Final Chapter: Third Iteration
When traveling to an unknown future, chaotic happenings may alternate the past; especially when a past tampers with the future. The third law of the chaos theory states that interferences between major time differences must be exterminated. As the graph closes in, and time travel comes to a much higher understanding to our purposes, it will always be up to us, the average humans, to exterminate these disturbances, regardless of what fluctuations in time may be caused.
-------- Ben Wuest
"It's entirely your fault!" Coran Young screamed, throwing Michael Ko into a tree trunk as they stood in the middle of Steinhart Park in Nebraska City, just beside the time-travel gates in the trees a few yards away. He'd lifted Michael by the collar of his shirt in both hands and he'd lifted him high off his feet. Tears streamed down Coran's face, but he didn't care to show them anymore.
Coran pulled Michael off the trunk and then thrust him back into it and let him go. Michael fell to a crouch, blood dripping from his nose, but he didn't care. He just stood there and watched as Coran walked away, screaming random swear words into the soft drizzle falling from the cloudy sky above.
Coran walked for about thirty yards before falling to his knees, feeling the cold, wet of soft mud on his jeans and in his hands. He cried, slamming clenched fists into the mud every so often.
Michael eventually climbed up from his crouch and he began to walk toward Coran. When he was about twenty-feet away, he began. "You're so stupid, Coran, do you know that? You spend your time trying to fix things, only to find that every time you are disappointed. But you know what, Coran?" He yelled over the sounds of the drizzle all around him. His T-shirt was pasted to his back and his hair stuck to his face as he walked toward Coran. "I am so disappointed in you, Coran." He called out. Coran turned and got to his feet. "Time-travel is dangerous, Coran, even your worthless father could have told you that. You've tampered, and now you've made everything ten-times worse than it was before. I hope you're happy, Coran, because though you'll always think it was my fault, well, in all truths it is yours. You're stupid, you're worthless; just like your father."
At this, Coran lunged at Michael, launching a punch into his cheek on their way down to the muddy ground. Michael landed on his back with Coran sitting on his chest. One of Coran's hands were around Michael's neck, the other was balled into a fist just behind his back. "Take that back." Coran warned with a threateningly cold voice. "Take all of it back."
Michael lifted his head slightly, feeling the suction of mud trying to hold onto his hair. He snarled, "Make me." He then bucked and twisted his hips and had Coran pinned with his arms under his knees. Michael mimicked Coran's hand placements and he looked down at Coran, who was completely soaked and muddy from head to toe at this point. "Listen to me, Coran, and you'd better listen well. I'm in charge of deciding how we do things around here, understand? I run things around here, not you, understand? If I tell you to do something, you'd better do it. If I speak to you, you'd better listen well, because from here we have no time to dilly-dally around what has to be done, and we can only get things done if you do what I tell you, do you understand me?"
Coran spat in Michael's face, kicked him off of him, and then quickly jumped to his feet. While Michael climbed out of a mud-trap, Coran quickly ran through the mud. He'd lost both of his shoes, and somehow his socks came off as well, but that only made the running easier for him. Large blasts of muddy water splashed out under every footstep he took and he ran for the gates between the two trees.
"Coran, where are you going?" Michael screamed as he ran after Coran.
"Stay put, Michael, I'll be back in a moment!" Coran screamed before he dived into the gates. Michael dived soon after only to find that the gates had already left with Coran, and to find that he was now rolling down into the creek below.
"You idiot!" Coran's father greeted him when Coran appeared behind him. It was the year 1992, and there were only a few hours at this point, Coran knew, until employees from the Ajax Corporation would come and murder his father and steal his research. Somehow in the process of traveling back in time, Coran's clothes and muddy body had become clean, as though his very recent feud with Michael had never really happened.
"That's a nice way to say hi to your only child, dad." Coran said sarcastically. It was so awkward in his opinion to see his father at this moment, for when he was younger (when his father was still alive, for say) he hardly ever saw his father.
"Son, I'm sorry, but you're tampering with time by coming back to see me." Steven Young said as he walked across his lab in the basement of their home, holding a tube of lime-green liquid. His father was wearing just what Coran always remembered him wearing; a white lab coat and with a pair of goggles across his forehead, holding his black hair out of his face and up in some wave-shaped lift.
"How do you mean?" Coran asked from his sitting position on a stool, out of his father's way.
