Rogue Possession

Armed guards carelessly pulled Mateo Matic and Gilbert Boyce down the dirty compound hallway. They dragged them down the steps and threw them in their glass cage like lemurs at a zoo. The two of them decided to not speak to each other. Anything they said would definitely be used against them later, and it wasn’t worth it. They quietly sat next to each other and privately wondered what was going to happen to them. Hours later, Gilbert’s nemesis, Horace Reaver strutted in with this weird platter of finger food.
Reaver dropped the platter on the ground. “You guys like turkey?” he asked in an unsettlingly jovial voice.
“You have us now,” Mateo said with a hoarse voice. They hadn’t been given any water, and the dry Australian heat was taking a massive toll on their bodies. The fact that they now had food, but still no water, was proof that Reaver was just toying with them. “Let Leona go.”
“Oh, she’s fine,” Reaver replied dismissively. “She’s staying in a six-star resort with air conditioning and television. It’s my ol’ buddy, Gilly who you should be worried about.”
“Worried why?” Gilbert asked, knowing right away that he would not be happy with any answer.
“Because you don’t matter,” Reaver explained before shooting him in the forehead.

Gilbert freaked out, struggled with the sheets, and got himself out of bed. He stumbled along the floor a little before resting against the wall.
“What the hell was that?” someone screamed.
Gilbert tried to rub the pain out of his head while he was standing back up. “I have no idea. I also don’t know where I am.”
The woman waved her head in the air and activated the lamp on the nightstand. “You’re home. Everything’s fine. Were you having a nightmare?”
Gilbert looked around the unfamiliar room. “Since when has this been my home?”
“Uhh...” the woman said, trying to remember. “Since 2048. May, I think it was.”
Gilbert took a deep breath and instinctively placed his hands on his chest, only to find a pair of breasts. “This can’t be a dream.”
The woman smiled and looked at him seductively. “Oh, believe me, sweetheart. Those puppies were always my dream.”
“What’s my name?”
“Are...are we role-playing?”
“Yeah, sure, what’s my name?”
“Okay, about Gaia Neptune?”
“No, what’s my real name?”
“How is that role-playing?”
“We’re role-playing that I have amnesia.”
She stared at him for a few moments. “That doesn’t sound very fun.”
Gilbert stared at her for a few moments. “Please.”
“Rebecca—” she tried to begin.
“Rebecca what?”
“Rebecca what!”
“And you are?”
“Judy Schmidt. Yeah, I was right. This isn’t fun at all.”
He took another deep breath and went over to the mirror. He wasn’t sure why he wanted to know who this woman thought he was before trying the mirror. It just made sense. Maybe he thought it would make the situation easier to understand. It didn’t. Looking back at him in the reflection was a beautiful twentysomething, apparently named Rebecca Halcyon. He repeated the name in a whisper.
“Honey? Are you okay? You’re kinda scaring me now.”
Gilbert briefly looked down at Judy, but then went back to admiring his new body in the mirror. “Let’s have salmon for dinner tomorrow,” he said using Rebecca’s voice.
“That’s not funny,” Judy said.
Gilbert turned all the way around and sat on the edge of the bed. “So you know what I’m talking about?”
She shook her head, not as a negative response, but because she couldn’t believe he was saying these things. “Your...trips. That’s what the others call you. Yes, I know what you’re talking about. Did something happen? Is it affecting your memory, or something? I knew we should have gone to some doctor.”
Gilbert peered at Judy, wondering whether he should speak to her delicately, or just not give a crap about her feelings. “So you also know that there are other people like me.”
“Other time travelers, yes. You’ve mentioned them, and you say you get the feeling there are many more you’ve never met, but you’ve come across a few. Please...tell me what’s wrong.”
“Have I ever mentioned anyone that can jump into other people’s bodies?”
“You mean like Quantum Leap?”
He was pleased with her familiarity with the show. “Yes! Just like that.”
“No, no of course you...” she trailed off and became lost in her own thoughts. Then she pulled away as much as she could and tried to cover up with the sheets. “Are you not Rebecca?”
“I’m afraid not,” Gilbert answered honestly.
She started crying and looking around, either for a weapon, or a way out.
“But I’m not going to hurt you. This is all new to me. I mean, I know other time travelers, I just...I’m not supposed to be one. Last thing I remember, I was in a cell, and Reaver was pointing a gun at me. Then I heard a shot. Judy, he shot me.”
She was not any less scared than she had been before.
“He shot me in the head. What a dick! But I’m here.”
“What happened to Rebecca?”
“I have no idea. Maybe she’s in my body. No, because then she would be dead.”
That didn’t help with Judy’s fear.
“Oh, don’t you cry,” Gilbert nearly scolded. “I’m the one who should be crying. I’m the one who was just murdered.” Quickly changing the topic, he asked, “is it April 27, 2051?”
“It’s the 28th,” she said through her tears.
“So I didn’t jump here immediately. There was a latent period. But why, where was I?” He stood back up and found his truth. “Okay. I’m sorry that I caused you so much pain. I assure you that I meant you no harm, and that I will leave, if possible. I’m going to try to jump out of your wife’s body. If it works, in a few seconds you’ll have your Rebecca back, and she will be as scared as you are right now.” He closed his eyes to concentrate.

When he reopened them seconds later, he was outside.
For a second, he couldn’t move. It would seem that each jump came with some kind of side effect. Hopefully it would soon wear off. Hopefully it would soon wear off. But he was rather pleased with how relatively easy it was to jump into other people’s bodies. He didn’t even have to be taught by a wise old man, or something like that.
“Octavian, can you hear me?”
“What?” Gilbert asked, instantly feeling ready to slip into his new role.
“Gun or knife?”
“Um...whichever one you...don’t...want.”
“You know that I prefer knives.”
“Just like you. What’s wrong with you?”
