Day 203: The worst thing that could happen

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I staggered into the room and started wrapping the cord around the handles. I could hear the shouting in the distance, but they were heading toward the Armoury. They thought I was heading for the weapons.

They were wrong.

I figure I’ve got about fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes until they find the tape recorder shouting messages from behind the barrels in the corridor. Maybe ten if they realised that the gun was always hitting the same spot in the wall behind them. Hopefully they’d be too busy avoiding getting shot to realise it.

Hopefully.

I looked at the machine ahead of me. All wires and lights, blinking and winking in the darkness of the room. A single screen with green letters on it, asking an immortal question.

DO YOU WANT TO GO BACK?

“Yes,” I whispered to myself. I walked up to the console and pulled the keyboard out from beneath it. Richtus had built this thing well.

He calls it RESET in his journals. Says it’s the cure. He says it can access the other routes that history could have taken, that with the right worldseed it can fix everything. It’ll stop Oscar and Discali from ever accessing SOURCE.

Or, with the wrong worldseed, it’ll lead to devastation. Nuclear war, plague, zombies. If it is possible, RESET can lead to it.

Worst case scenario, we end up in a bad future where RESET was never built. But I’ve got the worldseed. Richtus’s last page. He disguised the worldseeds well, scattered throughout all of his writings. Why did he write them all down? I don’t know. Maybe he just wanted to leave us all with anything that wasn’t this world.

I started typing, feeling the plastic yield to my touch. This keyboard had never been used before, still fresh and unworn.

DO YOU WANT TO GO BACK? 

“Under the bravado, the small boy still craves the approval of his father.” Take the first letter of the first, the second letter of the second. For common use words, use the number of letters instead. If the word ends with a vowel, reverse the sequence.

I can hear them hammering at the door now. I guess they’ve finished with my distraction. There’s a couple of gunshots, ricochets. “Even in the summer, the holly fights through.” Sequence after sequence, falling beneath my fingers. They’ve got cutters on the door now. But I’m nearly done. I can actually get this done.

DO YOU WANT TO GO BACK?

“In the end, all it comes down to is the flip of a switch.” There was a clang behind me as the door fell in. “Without another word…”

It felt like somebody punching me in the spine. I lost all feeling in my arms and legs, sprawling forwards and slumping over the keyboard. A random string of letters appeared on the screen.

WORLDSEED ACCEPTED. 

I smiled as the darkness crept in around the edges of my vision. Where I was going, I wouldn’t care. It wouldn’t exist anymore. One way or another, everything was going to change.

I started to laugh as the blood bubbled from my mouth. We were going back.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

 

Day 89: A Letter to the Editor

Dear Mr Editor,

Firstly, I’d like to thank you for such a well-presented, well thought out argument on the recent business of the Richtus-Margot merger. It was an interesting piece, full of drama and intrigue. Honestly, you couldn’t make it up.

Except for the fact that you could.

Mr Editor, I was there. I know what happened and Sir, you are completely wrong. So I require you to print a number of corrections, listed below.

One) The SOURCE technology was, ultimately, the cause of the merger. Following the events of July 22nd, SOURCE was reinvested by Margot, practically fully funded and without Margot, Richtus would have folded.

Two) One hundred and fifty two people died that day, not one hundred and fifty three.

Three) Daniel Richtus did not cause the attack. He did not incite the attack. The only thing Daniel Richtus did that day was science. He didn’t just push the boundaries, he smashed them.

Four) That one person who survived in my previous point, was myself. Though I was reported dead, I am in fact (unbelievably, I’m sure) alive. I have attached my Richtus Technologies ID card to this letter, along with a recent photo. You will be able to use the facial ID software that your newspaper currently uses to reveal that I am who I say I am.

I want this letter printed, in full. Should you wish to talk to me further, you can contact me on the number provided. I can tell you what really happened at Richtus.

Finally, though I’m sure you think that I’m a crackpot or a lunatic, check the apparent age of Richtus’ body in the morgue. Then call me.

Yours sincerely,

Daniel Richtus, CEO Richtus Enterprise

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 7: A newly invented product that will change your life.

