skonen_blades: (Default)
"Your weakness is actually your strength", said the shimmering cloud of dust in front of me. It gusted and whorled but managed to maintain an shape of sorts. It was a cloudless, calm day here so I don't know what wind it was reacting to.

It was late autumn. I'd just finished work at the petrol plant and was taking a shortcut home through the grove. I was looking forward to seeing Wendy and my little Charles. I'd bought meat from the butcher on the way home for dinner. That was when the cloud appeared to me.

It talked to me in what I thought was English but I wasn't sure if I was hearing air vibrations or actual thoughts. The sparkling patch of air in front of me warped. I could see through it but what I saw behind it didn't make any sense to me. The trees through the twinkling cloud appeared to be in a different season.

"You can only exist in linear time with no awareness of the future." said the cloud. "This should not be possible for intelligent life. As far as any being knows, you are unique."
I stood, perplexed. I seemed to lack the ability for panic or fear. It kept talking.
"We all see time from the outside. Christmas lights on a string, a flat circle, choose your metaphor. But we are outside of it. We see all that happened. We can zoom in an experience anything but we lack the ability to change anything. Every moment of time is fixed." it warbled to me.

"But you. You humans. You should exist on train tracks but you don't. Because you can't see the future, you can change it. You have a choice. You can manipulate outcomes. We are at a loss as to how that's possible. For the moment, you are celebrities across all of time and space." it sang.

"I just wanted to meet one of you." it said, and jangled sideways into infinity.

I stood alone in the grove. I wasn't sure what had just happened.

I hurried home to my family for dinner but I was now obsessed with the choices I made with every footstep home.



tags
skonen_blades: (didyoujust)
There comes a point in some people’s lives when the acts of breathing, seeing, and walking are joys in and of themselves. Being alive becomes its own smile-causing reward. The trials and tribulations of life are experiences that never fully penetrate to a depth that affects the base happiness that now takes up space near the heart.

Just the act of being hurt or feeling anger or happiness are all signs of being alive which beats the hell out of the alternative. Every moment after waking is gravy.

Grace thinks that this is a sign of age.

She checks the calculations again underneath the base of the huge quantum distiller oscilloscope proto-generator. She’s near the valve at the bottom. It looks like a tap.

The smooth upturned bell of the generator housing arcs away up to the ceiling. It has a circumference of over seven miles. If she looks directly up, the polished metal and pipes snaking their way across the bowl take up her entire peripheral vision.

If she were claustrophobic, she’d be sweating right now.

As it is, she’s smirking and checking the screens on the terminal below the tap.

Everything looks good but of course, it’s all theoretical.

The government wants oil. There is no more oil left beneath the glass craters that used to be the Middle East. Canada is dry now as well.

Panic is rising.

Grace and her team have used the computers to prove that there is oil in the quantum distiller oscilloscope proto-generator. By proving this mathematically, it’s hoped that it will collapse into a ‘real’ state when the final step is taken.

The final step of turning on the tap.

Grace gets the command in her headset to step forward and turn on the tap.

With a deep breath and a straight back, she takes two decisive steps forward, holds up a glass beaker and turns the knob very slightly on the bottom of what could become a life-giving breast to the entire planet.

Grace’s eyes widen as liquid drips out of the nozzle. Her smile drops.

Something must have gone wrong with the proofs.

Drops of blood are dropping from the tap nozzle and filling the beaker.



tags
skonen_blades: (appreciate)
Okay, I admit it.

I pull off my pajamas in the middle of the night sometimes.

An ex-girlfriend once offered forth the theory that I was more in touch with my inner caveman when I was asleep. This inner caveman thought that ‘clothes’ were alien and would shuck them off with primitive grunts and dog-like whines at four in the morning.

I’ve woken up naked more than once.

Usually it’s in my own apartment if not my own bed. Never in a metal chair, never handcuffed to a metal table, never cold, and definitely not crying under bright lights.

It’s a strange experience to wake up crying.

Although looking at the blood-spattered apparition in the one-way mirror across the table from what I guess is a police interrogation chamber, I’m not surprised the tears are gushing.

I’m a peaceful dude. I’m soft around the edges. I can’t understand why my reflection is looking back through blood-soaked hair that is (and I notice this with a shock that scares me more than anything else so far) longer than I remember.

I’m naked. The chair I’m sitting on is cold. I can see my breath.

The muscles in my face ache like I’ve been crying for hours.

“H-hello?” I whimper in the echoing room. I turn my head around and that’s when I realize that there are no video cameras in the room. At all. None that I can see.

This worries me more than the change in hair length. The absence of cameras or microphones on the table raises the disturbing possibility that this is not a police questioning room.

What am I doing here?

Why is there a body across the room?

Why is there a blood-covered pen in my white-knuckled fist?

I’m putting two and two together here and coming up with panic.

The door bangs to the room bangs open and two men dressed in black riot gear rush in. I can see a person in a lab coat behind them that I recognize.

