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Ripples: Part 2 (Podcast Episode 4)

Chapter 1 

FEAR MAKES FOOLS OF US ALL

    Taylor stood in the corner of the large room admiring her work. The room was simple, but elegant, which perfectly reflected the somber subject matter that brought everyone together, and the prominent nature of the guests themselves. She was in a room of World leaders, Ambassadors, and leading Scientists from around the World. Amongst all of this, for that brief moment standing in the corner of the room, she felt like she was one of them. She felt like she really fit in, dressed in her black gown with flecks of silver sprinkled throughout. Subtle jewelry accented the silver in her dress, and her hair was done up with a silver barrette to pull it all together. She felt like she could walk up to The British Prime Minister, or The President of The United States and start a conversation and it would be a normal thing. Then, the moment was over, and she was brought back to reality now acutely aware of the small headset she was wearing to communicate with her staff as the kitchen manager called to her.

    “Dinner is ready for service, Taylor,” the voice said. Taylor responded with a simple approval and Taylor was back in go mode. Her short moment of feeling like a guest of the event was gone, and Taylor gazed around the room for any signs of things not going to plan. Taylor didn’t usually coordinate events as she was typically just part of putting together the main vision of an event; but, when The White House called to request her company to put together this event, Taylor felt she needed to see the whole thing through. So, there she was, amongst many of the most powerful people in the World all here in NYC to discuss how to prevent the end of the World from occurring. Ever since “The Vision” six months ago, The World had become a different place. Panic and Fear swept across the World like a raging hurricane; and, Taylor was trying to remain in the eye of the storm. Trying to stay true to her newfound philosophy on life and living in the moment. Trying not to let the visions change her and take away her control of the present. This was no easy feat, but she had control over her apartment and her office, and she exercised it.
    Within days of “The Vision,” the vision of blackness that everyone in the World saw at the same time, there was a 24-7 doomsday clock present on all the major media tv channels, and some even went a step further. One of them had a list of the five most likely causes of the end of the World along with statistical likelihoods of each. Each day, even hour by hour, the percentages would fluctuate as new developments in the World were discovered. The flu broke out in Indonesia a month after “The Vision,” and the percentage for “Disease” as the World ending cause rose from 12% to 18% and then in two days fell back down to its steady 12%. It was also all anyone could seem to talk about.
    “How can we live in the moment, and feel optimistic about our future, when all anyone can seem to talk about is how we’re all doomed?” Taylor said to Charles one night frustrated with the state of the World.
    “I’m not sure,” he responded. “I guess we just need to do our best to ignore all that too?” He wasn’t sure, and his usual lighthearted nature had suffered over that first week after “The Vision” and that alone made Taylor angry and determined to fix the situation. So, she made a few rules. At her apartment, there was no news on ever. At her office, no one was allowed to talk about the end of the World, watch the News, or bring in a newspaper. If they did, Taylor politely sent them home. It was strict, but Taylor felt this desperate need to hold on to what little normalcy they could and every bit of hope they had left.
    Now, she stood right smack in the middle of an event that brought these World leaders and Scientists together to discuss the very thing she didn’t want to be a part of:  the end of The World. She hoped deep down though that these leaders would come together and not fall into the trap of fear and blame that so many others had fallen into. Over the last few months, there were growing numbers of people calling for the arrest of Dr. Lincoln Hadson to prevent him from doing any more damage as they believed he will be the cause of the destruction. In fact, he was now one of the 5 possible causes for the end of the World, and his percentage seemed to keep rising for no apparent reason except that he was alive. Others called for pre-emptive military strikes on nations that might start a nuclear war and Taylor just didn’t understand how they didn’t see the fault in their logic.
    All the guests in the large hall were sitting and eating while Taylor walked out to the outside hallway to keep herself busy. She’d done such a great job planning everything, that she didn’t have to put out any fires or solve any big problems tonight. Everything was running smoothly, even with the logistical nightmare that was security. Taylor helped the Secret Service there as she planned three other events all over the city as decoys. Taylor scanned the hallway which was empty except for a few Security agents. She checked in with them making sure they had everything they needed which they, of course, were fine. There was nothing to do there, so after a couple of minutes, she made her way back into the room where The President was now standing in front of the room on a small stage addressing the room of roughly 300 people.
