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Chapter 7: Lots of Answers (But Mostly Questions)
“Good,” I said, “so how’d we find the chronivator?”
“You’re asking me?” asked Smith, smirking. His face suddenly had an animalistic look to it, and I was reminded once again that even if I wasn’t tied down right now, I still wouldn’t stand a chance against him. “You finding the chronivator was the one thing we didn’t count on.”
“You couldn’t look up it’s origins when you took it from me?”
“The chronivator’s slightly deformed. It’s old, but these things’ll last an eternity. The problem is, it doesn’t record history. Everything it does is deleted afterwards. And it’s untraceable.”
“If it’s untraceable, how’d you keep finding us?”
“Cell phones, obviously. They’re extremely easy to track, especially in 1969 when you three are the only ones in the world using them. Well, except for the fairies living under the earth’s crust, but mankind hadn’t discovered them yet.”
“I have a question,” said Jake, avoiding my angry gaze. I was still pretty pissed off at him. “What’s up with that terminator cyborg guy?”
“I already told you about that two days ago, Jake. Why did you ask again?” Smith asked him, irritated. I found myself sympathizing with him for a second. Then I remembered how he shot down the guy from Bill’s deli and five innocent police officers without a second thought.
“I thought it was interesting, and that Josh would like to hear it,” Jake said, looking at me all excited.
“So what is up with the cyborg?” I asked.
“To start off, I should explain why we want the coin to begin with,” Smith explained. “In the universe’s established timeline, the one you two have messed around with, you find a coin at around 6:18 PM on May 17th, 2013, and end up selling it to a museum for three hundred million dollars.”
“That’s not the best part,” said Jake, who was tapping his foot restlessly.
“When you turn eighteen you share it amongst Jake and Chloe. You invested amazingly—It’s almost as if you went forward in time to see which way the stocks would go or something—and ended up buying both Microsoft and Apple, officially ending the Mac vs PC debate forever. Chloe became a best-selling science fiction novelist, with her classic debut novel, “How my Boyfriend Shot Me in the Face.” Jake was straightened out after being drafted for the Second Korean War (which ended ten minutes later when Kim Jong Un died of a chronic nosebleed), worked his way up the military branches and founded the world’s first=ever Cyborg Production Company.”
“How awesome is that?!”
“So Jake created the cyborg and programmed it to go back in time to save us and bring us to the chronivator?”
“Yeah, but they’re not actually living things. They’re just programmed to have the instinct of humans while having the limitless knowledge of a computer. And the ‘cyborg’ is still out there. Before we could fully question it, it gave us an intimidating death stare, told us ‘I’ll be back,’ and disappeared.”
“So why could they bleed and be killed so easily?” I asked.
“I don’t know; Jake’s not very bright.”
“Apparently I’m bright enough to program cyborgs, so ha,” said Jake, but we just ignored him. “And I’ll be able to program them to take the face and body of anyone I want, according to Smith here, at least. So somewhere in the future there’s probably a time traveling robot version of you and Chloe killing bad guys and whatnot.”
“But if us selling the coin is a fixed point,” I asked, “Then why are you trying to steal it from us?”
“We don’t think you keeping the coin is a fixed point; just that you become rich. If you didn’t have the coin Jake still would have been drafted, Chloe still would have become a writer, and chances are you would have won the lottery or something.”
“You know what the odds of winning the lottery are?”
“You know what the odds of any of this stuff happening are?” he asked. Fair point. “Time is obdurate—it does not want to change. The whole butterfly effect theory is a myth, and just about everything important happens for a reason.”
“So, by your own logic, this plan of yours is bound to fail,” I said. “If we were supposed to find the coin and make millions of dollars, then the universe will be working against you getting it.”
“It’s not a fixed point that you find the coin. It’s a fixed point that you three are successful in life.”
“And we need the coin to become successful.”
“No; when you mess with the fabric of time on small, little things, it heals itself. Something else will happen that causes the same effect, like you winning the lottery. Now, if I were to kill one of you, the rip in time would tear apart reality itself, because you are most definitely a fixed point.”
“I did not realize I was that important.”
“I did!” said Jake.
“So,” I thought this through my head. “Chloe lives? She automatically has to survive these events?”
“Yeah, she should live,” Smith said. He was lying, of course, but I didn’t know it at the time. In fact, he wasn’t even sure whether Chloe died or not.
“Good,” in a suddenly better mood, I looked over at Jake. “So, is there any other important questions I should ask?”
He thought about it. “Oh, here’s a noticeably large hole in your Mr. Nice Guy story,” he said to Smith. “Why’d you kill the guy in Bill’s Deli? And the police men? Surely your goals could have been accomplished much more easily if you had asked us politely for the coin instead.”
“Yeah, that was an accident,” Smith said, tugging on his collar, “I meant to just turn the safety on, but I sneezed, somehow accidentally pulled the trigger, and shot the TV. I didn’t want to look stupid so I acted like I meant to do it.”
The fact that everything that happened since Bill’s deli happened because Smith sneezed at the wrong time just reinforced the theory that everything in the universe happened for a reason.
“And you killed Bill because…”
“I didn’t want him to call the cops.”
“And then you killed the cops because…”
“I didn’t want to get arrested,” he said. “Hey, I’m not that evil; I just have a tragic background story that caused me to be like this. That makes me complex.”
“Okay, I answered all your questions, now tell me where the coin is.”
I hesitated, because the truth is I had no idea where the coin actually was. It was in my pocket the last time I checked, but they had to have checked there beforehand, which means it must have fallen out of my pocket at some point. After some quick thinking, I thought of a clever lie.
“It’s in my pocket,” I said. “The fact that you haven’t checked yet is a bit surprising.”
He reacted exactly how I expected him to. His eyebrows creased and he folded his arms. “We did check.”
“You didn’t find it?” I asked. “It was in my wallet with a bunch of other coins.” I did in fact have a wallet filled with coins, so I was only partially lying here.
“No, we just found twelve dollars, three quarters and one nickel.”
“Yeah, it’s the nickel,” I said. “The coin we’re talking about is a nickel, right?”
“No, it was a quarter,” said Smith, growing frustrated.
“The coin we found was a nickel,” I said. “From… 1950, I think.”
“You’re lying to me.,” he half said, half growled. “Jake told me you guys found a quarter.”
“Jake doesn’t remember shit.”
“It’s true,” said Jake, who realized what I was trying to do. “I once forgot to turn the water on in the shower and just stood in the bathtub naked for five minutes before realizing something was wrong.”
“That doesn’t make any sense, then,” Smith said, getting more and more frustrated.
“Well, think about it,” I said. “do you actually know we found it in 1969? From what I’ve heard, all you know is that when we come back from time traveling at 6:18 PM, we have the coin. Maybe we were supposed to find the coin later in our travels, but you interfered.”
We saw this possibility process in his head, and his hand came to his forehead like he was swatting a fly. I knew he believed me.
“So,” he said, after spending a while in thought, “The best thing to do here is let you go off time traveling again.”
“That makes sense,” said Jake.
I’m 99% sure he would have let us go right then and there, if it weren’t for Lindsey, who walked in through the door.
“Sorry, I couldn’t help but listen in,” she said. In her palm held my wallet. “But Josh is lying to you.” She pulled out the nickel. “This coin was made in 1985.”
What will happen next? How will Smith react to Josh lying to him? How exactly did Jake’s hair grow so long in such a little amount of time? All the questions will be answered next chapter, except for that last one.