And then-

-I’m eating a donut in a diner in Houston. I pause with the donut halfway to my lips. I’m sitting in a booth with a beautiful woman across the table from me. Her brow creases.

“You okay, babe?” she asks and cocks her head playfully to the side. She touches my fingers that are resting on the coffee cup between us. There’s a wedding band on her finger.

My eyes flick down to the matching wedding band on the finger of my donut hand.

I close my mouth with a click and nod to her.

“Oh yeah sure. Just tired. That donut was good.” I say to her and excuse myself to go to the bathroom.

What I see in the bathroom mirror shocks me even more than last time.

I’m at least ten years older than I was in the interrogation room.



tags
skonen_blades: (dark)
The rules were simple. No time manipulation, no transmutation, and no spell could be used twice.

Morden the Uneasy entered from the west quadrant of the arena on a massive floating bed attended by golem slaves made from flower petals. The metal caps on the stumps of her legs glimmered with diamonds in the sunlight.

I sat high up in the private viewing box with my client and tried to pay attention to the match. The arena floor was projected real-time on the table between my client and I in hard light. Whatever section of the fight I was paying attention to would come up picture-in-picture on a baseball card floating to the left of the action.

It was an expensive AV setup in the most expensive seat in the house. If this gross display of wealth was meant to impress me and keep me off-balance during the wage negotiations, it was working.

Khallista of the Red Flame entered from the east quadrant of the arena, wreathed in the red fire of her clan and already whimpering from the recent focal drugs that had turned her eyes completely black.

There were better skilled people on the craftlist above me that could have done the job that my client was asking me to do. I wasn’t cheap but this client could afford the best. I figured if he wanted a fall guy to use as bait for a trap, he would have sought out the cheapest loser he could find so I was curious why he picked me. Not the bottom and not the top and not a particularly fast riser.

I warily accepted his offer of more details over dinner at a Magic Pit Fight in the hopes of allaying my suspicion.

Rowst the Unbelieving staggered in from the ‘blue’ north quarter. He was blindfolded and dressed in nothing but a small toga, stained by the sores covering his body. A perfectly circular halo of small glowing fairies crowned his bald head.

My client sat across from me in the shadows. Whatever air of mystery he was trying to create for me was also working very well. I was very curious about his identity. Courtesy wouldn’t let me ask until he offered to talk to about it so I sat back in silence and continued to watch the players enter the arena.

Shorelocke the Dread Shadow entered from the south to complete the roster. He was cut from darkness. There was an absence of light around him. He was like a person-shaped hole cut in the fabric of reality. His glowing eyes stabbed out in twin beams of white, eager ferocity.

These fights were not to the death. They were for rights and rankings. This was a championship round, though, and sometimes accidents happened.

My client leaned forward into the light above the projection on the table. I looked up to meet his eyes and froze with the words I was planning to say dying in my throat.

A Fixer was staring back at me. I’d only heard legends. His pale face and dark eyes marked him out as a rare purebred human but that wasn’t the giveaway. He’d released the glamour for me to see in this moment so that I would be suitably awed.

He flickered with possibility.

He was staying close to the dimensions surrounding this one so his changes weren’t extreme. The different versions of himself were very similar to one in this quantum thread. His hair length varied a little from second to second. A scar would sometimes pop up on a cheek and then vanish. His eyes would go through a gradient of the colours he was born with as the moments went by. It made me slightly nauseous to look at, like I had motion sickness.

Very occasionally, a woman would flash through his features or he’d disappear for a millisecond as he passed through a universe where he’d died already.

He leaned back in the shadows.

I composed myself and asked him the question I’d been wanting to ask him since I’d been contacted.

“Why me?” I asked.

“Because”, The Fixer responded, “you are unique. You know what you’re talking to, yes? You realize what I mean?”

I nodded. As someone that could extend their sense of self across an almost infinite number of dimensions as easily as a bird could extend its wings, The Fixer had a very special definition of unique.

We all have a double in almost every other universe. However, if you picture all possible realities as a spectrum, the differences between our universe and the other possible universes get more and more pronounced the further away you get from your universe of origin.

There are universes where I have a different haircut and a different job. There are universes where I am married.

Go further and there are universes where I was hit by car when I was six, for example, or choked on a chicken bone when I was seven. There are universes where my parents never met and I never came to be.

What The Fixer meant by ‘unique’ was that he had spread his dimensional-self wings and hadn’t found me. What he meant was that there was only one of me. Here. Only in this space-time continuum and only on this Earth.

I reeled. This was the end of one life and the beginning of another.

“You realize how valuable that makes you to my kind, of course. I only offered you a job to get you here.” He said. Languidly, he motioned with his index finger and I heard the doors lock.

“You are going to be added to The Zoo.” He said.

On the table between us, the Magic Pit Fight began to the crowd’s deafening cheer.



tags
skonen_blades: (grrr)
This is an emotion I feel often. I think we all do. You know what I mean?



