People have been known to spend ridiculous sums of money and large portions of their lives to try and know what the future holds for them. Even the smallest glimpse of tomorrow is treated like a mountain of gold.
Let me tell you, as someone who knows what tomorrow brings, that it's more like a mountain of dung.
The year is 1979, and my name is Doug Ellis. AKA Alan Berry. AKA Macroman. And I'm in the middle of spending more than a year living twice, thanks to a time loop an aspect of myself will throw myself into nearly twenty years from now...or a did throw myself into several months ago. It's still a few weeks until I catch up with my own origin [as told in Dvandom Force #62-65 - Ed.], but because my younger self was such a fanboy of my older self's career, I know way more than I'd like to about the life I have to lead. And if you don't already have a headache from all this time travel stuff, think about living with it for over a year.
Take today for example. I knew that the Modem Master would be "transferring funds electronically" out of C|Net.ral City's largest bank, since as a kid in Clue Valley I had a newspaper clipping of the story Glory Ellis (my aunt and girlfriend, depending on which age you're looking at...and you think *you* have relationship problems) wrote. I know I succeeded...or will succeed...in stopping him. I also know there's no stories about me for at least three weeks afterwards. Was it a slow month? Do I get knocked out of action for three weeks? Do I take another short time jump?
You see, knowing a little about the future can sometimes be worse than knowing nothing.
Unfortunately, the options are looking decidedly less pleasant.
"At 300 baud, Macroman, it should take you all month just to be transmitted across the room!" Modem Master crowed.
"Don't be so...OW!" I yelped as a sharp pain cut across my face.
"Ah ah ah..." Modem Master waggled a finger at me as he transmitted another pile of bills across town to his hideout. "If you don't stay perfectly still during the upload, you'll introduce tons of single-bit errors into your format, translating into pain and possibly even death, speedy."
I could see a shadowy image of myself forming across the room, where Modem Master was transmitting my "data." The possibility was starting to raise its ugly head that I might tear myself apart stopping this guy, and need to spend weeks in bed healing. My jaw already felt like I'd been punched by a gorilla.
"I control the tranmission rate, so don't get any cute ideas about trying to use your super-speed macros to boost up to 1200 or 2400 bps," the teleporting villain warned. Maybe he was lying, maybe he wasn't.
Damn. I was still too used to ethernet connections from the 1990s, and I still wasn't high enough in the police department's records division to set up modem connections for the few computers we had. If Modem Master really got his power from modem-like technology, I needed to think about the weaknesses of that technology that I could USE. I already knew it was slower than...well, all the metaphors I can think of either invoke molasses or modems, but you get the idea. And that flaw was the crux of the trap.
Seeing as it was too painful to talk, I just glared silently at Modem Master, and was rewarded by a smug grin. Maybe there was a hint of worry behind it...us net.hero types are notorious for doing masochistic or even suicidal things to stop net.villains, I guess he wasn't totally sure his trap would hold me.
Maybe if I moved really quickly I could exit the field of transmission before any errors could occur. Then again, maybe I'd just vanish entirely if I did...hey.... Crazy, suicidal, masochistic, but it just might work.
One of the tricks I have available that sets me apart from the garden variety of superspeedster is my little "time pop" thing. I can actually jump ahead a second or two in time at will, and if I'm moving at the time, I travel in space while I'm missing in time. I usually use it to get through walls without having to knock them down. But it's risky, because if there's anything denser than air at the location I reappear at, well, it wouldn't be pretty.
Still, eventually laughing boy here's going to get the idea to just give me a shove or turn off the transmission in an attempt to kill me. Better to die when he's not expecting it, I guess...element of surprise and all. Well, get maimed anyway...I know I don't die for nearly a year yet.
So I concentrated. It's hard to amp up my timeindex field without moving, but I've been practicing, and can usually get it to work.
Suddenly there was a horrible wrenching sensation, as if someone pulled every hundredth atom out of my body...which is roughly what was happening. My time jump severed the modem connection, leaving the already-transmitted part stranded across the room.
"NO CARRIER" intoned the synthesized voice from one of Modem Master's gadgets as I popped back in. A fine mist was dispersing on the other side of the room, the remains of the parts I'd lost. Modem Master himself was agog.
Fine, let him be agog. Before he had a chance to pick his jaw up off the floor, I picked it up for him, slamming up with my fist with a rather unpleasant crunching sound.
He dropped like a wet sack of something wet and sacklike, while I clutched my hand in pain. The loss of bone mass had weakened my fist just enough that I probably shouldn't have hit him so hard. Definitely at least one broken bone.
Well, now I know how I'm spending the next few weeks....
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