    “…that’s why it’s critical that we all come together and pool our resources to determine what could cause an end to our World so abruptly and how we can best stop it. Before we all get back to eating our meals, I’d like to have Dr. Hadson come up and say a few words about what he feels our next moves should be. Doctor?” The president spoke calmly and softly yet commanded the attention of the room; but, as soon as he mentioned Dr. Hadson’s name, there was an audible murmuring coming from the tables. Taylor herself was shocked that he was even here with all the demands for his arrest and overall negative feelings towards him. It was clear from the murmuring that the feelings of the general public towards the man were also shared by World leaders as well. Dr. Hadson nervously rose to his feet, looking around, clearly not expecting to be giving a speech tonight. Then, he walked up to where the President was standing a moment before. Lincoln looked out to the sea of prominence before him and cleared his throat while he thought of what to say.
    “Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you all for coming together in this critical time,” Lincoln began and paused for a few seconds thinking of what his next words would be. “I know everyone is under the impression that the World is coming to an end, but I am not convinced of this,” more murmuring filled the air. Taylor perked up listening closely, desperate for some hope. “I don’t know exactly what this vision means, but I don’t believe the World ending is our only interpretation, and so I will be placing my focus not on stopping the end of the World, but on an alternate explanation for this vision of blackness and towards stopping these visions overall which I feel is creating more chaos than anything else.” The level of noise coming from the leaders before him grew louder towards the end of his short speech, and he had to raise his voice to make his voice heard. There was no mistaking the tension in the room as he finished and turned to walk back towards his seat. What has gotten into me? Lincoln asked himself, of all times to speak my mind…no…there was no better time.
    People around the room were now back to eating their meals, but the gossip at each table was clearly about one thing:  Dr. Hadson. Taylor could see it. She could see them all talking and whispering and looking across the room or over their shoulders to where he sat. Others were looking at the President expecting him to do something about the man they saw as a clear menace to their very way of life. What could he possibly do? Taylor thought. What do they think he’ll do that will make things worse? Don’t they see that what’s making things worse is all this blame and doomsday nonsense? Taylor was furious at the scene before her. It was like the build-up of the past 6 months had come to a point. All the blame and calls to action to satisfy people’s fear had annoyed her to no end. Despite her attempts to eradicate all things “end of the world” from her life, she could only do so much and still live in the World itself. She still saw protestors on her way to work, and headlines popped off newspapers as she glanced towards the newsstands. For whatever reason, seeing Dr. Hadson being treated like a pariah in this great room made her really want to go up to The President or The Prime Minister and talk some sense into them. I’m sure everyone was all excited for his experiment before all this happened, Taylor vented to herself under her breath. She was boiling over with anger at the whole situation. She’d seen the headlines and had a good idea of what people thought of Dr. Hadson, but seeing it happen in front of her with him in the room made her angry at humanity. Treating someone like this out of nothing but their own fear.
    Then without anyone in the room really noticing or caring, a Secret Service agent walked up to The President and whispered something in his ear while The President gazed across the great room to another agent by the main entrance doorway. The President then gave a slight nod of his head agreeing to something. Taylor didn’t have a reason, but she felt this nod had something to do with Dr. Hadson. So, she made her way back to the entrance doors and into the hallway where the Secret Service agent just walked out. It didn’t look suspicious as she’d been doing the same thing throughout different points during the event.
    “Yes, that’s the plan,” she overheard the agent she followed talking to two other agents by the elevators. “You two hang back as we escort The President and all foreign leaders and ambassadors to their predetermined exfills. Once they are secure, we will notify the NYPD of our current location for them to bring the Doctor into custody.” When he finished, he looked around as Taylor made her way towards the bathrooms at the end of the hall. They didn’t stop her or question her as again they were all familiar with Taylor. When she got to the bathroom, she wanted to scream, but instead calmly walked to the sinks and let out an angry huff while resting her hands on the counter. That poor man Taylor thought. Trying to help and do what he feels is right and going to be placed in prison…at the approval of The President no less! She didn’t know what to do or what she could do except let herself cool down and just go about her night and try not to think of Dr. Hadson being dragged away to prison because people were afraid of the future.
    Just then, while standing there looking in the mirror, she had a vision. A future vision. She’d grown accustomed to them now, but this one was beyond strange and seemed altogether unlikely. Yet, at the same time, she also felt that it made sense. She was connecting the dots for the first time in a way she hadn’t done before. From this vision, she knew two things. First, she understood the visions themselves better. She knew that it wasn’t the vision that determined her future, but something inside of her that happened first. Some deep resolve within her that will direct her actions going forward, leading to that future she saw. Second, not knowing how, she knew she was going to break Dr. Hadson out of there.

