[WP] A radiation wave hits earth so strong it causes all humans to become sterile. Humanity can no longer reproduce.
We didn’t feel the effects immediately. We didn’t feel them at all, actually. Humans continued their daily lives, oblivious to the strike that had wiped out their species. A month after it had occurred, scientists around the world noticed that there was a sudden downturn in the number of pregnancies in their area. It wasn’t until the second month when it became common knowledge to the scientific community that what was occurring was a worldwide phenomenon. Though there was some leaks concerning this alarming news, for the most part it was kept quiet while a cause was found, and hopefully shortly afterward, a cure. But the news couldn’t be kept before it spread, and with it, mass panic.
At two and a half months after the event, with riots and unrest spreading across the globe, with the world community grinding to a halt, with survivalist enclaves sprouting up and religious based mass suicides consuming entire towns, the cause was finally pinpointed. Sensors around the world had noticed a strange blip of gamma radiation which had originated from within the Milky Way. It was strange in that it had also bounced back to the earth from a point opposite of its origination. Within two seconds the entire Earth had been struck by this blip, first one side then the other. The result of this blip was devastating, for it seemed to target the egg cells of human females regardless of age and sterilized them. And only human females. No other species, not even our closest ape relative, was affected. We learned later that even babes in the womb were affected, and those who had not even developed eggs yet never would.
This news, strangely enough, did what no call by any world leader was able to do. It took a few weeks to filter down through the masses, and there were some holdouts given entirely over to self-destructive behavior, but humanity stopped rioting and came to the same conclusion. We had been attacked. No other theory could account for such a targeted and devastating result. We learned that not only were we not alone in the universe, but that this other entity, whether it be one or an entire race, had just committed genocide. And we were not going to take it lying down.
What we needed now, if we ever were going to figure out who had struck us, let alone strike back, was time. And time was what we had just lost. Over 500 million people around the world had died in the recent chaos, and the death-toll would only ever continue to rise. But humanity now had a shared purpose, one which finally brought about the world peace that had always been hoped for. One, humanity would find some way to continue, and two, humanity would bring justice to whatever had struck us. The first global golden age of peace and scientific advancement had arrived.
Within ten years we had settled on a path to take. Technology had already been moving in that direction, but ten years of concentrated research and testing fully achieved the dream of downloading an entire brain and fully recreating it artificially. Along with advancements in robotics and artificial biology, humanity had discovered the path to immortality. Now we had time, all the time in we could ever want. And with that we set our sensors to the stars, searching for revenge, and beyond that, a new purpose.
[WP] You didn't brush your teeth in the morning. Because of the butterfly effect, it results in World War 3.
I have always had very bad halitosis. The kind of breath that could knock out a horse. I mean, you could weaponized it, it was that bad. Unluckily for me, I had lost my sense of smell early on, so I was forever unaware of how strong it actually was. All I had to go on was other people’s reactions to it. In order to avoid those violent reactions, especially from the opposite sex (my dating life was a constant roller coaster ride), I cleaned my mouth religiously. Every morning and every night, a full round of flossing followed by three minutes of brushing, a minute of mouth watch, then another minute of brushing. It always left my mouth tingling, but dentists loved me. Well, until they got too close. I have been through 6 dentists in as many years. Anyway, most of this is beside the point. The point is my breath stinks, and god forbid I forget to brush in the morning. And then I did. I had no choice really.
I work as an IT professional for a defense contractor. Not going to say which, as that is unimportant. What is important is I am one of the few in my field that has a really good grasp of military network defenses. So when I got a call at 2 in the morning from an extremely flustered co-worker, I knew something big must be up. I rushed out of the house as quick as I could, not even considering my normal routines. I got to the base in 15 minutes, thanks to the complete lack of traffic, and proceeded to show my ID to the gate guard. I guess I should have refrained from a greeting. The guard, an older guy who I’ve seen only rarely, promptly keeled over, banging his head on the ground. His fellow guard hadn’t been paying attention to me, so when his partner fell he thought I had done something. He pulled a gun on me and shouted for me to put my hands up. I did so, making sure to keep my mouth closed. I didn’t want to make the situation worse. It’s kind of funny how these things turn out though, in an ironic, completely not actually funny sense. You see, as I was being arrested, it seems a group of hackers was finishing their infiltration to some of the most guarded networks in the country. If I had made it in on time, even adding the few minutes it would have taken to brush my teeth, I would have been able to stop them before they did permanent damage. But I didn’t.
