Alrighty, people, two points today. First off, this is going to be another comparatively short installment, since I worked myself into a bit of a corner this week. I’ve got a school paper over-due and at least one free-lance article to write, plus some other stuff. So, something has to give somewhere and this week it’s going to be ‘Twicebound’. Since it’s not going to be as long as I wanted it to be, I decided to make it particularly interesting plot-wise. The real ‘intrigue’ starts to show through in this week’s installment of…
Chapter 5 – part 2
Eddie was still processing the idea of getting ‘rammed’ through a malfunctioning STAd. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, he wasn’t doing it well: going through it when it was working had been bad enough. The memory of the sizzling electrical discharges gave him a pretty good idea of what might happen if it wasn’t working properly.
Even though Eddie was frozen up, Vančura just seemed amused. Unfortunately, the big man’s grin infuriated the colonel, which scared Eddie even more. He didn’t know whether or not Bosze would really do it, but he figured that the more irritated the guy got, the more likely it was something bad would happen. After a little panicked thought, Eddie found himself hoping that the ‘something’ would happen to Vančura instead of him.
Latching onto that comforting idea gave him just enough presence of mind to concentrate on what Vančura was saying.
“You do realize you can’t do that, Colonel?”
Bosze muttered a couple of words Eddie couldn’t have spelled or defined and was pretty sure had unpleasant meanings.
“And why can’t I? You do realize that I’m the commanding officer of a government installation on the ‘does not exist’ roster, right?”
Vančura actually chuckled at that, causing the colonel’s face to redden and Eddie to flinch. He wasn’t sure what the big guy was up to, but he had a suspicion it was a roundabout attempt at suicide. Antagonizing the guy with the gun just didn’t make much sense, otherwise.
“Because, Colonel, you’re forgetting the grandfather paradox. If I’m here with a chip in my arm, that means I went through the knothole. If you kill me with the malfunctioning STAd today, I can’t go back in time for the cops to pick up and send me here to now. So, you didn’t do it, which means that you won’t do it.”
The colonel, the doctor, and Benwright stared at the big man. Across the room, the guards were doing their best not to listen, but Eddie could see their eyes crossing from the strain of trying to figure out the contradictions Vančura was spouting.
Finally, Bosze sent a sidelong glance at Benwright.
“Blazes if he’s not right. Now what?”
The technician shrugged.
Vančura laughed and spread his arms magnanimously.
“Now what? Now I tell you what’s wrong with the STAd, of course.”
They stared at him some more.
“I never said that I wouldn’t tell you. I simply asked what you would do if I didn’t. Now, Benwright, you really should check the capacitor wiring. Electrical shorts do nasty things to time-machines.”
Bosze raised a questioning eyebrow at the technician. Benwright just shrugged, then relayed the message through a radio. A staticky reply came back and he nodded to the colonel.
“The techs are on it.”
“Alright then. Guards, get these two back to their cells. We won’t need them until we find out if he’s right about the STAd.”
He turned back to Benwright, questioning him in a low voice as the guards led the prisoners from the examination room. As they left, Eddie leaned close to Vančura.
“How’d you know ol’ bristle-whiskers would b’lieve you? All dat ’bout d’gran’father pair o’ docks?”
Vančura didn’t bother to whisper.
“Paradox. And he believed it because the grandfather paradox is a huge problem in time-travel theory. Go back in time to kill yourself and what happens? You can’t, because then your past self is dead and can’t go back in time to kill yourself. A prevention loop. Basically, none of his mathematicians know what will happen, so the two of us are the only ones who know anything. He has to work with what we tell him, even if he doesn’t trust the information.”
Eddie digested that.
“So… ‘e can’t kill us, because den we can’t go tru d’knothole and be ‘ere now?”
The big man gave him a wry grin and this time, he did whisper.
“Oh, he can. You see, the grandfather paradox doesn’t apply in practice, just in theory. It’s a logic problem and the universe laughs at human logic all the time. If you die… you die. There’s no temporal fail-safe, no defense mechanism to keep time from messing up. Time isn’t a stream: It’s a pond. You can’t loop the stream back on itself, you just move to a different part of the pond.”
End Chapter 5 – Part 2
Go to Chapter 5 – Part 3
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“Twicebound” gets a new installment every Saturday. Even if it is only small one.
The previous installments? Right here!
Chapter One: Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3
Chapter Two: Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3
Chapter Three: Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3
Chapter Four: Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3
Chapter Five: Part 1