Chapter 2

IT IS OUR CHOICES

    Taylor collected herself for another minute in the bathroom, before turning to walk towards the door to leave. Before she left, she had a thought and paused dead in her tracks. She took out her phone from her clutch and texted Charles. Then, without waiting for his response, without any doubt whether he would do as she asked or not, she put her phone back in her bag and exited the bathroom.
    As soon as the door closed behind her, she saw Dr. Hadson walking towards her, and she nearly jumped in shock at the timing of it. He was about to walk by her when she reached out and grabbed his arm in a moment of pure instinct.
    “Dr. Hadson,” Taylor stuttered. “I just wanted to say that I… really appreciated what you said about the World possibly not ending. I don’t know why that would be such an unpopular opinion.” She had released his arm and was looking at him square in the eyes. He wasn’t much taller than her and with her heels on she was nearly the same height. His dark hair was curly and slightly wild despite his efforts to tame it.
    “Oh, um, thank you,” he responded, still a little flustered by her strong pull on his arm that diverted his course to the bathroom.
    “Listen closely to what I’m going to say, but don’t make any reactions,” she said, and Lincoln immediately made a confused and frightened looking face back at her. “Yea, don’t make a face like that,” she said a little mockingly, and he straightened up and put on his best poker face. “Ok, that’s a little better,” Taylor was waving her hands around a little more excessively trying to pretend that there was a harmless conversation going on in case the Secret Service agents were watching. “This will be a bit shocking, but there is a plan in place to have you taken into NYPD custody tonight after this event is over. Your face, Doctor,” she reminded him with a little annoyance in her tone now.
    “I’m sorry,” he said, “I just didn’t think they’d actually…”
    “I get it,” Taylor interrupted, “but that all doesn’t matter right now. What matters is I can get you out of here and keep you from being a prisoner while the World implodes around us all,” Taylor said speaking with more assurance now, but from the vantage of the Secret Service she looked more like a groupie trying to get an autograph or maybe doing some very obvious flirting.
    “Ok,” he stuttered, still failing miserably at his poker face and Taylor just rolled her eyes at him.
    “Just make your way to the entrance of the kitchens as soon as dessert and coffee starts coming out, and I’ll take care of the rest,” she was about to turn and walk away when she faced back towards him and said, “and please try harder not to look so suspicious when you make your move.” He just nodded back to her, and she made her way back towards the main entrance to the hall, and the Secret Service didn’t give her any looks that said they were at all suspicious of her. Why would they be? Taylor reasoned to herself trying to calm down her racing heart. Then she continued to make a plan in her head. Ok, the two obvious things out of the way. Get away car, thank you Charles, and the only exit we have a shot at is the service exit. Now, what?
    It took her maybe two minutes to piece together all the remaining details in her mind, and she was confident her plan would work. She was an expert at organizing a vision in her mind. A master at planning events, timing the movements of people, the execution of tasks, and so on. It seemed her career as an event planner had also given her the perfect toolset for her new endeavor.
    About 30 minutes later, everyone’s dinners had been cleared off the tables, and the guests were given ample time to digest. It was time for dessert. Taylor took a deep breath and got on her headset to the kitchen manager.
    “Tom,” she said
    “Yea?” He answered
    “You can send out everyone to start handing out desserts and coffees now,” Taylor said, “and make sure our staff includes the Secret Service agents. They’ve been standing at attention all night, they could probably use a cup of coffee and maybe a little dessert.”
    “Sure, Taylor, but I thought we were supposed to ignore them,” Tom said.
    “I know,” Taylor replied, “but it seems silly, and they can always say no. Also, could you maybe take over for me out here, I’m not feeling well and might head home a bit early.”
    “Ok, sure, no problem, and consider it all taken care of, Taylor,” Tom finished.
    Taylor smiled inside and within 30 seconds servers started to pour out of the kitchen door with plates of desserts and coffee mugs. She made her way towards the kitchens and glancing over her shoulder saw that Dr. Hadson was following suit doing a much better job at looking casual than before. Taylor stood by the doorway to the kitchen as Tom exited. She said her goodbye’s and he made his way into the room to ensure everything was going smoothly. Just as Dr. Hadson arrived at where Taylor was, servers were presenting the Secret Service agents with cups of coffee. In that brief moment of distraction, she pulled Dr. Hadson into the Kitchen. It was mostly empty, except for a few cooks who were focused on plating desserts. She said nothing to Dr. Hadson and just turned him towards the side opposite the chefs where the service entrance and exit was. She grabbed up a spare traditional white Chef’s uniform hanging on a hook and finally turned to Lincoln.
    “Take your jacket off, and put this on,” Taylor commanded while holding out the uniform in her hands. Lincoln did as he was told as he had no other ideas of how he was getting out of there. Next, she reached over to the nearby counter and grabbed up a dirty dish and with no hesitation wiped it with her hand and then wiped her hand on the white uniform dirtying it up.
    Lincoln started. “What are you…” then he stopped as he answered his own question. When she finished messing up his uniform, she looked at him with a serious expression.
    “Ok, now you need to exit on your own,” she began, “Take this service exit outside. You won’t be given a hard time by any of the Secret Service as they care more about people coming in not out, and they won’t look too closely at your face since they wouldn’t be expecting you to be doing this at all.” Lincoln just nodded along, eyes wide in focus to her fast pace. “When you exit, you’re going to go west until you hit 7th avenue. Take that north to Central Park and go inside the park a little ways and I’ll meet you there.” She looked him in the eyes to see if he comprehended her instructions.
    “Got it,” he said with a nod, then before he turned to leave he asked, “Why are you doing this?”
    “No time for that,” she responded, and she pushed him through the door.

