Wanderlust: Part 8

FEBRUARY 14, 1989

"Oh, Jesus," said Kilroy, jumping up from the grass, "I've got to go!"

Raina shifted backwards, blinking several times, her lipstick smeared slightly. She stammered, "Did… did I do something wrong? Did you not like that?"

"No, it's not…" said Kilroy, "It's, no, you're fine, it's not that. I have to be somewhere, is the thing, and I don't… crap, where's my watch?" He fumbled through his pockets, frantically.

"You said your play doesn't start until 8 PM," said Raina. "That's after sundown, and it's not even dusk yet. You should be okay, right?"

"No! There's something else I have to do, while I'm in town. It's complicated, I'm sorry." He gave up looking for the watch, looked around to see if he could spot a digital bank clock. "4:49! Oh, Jesus fuck, I'm late! It's too late!" He stomped the ground once. "God damn it to all nine Hells! Okay, maybe I can get to a computer site in time to alter the in-flight trajectory…" He turned to Raina. "You live around here, right? Where's the nearest campus computer room?"

Raina looked dumbfounded. "What? What are you going to do?"

"I don't have time to explain," said Kilroy. "In fact, I don't even have time to have this conversation. Do you know where it is or not?"

"Kilroy, you're acting really weird," said Raina.

"Look, I'm sorry!" Kilroy blurted. "You're a nice girl and I like you and I've had a wonderful time, and I swear this isn't a crazy ploy to get away from you, but I just need to get to a computer site right now!"

"Okay," said Raina, "okay. I'll take you. Come on."

They walked further into campus. Raina maintained a normal walking speed, while Kilroy, pensive as a tiger in a cage, urged her to speed up the process. After a few false starts, the two found themselves standing on the mall of the agricultural quarter.

"I thought it was this way," said Raina, apologetically "but I guess I took a wrong turn…"

"God damn it to fucking shit balls," cursed Kilroy. "Just fucking fan-fucking-tastic. I'm ruined. I'm fucking ruined!"

Raina blinked. "Is it really so bad? I mean, what did you need the computer for?"

"You really want to know?" spat Kilroy, angrily. "Fine, I'll tell you, and then you'll think I'm a fucking insane jackass and you'll regret making out with me or ever speaking to me in the first place. I needed an Arpanet-enabled terminal so I could hack into the Delta-2 payload fairing that launched today and adjust the orbital trajectory of the very first NAVSTAR-GPS satellite. I was sent back in time to alter the course of human history by throwing off the expansion of the global positioning network ever so slightly. And I fucking blew it!"

Raina was silent for a moment, seeming to ponder the notion. "How are you going to get back?" she asked, finally.

"Don't humor me," said Kilroy, kicking the dirt. "I know you don't believe it. I don't care that you don't believe it."

"Do you not want to answer that question?" offered Raina.

"I can't get back unless the Libras Centrex pulls me out," Kilroy answered, staring off into the horizon. "The problem being that we're presently in a sort of extended time battle with several other competing groups, all of whom are working to destroy one another. My failure might mean that the Centrex no longer exists in the time I've come from, which means I'm stuck here." He sighed. "Stuck in this body, in this timeline, having to go through all this menial bullshit from my life again…"

"Would it be so bad?" asked Raina. "You could have another life. You could change history in your own way." She paused, swallowing. "Maybe we could have a life…"

Kilroy looked at Raina, furrowing his brow. "You can't be serious."

Raina inhaled sharply. "Well," she said, looking apologetic again, "I think you're really nice, and, well… if we're both stuck here, we might as well be stuck together…"

Kilroy's eyes widened like quarters, stark with realization. "You!" he screamed. "You're an Agent, too! You were sent to distract me so I wouldn't finish my mission!" Furious, he grabbed Raina, shaking her. "Who sent you? Was it the Borrons? Or the Salinara Complex? Answer me, god damn you!"

Raina shut her eyes tight. "Please don't hate me!" she pleaded, beginning to cry. "I didn't want to hurt anyone, I'm sorry!"

