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Saturday, May 12, 2018

Missy’s Mission: Hotspot (Part VI)

“It’s not possible for there to be more than one time book?” Dar’cy asked skeptically.
“There is nothing written in the time book. It is simply capable of absorbing and displaying any book within its own pages. In order to do this, it has to have a deep quantum connection to every single thing that has ever been written and published. And I mean every book, at all points in time, in all realities, and all universes, which would include other time books, if they existed. It’s like the internet, but better.”
“What makes it better? No videos?”
“That’s not the point, Dar’cy,” Missy said. “All we’re asking is for help finding the words to one book in particular, Mister...”
“Lorenz. But my first name is Ildemire.”
“Ildemire,” Missy continued, “is there any way for your time book which book we’re looking for?”
“You would have to use the index.”
“Great, let’s try that.”
“In order to do that, you’ll need to start with the narrowest concept first. If you’re trying to find a certain book about horses, you wouldn’t search for animals, or living creatures. That would take too long. So how specific can you be? You said you don’t know which book, but what do you know about it?”
They thought about this, and the obvious answer was, “cure for time powers”.
“Too long,” he said. “And too broad. Like I said, you’ll be pulling books from multiple universes.”
“Cure for chooserism,” Missy offered.
“How about just chooserism, then we can narrow to cure for?”
“You’re the expert.”
He opened the book to the first page, and took out a pen. “Now, remember that I created this out of nothing. I couldn’t just wave my hand, and the book would magically appear. It took me years to program, so it’s not the most efficient. I am planning a newer version, though.”
“Okay,” they both said.
Ildemire wrote the word Index at the top of the page, underlined it, and waited for the following pages to fill up with almost nothing but blackness.
“What is that?” Dar’cy asked.
“It’s the entire index,” he started to answer, “written in text so small, that it’s completely illegible. That’s why we have to narrow it.” Right under his first word, he wrote the letter C, which caused the text to jiggle around a little, but it still appeared to be about as small as before. He wrote the h, then the o, and so on until he had completed the whole word. The text was still incredibly tiny, but they were starting to discern space in between the lines. He wrote cure for, and now they could make out actual words. The index seemed to be operating more on sounds, than on letters. They could see options for the cure for charisma, the cure for nazism, and the cure for terrorism. And evidently someone had, or will have later written books on solving the problem of tourism. “Here it is,” Ildemire said. “Cure for chooserism. There’s only one book about that. Let’s see, it’s called Missy’s Mission.”
“Oh, click on that,” Dar’cy said.
“No,” Missy warned. “That’s my book. We cannot read that.”
“It’ll clearly have the answers,” Dar’cy argued.
“It won’t if we read it,” Missy returned.
“It’ll create an ontological paradox,” Missy explained. “If we only know how to get rid of my time powers because we read about a future where we get rid of my time powers, then where did the concept originate? Did I figure out how to cure myself, or did the book just tell me? The answer can’t just come out of nowhere.”
“But it’s already written. Future, past; what does it matter?”
“If we select this, and it’s written, all we will learn is of our failure. It cannot tell us something we don’t already know.”
“That sounds reasonable,” Ildemire said. “And what you said earlier given me an idea. You don’t need a cure, because your condition is not a disease. You just need to remove the powers.” He scratched out cure for on the input page, and replaced it with removal of.”
Removal of chooserism makes little sense,” Dar’cy pointed out.
“It’s worked, though. One book came back as well, and it’s not your own. It’s not even from the future. Hotspots: A Look into Places of Great Power on Earth, and Beyond. Ever heard of it?”
They shook their heads.
“Well, let’s take a look.” There was no way to click on the item, which Ildemire hoped to be able to do in his second creation. Under everything else he had written, he penned the name of the book they were looking for. The rest of the pages transformed, leaving them with fairly large font. “Sorry, there’s no way to adjust that. It’s always goes from the first page to the last. It can’t remove pages, or just leave them blank. As I’ve mentioned, this was my first try.”
“This will be fine,” Missy said graciously. Thank you so much for your help.”
“Yes, thank you,” Dar’cy said. We’ll call if we need any further assistance.”
He laughed. “Oh, no. I don’t leave this book out of my sight.”
“Well, that’s gonna be a problem,” Dar’cy said.
“No, it won’t,” Missy corrected. “We completely understand.”
“We need privacy.”
“No, really, it doesn’t matter. He can always read the book himself after we leave.”
