Paradox Metaphor
Chapter 48 - Mirror Image
by Steve Donohue

Jeff stood watching as his future self suddenly stepped out of the pod and began to dig under the time capsule with some strange implement. He could hear the sounds of the Winter Campers approaching and he knew there wasnít much time. Finally, in a strange display of courage, he approached himself.

"You canít do it," he began, "what youíre doing will create a paradox that destroys the universe as weíve known it. You have to stop".

"Ha! You donít know that for sure, youíre just guessing. Your knowledge of paradox theory is nothing compared to mine. This wonít make a difference in the grand scheme of things."

"Youíre wrong," he told himself. "Iíve been to the future and Iíve met Downes and Doubleday and youíre wrong. This will create a huge event and the whole universe will change."

"I donít believe you," replied Jeff. "I believe youíve been to the future, since you know those names, but I canít believe these few pictures will cause a serious paradox."

"They have and they will. You have to stop."

"I canít," replied the future Jeff, "I vowed to do this and I will. You know how important this is to me. To us. How can I stop?"

So saying, the future Rand produced an item that Jeff thought could only be a weapon of some sort. He pointed it at him and ordered Jeff to back away. Not wanting to die, but not sure what would happen if he did, he decided to give the old man some space. The old man finished his project, then moved towards him, keeping his gun, if thatís what it was, pointed at him.

"Here they come," he said, "and thereís not a damn thing you can do about it".

Jeff looked at his own future self and was shocked. He couldnít understand why he had become so set in his ways or how he could question his own word in this. As the Winter Campers arrived and began digging the old man smiled.

"At last, Iíll teach them a thing or two. Imagine Ozzie and Daha tricking me all those years ago."

"Tricking you?"

"Yes, tricking me. The two of them planted fake photos and made me look like a fool in front of everyone. Iíve been a laughingstock for twenty years, but now itís over".

"Why would they do that?"

"I donít know, I never understood it, but I know it was them. The fake pictures were buried in an Oz-vat. They never admitted it, but Daha dug the cave and Ozzie had all the Oz-vats, so it had to be them."

Suddenly, the realization of what had to happen hit him and Jeff was flabbergasted for a moment. The truth was stranger than anything the old man would ever believe. It told him what to do next, something heíd been struggling with for quite some time.

As the campers dug up the photos and looked at them the old man smiled. "Theyíve got the pictures and so Iíve succeeded," he said, "The laughter ends now. Good bye; it was nice seeing me again".

The old man headed for his pod and got back aboard. He punched up a displacement and the pod was quickly gone. Jeff knew now what he had to do. He hurried to get in front of the campers as they descended and then began hiking up the trail towards them. When they met, he greeted them and asked how theyíd done.

There was an excited clamor and the group of them began telling him about the pictures all at once. Finally he asked to see them and Woods showed him the envelope. He looked at the first few, then agreed with them that they needed more light. He tucked them into his jacket pocket and the group resumed its trip to the cabin. When they realized theyíd forgotten the shovel, Jeff chastised them and volunteered to go get it, since he hadnít made the trip up to the site yet. Not surprisingly, they agreed.

As soon as he had gotten out of their sight, Jeff began to run. Reaching the pod, he grabbed the Oz-vat inside and opened it. He removed the envelope inside it and replaced it with the one heíd just taken from Woods. He then updated the timer to two minutes and ran the rest of the way to the Last Ceremony site. Arriving there, he heard the drums but convinced himself that they were actually acid rock blasting from the sound system at Clearwater Cabin. He grabbed the shovel and axe and made his way down the hill.

At the bottom, he rejoined the others, several of whom had waited for him, for the short trip back to the cabin. Once there, they opened the envelope. At first, the pictures seemed believable and Jeff was worried that his plan would fail. But then Mark noticed the first flaw; Steveís coat looked slightly different in two of the pictures. Within moments theyíd identified all the pictures as fake.

Despite his denials, no one believed him. Everyone accused him of making the pictures up and of trying to trick them. He promised them that it wasnít true and that he had never intended to deceive them but no one seemed to really believe him.

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