Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Daily Story 21: Clipping Butterflies

"I say, is that a gun?" The shot was deafening, and Arthur Wynne's left lung departed his body in chunks roughly the proportions of "fun size" candy bars that children are given on Halloween, although obviously the resemblance ended there. Andrey lowered his weapon and waited, unsure why he was thinking about nougat.

After a few seconds, the various bits of the late mister Wynne jerkily reassembled themselves and he stood up, looking slightly confused. "I say, is that a gun?" he said, feeling a deep and powerful sense of Déjà Vu that was caused, ironically, by a simple feedback glitch in the memory retrieval part of his brain rather than any actual memory of the events a moment before. Andrey sighed.

"Damn it Novikov, no."
"I DON'T UNDERSTAND." The voice was like the thundering roar of a god, but the tone said this was possibly a very young god that was being asked to explain the political system of ancient Greece.
"You can't just have him magically re-assemble."
"IT WASN'T MAGIC. THIS WAS A THEORETICALLY POSSIBLE OUTCOME BASED ON RANDOM MOVEMENT OF ENERGY."
Andrey looked at Wynne, who was now cowering in the corner and looking for the source of the voice, his imminent invention of the crossword puzzle completely forgotten.
"Right, okay, but tell me this: What are the odds of something like that happening in the lifetime of the universe?"
"ONE."
"Not counting just now when you caused it."
"OH. ...IF YOU WOULD LET ME GO BACK TO THE BIG BANG AND ALTER THE LAWS OF THERMODYNAMICS IT WOULD BE MUCH MORE LIKELY."

"I'll take that as 'effectively impossible'. Let's not do that then, okay? Your job is to fix the timeline using the subtle manipulation of events, not to smash it back into shape using brute force." Andrey looked at Wynne again, noting that there was a puddle expanding beneath him for the second time in the last few minutes. This time, of course, it was urine.
"Oh, and tone down the 'voice of god' bit, it's freaking out our test subject."
"BUT YOU SAID -"
"I know, and I was wrong. Tone it down."
"Ah!" The voice, still deep but no longer vibrating the windows, sounded excited. "Well then, perhaps we could revisit some other -"
"No, we won't be going fishing for other times I was wrong."
"But my first method was perfect! And it was subtle, too!"
"Your first method was to have any time machines break down before they could even work."
"Yes."
"That's... well, yes, you were subtle, but we need to allow for some amount of time travel."
"It's so hard to realign things the way you want me to! One tiny change and the whole thing can go differently! Why do we have to let them travel through time at all?"
Andrey shrugged. "Because it's fun."

Without warning, he spun and leveled his gun at Arthur Wynne. It went click.
"Better. Now let's take it from the top."