Saturday, December 24, 2016

Rogue Possession: Winning (Part V)

Click here for the previous installment...
Click here for the entire story.

“How did you find me?” Gilbert asked. Neither of them were making any effort to hurt the other, but they were careful about maintaining a healthy distance.
The Weaver held up the hilt of a bladeless knife. “This allows me to track teleportations.”
“That could come in handy,” Gilbert said. “Why don’t I hold onto that for you?”
“I want my Apprentice back.”
“Well, you can’t have him. Here’s something that you need to understand. I’ve been struggling with my purpose my entire life. All along, even with tons of money, I always felt like a loser. Then the world of salmon and choosers falls into my lap. All I could think when I encountered them was, man, I wish I were like them. I wish I could get some control over things. Well now that’s what I have. Now I have real power. I was the President of the United States for four years, and that wasn’t even enough for me. That was first grade table tennis. I want Wimbledon. I want a win.”
“You want to take over the world?”
“Nothing so pedestrian. I want to change the world. I want to fix it.”
“Well you’re not going to be able to accomplish that with the Apprentice’s body, I can guarantee it.”
“Why not?”
“He’s still young, but I see something in him. In his eyes, the way he looks at others. He’s...he’s dangerous.”
“How so?”
“He seems to feel no empathy for others. He’s probably a psychopath. He’s destined to hurt people. I know that, when you possess people, you adopt properties of their personality. You can’t stay good, and keep his body. Besides the fact that such a thing is morally objectionable on its own, the longer he remains in your possession, the worse you’ll be.”
“How is it that you know so much about me?”
“Did I say destiny earlier? I meant future circumstance. He’s not simply bound to turn out bad, he’s known to become bad.”
“Oh my God, if he’s a bad person then why the hell are you teaching him how to use your temporal power?”
“I was hoping to adjust the future by showing him kindness. I cannot do that if you do not return him to me.”
“Well, you’re not wrong about me being corrupted by my possessions, but I’m still the one in control. I can make him better. I can do whatever the opposite of corruption is to him.”
“I cannot take that risk, and I cannot let you continue.” She wasn’t backing down.
“That hilt can track me even when I jump through time?”
“The Apprentice never learned to time travel, but yes.”
“I think I can figure it out. I do it all the time, in my own way.”
“But again, I’ll always find you.”
“That’s why you’ll have to die.”
“And you say you think you’re not becoming too corrupted.”
“This is pure logic. It’s all about survival. You understand.” Gilbert, using one of the Apprentice’s powers, apported a full knife of his own to his hand, and approached the Weaver.”
“My dear sir,” came a voice Gilbert didn’t know. “Could I ask you to not do that?”
“What?”
The man approached the gaslight and showed himself. He was dressed in an all-white suit and a bow tie. He had wild high-standing white hair. Only two people in the world ever looked like that. One of them was Albert Einstein—who was a teenager at this point in history—and the other was Samuel Clemens, otherwise known as Mark Twain. He spoke in an unusual cadence, slowing down and speeding up, carefully choosing his words, as true writers do. His voice was gritty and older than the man speaking it. “I was hoping to dissuade you from harming this woman.”
Gilbert let his arm drop to his side. He was curious, more than anything. “I know you.”
“Well...if you two are time travelers, which is how I understand it, you may know me better than I know myself.”
“Mark Twain,” the Weaver said.
“I prefer Samuel Clemens for the story of my own life. That’s Clemens, with an e.”
“You do not seem surprised at meeting two time travelers.”
Samuel shrugged. “You may not be the first. Who knows?” It was unclear whether he was joking or not. “What I do know is that no good can come from murdering this woman. You may disagree with each other, but you both have the right to live. I suggest you leave it as this...and part ways.”
“He has something I need,” the Weaver insisted. “Someone,” she clarified.
“It sounds like you’re not going to get it. I suggest you take what you can get, which is your life, and hope that it works out.”
The Weaver gave Gilbert this look, like she wasn’t really going to let it go. She was planning on finishing this once and for all when they were out of sight of the human. “If I have no choice...”
“This has to end now,” Gilbert said. He really was being massively corrupted. Donald Trump was bad, but this guy was violent, and his urges were really itching to come out. Gilbert couldn’t help himself. He lifted the knife again and prepared to plunge it into the Weaver’s chest.
An arm appeared and held his own at bay.
“Mateo?”
Mateo Matic still had to use a considerable amount of strength to pull Gilbert’s arm all the way back, and wrestle the weapon from his grip. “Hello, old friend.”
