Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Decker #23

"I, er....well, it's kind of a long story, fellas," Coxli said, leaning back on his tail and scrutinizing various patches of ceiling, "maybe there's not really time for me to tell you about it."
"By all means, Mr. Coxli," Tut said, "regale them with the details. This is not a device I have had the instance to familiarize myself with; in fact it is technology entirely beyond my ken. We shall hope that the instructions included will provide me with the necessary familiarity to utilize it, but I will require some time to peruse them." With that, he adjourned to a chair and immersed himself in the thick pamphlet.
Both men gazed fixedly at the lizard-man; his throat sac puffed in and out and blushed tangerine. "Well, um, it's kind of like...look, liver lickers, lose the litigious leers; life has likely laid me low already, lousy Limburger- "
"Coxli. Hey, Coxli!" Decker interrupted. "Relax, man. Nobody's gonna eat you, or beat you. We're just curious about where you've been for the last couple of...um, days, I guess."
"Right. Well, er...when that 'Lizzy' person came with her little army, I didn't figure you-um, we had a chance, so I decided to wait for my moment to slip out the door. They were concentrating on the two of you, which left me free to grab the thingie in the box, which I figured you wouldn't want them to get, even if they got you. And it did cross my mind that you'd get killed or captured, in which case the thingie wouldn't be worth much to you, so....I, you know, figured it might be worth something to somebody else. Hey, a guy's gotta look out for his own interests, right?"
"Anyway, I wandered around in these halls for a while, took a look at the river a couple of times- which, by the way, is getting a lot higher- and had a little nap and a snack here and there, and I was just starting to feel pretty lonely and lost when I run into Tut here. He tells me you guys are alright, and I get this really happy, tickly feeling in my belly, and even though I was raised to be a good, honest thief, I find myself wanting to bring your thingie back to you. So here I am!"
" My faith in lizard-kind," Degren exclaimed, "is restored."
Decker noticed a cool, damp sensation on the pads of his feet. "Guys, I think we're going to have to move up a level. Coxli is right; the river is coming up fast." The water was puddling in from the door, oozing through the carpet and rilling over the tile. Odd little whirlpools formed and vanished; a variety of fins, plants, periscopes, fountains and other assorted spectral anomalies appeared and faded before the two men's eyes. Decker tried to write them off as river water-induced hallucinations, but he noticed Coxli's curious downward glances and realized the lizard-man was seeing what Decker saw.
"Might be a good idea, too, to find ourselves a room that's hard to break into," Degren said. "Even though the river's probably not very navigable, our friend Lizzy seems like the resourceful type. We shouldn't count on her to get discouraged."
"Good point," Decker replied. "Let's grab Tut and move on up."
Tut seemed irritated by the interruption, but when he noticed the now-ankle-deep water around his scaly, purple-green feet, he acknowledged their concerns. "By Romulus' milk-sopped beard, this is most disheartening!" He carefully re-packed the device back into the case, slipped the thick pamphlet back into its slot, and strode for the door. "We shall give ourselves a bit of time by ascending to the fifth level; I think the hyperbaric chamber will provide the necessary security, and perhaps will serve as a last defense against the rising water, should it continue to defy cosmic laws."
"Cosmic laws?" Decker sneered. "Seems even scientific legislation is subject to the whims of criminals. What do you think is happening out there, Tut?"
"Whatever is happening isn't just 'out there', friend Decker, or Degren, or whoever you are. It's in here, over there, down there, up there, and everywhere along the stretch of cosmos connected to this temporo-spatial flow-way you know as 'the River'. Let's try the elevator, right over there. I couldn't begin to form conjecture as to cause, but it appears that a significant percentage of the normal phase barriers that prevent singularity intermix has been attenuated. The laws of chance, the laws of integration, and the laws of entropy would seem to be waltzing a tango polka, thrash-worm-style. My surmise is that events within each existential singularity, for instance the reality surrounding the place you came from, Decker, are intermingling with events taking place anywhere along the River. Event nexuses appear to be losing their integrity, thus generating plausibility overlaps. Normal entropy for each nexus has been disturbed. Down this hall, gentlemen. Rather than having a tendency toward the random, by agglomerating all timespace in a given area, one might surmise a tendency toward eventual crystallization. Leading up to that, however, my hypothesis would tend toward the illusion of chaos as possibility fields repolarize before coalescing."
"Could you give that to me in layman's terms?"
Tut cast an exasperated glare at Decker, then raised a webbed finger and blinked his eyes rapidly. "Er, the toilets of our individual realities are being flushed onto an iceberg."
"Left at this juncture.As the possibility fields of all the singular realities along the river intermingle, the dimensional planes of all possibility will have to fold in on each other into a single space/time variability grid. The number of possibilities, after churning together as the fields intermix, will be divided by the number of individual space-time webs that intermix. Randomness and entropy will attenuate accordingly. The multiverse will organize."
"What's that gonna mean for us?"
"Hard to say."
"Why did I bother asking? No way we can do anything about it, right?"
"Up these stairs. I wouldn't assume that to be the case. Given that we have seen no other instances that we can identify of personality intermingling such as you have experienced, there is the possibility that, by locating the third member of your reality intermix and bringing the three of you into near proximity, we might mend the phase ruptures between the nexuses. Probabilities are slim, but we have little other recourse. To the right, the large hatch on the left side of the hall."
It looked like the entrance to Nemo's submarine, but with an LCD display and a control pad at the center instead of a sight glass. Tut handed the case to Degren and went to work on the keyboard. His clumsy-looking fingers were a blur of motion; there was no way Decker could decipher what Tut had input to the panel. There was a long, loud buzz and a mechanical hum, then a whoosh of air from a pair of floor vents that bracketed the hatch; a series of metallic "snicks" orbited the hatch twice and it swung smoothly inward. Tut beckoned them inside.
They found themselves standing in a cylindrical room, about thirty feet in diameter, which extended upward like a missile silo to a domed ceiling that was dwarfed by perspective. At the apex of the dome was a circular hatch, served by an open metal ladder that was bolted to the center of the floor. Built into the walls of the chamber were various instrument and control panels, each with a high, swiveling chair mounted on a pneumatic tube in front of it. There were three long, curved tables that formed a dashed circle halfway out from center. Tut took the case to the table most distant from the hatch.
"Occupy yourselves as you will, gentlemen," he said, "but I shall need a modicum of peace as I attempt to decipher these instructions. The green lever to the left of the hatch, when raised, will open the door, provided there is no pressure differential. When lowered, it will close the door. Down the hall to your left, right at the first corridor and three doors down on your left, there is a cafeteria and facilities for your, er, ablutions. I recommend you go in twos, leaving one behind with me to open the door on each group's return. I have programmed the door so that it may only be opened from the inside; we must protect the device from Lizzy and her minions at all costs. Now kindly leave me to my research."
"I'll be happy to stay here," Coxli volunteered, "if you'll bring me back some water and a nice snack of some bug salad."
"Chickenshit," Degren laughed, "you just don't want to risk leaving your new 'panic room'!"
"Well, let's go grab a snack and a shower," Decker said, "and decide along the way if we're brave or stupid."

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