Saturday, May 13, 2017

Flurry: Déjà Vu (Part V)

Serkan and Ace casually walked towards the exit. Ace had been right in that it was snowing outside, but it also wasn’t. It was like there were two different outsides outside; that of the present, and that of the future. They had to focus on one in order to block out the other, but they could always see that other in faded background view. It struck Serkan only then how strange their lives were. They were currently attempting to simply walk back into the future they came from in order to stop evil corporate executives from trying to control the weather. This was after some unseen force threw them back through time in the first place, which was something that apparently happened to them on the regular. This was their life now, and it didn’t feel weird, which was the weirdest part. This shouldn’t feel so normal.
Dismissing his brief existential dilemma, Serkan followed his boyfriend through the door...ending up still in 2013. “What happened?”
Ace stopped and jerked his head around like a pecking chicken. “We must have walked through the wrong one, like in Stonehenge.”
“Or we walked through it the wrong way, or at the wrong moment.”
“Let’s try it again.”
They went back into the mall. Through the glass doors, they could still see the dual time view. They agreed to concentrate all their focus on the winter dangerland, and try again. No, they were still in the past. They continued trying this several times, going through all of the doors methodically, and doing so at deliberately variable intervals. Pretty quickly, they drew a crowd of innocent bystanders who didn’t know what to make of it. One guy asked if they were here all week, and whether they needed a hat so that people could drop money into it for them. The crowd laughed and applauded playfully.
Ace bowed humbly.
“Thanks,” Serkan said to them with almost a curtsy.
“Did you just curtsy?” Ace asked after they finally left the mall to a world that was so 2013, determined to continue their mission in any way they could.
Serkan ignored his comment, and sighed. “What are we gonna do now?”
“We go to High Castle.”
“We can’t do that. The weather won’t be a problem for a full decade.”
“Well, maybe we could go there now and talk them out of ever doing it at all.”
Serkan shook his head. “No, see, what if that conversation is what ends up giving them the idea to manipulate the weather in ten years?”
“If that’s true, then we’re fated to go there anyway, and we don’t have any choice either way.”
“If that’s true then we don’t have to go there, because we’ll end up there anyway. Huh? Huh?” Feeling affectionate, he started pulling at Ace’s muscular arm, and smiling at him with dopey eyes. He was about to say huh one more time when Ace suddenly stopped and looked around. “What? What’s wrong.”
“I thought I heard something,” Ace replied. “And I thought I saw someone out of the corner of my eye.”
“We’re not at home, Ace. There are people there should be.”
“People like us could do with a little paranoia, I would say.”
“I...suppose you’re not wrong.” Serkan looked around as well. “I don’t see anyone, though. Nobody walks anymore.”
“Just the same, we better duck into that service entrance, or whatever it is, so we can look at the map again. Hologram technology isn’t even as advanced as this in 2024.”
As they turned the corner, Serkan did think he saw movement out of the corner of his own eye, but when he took a longer look, again nothing was there. Okay, healthy paranoia. That’s fine. But as they were examining the hologram to determine the best route to High Castle Headquarters—coming to terms with the fact that that was their only logical course of action—they both heard a noise. It was the sound of a galvanized trash can being kicked, and was followed by the sound of someone pseudo-whispering dammit.
“Who’s there?” Serkan called out authoritatively while Ace switched the magic phone off and stuffed it into his pocket. “Come out!” he ordered.
A teenager reluctantly appeared from behind a dumpster, hands up, as if someone were pointing a gun at him. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to scare you.”
“Who are you?”
“I’m just some kid. Don’t worry ‘bout me.”
“What were you doing following us?”
“I was just...oh, is that Melissa Benoist?” He pointed behind them.
They didn’t look, because no, it wasn’t Melissa Benoist.
“Why? Are? You? Following us?” Ace pressed, inching forward understatedly threateningly.
“Okay, look,” the guy said. “I’m not here to hurt you, I was just curious.”
They both frowned. “Not allowed to be gay where you come from?” Serkan called back.
“ my small town in, not really. But that’s not what I mean. I was curious about...time travel.”
“I think the convention center is a ways away. You’ll find your science fiction friends there the next time they hold a comic-con, or whatever.”
“Don’t be coy,” he said. “I saw you try to walk through those doors, and it gave me the strangest feeling of déjà vu.” He clarified himself when he saw their reactions, “I mean stranger than déjà vu normally is. And that holophone sure ain’t 2013 tech. Anyway, I...think I’m a time traveler too. Or that I’m supposed to be. I was drawn to Kansas City. Skipped out on summer camp for it. I think I was supposed to meet you two.”
Serkan and Ace gave each other this look, like the eldest child in their village was trying to convince them to let him follow them into battle against the evil overlord who had destroyed their crops, but he can do better for their people if he stays behind and protects the women and children, because that’s an important job too.
“Listen, kid,” Ace started.
“Okay, Vearde—Vear...Vearden, really?”
“Interesting name,” Serkan said. “Common in Oklahoma?”