12 hours later I was finally released and made my way to work, completely unaware that it was already too late. The hackers, we never found out where they were located, had stolen an astonishing amount of top secret intel, to include some pretty sensitive documents of a personal nature of two world leaders. These hackers sold this intel to the two countries intimately cough involved, but not before spreading it all over the internet to be released publicly a day later. When the news of the special relationship between two supposedly antagonistic countries was released, all hell broke loose. Alliances collapsed, the markets went into turmoil, and one of the two world leaders, in a fit of rage and despair, pushed the button that simultaneously started and ended it all.
So remember kids, don’t forget to brush your teeth. Cavities are only one minor consequence for not doing so.
[WP] You have discovered a notebook detailing events of your life that no one else could possibly know about.
Ember pulled out of the driveway slowly, yawning because of her lack of a good night’s rest. She hadn’t been able to sleep soundly since her brother had died three months before. The roads were clear in the pre-dawn stillness, and she opened her window to breath in the slightly damp air to help wake her up. At one point in her life this had been her favorite time of day, when she had the luxury to enjoy it. As she drove down to the end of the cul-de-sac and turned onto the first of three right turns to get onto the main road that would take her to the highway to work, she let her mind wander to that last time she remembered truly enjoying this time of day, before it had turned into the start of a long day at a job she hated but desperately needed.
She was still in college, spring of her senior year, when staying up all night to work on a paper was a normal occurrence. She remembered this particular night because her little brother, a sophomore at the same college, had also spent all night working on a final of his. All throughout their childhood she had helped him with his studies, and just being able to sit quietly with him while they each worked on their own thing brought with it the comfort of home. At 5 they decided to call it a night and go out for an early morning walk and some coffee. On the way to the local coffee shop, which opened at 5:30 to accommodate the early risers of the university, they talked of their futures, especially hers, as she would be leaving soon, her job already in the bag. She had been scouted by the Defense Department for her theoretical work in quantum mechanics as well as her practical genius in robotics. At this point she still had her optimism, for it was long before she discovered the hair pulling frustration of working for a government bureaucracy, with its impossible deadlines, idiotic spending rules, and politically appointed department chairs who truly had no clue what was going on beneath them, as long as the numbers looked good.
As her thoughts started their inevitable negative drift, Ember forgot to avoid the obvious pot hole that marked the last right turn she needed to take. She hit it full on, the bumper hit the road before the tire caught the other side and the momentum of the car helped pop right back out. This on its own would have woken her completely from her memories, but as the car lurched back up, there was a distinct POP from the back seat of the car with a concurrent exclamation by a male voice of “SHIT!” Ember lurched around as she hit the brakes. She was getting ready to scream when she noticed that no one was in back seat. She looked out the back windows, but didn’t see anyone. Bracing herself, she got out to check around the car, fearing the body she was now almost certain she had hit. Where else could that voice have come from? But again, after circling the car twice and even looking underneath it, she could discover no one.
“What the hell?” she mused out loud. “Hello, is anyone here?”
Silence greeted her. She exhaled a huge sigh and got back into her car, which she had left running.
“I seriously need to get more sleep. Now I am hearing things.”
With that she turned the radio on, something she realizes she should have done right aware to keep her from daydreaming, and continued on her way to work. 30 minutes later she pulled into the quickly filling up gigantic parking lot in front of her work site and found a parking spot along the far side, aiming for the spot she usually took. After she parked and turned the car off, she took a minute to gather herself before putting on her congenial face for the day. But a slight though nagged at her. Something about what happened at the pot hole. She turned around and looked at the back seat of her car, with the books all strewn about like normal. And then she saw it, a notebook that she was sure she had not seen before. It was a simple red notebook, college ruled, just like the kind she used to write out theorems. But written in marker across the front, was her name. Ember Laine. She reached back and picked it up, curiosity overriding the small feeling of foreboding she felt. She opened it up and looked at the first page.
Ember Lain. Born August 17, 1991 to Richard Lain and Amber Lain (maiden name Hollins).
