Day 4

There wasn’t any way for Liam to know how long the vibrations lasted, or how many places he moved over, but he was sure something wasn’t right with where he was. The problem with his apparatus was that it never really moved him in the same spot more than once. When everything stopped vibrating, he was standing in the middle of a city. The city, he realized was silent. The only noise was the distant call of birds, an animal that he couldn’t recognize, and his own breathing.

The sky looked like an ordinary orange sky with the sun setting in the west with ancient looking skyscrapers breaking up the landscape. It looked normal to Liam all except for the three large, jagged cuts across the sky revealing what Liam thought would be the void of space, but instead it was white lines vibrating stacked on top of one another and extended out into the infinite blank nothing. He blinked a few times and had the urge to shove his thumbs through his eye sockets, but it passed.

It was then he looked down and noticed bones, human bones scattered across the uncared-for pavement. He bent down and studied them noticing that most of the corpse’s positions suggested that they collapsed where they stood. How they were spaced, he imagined that everyone was standing shoulder to shoulder. The more he looked at the landscape, the more he realized that he recognized the city scape.

“This is New York,” he said out loud.

That was when he realized that there weren’t two or three voices in his head. That he was the only one. By the looks of it, he was the only one that was around at all. He walked along the road and deeper into the city. The more he walked the more he realized that the time wasn’t changing, that the world seemed locked in the place that it was in. That time had stopped completely stopped at a sunset.

Looking over the rusted remains of the cars, he surmised that it looked like whatever happened there, happened in the nineteen forties. There were more and more bones, he shuffled through them like he shuffled through snow when he was a little kid. The only difference was the sounds of hollow, dry bones rattle against one another.

Nothing changed. Some of the buildings had collapsed or fallen against one another long ago. The shadows were long and the sun, though it hadn’t moved, couldn’t reach everything. So, these dark spaces that he walked through, he had pull out a pen light that he had on his person. His apparatus beeped telling him that he had moved fourteen spaces over, the screen shifts, and it adds a point five after a moment. He frowns, walks along a street until he gets to a table in front of a diner. He sits down and takes all the things out of his pocket and sits up the apparatus to look at the data and write out a few formulas to develop a few theories.

There shouldn’t be a point five.

He pinged for the information of his location, and it came back S143.5.

“This isn’t how this works,” he said to no one.

A few minutes passed as he leaned back in the rusted metal chair as he stared at the frozen sun. There were black birds that moved across the sky, and he frowned. That also didn’t make any sense. Nothing could live in that kind of environment. Unless, he thought, that the city was the only thing that was affected.

He tapped his finger against his temple and tried to figure out what would cause something to happen like that. There was a small click and without warning, event, or announcement, there was a bipedal figure sitting in the chair across from them.

Liam screamed and fell back on the dust covered ground.

Be not afraid,” a voice echoed in his head.

There was a wave of calm that washed over him, but it wasn’t comfortable. It felt like something shifted and moved under his skin and he could almost feel the chemicals being forced into his brain to cause calm.

“Don’t do that,” Liam said.

“Don’t do that,” it replied.

He wanted to scream again.

The thing sitting in front of him had a thin human body clothed in a tweed suit with black leather gloves. Underneath the matching bowler hat was an acorn shaped head that had no features. Just smooth featureless porcelain looking skin. Except when it said what it said. Its jaw appeared and its mouth ran the length of its head horizontally opened. Inside, using the orange sunlight, Liam could see two sets of eyes, a nose, and a spiked tongue crammed messily into the mouth.

More chemicals dispersed in his brain and his curiosity got the best of him. Although nothing told him otherwise, he knew that if he tried to run, he would fail, and if he tried to fight, he would have experienced a pain on a level that humanity had not yet discovered. The only reasonable thing to do, he thought, was to dust himself off fix his chair, and sit back down with all his belongings between them.

Do you prefer I speak like this?” It asked.

“Yes,” Liam replied.

Can you do the same?” It turned its head completely sideways.

“No,” he answered.

Interesting,” it said.

“Where is this,” Liam asked.

New York nineteen forty-three, but also two thousand and five,” it said. “This is a dead place with a lot of dead things like you and not like you.

“Not like me,” Liam looked down at the bones. “You mean other animals?”

We brought our own…animals,” it said. “I meant that there are humans here that weren’t humans.”

“What happened here,” he asked.

Rules were broken,” it replied. “And what was one was split in two.

That made little sense to Liam, so he held up his hand and looked at the number again. He raised his eyebrows when the realization washed over him. This was a dead branch. Someone did something that drastically changed everything, and to preserve itself, a branch was made.

Exactly,” it said. “And no, I’m not going to eat you.

“This isn’t a legitimate line,” Liam made a note on his apparatus so he would skip anything with a decimal.

The in-betweens,” it nodded as he produced a teacup out of thin air and held it out. Liam declined.

“What happens to these in-betweens,” he turned on the recording section of his machine.

Why don’t you ask the real question,” it said.

“Do you have the ability to save my wife,” he asked.

Nothing here can save anything,” it replied.

Though Liam knew that answer, he still felt the weight of disappointment. Whatever this thing was…

“don’t try too hard on that one” It spoke aloud, some of the teeth clicked against one another. A few more sunk into the lipless face. Silver liquid that he assumed was blood started leaking upward into the sky.

“This isn’t what you look like,” Liam said.

Correct,” it said. “You could not handle that.”

Liam started packing his things knowing that this place, though he wanted to know more, was of no use to him. He made sure to adjust the machine. It watched him as moving a gloved finger in a circle as it continually bled silver up into the sky.

If you ever meet a woman named Perdita,” it said. “Will you bring her back here?

“Why?” Liam had put the ear buds in and stood. It didn’t react. The only thing it did was pull at the wound making it big enough that Liam could see one of the bloodshot, too human looking eyeballs looking at him.

It comes for her,” it said.

“Okay,” Liam stood. “Okay.”

“Okay,” it repeated.

Liam turned his back from the thing and activated the apparatus. He could hear something like a cry or a grunt. Then there was a sucking sound and the reeking smell of death. The pulsing started and he didn’t stand around to see what would happen next. He started to run and he could feel the ground bubble and liquefy behind him as whatever it was, begins to move toward him.

Should have ran,” it said. “Makes the thing inside us grow hungry.

The world around him vibrates violently. No matter what rules someone was breaking, they could move forward and backwards. He could only move from side to side. There’s a brush of something on his neck and he screams. There’s a flash and he is standing in an alley of modern-day New York. Cars roar by, people are laughing somewhere. He couldn’t turn around. Something told him he couldn’t look behind him still, so he walked down the alley into the sun and took a deep breath happy that everyone had the correct looking faces.

But someone out there, he thought, was skipping around breaking rules, and making things like whatever that was coming into existence. He wasn’t sure what that would do, but he knew that he had to talk to them about it before things got worse. There was a name: Perdita. He would find Perdita and together they would do whatever they would need to do to save his wife. Whether this woman wanted to or not.

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