Saturday, January 12, 2019

Furor: The Audacity of Politicians (Part I)

And then Horace ‘Ace’ Reaver returned to his bedroom to gather supplies. He was about to leave his adoptive daughter to search for the love of his life, Serkan Demir, in another dimension, and he didn’t know exactly what he would need. He took extra clothes, a blanket, water,  chocolate bars, and some MREs. Once he had everything he thought could help, he took one last peek downstairs, where Paige was getting to know her new friend, Slipstream. Then he whispered a last goodbye to her, and activated the special jacket that could transport him to a copy of Kansas City.
Everyone in the entire metropolitan area had been copied, along with everything else in its borders. Ace didn’t know what he would find when he arrived. Did its inhabitants know that they were copies of the original, or had they moved on with their lives, completely unaware? No, they would have had to know that something happened. It had been an entire year, and only the city was part of it. They wouldn’t have been able to take trips to Easter Island, or Stonehenge, or even Topeka. Nobody was in the alternate version of their house when Ace landed. A few people had been exempt from the duplication curse that a very powerful temporal manipulator had done on them—Ace’s family included—so the house was empty, and he didn’t have to worry about running into an alternate version of himself.
After checking the house for any sign of Serkan, Ace stepped outside to find an eerie silence. It was meant to be the middle of the day, so normally people would be moving about. They would be doing yard work, and walking their dogs, but there was nothing, because the sky was pitch black, and it felt like winter. Had the evil time manipulators not created a fake sun for them to enjoy, or had it just taken longer for him to get there than he realized? He was grateful for having thought to bring coats. He slipped his on, and started walking. The last time he had seen Serkan was in an apartment complex southwest of here, but again, that was a year ago. If he wasn’t at their house, there were only a few places he might have gone. He could have returned to his mother’s place, but a younger version of him would still likely be there with his mother and brother, so he would have wanted to stay away. He could have sought help from the tracer gang, or his friends at the City Frenzy headquarters. There were too many options, and none of them good. A lot could change in a year. If Serkan survived the explosion that screwed this all up, he could have died any number of ways since then.
It was several miles away, but as luck would have it, a copy of Ace’s car was still parked on the curb, waiting for him. He was grateful yet again, since he had brought all of his keys with him, and then once more when he discovered the car key worked. A few minutes into the drive, he finally saw signs of life. Another car was driving in the opposite direction. It suddenly pulled over to the wrong lane, and blocked Ace from continuing. “Shit. This can’t be good,” he said out loud. He tried to go in reverse, but another car came up and boxed him in.
“You have to pay a toll!” someone shouted to him through a megaphone.
With no other choice, he rolled his window down, and stuck his head outside. “A toll of what?”
“Whatever you got!”
Ace sighed, then threw a bunch of chocolate bars onto the pavement. A lackey stepped out of the car, and checked on the merchandise.
“We got plenty of candy here! You’ll have to do better than that!”
There was one other thing that Ace brought with him that he hoped he would never need. He hung his gun out the window, and shot out one of the tollbooth operator’s headlights. Of course, though, that only made things worse. They had their own guns, and they were all trained right at Ace’s head. Click, click, click. But then something happened. The lights were not good enough to show him what was happening, but he could hear screams, and a few other gunshots. Ace just ducked down in his car as best he could. Just as it ended, he found something grab him by his hips.
When he opened his eyes, he was somewhere else entirely, and his car was gone. It was just as dark as it had been outside. “Hello? You don’t have to hide from me. I know all about teleporters. Come on out.”
A light switched on above Ace’s head, blinding him for a second. Then a man appeared from the darkness. “I am not a teleporter. I’m a runner.”
“A speedster.” Ace remembered the stories Serkan would tell him about the mysterious tracer who could runner faster than the speed of light. He had always assumed that to be a metaphor, but maybe not. “You’re K-Boy.”
“No, I’m a man...named Kolby. And you are?”
“Horace Reaver. Hey, it’s been a year. Is Kansas City just a lawless hellworld now?”
“It hasn’t been a year. It’s been less than a month. Where are you from?”
“The real world. How has it not even been a month yet?”