Period of study commenced on January 9, 2004, upon recognition by operative Evelin O.
January 9: She woke up at 6am. She dressed, prepared her school bag, ate breakfast with her family, and proceeded to walk to school. On the way she met up with her friend, Shelly Smith, age 12, and talked about music and school work. At 7:30am she arrived at her school, Holliday Middle School.
Ember stared wide eyed, her mouth agape. The journal continued, covering all of her activities, as if she were being documented. The journal made particular note of what she studied in science and math. The observations followed the day, even noting when she actually fell asleep after reading for an hour after lights out. Then, it started on the next day. And the next. And the next. She flipped though the notebook, a pit of fear and anxiety growing in her stomach. She flipped to days she remembered. August 17, 2004. Her first kiss during a game of spin the bottle. Not with her crush but with a guy she barely remembered. Michael Ren, as the journal noted. January 1, 2008, the first time she had a full grass of wine, secretly sipped with her then best friend, Jordan Franks, in Jordan’s bedroom while the New Year’s party continued downstairs. April 17, 2008, the day she fully realized her love of physics as she figured out a particularly tough problem in minutes. December 20, 2008, the day she confessed her love to Daniel Goodman, and was violently rejected. Even the words he said were recorded. “Why would I ever want to go out with a nerd like you? Don’t mistake my kindness for interest.” She had cried herself to sleep that night, and had only told her brother years later. July 23, 2009, the night she had wandered the streets of her small town, looking for something within herself before leaving for college.
The notebook went on, getting more detailed, and again, paying particular attention to what she was studying. What in the world? Who in the world? Why? All of these questions sifted through her brain as she got closer and closer to the date she feared the most. August 11, 2015. Three months ago. The day he brother died.
August 11: Ember woke up at 4:30am. She showered, dressed, and ate breakfast. She left for work at 5:11am. She arrived at 5:45am, parked her car, and entered the building. She worked on the same project she worked on yesterday, see note P293 in records, for two hours. She answered a call. It was her mother informing her that her brother has been in a car accident on the way to work this morning and had not survived. Ember told her mom she will come home right away. She hung up and headed to her bosses office. She informed him of the tragedy and he allowed her a week of convalescent leave. She returned to her computer and bought plane tickets for that evening to her hometown.
It went on from there. No emotion in the writing. Just another day to the writer. She flipped through a few pages and saw it. August 19. The day she attempted suicide.
August 19: Ember woke up at 4:30. She did not get out of bed until 6:30am. Her office called and she told them she is sick. She dressed and ate breakfast. She sat in her living room and stared at the tv for 2 hours. She then went to the bathroom and took all of her anti-depressants, 28 pills. She layed down on the floor and fell unconscious. IRP drug is administered per anti-suicide protocol. She woke up 2 mins after drug administration and threw up all over the floor.
Ember drops the notebook into her lap. Drug administered? Anti-suicide protocol? What is going on? She picks the notebook back up. She flips to the last page where something is written.
November 14: Ember woke up at 4:30. She showered, dressed, and ate breakfast. She left for work at 5:05am. Shit.
Nothing else was written after that. Just shit. That must have been when she hit the pot hole. She puts down the notebook and tries to figure out what is going on. Someone has been following her and writing about her everyday life since she was 12. And whoever it was, she has never seen them. And this person knew details about her that no one knows. She never told anyone about her attempted suicide. Additionally, it seems that this person saved her life. She can’t think. This is just too much. Later, she thinks, I’ll figure this out later. On a last whim she opens the notebook and look at the back inside cover. There is a small sticker there.
Property of Temporal Science and Engineering Agency
Research notes on Ember Lain, i.e. Mother of Quantum Causality
If found, please destroy.
[WP] God reveals themselves to exist and confirms they did create your world. This is all fine and dandy until you start exploring space and find other worlds have their own, equally egotistical gods.
I guess they were right. And by they I mean all of the holier-than-thou, our God is the only God type of Abrahamic faith followers that comprise three of the main religions of the world; Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Well, partly right. Yes, God does exist, and yes, God did create the world, but there was a good amount of detail concerning everything after that point that they got wrong. And to make matters even more confusing, God refuses to clean up the matter caused by a holy shit-ton of ambiguity.
