"Oh shit!" Flynn exclaimed. He slapped the control panel causing the Mirna Loy to dive sharply. Everyone's intestines went into their skulls before Flynn twisted the ship in the opposite direction sending everyone's organs into their shoes.
Flynn shook his head, "Can't take your eyes off the rift for a minute." -- he pointed at a display. A stretch of the rift now had red grids laid over them like topographical charts. The red indicated areas where temporal instability peaked. Flying through them could result in anything from pitching the Mirna Loy into the nearest timeline, or simply tear the ship apart. Urban legends even claimed some rift-runners got turned into wraiths, spectral entities forever lost and wandering the time stream, beings of conscious time without a shred of sanity.
White knuckled the Professor held onto an overhanging pipe, while Flynn slalomed through the instability. Seamus braced himself in a hatchway as Katie stood in the aisle laughing.
She said, "I bet you pussy's fall down before I do."
"How much?" the Professor grinned.
Seamus grunted, "Done."
Katie staggered about, but no matter which way the ship tossed her she kept her footing. The Kid stumbled onto the bridge, bleeding from a gash above his eyebrow.
The Professor asked, "What happened?"
The Kid said, "I got thrown out a bunk, cut my head. I could've broke my neck."
"Too bad," Seamus said, though he didn't elaborate on how he meant it.
The Kid asked, "What's going on?"
Flynn replied, "Funny how that's on everybody's mind."
The Professor said, "We've got trouble."
"All caps," Katie added glaring at the Kid. The Kid narrowed his gaze. The trio stood on the opposite side of the bridge. Despite the chaotic driving, they all had eyes on him. He ignored Flynn, assuming the rift-runner was too busy keeping the ship from some kind of disaster.
"Oh dear," Flynn muttered. Before he could say anything more the Mirna Loy hit an unstable edge. The ship spun out of control tossing the occupants every which way.
The Professor cried out, "What now?"
Hanging from a chair bolted to the floor Flynn shouted back, "We see what happens."
Mary Questal learned a lot at thirteen. Thyroid cancer taught her the blunt, shortness of life as well as how people ruin life for one another. Case in point, she sat in a wheelchair beneath the shadow of Penny Pup, one of Mus the Mouse's friends. The Last Wish Society paid for her whole family to go to Mus Meadows, the gargantuan Floridian theme park where the whole Mus empire came to life. Mary couldn't imagine anyone having a bad time there until she arrived, and found that every single other tourist seemed to be miserable.
People complained steadily about the heat, the prices, the long lines, the screaming children, a general lack of anything for adults; and Mary couldn't help thinking, 'At least you people don't have cancer.'
She inhaled the cool air running through the tube under her nose. None of those people seemed to realize they made being here worse, the whole lot pissed off because they weren't being taken care of like spoiled children. The tourists seemed to expect their every whim to be handled at a moment's notice. Last night she watched a man empty a steam tray from the buffet, ladling pounds of shrimp onto a plate, then become irate when a refill didn't arrive immediately. Now she sat watching a line growing ever more vocally upset:
"Come on! How long does this take?"
"Don't they know how many folks come here? They really oughta have more thing-a-bobs to ride."
"This is ridiculous. I paid a lot of money to be here. I should be able to go on when I feel like it."
"Mommy! I wanna i's kreeeem cone. I wanna COOOONNNE!"
The sizzle snap of electricity, the sound alone with no sign of any arcs. A whiff of ozone. The wind kicked up a notch. The crowd hushed. With a sound like a massive firework going off the Mirna Loy appeared several feet above the crowd across from Mary. It hung suspended in the air the briefest of moments before falling onto the dozens below. Mary felt sure she even heard a splat. She couldn't help chuckling a bit.
Flynn popped the hatch. Scurrying onto the control tower he looked around. They seemed to have landed in a timeline where European storybook villages dominated the popular architectural scene, and grotesque mutant hordes of anthropomorphized hybrids roamed the land, great freaks with disproportionate limbs; the fixed, bemused expressions on their faces a clear sign of being full of Thorazine.
"Or possibly lobotomized," Flynn murmured to himself.
"What's that?" the Professor inquired as he climbed up to join Flynn.
"Nothing, just thinking aloud." Flynn looked across the way. He saw a little girl in a wheelchair wave to him. He waved back, "Oh she seems like a sweet kid."
The Professor asked, "What's the situation?"
Flynn shrugged, "All things considered, could be worse." -- glancing over the railing he saw the spray of blood from crushed tourists -- "For us."
"We should get out of here as soon as possible," the Professor remarked.
"Already ahead of you," Flynn said. He blew a kiss to Mary Questal then the two went back into the Mirna Loy. The ship soon rose up then circled Mus castle before punching back into the rift.
In the rift the Professor came to a decision. It was time to get to blunt.
The Kid stood at the nav-con swearing, "We're way away from where we need to be. We need to get the fuck back on track."
The Professor nodded, "Back to one line."
The Kid stiffened. A second passed before he said, "What do you mean?"
"Oh, well, if you want to play it that way." -- the Professor made a subtle gesture that let Seamus and Katie know to be ready for anything -- "There's a group of, frankly, lunatics, who believe that the way timelines cancel out, tearing themselves out of existence to eliminate paradoxes, is a sign. They think it might be possible to start a chain reaction, wherein every timeline gets canceled out save for one."
The Kid turned away from the display. He saw Seamus holding a large wrench, and Katie standing with her arms crossed, a knife in one hand. The Kid tucked his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket. He did it very casually.
He remarked, "Sounds like a plan."
"It sounds like genocide. Countless realities gone." -- the Professor snapped his fingers -- "Like that."
Able to read the writing on the wall the Kid shrugged, "Yeah, but do we really need a world where dinosaurs invented the skateboard, or Victorian clothes never went out of style?"
"It ain't up to you," Katie said.
The Kid smirked, "One timeline means there's only one reality. There isn't a world where you're more than you are, meaning you're the worst version of yourself."
"You can't rationalize this. Not to us," the Professor said.
Seamus concurred, "Damn straight."
The Kid shrugged, "Then I guess there's nothing left to discuss."
The Kid fired from his pocket. Flynn ducked under the steering console. The bullet ricocheted around the bridge. Seizing on everyone's desire not to get hit, the Kid darted through the nearest exit.
When the bullet finally stopped a sigh of relief followed. Then the trio went after the Kid. They could see him not too far ahead, awkwardly trying to run as he typed something into his arm at the same time.
Katie took the lead muttering to herself, "You wanna shoot me? Ima cut your face off."
The Kid knew there was nowhere to go. His only hope rested with his employers. So he sent the message: Compromised. Help. A moment passed before the computer received a reply: Understood. The Kid's arm started beeping, each beep coming faster and faster. Realizing what it meant, the Kid stopped running. The explosion spun him in a full circle. He tripped over his own feet and fell to the floor. Holding up a bloody stump he glanced at the ragged, charred mess where his arm used to be. A steady flow poured out of the wound. He couldn't fully comprehend the facts at hand. Darkness closed in.
Reaching the corpse Katie swore, "Shit. Now what?"
"We wait and see if the Resurrection Men bring him back," the Professor said.
"And if they don't?" Katie kicked the dead body.
Seamus said, "Then we visit an old friend of mine."
PART 4: The Resurrection Men