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Triggers for physical/sexual abuse.
Chapter Seven: Adapt
“Martha!” I threw my arms around her, earning an indignant chuckle from River.
“Sure, she gets a hug.” I released Martha and spun around, wrapping her in my arms much too tightly. She laughed. “My bad boy, trying to get out of trouble.” She returned the hug, and then we drew apart.
“Raggedy man.” Amy stood off to the side, holding Rory’s hand. She released it and lunged at me, throwing her arms around my neck.
“How’s the husband?” I asked, grinning.
“You’re sure in a hurry to marry me off,” she laughed.
“What?” I said, pulling away from her and searching her eyes. When she watched me with the same confusion, I shook my head. “Never mind.”
“The Master converged all timelines when he returned. It’s not like last time,” Martha said, drawing my attention.
“Last time, when a fixed point was changed, it was in an effort to stop your death,” Amy added.
“The Master’s death has been stopped, but in a way that forces things that have already happened to change,” River picked up.
“Wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey…stuff,” Rory chimed in, giving me a one-armed hug when Amy stepped away. “That’s how you say it right?”
“Don’t. Sounds weird when you say it.” I patted him on the shoulder. “How bad is this?”
“Everything that has happened in history after the Master ran for Mayor has been changed,” Martha told me. “It’s as if you never stopped him.”
“Wonderful,” I said, sighing. Then, I perked up. “But then how can you guys remember me? I’ve never met you, then.”
“Wrong,” River said, smiling at me. “You’ve met us—but not our past selves.”
“Oh, no. No, no, no,” I said running my fingers through my hair.
“It’s a paradox and an alteration of all future fixed points,” Rose said.
I turned to see Rose standing there before me, grinning excitedly. “Where’s my hug?”
Stunned, struggling to breathe from the shock, she came and threw her arms around me. Pulling away, I studied her features, sonicking her, trying to understand.
“She’s the Rose before Bad Wolf Bay,” River helpfully informed me.
I turned to her, frowning. “But that’s impossible.”
“No,” another (older) Rose said, “it’s a paradox.”
I stared at the fifty year old Rose with utter shock. “This cannot be happening! This is not good, not good at all,” I rambled, beginning to pace again. “It’s not simply all of history occurring at the same time, but all timelines—all possibilities of what could have happened—occurring at once. And if this is happening at the exact same time as I’m attempting to seal the cracks in the universe, then that means this new paradoxical interference with a fixed point thingy will—”
I crouched down on my feet, and then sprang back up, pacing again.
“Doctor?” Martha said, sounding a bit worried. I turned to see it was her middle aged counterpart. “What’s going to happen?”
Facing her, brow furrowed, I sighed. “What’s going to happen is worse than time dying.” I swallowed, closing my eyes. “Martha, meddling with one fixed point causes the universe’s destruction. Since the Master never died, it also interferes with other fixed points that me, you, and all the rest of us travelers have established. The voidstuff, as Rose calls it, marks us as the definition for fixed points—the only good news we have today, I’m afraid. It means we know every fixed point that has been altered.”
“Leave it to you to find the silver lining,” River tossed, a dark skinned teenager arriving at her side.
“Nice look,” Mel said, nodding appreciatively.
“Before, there were no fixed points beyond your own death,” Amy broke in, ignoring the new addition as her face tightened in concentration. “We learned it all backwards, like how you met River. You explored the cracks in the wall, figured out what was going on, and safely manipulated the fixed point.” Her middle aged counterpart sidled up next to her and she grimaced at the glimpse into her future, touching her face self-consciously.
“Since none of us established a fixed point after Lake Silencio,” Rory picked up, wrapping a comforting arm around Amy’s shoulder, “River’s interference with it was reversed by touching.”
“Right,” I said, sighing again, “but now multiple fixed points have been altered. It can’t be reversed. I don’t know how to reverse it.”
“What’s going to happen?” Mel asked, biting her lower lip.
I released a breath in a long whoosh. “I’m really not sure,” I admitted. “Births, deaths, all unions, all of everything we’ve been through—has been changed. Every one of you here will begin to pop out of existence one by one—everyone from before the Master became mayor. It’s a paradox within countless paradoxes.” I shook my head, gesturing to everyone. “The space-time continuum is so mangled that it is literally accepting paradoxes as normal.”
“So time isn’t going to die?” Jack said.
“When did you get here?” I asked, then shook my head and waved him off. “Never mind. No, time isn’t going to die. Time is actually adapting.”
“That’s a good thing, though, right?” Child Amy asked, smiling up at me.
“Where’s my other selves?” Rory griped, then frowned when an eighty year old man with his eyes limped toward them.
Current Amy reached down and took Child Amy’s hand. “No!” I shouted, but too late. They both began to glow. I lunged for them, trying to break them apart. “It’s a paradox! They can’t touch!”
The glowing subsided and an Amy aged somewhere between Child Amy and Current Amy stood there. She looked probably no more than seventeen. Glancing down at herself, then to the middle aged version of herself, she leaned close to Rory and said, “Remind me not to touch that one.”
Staring at them, I shook my head. “Like I said, time is adapting to the paradoxes.” I sonicked the new Amy and checked the readings. “The problem with that is time unraveling. It is becoming disorganized—confused. There is no sense of time, no structure. Time will continue, but at the price of spontaneous molecular combustion. People can live forever, die at the drop of a hat, invent a cure for a disease and the next day the cure be lost and a plague break out. Planets…entire planets, suns, stars…they can change direction or course whenever they please. At any moment, natural and unnatural disasters could strike the Earth.”
“Unnatural…?” River trailed off.
I met her eye steadily. “For example, the Sun could decide to collide with the planet. Unnatural. Total, universal chaos. Eventually, very slowly or very quickly, all life will be eradicated from the universe. A universe of confused time cannot be inhabited.”
“And we have no way of determining how much time we have left to sort it,” Pre Bad Wolf Bay Rose breathed.