Steven poured the green liquid into a beaker of a light-purple mixture and there was a single hiss as a tall cloud of orange smoke erupted from the tip of the beaker. "Son," Steven continued, "by coming back in time and letting your older self be seen by me – who, let I remind you, still only has the three-year-old version of yourself – you are corrupting paths in time. Say for example your present-day self were to come into this basement…"
"I guarantee you that I never do, dad. This is the first time I've ever even seen your lab." Coran said.
This comment created a frown on Steven's face and he turned around briefly before resuming his research. "So what did you come here to see me for? It can't possibly be just to shoot-the-breeze, son, that's not like you at all."
"No, you're right; I came here to ask you about something very serious in terms of your time-traveling research. You see, in 2004, where I'm from, I found this book that you always used to read to me when I was younger…"
"Wishes of a White Bear?" Steven asked with no surprise to Coran. At this point, Coran knew, he was still reading it to 'him' every night before 'he' fell asleep. "Yeah, I wrote it just because I knew how much you loved polar bears, or, well, used to; I don't know if you still do or not."
Coran thought it best to not answer that (no, he hated polar bears), and he continued. "No, you can't have written it, it was written by somebody else…"
"I used a pseudonym, son." Steven said plainly. "You see, I knew that if it was published under my name, the Ajax Corporation – the company I do all this research for – would find out and would figure out the secret and use it to their advantage. I wrote the book knowing that you would find it one day. And I also think that now that you have, you're going to use it to try to fix something, right?"
Coran nodded, "Yeah, but every time I go in there to try to fix the problem, even more problems are created, and the original problem still has yet to be fixed."
"Simple solution, son," Steven said, turning around to look at his son again, "Don't."
"What?!" Coran exclaimed only to have a hand smack across his mouth.
"Don't be so loud, son; you're mother is in the kitchen right above us and she'll come down here if she hears you!" Steven hissed. He lowered his hand and nodded. "What has happened in the future has happened for a reason, son, it's the whole point of fate. You see, son," Steven explained as he walked back to his research, "everything revolves around fate, and it's because of fate that the Ajax Corporation wants my time-traveling research for their selves. You see, the scientist who first tested my research came back to the present time only to announce to the entire corporation that near to your point in time, there is no Ajax Corporation. Obviously, this caused quite the uproar amongst Ajax's employees, especially to Mr. Ko, the Ajax Corporation's vice-president."
"So what are you saying, dad? Are you saying I should just go back to my time and deal with what has happened?" Coran asked, appalled by his interpretation of his father's words. "After all I've done, you're telling me I should just quit, is that it?"
Steven turned to him for the last time in their visit and he nodded. "Quit now before fate is corrupted further." He reached into the pocket of his white lab coat and pulled out an enveloped letter. "Here," he said, "I don't know what it reads, but it was put in my jacket and is addressed for you. There is something inside me that wanted me to give you this and it wanted for you to know not to open it until it's all over." He took his son into an embrace. "Go. Now."
Coran nodded without any further argument and he began to walk toward the back wall of his father's large lab in the basement of their old home. He was just about to walk into the invisible gate when his father spun him around one last time and embraced him. Coran was overwhelmed; his father had never shown him this much love ever in his life. "I know my time will come soon, I see it in your eyes, son," Steven spoke into Coran's ear as he continued to hug him. "Just take care of your mother; tell her hi for me." He paused. "And take care of yourself. Try not to do anything extreme when you bring down that corporation, ok?"
And with that, Steven pushed his son into the gates before another word could be spoken.
"Let's go," Coran shouted as he pulled Michael up the last few steps up the creek he'd fallen into. He pulled him up onto the surface, feeling the cold of the now-pouring rain. But he didn't just simply pull Michael and then walk to the gates; he pulled Michael onto the surface and into his arms for only a brief moment.
He released Michael and saw a sign of confusion on Michael's face. "Look," Coran explained, "I'm sorry… for everything. I'm sorry that you lost your girlfriend, and I'm sorry I got you dragged into all this. And now I need you, Michael, more than ever before. I need you to come with me, and I need you to help me with the biggest favor I'll probably ever ask you to help me with. I need you to help me bring down your father's corporation."
Michael looked appalled, and he shook his head, eyes wide. "Past or future?"
They came to the Ajax Corporation Headquarters in the year of 2002 and walked right up to the massive steel gates. There was a small control panel just to the left of the gates and Michael pressed and held a flashing red button. "It's Michael, open up. I'm here to see my father."
"Yes, sir." A voice confirmed from the other side of the gates. In a second, the doors split down the middle and slid into the walls.
