Forever Young

by DarkStuff


An annoying, high pitched voice was calling from the distance.

"Rachael? Hey, uh, Rachael," Robert Dorer peeked his head around the corner of her door frame, which she really should have left closed. "You know there's no shame in eating with everybody else in the cafeteria, right? Or, uh, at all? I brought you something!"

Dorer shoved a plate with a burrito and some white salad on the side on top of her papers. She took a deep breath and was finally forced to look up at Dorer. He had a big grin on his face.

"It's Dr. Davidson."

"Nah it ain't, you never got a PhD. Besides, you don't eat enough. I uh, I saw the menu today and thought of you so I thought I'd pop over. Do you always leave your door open?"

"No, no I don't."

"Lucky me, then. What're you working on?"


"No it's not, it says 'General Level 1 Access' at the top."

"You shouldn't be looking at a paper immediately after I say that it's classified."

"Oh I looked at it before that. Riveting stuff. You know I worked on that paper last, right? I mean, heh, I don't really remember it. Got accidentally infected with that window meme. I'm all good now, though," Dorer tapped the side of his glasses, "see?"

Rachael hated Site-31. That word, "hate", albeit strong, is thrown around a lot, but Rachael really did. She needed downtime from her last assignment, of course, and that's what Site-31 was good for, but the professional attitude was all but lost here in an attempt to be friendly and cordial. Her own office didn't have a lock on it. Apparently that one site up in Wisconsin was doing really well, and the experiment had started to spread and pervade. She of course understood its importance, but it didn't make her any more accustomed to it. She wished that she had some easier way of having her own space.

"Thank you for the food, can I get back to my work? I'm not working on the top paper, and it really is classified. You're a level below me, and have no relation to this anomaly. It would be in your best interest to leave."

"Did you know we have the same initials?"

Rachael Maria Davidson took one long, deep, exasperated breath, and spun her chair to face Robert Maximus Dorer. It was clear that she wasn't going to shake him that easy, and she had gotten complaints about her behavior here. For a site, the whole place seemed irritatingly anti-work and efficiency. Just because the place was filled with Safes didn't mean there wasn't something to get done, and Rachael felt like she was the only person there who really knew that. However, some official requests had suggested to her that she lighten up and engage in more social activities. It was the place's specialty, of course. Being sociable.

If only her god damn door had a lock.

Mustering up a fake smile, or maybe it came across as a wince, she began to… engage the eager fellow that wasn't more than three years older than she was. That made him the second youngest person in the whole site.

"Yes, I had noticed that before. I found it funny."

"Quirky, even! I bet it means something, eh? Some sort of mystical connection between the two of us, eh? What do you think? How often do the two youngest people share the same initials — and hey, did you know I was born in Mexico too?"

"Honduras. I was born in Honduras. They're different. And no, I don't think it means anything."

"You know what I like most about this job?" … "Well do ya?" … "It's that we're scientists. We are predisposed to disregard horoscopes and star signs and ghost videos online. So of course we'd assume it's just a coincidence. But! The coolest thing is that we're parascientists. Just as easily as we can brush it off and be right, sometimes we can take a good long look at something and find out 'by God, there really is something there!' That's what this feels like. I feel like our names mean something. The RMD! We should find some good acronym for that, eh?"

Rachael chewed on her salad only because it gave her an excuse not to respond for the time being.

"And besides, I am certain I can get the Level 1 run down of whatever you're working on. I'm Level 3 site-wide, and that gains me access to Level 1 knowledge of any anomaly Euclid or Safe. Is it Keter?"

Rachael groaned.

"No, it's Safe because although it's global it's self containing."

"Ooo, sounds interesting." Dorer took a seat on the desk, brushing aside some well organized papers. "Give me the stuff."

"If only I had more sighs to sigh, you took them all out of me."

Dorer chuckled. "Oh c'mon, you tell me this and I'll get out of your hair. I promise. Speaking of your hair, nice hair."

"No flirting between co-workers."

"Ain't flirting."

Rachael gave Dorer a long, cold stare. Seeing that he really wasn't going to yield, she pushed aside her plate and picked up the stack of papers beneath it. Flipping through them until she landed on the one she wanted, she began to scan it. The motion was less to remember information and more to not have to look at Dorer. She knew the whole thing front to back. Clearing her throat, shifting her eyes up to Dorer to give him one last chance to leave… she started.

"It's anachronism. Objects that appear out of time, before they were invented. We thought it was just a side effect of other chronology affecting skips, but it has its own logic to it. Objects created through this form of anachronism will be looked on by all people as normal, and the few people immune to this effect who try and point it out will be ignored and called crazy, or conspiracy theorists. We thought it was a pretty standard anomaly, barely a blip on our radar — especially because it does its own disinformation campaign — but the real tickler is that it starts on a certain day."

"What day is that?"

"Can't tell you that, then you could read it. There are, decisively, no records of this anomaly before a certain date. We're trying to figure out why. That's it. That's all I can cover under Level 1 access. You may leave."

