Since I’ve gotten some feedback that they hate the “every other day” system, I’ll compromise. New posts will go up daily Monday-Saturday at 8am until the story is finished.
This is a continuation of a story begun in the post “Chapter 1. Part 1.” If you enjoy it, please like and share it with others!
CHAPTER 3: THE STORY
“This is going to be hard to explain,” said Chak, “At this moment, you aren’t in time as you know it. Time exists differently here than it does on earth.
“First let me tell you that there are three types of time. There’s linear, which moves in a straight line, cyclical, which runs in a circle, and stagnant, which is time that doesn’t move.
“There is a realm of the Syllogy of the Universe that keeps all these types of time. A garden. Time grows in that garden. You see, on earth you only live in time, it’s intangible, but in a certain place here in the Syllogy of the Universe, time is physical as well, and this physical place controls the intangible time everywhere else in the Syllogy. The intangible quality of time in the Syllogy only exists in the minds of its inhabitants.
“This garden is an unfathomable place and Umbili, that’s what our race is called, can’t enter the garden where time grows. But one of us tried to. An Umbili named Mendrax tried to get into the forbidden time garden. Unfortunately, he succeeded in his attempt. To put it mildly, he messed stuff up. Mendrax went crazy using the power of the garden, as crazy as Teleon!”
Who’s Teleon?” I asked.
“It’s just an expression. Don’t worry about it. Mendrax, went mad and used the garden to travel through time and space to change whatever he wanted about everyone’s present, past, and future. He changed earth, and he changed the Syllogy.
“It’s hard to explain to you. Being a human and all, the things he changed that had such a massive effect on you probably seem almost normal. But he fractured humanity. An important change that he helped to cause was the meaning of life for humans. The meaning of life for humans was not originally death; Mendrax’s meddling made it so.
“The Higher-ups obviously found out about what he did. They assembled their forces and captured Mendrax, but something went wrong there too. Because of the changes that Mendrax had made while in the forbidden time garden, he took powers for himself he was never meant to have. He even managed to imitate some of the attributes of the Higher-ups.
“Imagine a young child suddenly being given immense physical strength, but not having the mind to control it. This was Mendrax with these new powers. The power he took consumed him, and even worse, made him impossible to kill. Because of this, the Higher-ups quickly quarantined the area around the garden so that Mendrax couldn’t leave it anymore. They trapped him there with his greed and his power, but the damage had already been done. The human purpose had already been changed. The Umbili no longer had their purity, and worst of all he began poisoning linear time.”
“What do you mean by that? He began poisoning linear time,’” I asked.
“How can I explain this? First let me explain what the different types of time are. When you, a human, choose to do something, sometimes you are stuck with it. When you decide to cut off your arm, your arm is not growing back. That is a stagnant choice. That’s a choice that resides in stagnant time. The effect is locked in time and nothing you can do will bring your arm back as the linear part of time marches onward. Stagnant time is very much like the past. It is locked in place and does not move or change.
“Other times in the human world a result of a choice can be changed. You can, on occasion, change your mind and the only thing lost in that choice is time itself. If you choose to live in Athens, you can later move to Sparta, and the only downside of living in Athens was that you lost the time that you could have lived in Sparta. If you choose to study swordplay, you can later focus your learning on battle strategy. The only thing you lost in that choice was time spent studying one or the other. These are linear choices. Most choices fall in this realm. Linear time is very much like the present, at any moment you can make a choice to change the present, and the present is the only thing you have any degree of control over.
“Other times in the human world, you get a glimpse of a cyclical choice, a choice whose effects almost lie in cyclical time. You repeatedly become hungry and can choose different ways to satiate that hunger based on the moment, but no matter what, some time down the road, that choice will confront you again. You can choose to cut your hair a certain length, but it will grow back and you will be faced with the same choice again. Cyclical time is most similar to the future: constantly changing, but never really changing at all.