Kolby ran away, and returned just as quickly with two chairs, and two beers. They sat down and enjoyed them for a moment. “Andrews was afraid of that. He told us we were in another dimension. He was worried there was a temporal component too, so that time passes differently in here. He had no proof of that, though, since we can’t escape.”
“You know Duke Andrews?”
He laughed. “Nah, man. He is our leader.”
“He is?”
“Well, he could be. The mayors are trying to hold onto power, but...” he trailed off and shook his head. “Tracers are doing their best to maintain order, but it’s Duke Andrews who gives us hope. Without him, we would have no clue what’s going on.”
“I’m looking for someone here.”
“Brother, if you have a way to get back to the real Kansas City, I suggest you cut your losses, and take it.”
“I’m in love with him. And if what you’re telling me is true, then he hasn’t been waiting for me as long as I thought. He hasn’t moved on yet. I have to find him. Our daughter needs him too.”
Kolby thought about it, and scratched at the back of his head. “Well, if you must find him, you should probably talk to the Grammers. There’s not really anyone to hack anymore, so I think they’ve started a new Census Bureau. It’s probably not quite finished, though.”
“Thank you. Do you know where they’re working?”
Kolby started downing his beer.
“Oh no,” Ace said. He wasn’t able to hold onto his own bottle when he felt himself being flung across town again. They were suddenly standing in the lobby of the tallest building in Kansas City.
“This has become Capitol of the whole world,” Kolby explained. “Duke and his people run the top floors. The grammers are reportedly on the thirty-third. It’s the middle of the night, but this place never sleeps. Not anymore.”
They were heading for the elevators when an alarm rang out behind them. It kind of sounded like the sound effect used for the six million dollar man, and it didn’t hurt their ears. They turned around to see a group of soldiers approach. One of them was holding a small device that was creating the noise. She spoke into her radio. “Sighting confirmed. We have a salmon in the building.”
“I’m not a salmon!” Kolby argued. “I’m just human. I don’t know why I can run so fast. I wasn’t born like this!”
“Not you,” the guard spat. “We already know about you. The tracers have ordered us to leave you alone. “Walk out of the building, and down the street. You’ll be out of range of the power blocker eventually, and can go on your merry way.”
“What about him?” Kolby asked, concerned for Ace.
“He’ll be fine. The boss just wants to talk.”
“I’m looking for my boyfriend,” Ace complained.
“That’s not my problem,” she replied.
They ushered him into the elevator, where they rode up to the top floor. They walked down the hall, and into an office. A man was working intently on a tablet. Other people were flying in and out, giving him bits of information. After a few moments, he took a breath. “Horace Reaver. I’m Senator Channing, and also a huge fan.”
“Channing? The Frenzy council member?”
Channing smiled. “That hasn’t happened to me yet. I’m still a senator. Well, I was..before..all this.” He gestured all around.
“Can you help me find my daughter’s father?”
The senator shrugged. “Probably. But that’s not why I brought you here.” He clapped his hands with each word he spoke. “I need to know what’s going to happen tomorrow.”
“No idea.”  It was true, Ace had that power in another timeline, but not here.
“No, see I heard about you. Lincoln explained everything.” He stood up, started walking around the table, and pointed out him. “You’re The Rewinder. If this isn’t the second time you’re living through this day, then I need you to come back here, and give me the information once you do go back in time.”
“Sir, you have been severely misinformed. What Rutherford told you was about a different version of me, in a different reality. I have intuitions about the present, but I didn’t actually experience it. I may have some insights, but I can’t give you the advantage to take over this town.”
He burst out laughing. “I’m not trying to take over the town. Andrews and I are already the leaders. We’re just trying to create some semblance of civility. It’s been three weeks, and if we don’t reassert democracy, this new world is doomed. I’m trying to put down the violent gangs that are rising back to power. You can tell me their moves, before they make them.”
“Again, sir. I can’t.”
Channing sighed, and looked over to his guards. “Take him to the hock, give him a day. Or a negative day, as it were. Hopefully he’ll come back a few hours ago, and be ready to help.”
Ace rolled his eyes. The audacity of politicians; even the good ones. He believed the senator truly wanted to help New Kansas City, or whatever it was they were going to call it, but he was one of those people who didn’t like to hear what they didn’t want to hear. If it didn’t fit with their presumptions, it probably wasn’t true.
“And give me that funny jacket of his. I wanna know what it is.”
Ace sat in his cell for nearly two days before Kolby came back, and broke him out.

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