Sid’s eyes hurt, like crossing them too hard, visions sinking by, a melting sliding cascade of synaptic static. The pain slowly crept back into his spine as he was dragged to god knows where. He cursed.
“It will be fine, just hold on for a bit”
A woman’s voice? He focused and he could barely make out her face, it was a blur.
Wait? Hadn’t he shot her?
“He’s not struggling. so don’t worry about it.”
“You sure? I mean what if he calls attention.”
“Two, you’re too twitchy. As if this scum would help him.”
A gentle touch nestled him onto a bed, raising his head just enough to slide a pillow underneath.
The bed? Was it that gross mattress? It was a small comfort.
The floor of the armored van rattled him. The shock caused him to jolt, his whole body twitched he curled into a ball. “See, he’s not even all here.”
Sid couldn’t focus, it felt like at night, when your mind seems to stretch away from your body. His mind sank through an inky void. His body felt far away, numb as he tried to focus on parts of it, his brain seemed to resist this effort.
“What are they even doing to you over there? Buddy, try to feel my hand okay.”
Mustering all his faculties, attempting to shut out the world, he felt her hand grasp his.
He could feel his own pulse, he must have been squeezing-
The arm rests
-awfully hard. White knuckled he focused, and his world seemed to slide into place. For a minute, he’d have sworn he felt something else in his mind, like something peeking in, something huge, something, but it felt familiar all the same. The pain seemed to cease when
Sid’s eyes opened at last, and he felt like he was back in his body. It was body numb, his eyes ill adjusted to the bright light above him, the hard metal of the chair cradled him firmly, the familiar bite of restraints holding him in place as the urge to cradle his head took hold, he looked up to see an unfamiliar face staring back. Something in Sid’s mind grasped at straws, like an overwhelming sense of deja-vu.
“I’m glad to see no permanent harm was done.” Came a cheerful statement, tone was observatory, the confidence evident, borderline exuberant. ‘At least nothing I can see, and the readings stopped so it seems like everything is settled. One cannot distort causality without expecting a few waves.’ The speaker, was a man just past middle age, dressed in some kind of lab attire, one hand setting down a syringe, his other hand hand absently clicking a pen, a useless device, as he picked up a microphone to instead record his thoughts. ‘Though, a thought occurs, a curiosity, what exactly inspired tinkering with the device Mr…’
‘Sid. Sid Viscious. I’m sure there’s a note over there.’
‘You would be correct, but looking it up, or referencing is so less humane. So unsociable.’
Venom dripping, ‘I am just so happy to help.’
‘Sarcasm noted, though hardly necessary. I’ll tell you now, I’ve already submitted paperwork with my superiors to have you released. Just so long as you’re compliant. Though I’ll not lie, we’re going to keep you a while for observations.’
‘Suppose it will stop the torture, I’m sure you’ve got something built around here…’
‘Right again! I do like it when they’re at least a little clever. Some of the help that gets hired is woefully disappointing. Though, that leads to other questions…’ he paused, the clicking stopping. ‘Well we can have time for that later. Would you like something to eat? I can have something brought down.’
‘You’re trying really desperately to make me not hate you. Probably won’t work.’ letting out a low groan, he stretched against the restraints, the chair scraping as it slid from his efforts.
Sid’s interlocutor clicked his tongue a couple of times, his visage twisting. ‘Food does tend to make people more pleasant to deal with. However I want data. Your own causal state is vibrating, but much more stable. I’m curious if eating will do anything for that.’
‘Well, If I had the option for a last meal-’
‘Doc. Doc. I don’t really care. You could lie. Your bosses could lie to you. Maybe I will be released but I’ll just be lobotomized before hand. There’s just too many ways this spins up mazu. Paranoia makes these sorts of things less surprising. I at least feel like I knew what I was getting into. So goes the black.’ This retort seemed to render him silent, Sid wasn’t sure if he was pleased with himself, or if this was just some long winded self flagellation before he was finally put down. The vim now drained from his host, the worn lines of worry carved themselves into his face, now to Sid’s eyes he looked sorrowful, regretful, and weary. Is mind floated the idea, that it was perhaps a bit harsh. Just as he, not but...well an hour or so by his best guess, shot, fuck, deleted a young woman, with that same feeling, that same stone sinking in his stomach. ‘Look, I’m sorry. That was harsh. Gomen.’
‘Ideally. They would ever listen. Not like anyone would be able to squeeze any amount of useful intel out of you. Brian scrambled or no. I’ve said as such. Not that as you say, I’d ever know the difference.’ The two shared some silence for a time. The scientist would not meet Sid’s gaze, his eyes lingered on some items through the room, but didn’t wait over long. Finally, he stopped the recording, clicking the mic, a series of descending tones. ‘I often wonder. The fate of our...Help. I’ve never looked twice, the work, I am able to do here, the world I am allowed to see is, is, enthralling.’ The longer he spoke, the more energy, the momentum seemed to return ‘the world, its not as we suspect, its not as our eyes can see, it is something much more cloudy. Potential, possibilities, the gathering and condensing of it into reality. That weapon, should if my theory holds, erase something out of the fabric of causality. It should, have removed that young lady, and all memory of her. Save you perhaps, I rather suspect I’ll have the moment where I have to trust my recordings. It unwrites reality! Which means, which means, you should.’ He clicked the pen for effect ‘Be able to write it, going backwards. You should be able to undo many of the great crimes, correct children’s histories, erase tragedy. If I have to make, a gun, to let justice be real, justice as we would have it be, then I will. I tell myself I have to, after the mountain of corpses we stand on. If it were not me, some perhaps more hateful person might stand where I stand, with my funding in their own coffers.’
