Papers rustled and Vančura’s pencil scratched steadily. On the other side of the kitchen, Eddie perched on a stool, holding an empty cup and examining the coffee pot intently. He wasn’t paying attention to anything but the slow drip of the percolator.
Armelle, however, was watching Vančura. She thumbed slowly through a stack of pages, glancing at them frequently. Once in a while, she’d reach in, select a sheet, and hand it to the big man.
Finally, he leaned back in his chair and frowned.
“How’s the coffee coming, Eddie?”
“It’s comin’. Don’ rush me.”
With an irritated sigh, Vančura looked down at his papers and then at Armelle.
“I’m out of my depth. Most of this makes a sort of sense, but not enough to be useful.”
After a moment of thought, she tossed down the pages and shoved her chair back. She stretched, then went over to the coffee pot, ignored Eddie’s complaints, and poured herself a cup. Once she’d sugared it, she returned to the stool and leaned on the counter.
“You know the grandfather paradox, right? Okay, you know some of the possible explanations? The universe might have a safety mechanism, or time travel could spawn off parallel universes, stuff like that?”
Vančura nodded. Behind him, Eddie scowled at her, injured, then turned back to his percolator. She rolled her eyes and continued.
“It doesn’t actually do any of those things.”
The big man nodded again, thoughtful this time.
“I got that far. The math didn’t seem to add up to any standard explanation, but I couldn’t figure out what it DID add up to.”
“It’s pretty simple, actually. Everybody goes in with this assumption that time is this utterly foreign stuff and we have to change our perspective if we’re going to work with it. Basically, that’s a load of garbage.”
He laughed and retrieved a cup of coffee himself, sending Eddie into a further spiral of depression.
“So, all the other scientists are wrong? You just happened to figure it out?”
Armelle gave him an arch look.
“Poke fun all you like, but yeah, I did.”
She sipped her coffee, using the pause to grin at him.
“Not that I didn’t have trouble, but once I got it, it’s pretty obvious. Time is just as much a part of nature as anything else. Not really a living thing, but everything in nature reacts the same basic way to the same basic stimuli.”
That got a slight frown out of him.
“That doesn’t make sense.”
“Not really, but that’s not the whole explanation, either. Here.”
She scanned the papers, then grabbed a single sheet and slid it across the counter. It was mostly blank, except for a single drawing near the top.
Vančura examined it in silence, surprise gradually blooming. At length, he looked up at her.
“Did you… use a typewriter to add these labels?”
She blinked at him. Twice. Then she took a sip of her coffee, shook her head and blinked at him again.
“I hand you a map of time and you want to know if I used a typewriter?”
With a shrug, he tossed the paper back onto the counter and cocked his head.
“The graph is straightforward enough. Like you said, obvious, once you know how it works. Where the heck did you find a typewriter, though? Those things are like hen’s teeth.”
He shrugged again.
“Is it my fault if time-travel is boring?”
End Chapter 12 – Part 3
Go to Chapter 13 – Part 1
Here’s hoping you had fun reading this installment of “Twicebound”!! (If you didn’t, go back and read it again. It gets better with… time. I’ll wait.)
Want to read the previous installments of ‘Twicebound’? They’re right here!
Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three,
Chapter Four, Chapter Five, Chapter Six,
Chapter Seven, Chapter Eight, Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten, Chapter Eleven