Cannot Be Undone
by Bertil Falk
part 1 of 2
Only it spoils the pleasure of the time.
— William Shakespeare, Macbeth
AD 13267. The same year that Greta Imelda Gandhi solved some interesting interstellar and extraplanetary mysteries, Torbjörn Ramrod experimented extensively with temporal superlocations.
The partial art of simultaneously being at three different places at three different times — as opposed to the more primitive art of being at two different places at the same time — had its roots in the past. The latter method had grown out of ordinary bilocations performed by saints in the 2nd and 3rd millennia. Torbjörn had stepped in and followed on and made the first-mentioned method his business.
The mute Lady in Black with her talkative stillborn eyes was adamant that Ramrod’s expertise should be used in order to solve a crime, which probably, perhaps, she was not sure, had to do with quaternary or fourfold locations. A temporal criminal had successfully (and hopefully temporarily) committed crimes not only all over the space-place but all over the time-line.
There were three known perpetrations and one alleged. It was unknown from what time Evita Drugstore originated, but she had cracked down on unprepared victims three times in the past as well as at least once upon the future. This time-wrestling crime-monger had to be caught and delivered unto the hands of justice.
One problem was that nobody actually knew under what jurisdiction of place and time Evita Drugstore fell. Was it of the place and time she came from or of the places and times she committed her crimes in?
An open question.
Another problem was, that nobody knew exactly where in time and where, metaphorically speaking, on Earth she hung out, even though she now and then was featured as the star of a travelling vaudeville show which crisscrossed the universe, something Greta Imelda Gandhi forgot to tell Torbjörn Ramrod.
A third problem was to find proof of her criminal activities. Actually, the most urgent task was to prove her guilty beyond all doubt.
Many of Evita Drugstore’s this way and that were lined with stunned victims in place-lined space-time. On and off she crossed the path of her own stealing spree. She was a robber who used stunning as a means of getting what she wanted. Her series of raids could be described as berserk tours. Jurisprudential experts cudgeled their brains. It was essential that the particular legal problems became solved before and when and, for that matter, if she was caught.
However, if she were caught in the act, those problems would be solved.
Torbjörn Ramrod fidgot... fidgetted, oh hell, he did fidget in his chair.
“Lice?” Greta Imelda Gandhi asked.
He stopped wriggling.
“That’s better,” she said and continued. “That’s what the Lady in Black wants you to do.”
“How do we know that this Evita Pharmacy...”
“Drugstore, not Pharmacy.”
“... Evita Drugstore has been even bilocating?” he asked. “I mean that she could have committed her crimes at different places at different times.”
“We know it because she has boasted of it.”
“She told you?”
“Oh, come on. She has spread that information all through the known underworlds.”
“Then it’s only a rumor?”
“No. Evita never lies. She makes a point of not lying. Actually, besides bragging, not lying seems to be her only Achilles’ heel.”
“What a freak.”
“If that was supposed to be a joke, I can tell you that you have a couple of heels, both of them Achilles’.”
Torbjörn Ramrod raised his black head and passed his hand over his mouth as a gesture of repulsion. He grinned.
“Well, I’m a freak, amn’t I?”
The conversation was off track. Greta Imelda Gandhi grimaced and Torbjön Ramrod squirmed again.
“Are you able to be simultaneously at the four scenes of the crimes at the four different occasions?” she turned the tables on him.
Torbjörn Ramrod hesitated. “I don’t know. I’ve never tried an individual foursome.”
A hush fell on the two colleagues. He broke the silence. “I can at least be at three of the scenes and different times at the same time, if you see what I mean.”
She saw what he meant and supplied him with the places and the times in question.
“One spot and one time is missing. What about the fourth spot? And how come?” he asked.
Greta Imelda Gandhi made a face. “That’s the one that has not happened yet. The one somewhere in the future.”
She handed him a file.
Torbjörn whistled. “Good,” he said. “Very good.”