"You've completely upset the flow of history, you shameless whore!" Kilroy brought his hand back to strike her.

"I did it for my little brother!" pleaded Raina, flinching away from him, now blind with tears.

Kilroy stayed his hand. "Well," he said, "that rather answers my question. It's Magnaway, isn't it?"

Raina nodded. "They took him. They said they'd erase him from history if I didn't do as they said. I didn't know anything about time travel or time wars or anything. They just picked me because I'd be in the right place at the right time, to find you. It didn't sound like it would be so bad. They said that I just needed to be nice to you for a few hours and then I could come home and my brother would be fine…" She became too inconsolable to keep speaking, sobbing intensely.

Kilroy watched her for a long moment.

"I know you hate me," she said, finally.

"I don't hate you," said Kilroy. "I understand why you did what you did. I'm still pissed that you did what you did, but I don't blame you. I may have the raging hormones of a seventeen-year-old right now, but I have a temporal IQ of 320, too." He put his arm on her shoulder. "You're not going to be able to go home, you know."

"I know," sniffed Raina, "and I know my brother's probably not even going to be born now, since things have already changed. I could mourn for him if he'd only died, but what do you do for someone who's never existed in the first place? We don't have any rituals for that in any religion."

"Then maybe we'll start our own," offered Kilroy. "You and me, eh?"

Raina looked up at Kilroy, blinking.

Kilroy was smiling. "Come on," he said, "we've got a play to watch."


The Steel Doll emerged from four-space. She was not where she had calculated she would be.

"Error," she said aloud, presumably meant for the absent Alice. "Misdirection of multi-spacial motor matrix. External trilateration required for Sagnac effect compensation." She was not able to determine what exactly she was standing on, as the entirely of her environment appeared to be constructed of solid light.

A woman's voice came out of the light. "Wanderer of the Inevitable," she said, "welcome. I have been waiting for many ages to meet you."

Dolly cast her eyes in the direction of the voice. "Recognize trilateration data," she said. "Three spatial positions existing as a single intersection. Compensation has been made. Recognize Sigma."

"That is one of my many names," said the voice, "and the one you are most connected with, though others you have encountered would know me differently. Through mathematics I have determined that you would come to me. The statistical probabilities determined that you would assimilate the techniques of the space-stepper, at which point your arrival here would become possible."

"Sigma is the basis of standard deviation," agreed Dolly. "Nothing exists without probability. Observational principle is active."

"Your fate is closely tied to the fate of the worlds, Wanderer," said Sigma, "as is that of your counterpart, the enlightener."

"The enlightener is holy and correct," said Dolly.

"And as such, so are you," said Sigma, "for are you not one in the same? You come from her, from another line of time, in which the Chariot of Splendors did not achieve her task, thus creating you."

The Steel Doll processed this for a long moment. "Error. 808 and 228 are not the same."

"Not anymore," said Sigma, "but in the time from which you came, she was consumed by the unbalanced powers. She did not understand her place in the fate of the worlds. That is why I have sent Cain of Eden to guide her, chosen long ago in the ages of old, as a penance for his sundering of the worlds."

"808 will become 228 if she does not achieve balance," offered Dolly.

"It is inevitable," answered Sigma. "It has already been realized through you, and it will come again if the enlightening fails to pass."

"Input directives," said Dolly.

"Protect her," said Sigma, "and when the zenith arises, be prepared to sacrifice everything."

"Acknowledged," said Dolly. She turned around, and stepped out of the domain of Sofia.


It was all that Alice could do to stay out of their way.

"Father always loved you more!" screamed Cain, pounding his fists into Able's face with the relentlessness of a jackhammer.

"That's because you were a freak!" Able yelled back, rolling out from under his brother as he tossed him aside. "You and your flowers and your fruits — why couldn't you be a real man like me? You should have been born a girl!"

