Excerpts of a letter from Quin, dated 6 January…

Mr Whitfield, my friend:–
I regret to inform you that my experiments, yet again, have had unforeseen consequences….. the Age of Deepwater was catapulted (there is no other term for it) out of the current universe, taking Waysmeet and associated Ages with it….. I do not think Ms Dot will be very pleased with this. She was planning to develop those lands. That will no longer be possible, because I do not know where they have gone…..

With my sincere best wishes
Quinquifid Oddenfen

 

I had received two pieces of correspondence from Quin in which he was pleased with the progress of his recent experiments.

So I was a bit surprised to receive his latest…but just a bit. Not that I expected trouble. I don’t have the knowledge about these things that Quin does, I am in no position to ‘expect’ anything. But recent events – and my reading up on past events – tempered the level of surprise that I might have had. My surprise – my shock, actually – had come earlier.

Prior to the recent developments, Quin had asked me to visit Future Past, to explore it and document my findings. Although Quin has the powers of observation of a scientist, when it comes to investigating a land where none have gone before, there is no substitute for the services of a bona fide explorer, if I do say so myself…and I do.

I made three trips to Future Past to gather the information I needed. I published an account of my first trip in my own monthly journal, Steaming Along. I included that account in my formal report to Quin. Once he had read my report and we had a chance to discuss it, I also wrote a piece about Future Past for an explorer’s trade publication. However, I declined interview requests about my reporting as this whole area that Quin is investigating is just barely within my understanding. I had already said, in my writing, all that I could. After my discussion with Quin a month ago, I was glad I had ventured to comment no further.

My meeting with Quin to talk about my findings took place in Future Past itself. This was Quin’s idea as he had returned there to continue his experiments and he could not break away and come back to Selenitica as we had both hoped.

When I arrived, Quin seemed quite satisfied with his progress in “extrapolating the timeline.” As he explained how he discovered Future Past…or, rather, how it came to be…I suddenly realized fully – for the first time – exactly what he was doing. I have heard him talk about extrapolating individual elements from ages before but I thought he was talking in theory. But, after what happened with Illusion – which he still seemed quite disturbed by – and from what I have been reading about his previous work…all right, I’ll say it…his previous failure in Serene, and now standing with him in Future Past and listening to his explanation of from whence it came…I had an OMG moment.

This was not theory. He had done it!

If I may try, in layman’s terms, to explain it to you… At one time, some time far away from the other worlds I know,  there was Primordium. Over a long period of time after that, there was some sort of evolution…to Deepwater. And now, a long time after those earlier ages, there is Future Past. But this new Age was the product of revolution rather than evolution. For all intents and purposes, Quin put it here. And there are many unanswered questions – scientific, ethical and otherwise – about doing such a thing. This is complicated stuff! Not only do I not know the answers here, I don’t even understand all of the questions.

Basically it comes down to this, I have been in this place before…but not in this time. It was Deepwater then. I can’t say I recognized it now as Future Past though a few things seemed familiar. But I attributed that to things I had seen in other places. A tree here that looked like a tree back in Selenitica; a flower here that I had seen in Tao and Kamar. It had not occurred to me that I had seen the ancestors of this tree, this flower, right here in this very place but in a different time. But yet, it wasn’t actually this very place, not exactly. This part is over my head, I am the explorer, not the scientist. Quin had taken elements of long ago ages that he determined to be connected on the timeline and pulled them together – I know nothing of the process – to create the future! Or rather, to cause it to be created. And I’m not sure if it is correct to call it ‘the future,’ maybe ‘a possible future’ is more accurate. Do forgive me, as I am really into an area that is far beyond my knowledge and barely within my comprehension. It is enough to make one’s head explode.

Explode!

I am standing there in Future Past, listening to Quin and starting to grasp what he has been doing, trying to hide my astonishment that such things are possible – IF they are possible! And I’m seeing him look down at the ground as he mentions Illusion, and now I am looking down at the ground too as I start to wonder if it is about to break apart and hurl us into that underground river that may run through this spot to that vast ocean and I’m looking at the sun setting or rising in the south – I still don’t know which – and wondering if it will suddenly suck this planet in and we will both die in a ball of fire.

And I’m trying to hide all of this from Quin as he is talking about his “encouraging progress.” Isn’t that what he once said about Illusion too? And Serene? And where are they now? Do we add Deepwater and Waysmeet and others to the list?

As it turned out, our meeting ended uneventfully. I went back to Evergreen and after tending to some work there the next day, I decided to leave for Winterfell, to rest up from all this activity and excitement. I also had some writing to work on and had to prepare a collection of photographs as well. This was work better done in Winterfell and it would take my mind off things for a bit. I spent a week there and then celebrated Christmas in my native world before returning to Evergreen to start my next project there. It was a busy yet relaxing time. Still, all the while, I was concerned for Quin. Not just concerned about what impact another failure would have but for his personal safety as well.

I was concerned for myself too. Because whether it happened in Winterfell or when I got back to Evergreen, I knew somehow it would end up that I would be the one who would have to tell all this to Dot.

This week, I received Quin’s latest letter with the bad news that only surprised me a bit. Before I could contact Dot, she arrived in Evergreen. There was no small talk, no time for pleasantries. As soon as she saw me, she began to ask what I knew. Before she could even finish the question, I pulled Quin’s note from my coat pocket and handed it to her.

And stood back.

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