He turned his back to her and disappeared. She shook her head and returned to her lover.
Torbjörn had once had problems locating or rather locationing himself. The more sophisticated locational patterns he tried, the more difficult it was. He was dislocated a couple of times. That was how he by chance stumbled upon a method to be at the same place at three different occasions and later how to be at three different places at three different times simultaneously.
Now he sat down and studied the multi-dimensional maps he found inside the file Greta Imelda Gandhi had given to him. To begin with he tried to pinpoint the four spots. They were Earth, Mars, Titan and a big question-mark.
Fascinatingly, all the three known places were situated in the same solar system. He went on to extract the facts defining the actual times of events. The scoundrel’s appearance in Williamstown, Massachusetts, Earth had taken place on March 16, AD 2072. Then, Evita Drugstore had turned up at Clark Art Institute, stunning watchmen and art loving visitors and leaving the place with a time-bang and in possession of a bunch of paintings by Renoir.
On April 15, in the year AD 6037, she had “at the same time,” so to speak in a figurative sense, turned up in Williamstown on Mars. She went on another stunning spree, looting the Jewelry Collections of precious stones and left the place with another time-bang (which actually scattered the famous ice palace).
Simultaneously, in September 7, AD 9263, she popped up inside the Toy Train Museum in Williamstown on Titan, in a similar way mowing down watchmen with her stun gun, leaving the spot with the usual time-bang and a loot of ancient miniature trains, so called Märklins.
From these facts Torbjörn Ramrod inferred that there ought to be a fourth Williamstown somewhere in the future of the same solar system. He searched and...
There it was. On a small spot called Pluto of all places. A high-albedo body, an ice ball. If names were a clue he had at least found a common denominator. Miss... he hesitated ... Mrs?... whatever... Evita Drugstore seemed to have a kind of humor. Four places with the same name. A joke or a pattern? A clue or a... on the other hand, maybe this was misleading?
He looked up Evita Drugstore and found that instead of being in hiding she was performing as Lady Macbeth in a musical at the Extrapolitan Opera Base on Luna.
Upset by this discovery, he got in touch with Greta Imelda Gandhi.
“I know,” she said. “I know. What’s the problem?”
“I thought she was wanted all over the places,” he screamed.
“Oh,” she said. “I forgot to tell you. We’ve no evidence that she did it.”
“Oh come on.”
“But as I told you she has spread a rumor...”
He cut the connection and earnestly said, “Venusian Excrement!”
What could he do? The idea of trying to be there in all Williamstowns and at all the dates when the stuns were delivered would not make any sense. Would it? He could of course see Macbeth, but it would most certainly be a waste of time as well. There was another option. He took an intersolarsystematic ferry to Pluto.
Williamstown, Pluto turned out to be a suburb of Acheron, the planet’s capital. A small place with not much more than a main street and no by-street at all. The whole suburb was covered with a transparent bubble, supposed to keep the immediate impact of the immense cold of outer space away, but the place was covered with blue snow and blue ice. Through the bubble he vaguely discerned Charon, a satellite.
Most of the town life took place in the underground city. It was connected with the capital and other suburban areas by means of tunnel roads and highways. But this Williamstown was not more than a bedroom-town. All the action happened in Acheron.
Torbjörn Ramrod tried to find a place, where Evita Drugstore was likely to hit. He found nothing. No institution. No museum. Maybe he was on the wrong track?
He rented a room from the Solar Route chain of franchised hotel establishments and began to work. He arranged the co-ordinates of the other Williamtowns and the different times in the past.
He adjusted them finely, felt somewhat tired and went to a subterranean cafeteria. He downed a highball of radium chloride as the un-split hairs under his nose began to tingle. His green and stiff-necked moustasche stood out like whiskers under his nostril. This very sensitive antenna received a message. It went straight to his conscious mind.
Copyright © 2007 by Bertil Falk