“These aren’t perfect examples, because you really only have linear time on earth, but we have all three perfectly here. The other thing to note is that linear time is the core, or the mixture, of the other two. Linear time is the most important.
“Mendrax began poisoning linear time and little of it is left in the garden. We think he did it to ransom the world to the Higher-ups for his escape, but we’re not sure. Whatever the reason, the delicate balance of time that exists in this realm is being thrown off balance. Now, thanks to Mendrax, all of our choices are slowly dividing into either stagnant or cyclical ones. The choices that once were linear are now becoming permanent decisions or recurring situations. Small things like where to eat lunch have become either set decisions that we can’t change or complete chaos so that we can never make up our mind, we just keep changing it and go hungry. Life as we know it is devolving. The effects right now are small, but the Higher-ups are sure that they will get worse.”
“When did all of this happen?”
“Well, like I said, time is different here, so ‘when’ is a strange question. Mendrax broke into the forbidden garden about three years ago and the Higher-ups trapped him there a few weeks later. We noticed the devolution of time days after he was trapped and I was charged with the task of finding a human who could help us. I’ve been sent by the Higher-ups to your world in different time periods to different people trying to find someone who was aware of the imbalance that Mendrax had caused. I had to find someone who could grasp the hopelessness and evil of his change. You are that person.”
“Woah! Slow down Chak. What do you mean, I’m that person? How do you know?”
“You answered the question!”
“So what?! Who cares? That doesn’t mean I’m the right guy!”
“Yes it does. Don’t you understand? No one has ever answered that question correctly before.”
“Well, how many people have you asked?”
“Six-hundred and sixteen.”
There was a poignant silence. Chak had killed six-hundred and sixteen humans before me – just wiped them off the face of the earth. He erased them from the memory of their loved ones. Chak looked at me and I knew he could tell what I was thinking.
“I had no choice,” he said. “When the Higher-ups give a command I am bound by my existence to follow it. I can’t not do what they tell me. That’s a choice Umbili have never had, except once. I didn’t enjoy it. When you were killing men on the beaches of Troy, did you enjoy it?”
“No. I only did it so that they wouldn’t kill me. It was eat or be eaten, kill or be killed. I guess that is the kind of thing Mendrax wants to see happen on earth.” I looked at the floor as I spoke.
“Yes it is. And it’s sort of the same with me. The Higher-ups just don’t have to kill me; they’ve got some power that stops me from resisting. Obedience to them is a part of me, knit into my being. It’s one of the things that makes me what I am: an Umbili. Thankfully, they are trustworthy and they never lie. They told me that the fate of the humans I did away with was already decided and their time had come. I believe them.”
“How do you know you can trust them?” I asked.
“Because they are good Nicholas. They are very good. It’s their nature to do what is good and what is right. If they say something is right, we can trust that it is. Beyond that, the Higher-ups owe nothing to anyone. They created everything. It is only because they are good that anyone is alive to begin with. It’s their goodness that allows us all to take another breath!”
“I don’t think killing people is right or good,” I said hotly.
“I know. I won’t be able to convince you, it’s a conclusion you have to reach on your own. When you get to know the Higher-ups, you just know that they are right in what they choose to do. I can’t explain it better than that. It’s the same reason I know they were right in choosing you,” he said.
“So, why did the Higher-ups want you to find,” I hesitated, thinking of the right way to indicate that someone else was the right person, then gave up after glancing at Chak’s face, “me,” I finished, defeated.
“Well, before Mendrax had been trapped, he took some of the Umbili with him. The fact that Mendrax had found a way to disobey the Higher-ups intrigued many of our kind, and he told them that, if they desired to, he would give them the ability to disobey the Higher-ups as well. There were about six hundred Umbili total back then, and about a tenth of them went with Mendrax. We can’t change allegiances now though. Those who chose Mendrax soon had that freedom taken away from them and those who refused him were never offered it again, so we no longer have a choice in the matter. There are powers that I don’t understand at work. You may not realize this, but as a human you have certain powers that we Umbili don’t have and don’t understand.”
