Friday, March 11, 2011

Decker 26

The two Aidas stood at dueling distance, eying each other suspiciously, uncharacteristically taciturn. Degren and Decker kept a careful distance from one another as well; the ramifications of their recent body-swap was more a motivation for this than their disquieting mutual attraction. Coxli perched on one of the three arcing tables in the huge hyperbaric chamber, munching something that looked like a granola bar and letting his saucer-eyed gaze flit nervously from one face to the next in no discernible order.
"By Bacchus' absinthe-steeped bib, I've no plausible explanation for the temporo-spatial distortion you experienced." Tut's left flipper tapped meaningless Morse code on the flat of his shell as his right adjusted and re-adjusted his huge soda-bottle-bottom spectacles. "I've read and re-read the manual, and the settings I engaged were for surveillance only. According to current science, physical laws disallow any possibility of reality transference when the device is so engaged. There should have been no physical interaction possible while you were in the Cradsell 4 virtual transmission!"
"The only change is constant, or some such drivel, I seem to misremember," Coxli addressed the distant metal ceiling, trying to imitate the disgruntled turtle's professorial tone."Methinks the machine is kaput-ski."
"With shit as warped as it is," one of the Degren/Decker clones observed, "who's to say whether anything is real or virtual? I'm less and less convinced that I'm not laying on a piss-stained mattress in a busted-up shack in the Arizona desert, tripping my brains out. Or maybe more and more convinced. I mean, hells bells, people! How could this be a hallucination, could it not? Am I making any sense?"
Degren/Decker nodded his head, confused, wondering whether he'd been the one who'd spoken. "Anyway, what's next?"
The walls of the chamber were beginning to distort; a little like pea soup coming to a slow simmer under dull cellophane with areas of color glowing through. The floor still seemed stable. Decker/Degren had a minor epiphany. "Okay, so what if it wasn't the device that caused the temp-er, made us actually 'go there'?"
Tut's leathery pate crinkled dubiously. "The odds against gratuitous travel to the point specified by the device while in surveillance mode are astronomical."
"But what if it wasn't gratuitous? What if it was our intent that, er, took us there? Everyone here knew where we were, um, going."
Tut still appeared dubious, but it was easy to imagine the gears turning inside his skull. "Cognizance and collective intent...conscious sine wave alignment...hmm.." He seemed almost to vanish into his own thought processes.
"Well, we've lost Tut for the moment," Decker/Degren said, and nodded to himself. "Let's do a little layman's experiment. Let's imagine a scene we've all witnessed and see if we can bring it up without the machine."
Coxli quivered as warning-light colors radiated across his scaly hide. "Negative, negative, numbskull! Never nudge neck into noose, ninny!"
The two Aidas were as rotating poles around the chamber, still eying each other suspiciously. "I'm not imagining anything," one said, pointing a wing, "until we identify this feathered hussy!" The other giant duck doppelganger-ed the pose, replying, "Everyone here knows who I am. Who are you?"
Degren/Decker let an exasperated groan slip between his teeth. "Aida, meet Aida. We've somehow managed to pull versions of you from different timelines into the same one. I had read in some old science fiction books that there was some kind of physical law that would make that impossible or dangerous or some such, but here you both are, one and the same. I'd say kiss and make up, but you might explode, or tear the fabric of space/time, but then...well, who knows? Are we going to just hang around marking time until something even weirder happens? If this is my peyote dream, I'm vetoing that plan."
Each Aida stood dumbfounded for a moment, then cautiously waddled in for a closer inspection of the other as recognition dawned simultaneously in their eyes.
"Heavens, I'd thought Tut was tossing me over for one far more attractive than I! You are a gorgeous example of the species, aren't you, dear?"
"My thoughts exactly, Lady Aida," the other giggled. With the tension broken, the two ducks waddled off to the perimeter to converse.
"That's one distraction taken care of," one of the Degrens muttered."Shall we get down to cases? What's our next move?"
Tut seemed to be surfacing from the sea of equations that he had been immersed in. He pulled off his glasses and absentmindedly wiped at the lenses. "I begin to see an hierarchy of integration emerging. The temporo-spatial matrix is at some sort of duality or multiplicity nexus, as evidenced by the recent doubling of Aida and the uncanny morphing of the Decker/Degren fractal. As the time/space segregation fabric dissolves, the laws of coincidence manifest as a fractal paradox. By my surmise, more such doublings are likely to manifest, possibly at an exponential rate. I am troubled, however, by the notion that there may be a third Decker/Degren entity in the flux. The Furge entity is, logically, another "doubling". But that would indicate a fourth, you see? It doesn't seem to fit that we haven't any evidence of a complementary entity for Furge."
"Whatever. Shit shit SHIT, man! You're the damned genius turtle, what do we do now? Do we have time for all this goddamned extrapolation?"
"Er, you may have a point, Deg-er,... you may have a point. Perhaps the search parameters of the device will allow us to focus, there doesn't seem to be a function for DNA coding... but we would be well served to locate the Furge entity...."
"I have an idea," A Deckren said. "Get me to the southwestern U.S., and I'll focus my thoughts on my Decker memories; look for myself in your, um, timespace matrix. Furge has most likely transformed into me, right?"
"That is one possibility. What leads you to surmise that you could direct the focus of the device?"
"We directed the function of it on Cradsell. We were only supposed to be able to view the scene, not interact in it. That was us, not the machine."
A glowing blue-green trickle on the chamber wall caught Deckren's eye. He blinked and looked again. Still there. It oozed out of a pea soup bubble and seemed to flow back into another a foot or so below. Scanning the chamber brought several more little streams to his attention. "Um, well, whatever we're gonna do, we'd better get on it, unless those leaks are just me hallucinating."
"Though I can no longer discern which of you Deckrens is speaking at any moment, I will confess that your line of reasoning seems sound." Tut waved a flipper toward the device. "My own cogitative process seems less transparent. Though your limited. er, plan would stretch the definition of advisability, evidence suggests that you are more attuned to this temporo-spatial disturbance than I."
While Tut prepared the device, Deckren tried to remember who he had been before the peyote trip. It brought his heart into his throat to note that he saw himself as a soft-furred desert denizen; his memories of life on "Earth" were almost as dreamlike as his current existence. "Decker. Decker..." Wait. Furge! Wasn't it Furge they were looking for? He glanced at his other self, who was just looking up at him. "We need to think of both", they blurted simultaneously.
"Here is a map of the Southwestern United States," Tut offered. "Kindly offer me a coordinate."
"Well, Decker was here," Deckren pointed to the middle of Arizona, "but his destination was way up here." His finger now rested over east central Minnesota. "What Furge would do is beyond me. He would probably go where the wind took him."
"Let us assume, then, that his movements would be random with a slight bias to the north northeast." Tut calibrated the unit and waved them into the device's area of effect.
"Anyone else coming?" Deckren intended it as a joke, but Coxli surprised them all by racing over.
Numb my nictating nostrils, I never needed numbskull nudges, but now I'm not feeling nice about napping in this nervous now. Engage, ninny!" He shook his scaly finger at the dumbfounded turtle. The three strange beings clustered up and Tut hit the switch

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