Chapter 3

THE QUITE CREATES SPACE

    “Ok,” Charles began, finally filling the silence of the car that had been quiet for the last half hour, “I think I’ve sat quiet long enough. What is going on?” He asked turning his head to look at Taylor for a brief moment before facing the streetlight covered highway ahead of him. After Lincoln left through the service exit, Taylor made her way to the elevators and said goodnight to the Secret Service agents. She met Lincoln in Central Park and led him back out to where Charles promised he’d be waiting in his car. With a promise she’d explain everything later, Charles simply took her instructions of where to drive in spite of his confusion and curiosity for where they were going, why they were going there, and who this other man was that he was driving.
    “Well, this is Dr. Hadson,” Taylor began and looked towards Charles to see how he’d react. He didn’t do anything, so she continued, “He’s the scientist from CERN who gave the announcement 6 months ago when we all had ‘The Vision.’” Now, Charles turned to face her with a really confused and shocked expression and the car began to slow down a bit.
    “Ok, and why are we mysteriously driving in the night? And why are we driving him?” Charles asked.
    “Because,” Taylor paused, “they were going to arrest him and throw him in jail for no reason, and I had to do something because it’s just wrong and I’m tired of seeing so much wrong being done for no good reason. I had to do something,” she spoke frantically and quickly with barely any pause to prevent Charles from interrupting. She felt if she could just get it all out there he would understand.
    “So, what are we fugitives or something?” Charles said now glancing in his rearview mirror to Dr. Hadson in the backseat who was still as a board and saying nothing.
    “Well, technically we didn’t do anything wrong per-say,” said Taylor, “I mean he wasn’t arrested yet, so we haven’t done anything legally wrong,” Taylor concluded her reasoning and Dr. Hadson leaned forward in the back seat to speak for the first time since leaving the Hotel where the event was.
    “I didn’t do anything legally wrong either,” he said and the meaning of his statement sunk in. Right and wrong were not what they were up against. They were against the outcries of a fearful mob.
    “Listen,” Taylor finally spoke, after a couple minutes of silence, looking at Charles, “I don’t know where this path leads or what trouble it might bring us, but tell me it wasn’t the right thing to do. That’s all we can do, remember? We can only do what we feel is right.” Taylor finished and looked towards Charles hopeful. He kept looking ahead at the road and then glanced over her way.
    “Where to?” He said.
———————————————————-
    Charles pulled down a long dirt road lined with trees which eventually opened up to an old farmhouse. It was Taylor’s house in Walden, NY where she grew up as a kid. She hadn’t spent any time there since her parents passed away five years ago, but she paid the bills and kept it cleaned. Taylor didn’t have the heart to go there or rent or sell it. When they were all inside, Taylor turned to lock the door and then back at the open living room before her. Finally, Taylor gave herself a moment to breathe and also a moment to take in what she’d done. She hadn’t really paused to think about the consequences. She had acted on pure instinct and gut, on intuition. There, in that moment of contemplation, she had the vision she had been expecting as she caught up with the future vision she had in the bathroom just a few hours ago. She saw herself in the mirror, and she could see the anger on her face when she was thinking of how they were going to arrest Dr. Hadson. Then, as always, back to the present scene with Dr. Hadson standing in front of her and Charles sitting on the couch both looking to her for the next step.
    “Thank you,” Lincoln burst out, breaking the silence of the room rather awkwardly. “I haven’t said that yet, and I just wanted to… well, say that.” Taylor just nodded with a grin.
    “Dr. Hadson,” Taylor started.
    “Lincoln, please,” he interrupted her. She nodded her head and continued.
    “Lincoln, tonight you were saying you think there might be an alternate way to view ‘The Vision’ that we all saw. Is that just a hope, or do you have a reason for feeling that way?” Taylor said, and Charles shifted forward on the seat of the couch anxious for his reply. Lincoln walked across the room to sit in a chair next to the couch and Taylor walked over to be closer to them but remained standing. Lincoln looked pensive with his elbows on his knees and hands folded under his chin.
