Chapter 36 - Meeting of the Minds
The flight to Washington was uneventful and Steve, Doug and Roger were able to catch up on old times. Doug tried hard to turn the conversation to Jeff and his plans, but he was unable to succeed. By the time they arrived in Washington, he was convinced of two things: both had known full well what Jeff intended to do and neither of them disapproved of his actions. The former did not surprise him but the latter did. Surely they could see the dangers of the paradox.
Debarking their plan they were immediately escorted to a waiting van. They entered the vehicle and found Mark Bollman waiting impatiently for them. He tapped nervously on a few images on his wristwatch and then looked up to see them. He started to rise, but nearly fell as he tried to stand. Steve smiled; Mark had twisted his legs under him like a pretzel and it appeared theyíd fallen asleep.
"That knee-bending will be the end of you one of these days, mark my words!" he joked and Mark laughed. The knee-bending joke had begun nearly 40 years earlier when another camper had complained that he "hated" Mark because he spent too much time bending his knees. Forty years later the comment was just as cryptic.
Their gear was loaded aboard and the four sat in uncomfortable silence for a moment, then Steve cleared his throat and drew everyoneís attention.
"How bad is it Mark? I mean, could Jeff really do something in the past that would screw up the future? That seems unlikely."
"Well, its not as unlikely as you might think. Science has long suspected that reality is shaped by perception and that powerful minds can actually warp reality to suit their own ends."
"True," said Doug, "but how could Jeff do it? On his own, I donít see how any one man could remold reality. It would basically be his mind against the world."
Mark continued "I donít think he could do it by himself. I think heís somehow become a catalyst. Heís done something in the past that started a paradox and now it could be spiraling out of control, beyond all reason".
Doug spoke angrily, looking first at Steve and then Roger, "Beyond reason?! Of course itís beyond reason. Jeff has done something that might just destroy the Universe and I think some people know exactly what he did and why."
Steve and Roger exchanged nervous glances. They werenít close, but they were probably the only two Jeff had talked about his plan with. Neither of them knew all the details, but they did know the basics. After a moment, they began to relate what they knew. Doug scowled as they explained Jeffís plan to take pictures of Winter Camp I and put them in the ten year capsule.
"How could you let him do it? You know how he gets some times, and lately heís been getting worse. He might have doomed us all and you two sat there and probably encouraged him."
Steve and Roger looked sheepish, then Roger spoke.
"I admit I encouraged him and even gave him some money. I thought it was a great idea, and I still donít believe in all this paradox stuff. I think weíre going to find out that the Lord wonít take lightly to someone changing the Universe, and thatíll be it. Something may go a little off for a while, but then it will right itself. As you said, no one man could change the Universe".
"What about you," said Mark, "why did you help him?"
"I thought it might make him and Mike friends again. I hoped it could make Winter Camp like it used to be. Weíve been gone a long time and I miss us."
"When are you going to understand that itís over!" shouted Doug, finally releasing some of the anger he felt. "That was then and this is now. You canít go back again!"
"Until now", intoned Mark, an odd air of finality in his voice.
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