Reach Five

PREFACE: Reach was one of seven men named as such who existed in seven separate universes as multiversally intertwined souls. It was impossible for them to meet; and though, theoretically, it was possible for Reach to cross over to another universe, the chances of encountering one of the other seven were ridiculously low. This was also complicated by the fact that any one Reach jumping universes was being mirrored by the other Reachs.

The origin of Reach is unknown, because Reach himself has yet to create his origins. Reach exists suddenly, and not due to any epic mingling of chaotic strands of eternity in well-defined intersections of “now”. Reach just was and just is – seven times over. He exists sevenfold in time and space, but lives in a dysphoric misalignment with the rest of the universe each iteration of himself inhabits. Frequently, the outsider’s presumption of Reach’s insanity serves only to further separate the heptaphrenic traveler from the only realities that could actually shed light on the purpose of his multifaceted existence.

To further complicate this already complicated tale, Reach does not know he is connected to seven other beings and that everything he does is either influencing or being influenced by one or more of his other existences.

This is Reach Zero, the beginning you’re allowed to consider as such, but not the one that was.

***

REACH FIVE

As the shield collapses, Reach heaves a breath. The garlic smell permeating his environmental suit bodes as ill for him as the collapsing shield that threatens to vaporize him.

The shield is collapsing in a perfect circle, decreasing in size by the minute. In the last few moments of his life, if Reach lives to see it, the collapsing shield will slowly work its way up his body until it terminates directly on his left pupil.

Reach has planned it this way.

Twenty years earlier, Reach abducted a Guatemalan carpenter and amputated his leg. Hidden within the marrow of the femur was a stasis pod containing coordinates. Reach was at those specific coordinates at the very moment a sheet of paper skipped by in the wind. Reach retrieved the paper and read the words on it. Reach followed the directions on that sheet of paper and jumped from a 23-story building in Tokyo at 4:13 a.m. on April 17th, 1943. Before his imminent collision with the cement, Reach breached an open temporal anomaly and arrived on time for a job interview with Ulysses Interplanetary Logistics. Accepting the first offer, Reach obtained the position he now occupies on the surface of Chediætros VII. His first assignment was to lay down at a specific position in the Chediætrian wastes so that the collapsing environmental shield would pinpoint directly on his eye.

The pain of his feet and hands being vaporized was not as terrible as he had expected. The shield collapsed to its pinpoint directly over Reach’s eye, the last part of his body left.

***

Reach came into existence over a large body of water. The fall broke his body.

Not long after his death, he provided a desperate meal for a starving ocean predator. That predator later attacked a visiting dignitary taking a dip in the shallow waters off Roatan.

The dignitary’s severed leg washed up on a beach in Belize where a wandering drunk discovered a stasis pod in the marrow of the femur. When the drunk opened the stasis pod, a temporal anomaly ripped open his mind and allowed him to conceive of the physical requirements for time travel.

On the following Thursday, the drunk lost his left eye in a bar fight. He had been drinking a Japanese beer forgotten, but retrieved, in the corner of a cooler.

***

Reach spat blood into the ceramic sink provided to him by his captors. He found it difficult to breathe due to the chains wrapped tightly around his chest.

“Have you come to a decision, Mr. Reach?” a balding man in a white suit asks. He pets a small iguana perched on the back of a naked female slave kneeling before him. The iguana’s claws are digging into the woman’s flesh and a black fluid drips from the trauma.

“I have,” Reach says in exasperation. “I need to speak to the iguana.”

Before the assembled guards can stop him, Reach has halved the distance between him and the Guatemalan mobster in the white suit. His guards reach high, expecting Reach to target their master. They find only empty air as Reach dives through the temporal anomaly that has just opened inside the iguana’s eye.

The anomaly closes quickly, just as Reach dives through. It severs his left leg.

***

The woman allowing Reach to make love to her suffers a momentary lapse of judgment and attempts to finger the stasis pod from Reach’s corduroy pants lying next to her on the stained ochre carpet.

Her death is swift, though Reach had hoped her lapse of judgement would have occurred later. He rises naked from her body and takes his pants with him from the floor. Removing a transceiver from the back pocket he says:

“You were fifteen minutes off. She went for it.”

Sorry, Reach, the voice on the other end said. There seems to be some interference in the quantum plotter, maybe if we–

The door bursts open and seventeen starving ocean predators devour Reach, leaving only his left eyeball uneaten. It stares apathetically at his last sexual conquest

***

Reach exits his mother’s vagina at the same moment a temporal anomaly opens between her legs. The attending doctor loses the infant through the paradoxical breach, and gives the patient a confused, stupid look of horror.

Reach lands gently on a leather sofa in the waiting room of Ulysses Underwater Exploration, ruining the furniture as his severed umbilical cord leaks without care.

“Do you have an appointment?” the receptionist asks from behind a giant desk, obviously sandblasted out of granite. “We are closed. Receiving hours are yesterday. Won’t you follow me? I’ll show you to your room. The doctor is out. Would you like some coffee? Here are your results.”

Reach’s first words are: “Something spoken in Japanese” spoken in Tagalog.

An aquarium on the left side of the waiting room is filled with ocean predators that have been overfed.

The receptionist offers the infant Reach her breast, and the meal is filling.

***

On the dais, the hundred assembled scientists crowd together for the ridiculously inappropriate photograph. Reach has already uncorked the champagne bottle and is pouring it over his assistant, a female named Judith.

Behind them, set into the wall, is the first stable jumpgate. Above the jumpgate and the scientists, also on the wall, is bronze lettering declaring it the property of Ulysses Temporal Defense.

The scientists laugh at each other, clapping backs that are not theirs. An Egyptian pharaoh struggles to free himself from the invaders from the future. Angrily, he makes a lunge for the champagne.

In the ensuing chaos, Reach’s left leg is broken. The pharaoh, attacked but not subdued by aggressive Ulysses guards, pluck’s Reach’s left eye from its socket. Popping the eye between his fingers, the pharaoh finds the stasis pod hidden therein.

As the temporal anomaly opens  in the middle of the assembled scientists, the pharaoh tosses the stasis pod into its center.

The assembled scientists collectively lunge for the paradoxical devise in slow motion. As it passes through the threshold–

***

Reach heaves a breath. The garlic smell permeating his environmental suit bodes as ill for him as the collapsing shield that threatens to vaporize him.

The shield is collapsing in a perfect circle, decreasing in size by the minute. In the last few moments of his life, if Reach lives to see it, the collapsing shield will slowly work its way up his body until it terminates directly on his left pupil.

Reach has planned it this way.

Twenty years earlier, Reach abducted a Guatemalan carpenter and amputated his leg. Hidden within the marrow of the femur was a stasis pod containing coordinates. Reach was at those specific coordinates at the very moment a sheet of paper skipped by in the wind. Reach retrieved the paper and read the words on it. Reach followed the directions on that sheet of paper and jumped from a 23-story building in Tokyo at 4:13 a.m. on April 17th, 1943. Before his imminent collision with the cement, Reach breached an open temporal anomaly and arrived on time for a job interview with Ulysses Interplanetary Logistics. Accepting the first offer, Reach obtained the position he now occupies on the surface of Chediætros VII. His first assignment was to lay down at a specific position in the Chediætrian wastes so that the collapsing environmental shield would pinpoint directly on his eye.

The pain of his feet and hands being vapo–

“Wait,” Reach screams in the confines of his helmet. “This happened!”

The shield collapses further.

“No! This happened! It’s the same! It’s the same! My God! I’m the seventh! I can’t be the same! Wait!” he screams.

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