And so the three of them started doing research, trading the book around as certain concepts intrigued them. They ended up skipping all the information about Earthan locations, like Stull, Kansas and Mount Roraima, and went straight to the section on Durus. Words, sentences, and even entire paragraphs in this section were completely blank. There was clearly meant to be text, but it had been erased, likely by time itself. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” Ildemire said in horror. “My time book reads every book. It’s not supposed to have any gaps.”
“Maybe the original edition of Hotspots is also special,” Missy suggested compassionately, “and they interfere with each other, like how the only thing that can cut a diamond is another diamond.”
“Or a laser,” Dar’cy added.
He sighed and dropped the book in Missy’s lap, so he could concentrate on palming his face. “Well, I hope whatever you’re looking for is in there somewhere. I don’t understand why it didn’t pull the whole text. That’s never happened before.”
“I have faith that what’s here will be enough.” She let him wallow while she lifted the book and started reading. “Few have ventured to this dark world, searching for a way to remove their time powers. Choosers, for the most part, like what they can do, but there are those who consider it to be a curse. There is no evidence that anyone has ever succeeded—where have I heard that before?—but if the answer lies anywhere, it’s in a terrible region derivatively known to the natives as The Abyss.
Ildemire let out a chirpy laugh. “I’m sorry, it’s just funny. Of course the one place you’re not allowed to go is the one place you need to go. Fate would not have it any other way.”
“The Abyss sounds bad, what is it?” Dar’cy asked.
“Long ago, this world was overrun by monsters. My ancestors created the Mage Protectorate to secure our borders, and keep them at bay. But all they really did was stall, while the enemy enhanced their forces. A full-on war broke out, and humans were almost completely obliterated. But then one young woman with immense power turned the tide, and won it for us in less than an hour, at the end of which she closed the massive portal that was drawing those monsters from another universe. Still, the Abyss remains active, to this day. No apparent monster can come through to our side, but we have every reason to believe we can now travel to their side. Everyone who has tried to study what’s going on in the haze has disappeared for good.”
Missy and Dar’cy gave each other a look, remembering words of warning that all choosers who attempted to do what they were trying now had indeed gone missing. “Dar’cy, this is one of those moments where I remind you that you have no obligation to help me. I can move forward on my own, but if you try to go with me, you may never come back.”
Dar’cy picked up a little figurine on Ildemire’s desk. “Does this have sentimental or monetary value?”
“Not really,” he replied. “Why?”
She showed it to Missy. “We’ll take this with us. If we experience issues, we can always come back here yesterday.”
“Dar’cy I’m serious. Just because you have a way out doesn’t mean you should come along in the first place. Besides, we don’t even know whether this will take us to another universe, let alone if you can thread across them.”
“I know. But I am coming with you. We’re a team.” Dar’cy redirected her attention to Ildemire. “Can you take us to the Abyss?”
“I can show you how to get there, but I won’t take one step towards that place.”
After Ildemire gave them directions, Missy and Dar’cy went home to rest up for the week. While they were waiting to work up their courage, they decided to sell the house, which gave them enough money to afford a bag of holding, plus a year’s worth of food and supplies to take with them. Once they were ready, they started making the long trip out to the mysterious area where no one goes. Everyone they asked refused to teleport or drive them anywhere near it, so they were forced to walk, stopping to camp at the end of each day. Weeks later, they were at the edge of a slow and quiet storm. Smokey masses billowed in front of them, threatening to remove all sense of direction. An automated message from another one of those solid holograms, this one of a security guard, warned them to turn back. They ignored it, and pressed on.
They tied themselves together with a rope that was a few meters long, but they still tried to stay within sight of each other, which was difficult with visibility at maybe one meter. It seemed like a good idea at the time to give each other some breathing room, but it proved to not be good enough. At some point, the rope broke, either by being worn out, or perhaps because a mischievous monster left behind from the days of old cut it on purpose. However it happened, it separated them for what Missy believed to be several minutes. She just kept wandering around, eventually finding herself in a clearing of the haze.
Dar’cy came out of a farmhouse that was sitting in the middle of the open area, and walked out to greet her. “You’re finally here.”
“How long has it been?” Missy asked, afraid to know the answer.
“Two years.”

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