“I’m just not feeling myself today. I’m fine.” Gilbert wasn’t fine, though. When he first leapt into the body of Rebecca, it made him feel different. He looked at the world differently; more optimistically. He felt happier and more comfortable, and he even felt a level of love for Judy, even though he had never met her. He was now starting to suspect that leaping into the body of someone else causes one to adopt certain characteristics of their personality. This Octavian fellow, whose body he was currently in, must have been a pretty bad guy. Gilbert wasn’t feeling much of anything. His initial thought was that Octavian, much like this other guy, was probably a sociopath.
“Yeah, we all have those days, brother. But it’s time to work. We can’t go back home until this guy’s dead.”
“What guy?” Ah, no. He wanted to be more confident, but that was a dumb question, for Octavian would already know the answer.
Yeah, his brother was confused. “The...Donald Trump?”
“Donald Trump? What year is this?”
“How do you not remember this?” He prepared himself to go over the mission. “Okay. It’s February 11, 2000. Donald Trump is about to kick his presidential campaign into high gear. The boss wants us to take him out before he can do that, and he wants it to be messy.”
“Trump doesn’t run for president in 2000, and he certainly isn’t killed.”
“No, because that’s what we’re doing here, to change history. What about time travel are you not getting? We’ve been doing this forever, have you lost your marbles?”
“I...yes. No?”
“I don’t understand what’s happening. It’s like I don’t even know you.”
A man walked in from the aether. Literally. “That is because you don’t. The man you’re looking at, Sevastian, is not your brother.”
“Then who is it?” Sevastian asked, more curious than upset or worried.
“Mister Boyce,” the man said. “You’re a long way from home, aren’t you?”
“How do you know who I am?” Gilbert asked, checking his face with his hands to confirm that he still looked like Octavian.
“I see into people’s souls. Those few who know me The Maverick.”

“Okay, well, we’re all The Mavericks,” Sevastian complained. “You don’t get to own that title yourself, Darrow.”
Darrow spit in Sevastian’s general direction. “You’re nothing without me.”
“Could someone please tell me what’s going on?” Gilbert pleaded.
“I already told you. The Donald Trump thing. Darrow, who is this guy, and how is he not Octavian?”
“No, what’s going on with you two...I mean, you three. Or we three?” This was more confusing for him than it should have been. He was genre-savvy, so the concepts of body-switching and time travel should come easy to him.
“As he pointed out, we are the Mavericks. We travel through time, taking care of business.”
“Murder business.”
“Well, you call it murder, we call it necessary. Most choosers call it assassination. We don’t just kill any rando we see in the timestream, or someone who cut us off in traffic, or every blonde chick named Kathy because they remind us of our mother. We eliminate problems with the timeline. Trump, for instance, needs to be taken out of the timeline.”
“In my timeline, he didn’t run for president in 2000.”
“He does, for the Reform Party.”
“So he couldn’t possibly win.”
“No, but that’s not the point. His campaign sets off a series of events that leads to policy issues in the country. People start looking at him differently, and this cannot be allowed to happen. I assure you that this is all above board. Like I said, we’re not just murderers. The powers that be have contracted us to handle this for them because they don’t want any of their salmon to have to do it. We get our hands dirty so no one else has to.”
“That you’ve been asked to do this by someone else does not make it right. That’s not how morality works. If Genghis Khan asked you to shine his shoes, would you do it...just because somebody asked?”
“What I’m saying is that if we don’t do it, somebody will,” Darrow insisted. “They contract us because we get it done right. Sevastian here, along with his brother, Octavian—whose body you’re possessing—were legionnaires in the army of the Roman Kingdom. I raised them up from their world before toilet paper was invented, trained them to survive in modern worlds, and set them to work.”
“So they’re not choosing ones?” Gilbert asked.
“Quite the opposite. They’re chosen ones. They’re the equivalent of salmon, but instead of being under the control of the powers that be...” He didn’t feel the need to finish his sentence.
“Why have I not heard of them before?”
“They’re rare,” Darrow explained. “It’s more difficult for choosers to take control of others, but I figured it out.”
“And how do you feel about that?” he asked of Sevastian.
“I do what needs to be done,” Sevastian claimed unconvincingly. “And our mission is righteous. That is all I require of myself.”
“I’m just...trying really hard to understand why you exist. I mean, I get it on the surface. There are some people in this world that shouldn’t be. But you clearly have lines, because Hitler’s still alive, right? You never killed Hitler. If I were one of you, that would be my first pick.”
“That would harm the timeline.”
“So you say, but is that any different than what you’re doing here? Donald Trump is important to this timeline, so how can you justify removing him from it? We all contribute to the future in our own way. We all make ripples.”
Darrow was sick of discussing this. “This said by someone who knows hardly anything about how time works. I don’t have to explain myself to you. I just need you to leave so I can have my assassin back.”
“I’m not leaving. I’m going to stay here and do everything I can to prevent you from going through with this.”
Sevastian was furious, which was probably a standard condition for him. “You want to save this man? Do you know how despicable he is? He wants to ban Muslims and Mexicans!”
“And that’s terrible, but I’ve been to his future. He loses the race in 2012. None of that happens.”
“But his words have repercussions for society. People hear him, and they agree with him, and it takes us years—decades!—to move us forward.”
“I heard those speeches. He doesn’t make people become racist and xenophobic. They already were.”
“Yes, but now they feel they have the right to be that way. He validates their position, and gives them a way to express their hatred. At least without him, death can turn them over, and the future can arrive on time.”
“Hitler is the same way, but he kills eleven million people!”
“It’s not the same thing. We’re not allowed to kill him.”
“Why not?”
“He’s out of our jurisdiction.”
“He’s human! We can’t kill humans. Well, not Hitler-level famous humans.”
“What is Donald Trump?”
Darrow didn’t say a word.
“Darrow, what is Donald Trump?” Gilbert repeated.
“He can warp reality. He can adjust the outcome of the future just by willing it.”
“Like Christopher Clark?” Gilbert asked.
“Yeah, like Christopher Clark,” Darrow agreed, “except that he’s real.”
“Who’s Christopher Clark?” Sevastian asked, ignored.