"What city is this?" Coran – who'd been looking at the city horizon at the bottom of a hill from where they stood – asked. He turned to the opening gates and his eyes met Michael's when he responded.
"We're in Sydney." Michael said with a wink.
Coran's eyes widened and he spun around to look at the city horizon one last time before Michael had pulled him into the building.
But to Coran's surprise, as soon as the man (the one who'd opened the gates) met them inside the building, Michael drew a silencer and pulled the trigger twice. He created two bleeding holes in the man's chest and they both watched the man fall onto his back.
Coran's eyes were wide and he was about to start stuttering loud questions, but Michael held a finger to his own mouth and Coran stopped trying to speak. "You want to bring down this corporation, don't you?"
There was still great surprise in Coran's eyes, but he was handed the silencer and he immediately shook his head. "I've never shot a gun."
Michael took the dead guard's own handgun and he used it as his example. "It's easy. You just simply aim as well as you can and you pull this trigger. I just used two bullets, so that leaves you with about twenty left in there."
"How long have you had this with you?" Coran asked, though he was more afraid of the truth than what he was imagining.
Michael just simply shook his head and motioned for Coran to follow him.
"Sir?" John Ko – President of the Ajax Corporation – opened his eyes to see his secretary, Beverly, standing at his desk. "Sir, I apologize for waking you, but we have some very serious news. Your son and another boy about his age have just entered the building."
"How is that so serious?" John asked. "Are they here to see me?"
"Well," Beverly paused, "they shot and killed the operator at the front desk. They're in the elevator on their way to this floor as we speak, sir."
John immediately knew what this meant. It was time. "Kill them."
"Kill them both." John said, getting up from his chair. He lifted his desk-phone receiver and he called for a helicopter.
"Attention," a female's voice called into the intercom speakers all around the two as they quickly ran across a large lounge room, "there has been a breach in the security of the Ajax Corporation. Suspects are two male young adults attempting to bring down the entire corporation. Suspects are in the fifth floor lounge; do not allow them to succeed."
"That's us," Michael said as they stopped in the middle of the lounge, "It's up ahead; those glass doors at the end of the lounge. I'll hold off the security while you go on ahead."
"They'll kill you." Coran argued. He looked at the glass panes lining the walls in the lounge and he could already see security guards running with rifles down the halls toward the entrance.
Michael shook his head. "My father's been out to kill me ever since he found out it would be me that would bring down his precious corporation." He began to run toward the entrance to the lounge. "Go, Coran," he called as he sprinted, "There are controls in my father's office. Push the button that says destruct."
Michael threw himself into the door just as it began to open and he heard toppling from behind the door as a couple of the guards fell back.
Coran knew what he had to do and he turned. He stood about halfway between Michael and the glass doors that were the entrance to Michael's father's office.
He ran across the red carpeted floor and heard the intercom turn on again. "Attention, the Ajax Corporation Headquarters will self-destruct in ten minutes. I repeat; the Ajax Corporation Headquarters will self-destruct in ten minutes. All employees please evacuate immediately."
What the hell is going on? Coran thought. He glanced over his shoulder just in time to see the hinges of the wooden door burst all around Michael. Coran reached the door and immediately wrapped his hands around the metal bars and he pulled the wooden double-doors open…
("Coran, no!" Michael screamed, his attention on Coran instead of the pounding doors behind himself)
… And he found himself looking into the barrel of a Colt Python. "Gotcha, kid." John Ko said from behind the gun and pulled the trigger as Michael Ko shoved Coran to the side and took a bullet into his forehead.
Coran screamed as Michael's immediately-dead body swayed and flopped to the ground just beside his bare feet. Coran backed-up and John Ko's gun moved with his eyes until his eyes were focused on Coran.
"Coran, look out!" Michael then screamed from across the room. He began to run from the doors and they crashed open and a swarm of guards entered the lounge and lined the walls to ready their guns.
Michael understood everything. If Coran were to have died, he would have escaped the corporation headquarters and immediately raced to the time-traveling gates to go back about twenty minutes to save Coran. And that's what he did. He understood it all. He understood that just because it didn't happen in this dimension, doesn't mean it didn't happen in another dimension of time. Coran and Michael had screwed around with time; Morgan; Jared; even when Coran had gone back to see his father he'd tampered with time.