"Hmm. Alright, I'll leave you to it. If you need me, I'll be in my office across the cafeteria — or in the cafeteria, hanging out with Victor. Oh, and one thing."


"If I get transferred to this 'anachronism' project, will you believe me then? That we're connected?"

Rachael looked up at Dorer, and smiled a wide, confident smile. Genuinely, this time.


"Well alright then, see you!"

Dorer skipped out the door, danced down the hallway, and was out of sight. Rachael got up, closed her door, jammed a mini-fridge in front of it, and sat back down at her desk. The burrito was, unfortunately, really good. She finished it quickly. Setting back to work, she studied dates and major events and anomalous records on site for clues. So far, she had been noticing a pattern. A creation pattern. Anachronism didn't seem to be the only anomaly that started on May 10th, 1829. It was an odd sort of coincidence. Something a scientist might brush off — like horoscopes, star signs, and ghost videos online. However, she wasn't a scientist. She was a parascientist.

She was beginning to develop a theory.

Tom and Abe sat at a dingy hole in the wall bar. The smoke in the room was thick, and the sound of clinking pool balls echoed only barely louder than the bellows of football announcers on the television. A beautiful lady whose life had went nowhere sat behind the bar and cleaned glasses in stereotypical fashion. Her name was Tulip, and Abe knew her well.

Tulip saw Abe looking up and down her every curve. She didn't mind it — she was a showgirl once, and Abe was a willing customer. Recently, though, she had noticed a spark missing in Abe's eyes. He looked ever less ravenous, ever less willing to come back to her room with her and give her the few fleeting moments of real feeling she usually ever managed to experience. He was growing bored with her. No, it was more than bored. He was growing disappointed. And yet, he came with her each time, and they spent their nights the same way that they often did when he was in town. She thought it might just be her imagination, but she couldn't help but notice a desperation in his movements. Where there was once an exchange between them, Abe seemed to retreat behind his eyes. No longer was she part of his equation. He was only doing it for himself, she thought, and yet he still went to her. As if he didn't have countless other lovers. What did he hope to gain? She caught him again, glazing over and failing to appreciate her. Instead of taunting him, she went around the corner to grab a cigarette in her room.

Abe sat up. He hadn't done more than gazed at his drink. Slumping ever more on his stool, and setting his drink aside, he looked to his left and caught Tom staring at the men playing eight ball. They puffed on cigarettes, and they barely spoke. The majority of their conversation consisted of calling shots, and the rest of it was asking for smokes or saying what a good game it was before restarting. Tom seemed intent on watching their every move. Abe struck up small talk.

"Would you like to move closer?"

Tom turned to Abe and held up his glass. "This stuff doesn't do anything for me anymore."

"Then why have it?"

Tom slid the drink down the bar to where Abe's was, and turned to look at the pool tables again. The men had restarted once more, and a satisfying clack was heard when the first shot was fired and the triangle broke.

"Because we always do."

Abe stared at Tom for just a moment longer before looking at the two drinks in front of him. Playing with the small umbrella in one of them for just a second, Abe scooted the drinks even further out of view and turned to look at the pool game with Tom. For a good couple minutes the two sat in silence while the other two shot balls into pockets. Before long, Tom spoke.

"How long do you think you can play pool?"

Abe shrugged. "It can keep me engaged for around five games, each one takes around twenty minutes, so almost two hours."

"Huh. I meant more in the long term. If you made it a point just to play pool, and get good at it and go to competitions. How long do you think you could do it?"

Abe looked oddly at Tom. "I've gotten good at pool before. Some men let it take them a lifetime. That seems reasonable. Most things can last you that long if you're interested."

"Do you think it would be worth it?" … "To take up pool?"

"Well, worth what?"

Tom sunk a bit. "That's what I thought." It was inaccurate to say that Abe had never seen Tom like this before, but it had all been recent. Within the past decade, at the very least. They were getting more frequent recently, and Abe didn't have any really good idea what they were all about. He'd known Tom for most of his life, and he wasn't a pessimist. No, Tom was a realist. And, realistically, most of the time life was as good as either of them could have asked for. Unfortunately, Abe thought that might have been what was getting to him. Abe might have felt it too, if he were more introspective. Abe didn't understand Abe the same way that Tom understood Tom. When Abe was indulging himself, Tom could be found just thinking. Tom thought a lot. Abe thought it wasn't good for him. Being alone with his thoughts had never been comforting to Abe, and he couldn't imagine it being any different for anybody else.

"Hey, Tom —"

"So how many trick shots do you think there are? In pool. You can get a bank shot, you can hit the two off of the one and into the side pocket. Could you get the eight ball in on the same shot you got the last of your balls in? Would that work? How many variants do you think there are, really? When would it get stale? At what point does it stop feeling new, when do you admit that you've seen the same board before, and that you've made the same shot before. Maybe in a different context, maybe the other balls were in different positions, maybe you were stripes last time, it doesn't matter. You've made that shot before."

