PERPENDICULAR TO NOW Tom Mazanec Cleveland, Ohio September 13, 2003 Joseph Marinelli, Ph.D. reached out with his index finger and stabbed the red button on the control panel. Three years of hundred hour work weeks were focused on this one button, and what would happen in the next moment. The LED digits on the device upon the table inside the chamber glowed a bright red, reading 747182218. The red button engaged...there was a bright blue flash...and the LED digits now read 895284414. The experiment was a success - the Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics was upheld. In a large percentage of worldlines diverging from this instant, Marinelli would soon be a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics. Across the globe, in decreasing concentration with increasing radius from the Case Western Reserve University, were a grand finale of bright blue flashes... ************************************************************************* Sgt. Patrick O'Malley of the National Emergency Recovery Division of the Ohio National Guard was driving with John Masterson, his rookie partner, in the squad car through Solon. Suddenly, there was a great blinding blast of blue incandescence, followed by a soft clattering sound behind them. Patrick immediately put on the brake and reversed the car to where the sound was, where there was now half a house standing where there hadn't seemed to have been any house before. The house was dropping pieces of itself, but it seemed as if it was only part of a house to begin with. "What the hell happened, Pat?" asked John. "Was there a bomb?" "Obviously there *must* have been one!" replied Pat. He grabbed the radio mike, pushed the emergency button and toggled the talk key. "ONG car 451 calling from Summit Street. We have a bombing here! I need backup at once!" The talk key released, the radio rang forth like a clarion: "...that was "Naturally Stoned" by the Avant Garde. Now for another musical gem from our favorite decade here on "The Sixties at Six" at Magic 105, Cleveland's Oldies station...""WHAT THE- WHAT... Is this some kind of a joke or what! I need backup here NOW! I repeat, I need backup immediately!" Again the talk key was released: "Puff, the Magic Dragon, lived by the sea, and frolicked in the-" "Attention! It is a federal offense to pirate this frequency, punishable by a lifetime term in a Secure Recovery Work Party! Get off this frequency immediately or suffer the consequences!" "-loved that rascal Puff, and brought him strings and ceiling wax-" "This is your final warning! If you do not vacate this frequency at once, you will be subject to felony prosecution! Release this frequency NOW!" "-pirate ships would lower their-""Attention headquarters! This frequency is being jammed! Can you read me? Repeat, can you read me? Please reply!" "-lives forever, but not so little boys-" Pat stabbed another button on the radio..."This is ONG car 451 calling from Summit Street. We have an emergency situation! A bombing has occurred, and the emergency frequency is being jammed! Come in, please!""-esident Al Gore spoke today at Ground Zero, the former site of the World Trade Center, on the one year anniversary of the Friday the Thirteenth terrorist hijack-" Pat rammed another one of the buttons "MAYDAY! MAYDAY!""-ask you, my dear friend, are you saved? If *you* were to die today, where would *you* spend eter-" Come on!" Pat called to John as he opened the door. The two officers exited the car, and John followed Pat to the next house up the street. Pat hammered on the door. A red haired woman answered the door and asked "What is the matter? What is going-" Pat barged into the house, followed by John. "Hey! You can't just-" She shut up at once as Pat pulled out his service revolver. "I hereby commandeer this house under Article 13, Section 8 of the National Emergency Recovery Act of 1963! This is an emergency! Do you have a phone?" "Yes" the flustered woman replied. "Why?" "Where is it? We need it at once! Take us to it immediately!" The woman entered another room, followed by the two officers. There was a dining table, and a man, a boy and a girl. The man asked "Who is it, honey?" "NERA, Article 13, Section 8!" barked Pat "Where is your phone?" The woman took a small box off of a larger box and said "Here it is." Pat looked at the device, then looked at her and repeated "Where is your phone?" while waving the revolver in her general direction. "This is it." she squeaked. Pat looked at the phone as if he had never seen anything like it before in his life. "I'm going to give you one more chance. Where is your phone? Do you even have one? That thing doesn't even have a dial." he said as he pointed the gun at her. "Sure this is the phone. See?" as she pushed several buttons on it. "911. What is your emergency?""There are two men in strange uniforms here who say they have an emergency.""What is happening? Who are they?" "They just broke into the house and demanded the phone. Here..." and she offered the phone to Pat. "What is that thing? There's no cord. That's no phone..." "Who is this? This is 911. Who is this?" Pat took the phone and smashed it to the floor, stomping on it. "OK, into the room. All of you!" he called as he and John herded the family into a large room. "Sit there, in the corner." he commanded. He stared at the opposite corner and asked "What are those?" "Those are costumes. The twins birthday