Miranda Kate’s Picture Choice: One
Title: Time and Motion Part 2
The professor swung into his driveway, the garage door opening automatically as he did so. In the rearview mirror they both noticed the black sedan pass the house as the door closed behind them.
“What if we don’t manage it? What shall I do about them?” Vlad glanced at the professor with fear in his eyes.
“One bridge at a time, Vlad, one bridge at a time. The question really is should we switch if we can?” The professor jumped down from the car and pressed the central locking while Vladimir joined him at the inner door to the house.
“But isn’t that the whole point of doing this?”
The professor raised his eyebrows as he unlocked the door. “Yes, I suppose it is.” They both tumbled into the kitchen and the Professor started getting out some mugs.
“What are you doing Professor?”
“What?” Vladimir blinked, thinking he must have misheard him.
“You need to redo the figures so we know how exactly long we’ve got – to the second - and then we can synchronise clocks and do a countdown.” He lit the gas burners on the hob. “And while you’re doing that, I’ll make some Cocoa. I’m freezing.” The professor rubbed his hands together, and held them up to the gas burners.
Vladmir sat down on a stool at the kitchen counter and grabbed a pad and pencil that was lying on it. He pulled out the paper he’d snatched up from the professor’s desk on their way out of the institute, and started scribbling.
Just as the Professor poured the milk into the mugs, Vladimir turned round and said, “I’ve done it.”
“An hour and 15 from now?” The professor looked up at the kitchen clock and his wrist watch.
“Well come on then, let’s go downstairs and get the computer clock synced too.”
He took both mugs with him to a small door under the stairs. Vladimir leaned forward and opened it for him, flicking a switch on the right. The stairs came into view and the professor went down them, flicking another switch at the bottom with his elbow. The basement flooded with light, and he placed the drinks down on a huge desk that lined the right side wall, and turned on the power to the computer.
“Have you any idea how it will show up Vlad?”
“On the computer it’ll show up in code - you’ll need to run it in DOS - it should be easy to spot. But in the real world? I’ve no idea Professor. It could be a minor change, like a sensation, although if we switch it should be a lot bigger.”
The professor ran the computer in DOS and the three large screens displayed rows of figures and symbols, some with cursors and question marks at the end. Vladimir joined him and started typing in commands, causing large quantities of data to scroll across the screen. The professor winced at it. “Are you sure it’ll be easy to spot, it looks chaotic to me?”
“You’ll see, I’ll explain it as it runs.”
“And if we switch, what do you think we’ll see?” The professor stepped back from the computer picking up his mug and blowing the mini marshmallows round.
“It could be drastic, like in HG Wells Time Machine; we could end up in a whole new world. Or it could be subtle, like a change of wall colour or something.”
The professor laughed. “I can’t imagine finding ourselves in a jungle. If we’re in a sim, all the parallels will appear the same, surely? Depending on the cause behind each parallel.”
“Well, we’re assuming the parallels at this point, Professor - more than the sim I think. And that means we could end up anywhere in the world as we know it, without having any relation to a causality difference.”
“What like jumping around the planet or something?”
“Yes, sort of.”
“So we could end up on a beach in Maui, for instance?” The professor took a seat in one of the armchairs scattered around and sat back sipping at his drink.
Vladimir smiled. “We could.”
“Will there be a variant on when?”
“It’s not a time machine Professor, and as far as I’ve been able to tell there is no way of going back to an old sim, they occur in real time. If there is a storage database then I haven’t discovered it yet.” Vladimir continued to type commands into the computer, until eventually the scrolling data became more uniform.
“Is that the mainframe you’ve found there, Vlad?”
“Yes, professor, I’m in now. When the time comes there’ll be a space between the figures.”
“And what do we need to do?”
“When it scrolls down to here,” Vlad put his finger on one of the screens, “I’ll click onto it and hit enter.”
The Professor waited but Vladimir didn’t continue. “What? That’s all?”
“Yep.” Vladimir picked up his mug of Coco and started sipping.
“Sounds a bit simple.”
“Trust me Professor, getting to this point was anything BUT simple!”
Vladimir checked his watch and then joined the professor in one of the armchairs. Once they finished their drinks, the Professor dragged a small table with a chess set across, and said, “You might as well beat me at one last game while we wait.”
By the time Vladimir moved his Queen into checkmate there were only a few minutes to spare. He smiled at how the professor always put up a good fight on the chess board. Then he moved back to the desk to watch the screen. The professor joined him.
They saw the space appear and begin to work its way down the screen. It felt like an eternity. Vladimir’s poised finger began to tremble and he feared he would miss it. But when it arrived it went by the book, although the white flash when he hit enter surprised them both.
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