Saturday, October 22, 2016

Clean Sweep: Dreams (Part I)


Dreams. What are dreams? Most experts believe that dreams are essentially a side effect of the brain’s attempt to consolidate and organize all of the information that it received during the day before. This is true, to some extent, but it is not the whole story. Time and thought are not as disparate of concepts as we think. They are bound to, and intertwined with, each other. Time is more complex than simply the ever-continuing process of causality. The essence of time moves throughout everything and everyone, leaving an imprint of itself across the dimensions. Why does it do this? Well, because true time is all about perception and perspective. We observe time by what we see and hear, but we understand time because of what it does to us on a quantum level. Time uses us as computational servers, powering reality by utilizing the strength of mind, body, and soul.
When one dreams about something, they are not merely using narratives to render their own memories. They are also experiencing the memories of other people; sometimes at different times, sometimes even on different worlds. This happens because, in order for time to process events, it must utilize the power from any number of people. And it doesn’t do this by reaching out to the nearest people, because that’s a concept that doesn’t really exist in terms of time. Temporal information passes from server to server in a web of interconnectivity rivaling that of the data network we call the internet.
This is all fine on its own, because it doesn’t really have anything to do with how we live our lives. Understanding that we are walking temporal servers isn’t all that useful, because we can’t do anything about. Except that some people can. Most of us, as temporal computers, are only capable of input and processing. We don’t have any actual control over what time does, or how it operates. All we can do is accept reality as we perceive it. There are those, however, who are somehow able to break through these limitations, process time in original ways, and deliver input to the temporal network. We call these people the choosing ones. They have their own limitations, but are still more powerful than the average person.
Some choosers can travel across great distances in the blink of an eye. Others can move backwards or forwards along the timestream. Some are powerful enough to alter reality, while others can merely predict the future to great accuracy. We are not entirely sure what creates a chooser’s personal limitations, or if it’s possible for them to learn new ways of manipulating time, for it has only happened once. Meliora Rutherford Delaney-Reaver was born with no specialty. That is, she does not have any limitations. She can travel through the timestream, merge two points in spacetime together, alter memories, and accomplish just about anything else she wants. Zeferino Preston, however, had limitations at first that he was only later able to transcend.
Zeferino’s original title was The Cleaner, and his original job was to clean up the timeline after alterations made by other choosers. If only one party of choosers were manipulating time, there would be no problem. The timeline would adjust itself to account for any changes they made, and no one outside of the party would have any idea that anything had changed at all. It’s important to remember, however, that we are all temporal servers, working to process reality in tandem. When a choosing one sends out unplanned signals, other servers are capable of receiving it, even though they were not programmed to process it entirely. For example, let’s say that two choosers are unhappy with what United States President A is doing with the country. They each go back in time and select a different president, changing the outcome of the future election. This causes problems, because now there are two different presidents; President B, and President C. This conflict in the timeline creates what we know as a paradox. Unless corrected, it’s possible that the office of the president will erratically shift between B and C, and it is this condition that threatens reality as a whole.
Most people won’t actually be able to see that the Office of the President keeps changing, but they will be able to feel it. As mentioned, the observation of time is not the same thing as the comprehension of it. As The Cleaner, Zeferino was responsible for poring through the timeline from an outsider’s perspective. He would use this power to adjust reality so that inconsistencies like the double president paradox could be erased, like one would restore a painting. This is less of an analogy, and more of a description, for Zeferino Preston once worked in a special place called The Gallery.
“Hey, Zef, how’s it going?” Erlendr asks.
“I’m all right,” Zeferino says. “I’m just not sure if I want this teapot to be black or a sort of red with white and green stripes.”
“What?”
Zeferino sits back in his chair to give Erlendr a better view of the painting. “The teapot.” He waves his hand over the image of the teapot to switch between designs. “I’m also thinking about making it a little taller.”
“What are you talking about? Who the hell tried to change the design of some random teapot?”
“I am, that’s what I’m telling you.”
Erlendr is confused. “You’re making manual changes to the timeline?”
“Yeah, it’s a nice break from the tedium.”
“Zef, you can’t just do that.”
“Why not?”
“You take care of the timeline; protect it from the choosers. You’re not supposed to become one of them.”
“Again. Why not?”
“Because...because that’s not your job.”
“Erlendr, look around. This is The Gallery. We are surrounded by art, so why should I not create some masterpieces of my own.”
Erlendr pulls up a chair and takes a deep breath. “The Gallery is just a metaphor. The Constructor built it for us so that we could make sense of the timestream. You’re not actually painting, Zeferino. You just perceive a painting.” He places his hand on Zeferino’s heart. “Everything you’re doing comes from within.”
Zeferino stands up in defiance. “The Gallery was not built so that we could interpret the world. It appears in the form of a gallery because the world already is art. It already is beautiful.”
Erlendr stands back up as well. “It doesn’t matter. Correct paradoxes. That’s what you do. That’s all you do. Leave the changes up to Arcadia.”
“Arcadia,” Zeferino repeats in disgust. “She doesn’t create art. She doesn’t make changes. She just reverts it back. She wouldn’t know beauty if she looked in a mirror.”
“That may be,” Erlendr began, “but it doesn’t change the fact that you are not allowed to change the color of teapots. We are the keepers of time. It is our duty to manage the choosing ones. That is our only purpose.”
“I do not accept that.”
“You must. Or I will call in Fury, and you will possess no further choice on the matter. You are conscious because of him, but if you do not follow the rules, we will remove your free will.”
Zeferino had his own fury to unleash, but he bit his tongue.
“Good,” Erlendr says, picking up on Zeferino’s body language. He adds, while walking away, “destroy the teapot. They can drink coffee. I believe you have a windmill to restore.”

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