This story was first serialized in 31 daily parts during July 2021 via the @InternetofWords Twitter feeds [9am and 5pm GMT respectively.] It is now reproduced in a complete form, a number of small edits and corrections made to improve narrative flow and maintain correct continuity.
I produce fiction bi-weekly on Ko-Fi: this includes flash fiction (250 words) which is being put together to form a long-form narrative, plus a bi-weekly full novel presented in episodic format.
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“Humanity is an inherently arrogant and foolish construct, however worthy and earnest most commentators would like you to think otherwise. We are a blight upon the Earth, and as we proliferate in greater numbers, the damage done in the name of progress outweighs so much else of note. What has become increasingly apparent in the last thousand years is that human beings assume because they have no immediate predator to be concerned with, their position of dominance remains unassailable. This, in turn, has lead to an arrogance towards both planet and resources.
We have reached a tipping point: delicate ecology, warped by human ignorance. As a result, the future of this planet’s dominant species is anything but assured or predictable. Any human who considers themselves arbiter of how evolution should be considered as a dangerous entity. Many of you will be aware of a number of unexplained phenomena involving the translocation of inanimate objects from original locations to new places where they caused significant amounts of inconvenience and damage, and most recently a disaster which has claimed countless lives.
The Ministry of Adversity secured the area, making it safe: all survivors are receiving both medical care and mental health support at the appropriate Nexus Assist Centres. President Forrester visited the site yesterday: all families have been sanctified, reassured and respected. Our Internet Scribes are confident that the forces behind this latest unprovoked attack on Britannia’s liberties have now been exposed. The company known as UltraReality has been identified as a prime agitator: its offices were appropriated by the police late yesterday evening.
We have reached a tipping point: anyone attempting to summon Elementals, seeking to tap into ancient forces or indeed threatening the security and dominance of the Lands of Britannia will be dealt with both swiftly and comprehensively. This latest aberration will be eliminated…”
You mute the Ministry of Wonders’ speech on your computer screen and sit, considering what has just been heard. UltraReality’s magik is not of this Earth, that you are now utterly sure: interdimensional travel is not responsible for causing translocation on a scale such as this. This, like it or not, is a failure of existence on quantum levels. Here are forces that the Texts of Existence specifically ban interference with: Light is never wielded by anyone, because of the potential destruction and loss of life that results. Light is a basic, sacred need.
Trains have been suspended, electric carriages that once packed the roads, carrying freight and people now sit gathering dust in communal garages. The country has been crippled by the translocations, and now thousands are dead. Perhaps it is time to approach the Police after all. Your research is damning, leading back to UltraReality. Their CEO, Daniel West, is currently in hiding, and with good reason. These headsets, fuelled with something still as yet unidentifiable, are opening literal portals using human mental energy, which should be impossible.
On this basic floor to ceiling wall screen, the speech continues unabated. Perhaps it is time to go back to your computer after this and see if anything new has emerged as a result of this morning’s development. You’ll need to make notes for your Police call too, and lots of them. There’s a message waiting, new contact, that should be marked as rubbish and then deleted… except you know enough about official Government communications to understand this message is flagged both as Sensitive and Must Be Read. Everything is on alert, until you digest the contents.
Sitting back in your chair, it takes several reads to grasp what’s been sent. The Government know exactly who you are, and are also aware that if they try and coerce or threaten us, they’ll do more harm than good. You’re being invited to visit the Minister of Wonders at your leisure. There’s no time to waste, the one resource that is no longer infinite, if your investigations are correct. What needs to happen now is for someone else to confirm what you know as truth, in the hope they can provide a better idea than yours to prevent what could yet take place.
The car’s waiting outside, less than an hour since the message was sent. There has been a cursory effort to look neat, in the hope this might grant you more legitimacy, but the point becomes largely irrelevant as time passes. The end of this world approaches, smart clothing or not. Streets are deserted, shops closed, the area which would normally exude vibrancy and colour, under blue Summer skies… which have been replaced by an unsettling, impenetrable blanket of cloud. It began as grey, but undoubtedly now there is a purple hue both to it and everything else.
It is as if the Universe itself has shrunk down to just this point, your shaking hands on the glass tablet, on which weeks of work is held; and only now does it occur to you that perhaps the Government had been following this all along. If you know all this, then they will too… The driver is talking to someone on his in-car communicator: there is a change of plan. Your appointment is no longer at the Ministry of Wonders. We are heading instead to the Heathrow Aeroport, close to where the last translocation event took place.
Disaster had been anticipated.
Scientists are still a rarity in Britannia, the Internet considered dangerous and unsustainable long term as a tool for spreading reliable information. If this whole affair is not magikal to begin with, that may explain a very great deal. There won’t be long to wait to find out. Except one waits here: heavily guarded blimp hanger, on the outskirts of the Aeroport… Daniel West clearly has not slept for several days. The way looks at you getting out of the car, implicit and inescapable understanding… you can taste his mounting fear, identical to your own.
He also knows we exist as a result of an event that took place outside this reality, an entire bubble of parallel existence matched from a point where this warehouse exists, seemingly empty to the naked eye. Except that is anything but correct. We are duplicates and nothing more. It has been surprisingly easy to grasp: all of this is temporary, ephemeral. The entirety of this planet’s recorded history is only forty-eight years, despite buildings having been built centuries before. Everything north of Glasgow is shrouded in an impenetrable purple barrier.
That barrier is shrinking daily, West explains to me, clearly grateful he doesn’t need to bother with any of the other details you know so well. At the current rate, we cease to exist in nine days, assuming contraction remains constant. The question now remains: what should we do? Your answers are presented with the knowledge this is no longer about saving this version of reality. Beyond the purple barrier is someone just like you, whose life has spawned this alternate timeline. They, as yet, have no real idea of what is yet to transpire and must be warned.
West lays out the Government’s plan: reality is fractured, damaged, and ultimately may not even be real at all. There’s a vortex inside this warehouse, less than an inch in diameter, inside which multiple copies of the same space can be perceived and recorded by high level Seers. All the information gathered here is being transmitted into it: textual, visual and mental projections, in the hope that someone on the other side of this barrier understands that the hole cannot be closed by us, and therefore must be sealed by someone else… they who opened it.
You share a theory with West who responds with nothing but belief and confidence: all of this has come from a single imagination. Not a God, but a woman, who believed that they could save Humanity. Their misguided determination has created chaos, which may yet destroy everything. He has identified you as the only person present in every single perceivable space, and has come to the conclusion that your presence is vital to the process of closing this vortex. You need to send a message to all the versions of yourself, spread out across fragments of time.
It needs to be simple, damning and present inescapable starkness. The woman who did this must be eradicated so that the Universes she has spawned will collapse, returning all to the proper flow of time.
All futures remain in danger.
Closing the loop saves all.
She must die.