Gilbert took a deep breath and tried to process what he was hearing. It only made a certain level of sense. By being able to manipulate reality itself, it would allow Trump to gain the advantage over his enemies, and take the bigger half of any business deal. It didn’t explain everything, though. “Why did he not win the election in 2012?”
“His power grows every day,” Darrow said. “He’s not powerful enough in 2012. He will be later in the future. Or rather, he would have become stronger, had the election not ultimately caused a gradual decline in health, leading to his death before he could exercise that level of influence.”
“Let’s just leave in the way it is then,” Gilbert tried to reason. “He dies in 2015, and that should be enough. Don’t. Tamper. With time.”
“That’s what we do,” Sevastian argued. “We’re time tamperers.”
“Shut up, Sevastian.”
Darrow went on, “that’s not good enough for me. And it’s not good enough for the powers that be. We take care of him now, and the future turns out better.”
“Do you know that for sure? Have you seen it? Do you have someone who can visualize alternate futures?”
“Umm...a few, yeah. But we’re not using them. We just know. It has to be better. It has to be.”
“That’s just wishful thinking. I would think someone as powerful as you would have something more concrete.”
“Don’t try to cater to my ego, I don’t have one. This is about reality...everyone’s reality. This is about truth and justice.” Darrow seemed to have pretty strong convictions.
“That’s not good enough for me,” Gilbert said, not sure if it was true.
“It will have to be. You can leave Octavian’s body, or not. I’ve decided that I don’t care. Sevastian can do this on his own. You’re not powerful enough to stop us.”
“But you are.”
“You’re a choosing one. Which means you’re capable of traveling through time at will. You can do whatever you want.”
“Oh no. Don’t do what I think you’re gonna do.”
“Oh I’ma do it.”
“What are we talking about?” idiot Sevastian asked, still ignored.
With Octavian’s body, Gilbert took hold of Darrow’s arms. He concentrated like he had before when he purposely left Rebecca’s body. But this time, he couldn’t just go to any random place. He had to be precise. He had to jump into a very specific person’s body. Fortunately, he had his target in his sights, which meant he didn’t have to learn true accuracy. He closed his eyes, and before Darrow could stop him, hit him point blank with a possession bullet.
“What just happened?” Sevastian asked. They were standing at the edge of a pond at midday.
Gilbert, now in Darrow’s body, looked between Sevastian and Octavian.
“I have no idea. I feel like I lost time. Darrow, did you take me somewhere briefly?”
Gilbert sported Darrow’s evil smile. “Not yet.” He took both of their hands, quickly guessed on how to use Darrow’s ability to jump through time, and forced all three of them to the future.
“When are we?” Octavian asked. “Are we not going to kill Donald Trump?”
“You’re not, no,” Gilbert confirmed. He looked at his Darrow wrist where he found some kind of special digital watch that told him it was 2074.
A man teleported in front of them. He didn’t recognize him, and Sevastian and Octavian didn’t seem to either. “I have a job for you two.”
“Who the hell are you?” Octavian spat.
“Important,” the man answered. “Unlike you.” While the brothers tried to start a fight, the man ignored them and addressed Gilbert. “I have to get them out to build a golf course on an island on another planet for me. You still have to do something about Donald Trump. Darrow was right, you can’t just let things stay the way they happened.”
“You mean...?” Gilbert asked, not knowing what question wanted to ask.
“Yes, I know who you really are, and no, what I said doesn’t mean you have to kill Trump. There are other ways. Life isn’t binary, never forget that. You need to learn to find Door Number Three. But you won’t do it like this.” The man pulled out a handgun. “I’m sorry to do this to you again, but Darrow’s time is up.”

Before the mysterious man could pull the trigger, Gilbert shut his eyes and accidentally sent himself to the body of Darko Matic. Darko could travel through time by touching objects and sliding up or down their temporal stream. He used this power to go back to the year 2000 and scare Donald Trump into dropping out of the presidential race. He then took a brief trip forward thirteen years to discover that his mission had been successful. Donald Trump didn’t even run for president in the 2012 election, and Barack Obama had won handily against Mitt Romney. But this wasn’t over.

On the eighth day of the eleventh month of 2016, one of the worst candidates in history was elected president of the United States of America. He and his team had executed one of the most successful and intense campaigns in history as well. With unprecedented technical support from Russia, and an undying need for rural citizens to “change the status quo” Donald Trump managed to secure nearly half of the popular vote. Though he did lose the popular vote, he took the right votes in the right states to gain an advantage in the electoral college. The electoral college is composed of merely hundreds of people who are the only ones whose votes actually matter. Everyone else’s vote, in that time in history, was irrelevant. Fortunately—this only being the latest in a string of presidents elected while losing the popular vote—the country was moved to begin election reform, which ultimately abolished the electoral college system altogether.
Immediately following Trump’s upset win, however, the country faced extreme dissension. The U.S. had not experienced this level of discord since the so-called “Civil War” of the mid-19th century. Trump supporters were angry about the state of affairs, believing their dreams to be systematically crushed by the establishment, and desiring any level of change. Many people voted for him just so that there would be some kind of change to the administration. They did not necessarily agree with everything, or really anything, he said. They just hoped that trusting the devil they didn’t know would, at the very least, result in a paradigm shift enough to give everyone new perspective. What it did, unfortunately, was cause an increase in anger from the other side. Entire groups of states threatened secession; again, at a level not seen since the Civil War. Family members were pitted against each other, and would spend years, sometimes their entire lives, no longer speaking. There was, however, hope.
Donald Trump was not nearly as bad as he made himself out to be during the campaign. He was extraordinarily misogynistic and insensitive. He would make exceptionally unsavory remarks about others. His followers either denied he said these things, as Trump would, or trail off and pretend to get a phone call. Or they would admit that they were either okay, or even happy, with his comments. It was these supporters who at least had balls. Trump, on the other hand, did not believe everything he said about repealing a health initiative that provided insurance to millions of people who could not before afford it. He did not want to ban Muslims, nor build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. What this man lacked were convictions, and consistency. He would regularly contradict himself, but the real problem with that, was that his voters were fine with it.