And Michael, in another dimension, had done just the same. In another dimension, Coran had been shot while Michael was watching the doors. In another dimension, Michael had escaped the headquarters, gone back in time, and reappeared just then to take the bullet for Coran. Michael drew his stolen handgun and he fired twice; striking his own father – the President of the Ajax Corporation – twice in the chest.
("Attention, five minutes until detonation. All employees please evacuate the building.")
John turned his gun away from Coran called to his guards. "Shoot them both!"
"I don't think so, Mister Ko." One of the guards said. The guard had a very young, womanly voice and when she stood, she removed her helmet and shook out locks of long, beautiful red hair.
It was Morgan.
"We don't take orders from those who try to kill us." Another guard said with a teen-aged boy's voice. He stood and removed his helmet, holding his rifle in his other hand.
It was Coran.
"You see, Mister Ko," one of them said, "When tampering with time, you can eventually create many clones of yourself, like we have."
The helmet came off and it was Michael Ko. Every guard in the lounge removed their helmets and each one was one of the three young adults.
"And with the use of time-travel," the Morgan guard said, "you can bring back people who were supposed to be lost in the past."
John backed into his office; shocked, bleeding from two bullet holes. Behind him he could hear the rumble of helicopter propellers and he turned around and quickly opened the doors to his deck, where a large helicopter was just landing.
He turned his view back into his office where the boy, Coran Young, stood with a silencer in his hand.
("It's easy. You just simply aim as well as you can and you pull this trigger." Michael had explained only half-an-hour ago.)
("Attention, thirty seconds to detonation. All employees please evacuate the building immediately.")
(I'll be back for you, read the sign accompanied by roses as they fell into the hole in Morgan's open grave.)
("Attention, twenty seconds to detonation. All employees please…")
("You're so stupid, Coran, do you know that? You spend your time trying to fix things, only to find that every time you are disappointed. But you know what, Coran? I am so disappointed in you, Coran; time-travel is dangerous, Coran, even your worthless father could have told you that. You've tampered, and now you've made everything ten-times worse than it was before. I hope you're happy, Coran, because though you'll always think it was my fault, well, in all truths it is yours. You're stupid, you're worthless; just like your father.")
("Attention, ten seconds to detonation. All employees…")
("…because I knew how much you loved polar bears…")
("Attention, five seconds to detonation…")
("Look, I'm sorry… for everything. I'm sorry that you lost your girlfriend, and I'm sorry I got you dragged into all this. And now I need you, Michael, more than ever before. I need you to come with me, and I need you to help me with the biggest favor I'll probably ever ask you to help me with…")
Michael Ko stood at Coran's side, his gun raised, as was Coran's own. They were standing on the helicopter landing pad and John Ko was staring at them both with great fear in his eyes.
("Past or future?")
"Both," Coran said before he and Michael pulled the triggers of their guns rapidly. Coran glanced over his shoulder and Morgan waved at him from her position in the lounge as flames engulfed her and warped into John Ko's office area.
Michael and Coran watched as the helicopter lifted from the pad and they both looked to each other, then to the dead John Ko, and then to the helicopter. And they ran.
Dedicated to Josh Gourlay.
Congratulations on your successful tale.
Back in 2004…
"Hey Coran," Natasha Young, Coran's mother, greeted him when he walked through the door later that night. "Oh my, you're so muddy!" She said with a smile. "What were you doing today, playing in the rain?"
"Eh," Coran said with a shrug, "Me and Michael went to the park to hang out for a while. The mud was so slick, I just kept on falling. I'm sorry."
"Coran," Natasha said, shaking her head slowly. "What am I going to do with you?"
"Could you go get me a towel please?" Coran requested as water dripped from his bangs and onto the rug beneath him.
Natasha came back a few minutes later with a long, brown towel and she handed it to him. As Coran toweled the water out of his hair and mopped most of it from his clothes, Natasha continued talking. "You had two phone calls while you were gone. One was from Jared; he wants to know if you want a ride to the Homecoming dance on Saturday. The other was from some girl named Morgan; she wants to know if she could give you a ride to the Homecoming dance." Natasha smiled when Coran was done with the towel. "You're a mess, Coran. Come on, let's go eat some supper and then you're going to bed; you look like you haven't sat down all day."
The letter my father handed me was certainly not his handwriting, which told me he really didn't know what it had read. I don't know why that corporation was destined to fall, but I do know this; wherever there is a flaw in time, the letter read, I will be there. My journey does not end here. My journey has just begun. I am Coran Young. I am the Time-keeper. And this… this is only chapter one.