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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Episode 12: Late for the Ball

That evening the Spring Symposium of Ontological Overseers gathered together for a dinner held at the Hotel MacDonald. After recovering from his fainting episode, Andrew had gone home to change into formal wear. Upon opening his closet and throwing a pair of pants, a sport coat and a dress shirt onto the bed, he was about to undress when Saphyr abruptly told him to stop.

"You're not actually considering going to the dinner tonight in that, are you?" the Macbook asked him.

"It's a suit coat..." Andrew protested.

"Bought at Le Chateau for your graduation I'm sure," Saphyr replied.

"Stitches," Andrew replied sheepishly. "I don't have a lot of occasions to be wearing a suit you know."

"It is not the frequency with which one wears a suit which ought to determine the quality of the garment," Saphyr advised. "I've been watching your interactions with that charming young lady all day, and it is clear to me that if you wish to accelerate the nature of your relationship you need to consider dressing in the way you want her to see you."

"We don't have a lot of time here Saphyr. The dinner's in another hour. I don't think this is the best time to be off suit shopping."

"All that talk about time earlier today," Saphyr said, "And you think you don't have any? Might I suggest a trip along the Tree? Perhaps backwards along our current branch to say...the Victorian period?"

"Victorian? How are we going to pay for that? I don't think they'll take debit."

"I'll draft a bank note that ought to do the trick, and run it off your printer," Saphyr said.

"I guess there's no point in me arguing then," Andrew said.

"None whatsoever," the Macbook replied.

Ten minutes later, Andrew hurried through the entrance of Magik Beans, rushing into the shop with Saphyr tucked under his arm, and the couterfeit bank note folded in his pocket.

"Andrew!" Lara shouted from behind the till. "I didn't think we'd see you today!"

"No time to talk!" Andrew called back. "I'm late for the ball!" He flashed her an enigmatic smile, waggled his eyebrows, and quickly climbed the ladder up into the Tree. "Which branch?" he asked Saphyr.

"First one on your left," Saphyr replied.

Andrew ducked his head, and walked along the thick limb, into what should have been the wall of the shop, but pulling back the thick foliage revealed that the branch ran on, like a pathway through a darkened forest. Once Andrew was far enough along the path that he could no longer see the light from the shop through the leaves, the sounds of customers and staff silenced, Saphyr told him to stop.

"Traveling 'up' or 'down' a branch of the Tree in terms of time is different from traveling it to other spaces," Saphyr said. "You don't travel along the branch, you travel through it. Inside it."

"How?" Andrew asked.

"Well, current physics has posited that wormholes have something to do with the possibility of time travel," Saphyr replied. "They're right about the holes, but they're considering the wrong ones."

Andrew smiled and shook his head. "You've got to be kidding me. Knotholes?"

Andrew could have sworn the Macbook found a way to grin at that moment. "Look at your feet," Saphyr said.

At Andrew's feet, there was an imperfection in the wooden path. The grain of the Tree flowed around the imperfection, acknowledging it without allowing it to impede their own path.

"Do you know how knotholes are formed?" Saphyr asked.

"Aren't they dead branches, or branches that never really grew?" Andrew asked.

"They are. They are the evidence of a possible world that never was. They are like a space within the branch which never formed into a reality. And as such, they can be traveled to other points in time along the Tree. This one," Saphyr said, "will take us to the Victorian era, and with a quick jog along the branch, we should find ourselves in London on Jermyn Street where we will attire you in the best clothing money could buy at the time."

"How do we get into the knothole...to travel through it?"

"Bend down. Good. Now run your hand counterclockwise around the knothole thrice...now take your fist and press it into the knothole...it will feel soft, like clay...keep pressing..."

The knothole began to expand, the grain of the wood around it shifting and weaving to accomodate the growth, retracting away from Andrew's fist, until it was a hole in the pathway nearly five feet across. Inside the hole, it looked like a wooden tunnel, with a faint golden glow illuminating it.

"Now drop inside before the knot closes again," Saphyr said.

And they did.

3 comments:

Carl said...

Very very cool bit there. The branch that never was and then applying that to time. LOVE it. Well done.

Gotthammer said...

Ooohh. High praise coming from you, Carl! You made my day! It's funny, because this wasn't originally what I had planned for this episode. It was definitely one that wrote itself. My original notes for this episode just said "Cafeteria," but that felt too high school and a banquet of some sort felt better. Then I realized that it was unlikely Andrew would have the right sort of clothes, which lead to the possibility of a shopping trip...and I had time on the brain.

the philosopher one said...

Can Andrew please beat the tar out of Nicholas Nickleby? that smug swine.