In the midst of further scandals of trying to get his family members security clearances despite their conflicts of interest, and other transition snafus, he made some interesting statements. He back-pedaled a large number of the campaign promises that he had made over the last year. He agreed to change, but not completely repeal, the aforementioned healthcare program. He changed his tune regarding Muslims and Mexicans. And he just generally began to sound more like a legitimate human being, and not just someone catering to the only people with any chance of voting him into office. As it turned out, much of what he said were simply lies designed to get people on his side. As it turned out, he was a brilliant businessman, who recognized early on the national schism, and used it to his advantage. As it turned out, he was not as hateful and twisted as many people were; he just knew how to exploit their bigotry and stupidity, so that they would think he was just like them.
Throughout all of his loud and outrageous claims, there was one issue he chose to remain quiet on. He didn’t care that people thought he was racist, or complained about recorded conversations of his that had been leaked. He didn’t care that people made fun of his orange skin, or fake hair. He didn’t care that people thought he was unqualified for a political position, or pointed out his business corruption. He didn’t care that people noticed he had received a million dollar loan from his father when he was just starting out, and was actually very much nothing like the working-class voters who wanted one of their own to win. He didn’t care about any of that. He just wanted everyone to look away so that he could win the election, and utilize his power to do the only real thing he truly wanted. Russia. He was an adamant supporter of Russian policies, and believed that the only logical path for the U.S. was to strengthen its bond with Russia. His claims were not completely unwarranted, but they were dangerous. They could result in catastrophe for the entire world. For much of Russian practice was rooted in homophobia and other backwards beliefs. In the end, the United States shouldn’t become more like Russia, but Russia should become more like the United States.
By Michael Vadon, edited by User:Calliopejen1 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Gilbert Boyce, newly created choosing one, possessed the body of a time traveler so that he could check in on the future. He saw Donald Trump win the election, and went back in time to stop it from happening, any way that he could. He found his efforts to be fruitless. He just could not do enough to fix the discriminatory feelings of the country’s populace. There were too many variables, and too much hatred. He was powerless. There was only one man who could stop this, but he was nearly impossible to infiltrate. Before and during the campaign, something was shrouding Donald Trump. Gilbert never quite figured out what it was, but he could not possess Trump’s body. He postulated that the campaign had invigorated Trump’s temporal powers, and protected him from influence from others. That is, Trump was so focused on his goals, that no one was capable of altering them, no matter how powerful they were. The election results changed all that.
Upon finally being declared the winner of the Office of the President, Donald Trump unwittingly relaxed his abilities. It was over, he no longer needed to work so hard to get people to believe in him. He had never intended on being president for any longer than four years, so he no longer needed to worry about what people thought of him. He could finally be himself, and it was that moment that allowed Gilbert Boyce to prevent it from happening. With all his strength still needed, he forced his mind and soul into Donald Trump’s body, and became one of the most divisive people in all of time. He spent weeks, trying his best to change things. He backtracked many of Trump’s original comments, and clarified a few others. He made no attempt to step down from the throne, or kill himself, for that would not effectively change the people’s minds. He could also only do so much, though. Possessing the body of such a strong-willed person proved to be difficult. Much of Trump’s personality remained, and forced its feelings upon the environment. He could never be completely suppressed, like other people could. Trump wasn’t weak enough, and Boyce wasn’t strong enough.
But it was something. It was hope. Things could get better. Gilbert could harness Trump’s powers of passive future manipulation, and turn his presidential term into something not quite as bad as it might have been. And it was possible that he wouldn’t have to do it at all. On December 19, the electoral college would hold the official vote. Though Trump had already been declared the winner, it was still technically possible for him to lose the electoral vote. The college didn’t have to vote him into the position. They could choose to go against their supposed state’s wishes, or they could abstain from voting at all. While Gilbert Boyce was trying to wrangle complete control of Donald Trump’s body, supports of Secretary Hillary Clinton were signing petitions, hoping to change the electoral college’s minds. Gilbert couldn’t actively support their efforts, but he was strong enough to not actively work against them. He could fix this. He could still make things right, as long as enough people were willing to help. But they weren’t, and he couldn’t.

Gilbert Morley Boyce was born in the District of Columbia in 1987. His parents were both low-level civil servants, providing support for a number of different politicians. He saw them work their asses off every day for very little. In his teenage years, he began to feel angry about the government. He believed in taxes, but not in the way they were actually implemented. Rich people had too many loopholes, and not enough responsibility. Meanwhile, the lower classes suffered, sometimes even being unable to maintain even simple law-abiding lifestyles.
One day in his college literature course, he learned the truth behind the legend of Robin Hood. As it turned out, he wasn’t simply stealing rich people’s assets and giving them to the poor. He was stealing from the government and redistributing tax money to the people who had originally paid it. This inspired Gilbert to right the crimes he felt the government was making. But he couldn’t put on a mask and ransack Fort Knox. Nor did he have the taste for the political life, and he had already made certain decisions in his life that prevented him from being a successful candidate anyway. His only option was the private sector. But in order to succeed in the business world without starting at the bottom and doing a bunch of work, he knew he would need capital. He didn’t have any particular skills, nor was he born into a wealthy family. He needed to get creative. Quite simply, he became a burglar.
For years, Gilbert would break into rich people’s homes when they were not at home, steal whatever cash he could find, and leave. He did this all over the country so that they couldn’t be connected, never worked with a team, and never got caught. During the FBI’s investigation, and the court’s trial, nobody ever uncovered evidence of his origins. Even to his dying day, not a single person who wasn’t some kind of time manipulator ever discovered his life as a petty criminal. He had told almost no one about it. Once he had enough money to start his company, he hired a hat-switching hacker who went by the name of Micro to cover his tracks and make it look like the money came from legitimate sources. Only she had any clue as to who he really was, but not even she knew exactly where the money had come from.