Did you create the world 6 thousand years ago? Always.
What? I am always creating the world.
But what about the Bible? Is the creation story true? That depends on the story.
Did Adam and Eve exist or did we evolve from monkeys. Yes.
Did the flood happen? That depends on what you consider a flood.
Did Moses lead the Jews out of Egypt? In one form or another.
What about Jesus? Did he really exist to die for our sins? Is he coming back? …
To this we just got a lot of hemming and hawing, no real commitment to any answer. I can tell you if it wasn’t for his obvious presence, the non-committal attitude of God would have led to a lot of people declaring themselves atheist. But first I’d better go back a little. God decided to descend again just before we hit the switch for a new form of stellar travel, an engine which was supposed to fold space and allow us to travel to the farthest reaches of the universe in an instance. But like a jealous ex-boyfriend, God came crawling back after having abandoned us thousands of years before to try and stop us from looking to anyone but to him. At first we were bewildered by his sudden presence, and who wouldn’t be. A week of almost near chaos followed and the whole world order was upset, with holy wars flaring up as each sect of his followers tried raise the most fuss and get his undivided attention, and oh, wouldn’t he be so kind as to kill all of those non-believers. The rest of humanity just hunkered down and waited for things to blow over.
A week into the chaos God finally did his one and only miracle since returning by destroying all weapons any more complicated than a knife, effectively ending our creative ways of killing each other. For though God was a jealous God and wanted the attention, he wanted more followers, not less, and mass death was never his intention, he told us. As things settled down and we began to talk about why he had returned, we stumbled onto the main reason.
Why did you return? Because I love you all so much, you know I could never really leave you.
But why now? We thought you had forgotten us? Come on, you know that’s not true.
Ok, but why did you stop the engine test? Uh, well, it’s just been so long, I wanted to spend time with you.
But we had finally gotten over you. Most of us. And we want to explore the universe. Ah, baby, there’s no need for that. You have everything you need in me.
But what about other planets? Other stars? Now, now, there is no need to see them. They wouldn’t like you anyway.
They? The planets? Uh, ya, right.
It didn’t take a genius to figure out something was up with the way he was speaking. Actually, it took many. None of these exchanged were with a single person. God had a way of communicating with large groups of us as a whole, so as not to burn us out he said. Regardless, we figured something was up and proceeded to push the button. He couldn’t stop us, free will and all. I mean, he could have made the engine disappear like he had done with the guns, but some of us think he might have been afraid of pushing us away with his actions. So he didn’t stop us and we did push the button. It wasn’t long before the first crew to travel faster than light came back and gave us the lowdown.
Yes, God did create the planet and seed it with life. But apparently so did some other god of one sort or another create life on many other planets. God was our only God, but not the only god, and he was afraid that we would find out and chance ourselves with someone who might take care of our needs better than he had. He knew he was a deadbeat and was desperate to get back with us before we discovered the wider universe and the infinite possibilities of hook ups that exist. But we know now, and that will not ever change. So now we spread across the universe, each sect of humanity looking for their own personal god, while our God stays at home, watching reruns of his best times, when the world was young and he still had the stamina to last in our presence for more than a few hundred years.
[WP] In a world of super-villains and heroes you just want to live an ordinary life, if only your friends would stop purposely getting into ridiculous situations to make you use your powers.
“I’m a little embarrassed that it took me so long to figure out what they were doing.”
“What do you mean?”
The non-descript librarian-esc woman put down her pen and gave me a quizzical look across the desk that she and I were sitting at. I was being interviewed, I knew, by someone who I could not lie to, so I resolved to be as honest as possible.
“Well, it started when I was 12,” I said.
“Typical age,” she interjected. “Puberty.”
“Yes, anyway, the short of it was that my dog, Sam, was hit running across the road. I saw the whole thing. He had been my best friend since I was two. We grew up together.”
“Mental anguish over the death of a loved one,” she said dispassionately.
I sighed inwardly. I had been told she was difficult to deal with.
“Anyway, I was so stricken that I felt this kinda tear inside of me. I wanted nothing more than to stop the event from happening, to go back to the point before he was hit and stop him from running out in front of the car. That’s when it suddenly happened. I was suddenly back to about a minute before, Sam running to the street. I was so shocked I didn’t do anything. But that’s when the weirdest thing happened. He stopped at the edge of the road, looked directly at the car coming down the road that I swear had just hit him, and started to bark at it.”
