Saturday, April 15, 2017

Flurry: Crossroads (Part I)

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.
“Serkan!”
“What!”
“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.
“We?”
“Okay, fine, you.” She kind of starts mumbling, “I mean, I think I should have some say since, at sixty-five, I’m the oldest one here.”
“You’re not sixty-five,” 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.”

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