After careful research, Gilbert decided that the most lucrative and economically beneficial industries would be healthcare, and hospitality. He founded H&H&H Holdings. Through takeovers and mergers, he would go on to ultimately provide employment for hundreds of thousands of people in hospitals, hotels, and housing developments. All and all, he should have been richer than Horace Reaver, but he was not. Instead, he chose to lead a minimal lifestyle, and pour all personal capital into his organization. He formed an unusual business model where most profit not used for expansion was rerouted back to the employees in the form of raises and bonuses. Employees were made aware that, because of the unpredictable nature of the market, all wages were subject to constant raising and lowering. Most of them were okay with this, because they were still generally making at least ten percent more than national average for the position.
This was all well and good, except that a not insignificant amount of all this maneuvering was actually illegal. He managed to stay out of the crosshairs of the authorities for as long as he did because he did not resemble the average white-collar criminal. In the end, he wasn’t taking any money for himself, and so no one really suspected that he was doing anything wrong. Still fed up with the government and tax law, Gilbert took every chance he could find to screw over the man. Despite all the raises, they were making more money than they knew what to do with. Well-paid workers tend to have high morale, and do their jobs better, which in turn satisfies customers, which encourages them to return and spread the word, which raises profits. Knowing that at a certain point, you’re just paying your workers too much for the job their doing, and potentially damaging the economy, Gilbert took new risks.
He started funneling profits into various charities, attempting to hide his practices by spreading the wealth so thin that no one would notice. Except that people did notice, and he was ultimately sent to prison for his crimes. What he did was noble, but still fraud. And though his methods contributed to a boost in the nation’s and world’s economy, it had done little to actually change the way the law handled tax brackets.
Gilbert thought his experiences as a businessman would be invaluable once he became a powerful chooser, and possessed the body of President Donald Trump. It was true that this made it easier to pretend to be Trump in the first place, because he could understand what people around him were talking about. His knowledge, however, much like with the real Trump, was not sufficient for helping the populace. Still locked in a struggle with the original inhabitant of his new body, he failed as a president more often than he succeeded. He managed to stop Trump from dismantling everything that previous president, Barack Obama had accomplished, but this left him no energy to accomplish much of anything himself. By all accounts, he was a terrible president, but he did get through it. In the year 2019, he announced that he would not be running for a second term. This was met with no argument from the real Trump in the back of his mind. He honestly was not capable of being a 77-year-old head of state. On January 21, 2021, just to be safe, Gilbert Boyce finally left Donald Trump’s body, and started looking for a new life.

Years passed from Gilbert’s perspective. He continued to jump into random people’s bodies across time and space, not really bothering to focus on a certain destination. He never even considered trying to go back to his own past and correct his mistakes. He wasn’t worried about destroying the continuum, or creating a paradox, he was just ultimately content with how things turned out. He was dead and reborn, and that was good enough. After spending a literally unknowable amount of time in the body of a salmon who uncontrollably perceived time so quickly that he couldn’t make out objects, he found himself in the possession of The Apprentice. “What makes him an apprentice.”
“He’s not an apprentice,” the woman explained. Gilbert didn’t always choose to keep his presence a secret, and this person clearly didn’t care one way or the other. “He’s the Apprentice. With practice, he can actually learn to adopt other people’s temporal powers.”
“Kinda like me.”
“Kinda...but he gets to keep his body and personality, as well as his new powers.”
“If he’s learning, then that makes you the teacher. What are you teaching him?”
“They call me The Weaver. I can make objects adopt temporal powers, so that conceivably anyone could use them.”
“That sounds like a recipe for disaster,” Gilbert said.
“It can be, which is why I’m extremely selective with my creations. We can’t have every Tom, Dick, and Mateo runnin’ around with a time mirror.”
“You know Mateo?”
“I know of him. He’s not been born yet. You, my friend, have leapt into the late nineteenth century.”
Gilbert took a look around at his surroundings. “That explains your rustic dwelling.”
“This is just for show. My true home is significantly more advanced. I’ll never show you, though. That is for me, and my apprentice.”
“That’s fine. I could also possess you.”
“Not while I’m wearing this.” She pulled her shirt collar down to reveal a symbol he recognized tattooed on her chest.
“That’s from Supernatural. It keeps demons out.”
“I repurposed it. The truth is, the design of the tattoo wasn’t important, just that I was the one who did it.”
“Interesting. I wish I could do that. Though, I suppose, if I remain in this body, that’s exactly what I’ll eventually be able to do.”
“I highly recommend you not do that. You don’t wanna test me.”
“All right, all right,” Gilbert stood down. After a pause, he continued, “I’ve seen people use objects before. Do you make all of them? What is that spike thing that I used when I was the Constructor? I never did figure that out.”
“It’s not a spike, it’s a bone stake.”
“What’s a bone stake?”
“It’s a stake made out of bone.”
“Couldn’t you have just made it out of wood?”
“It’s true that I had a hand in the creation of the bone stake, but I could not have done it with just anything, like the tattoo. The Constructor is of a special class, so it had to be bone. It had to be his bone.”
“You took out his bone?”
“Yep. His femur. Replaced it with a metal implant from the future.”
“Why would you do that?”
“He wanted me to. He could be the Constructor just on his own, but having a tool like that allows him to do so without expelling so much time and energy on his creations. After all, that’s what tools are for.”
“Yeah, but...still. A bone. That’s messed up, dude.”
“Well, we can’t all be Meliora Rutherford Delaney-Reaver.”
“No,” Gilbert agreed. Then he had a thought. It was not just his own thought, though. After so much time as Donald Trump—and so many other people with hopes and envious desires—his mind had become corrupted. He was aware of this issue, but could do nothing about it. The ability to possess the body of the most powerful people in spacetime was far too intoxicating. There was no way he was giving that up, even when the main reason he felt that way was because of the issue itself. He had actually once tried to possess Meliora, hungry for her power. Like Trump, she was strong enough to prevent him from taking over, but unlike Trump, she did so effortlessly, and never gave in. There was no way he was breaking that barrier, not in a million years. In the end, he was glad for this, though, because she was an important force for good, and corrupting her legacy might have been the worst thing he ever did. Still he needed to feel her power, and his only option was this body he already had.
