Chapter 3: The Multiverse.
Kendra stepped through the doors of the factory, her back tensed – not sure if she was going to find some dastardly device or a moldering maze of manufacturing machines left to malinger in the mires of mercantile malaise. She had to move through a hanging curtain of plastic strips – the kinds that existed in some places, but she never could for the life of her determine what they did – and then open another door at Adder’s prompting.
And then she stopped. Her eyes were wide, and her back was even straighter than before. She didn’t see what Adder wanted her to see…she felt what he wanted her to feel.
The factory looked perfectly normal. The floors were covered with a fine layer of dust – only marred by the occasional track of footsteps, some of them large and human, some of them tiny and made by animals. The machinery that had once pumped out whatever this factory had built sat in long rows of rusting machinery – the metal’s gleam faded and the plastic bits starting to go knatty and worn away in places.
But what she felt…was an utter stillness. The universe seemed to have held its breath here, and never let it go. The stillness was more complete than just a lack of air blowing, or a lack of sound, a lack of life. It went deeper, to the bone. Through the bone. Into the place between bone and the universe. Maybe even into the soul that Kendra had never really even thought of. She closed her eyes and in the stillness, she was pretty sure that she had a soul.
It was…more of a religious experience than anything she had ever had in her life – which more and more felt like a short prelude to a much longer, much stranger life. That feeling intensified and she trembled, her eyes closed as she…stepped back. She tried to…not feel the divine stillness of the universe…she tried to return to herself. To the simple lack of caring – she had been raised Christian, but not very rigorously, and it only crossed her mind every once in a while, or when she really needed to swear, or something.
She stepped backwards, almost running into Adder.
“Do you feel it, Kendra?” He asked, sounding pleased.
She turned around. “Stop it!” She glared at him. Anger didn’t seem to work to drive the feeling away. If anything, it just made it stronger.
“I’m not doing anything.”
She stepped back a bit, wanting to put some space between her and the psycho who had had her kidnapped. Even that thought didn’t drive the feeling of religiosity away from her mind – it flowed around her thoughts like water. That…that more than anything else made her think that it was forced on her.
Of course, Immortals – as far as you know – can’t do things like that. She thought to herself. That was the sticky part. As far as she knew.
“This…is Holy Ground.” Adder stepped to the side, his hand sliding along the bars that crisscrossed across the window that they stood nearby. “Immortals have long had a rule that we do not fight in such places…not only does it simply feel wrong, but-“
“Holy ground!? Holy flipping ground!? We’re in an old…old…” Kendra looked around. “Geejaw and widget factory! What did people worship here, outsourcing jobs to China!?”
Adder laughed. His laugh was annoyingly infectious . “Mortals do not feel the same things we do. They cannot accomplish the same wonders as we…is it any wonder that their feeling for holy ground is lacking? Some churches, aye-“ Did he seriously just say aye? “-are built on Holy Ground. But many are not. Some places of Holy Ground are not touched by humans at all, and are free for nature to keep and treasure.”
“All right. How does this say anything about anything?” Kendra asked, her eyes closed as she rubbed her hands against her shoulders. “There are some places that make you feel…funny.”
“Funny?” He seemed amused. “You can barely contain your tears.”
Kendra’s eyes were closed even tighter. The feeling was growing more intense. She felt as if she could…touch the vastness of the universe. She could feel the benevolence and love of…God. The more she felt it, the more she became sure that it was God…no, she…
She trembled and tried to not feel the stinging around her eyes.
Adder seemed to be growing more excited – she could hear it in the tone of his voice. “Immortals do not fight in such places, we can feel their importance. Can you imagine drawing a blade here? I certainly cannot. Those that have tried, though, have always failed in their fights – for there is another facet of these places. Our powers do not touch these places!”
Kendra opened her eyes.
“So, we’re mortal? In here?”
“And we don’t fight in these places?”
“God has a nasty sense of humor.” She grinned, shakily, and a hysterical laugh bubbled up through her teeth.
Adder laughed as well, then took her arm, guiding her outside. “Come, young immortals do feel it more intensely. I think it may be because your powers are still intuitive rather than a learned skill, and so you don’t know to rein it in.”
They walked outside and the feeling…didn’t vanish. Kendra didn’t feel as if some light switch had been turned off and her experience of touching, of feeling, of knowing God had gone away. The experience tingled in the back of her mind, though she no longer had to think about it. She shoved it into a box for thinking about…later.
Adder, thankfully, distracted her by continuing his spiel: “And yet, our powers still impact Holy Ground.”
“What?” She turned to face him, her brow furrowing.
“When the world changes, dramatically. When a city that was to be built is built elsewhere. When a man who made great empires no longer lived. When a religion was never founded, and when billions no longer worshiped the God that they once did, buildings are unmade, churches uncreated, sacred places redefined. Immortals, it seems, can change even the unchangeable.”
Kendra’s brow furrowed. “So…we can…make them change when we’re away from them, but not when we’re on them? That doesn’t make any sense…”
Adder grinned. “You are right. It doesn’t. Unless…we don’t change things when we use our faculties.”
“Have you ever heard of the double-slit experiment?” Adder asked. He didn’t even need her to respond, he just saw the look on her face and laughed. “It was an experiment to determine how light worked…and they found that it was a probabilities game, one that changes based on observation, not simply on action. But…” He pointed at the factory. “If one was to perform the experiment in there, there would be no wave pattern! DO you know what that means!?”
“…what the flying flip are you taking about!?” Kendra asked, stepping backwards.
Adder’s eyes gleamed – as if he was still in the Holy Ground and feeling the intense religion, and it was driving him more and more frantic. But, no, Kendra just saw that he was just like that.
“Quantum mechanics are a function of connections between the myriad universes. Every quantum event, and everything that ripples from them, creates a nearby universe, an infinite number of Earths. We Immortals are NOT changing the world, Kendra! If we were changing it, how could we impact the places that we have no power over? We are not changing…Kendra…we are TRAVELING! We are traveling from world to world!”
Kendra stepped back, and almost tripped over a bit of detritus behind her.
“And that means…” Adder’s voice grew soft – and, paradoxically, more intense. “There is no guilt in what we do. If we move to a world where mortals suffer…we are not the cause of their suffering.”
And Kendra saw it. Kendra saw the seductive, slithering appeal to the idea. Something inside of her – she was pretty sure…she hoped it was something inside of everyone – curved and wriggled towards the twisted glow of that idea. That she didn’t need to feel guilty…she could go to a universe where everyone loved her and she had everything she wanted.
Who cared if it hurt other people? They were already hurt. They would always be hurt. There was nothing she...
She shook her head, slowly. “How do you explain the other Immortals, then?”
“Oh, simple. We are connected, both factions believe that. Your friends believed we are connected by awareness – we sense the changes. Mine – me, Crichton, others – we believe that we are connected by shared travels. And there’s only one way to cast off, Kendra. Only one way.”
Kendra didn’t like the look on his face.
“If an Immortal dies, they still live. There are so many other universes, Kendra. They still live out there, but they don’t bother us anymore. They are free to travel…and so are we…” He stepped closer. “So stand still and let me free you…”
Kendra gulped, took another step back, and found herself back to back with a chainlink fence.
Adder reached into his vest and drew out a machete – one that couldn’t possibly have been there before, but one that was there now.
“There can only be one in my universe…” Adder said, certainty dripping from his voice. He stepped closer, raising his machete.
“There can only be one.”
Like the story?
Support it with a donation!