“One minute you say?” questioned the lady.
“Yes, one minute. Well, to be precise, 62 and ¾ of a second, as far as I can tell with the experiments I have done. But that’s not the important part. I didn’t realize it at the time but Sam remembered! He never crossed any road again without being coaxed by me. I had to practically drag him any time I did so.”
“So the subject of the event remembers the event even after the time reversal?”
“Yes! Exactly! But it’s limited. I mean, focused. I haven’t quite figured out why, even after all of this time, but only I and the one I am saving or focusing on remember what happened.”
“Interesting,” she said, writing down something on her legal pad. “Get on with your story. You know, the reason why you are here today.”
I groaned inwardly. Seriously, does she have to be this brusque?
“Well, the next time I used my power was in high school, a couple years later. Some girl I didn’t know that well, at the time anyway, tried to commit suicide by jumping. I saw the whole thing, but I was too shocked at first to rewind her before she hit the pavement. But I did, right afterward, and suddenly she was back up there on the third floor of the building, screaming. I think it was at this time it really clicked. I felt myself do it, rewind time, almost as if it was instinctive. And I also knew that she remembered hitting the ground.”
I stopped talking, remembering how I had eventually befriended her, feeling guilty and partly responsible for her well-being. The lady across from me, for the first time, didn’t prompt me to continue right away. I looked at her and she was obviously thinking of something. She wrote down whatever she was thinking and gave me a look. Continue, she silently told me.
“Well, the next time was a year later. A friend of mine was driving us to a party. We got into a car accident, just a fender bender really, but I did it anyway. He stopped immediately and looked at me, asking me what I had done. I didn’t know it until a couple of years later, but he was a Sensor. Wouldn’t be surprised if he works for you guys now.”
To this she just sniffed. “If he did that would be confidential.”
“Yes, yes. I know, secret identities and all. Anyway, I asked him to keep it quiet, after explaining what I had done of course. He promised, but now I know that’s a lie. Again, I should have realized it sooner.”
I sighed again. I really didn’t want her to know how much I didn’t want this. But I had no choice. I had to work for them or risk the safety of the loved ones in my life. That was always the problem with those like me who tried to keep their powers secret. Someone always found out, and then if they weren’t part of one side or the other, their powers might go public and they’d never see the end of the hate and adoration of the masses.
“For three years, first one or another of my friends would get into a situation that I would have to use my powers for. I think they were addicted to it. The feeling of danger. I wish they would take up an innocent thrill like skydiving, but no, they used me to get their kicks. And I just happy go lucky kept saving their hides without realizing that they were doing it intentionally. Honestly, how many stalled cars on a train track moments away from getting hit do you think I went through? Three! Three times I rewinded one car or another with my friends inside. And then there were the electrocutions, the shootings, the ‘accidentally’ falling from a skyscraper. And, I still don’t know how they did this, the falling grand piano crushing one of them to death!”
I stopped, catching my breath. She was smiling, a very condescending smile, but one tinged with amusement.
“Three years you say? Well, I have to give it to you, that’s longer than many others before being discovered.”
“But it wasn’t enough. You guys still found me out. How?”
“It never is. And how? That is a trade secret. Now, time for the clerical work.”
She reached into a briefcase sitting beside her and pulled out a standard looking manila envelope. She opened it and pulled out a few pages that were stapled together.
“This is just the standard agreement. You will be given a copy of course. You do know that divulging any of this info to anyone not affiliated with use is grounds for expulsion.”
“Yes,” I say as I take the papers from her. Expulsion, I snort to myself. I read the agreement, knowing full well that I cannot leave without signing it. I have already come in too far, to be interviewed by Mistress Truth herself, one of the most famous supervillains in the world. No one can lie to her, and knowing that, she can get any secret.
“You will start out, of course, as a lowly henchman. After adequate training you can expect to see sidekick in a few years. Who knows, you might even make partner someday.”
I smile, no joy behind the expression. I sign the contract. She takes the papers back and stands up, all business.
“Welcome to the Evil League of Evil, Rewinder.”