The Weaver picked up on his intentions, and was not happy about it. “You are going to leave this body, and you are going to do it now.”
“Or what?”
“I am prepared to destroy it, if only to prevent you from keeping it.”
Gilbert reached deep into his new heart. With enough thought, he could figure out what power the body he was possessing at the moment had, even without asking someone else, or just guessing. It was true that the Apprentice carried with him a great deal of power, but he only needed one at the moment. “You’ll never be able to catch me.”
He teleported away, and began a lovely stroll down Central Park. Then he felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up, and turned around. The Weaver was chasing after him.

“How did you find me?” Gilbert asked. Neither of them were making any effort to hurt the other, but they were careful about maintaining a healthy distance.
The Weaver held up the hilt of a bladeless knife. “This allows me to track teleportations.”
“That could come in handy,” Gilbert said. “Why don’t I hold onto that for you?”
“I want my Apprentice back.”
“Well, you can’t have him. Here’s something that you need to understand. I’ve been struggling with my purpose my entire life. All along, even with tons of money, I always felt like a loser. Then the world of salmon and choosers falls into my lap. All I could think when I encountered them was, man, I wish I were like them. I wish I could get some control over things. Well now that’s what I have. Now I have real power. I was the President of the United States for four years, and that wasn’t even enough for me. That was first grade table tennis. I want Wimbledon. I want a win.”
“You want to take over the world?”
“Nothing so pedestrian. I want to change the world. I want to fix it.”
“Well you’re not going to be able to accomplish that with the Apprentice’s body, I can guarantee it.”
“Why not?”
“He’s still young, but I see something in him. In his eyes, the way he looks at others. He’s...he’s dangerous.”
“How so?”
“He seems to feel no empathy for others. He’s probably a psychopath. He’s destined to hurt people. I know that, when you possess people, you adopt properties of their personality. You can’t stay good, and keep his body. Besides the fact that such a thing is morally objectionable on its own, the longer he remains in your possession, the worse you’ll be.”
“How is it that you know so much about me?”
“Did I say destiny earlier? I meant future circumstance. He’s not simply bound to turn out bad, he’s known to become bad.”
“Oh my God, if he’s a bad person then why the hell are you teaching him how to use your temporal power?”
“I was hoping to adjust the future by showing him kindness. I cannot do that if you do not return him to me.”
“Well, you’re not wrong about me being corrupted by my possessions, but I’m still the one in control. I can make him better. I can do whatever the opposite of corruption is to him.”
“I cannot take that risk, and I cannot let you continue.” She wasn’t backing down.
“That hilt can track me even when I jump through time?”
“The Apprentice never learned to time travel, but yes.”
“I think I can figure it out. I do it all the time, in my own way.”
“But again, I’ll always find you.”
“That’s why you’ll have to die.”
“And you say you think you’re not becoming too corrupted.”
“This is pure logic. It’s all about survival. You understand.” Gilbert, using one of the Apprentice’s powers, apported a full knife of his own to his hand, and approached the Weaver.”
“My dear sir,” came a voice Gilbert didn’t know. “Could I ask you to not do that?”
The man approached the gaslight and showed himself. He was dressed in an all-white suit and a bow tie. He had wild high-standing white hair. Only two people in the world ever looked like that. One of them was Albert Einstein—who was a teenager at this point in history—and the other was Samuel Clemens, otherwise known as Mark Twain. He spoke in an unusual cadence, slowing down and speeding up, carefully choosing his words, as true writers do. His voice was gritty and older than the man speaking it. “I was hoping to dissuade you from harming this woman.”
Gilbert let his arm drop to his side. He was curious, more than anything. “I know you.”
“Well...if you two are time travelers, which is how I understand it, you may know me better than I know myself.”
“Mark Twain,” the Weaver said.
“I prefer Samuel Clemens for the story of my own life. That’s Clemens, with an e.”
“You do not seem surprised at meeting two time travelers.”
Samuel shrugged. “You may not be the first. Who knows?” It was unclear whether he was joking or not. “What I do know is that no good can come from murdering this woman. You may disagree with each other, but you both have the right to live. I suggest you leave it as this...and part ways.”
“He has something I need,” the Weaver insisted. “Someone,” she clarified.
“It sounds like you’re not going to get it. I suggest you take what you can get, which is your life, and hope that it works out.”
The Weaver gave Gilbert this look, like she wasn’t really going to let it go. She was planning on finishing this once and for all when they were out of sight of the human. “If I have no choice...”
“This has to end now,” Gilbert said. He really was being massively corrupted. Donald Trump was bad, but this guy was violent, and his urges were really itching to come out. Gilbert couldn’t help himself. He lifted the knife again and prepared to plunge it into the Weaver’s chest.
An arm appeared and held his own at bay.
Mateo Matic still had to use a considerable amount of strength to pull Gilbert’s arm all the way back, and wrestle the weapon from his grip. “Hello, old friend.”
“You look older,” Gilbert pointed out. “Much older.”
“Heh,” Mateo said. “Time, right?”
“What year is it for you.”
“It’s supposed to be 2369, but I’m on a diversion because I need your help for a mission. Actually, I need the Apprentice’s body, and your mind, and I need it before you’re more fully corrupted.”
While Gilbert thought through the ramifications of going to a future he did not understand, Mateo casually greeted one of the most famous authors in history.
“Time is of the essence here. We have a short window when you’re powerful enough to help me but not quite as much of an asshole as you’re going to become.”
“If you know how bad I get, then maybe I should leave this body right now. Maybe I should find a way to stop possessing people altogether, even if it kills me.”
“You cannot do that,” Mateo informed him. “I don’t love the future you create, but it’s the one I know, and I don’t want you making another one. Come with me now, and do some good while you still can. If you kill this woman, though, all hope will be lost. For you, and for me.”
That was a pretty convincing argument. It would be nice to go back to where it all started; when he was both helping, and being helped by, Mateo. “I’m all in. Anything for a friend. I’ve never been to 2369 before. Do they still have bourbon?”
