Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Advancement of Leona Matic: [Temporal Dimension Conversion Error]

“What time is it?” Leona asked when she woke up.
“Late o’clock,” Serif responded unenthusiastically.
“Is Ida still here?”
“I haven’t seen her. I haven’t seen anybody.”
“Well, I’ve seen them, but nobody’s talking.” She snickered.
“Why can’t I...feel the bed?” I mean, I can feel it, but I can’t feel it.”
“It’s because we’re not really here.”
Leona sat up, which was difficult. Sure, she still had a headache, but other than that, she was feeling okay. No, it wasn’t her body that was having trouble moving, but more like there was some unseen force, holding her in place. Once she reached a new position, she was able to stay just fine, but getting there was a big chore. “There’s something wrong with the gravity.”
“You noticed it too? I thought I was just getting fat.”
Leona rubbed her temples, trying to swipe the headache away. “Did something happen? You’re acting weird. Did we get through the...weird gravity tower thing?”
“I think so. Or maybe that’s what’s causing the problems now.”
“What problems?”
“We’re stuck in here.”
“They locked us in?”
“Well, no, but we can’t open the door.”
“Serif. Can you please just explain what’s happening. How long was I out?”
She glanced up to the little window on the door. “A few weeks maybe. You’re better at the math.”
“A few weeks our time? That’s two decades!”
“No, few weeks their time. Few hours for us. I think.”
“That doesn’t make any sense. That’s not the ratio.” She struggled to get out of bed, and tried to open the door. She was right, it wouldn’t budge. She could touch the handle, but not move it. She forced herself back over to the bed, and found herself unable to move the sheets either. “Oh my God, what the hell is happening.”
“Every once in awhile they open the door, so I jumped out once. It took me forever to get back in, but I didn’t want you waking up alone.”
“Slow down, and explain things to me.”
Suddenly, Dar’cy came into the room and sat down at the table. She too massaged her temples, and also rubbed her eyes. Then she started writing in a notebook. And she was doing all of this many, many times faster than was humanly possible.
“We’re in a time bubble,” Leona realized.
“Yes,” Serif agreed. She stood up, and started heading for the door. “Like I said, you can do the math better. When she opens it again, which won’t be long for us, we have to jump out, or we’ll get crushed.
Leona quickly did some math in her head. “That shouldn’t work. She would have to leave the door open for, like, six minutes, for us to even have one second to escape.”
“She does. She opens the doorway, then she stands at the threshold for a long time, dreading going back out to the others, I guess. I think she comes in here to be alone. She’s packing up, let’s go!”
Dar’cy, moving at an incredible rate, gathered all of her belongings, and opened the door. Then she stood there for half a second, which was barely enough time for Leona to get out, and definitely not enough for Serif to. She tried to open it from the outside, but it was just as useless. Serif was accurate in that they weren’t really there. It would be like a drop of black pitch trying to nudge a penny. It just ain’t gonna happen, she was moving far too slow. That was what they were feeling. Though they were standing in time bubbles, everything around them had remained in standard time, which meant gravity was pulling on everything inside the ship using the same amount of force. But since they weren’t really on the ship, it was pulling on the two of them differently. Normally, time bubbles would counteract this dissonance, theoretically by accelerating gravitons, but honestly, Leona didn’t really know. Probably no one knew. Anyone who could manipulate the rate of time, like Missy or Jesimula Utkin, likely didn’t even understand how it worked. They just did it, and accepted its properties at face value.
Serif used mimery to indicate that Leona needed to move on and stretch her legs. Yeah, maybe the time bubble was going to last more than a year, but they had to hope it wouldn’t. And if that were true, all they would need to do was hold out for twenty-four hours. They would get hungry in that time, but they wouldn’t starve to death. If this problem didn’t stop once they reached the next day of their jump, then it wouldn’t matter where they were. They weren’t capable of eating food anyway. Leona powered down the walkways, very carefully avoiding the movements of the rest of the crew, who were entirely oblivious to her presence. She couldn’t quite guess what would happen if she bumped into one of them, but the universe could implode, so better not test it. She tried sitting in a few chairs, but people kept coming up and needing them, so she ended up finding a dark corner that was out of the way, and planting herself on the floor. There were two ways she was going to get through this without getting hungry enough to start screaming. She could either sleep, or meditate. Maybe leaving the room wasn’t such a great idea. At least there they had a bed no one else was using.
A couple of hours later, she could see Serif slowly walking down the steps. “I’m thirsty,” she said.
“Yeah, I know. Me too. But remember the rule of three.”
“Which rule of three. I don’t think I know any one of them, but I know there’s more than one.” She sat down next to her.
“You can survive three minutes without oxygen...three hours without shelter in a hostile environment...three days without water...and three weeks without food.”
They spent a couple seconds watching Brooke and Dar’cy play a heated game of ping pong. Brooke won, of course, but she wasn’t human, so that wasn’t really fair.