It’s Gemini Day. It’s summer but that’s of no consequence here. This is the Agreed Upon Needlepoint Metropolis. This is where all the ideas are congregating this time. This Time. Every aspect of speech here falls away with echoes of other meanings. This is a crossroads of sorts. We’re all here. This is the Decision and the Direction. This is the Your Name Here Iron-on Knit Your Own Macrame Nightmare.
This is Time’s End. Which isn’t entirely true because time never exist(s)ed here in the real ‘time’ sense but Time’s End sounded nice and dramatic. They could have called it Time’s Beginning but it doesn’t really have the same ring to it. And so many decisions bring about the end of something, after all.
Have you ever had a test that seemed to take forever but only took ten minutes?
This is the Naming Convention.
This is the Consequence Auction.
This is the Eternal Day of Reckoning.
This moment pulses down the thread of eternity every day and sorts everything with the insectile flickering of binary switches.
It’s The Conductor. As in train, as in symphony, as in something that something else easily flows through. It directs and holds on for dear life as this entire city, this entire constructed overliving entity, starts to fire up and chug at The Beginning.
It’s not going to happen slowly. It feels the power starting the course. This is a city the size of a continent to put it in human terms. It’s a living city created on a flat earth and the city is on both sides, bristling. It hangs in nospace, obscene and almost bestial, poking into a quantum existence. Its population is a series of living switches that hang onto the threads of time. These strong living switches pull the bright orange lines of possibility up from the front of the city like fishermen drawing in their nets. Like horse carriage drivers gathering their reins. The glowing insubstantial Might-threads groove their gloves.
There are trillions of these living switches on the front edge of the city.
Many more than that wind back through the city waiting. Waiting and preparing to make decisions.
The tracks are heating up. Like filaments in a toaster. Filaments in a toaster made of stretched out suns.
This is the Reality Ginny. This is the Now-pass. This is the Trans-later. This is the Presenter.
This is the loom for every decision that ever gets made.
This ship travels down the furry fractal curlicues of the possible quantum multiverse, ironing it into the straight simple lines of the definitive stable universe.
Every decision you make.
Every decision everyone makes.
The Pulls are starting. The Waves are splashing in shudders as The Now tugs on this city; this machine.
Fate roars and pulses down the wires, daring the Spider.
Destiny, Decider, Director, Delineator.
It goes. It goes quickly. That is to say that it both goes down the entire history of this universe and is simultaneously stretched out to occupy the whole timeline all at once.
The threads hum through the blurring hands of The Switches. Their precision hums and burns. Their hands start to glow. Their hands start to smoke. The fuzzy orange wool passes through their hands and is smoothed over into blue wire. Back through the city and the alleys and the engines and the hands, the hands, the hands.
They are your Dencity.
This happens every day. This happens every day.
But guess what?
That’s a lot of decisions.
Eternity is a long time.
The Switches are bored.
Sometimes they flick a left instead of a right. Sometimes they turn a little bit in instead of peeling it back. They are binary. They pull a 1 instead of a 0.
This is the illusion of free choice.


morgue
skonen_blades: (hmm)
They say that light is both a particle and a wave.
This makes for some pretty crazy theoretical equations. I mean, as I understand it, it’s impossible for light to be a wave and a particle at the same time but there it is. Right up there with bumblebees not being able to fly and us all being 99.9999% not actually here because of the huge amount of straight up nothing between an atom’s nucleus and the spinning electron casing. Nothing that really influences our day to day life but a little unsettling nonetheless. I remember someone saying that scientists had found little particles that actually skipped back in time by like a millionth of a second when they looked at them.
Which meant that the particles tried to avoid being looked at by appearing in front of the scientists a little before they were going to be looked at. Maybe that’s just my understanding of it.
It reminds me that sometimes the best way to ‘tail’ someone (according to the movies) is to walk in front of them. Use the glass around you to see their position. Hide in plain sight. You always look behind you to see if you’re being followed. It wouldn’t occur to you that the person in front of you is the tail.
I also remember that according to us, the earth’s rotation is ‘out’ by a few seconds a year. Such arrogance.
I remember that veins, ivy, and tree roots are all based on similar fractal equations. The clouds of Jupiter and cigarette smoke are all based on similar fractal equations. The results all look the same but they’re impossible to predict accurately.

I remember one of my favourite quotes from Mandelbrot.
He said "Science would be ruined if (like sports) it were to put competition above everything else, and if it were to clarify the rules of competition by withdrawing entirely into narrowly defined specialties. The rare scholars who are nomads-by-choice are essential to the intellectual welfare of the settled disciplines."
I think that particular statement applies to a lot more than scientists. I think it applies to humanity.

Cases in point.

They say that light is both a particle and a wave.
I wonder if it’s the same with people’s morality.
We are at the same time our good selves and our bad selves. We co-exist with ourselves. We have choices and therefore an inherent duality. We are a particle.
We become bad when we do bad things and we become good when we do good things. If good is a crest and bad is a valley, then we are also a wave.
Like Schroedinger’s cat, we are ‘both’ until the choice is made. Until we act. Until we are observed. Until we are judged.
We are all possible people.


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