“You won’t be going quite as far as 2369. You’re needed the better part of three decades earlier. And I’m sorry to say that I won’t be able to be there with you either. I have to get back to my own time. You won’t believe what it cost me just to get a diversion trip back here. It’s almost worse than what Dave charged me for a simple Sanctuary ferry.”
“I’m not sure what you’re talking about, but how will I know what to do if you’re not there?”
“You’ll figure it out. First, we have to get there, though. I’ll need you to teleport us to The Great Pyramid of Giza.”
Gilbert took Mateo by the arm, and teleported them away, despite protests from the Weaver. “Why would we need to go there?”
“Stargazer?” Mateo asked. They were standing in what must have been the benbenet of the Great Pyramid. A small window showed the night sky, but it didn’t look like the regular starry heavens. It was a strange, and even somewhat unsettling, mix of swirly colors. This was no normal place.
A middle-aged balding man replied in a Franco-British accent, “I am, yes. I was not expecting passengers. You know that you don’t actually need to be in Aarukhet to access Shimmer, right?”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Gilbert said. “Slow down. I don’t understand what’s happening. What is a Aarukhet? What is Shimmer?”
Mateo ignored him for the moment. “I need you to send this man to Worlon at...” He pulled out a slip of paper. “Let’s see, Leona wrote it down for me.” He turned it around a couple times, trying to find the right scribble among an army of them, all written in different directions. “Zero-point-two-zero-four-four-one-six-c.” He handed the piece of paper to The Stargazer. It’s very important that he arrive on that exact day. If the calculations are off by even—”
The Stargazer dismissed him. “Yes, yes, I know how relativity works, thank you very much.”
While the Stargazer was adjusting his sextant, Mateo finally turned his attention back to Gilbert, who was feeling very confused and left out. “This pyramid was built to focus travel to other planets. Like the man said, normally, you don’t have to actually be here to access the hyperstream they call Shimmer. But that’s because most people are trying to get there instantly. I need you on a delay, and I know that your current body can’t jump through time, which is why the Stargazer has to do it for you.”
“Okay that makes much as anything in our world could possibly make sense, at least.”
“I’m ready,” the Stargazer said.
Mateo looked at his watch. “Perfect timing. I can’t stay here much longer. There’s one more thing you need to remember, though. When you see the one-eared dog—” Mateo suddenly disappeared
“I sure hope that wasn’t important,” the Stargazer said unsympathetically.
“I appreciate your support,” Gilbert responded sarcastically.
“This is gonna hurt a little bit,” he held the sextant up to Gilbert’s eyes. “You’ll get used to it after a few years, though.”
“A few years!” But it was too late. The Stargazer activated the temporal object and sent him on his way. What both of the others failed to mention was that the delay did not abate consciousness. Gilbert was entirely aware of the passage of time throughout the entire course of the journey. It took him 450 years to reach his destination, and he felt every second of it. Upon arriving on another planet for the first time in his lives, Gilbert Boyce found himself to be extremely pissed off. That anger never really went away, and even after finishing his “mission” and returning to Earth, his rage persisted. Most of it was directed towards Mateo Matic.
“Yeah, hi.”
“My name is Gilbert Boyce.”
“Zeferino Preston. But they call me The Cleanser.”
“They either call me The Apprentice, or Oh My God, Get Away From Me.”
“Stirring fear in others seems to be something that we have in common.”
“The difference is that I do not enjoy it.”
“Maybe you don’t, but that body you’re in sure does.”
“I’m working on that.”
“I have a few ideas.”
“I’m not sure I can trust you. I mean, we’re standing on a frozen lake, for God’s sake.”
“First of all, never rhyme around me. Secondly, frozen lakes are exciting. And C, can anyone trust anyone?”
“I trust...”
“Who? Mateo Matic? Leona Delaney?”
“You stay away from them.”
“Why, ‘cause they’re your friends? You’ve still not learned. How many years are behind you in your personal timeline? You should know by now that guys like us don’t have friends.” Zeferino drew near and spoke softly. “Those two don’t care about you. I saw what happened on that prison tower. You were a patsy. They only let you come along on the jailbreak because they felt bad about it afterwards. Aren’t you angry with him for what he did to you in the Shimmer?”
“I can get over it.” Gilbert drew even nearer, and spoke even more menacingly. “That’s why they’re my friends, and why you have none. They done me wrong, but I can learn to love them again. They felt bad about the prison thing, and had we seen each other again, I’m confident that he would express regret for what he did to me on Worlon. Have you even once felt bad about something you did?”
“Once,” Zeferino answered honestly. “When I killed Horace Reaver, a few spawn ended up as collateral damage.”
“A few what?”
“Don’t worry about it. It’s just that they were innocent, and not a threat to me. I’ve not killed anyone since who didn’t deserve.”
“According to whose calculations?”
“To mine. I have been granted the latitude to make these decisions. I’ve even been asked to do it. You see, we have these contracts...”
“Are you trying to tell me that you have a license to kill?”
“You could put it like that, but I understand that I’m not James Bond in this movie.”
“You’re the villain, yes, I would agree with that assessment.”
“Not sure how interesting a character he would be if he didn’t have any opposition.”
“Are you saying you’re only bad because you believe in some sort of Lucasian cosmic battle between good and evil that can’t end or they wouldn’t be able to keep making movies?”
“It can’t end because that would cause either a boring utopia, or endless, actionless nothingness.”
“I would love to get inside that head of yours to understand how your ego got so goddamn big. You are not the epitome of evil. You’re just part of it.”
“By that logic, Mateo wouldn’t be wholly good.”
“Why are we talking about him? This is a fight between you and me, which is why it has nothing to do with good or evil.”
“We’re talking about him because he’s a tweener.”
“A what?”
“He is supposed to be a salmon, but he’s more influential to our world than any chooser I’ve ever known, or will know. We’re talking about him because he’s a project of mine. If I’m going to do what I need to do, I need him either on my side, or warming the bench.”
“Please, no sports metaphors.”
“Don’t change the subject. This is important. I’m trying to accomplish something here. I’m trying to fix the world.”