“Look, Vearden,” Ace said bravely. “Yes, we’re time travelers. Mind blown, I’m sure. But we also have a job to do. So we kind of just need to get back to it. I’m sure you have a lot of questions, but we just won’t be able to help you.”
Serkan wanted to try a gentler approach. “We barely understand what’s happening either. Someone else is doing this to us. We’re really just along for the ride.”
“Speaking of rides, do you need one? Nobody walks anymore, and I have car.”
Yes, they could do with a car.
Vearden continued, “if I take you to wherever you’re going, all I ask is that you tell me as much as you can about how this stuff works. I just know that I’m supposed to be part of this. I can feel it. I heard your bizarre conversation, but it was you walking through those doors that really got to me. I assume you thought they were portals.” He started mainly talking to himself, “door portals. That feels so right. Please, ya gotta give me something.”
Serkan looked to Ace, knowing that he would know that he was fully prepared to agree to Vearden’s plea. So it was really up to Ace at this point.
Ace looked back and forth between them. Serkan could tell that he had already made his decision, but needed to make it look like he needed more time to consider it, so that they would understand how serious the situation was. “Okay. You give us a ride, and we’ll give you the name of the only person we know who might—might be able to help you. He’s kind of cagey, though.”
“Thanks, you won’t regret this,” Vearden said. He clapped once at his own accomplishment. “Okay, wait here, I’m not parked too far away.”
“Are we sure about this?” Ace asked once Vearden was gone.
“Maybe he’s right. Maybe he was meant to find us.” He looked over to his love. “Maybe we’re literally here for a reason.”
“Maybe,” Ace nodded, on the fence with whether this was a legitimate possibility.
Vearden returned with his vehicle and asked for the address, inputting it into his GPS. He drove it with his hands and feet, like an animal. Serkan couldn’t understand how anyone could stomach living in a world where cars didn’t just freaking drive themselves. It seemed stupid from his perspective.
“Ooooookay, we’re here,” Vearden said as he put his car in park with his hand.
“What is this?” Serkan asked.
“This is where my GPS took us. Lenexa, Kansas.”
“Well, your shit 2013 GPS obviously sucks.”
“I didn’t build it, I just bought it.”
Ace calmly took Vearden’s phone and pinched the map to zoom out. He then compared it to the map on Effigy’s skeleton key. “Yeah, this is the right place.”
“Horace, this is a field,” Serkan argued. “We saw High Castle; it’s a giant building. There’s no way this is right.”
“What’s High Castle?” Vearden asked naïvely.
“It’s a company,” Serkan answered impatiently. “Surely you’re heard of it.”
He shook his head. “Nah, sorry. Maybe it’s not founded until the future?”
“That doesn’t make any sense. The company was founded in 1969.”
“Oh, maybe I have heard of that,” Vearden said. “It was a miniseries...on the BBC?”
“Or was it SyFy?” Vearden asked himself.
“No, that’s not it.”
“I don’t think they made it,” Vearden continued thinking out loud. “It was based on a book, though. Men in a High Castle. Or no. The Man in the High Castle, there was just one man. It was about time travel.”
Serkan had nearly tuned him out while watching Ace trying to figure out what was going on. “What?”
“The book. It’s about, like, an alternate Nazi world, or something. I never read it.”
“Oh my God,” Serkan said. “Oh my God,” he repeated. “The company wasn’t founded in 1969. Vearden was right.”
“I am?”
“He is?” Ace asked.
“It isn’t founded until the future, but somehow, since they’re time travelers, they find a way to make everyone think they’ve existed for decades. Hell, maybe they opened their doors on the day the winter snow began.”
“It snows in winter?” Vearden asked. “Wow, I guess global warming really is fake.”
“We think High Castle created the snow to stop global warming, actually,” Ace explained.
Serkan jumped back in, “this is why we’re here, not for Vearden. The Gravedigger. He can move people in time. He was first traveler I met.”
“Is that the guy I can talk to about my case?” Vearden asked.
Serkan went on, “we can’t get into the Headquarters, so he sent us back in time to sneak into the building before it’s even built!” He pointed towards the middle of the field in front of them. “I bet if we walk over there, we’ll be thrown back to the future, and on the other side of security.”
“But we have the skeleton key anyway,” Ace pointed out.
“That must not be good enough,” Serkan suggested. It’s best if we’re not seen walking to the building at all. I doubt other employees get in this way, they probably just have regular badges.”
“We don’t need no stinking badges!” Vearden interjected a little too loudly.
Serkan ignored him. “Or Effigy was screwing with us, and that thing isn’t a skeleton key at all.”
“Or he’s screwing with us right now,” Ace suggested.
“Who’s Effigy?”
“I say we try it,” Serkan said definitively. “The worst that happens is we stand in the middle of a field and look stupid for a few minutes.”
They got out the car. Vearden insisted he follow them, claiming that he never liked 2013 anyway. Apparently ABC cancelled some really good show called The Neighbors. Serkan turned out to be right about what was going to happen. The outline of a building started fading into view, like the dual view in the mall doors.
Unfortunately for Vearden, he wasn’t able to see it, which meant that he would have to stay behind. “Wait! You owe me a name!”
Serkan smiled at him as a wall began to form between them. “Lincoln Rutherford, Esquire! You can find him at Kyle K. Stanley & Associates!” The wall finished forming, followed quickly by all the other walls. They were finally back in 2024, evidently hiding in some kind of closet. Gay joke. Funny.

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