Authors: Jay J. Falconer
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
No part of this work may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission of the publisher.
Published by Kindle Press, Seattle, 2015
Amazon, the Amazon logo, Kindle Scout, and Kindle Press are trademarks of
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Suggested reading order for The Narrows of Time Series
Other books available from Jay J. Falconer:
The Emily Heart Time Jumper Series
Glassford Girl, Part 4
The American Prepper Series
Redfall: Fight for Survival
Redfall: Freedom Fighters
For more information on the author or his books, please visit
Denial will bleed you dry.
That’s true whether you’re talking about your career, your relationships, or in Lucas Ramsay’s case, the future of humanity. Denial would have been easy for most men, especially if they were standing, like him, on a steep mountaintop in Arizona, preparing for a confrontation with 211 copies of themselves—each copy walking toward him wearing a Smart Skin Suit. Their skin-tight, body-length time travel uniforms looked identical to his, covered with an intricate pattern of gold lines like what you’d find on the bottom of a computer circuit board.
He wished he could take the easy way out by deflecting responsibility for what had just gone haywire, but it wasn’t going to stop the mob of copies heading his way with a look of disbelief on their faces.
Granted, this journey back in time to Old Earth was supposed to happen, but not like this; not with a bevy of clones in tow. His original task was to arrive solo, then make carefully plotted changes to the timeline in order to restore the integrity of the universe.
Lucas wasn’t sure what went wrong, but, given his long list of failures, a smarter man would have expected something like this to occur. A smarter man would have known not to blindly accept the theories of the late Dr. Kleezebee and his tunic-wearing accomplice, Master Fuji. Not after they’d shown a propensity to obfuscate the truth—usually in the name of science, or some other malicious lie.
He couldn’t deny he was impressed with Fuji and his ability to catch glimpses of the future by tapping into the Akashi Field. But even the hairless monk couldn’t have predicted Lucas would arrive on Earth with 211 copies of himself. Something obviously malfunctioned—a common occurrence for his less-than-common existence.
Lucas drew in a deep and purposeful breath, paying close attention to the pressure and intensity of the heartbeat pounding in his eardrums. He watched the gang of Lucas copies walk toward him, their heavy footsteps pounding on the sunbaked Arizona landscape, reminding him that life had its own rhythm and intensity—as did death. The copies were spread out, forming a shoulder-to-shoulder skirmish line that covered the mountaintop’s desert surface from left to right.
He knew the plot all too well. He was slated to compete in the ultimate gunfight against his own past, thanks to an endless series of scientific blunders and personal miscalculations.
Some might say his first mistake was just being born. Of course, that wasn’t within his control, and neither was becoming an orphan at a young age. His life was a raging tire fire, burning with reckless abandon until its toxic fumes choked the life out of everyone he came in contact with, and many he didn’t.
He accepted the fact that he couldn’t outrun his own inevitability, but still, time seemed to pick on him relentlessly, mangling his reality into a cosmic joke. Regardless, he needed to press on, clinging to a flicker of hope that he could somehow tweak the future in his own universe and start a chain reaction that would ripple across multiple universes and set everything right. A daunting task, to say the least. If he failed, the multiverse would once again become the unwilling victim of his mounting collection of failures.
A bald version of Lucas seemed to be leading the crowd of copies, his blue eyes wide and filled with determination. The lookalike glanced over his shoulder to the left, then to the right, as he waved to his fellow travelers to close ranks and join him. They did, coming together with precision like an angry college marching band forming the letter “V” during a halftime show.
Lucas forced himself to swallow the sticky batch of saliva that was collecting on the back of his tongue. He watched the horde of self-pity approaching him, realizing every decision he made—every action—every thought from this point forward would forever create a link. A link that would bind his soul to the soul of all his copies and everyone they’ve ever known or loved. He knew the aftereffects of this event would create endless, cascading scenarios that would spread across the fabric of space-time until it touched the lives of countless billions.
He fiddled with the supercharged Google Glasses resting on the bridge of his nose. “Fuji—” he said into the device, not waiting for a response across space-time. “Are you seeing this?”
“Not yet. Still waiting for video sync to stabilize. Attempting to compensate.”
Lucas didn’t have time to wait for the subspace video feed to connect to Fuji’s home universe. “Looks like we sucked two hundred and eleven copies of me into this anchor point. You must have dropped a digit somewhere in your calculations.”
“Not possible,” Fuji squawked across the communications link.