“You look older,” Gilbert pointed out. “Much older.”
“Heh,” Mateo said. “Time, right?”
“What year is it for you.”
“It’s supposed to be 2369, but I’m on a diversion because I need your help for a mission. Actually, I need the Apprentice’s body, and your mind, and I need it before you’re more fully corrupted.”
While Gilbert thought through the ramifications of going to a future he did not understand, Mateo casually greeted one of the most famous authors in history.
“Time is of the essence here. We have a short window when you’re powerful enough to help me but not quite as much of an asshole as you’re going to become.”
“If you know how bad I get, then maybe I should leave this body right now. Maybe I should find a way to stop possessing people altogether, even if it kills me.”
“You cannot do that,” Mateo informed him. “I don’t love the future you create, but it’s the one I know, and I don’t want you making another one. Come with me now, and do some good while you still can. If you kill this woman, though, all hope will be lost. For you, and for me.”
That was a pretty convincing argument. It would be nice to go back to where it all started; when he was both helping, and being helped by, Mateo. “I’m all in. Anything for a friend. I’ve never been to 2369 before. Do they still have bourbon?”
“You won’t be going quite as far as 2369. You’re needed the better part of three decades earlier. And I’m sorry to say that I won’t be able to be there with you either. I have to get back to my own time. You won’t believe what it cost me just to get a diversion trip back here. It’s almost worse than what Dave charged me for a simple Sanctuary ferry.”
“I’m not sure what you’re talking about, but how will I know what to do if you’re not there?”
“You’ll figure it out. First, we have to get there, though. I’ll need you to teleport us to The Great Pyramid of Giza.”
Gilbert took Mateo by the arm, and teleported them away, despite protests from the Weaver. “Why would we need to go there?”
“Stargazer?” Mateo asked. They were standing in what must have been the benbenet of the Great Pyramid. A small window showed the night sky, but it didn’t look like the regular starry heavens. It was a strange, and even somewhat unsettling, mix of swirly colors. This was no normal place.
A middle-aged balding man replied in a Franco-British accent, “I am, yes. I was not expecting passengers. You know that you don’t actually need to be in Aarukhet to access Shimmer, right?”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Gilbert said. “Slow down. I don’t understand what’s happening. What is a Aarukhet? What is Shimmer?”
Mateo ignored him for the moment. “I need you to send this man to Worlon at...” He pulled out a slip of paper. “Let’s see, Leona wrote it down for me.” He turned it around a couple times, trying to find the right scribble among an army of them, all written in different directions. “Zero-point-two-zero-four-four-one-six-c.” He handed the piece of paper to The Stargazer. It’s very important that he arrive on that exact day. If the calculations are off by even—”
The Stargazer dismissed him. “Yes, yes, I know how relativity works, thank you very much.”
While the Stargazer was adjusting his sextant, Mateo finally turned his attention back to Gilbert, who was feeling very confused and left out. “This pyramid was built to focus travel to other planets. Like the man said, normally, you don’t have to actually be here to access the hyperstream they call Shimmer. But that’s because most people are trying to get there instantly. I need you on a delay, and I know that your current body can’t jump through time, which is why the Stargazer has to do it for you.”
“Okay that makes sense...as much as anything in our world could possibly make sense, at least.”
“I’m ready,” the Stargazer said.
Mateo looked at his watch. “Perfect timing. I can’t stay here much longer. There’s one more thing you need to remember, though. When you see the one-eared dog—” Mateo suddenly disappeared
“I sure hope that wasn’t important,” the Stargazer said unsympathetically.
“I appreciate your support,” Gilbert responded sarcastically.
“This is gonna hurt a little bit,” he held the sextant up to Gilbert’s eyes. “You’ll get used to it after a few years, though.”
“A few years!” But it was too late. The Stargazer activated the temporal object and sent him on his way. What both of the others failed to mention was that the delay did not abate consciousness. Gilbert was entirely aware of the passage of time throughout the entire course of the journey. It would take him 450 years to get there, but apparently because of relativity, he only observed 90...so thank God for small miracles. Still, upon arriving on another planet for the first time in his lives, Gilbert Boyce found himself to be extremely pissed off. That anger never really went away, and even after finishing his “mission” and returning to Earth, his rage persisted. Most of it was directed towards Mateo Matic.

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