“Well, that’s funny...because that’s kinda what I’m trying to do.”
“Riiiight? So you get it?”
“No, I don’t get why you have to kill Mateo.”
Zeferino shook his head. “I don’t have to kill him. In fact, I’m contractually obligated to keep him alive. He’ll cause problems for my work, though. Man, when he gets to the late 23rd century? After he takes on’s epic. People start really paying attention after he does all that. I can’t have that. Or at least I need to be in control of it.”
“How are you gonna do that? Torture him? Now that he’s still a young salmon, you think he’ll be more malleable.”
“Nothing so distasteful, I assure you. But yes, he needs to be conditioned. I was under the impression that you would know how to do that.”
“Why would I know anything about brainwashing people?”
“Well, I wouldn’t call it brainwashing, but I don’t think I have to remind you of the time you were the leader of the free world.”
“I spent four years losing everybody’s trust. The real Donald Trump is the one who got all those votes.”
“Still, I think you would have value to me.”
“Well, I have my own agenda, and it doesn’t include you at all. It’s slower, more painful, but it’s also thoughtful and intricate.”
“You want to start at the beginning, yeah I get it.”
“I’m not sure you do. That’s a simplistic perspective of it.” Gilbert thought for a second. “Did you ever get the chance to see Maxxing Out, or its first sequel?”
“I did. How is that relevant?”
“He was trying to create the perfect reality. But he couldn’t do it with all these people getting in the way.”
“So he tried to kill them, yeah. Real noble of you.”
“Don’t focus on the fact that everyone else in the galaxy would die. Remember that he protected all the children.”
“So that he could be a creepy father figure. Gross.”
“Well, I’m not gonna do exactly what he did...but there are a lot of people who just gotta go.”
“You sound like Hitler.”
“I knew you were gonna bring him up. What I wouldn’t give to shoot that man in the head.”
“What would you give?”
“Don’t change the subject,” Gilbert echoed. “What do you want from me? What’s supposed to happen here? I met this weird apparent human in the early 21st century who told me you were there at the same time, but that we weren’t going to meet until later.”
“Oh you were there at Analion’s fall too? Me, you, Kallias Bran. What a weird convergence.”
“Do you know why we’re here, or not?”
“I assumed you were here to help me,” Zeferino said plainly.
“I thought you were gonna help me.”
“Maybe we could help each other.”
“In what capacity?”
“Let’s sign a contract. You help me manipulate Mateo, while I promise not to hurt him, or anyone he cares about.”
“What do I get out of it? I don’t want you to manipulate him.”
“I’ll let you do the one thing you’ve always wanted to do, but never got your chance.”
“What’s that?” Gilbert asked, unconvinced that Zeferino had any clue what he was talking about.
“I’ll give you the opportunity to kill Horace Reaver.”
“He’s already dead.”
“I know, I killed him.”
“And I’m a time traveler, I could always just go back and kill him before you did.”
You could, but then you would lose your power.”
“How do you figure?”
“Horace Reaver is the reason you can do what you do. If you destroy him, it will destroy you. It might even kill you too.”
“Like a vampire?”
“No, not like a vampire. Christ, are movies the only thing you think about? It’s just this weird thing, I can’t quite explain it. But I promise that, if you kill him, you’ll only be killing yourself. He doesn’t have to be alive for you to be what you are, but you cannot be the one who takes him out of the equation.”
“If that’s true—and I’m not saying that I believe you—then how could you help me with that?”
“I have an extraction mirror. It can take people out of the timestream at the moment of their death. That’s your loophole. If you don’t kill him in the timestream itself, then you’re free from the consequences.”
“That sounds made up.”
“I can show you the mirror. I’m not lying.”
“You could be lying about the loophole, or the idea that I would need one in the first place.”
“I could.” Zeferino paused for effect. “But do you really wanna risk that?”
Gilbert thought over it, and even though he knew the Cleanser was a gifted manipulator, he really couldn’t risk the whole thing being true. “An extraction mirror, huh? You mean like—?”
“So help me God, if you say a word about Doctor Who, I’ll just kill you right now. Like, I don’t even care.”
“So you’ll help me?”
“I will help.”
Zeferino smiled.
“But I will do it in my own way. I need full creative control. You have to trust the process, are we clear?”
“As mud,” Zeferino said.
“I will also need some protection. If you go back on your word, if you break our contract, then you will have to lose something.”
Zeferino laughed. “What could you possibly take from me?”
“One of your sisters.”
Zeferino stiffened up, but knew that he had to remain calm if he was going to get what he wanted. “You couldn’t. I would protect them from you.”
“That may be, but it needs to be in the contract just the same, along with a clause that says you can’t employ help from your family while I’m working for you either. They would make things unfair.”
“Very well. I accept your terms. We shall work out the details, but now, let us drink. I believe this to be your poison of choice?” He apported a bottle of bourbon, as well as two glasses, into his hands.
“If we’re gonna do this,” Gilbert said, “then let’s do it right. I hear the best place to drink is on Luna about 14,000 years from now when Durus collides with Earth.”
“Gilbert, Gilbert, Gilbert. You’re a weird one, aren’t ya? All right, fine by me.”
And so The Cleanser and the soon-to-be-named Rogue, traveled to the future and watched the planet be destroyed by a different kind of rogue. Later, they reluctantly began executing their truly insane plan. Their relationship was never bound to work out, though. Things went horribly wrong seemingly ever other week, and once around Christmas. In the end, Gilbert won out. Even after working against him so long, he managed to get himself back in the good graces of Mateo Matic. Zeferino was no match for the two of them working together. They gathered several other allies along the way, and ultimately bested him in a fight to the death. True to his word, for an earlier breach of contract, Gilbert acted on his promise to kill one of Zeferino’s sisters. He asked for help from a man named The Warrior so that no one would know of his involvement. Unfortunately, she was not the one they should have been worried about. Former Conservator—and current Extractor—Arcadia Preston, would go on to cause for them a great deal more problems. And the only one who could put an end to it was the Cleanser himself. They would need the extraction mirror.

No comments :

Post a Comment