Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Alternating History

She stood at the edge of a slab of rock that was jutting out from the side of a tall mountain. She was naked, save for a loincloth and a hunting knife tied to her waist. She felt the sun and the wind on her skin and it felt good. She'd never felt air this good, never smelled air this good, and to stand naked out in the sun? Such a thing could kill a person where she came from.

But not here. An eagle screeched as it flew below her. Far down the mountainside, a herd of antelope thundered past. She sighed. This past week had been so relaxing. No work, no responsibilities. Just her and the world. She was contemplating a bit of hunting when she heard an incessant beeping from the cave she'd been using for shelter. She grit her teeth, but remained where she was.

Two men materialized in the cave behind her and began speaking almost immediately.

"Agent Connell," the tall one said, "we hate to cut your vacation short, but - aaaah!"

She turned slowly, a small smile on her face. "Something wrong, Supervisor?"

The two Supervisors had covered their faces and turned around. "You're naked, Agent Connell!" one exclaimed.

Her smile widened. "Thanks for noticing, Supervisor Trent. I also haven't shaved since I got here, and it's been a few days since I last bathed, so you might want to keep your distance."

"Gone native, Agent?" the other man smirked.

"Not possible, Supervisor," she retorted, moving into the cave. She began rummaging around her pack. "There aren't any."

Supervisor Trent lowered his hand. "Yes, well, be that as it may, we have an urgent - gaah!" His hand went back up. "You're still naked!"

She gave an exasperated sigh. "Just tell me what you want. My vacation doesn't end for another two months, and I plan on spending those months as far from other humans as possible."

The two Supervisors lowered their hands and made a big show of averting their eyes, while surreptitiously stealing glances in her direction. She persisted in her nakedness, and grinned whenever she caught them looking.

"Yes, well," Supervisor Trent began. "It's like this. Um..."

"A Historian has gone rogue," the other man said.

"Rogue?" She raised an eyebrow.

The men nodded. "He has abandoned his research, and instead tried to alter history."

"Did it work?"

"No."

"Well," the other man said, "not exactly."

"Come again?"

Supervisor Trent tossed a palmtop computer to Agent Connell. She caught it deftly, and began scrolling through data. The Supervisor continued to explain. "As you can see from the data we've gathered, rather than succeeding in changing history, he has simply managed to create branches off of our main timeline."

"He's created other Earths?" She didn't see the problem with that. She was currently vacationing on an alternate Earth, one where humans had never evolved past simple upright primates. The alternate realities were few, but she didn't see how a few more could hurt matters any.

"No, you misunderstand." Supervisor Trent looked her in the eye, his face very serious. "He has created branches off the timeline of our Earth. Alternate histories co-existing in the same dimensional plane."

The other chimed in. "And he's been traveling back within those branches, and making other branches off of them. It's only a matter of time before--"

His communicator beeped. He answered, and spoke with the caller for a while, his face going white as he did so. "It is as we feared," he said after disconnecting. "The branches are trying to correct themselves and become one timeline again. Unfortunately, this means that they are simply curving back in to our main timeline, causing radical upheavals in the flow of history."

"Such as?" She began sharpening her knife. It helped her think.

"Let me put it this way," Supervisor Trent explained. "Tennessee is suddenly a client state of the Third Reich."

"However," his associate chimed in, "according to them, they have been so since the 1950s."

"And they've just conquered North Carolina."

"Can't the federal government do anything to stop them?"

The Supervisors shook their heads. "They could," Trent said.

"If the entire Northeast hadn't just become a post-atomic wasteland."

She looked at one and then the other. "Damn," she said. "So, what do you want me to do?"

"You are our best Historian," Supervisor Trent said. "We believe you should be able to stop him."

"We want you to travel back to the point at which he began branching the timeline and prevent him from doing so," his partner said. "By any means necessary."

She thought a moment, then said, "Understood. I'll take care of it." She turned on her heel and walked to the mouth of the cave.

"Where are you going?" Trent's partner said, at a loss.

"To finish my vacation."

"B-b-but, Agent Connell," Trent sputtered. "You have to act now. We haven't a moment to lose."

"Don't be silly," she said, tightening the leather strap that held her knife. "I'm a time traveler. I have all the moments I need."

And with that she leaped off the edge of the outcropping, and into the wilderness of a humanless Earth.

6 comments:

Kat said...

This is interesting. Is there more??

m said...

i really like this one! keep going!!

Lulu said...

Oh, wow. Very intersting. Is there more to this story? I obviously need to read your archives. My dad would totally dig this. I will have to point him in your direction. He is the one who gave me my reading chops...

purplesimon said...

More more more more more...

purplesimon out...

karma lennon said...

I agree, you need to continue with this one! This is great, one of my favorites so far.

Raynwomaan said...

I like Agent Connell. She's good enough to be in charge and better enough to stay in the field.

Now my mind is full of questions. Who's the rogue? How did he try to alter history? What will happen? How will she stop him? Yes, you leave us wanting more. And after reading your recent postings, we are daring to hope for more. (no pressure ;)