"Why couldn't you both just accept me for who I am?" cried Cain, tears streaming from his eyes as he leaped full-force into Able's gut, his elbow cracking Able's lower ribs. "Why couldn't you be more like mother? She never judged me!"

"YOU KEEP HER OUT OF THIS!" screamed Able, pounding on his brother's spinal column, which resulted in the fracturing of two of his own vertebrae.

"This is crazy," said Alice, watching the two brothers violently assault one another, "this is madness. I don't want to be here. I just want to go home!"

"Tell it to the commoners, kid," said Stanley, appearing suddenly from four-space.

"Stanley?" exclaimed Alice. "I thought you said you'd had enough of this."

"Ahh, I was just lurking on the periphery," he admitted. "I just can't put a good book down, you know? It'd be a crying shame if I didn't see how all this turned out."

"It looks like it's going to turn out very badly for Able," said Alice, pointing to the brawl, "unless we can do something to break them up."

"Setting aside for a moment how that's the worst plan I've ever heard in my life," said Stanley, "what exactly do you propose to do?"

"I was hoping you had an idea," admitted Alice, sheepishly.

"If you think I'm teleporting either one of those crazy bastards anywhere," said Stanley, "think again, toots. Able would make mincemeat out of me before we got back to three-space, and Cain, well… let's just say there's a very good reason I didn't bring him with us in the first place."

"I'd wondered about that," said Alice. "Is it because kidnapping Cain counts as harming him?"

"Something like that," said Stanley. "Not exactly easy to explain due to the limitations of the English language. Suffice it to say it's grossly unpleasant for me."

On the brothers fought as Alice and Stanley debated, fists swinging wildly out of furies born in millennial past.

"I could kill you," swore Cain, his eyes mad with rage. "I could kill you right now, and you'd stay dead this time! You know this!"

"If there's one thing in this universe that I refuse to do," spat back Able, "it's give you that satisfaction!"

Able lunged for Cain's skull, twisting it sharply, the bones of the spinal column making a loud snap, and then Able fell, lifeless as a ragdoll.

"Oh," said Stanley, blinking, "well, looks like they worked that out for themselves, then."

“What do you mean, they're gone?”

“As stated, sirs,” said Snorlison, standing before the seven lit plasma screens containing O5-1, O5-2, O5-3, O5-6, O5-7, O5-9 and O5-11. “Exactly fourteen SCP items have disappeared without a trace. The majority of them had previously exhibited abilities consistent with teleportation, or alteration of the spacetime continuum, or similar properties that would account for the ability to exit our sphere of observation.”

“Even SCP-343 is gone,” piped up Kain Pathos Crow, standing beside Snorlison in the newly-repaired Egg Walker. “No sign of him. Even his room has reverted to its original parameters.”

“And you believe these incidents to be related to the previous premonitions reported?” asked O5-3.

“Data is inconclusive,” answered Crow, “but that is an extremely likely possibility.”

“I'd like to take a look at Gears and Von Schnidt's experimental data,” said Snorlison. “Everything I've examined up until now points to their project being at the intersection of these incidences.”

“Unfortunately, that won't be possible,” answered O5-9. “Von Schnidt has been off-site for several hours, attempting to ascertain the Fishmonger's plans for Cain and 808.”

“Horseshit!” called a gruff voice from the rear. Crow and Snorlison turned around, and barging through the doors was the gruff, always-furious form of Dr Kondraki, everpresent camera around his neck.

“Kondraki,” said O5-7, “you were summoned over four days ago.”

“Yeah, well, sorry I ain't had the time to come lollygag with all you pantywaists,” spat Kondraki, kicking over a chair as he approached the screens, “but frankly I had more important things to do with my time.”

“You test our patience, as usual,” said O5-3. “Exactly what was more important that responding to our summons?”

Kondraki threw a pile of photographs on the desk in front of the screens. The pictures showed a number of horrific sights of humans in mid-transformation into mechanical demons.

Kondraki huffed. “How about cataloging the beginning of an XK-Class event?”


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