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Alternating Current

1.  The Act (Dazed)

Rough trip.  Shaking hands.

He turned them over and back and over again, staring.

It worked.

He hugged himself and looked around.  Wreckage everywhere, bits of the machine.  Something digging into his thigh but he didn’t trust himself to stand until the shudders stopped.

The machine was gone; disintegrated on the return trip.  If it had, oh it would have been just punishment, for what he had tried to do.  What he had done. He had gone so far back.

So many gone now.  Never even having been.

But it was the only way.  Only way to save everything.

He looked at his hands again and let out a laugh that sounded like a yelp.  He was home.  His home, his name, only his now.  Slow, slow, he pushed himself up onto two shaking legs.  He was naked.  Huh.  He’d never noticed.

 

2.  What have I done? (Anxiety)

He had to stop coming to the zoo.  It was quiet here though, if not peaceful.  He was exhausted of flinching every time he heard about an accident, of digging his nails into his palms when news came of natural disasters, of feeling sick when he read about the war. Was it his fault?  Would it have turned out differently if he’d left it the way it was?

He stared at the ape through the bars and it stared dolefully back at him.

It knew.  It damned well knew –

No.  That was silly.

Well.  That hushed up business about the piece of machinery recovered at the archaeological dig, that was his fault.

No.  Just keep working.  Physics still seemed to be physics; he could concentrate on making the world a better place.  And keep an eye on the stability of the universe.

 

3. Monster (Panic)

One and a half billion people all dead because of him.

Some days he couldn’t bear it, even if they hadn’t ever existed in this reality. Was that worse?  Better? But they had existed, once.  They should now.  Shouldn’t they?

His head in his hands and his elbows on his worktable all covered over with wires and bolts and plates and callipers and beakers and coils and tubes and half made components. The machine was destroyed and there was no going back to the way it was.

But it’s done now.  And his invention!  His master’s final invention – finished!  No one opposed him, not in this reality – so it was the right thing, wasn’t it?  He had done the right thing.  Yes.

They’re going to build them everywhere.  We don’t have to put up with this slow death any more.  It’s a good day for canidkind, eh Niko?

 

4. Everything is Alright (Relief)

Well, it’s been millions of years since he had changed the course of evolution.  Surely if the universe was going to implode, it would have done it by now.  And look, his master, rest his non-existent soul, his vision has been realised.  Clean, free energy straight from the ionosphere to every home.  Allowed in this timeline, simply because dogs cared more about the survival of the pack then they did about turning a profit.  His greatest gift, to a world he would never see.

Maybe this is what his master had wanted all along.  Maybe he planned this, and built a time machine good for only one trip.  Maybe he did exist, in some way, because Niko remembered him.  Honoured him.  Made sure all of his inventions were given to the world, free, untainted, like they should have been.

Tesla rubbed his furred face and rolled his shoulders.  He barked a laugh at his wonderful opposable thumbs.  Capable of so much.

All he had to remember now, was not to try himself to build a time machine, and definitely not to give a pet ape the capacity for rational thought.

This is a good reality.

 

* * *

Author’s Note: I just wanted to let you all know that, when you’re trying to do something risky or difficult, and you’re so stressed out that it feels like it’s all going to fall apart, and everyone tells you it can’t be done and it shouldn’t be done and you’re going to rip a hole in the fabric of reality, well, sometimes, everything works out ok.  And Nikolai Tesla was awesome (http://theoatmeal.com/comics/tesla)
One Comment leave one →
  1. July 28, 2012 1:49 am

    I like the four sections with their titles. The shift in his reality is subtle too. Good introspection in his thoughts, and a paranoia that seeks to go even further off the deep end.

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