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Effusion - Chapter 9: Multum in Parvo.
Posted By: Tursas<tursas@shaw.ca>
Date: 18 May 2002, 4:19 am

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"Well, school starts tomorrow. Already, I'm having hallucinations about myself and whatever goes on during the night."
     Tim had been silent for two days straight, and had not said anything until now. The Master Chief had been able to hear Tim breathing in a slow, rhythmic fashion, but had heard nothing else until just before he started to talk again.
     "On Wednesday I went to get my books from the University. Little did I know that 'they' would start following me from the moment I stepped out of the car. They followed me all the way from the parking spot to the registrar's office and then followed me to the bookstore. It was enroute to the bookstore that they started talking about me. I didn't hear anything derogatory, but that isn't what concerned me. Just the fact that they were still following me screwed my mind badly. It was in the bookstore that they split up and other people started talking about me. I took my medication the night before, but they still follow me."
     The Master Chief had tried in vain to call Tims attention back to the present several times during his extended leave, but there had been no response at all for the whole duration.
     "Today I got really freaked out. It started with Jared and his friends talking about how I wasn't keeping fit. I can't believe the nerve of some people when they go ahead and talk about you right in front of you. I want to kill them all. Later in the meeting, dad was talking to some guy about how I was formerly a player and how my mind is screwed and whatever else."
     "Can you hear me, Tim?"
     "I walked home right after the beginning of the meeting. I don't think I'll be going to church again. They all talk about me, but are unwilling to tell me exactly what it is that is wrong with me that would prevent them from telling me what they think about me."
     The Master Chief took a second to make out the meaning of the last sentence.
     Just before the end of the extended silence Tims breathing had taken a strange turn. Tim had held his breath for a long time, then let it out very quickly, sucked in a large amount of air again, let it out slowly, inhaled, and then continued talking.
     "School starts tomorrow. I want to cry. Mr. Nutzoid is going to go more Nutzoid with the start and process of the school year. I should go to bed. I gotta take my medication first though. Stuff must not work if I can hear dad and that guy talking like that and later dad swears to me that he wasn't talking about me at all."
     "Is there anybody near you Tim?"
     "I don't think I'm going back to church -- ever. Nothing but hurt happens there to me. Said that I couldn't give my honest opinion at all anywhere. Everyone would stand back aghast at me and my rudeness."
     Well that was a relief. At least Tim was still responsive to real communication; however you defined real.
     "A song is playing on my headphones. I hate this song. It always makes me cry. They are coming back. I can hear them."
     "Try not to listen to them, Tim! There's no point in giving i--" The Master Chief caught himself mid-word. He was simply adding to the problem by saying so.
     "This morning before church we were in the truck at the junction between Perry Road and Green Drive when I heard someone swear in the truck. The only thing is that nobody in the truck would have sworn because we're all staunch Catholics. Nobody would have sworn like that. It was a quite audible whisper in my ear. I heard someone say the F-word -- and nobody should have. Doesn't that sound weird to you, Mr. Computer?"
     "I'm not a computer, Tim."
     "As I said before, I'm a freak."
     It was then that the Master Chief felt something very strange in the back of his head. It felt as though images of the past were suddenly pushed through cracks in the wall at the back of his mind.
     ~ Is this channel open? Good.
     The Master Chief looked around himself. It felt like actual sound coming from behind and to his right. He twisted around to see what the source was, but it was the same old wall, gray and boring, as always. The voice was not Tims voice.
     "I haven't done the work I should have this week -- and here I am, an immortal spirit, trying to do mortal things without much success. I can't even classify the lightheadedness I feel right now. I want everything to stop and everything to move at the same time. I want to do nothing and to do everything at the same time -- but I can't -- I'm not god. I want to keep up with my schoolwork and throw it away all at once. I want to love and hate and be indifferent."
     ~ What the hell?
     ~ Not hell. This is Much Worse.
     "What is happening?" the Master Chief yelled at the ceiling. He could only hear Tims eternal ranting and the slight hum of the gravity field holding him in place.
     "I want to go to the washroom and I don't. I want to go camping and stay here. I want to use this computer, that is certain -- but I also want a better one. I want to exercise and read and play and get to know people and meet new people and eat until I pop and not eat at all for the rest of my life. I want to live the adventures that I write about, and that I read about, and that I once conceived but can no longer remember."
     ~ Hell would be you physically listening to him for much longer. As it is, I can read your mind. Now you not only have a constant influx of useless information, but the stuff coming out of your brain is also public.
     ~ What?
