It looked like something out of a science fiction movie, which made sense considering that this was the early 22nd century. While he was trying to admire the beauty in the architecture, he heard a faint scream. High up above, someone was falling towards their death, like Mateo had many times before. He watched along with the crowd, but then started to feel dry mouth. Suddenly, he was no longer on the ground, but in the air with the falling man. He instinctively took the man in an embrace and teleported back to safety on the ground. They were now standing a few kilometers away from the massive structure, in the middle of the woods. Only then could he see the structure’s true glory.
“How did you do that?” the man asked.
“I don’t know, I just work here.”
A dark-skinned woman teleported herself in, and immediately started clapping. “And a great job you did.” She directed her attention towards the man. “You may go now.” She waved her hand and apported him away.
Mateo outstretched his hand, but assumed this woman would already know who he was. “Hi, I’m Mateo Matic.”
“Nice to meet you, Mateo. My name is Sabra. Are you the newest Savior?”
“Oh. Um...I guess I am,” he answered.
“Great, well, you can call me by my name, but I also go by Memphis.”
“Are you from Tennessee?”
She laughed. “No. The other Memphis. I’m very old. In fact, I’m one of the first.” She seemed a little perturbed when Mateo didn’t ask for details. She was probably used to people asking just how old she really was.
Mateo was already over it.
She awkwardly moved on. “Okay. Do you understand what’s being asked of you? Do you know what a Savior does?”
“Not specifically, but as I understand it, we teleport around saving people’s lives.”
“Yes, but you are no superhero. You won’t be hanging around to flirt with the pretty girl, or tell everyone that it’s—” and she threw up airquotes for this— “all in a day’s work. Literally as soon as everyone is safe, you’ll move on to the next assignment. It will probably last a few seconds, and then you’ll move on to the next. And then the next. And so on and so on. Now, Saviors normally get breaks, but I’m afraid that you don’t have that luxury. We have to squeeze an entire year into the span of twenty-four hours.” She looked at her bare wrist. “We’ve already lost several minutes just talking about it.” She handed him something that kind of looked like a gun, but clearly wasn’t. “Inject yourself with these whenever you start feeling tired. The doses will keep you going for three days straight. You’ll crash and feel like shit afterwards, but apparently you chose this?”
“Well...” Mateo had bargained with Arcadia when the true Savior, Xearea was mortally wounded. He asked Arcadia to tear her out of time, which was the only way to save her life. A consequence of this was that others would have to take her place during those missing years. “I didn’t really have much of a choice.”
“It’s all a matter of perspective. We just need you to help get us through the Xearea years before The Last Savior is called upon.”
“Whoa, wait. The Last Savior? There’s an endgame to this?”
“Well, not really,” Memphis replied. “It’s just that a Savior won’t be necessary past the 22nd century. At that point, humans tend to be able to take care of themselves well enough.”
“I didn’t know that. I guess I thought you would always have one Savior at all times.”
“That doesn’t account for the interim periods between a Savior’s retirement, or death, and the activation of their successor. Nor has there always been only one at a time. You’ve just only been around when we started our little Buffy sequence.”
“Buffy sequence.”
“Ya know...’cause there can be only one? Never mind. You don’t really need to know the history. What I can tell you is that teleporting Saviors used to come in packs, because life used to be more dangerous. Each time someone comes up with something like antiseptics, seatbelts, or cellphones, we lose a little bit more of our relevance, and our numbers are decrease. The Last Savior will mark the end of that era.”
“I see. And who handles these interim periods?”
“Before, we would stagger their activations, but since we ended up with only one at a time, time travelers like your father are called to fill in those gaps.”
“Oh. The pieces are all coming together now.”
“I should hope so. Now that you have some perspective, you really must be going. Like I said, you’ll have to work through an entire year in only a day. You’ll be given an average of three minutes per day.” She eyed her wrist again, still intent on pretending there was a watch attached to it. “”
Before that last word left Memphis’ lips, Mateo teleported to a new location. He apported a nice couple lost on a nature hike back to safety. He rescued a child who had fallen in the ocean from her floating city. He pulled someone out of the street where someone else was recklessly driving one of those manual vehicles from the olden days that probably should have been outlawed by now, if they weren’t already. These were the easy jobs, likely just to get him familiar with the process. There was even a possibility that they were staged by Memphis, or maybe Arcadia, so that the dumb trainee wouldn’t screw something up for real. He ended up moving on to developing countries where technology was far more advanced than anything he saw in his original time period, but still more primitive than what could be found elsewhere. Things were more dangerous in these parts, but still not generally as bad as the early 21st century. There were a few really terrible things, though. A test of an earthquake management system resulted in a massive backfire. Hundreds of workers and bystanders were suddenly put in immense danger. Mateo was forced to teleport next to maybe two or three people at a time, huddle them together, and teleport them far enough away to keep them safe. Then he would have to go back and grab some more. Fortunately, even with the time constraints, he was successful in his mission, and no one was seriously injured.
