Calculated Risk

[WP] the time travel experiment went wrong and your consciousness is shifted to different timelines. Every few days or months, you shift into a different "you" and have to readjust to the new reality. And if your theory is correct, every shift brings the multiverse one step closer to destruction. from WritingPrompts

The sound of a ringing phone woke Jack. He sighed when he opened his eyes and found himself in a different bed again. He slid out from under the unfamiliar green comforter and looked for the ringing. A bright blue glow came from a small glassy rectangle on the nightstand. The moment he touched it a rough looking man with a grey beard appeared on the screen and glowered at him.

“Bloom, you’re late,” the man said, but his face softened a bit. “You’ve never been late in four years. Something wrong?” The stranger, Jack guessed it was his boss, seemed more concerned than Jack expected. He shook his head.

“Sorry boss. I think I got a stomach bug, been in the bathroom all morning,” The man’s eyes narrowed.

“I told you not to eat some many chocolate muffins yesterday,” he said in a soft voice.

“Yeah, that’s probably what it was. I’ll be in tomorrow,” Jack hoped to  finish the conversation and learn more about his temporary new life.

“You’re coming in right now. I’ll send a map to your node since you don’t know where you work, right?” Jack’s mouth dropped. That was proof enough for the stranger. He nodded then his image disappeared from the screen. A glowing blue arrow appeared on the transparent rectangle. Jack touched the arrow then he saw it appear in front of him. It hovered in his vision pointing to the right. Jack turned his head right and the arrow moved to stay in sight. It spun as he turned until it pointed straight and he stopped turning.

Half an hour later he found himself outside a tall red building at least 30 floors high. The blue arrow pointed straight at the revolving door. He decided to enter, but he noticed his boss coming out of the building walking straight at him. He reached Jack and handed him a blueberry muffin and a paper cup full of steaming black coffee.

“Follow me, use these to keep your mouth full. Don’t answer any questions, I’ll do all the talking.” He said. Jack nodded and took a big bite of the muffin. The older man turned to walk away and Jack followed.  The man led him through six security checkpoints. Each one tested a different biometric, and each one asked him simple questions. Who’s the president of the U.S? What month is it? In his mind Jack only got two of the questions right, he was glad his boss answered for him.

After the sixth checkpoint they walked down a long white hall until the man turned into closed door. “Jacob Bloom” was printed on the door in black boxy letters.

“Here’s your office,” the man closed the door and locked it. “We’re safe here. What can you tell me?” Jack knew what the man was asking, and he was glad he finally found a world that seemed to be aware of the multiverse.

“I tried to build a time machine, but when I tested it I found myself in a different body in a different universe. After that first time it kept happening randomly. Sometimes I’d shift after a few days, sometimes months,” he said. It felt good to explain it to someone that did not think he was crazy. “I’m so glad I found this place, I need your help.” The bearded man nodded.

“Don’t worry, we’ll help you get back to your own body,” he said. Jack shook his head.

“Not that, I don’t care if I ever get back. But the multiverse won’t survive if I keep shifting bodies. I’ve already tried suicide, but I just wake up in a different body again.” The bearded man chuckled.

“What? How’d you come up with that?” He asked with a broad smile.

“The multiverse isn’t meant to be traveled like this. Every time I cross over the fabric of reality weakens.” The man’s chuckles transition into a hearty laughter. He shook his head at Jack.

“What makes you say that?”

“Look man, I’m a scientist. I did the calculations myself. If you want I can show you right now,” he searched the top of the desk for a pen.

“Oh, that explains it.”

“Huh?” Jack asked.

“Your theory is that every time you shift it weakens the fabric of the universe, right? This theory is based on calculations you did?” Jack nodded. “Well, you’re patently wrong there. But…” The man pulled something out of his pocket and tossed it to the Jack. He caught a vibrating, thin, blue metal bracelet.

“Put that on, and you’ll be locked to this universe while we figure out how to get you home.”  Jack opened the latch, but the man gave him another piece of advice. “Sit down,” he pointed to a high-back leather chair behind a large wooden desk. “You’ll get really dizzy for a second.” Jack walked around the desk and sat down in the chair, then clasped the bracelet on his wrist. The room spun violently. He shut his eyes and gripped the arms of the chair for support. After a few seconds the dizziness faded and he felt comfortable enough to open his eyes. The older man was pouring a glass of water for him, and smiled. Once Jack could think clearly again he asked the man.

“How do you know I’m wrong?”

“Because according to your calculations you built a time machine,” he grinned. “They’re probably not the best calculations to begin with. Besides, you’ll find we know quite a bit more about universal travel than wherever you came from.” The moment he finished his sentence a small vertical black hole appeared in the air above the desk. A black cat with a red marking on its head that resembled a skull walked out of the hole and sat on its haunches.

“This is Janet. She’ll give you a tour.” The small black hole over the desk disappeared. A larger one, big enough for jack to walk through, appeared next to the desk.

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