comes up in a couple weeks, and they want a costume party to celebrate. Then next month they can go out Trick-or-Treating on Halloween-" "You mean you celebrate Halloween? What the hell is wrong with you? You celebrate a day when this country was decimated? MY father died in the Hell Year, my mother died of leukemia when I was a kid, and you celebrate that day?" Then he looked at the wall and said "What is that thing on that stand for?" "It's the television, mister, just a-" "You mean to tell me you've kept a television there for over forty years and you can't get anything on it?" he asked. "Sure you can. Look." and the woman pushed a button on the set. A technicolor visa appeared, followed by another scene, and another, on and on as she pressed buttons until the shot rang out and the set exploded. A few moments of fighting, as the mother and father struggled with the two uniformed men and two terrified children huddled in the corner, then two more shots. The parents fell to the floor and the children screamed, then fell to muffled sobs. The sound of a siren gradually grew louder, then stopped. John went and looked out the door. "There's some kind of weird police or Guard squad car out here. It looks like something out of science fiction or the future. I never saw anything like it!" Pat and John went out the door. The police were looking at the bisected house next door, but one of them came over. "Are you one of the people who called 911 about the house over there?" Then he got a look inside. He pulled out his pistol and said "All right, back! Down on the floor!" "Something crazy is going-" "ON-THE-FLOOR-NOW!" John tried to break away and run, another shot rang out, and John fell. The other policeman ran over as another siren began growing louder. "You have the right to remain silent..." ************************************************************************* "OK, bud, just tell us what you were trying to do? We know your ID is fake, and we *will* track down where you got that crazy retro car you were using, so why don't you just come clean and tell us what you were doing? Tell us how you demolished half a house and left the other half nearly intact? Tell us why you felt you needed to gun down that couple and leave their kids orphans?" "I told you! We were National Guardsmen on duty! And you killed my partner! You will be facing the death penalty for that, 'bud'." "Look, this act isn't going to work. If you're trying to get off with an insanity plea, let me warn you that that very seldom, if ever, works in cases like this. You seem to be big on right and wrong, and don't seem to kill by uncontrollable need, so *you* are more likely to be facing the death penalty!" "I am a National Guardsman! I was commended last year by President Peters himself for helping put down that Nigger riot!" "President Peters? Who is President Peters?" "Arthur J. Peters, President of the United States of America!" "Ahhh...that would be Al Gore." "Since when?" "Since January of 2001." "Fuck!" A knock was heard upon the door, which opened and admitted a new man who joined the detective. Pat looked at him, then looked much more intently at him. "Are you Mexican?" The newcomer glanced at the detective, who thought a moment and then nodded his head a fraction of an inch. "Yeah, I'm Mexican." he replied with a slight Spanish accent. "But the war is-" Pat's face seemed to turn to stone. "O'Malley, Patrick. Sergeant. 709-399-856. 1 March 1963." "You already told us your name and claimed to be a sergeant in the National Guard, but there are no records of you with that birth date, and we know the serial number was bullshit." "O'Malley, Patrick. Sergeant. 709-399-856. 1 March 1963." "Look, we already checked that out! So cut the crap!" "O'Malley, Patrick. Sergeant. 709-399-856. 1 March 1963." "You are not a soldier so you are not a prisoner of war! You are a scumbag who murdered two innocent people!" "O'Malley, Patrick. Sergeant. 709-399-856. 1 March 1963." "Drop the Geneva Convention act and start cooperating or you are getting a needle in the arm!!" "O'Malley, Patrick. Sergeant. 709-399-856. 1 March 1963." ************************************************************************* "Sorry, Mike, we never had a chance on this case. First, with this epidemic of fugue amnesia, the jury would probably let him off as insane even if it wasn't for him becoming a broken record when Detective Hernandez claimed to be Mexican instead of Puerto Rican. Then at least he would have him locked up in a psychiatric hospital with those other amnesiacs. But somehow the defense comes up with someone whose fingerprints cannot be distinguished from his, even with twenty points. And the guy's name is John Kennedy O'Malley, *and* his birthday is just four days after Patrick's! I don't know, maybe they're identical twins separated at birth or something! But the epidemic *does* seem to be centered on Cleveland. Maybe there is something more going on here than just something in the water, or a couple guys snapping." "So the guy just walks, huh? Him and his dead bud plug two fine, decent people and leave those little kids without a momma or poppa, and he can go out and have a good time, is that it?" "Somehow, I don't think he's gonna have a good time." ************************************************************************* Patrick O'Malley walked down the street, a very strange stranger in a very strange land.