‘A nice story. A basilisk murmuring why its nature must…’ Sid let the word hang ‘be so cruel. I wonder if the devil said the same.’ pausing again, his glare withering, his face hung sardonic ‘Least she died with a smile. So, you guys have pizza? Shouldn’t be too much to ask right?’
The Doc’s cheerful demeanor restored somewhat, and he did as he promised, acquiring some food and drink for his begrudging hostage. Sid was poked, prodded, bled, scanned, and a dozen other vague medical and scientific tests were run on his, miserably compliant form, suspecting knockout drugs or the like would be used to get the same, and if he did get out...he’d have more data to work with on the other side. His mind glossed over a bit of advice, he’d received playing games in his youth. You have to play to your outs. When you’re stuck, its all you really can do.
Sid’s stay in the bowels of of that laboratory dragged on and on, for what felt like entirely too long, but as the world spun round, and light flowed through the stars, other eyes gazed heavenward, and what was, was distorted, bent into strange weaves of possibility.
Sid’s eyes opened at last, and he felt like he was back in his body. His body numb, his eyes ill adjusted to the bright light above him, the soft foam of a mattress cradled him gently, the familiar warmth of hands grasping his own, they resisted but relented as the urge to cradle his head took hold. Rubbing his eyes to clear his vision, a face he knew but hazy like a dream staring back. Something in Sid’s mind grasped at straws, like an overwhelming sense of deja-vu.
‘Yo-kaa-ta!’ the relief clear in her tone. ‘Some go mad, as their mind has to reform from the library. It would have really left me in the lurch.’ She gave the hand she still held in her own a firm squeeze. ‘This will make things a lot easier.’
‘Library?’ he still couldn’t shake off the grogginess, like he was empty, stretched too thin, Didn’t I shoot you out of existence?’ an inquiry, by virtue of having to ask it at all was stressful on its own.
‘First. What’s, my name. Tell me my name.’
‘You told me like…’ and while it was but a moment ago, it felt like It wasn’t. He really couldn't tell, but it didn't matter however long ago, and Sid always made a point with names. In the Black, names were useful, as shields, as a key or as a cudgel. Reputation was very nearly everything. ‘Ca...Cadet? No… Calv...No…’ He could remember it was like a job, and it was a C word, that was certain but…
‘Close, keep reaching’
‘Cavalier.’ his senses seemed to slide into place, and stabilize, but it felt all kinds of sideways just the same.
‘Good. That should help. My record should hold on to this stem and your current self settle. You were too close to the split point so small wonder you’re not produce. That should let us move to the next phase’ She sat back, and took in a deep breath, settling on the edge of the foam bedding. Now that she wasn’t bundled up, and he wasn’t feeling as pressured, he got a good look at her.
She was curling and uncurling her toes, freshly freed from a pair of worn dirty boots, wrapped in leggings clinging tightly to her legs, some kind of tactical pouch emptied of its gear, still hung on her left leg, her hips held further pouches, on the belt holding up a pair of worn and faded shorts, a tucked in t-shirt with a small hole on the right side of her tummy, completed the ensemble discounting a discarded knit sweater that lied heaped next to her seat.
‘To answer your question though, you did. She proceeded from toe curling, to rolling her ankles ‘for the moment no harm done. I figure we have...a couple days. I’m really going to need your help. You’ll get the whole crash course treatment. Happens a lot actually.’
‘If we’re not being dragged off, then uh, good luck to you. I’m skipping town and praying to every god a google search can find, that they leave me be.’
‘And, if I knew what you know, I’d probably think that was a good call. But you feel it don’t you? That slight tilt, the funny way that gravity is pulling just to the right? , and even now your...I’m gonna guess left foot is feeling far off. Not numb, but close.’ She looked at him, watching his expression closely.
Sid could get what she was saying, about the tilt, and now that she mentioned it, he did notice a way that he felt pulled just...wrong by gravity. He sat up, and rubbed the ball of his foot left foot on the floor. It didn’t feel strange in the least. Clear as day, she read as someone in deep and not planning to put down the shovel, cursing himself for letting her get into his head, rising to make his way out of here, planning complete extrication from everything, he reached for the door handle. That was his intent at least, he could feel it happening, the same way he’d do it any other day, but his hand right hand hung numbly, for a few several seconds before it finally stuttered into action.
She exhaled sharply, her face pulled into a grimace ‘That’s. Uh. Um.’ clearly reaching for words, her finished almost apologetically ‘Probably my fault, at least kind of. Guess our fields got tangled.’ Holding the door, he thought about releasing it and turning around, and as before, it took several seconds, but to Sid they dragged like a body behind a speeding car, painful and grating to look at. ‘Yeah, that’s probably the right expression’
‘At least, stop talking nonsense, you fucking cunt. Libraries? Fields? Tangles? The fuck was that thing, the fuck are you, the fuck do I get out from under this sword.’ volume, and overt anger increasing with each question.
‘That’s gonna make a good nick name.’ She smiled, trying to deflect some of his emotions, a tactic she abandoned as Sid was sure his rage must have been chiseled into his face. ‘Look, I’ll explain everything, but you’ll have to take me at my word at first. I promise I can prove it, but you’d have to help me.’ Closing the distance between them she proffered her left hand for a hand shake.
Grumbling all the while, he took her up on the offer ‘Sid. Sid Vicious.’
‘So, Sid, my dude. We’re in temporal possibility anomalie. You and I, as you probably think of yourself any way, is gonna cease to exist in about...those couple of days.’
Sid hung his head. Sounded like the nonsense wasn’t stopping anytime soon.