“Really? What powers?”
“Well, for one thing, you can disobey the Higher-ups. You don’t have to do what they tell you, and there’s a lot more power in that than you may realize. For another thing, we may outweigh you in physical strength, but in strength of will, you are far superior.”
“That’s it, disobedience and will-power? Those are the two spectacular gifts I have that brought me here? A bratty two-year-old has disobedience and will-power!”
“There are many other gifts you have that you will have to discover as you go, but there’s one more the Higher-ups instructed me to tell you about. The problem is, I really don’t understand it, but perhaps you will. They said to tell you that your greatest strength lies in your ignorance. Your ignorance will light the way. Does that make any sense to you?”
I thought for a moment. My ability to be ignorant seemed worthless. If anything it would be a hindrance to me instead of a strength. My ignorance could only mean that I wouldn’t be prepared for something that I should be prepared for. “No,” I said flatly. “I don’t see how being ignorant could possibly be a gift.”
“Well, I hope you figure it out. You were also chosen from amidst all the humans available because you have a greater sense of Mendrax’s actions, and a greater ability to reason. You figured out the purpose he had given humanity but had tried to hide. You can sense him where others can’t. You have the gift of discernment, and that’s why you were chosen.”
“Alright. Let’s say I believe you and I accept that I am the right person to be here. What is it that you want me to do? Why did you bring me here?”
“Good question. As I’ve told you, this world is deteriorating. When Mendrax began poisoning linear time and thus removing linear choices, he put a countdown timer on all of us. Eventually this world will do one of two things: freeze or burn. If the stagnant choice wins out over the cyclical choice, we will freeze. Eventually all action will be locked in time, and life will cease to exist because we cease to choose. If the cyclical choice wins out over the stagnant, this world will become like a loop that gets smaller and smaller the more it gets repeated. Eventually everyone will be locked in constant repetitive choice until we cease to exist because we cease to do anything but choose. It’s dizzying to consider but true nonetheless. The Higher-ups have told me that we normally rest in a delicate balance between stagnant and cyclical, but because of Mendrax’s poison, the balance becomes more and more delicate each day, and it’s just a matter of time before something, or someone, tips the scales and choices, and thus life, become meaningless.”
There was a long silence when Chak stopped talking.
“Ok. I’ll help. What is it I need to do?”
Chak smiled. “I knew you would agree. There’s something unusual inside you Nicholas Alexander. The Higher-ups were wise in their selection method. Here is what I’ve been told to tell you. You need to travel to Mendrax’s garden, the time garden where he was trapped. It’s in an exiled land in the far west at the end of the great river.”
He stood up and walked over to a small display case that lined the wall. On it was a medium sized platform on which rested a little purple crystal. It had a protective glass dome around it. Chak raised the dome carefully away from the crystal and picked up some long metal tongs. He lifted the crystal off of the display with the tongs and told me to hold out my hands. I did so, and he laid the crystal into them delicately. It was cool to the touch.
“This is a seed of linear time, the last one we have. We need you to plant this seed in the forbidden garden of time and…”
He paused and looked seriously at me like he was trying to say something, but couldn’t.
“And according to the Higher-ups, everything will be fixed. Mendrax’s power over the garden will be taken away and he will finally be defeated.”
“And you believe the Higher-ups? How do you know they aren’t manipulating you?”
“I have no choice in the matter.”
“I should have known. Alright! I accept your mission. Let’s go.”
“Slow down a little Nicholas. Before we leave we need to visit Brew. She’ll give us equipment for our journey.”
“You’re coming with me?”
“Of course! A bunch of us are actually. We can’t let a rogue human loose in the middle of the Syllogy of the Universe. No offense.”
“None taken,” I said. “I don’t have to obey the rules like you do. You’re allowed to be suspicious.”
Want to keep reading? Go to the next section! >>> “Chapter 4. Part 1.”