“You’d rethink that answer if you were standing in my shoes. I’ve got a shitload of duplicates approaching my position, and they look . . . pissed.”
“Video link established,” Fuji reported.
“See what I mean?”
“Yes. Obviously we have a problem.”
“We may have caused an unstable, trans-dimensional incursion, funneling in multiple anchor points across the narrows of time. The multiverse may be compromised.”
“How is that possible?”
Fuji hesitated for a second, then responded. “If your transmission passed through a chronometric eddy that was supercharged with dark energy, then it must have created an unstable convergence of space-time.”
“That would mean that the eddy was interwoven with subspace,” Lucas said. “So, basically, we weakened the fabric of space-time near an intersecting point between the two hundred and twelve universes. Like we ripped a hole in the bottom of a giant lake being fed by hundreds of tributaries—all the water is pulled together with force, then sucked through the opening to a central point on the other side.”
“Yes, a coalescence of realities.”
“I really can’t stand that word,
” he snapped as a memory flashed in his mind. He remembered the painful, dark traveler who’d squatted in his brain for months, tormenting his every thought until it was ripped out by the mind-stealing machine on the Baaku ship. If the telepaths hadn’t lied to him about it being a medical healing device, the traveler would still be hiding inside since Lucas never would’ve allowed them to use it on him. The Baaku called the hitchhiking coalescence random patterns of cognitive distortions that grouped together and became self-aware.
“There may be other side effects as well. Some possibly catastrophic, and certainly unpredictable. Space-time itself may have been destabilized in and around your penetration point. We may see any number of fractures in the timeline. Some could widen and grow in intensity as you move forward, making a complete timeline reversion more difficult.”
“I thought you factored all possibilities into your equations?”
“The location and density of dark energy is difficult to anticipate. It’s fluidic by nature, not static.”
“That much is obvious,” Lucas said, taking a step backward. He could feel the edge of his heels angling downward as the loose dirt along the edge of the cliff started to give way. “But seriously, I need suggestions. Otherwise, it looks like I’m going to be kicking my own ass in a minute. They’re closing in.”
“Try to reason with them. Defuse the situation,” a new voice said across the comm link. It was the late—or, at least, supposedly late—Dr. Kleezebee.
“Professor? You’re alive?”
“How is that possible?”
“Your arrival in the past must have altered the timeline,” Fuji said.
“But I just got here. I haven’t done anything yet.”
“Oh, but you will,” Kleezebee said. “Or you already have. Cause and effect are not sequential by nature.”
“Ripples in time cascade in all directions, not just forward,” Fuji added. “It’s possible you altered events in the near-past.”
“A predestination paradox,” Lucas said.
“Yes. The dark energy may have amplified the bleed-back effect.”
“Effect before cause,” Lucas mumbled, remembering the theory from one of his classes at the university. But like before, trying to understand the complexities of temporal mechanics made his mind seize. He wondered how much of the timeline had already been restored.
“Are Drew and Carrie Anne with you? What about Bruno and Rico?”
“Sorry,” Kleezebee said. “They’re all still dead.”
Just then, a trio of the Lucas copies walking on the left flank were pulled into the air about ten feet. All three men screamed as their bodies began collapsing in on themselves, like six-foot-tall hunks of bloody string cheese being sucked into a powerful straw until only a single speck of matter remained. Then they vanished from sight, followed by an blinding flash of light.
“Holy crap! Did you see that?” Lucas said.
“Looks like the multiverse may be auto-correcting. Trying to compensate for the imbalance of matter and energy,” Kleezebee said.
“Or this incursion is unstable,” Fuji said.
“Is that going to happen to me?” Lucas asked his distant friends.
“Unclear,” Fuji answered. “More data is needed.”
The advancing horde was now only thirty feet away. They slowed their pace, spreading out to form a skirmish line in front of Lucas.
“Guys? A little help here!”
“What’s behind you?” Kleezebee asked.
“A steep cliff. I know what you’re thinking, but I really don’t want to experience the effects of gravity firsthand. What about the recall switch? Can’t you just pull me back?”
“Unavailable. The chamber needs time to recharge,” Fuji said. “The power draw exceeded its expected load. Possibly due to your transmission’s penetration of dark matter.”
The mob stopped walking after the bald Lucas held out his arms. The leader moved forward three steps, giving Lucas a clear view of the bald copies’ heavy swatch of freckles. They were different than his, and so were the man’s micro-focused blue eyes—a few shades deeper with tiny flecks of black surrounding the pinpoint-sized pupils. “Why did you bring us here?” he said.