    “Well, it’s more than just hope. The first thing that you need to understand is the main principle behind how we can have these visions in the first place,” Lincoln paused, and after seeing Charles and Taylor completely focused on him, he continued. “There is this thing called entanglement, where particles that have once come into contact with each other become entangled with each other and can then affect each other, or you might say communicate with each other, over any distance instantaneously. Now, if you spread that distance further and further and further, eventually you get to the idea that they are entangled across time itself.” Again, Lincoln paused to see if Charles and Taylor were following along. They were quiet and still focused on him, so he kept going. “Ok, so now the next stretch to make is that every particle in your body right now will be entangled with every particle in your future body and your past body for that matter. From here, it gets really complex when we think about if that means our future is determined or not and that part is not important right now. What matters is that you understand the basis for how we are able to seemingly send and receive messages, in a way, from past to future and vice versa. Now, here’s where we get into the more than just hope bit.” Lincoln paused, not for effect, but to just make sure he was explaining himself correctly. These two people before him were two in a handful who had ever even listened to his ideas after “The Vision” occurred. He continued to his finale, “If we are receiving a message from our future bodies, then our bodies have to be there. Of course, some might say just our particles have to be there, but I believe that for us to have this connection, our bodies need to be in a similar state to what they are in now; otherwise the entanglement might be too weak and too spread out. It might not be the best piece of hope you’ve heard, but a part of me just knows that the World ending doesn’t make sense. Our final visions would’ve all been at least slightly different because we would all experience this differently. This is all the same experience, and therefore I feel it must be something different.” He finished the last bit without pausing for a breath, excited to explain and hopeful they would understand.
    “Ok,” said Taylor almost immediately after he finished. “I’ll buy that, so now what could the vision mean?” Lincoln was taken aback being trusted so quickly, and then his mind went blank.
    “Hmm, I guess I never thought that far ahead,” he said and Taylor looked a bit disappointed. “I’ve been spending my time trying to just convince people the World might not be ending and even hiding out from crazy people blaming me for ending the World in the future.”
    “I have one thing to add to this that I experienced tonight,” Taylor said, “So far you’ve talked about how the future is communicating back to us, but truly it is our present that is leading to our future, right?” She said
    “Well, yes, that is true,” Lincoln replied feeling and looking a little foolish that he hadn’t been thinking about something so obvious. Charles leaned back in his seat, folding his arms and grinning at Taylor lecturing one of the smartest men in the World. Taylor continued.
    “Tonight I had a vision of the three of us here before I made the clear choice to help you escape the event and the Hotel. The same kind of experience I’m sure we’ve all had. A vision of the future that we’re not sure how we’ll arrive there. But this time it was different,” Taylor was pacing back and forth in front of Charles and Lincoln talking to them, but also reasoning out loud to herself. “Maybe because I was so angry or just the passion I felt about the whole situation was so strong. Whatever the reason, I know that I deep down made the decision first. At my core, I decided that I couldn’t stand by and watch you get taken into custody. I decided deep down that it was wrong and that I needed to do something even though I didn’t know what that was. Then, after that, I had the vision of us all here in this living room.” Taylor finished talking, but the blank stares in front of her let her know they didn’t know why she was saying this or what it meant so she continued, “don’t you get it? In order for everyone in the World to have the same vision, someone either must have made a decision deep down that effects everyone in the World in the future or a large group of people made a decision deep down at the same time to the same effect.” She finished, and Lincoln stood up finally realizing where she was leading with this logic and Charles just sat back and watched hands behind his head.
    “So, most likely it was one person, as a group of people feeling the same thing at the same time would be too complicated,” Lincoln said joining in.
    “Exactly,” Taylor answered. Charles turned his head back and forth between the two of them like watching a tennis match.
    “I…” Lincoln began and paused turning to the side to think. “I think I know what ‘The Vision’ is and what I need to do.”
    “What we need to do,” Taylor said looking at Charles who finally joined them standing up and nodded his head in agreement. Then they looked to Lincoln who was staring at them surprised at their insistence to help. Then he relaxed for the first time in months finally seeing a silver lining in everything and a way out of this mess that he more or less started. Now, he could put an end to it.
    “Ok,” Lincoln said. “Then we need to get to Switzerland.”