So, what would change your life? The solution to world hunger? The energy crisis? Or something closer to home? 

‘Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Richtus Technologies. As I’m sure you are aware, we have been working on something particularly special here over the last decade and today, the fifth of November 2020, you are here to witness the creation of history itself. Literally.’ Cheri Schwartz smiled, teeth gleaming under the spotlights. She could see Daniel Richtus in the crowd, a knowing smirk on his dark face as if he was laughing at some personal joke. In a way, it could be said, he was. ‘We know all about the rumours. We actually have a list of our favourites. Number one. Bioweapons. We at Richtus would like to confirm that we do not condone the use of bioweapons, by this government, by any government or by any individuals that would be cruel enough to weaponise such a thing as disease.’ She paused, partially for dramatic effect, partially at the horrors that flowed through her mind.

‘Come on girl.’ Richtus whispered. ‘Keep going.’ He could feel the crowd worming in their seats, sharing that horror he could see on Cheri’s soft features. He watched her steel herself.

‘Number two on the list was my personal favourite. A birth control pill for men. I am sorry to say that this one is also untrue. We did look into it for a spell, but it wasn’t a viable option at the time. Maybe one day, but it isn’t today’s release. No, today’s release is much bigger than that. Maybe next time, gentlemen.’ She grinned, her blue eyes lighting up.

‘Number three. A cure for AIDs. Unfortunately, while Richtus’ Pharmaceutical division was looking into this, we were beaten to the punch by Rigmatech. However, our announcement today will blow theirs out of the water.’ She could see the Rigmatech personnel whispering to each other, full of speculation. ‘You’ll never guess it gentlemen, so don’t even try.’

Richtus ran his hand through his greying hair. ‘Ok girl, stop dangling them. Time to reel it in.’ His grey eyes sparkled, sunlight shining through storm clouds.

‘Ok ladies and gents, it’s time. I think I’ve strung you along for long enough. Without further ado, I give you SOURCE. SOURCE uses revolutionary tachyon technology to allow you access to… I think the best thing to do is to show you.’ She produced two L-shaped pieces of metal. ‘Alone, each piece of SOURCE is inert. However, when put together, they produce what we call a Tachyon Screen. I have to admit, the science of SOURCE is beyond me and I have a PHD in theoretical physics. That is how cutting edge this technology is.’

Richtus smiled at that. Cheri understood SOURCE perfectly, but she’d chosen to skip over trying to put it in layman’s terms. ‘Simply take the two pieces of SOURCE and drag them out to the chosen window size. Then, using a simple, user friendly piece of software designed by our in house team, we select a date, a time. FOr example, the fifth of november, 2020. Five minutes ago. Then…’

There was a blinding flash from the window. A voice emanated from the screen. ‘Number three, a cure for AIDS. Unfortunately…’ The entire crowd gasped. Cheri entered a command into the computer and the screen snapped shut.

‘Ladies and gentlemen, we here at Richtus have produced a window to the past. Any time, any place. Anywhere. In fact, anywhen. SOURCE. The future, showing us the past.’ The room exploded with applause and flashbulbs from reporters cameras. Richtus stood up with them, moving to the stage. He gave a quick nod to the crowd before briskly moving to the stage door. Cheri could soak up the applause, she was far more attractive than him. His face, with its scarring and burns, a remnant from an earlier SOURCE trial, was far more suited to boardrooms. He’d been a handsome man.

He took his personal SOURCE from his jacket, pulled it out to about a foot square, and dialled up that day. He watched as the Tachyon emitters overloaded, as he pushed Cheri out of the room before the safety door slammed shut. He turned to face the hulking machine, a true early draft, practically just proof of concept. He turned to the one way glass, looking at his reflection as that low hum became a piercing whine before a muffled boom and the shockwave hurled him into the glass.

Daniel reached up to his face, to the dark spot where part of the machine had remained embedded. He’d kept it there, to remind him that accidents happen. He reached out to the screen, and felt his fingers pass through it. Then his arm, before his whole body was rapidly pulled through.

He looked at his younger self, solid and real next to him. His face was bleeding, he was unconscious. ‘Well, this changes things.’

The Idiot In Tin Foil