There were still other human-driven complications that Mateo had to deal with. Weapons still existed, and they still often ended up being pointed in the direction of innocent people. Two countries that shall not be named even fired missiles towards each other, forcing Mateo to teleport onto each of them, and spirit them away to the middle of outerspace. How people who knew nothing of teleportation and time travel were explaining any of these things was neither something Mateo had time to worry about, nor the resources to answer.
He did all this over the course of three days. Eventually, the passage of time barely registered with him. He just kept going, really only stopping to inject himself with the fancy futuristic stamina drug. It was likely developed as part of a supersoldier program, but was deemed unsafe because of its awful side effect. A couple hours before midnight central, Memphis dropped by quite briefly to let him know that his, uhh...nine-tuple shift was over, and that he was free to rest. He really needed it too, because by the time he woke up back on the island, it was 2125, and he still felt like crap.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Flurry: Crossroads (Part I)

Click here for the first series (Frenzy).

About nine months after Serkan Demir, Horace Reaver, and Paige Turner came back to the so-called modern day, the city was experiencing one of the hottest summers on record. The mid-2020s were what some experts referred to as the Global Temperature Crossroads. This was the moment when everything we had done as a human race would come to a head. There were four major temperature scenarios. Some believed the temperature would plateau and hold steady all the way through the rest of the century. Others believed it would soon skyrocket, and propel us to a future of desolation, with no turning back. The other two scenarios each fell somewhere in the middle. And it is the Crossroads that marks the period of a few years that will determine which scenario will take its rightful place in reality. The future comes down to now.
Scientists had been working on this problem for decades, but have always been met with roadblocks. Of course, one major factor that prevents any sort of technological advancement is money, but there are other, dynamically related, factors. Politics and power. Those in power will always try to maintain that power, and the worst of the worst in politics will go out of their way to hurt others if it means helping their own personal bottom line, and sometimes the bottom line of their associates. King Dumpster and his administration in the United States government, for instance, likely forced the western world backwards by years in terms of environmental change. Through policies and extremely illegal business dealings, he and his comrades moved money away from scientific research, and transplanted it into anything that benefitted their portfolios. These people did not truly deny climate change, but they did so publicly, because there’s simply not a lot of money in fixing the climate. Most of them were rich old white men, so whatever came of the state of the world in the back nine of the 21st century wasn’t really relevant to them. However, they were not the only players in the game, and some of their opposition would stop at nothing to achieve their own agendas. Serkan, Ace, and Paige were about to encounter these other players.
Serkan was trying to sleep at the moment. He worked as a night guard for this company called Snowglobe Collective, which meant that Ace had to take care of the day-to-day raising of their ward, Paige. They had what was almost a joint-custody arrangement, except not. Serkan would take care of Paige alone on the weekends, so that Ace could stay in a separate apartment and bet on sports competitions. He had the ability to relive each day of his life, and though he did not technically remember the first time around, this provided him with gut feelings. He figured out how to exploit these feelings to earn them a little extra cash. The keyword there was little. They couldn’t make any bets that would draw attention to themselves. They had other tricks to prevent anyone from noticing how successful Ace was. He would bet on different games on different weekends, using different bookies. He would watch the games from different tables, at different bars, wearing different clothes. He wouldn’t talk to people, but he wouldn’t be noticeably rude, and he wouldn’t flash his money around. He even purposely lost every once in awhile, so he didn’t look like a wizard.
He had to do all this away from Serkan, because Serkan had the ability to suppress the powers of other people who could manipulate time. Whenever he was around, Ace’s powers were useless. The only reason Serkan kept the job as a security guard was for tax purposes. Yes, there was a way to report their winnings on their tax forms, but it would look too suspicious if the only income they had was from gambling. And that was a level of scrutiny they weren’t prepared to entertain. Ace had gone missing for over a year, Serkan was supposed to be a fifteen-year-old kid living with his family, and Paige was a child who grew up in the 1960s. Ace had had to hire a lawyer to take care of explaining his extended absence to the authorities, and Serkan and Paige’s identities were completely fabricated. They had to be extremely careful, and a shitty job in a warehouse was one of their best cover stories.
Serkan was awakened by the sound of the front door being shut, along with Ace’s voice echoing through their sparsely furnished house. They were minimalists. “Honey!” he called out. “Have you seen the window?”
Serkan just groaned, not nearly loud enough for anyone to hear.
“Paige is home!”
“She’s supposed to be at summer school!” Having been a girl out of her time, Paige had to take extra classes just to understand how things in this time period even worked. That was another fun conversation they had to have with her teachers. Why didn’t she have any idea how personal computers worked, and did she grow up in an abusive home? Well, yes, but they had no evidence of that since it happened more than fifty years ago.
Ace finally came in the room, Paige in tow. “The district officially ruled it a snow day.”
Serkan still hadn’t fully opened his eyes. “The hell you talkin’ about? It’s the middle of July.”
He exhaled heavily. “Look outside.”
Serkan struggled with the covers to roll over and face the window. They were more than two feet away, so there was no way he would be able to open the blackout curtains himself. “Little help?”