Chapter 4

THE ONLY WAY FORWARD IS TOGETHER

    The plan to get to Switzerland was actually quite simple. It was simple, because of Lincoln’s colleague, Gustav. The problem they had to overcome was that Lincoln’s passport would definitely be flagged for travel since there had been a couple hours since the event had officially ended and they would know that Lincoln slipped by them somehow. Even if they hadn’t flagged the passport before they took off, it would definitely be flagged by the time they landed.
    “It’s not a problem, I’ll take care of it,” Gustav said over the phone in his distinct Russian accent after Lincoln explained the situation and the plan for when they got to Geneva.
    “I’m sorry, but how is he going to ‘take care of it’?” Taylor asked skeptically looking to Lincoln. She was finally sitting on the couch next to Charles. Lincoln turned and faced her to explain.
    “Gustav is probably the best computer hacker in the World. Although, most don’t really know it because he doesn’t generally do any hacking. He does almost all the coding and programming for the computers at CERN and is a bonafide genius. He broke it down to me that he won’t take my passport off the list of flagged passports, because that might get noticed. Instead, he’s putting a flaw in the recognition software. This way, the computers won’t be able to make the connection between my passport and the list of flagged passports. He’s also doing the same for yours’ just in case,” Lincoln explained. “To quote Gustav,” he continued, “Easy.”
    Taylor felt like she was in a movie. Hackers, and Scientists, on the run from the Police. It was ridiculous in her mind, but in her heart, she still felt like she was on the right path. She was grateful to have Charles by her side, and Lincoln’s faith in his friends and colleagues was reassuring. The three of them didn’t sleep all night, as they were back on the road shortly after they arrived at the farmhouse to head to the airport. By the time they landed in Geneva, Switzerland and arrived at Gustav’s apartment inside the city, it was dark again, and Taylor, Charles, and Lincoln were utterly exhausted. They ate a quick meal, which Taylor could barely remember eating, before all falling asleep as soon as they found a suitable cushiony surface to lay down on.
    Taylor felt like she got beat up when she awoke the next morning. She groaned as she lifted herself up and out of the spare bed she slept in. She made her way to the kitchen following the smell of coffee and bacon. Charles, Lincoln, and Gustav were already awake and sitting at stools drinking their coffee and watching the news. They all turned as she walked in the room and their faces didn’t have the cheerful “good morning” expressions she was expecting.
    “It’s not looking good,” Lincoln said first.
    “Yea, it seems that we are all wanted men… and you’re a wanted woman,” Charles added as Taylor walked over to see her face, along with Charles’ and Lincoln’s, displayed on the TV while a news anchor explained the situation. It was reported that Lincoln was on a mission to run further experiments that could jeopardize our World and herself and Charles were accomplices with an unknown connection to Dr. Hadson. Lincoln walked over to speak directly to Taylor.
    “There’s no way for them to know that we are here,” he said sounding apologetic, “but they are reporting what they fear I’ll do, and well, they happen to be right. I am here to run another experiment,” Lincoln said and everyone kept quiet as they could see him working a problem in his head. “The real problem is that I need to get into CERN and run the LHC, the particle accelerator, and there are the obvious security guards, but also a mob of people picketing out front daily,” Lincoln spoke very systematically, just laying out the facts. Taylor watched as Lincoln played out more details, more problems, and what needed to be done. He worked similarly to how she worked planning an event. Just lay it all out and then solve one problem at a time. After about 15 minutes, with some back and forth with Gustav, Lincoln looked up at everyone with a grin. “I think we can do this,” he said.
———————————————————-
    It didn’t take much convincing for Lincoln to get the few colleagues he needed to meet at Gustav’s apartment to discuss how Lincoln could end these visions, and what he needed from them to do it.
    “Ok, Lincoln, let’s hear it,” said Albert. He was tall, with blonde hair and blue eyes. He was born in Switzerland, and one of the brightest minds of the day. He had been working at CERN for over 20 years and was more or less the Mayor of the place. He knew everyone, and everyone knew him. Next to him on the couch sat Gustav, and then next to him sat Thomas. Thomas was a French native and handled all the materials for the experiments they had run at CERN. He knew what they needed, how much they needed, and how to properly store the materials and transport them. It could be a dangerous job as some things they worked with could be highly explosive. And, it just so happened that what Lincoln needed now was something highly explosive. The three colleagues of Lincoln sat next to each other on the couch while Lincoln stood before them like a teacher presenting to his young students. Taylor and Charles looked on from the Kitchen and Taylor smirked at how the scene looked.
    “Thank you all for coming to hear me and thank you for not joining the mobs,” Lincoln started.
    “They’re crazy, Lincoln,” Gustav reassured him, and Lincoln gave him a nod.
    “As I said to you all over the phone, I think I know how to stop these visions from happening, and I think if we do it, it will solve the mystery of “The Vision” from six months ago as well,” Lincoln was in his element, amongst his friends, and amongst scientists. The man who was on the TV speaking to reporters six months ago was a different person than the one Taylor saw in the room now. The three men on the couch were intrigued and at full attention.
    “We’ve all discussed the entanglement theory with our past and future selves, and I know we are all on board together there, so here’s what I’m thinking. Our initial experiment obviously opened up a connection so that we can witness what we witnessed in the past or future. But, do you remember the very first time we all saw a vision?” Lincoln paused and looked to his colleagues, awaiting the reply he wanted to hear.
    “Do you mean what you called the ‘Shimmer?’” Albert asked.
    “Yes!” Lincoln replied excited, “right after we ran the experiment and created whatever new particle or energy, we saw that shimmer. It wasn’t a vision, but more like showing us the opening of the connection itself. It was transparent, but we all knew we were looking at something. So, if we can close that connection, I think we might see the exact opposite. We might see a shimmer, but one that is completely dark, because there would be nothing to see beyond anymore.” Lincoln paused for a moment to breathe and collect his thoughts. Albert, Gustav, and Thomas sat silently all contemplating what Lincoln just said. Taylor and Charles doing the same. The silence lingered for a minute before anyone said anything. Thomas was the first to speak.
    “So, how do we do this?” He said.
    “What we need to do is simple,” Lincoln began, “but how we get it done will take some tinkering. Here’s what I’m thinking…”

