Chapter 15

Timothy Morlin reverently slid the phone back into his pocket, though he was uncertain why he should. On the ground or in his pocket, it would make no difference. Fully steeped in the mathematics of relativity, he felt like time had slowed. He was acutely aware of each second as it passed. He sucked in a large quaff of air, closing his eyes and forcing himself to smell its rusty aroma and feel its icy bite. After exhaling, he suddenly yearned to exercise his senses more. What did a cherry blossom tree smell like in the early summer? What did a shark’s skin feel like? What noise did an ocelot make?

        A solid wind hit him, making him replant his feet and grasp a nearby girder. Adrenaline rushed through his body, and he felt dizzy. Fear was weakening his knees, so he gripped the nearby metal beam even harder. There were certainly easier ways to do this, but considering recent events, this seemed the most solid.

        The bridge overlooked one of the three interstates that crisscrossed through the city. In the distance, skirting the silver skyscrapers of the financial and business districts, he could see his neighborhood, though he was too far away to see his house, not that there would be much to see. Was it even still standing? How long had it been since he was home? Searching his mind like a card catalog, he concluded that the last time he had walked through the decrepit house was when he and Daimon caught Dean Stonely skulking around the front yard. A part of him wished that Daimon had not stopped him from killing his former employer.

He had considered the Bay Bridge, but he worried that the water would not achieve his desired result. He needed certainty. He didn’t want to smack into icy water only to break bones and suffer pain until he either drowned or was rescued. He needed it to be instantaneous.

        Of course, this was not the first time he had thought about it. After his wife’s funeral, it had been practically all he thought about. Now, however, it was necessary. It was more than an escape; it was an answer.

        Apparently, Link wanted him for something, and the former physics professor had no misconceptions about Link’s motivations. If Link wanted something, it had to be bad. He could refuse to work for Link, but nanites would make short work of his refusal. Furthermore, if he had stayed at New Purley Motors, he would be endangering all the others: Daimon, Jen, Marilyn.

        That was another thing. He couldn’t allow himself to lead Marilyn on. She deserved someone fully devoted to her, not someone pining over a lost love, devoted to science, and unsure of his own feelings towards her. Plus, some of her views were incompatible with his. One corner of his mouth curled up slightly. Maybe this was more an escape than he thought.

        Trumping all the other reasons was the big one, the one that he had been considering even before Morgan’s death.

He might be a quantum eraser.

When he had built the Receiver in his basement, he had designed it with his future self in mind. For it to work, his future self had to send the energy back. Tim had not yet become that future self, so from that perspective the energy to power the Receiver had not yet been sent. The Helmet had not yet been activated. Link had not yet been born.

If he cut himself out of the time stream, he would not be able to send the energy to the past, and he could prevent Link from ever being created. He could erase this reality. Then again, a worse one could take its place. He doubted it though. He had to have faith that the resulting alternate timeline would be better.


He rolled his eyes; Marilyn would have loved that. He pictured her smiling triumphantly and allowed the other corner of his mouth slide up into a full smile. Then, he changed the mental image of Marilyn to his late wife and held on to her features while letting go of the girder. His last thought was that the act of falling occurred much more quickly than movies portrayed it.