     "I want to believe that I've been the mainstay of the public -- and yet I don't want to know at all because I've done so very many stupid and extremely boring things. I want to be all knowing and all-powerful. I want to feel the pain that goes with that knowledge, but I don't want to work for it. I want to write my science exams RIGHT NOW so I can get it all over with and not have to hump another book through that godless institution ever again."
     ~ They told me you would be a very interesting case. I can see that now. Look at this! It seems that you've forgotten everything about Momos.
     ~ Who the hell is Momos?
     ~ The old man didn't tell you? Shame that he didn't.
     ~ What old man?
     ~ And Cortana. What secrets could she have been hiding from you?
     ~ Tim?
     ~ Call me Bob.
     So this was the infamous Bob. It was funny that the Master Chief should meet him under such circumstances.
     ~ How are you doing this?
     ~ The specifics are very difficult to explain without showing you exactly how things are done in my dimension. Would you like to see things as I see them?
     ~ Will I die?
     ~ Maybe. It might not matter if you did.
     ~ Ok. Anywhere would be better than here.
     The Master Chief felt coldness come over his entire body, which gradually mutated into a thorough numbness, and even that feeling died out until eventually everything went black.

The general scenery hadn't changed since the last time he had been here, although he didn't remember being here before. There was still the ever-present white, almost palpable now that he thought about it. There was a hard surface beneath him, though, and although that surface was transparent, the thought that there was something big and solid nearby gave him comfort. The two of them were sitting at a long table, like a bar. There were two shot glasses on the bar in front of them. The air smelled of smoke and alcohol and puke, but there was no smoke to see. The stools that the Master Chief and his companion were sitting on were comfortable, although a little tall. A bottle of some non-descript alcoholic drink was also on the table, the lacquered finish of which denoted great care in preserving the seasoned oak that it was made of. Below them a school of dolphins swam through the void on their way somewhere, or nowhere, as either case was equally probable.
     "Great place to retire, don't you think?"
     The man sitting beside the Master Chief was in his prime, tall, dark, and wore thick wire-rim glasses. The eyes beneath shone with a reddish tint; whether they were self-luminescent or not was anyone's guess. But most interesting of all was the white lab coat that he wore; it was perceptible from the surroundings, as it had shadow and depth, as opposed to everything else.
     "Where are we?"
     The mans voice momentarily took on a crinkled tone, as though he were mimicking somebody else, as he responded, "We both exist at this moment as spirits in an imperceptible dimension."
     "I almost remember something like this happening before." The Master Chief looked down at the dolphins for a moment. "I don't remember exactly what it was, but I know that it was something."
     "Look at the glass in front of you." The Master Chief did so. "Can you move it without using your hands?"
     The Master Chief glanced over at the man beside him with a tinge of curiosity.
     "Watch." The man looked down at his own glass and it suddenly slid a few inches across the lacquered surface of the bar. "The trick is to call on the powers of the Universe and channel them through your mind. It's quite simple, once you get the hang of it."
     The Master Chief looked down at his own glass and thought for a moment about what the man beside him had just said. He then tried to push the glass with his mind by visualizing it as moving. It took a few moments, and more than once the Master Chief looked away as he tried, but eventually he got the glass to slide an inch across the bar.
     "Wow, you learn pretty fast."
     "Why are we doing this?"
     "To teach you something important. Did you know that you were cloned?"
     "Yes. I was cloned as a child, to keep my blood parents from knowing that I had been taken by the government."
     "No. I'm talking about something much more recent."
     The Master Chief looked long and hard at the man beside him. The eyes shone their reddish tint, and the lab coat remained as substantial as ever, but his gaze remained as cool as freshly fallen rain.
     "Just before the Forerunner tried to pull the plug on your operation."
     The Master Chief tried hard to remember something that wasn't coming easily.
     "How do you know this?"
     "I watched."
     "I can't remember."
     "Of course you can't. You were here with the old man for the majority of the process."
     "But wouldn't my body remember it?"
     "Your body sustained a case of amnesia. It was induced amnesia, but was amnesia all the same."
     "Induced amnesia?"
     "Momos, or should I say Cortana, didn't want the Forerunner to find out what you already knew about the hub. She didn't want you to tell them what you were doing, and she certainly didn't want to be stopped."
     "But Cortana is imprisoned on another Halo..."
     "Momos was imprisoned on another Halo. Cortana simply switched places with him and sent you to satiate the Forerunners need for answers concerning the activation of installation 07.0032. It was quite a fiendish plan, actually. By cloning the hub and everything in it, she made her escape. Right now she's laying low before she begins to do some other nefarious thing. She's running out of time."
     "Why are you telling me this?"
     "Because there is something I need you to do for me."
     "What's that?"
     "Help the people."