Abe expected him to continue, but suddenly Tom stopped and twitched a little. Another peculiar silence sparked between the two, and Abe decided it was time to get up. The bar was giving them that melancholic air that it sometimes did, and Tom would do better to get to sleep. While Abe was beginning to stand, Tom started up again.

"I asked a question."

Abe shrugged it off. "I think it gets stale when your opponents never win."

Tom began to stand up himself and pull his jacket on. "What if they never do?"

"Well, what do you mean 'what if'?"

Tom pursed his lips, and then sneered, and then sighed in a short facial evolution. "Yeah. Sure. You're right. I think you should stay and have a couple more drinks."


"I said that you shouldn't follow me. You wouldn't like where I'm going."

Just as Tom walked over and was about to reach for the door knob, it disappeared. His hand hovered in mid air for a moment, and then he straightened the hunch in his back.

"Abe, bring the door back."

"I'm not stupid, and I'm far from a bad friend. I might not get it, but I'm not going to go let you hurt yourself."

"Now is not the time to be sappy."

"Not trying to be, Tom. Just trying to understand you."

Tom turned halfway around. "Let me out of your head."

"You know as well as I do that you can leave whenever you want."

Tom turned back to where the door should have been and walked through it without a word. Abe stood in the midst of the bar stools and tobacco smoke and hum of the air conditioner. He wondered if he should give chase… and he decided against it. Tulip returned to see Abe slink back into his seat. She flashed him a look, and he simply shook his head. He fondled the tonics, and then downed both. Soon enough he stood back up and made his way, determined, towards the wall. The door appeared again, and he pushed his way through it. In the snowy street, Abe found Tom's jacket. Abe still had the choice to follow him, but Tom didn't want to be followed.

Abe made a short yell, stomped the ground, and everything went away. The road, the buildings, the people, all of it. He stood in void for a second, before stars began to fade back in. Soon he was surrounded by the milky way and all the constellations that he found familiar. The stars sparkled and nebulae blurred and galaxies swirled and turned but everything was silent. Abe felt only his heart beat, heard only a low ringing. He didn't want those either. His body faded — his skin unraveled in glorious velvety strands, his organs conformed to basic shapes and shrunk, his brain separated into lobes. His neurons and axons expanded into gaseous balls of plasma, becoming celestial bodies and attracting thoughts like planets and asteroids. Finally, he couldn't feel or see or hear. Finally, he couldn't do anything but think.

Finally, he was alone.

When you're able to do anything whenever you feel like it, with nobody challenging you, with absolutely no limits at all, what's the point anymore? Once there's nothing more to win, what do you do with all your time? If you can't die and you're a jack of all trades, if you've traveled the multiverse twenty times over, if you've become everything you've ever wanted to be. If that, what then?

What happens upon your mind when you hear the word "god"? Does the lack of a capital make you jump not to the monotheist visions of the Abrahamic religions, and lead you on an odyssey through Greek and Roman lands, perhaps the great thunderous wraths of Zeus and the curses his lover Hera may put on his mistresses? Do you think of the nights Hephaestus spent toiling over his anvil, hammer in hand, handing his cyclopian helpers tools and barking requests? Do you believe in Hermes' treacherous journeys through Hates' domain, making it out alive with scorch marks on his winged shoes, just to bring the departed souls through?

Maybe you are more familiar with the Norse myths, of the similarly stormy nature of Thor, and the omens of Odin's Ravens, or the mystical powers of runes. Perhaps when you think of gods, you think of idols, of men and women you look up to, of geniuses in their respective fields, be it music or science or athletics, be they Jerry Garcia or Stephen Hawking or Usain Bolt. Maybe you were raised in the deep south, and God is a sacred word to be feared and respected, and His name must not be used in vain.

However it is perceived, I assure you that these are tall tales. If ever these gods lived, for which there is an argument to be made, they have long since left us. Since the world as it is now was made, gods have been finite and static. There's one titan, and two gods. The gods were human, once. They were born just like you or I, from a mother's womb and into a hospital room, or perhaps at home assisted by a midwife. They were mortal, and they went to school. They got degrees, their names became recognized, and one discovered that whether someone is observing the universe or not changes the laws of physics at their base. His name was Thomas Young.

I won't go into him much. Everything you need to know about his backstory can be found on wikipedia or the like. We live in the digital age, and I do not intend on communicating useless information. There are things they don't tell you, though. He was a hero. True blooded, to his core, a hero. The world was in peril — they don't mention that either — and he was far from giving in. The public blissfully unaware, Tom recruited myself and we got to work. A year passed, and another. We toiled on a new model, and then a newer one. Continuously improving.

Each one had a more impressive name; Gaia, then Atlas, then Chronos, but the final model was called Brahman. Each one better. Each one grander. Each one safer. The smiles on our faces widened, breaking an otherwise professional veneer. Nobody would even notice. We'd be like doctors, the earth our patient, and we'd repeat the ancient phrase "This won't hurt a bit."

There's another thing they lie about. Tom didn't die in May. On the 10th of May, 1829, Mr. Young and his companions, myself included, flipped a switch… and that's when the world turned on.

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