“What can’t you survive without for three seconds.”
“Three seconds you should be fine. You can survive anything for three seconds.”
“Let’s come up with something.”
“Ping pong?”
Serif laughed at the suggestion, which was important. If they couldn’t laugh anymore, they weren’t going to get through this. “Laughter! You can’t survive more than three seconds without laughter.”
“People...don’t laugh that often.”
“That’s true.”
They sat in the dark for just over a minute, because everyone was asleep for the next seven hours.
“Love,” Leona said.
“You can’t go more than three seconds without love. I think that’s true. That’s why heartbreak hurts so badly.”
Leona nodded. That was good. She had come up with something good.
“How long can you last witho—I mean, what can you live..without for longer than—for no longer than, three years? No, months. Let’s do months first.”
Serif laughed again. “What?”
“I can go three months without Beethoven, but no longer than that.”
“Okay. Judges accept. For me, it’s...”
“What? Oh, um. Manchester Orchestra.”
Leona nodded again. That was good. Serif had come up with something good too.
“Now, we’ll do three years.”
“What about celibate people?”
“What about ‘em?” Leona asked, feigning disgust with such people. “I don’t know that we can do this one. I mean, if you can endure something for three years, you must be pretty good at it. I can’t imagine it starts getting difficult after that.”
“Prison? Coming from two people with no experience, let’s just arbitrarily say an individual starts having real problems in that fourth year locked up.”
“Speak for yourself, I’ve been imprisoned lots of times.”
“Yeah, I guess we both have. But not for three years!”
“That’s true. Though, there was that one time...”
They sat in more darkness.
“We need another game.”
“We can try to guess who will come into the common area next.”
“Okay, um, Missy.”
“I’m gonna say Paige.”
Then Missy walked into the room, passing right by them.”
“I win,” Serif bragged. “Nana nana boo-boo. Stick your head in doo-doo.”
“What is she doing?”
Missy was walking back and forth in front of them, like she was trying to find something, but without actually looking.
“What is she doing?”
She sped out of the room, and came back with Dar’cy, who didn’t understand why she was there. Then Missy started feeling around with her hands, forcing Leona and Serif to do everything they could to avoid her, which was damn near impossible what with them moving in superspeed.”
Finally they gave them a rest by leaving the room once more, but then they returned with the rest of the gang. Paige and Brooke couldn’t interpret what Missy was going on about. Meanwhile, Leona and Serif couldn’t hear anybody, but they did get the sense that it had something to do with them.
“Can she see us?”
“It would be impossible,” Leona said. We’re this dimension. There are supposed to be three dimensions of space, and one of time, but we’re experiencing a second dimension of time. Yeah, her power is relevant, but this still isn’t one of her time bubbles. She does seem to be able to sense us, though.”
The crew was arguing about something, and then Paige ordered everyone to leave. No one returned as Paige sat down cross legged, staring intently at the wall, where Leona and Serif happened to be. She was moving around a lot, like one of those animations that isn’t drawn perfectly, so the lines shake around jarringly. But then she started slowing down, little by little, until she was barely moving at all. Then she slowed down even more. Finally, it was like her eyes opened up for the first time in history.
“What are you two doing here?” she asked.
“You can see us?” Serif asked.
“Of course she can. She adjusted her perception of time.”
“Yes,” Paige confirmed. “It’s not easy.”
“You should go,” Leona warned. “You’ve already been here for hours. You need to keep command of this ship. We’ll be fine.”
“Is this how it is for you? Do you the whole year go by.”
“I...” Leona began, not having even thought of that before, “don’t think so. Maybe we do. Maybe we always watch it, but something went wrong this time, which allowed us to move around.”
“Holy shit, could that be true?” Serif asked, horrified.
“Nothing in the rule book says it can’t,” Paige said.
“Seriously, you should go. If we’re not back next year, then I guess, ask for Missy’s help. Otherwise, I would rather we just not rock the boat.”
“It’s fine, I can stay here. Now that I see time this way, it doesn’t hurt. It’s actually getting easier.”
“Which could mean it’ll be hard to go back, which you should do now, because the ship needs you. You can’t just sit here for six months.”
“The ship’s automated. Dar’cy’s in charge, Brooke and Missy are keeping the systems running. My only real job was keeping Nerakali in line.”
“Paige,” Leona said softly. “There’s nothing you can do here either. The powers that be aren’t gonna let us stay like this forever.”
“They might not if you were salmon, but we all know that you two are different.”
“We are, but we were all asked to be here to do a job, and they still want that job done. I need to know that The Warren will still be here when we get back in 2168. You have to do that for me. Just ignore this corner for the rest of the year.”
“Captain, please. For me? Go back to your time. We’ll see you later.”
Paige was still reluctant, but she finally closed her eyes in solidarity, and reopened them. “I’ll see you on the other side.”
She jumped up and ran away as fast as The Flash, or Quicksilver, or Lurker.”

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