Paradox Metaphor
Chapter 3 -- The Investigation
by Steve Donohue

The warning klaxon was not as loud as most, and it certainly did not enjoy volume commensurate with the danger it represented. It had gone off 4 times in the past two days, more than in the three years since it had been installed.

"Who is out?" asked Walter Downes, directory of security for the operation.

"Rand," came the calm reply from the operations officer, "and heís been out for a while now. We havenít been able to get a fix on his displacement or coordinates, and we havenít been able to find what heís done yet. We suspect itís just a paradox alert -- unauthorized use without any true source of trouble, but we wonít know until you debrief him."

Downes paused for a moment; Rand had always struck him as a strange candidate for archeobiology; he was much older than any of the other field ops, and his handicap had caused them some concern. He had passed all the field tests with flying colors though and he had demonstrated a degree of resourcefulness that none of the other candidates could match. He was both a top field agent and a huge security risk; in the end, it had been decided that he was worth the risks, perhaps now that decision would be reversed.

"Keep tracking and try to identify his location. Once he comes in, weíll debrief him and try to find out where heís been and what heís done," said Downes, although he had no illusions about his chances of getting information from Rand -- there was no way heíd crack.

Downes headed back to his office to review Randís file for potential points of interest. Although they had not identified any in the past, it was now clear that there was at least one spot in the past that Rand was interested in revisiting. He reviewed the file and came up with only one spot of potential interest; Rand had lost his right arm in 1962, so it was possible that he was going back to change that. It seemed unlikely though, since Randís profile indicated that the missing arm did not impact him greatly. It was their only lead though, so he thought he would take it.

As he reached for the phone to dial Ops it rang; he picked it up with a brusque "Continuity. Downes" and waited for a response.

"Sir, this is Art Girard down in Ops; weíve identified his first displacement."

"First? Did you say first? How the hell did he manage multiple displacements?"

"Weíre not sure sir. In fact, we didnít think anyone could manage a displacement anymore without using the access code. He displaced himself to 1977, sir, to 42 d 57m 1.252s N x 83d 15m 37.711s W. Itís in the Detroit Metroplex now, no telling what it was then. The paradox factor is only .02, so there may not be a problem."

.02 usually meant a minor thing, like taking a single rock or other inanimate object. Perhaps Rand hadnít gone off the deep end after all. Maybe he was just collecting some lost souvenir from his youth. He congratulated the officer on his efforts and asked him to continue tracking. Meanwhile, he placed a call through to the Bureau of Land Management to have them find out what was there in 1977.

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