Thursday, April 12, 2018

Microstory 819: Self-Help

I’ve worked at Area W for seven years, and for the most part, it’s been the most rewarding experience in my life. I can’t tell you how honored I was to be chosen to help people feel completely safe in their new homes, knowing that it’s nearly impossible for the persons they’re running from to find them. I see a lot of people become cynical about the whole situation. None of us is even from this universe, so they don’t seem to have any vested interest in what happens here, but I never had that problem. These are still people, and though I was not born here, I consider it my home. I’m told it’s one of the few universes that maintain a matrix of stable alternate realities. All I know is that mine certainly doesn’t. It’s the most boring place in the multiverse, so I’m happier here than I could have ever been back home. Even now. Still, I always felt like we could be doing more to help people. Yes, it’s great we can transport people to realities where their tormentors don’t even exist, but that’s not the only viable application of this technology. The possibilities are literally endless. It was tough feeling like the only one who could see that. Two years ago, I became fully qualified to be the primary operator of a portal. There were still a few people around me, though, so I wasn’t working completely autonomously. Some types of jobs require no secondary operator, or auxiliary crew, as you’ve learned. Yet, you’ll have to prove yourself worthy of such trust, even after achieving primary status. I breached that trust with my actions, and I regret it. I just thought I could use them as proof that my ideas for an expansion in our scope was a viable option.

My last job was pretty simple. There was a chance the defendant’s sister would seek to eliminate the witness in his trial, even though the trial was already over, and it wouldn’t do her brother any good. The system erred on the side of caution, and assigned the witness to another reality for a month, just in case the sister developed any bad ideas. During my initial security sweep of the egress side of the portal, I discovered that one of the portal’s guards was an alternate version of a guard in the reality the witness was coming from. Though most of the people who work at Area W are from different universes entirely, like I’ve said—which means there’s no possibility of quantum duplication—this is not true for portal guards, or normal people, for that matter. Guards often share job roles as their alternates, which makes sense, if you think about it. If one version of an individual grew up wanting to work security, or found themselves in such a position, it’s reasonable to assume at least some of their alternates ended up in similar situations. I decided to use these two alternates as guinea pigs in my experiment. Not knowing much about them, I held the portal open for an extended period of time, and introduced them to each other. It was my hope that they would speak with each other, and discuss their feelings. I figured talking to someone who knows how you feel better than anyone else ever could might be rather cathartic; perhaps even enlightening. I was so wrong. While I do still work at Area W, I no longer hold the prestige—or pay—that I did before I broke the rules. Now, instead of operating portals, I have to talk to recruits like you, to warn them what can happen when you don’t follow protocol. Don’t end up like me.

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