Ace giggled, but not in a good way; more like in an annoyed husband sort of way. They weren’t married, but they might as well have been. In fact, their main obstacle for marriage was their forged papers. “Here.” He opened the curtains, revealing a winter wonderland.
This made Serkan sit up and press his face against the glass. Not only was it presently snowing, but it had already piled on the ground several inches. “What is this?”
“We have no idea.”
“I’ve seen this before.”
“You have?”
“In the future,” Serkan said. “The ninth City Frenzy is partially cancelled because of inexplicable weather phenomena. Anyone under the age of sixteen was disqualified because it was just too unpredictable. No, it wasn’t snowing, but it was wonky. Or it will be wonky.”
“This must be happening for the same reason.”
“But it makes no sense,” Serkan said, shaking his head. “I’ve already lived through twenty-twenty-four. This didn’t happen. I don’t remember the exact weather on this date, but I sure as shit know it wasn’t blood snowing.”
Little Paige finally spoke up. “Are you saying that you’re the one who did this? By coming here, you’ve altered the weather?”
“Well, I’ve possibly altered the timeline, but I couldn’t alter the weather. No one can.”
“Unless they can,” Ace said.
“With science?” Serkan asked. “I did get the feeling the expert on the Frenzy council suspected it was man-made. If so, these mystery scientists are probably trying to learn how to control the weather, and are instead met with chaos.”
“Well, what are we gonna do about it?” Paige asked.
“Okay, fine, you.” She kind of starts mumbling, “I mean, I think I should have some say since, at sixty-four, I’m the oldest one here.”
“You’re not sixty-four,” Ace scolded her. “Stop trying to use that card. We all here understand basic time travel. Anyway, we’re not going to be doing anything either. This is not a our job.”
“Don’t you see?” Paige asked. “You’re the only two who actually can do something about it. You’re temporal manipulators, you know things about the future, you’re intimately familiar with a major player in this game, and you can do a lot of good.”
“What player do we know?”
“Duke Andrews,” Paige said, thinking it was obvious.
“My younger self, the one who lives in this time,” Serkan began, “barely knows Mister Andrews. He won’t even be selected Frenzy Council Leader until next year. But he does know me well enough to know that I am supposed to just be some carefree runner. I would never come to him with this problem, and even if I did, what if he tries to ask me about it later? My younger self would never understand.”
“I’m just brainstorming,” Paige defended. “Madam Gillian says you can’t be wrong in a brainstorm.”
“I’m not taking cues from your sixth grade social studies teacher, Paige,” he argued back.
Ace added, “and we’re not putting ourselves, or you, in danger to try to solve this. It’s not going to happen.”
She stormed out of the room. “If not us, then who?”
“Who the hell got her hooked on Ronald Reagan quotes?” Ace asked, not really wanting the answer.
“She probably heard that one when Obama said it,” Serkan suggested hopefully.
Ace took a moment to stare out the window some more. “She has a point.”
“No, she doesn’t.”
“Yes, she does. No one else knows what we know.”
“Andrews and his team know enough. We can’t help them.”
“We should try anyway.”
“And while we off trying to save the world, who will take care of Paige? Who can we trust?”
Ace just gave him a look.
“What? Who?”
He held his look. “I think you know who.”
Serkan had to think for a moment. “Oh, no. Not him. He’s weird.”
Ace shrugged. “He recognized Paige. He’s already in this.”
“Yeah, maybe he’s the bad guy.”
“His reputation would say otherwise. He was investigating weird time shit since before we were born. He was at Stonehenge that day.”
“Allegedly,” Serkan corrected.
“Serkan, I think you and I both know we need to do this. We may not have to, but we’re time travelers, and I think we should do something with that. He can keep her safe. Where he lives, no one can get to her.”
A few months ago, the three of them were walking down the street with ice cream. This old man suddenly stopped them and claimed that he recognized Paige from when they were children. They both happened to have been visiting Stonehenge on that fateful day that led Paige to being accidentally swept up with them when Serkan and Ace walked through an archway and returned to their time period. This young boy had witnessed this disappearance, which he cited as his first experience with time travel. Ever since, he essentially dedicated his life to understanding it, eventually becoming a law enforcement officer, and investigating a number of anomalies over the years, primarily in Kansas and Missouri. He gave them a strange gift, and told them they could call upon him for help anytime they needed it. Apparently, this was one of those times.
“Where is it?” Ace asked.
Serkan was still hesitant.
“Come on, we need him. Where did you put it?”
Serkan sighed and retrieved a doorknob from a shoebox in their closet. “Do you even think this is gonna work?”
“Even if it doesn’t,” Ace said, “the worst that happens is we place this doorknob on the wall and look stupid for a few seconds.”
Giving in, Serkan followed the instructions and held the knob in front of the wall. Soon enough, the wall attracted it like a magnet, which caused it to transform into a door, which they were able to open to what was supposedly another dimension.
The mysterious man was sitting at a desk, looking at some papers. “Ahh, I was just about to call you. Strange weather we’re having here, eh?”
“Hi, Bran. We need you to babysit.”