Chapter 5

PERSPECTIVE IS EVERYTHING

    Her job was done, and although she knew they were right to not bring her along, Taylor felt a bit sad that she wouldn’t get to break into CERN or help turn on the massive particle accelerator. To bring her and Charles along would mean having to sneak in two extra people who have never been to CERN and didn’t have any credentials. It just made sense, and she knew it even if she hated to admit it. She had felt exhilarated breaking Lincoln out of the event in NYC and escaping to Geneva and in some ways didn’t want it to end. Yes, her and Charles would be playing lookout, but that wasn’t really a job in her mind even if it should be done. Before they all left Gustav’s apartment to execute their plan, Lincoln pulled Taylor aside.
    “Listen, I just want to say thank you again for helping me out of New York and also helping me connect the last piece of the puzzle,” he said, and Taylor looked a little confused. “I never told you in the moment because it was all a bit exciting pieces clicking into place in my mind, but at your farmhouse, you gave a really nice analysis of what the visions were and that ‘The Vision’ of blackness must have been pre-empted by someone or many someones making a decision deep down. What I realized was that was me.”
    “What decision did you make?” Taylor asked, and Lincoln continued.
    “When I was on that stage giving that press conference, and the reporters were starting to really come after me, I could see how people were really starting to fall apart. At that moment, I felt it in my core, like you said you felt; I felt I needed to fix it I needed to reverse what I’ve done, I needed to end these visions that I started. That’s when we all saw blackness.” Lincoln finished feeling flush with excitement reliving his revelation.
    “So, this is going to work,” Taylor said.
    “I think it will, I really think it will,” Lincoln replied and then smiled and turned to collect back with the others. Then they all left the apartment together knowing that after this was done, they will have changed the World, again.
———————————————
    Taylor sat with Charles in a coffee shop across the street from a small side entrance to CERN. From there they could see the four scientists approach the security guard there to gain access to the building. Lincoln’s once long curly hair was cut short in an attempt to disguise who he was by appearance. Albert’s mayor like status and Gustav’s computer skills would take care of the rest. Taylor could see Albert having a conversation with the security guard.
    “He really looks like a Mayor,” Taylor said to Charles, and he nodded in agreement taking a sip from his coffee mug. When the four men made it inside, Taylor felt herself let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding.
    Albert and Lincoln stuck together so if they came across any security, Albert could keep the attention away from Lincoln. The two of them went straight to the control room of the LHC where the shimmer began, where they would run their experiment. Gustav went to the server room, and Thomas to work on the LHC itself. Lincoln had already been working with the best team there was, so choosing this team was the easiest thing he ever did.
    Gustav made his way to the server room. He designed the network at CERN, and he knew how to manipulate it now. He walked down the room passing row after row of servers until he got to the end where there was a large control panel with a computer. He had configured the network so all signals generated in the building of CERN would come through this one focal point and then fan out to where they needed to go from there. A security breach would send a signal to his server room, and then out to the various security posts throughout the building. A select few higher-ups could also monitor events at CERN from home by connecting to this server room and executing commands, like stopping their experiment. Gustav changed it all with a few simple keystrokes. Now, all the signals in the building would go to the server room and then to one computer, his computer, in the control room of the LHC where Lincoln and Albert would be waiting. If someone tried to shut down their experiment, again the signal would come to the server room, and then to his computer, where he could easily stop it from happening. Gustav even had the server room doors set to lock and only be opened by a code from his computer. He had it all thought out, and he was in and out of the server room in just a couple of minutes.
    “Easy,” he muttered to himself as he left the server room, doors locking behind him.
    Thomas had sweat dripping down the side of his face as he lifted the canister from it’s holding place. It was a very secure canister that could be dropped down an elevator shaft and still be fine, but what it contained inside made Thomas move slowly and cautiously none the less. If there were a fault in the canister, he would be a goner instantly as would the entire building he was under. Inside the canister was a small mass of antiprotons. Antimatter that the CERN laboratories had created to run other experiments. They had never been used in the LHC before like they were about to do and Thomas paused for a moment contemplating what he was willingly participating in, then continued. Soon after, he had the canister inserted into the LHC, and he was off to join up with the rest at the control room.
    “How long has it been?” Charles asked.
    “Almost an hour,” Taylor replied, and Charles turned back to watching the people on the streets. “Charles?” Taylor said.
    “Yea?” He replied
    “Do you think things will go back to being normal again?” She asked, and Charles turned to face her looking more serious than ever before. He thought for a moment before responding.
    “No,” he said bluntly, then continued, “but I don’t think that’s the goal…to stay the same. I think we’re meant to learn from it, and hopefully grow from it, but I think it’ll take time.
    “But no one will have to be afraid of the World ending, or visions to throw them off,” Taylor said.
    “True, but people will always find something to fear, and some will keep fearing the end, but again, I think when things settle down a bit, and people can look back and learn we’ll move forward and be better in the end. But things won’t ever be normal, or the same, and I think that’s a good thing.”
    “You’re a very wise man, Charles,” Taylor said smiling.
    “I know,” he said laughing in his typical manner, and Taylor now felt hope that he was right and that the World would find its way back to something good and then forward to something better.
Albert, Gustav, Thomas, and Lincoln were all together in the control room, and all eyes were on Lincoln.
    “Ok, we’re going to be doing things exactly the same as before, just with antiprotons instead of protons. If it works, we’ll create the same effect we did before, but the antiparticles should then annihilate those we created in the first experiment effectively severing our connection with our entangled future and past selves,” Lincoln said outlining the theory for himself as much as for the small team. “Thomas, you recalibrated the program with Gustav to account for the anti-protons?” He called out.
    “Oui,” Thomas replied.
    “Ok, here we go,” Lincoln said and nodded to Gustav to initiate the program. Almost immediately sounds from the massive LHC started to fill the room like a low hum. Within a minute Gustav announced to the room they were already trying to shut it down from the outside, but his master plan was working.
    “We only need 5 minutes,” Lincoln said watching the clock and the monitors before him showing the phases of the experiment. The particles were now in the LHC, and no sounds of an explosion meant Thomas did his job and correctly altered the program with Gustav.
    “We’re almost there,” Gustav announced. “Ten seconds.” They all seemed to be holding their breath. In the final seconds, Lincoln’s hope and belief turned to a frenzied panic. One wrong conclusion in his head, one mistake and he might very well be ending the World right now. It passed in a split second, and he watched the clock tick down to zero.

