Saturday, December 19, 2015

Reavers Wobble: Second Chance (Part IV)

Horace Reaver was in prison. He had spent the better part of a year dealing with the hassle of court. He had to sit through every single day of the proceedings twice, but there was nothing he could do increase his chances of winning. Even knowing the line of questioning ahead of time wasn’t going to help. Sure, he could respond to their questions succinctly and without surprise, but there was no difference in the answers. The fact was that everything they were saying about him was true. They had even left out a few of the awful details. He really had caused a car accident that resulted in his wife’s death. Following that, he really had purposely given his now enemy, Mateo an exorbitant amount of hospital drugs that resulted in his extremely unpleasant overdose. And after that, he did indeed kill everyone in the immediate area. During the case, the truth about Allen’s death came to light. The authorities had figured out where the body was literally buried. Yes, Horace’s life could get no worse, and he made a point of expressing this to the wall in front of him in solitary confinement.
“I’ve seen worse, father,” a voice came from the opposite corner.
“Who’s there?”
“It’s me, Melly.”
“I’m a time traveler. The Melly you left behind when you were sent to the clink disappeared from foster care, and will eventually become me.”
Horace did not respond.
“Do they still call this the clink?”
“Why are you here?”
“Is that any way to greet me?”
“I do not know you. My daughter’s a toddler. I have no idea what you’ve been through. I clearly didn’t raise you, and hopefully you’re nothing like me.” He turned his head away. “You should stay away from me.”
“You don’t even want to know why I’m here? And you aren’t even slightly interested in hearing what I’ve been through?”
“Yes. I’m a terrible father. Shocker. The mass murderer makes another bad decision, and you’re questioning it.”
“You weren’t necessarily a bad father. I mean, I don’t remember the first three years of my life, but they seemed fine. You didn’t have a chance to prove any different. We will never know...”
Horace rested against his palm and pointed to his chest with the other hand, piercing Melly with his eyes. “Again, I’m a mass murderer. I’m a bad person, so I could not have been a good father. Whatever you’ve been through, wherever you lived, it was better than what I could have provided you with.”
Melly sat up straighter and did her best impression of an aristocrat, “I live a life of luxury.”
“Is that so? The powers that be gave you some kind of lovely form of time travel, did they? Only take you to the good times?”
“They didn’t give me anything. You did.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I’m not a salmon, father,” Melly said sweetly. “I’m one of them. I’m a choosing one. I’m part of the group of people who jack with time. I know the person doing this to you personally. He’s kind of a dick, I’ll give you that. I would do it myself, and make it easier on you, but I’m not allowed.”
Horace just stared at his young adult daughter, not having a clue what to say.
Melly decided to continue, “that’s how it works. The child of two activated salmon will be born as a choosing one.”
Horace nearly cut her off, “Leona was not a salmon.”
Melly laughed disturbingly. “She was. She just never told you. She had her reasons.”
Horace tilted his lizard brain. “You’re not lying.”
“I’m not.”
“How did I not notice?”
“Not all salmon have long term patterns. Some of you are thrown to a different time and kept there. Some are just dropped off briefly so they can complete one task. One time, I sent a late 21st century photographer back to Ancient Egypt so that she could document the building of the pyramids.”
Melly looked to the side as she was thinking out loud, “but I think I’m going to change her pattern and send her to other planets in the new timeline.”
“I don’t care about that bitch! Tell me what Leona’s pattern was!”
Melly jumped back into the conversation, “oh yes. She went to college in the 2150s. That’s how come she’s so smart.”
“I saw her diploma.”
She looked at him like he was a dum-dum. “Yeah, we faked that. Well, I mean we had someone fake it. Choosing ones don’t do anything for themselves. That’s, like, the whole point.”
That’s the point? You screw with innocent people’s lives just so you can get random things done...but not have to actually do it? You have control over time and space, you have access to infinite technology...”
“We’re also immortal,” Melly added.
He didn’t know about that. “You’ve cracked immortality,” Horace finished. “You could do so much more. You could probably alter history just by thinking about it. Why go through all this trouble? Why recruit people to do your dirty work? Why hire a human when it would be cheaper and easier to invest in a proverbial machine?”
Melly acted like she was contemplating his question, but seemed pretty blasé about it. “Because human involvement makes it more interesting.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You seem to be under the impression that we have some sort of goal in mind; that we’re...looking for the best possible outcome. We’re not doing that at all.” She shrugged, almost excitedly. “We’re just having fun.”
Excuse me?
“Look, I don’t know everything about the history of salmon and the choosing ones. In fact, I’m not sure which came first. We could be the result of future tech, we could be some kind of shadow species that evolved alongside regular humans; I don’t even care to find out. What I can tell you is that you people read books, watch plays, go see movies, and sometimes you even kill each other for sport. Well that’s boring to people like us. Time is our entertainment.” She took a moment to choose her words. “We just like to see what you’re gonna do.”
“That’s terrible,” was all that Horace could say after minutes of doing his best to absorb the information without having a heart attack.
She shrugged again. “If you were one of us, you would feel the same way.”
“You’re right,” Horace agreed. “I would feel that way. But I’m a freak. I’m literally insane, Mel. I’ve killed thousands of people. Rewind or not, I enjoy taking lives. I killed my whole fucking family. Then I went back in time, and ended up killing them again years later, but this time around, there was no going back. I’m the bad guy of the story. Are you telling me that out of all of you,” he waved his finger in her general direction, indicating a theoretical group, “there’s not one person who wants to do the right thing? There’s not one single person who says, ‘hey! Let’s put right what once went wrong? Why do I find that hard to believe?”
She felt no further need to explain her and her people’s intentions. “We don’t, but I think you might.”
“What do you mean?”
“I can modify patterns. I can send you back in time, but more that just the one day. I can give you a real second chance.”
He peered at her suspiciously. “How far back?”
“To when you were a teenager, before you started killing. Well, except for your mother that one time when you were a child, but I think we can let that slide. You could save her,” she pitched. “You could stop my mother from being anywhere near New Jersey.”
“I thought choosing ones couldn’t be in charge of their relatives.”
“They can’t. The others are gonna be pissed. We have rules. But most of them are arbitrary, and they can be subverted, just like when a normal person breaks a rule. Other things will be different. I’ll be making some other adjustments to the timeline, but there will also be consequences that are out of my hands. I don’t know what,” she looked around the room before continuing, “but isn’t anything better than this shithole?”
Horace slid his back against the wall and got to his feet. “Do it.”

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