Chapter 6

BACK, THEN FORWARD

    Lincoln was right, but the World had a long way to go before Charles could be proven right. It seemed the World had gone backward a bit further in certain ways since Lincoln’s second experiment negated what his first had done. When the clock hit zero that day, less than a second later and it happened exactly like he thought it would. The antiparticles created somehow found and annihilated the original particles they created with the first experiment. The result was all they had as proof, as all the people in the World who were awake experienced a few seconds of what felt like momentary blindness.
    The “blindness,” as it was described by the media, came to Taylor and it felt exactly the same as that first day in the bathroom when she first saw the shimmer. Instead of a transparent something, she was looking at a completely dark something. It was an end to their connection of seeing the future. When it was over, and she looked at Charles and then to all the people around her, the reactions were almost the same as when they first saw the vision of blackness on the rooftop. Panic and fear swept the streets, but Taylor and Charles just stayed put sitting in the coffee shop in the eye of the storm.
    When their vision returned, Albert, Thomas, Gustav, and Lincoln all let out different expressions of relief. Albert let out a breath, Lincoln laughed, and Thomas joined him. Gustav smiled and turned in his chair to face everyone.
    “Easy,” he said.
    One year later, and Taylor could see things starting to shift a little, but there was a lot of work to be done. Lincoln was more or less excommunicated from the scientific community. Not because of scientists, but because the money rarely came from scientists and anyone backing a research project that saw him on the list of potential researchers immediately pulled out. But, now he had some scientific magazines publishing his papers. The chaos his experiment created also created some profound new science to explore, and that curiosity would never die.
    Taylor sat across the table from Regina, her friend, and assistant, in the conference room discussing the future of her new business and career path. Organizing parties and events weren’t enough for Taylor anymore, and when she announced she would be closing up shop and moving on to another venture, Regina gladly followed her.
    “Ok,” Regina started, “you’ve got three talks scheduled for next week, and the big kicker is a TED talk booked three months from now,” she finished in her usual fast and excited speech pattern. Taylor was nodding in approval, smiling, amazed at how fast things can change. She was leaning back in her chair and picked up the book from the table, her book. The title read: “Back, and then Forward. How to live today, to change tomorrow, by Taylor Walker.” Taylor put the book on the table, sat up and looked at Regina.
    “Ok, let’s make this TED talk a real experience,” she said.
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