This is a map of violence. Those areas on the map with orange and red are the most violent countries. Many of you will be too young to understand that once this whole map was red, with only a few orange bits. There is a shortage of violence in the world and as all my reader knows VIOLENCE SOLVES EVERYTHING. If violence hasn't solved your problems you are not using enough violence, try harder next time. That's a fact. If you live in one of the pale yellow countries you should hang your head in shame. You are under performing. You are a passenger. I understand that many of you don't have children you can beat or a partner you can regularly punch. That's no excuse. There are minorities out there who you can be violent towards without fear of consequence. The disabled's are perfect for this, it's like God designed them for it. They are ideal, however be careful which sort of minority you pick on. Some of them are harder than they look. Chose your minority very carefully to ensure they are smaller and weaker than you. Banding together with others so you outnumber the smaller weaker minority is always a good idea. Bring some delusional meaning into your pointless, meaningless life by kicking the shit out of a defenseless victim.
(By Lokal_Profil, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8444260)
It had been 3 days since he'd first briefly met Angelique. Three days in which he'd gone from being worried about her, much to Hermes' annoyance, to being worried about other things. Up until this point it had escaped Jake's notice that among all the stories of inter dimensional travel, from Alice in Wonderland onward, nobody had written down what you needed to pack. Generally, it had to be admitted, the characters involved had never intended to go to another reality. The more modern authors who had approached this subject, i.e. crossing dimensions, had their protagonists take science fiction things. Would a smartphone even work there? Wherever there was. Given that in a way it was also here.
Which clothes should he pack? Was there a weight limit like on airplanes? He knew, from Sharon, that there was a limit to how much any given portal could carry across whatever separated here, here from there here. Hermes was right, which was a pain only slightly less irksome than Hermes, 21st century English wasn't a good language for what he was doing. Tchinti was the go to choice for all seasoned travelers. He'd Googled that to no avail, even trying out different spellings. When no additional information was available on that subject he carried out an inventory of his possessions. Was there anything he had to take with him? Some keepsake or object of importance. The answer was no. That pretty much summed him up. His impact here had been less than minimal, it was nonexistent.
Now, after going round in circles for a few days, he was in a dire situation. He'd have to ask Hermes, Jake exhausted every other avenue he could think of. Jake and Hermes weren't talking to one another currently. They'd had an argument over Netflix of all things. A difference of opinion on which programs to catch up on. While Jake favored catching up on The Defenders, Hermes absolutely insisted he had to download all the new episodes of Potato Hunter. Starring Sasquahelenatch Pettifer-Vulture in the lead role of the aforementioned show. She hunted potato's across the storm swept plains of Alaskahaska. Not those weedy domesticated potato's, the full on feral ones that could rip your arms off. Jake had taken great joy in pointing out that, in this version of reality, there was no such series. Only to find that Netflix had an inter dimensional division. With a few simple modifications they could watch an extra few thousand shows, none of which existed here.
Jake was having none of that. A late convert to streaming he was well behind already. Too busy playing catch up to commit to any more TV series. If only he hadn't thought he was going to die from his brain tumor. Which created the risk of starting on something he'd never be there to finish. Although on the bright side there was a strong possibility Netflix would be available wherever he went. That fact rendered his argument with Hermes pointless on both sides. It also gave rise to the suspicion that while they'd been giving one another the silent treatment Hermes was busy stocking up on pirated programs. Meanwhile Jake was falling further behind in his viewing, because he suspected not watching Netflix would inconvenience Hermes. Pure speculation on his part, but it was all he had to hit back with right now. On the fourth day, and still no sign of Angelique, Jake made the huge sacrifice of talking to Hermes.
"Keith?" He chuckled internally at his intended insult.
"Ye.. Aw you fucker. What do you want now? More reassurance that Angelique will get back?"
"No I'm past that. I was wondering, given that Angelique can travel through time or whatever she does to it. Why couldn't she be gone for months then turn up immediately after she left?"
"You're bothering me for that? Eat shit and die."
"Answer the question if you don't want to be the entity formerly known as Hermes again."
"Alright. No need to get nasty. As Angelique told you, she can't be in two places at once. Not for very long anyway. Having used up the time here she can't use it again without creating even more problems. Satisfied? Or do you want me to explain the difference between up and Thursday for you."
"No that's fine. Thought I'd let you know I'm going out for a while."
He felt a disturbance in the force, which was Hermes having a mild fit he'd discovered.
"Well duh. I'm inside you. That means I go where you go. Why would I even want to know?"
"Oh you don't really. Only I've worked out that you won't be able to continue downloading content off my Netflix. A service which at some point they will expect me to pay for. I'm going out only to piss you off."
"I knew I should have punched you in the dick when I had the chance."
That was only part of the truth. During his fruitless search for important memorabilia Jake had found he'd collected very little of importance to him. Then comforted himself with the concept that people were far more important than things. Sure he didn't have a house full of unusual objects picked up in an interesting life, each with a gripping story attached, those he'd met on the journey had far more significance. Only, very few people sprang to mind. Even his ex wife was a stranger these days. When he was gone very few would notice and none of them would care. The only real social contact he'd had for over a year was with his group and Kevin. He barely knew any of the members of his group by name these days. Initially he'd made an effort. Taking pictures of each one and adding notes to their mini biographies. They were all dead now. Jake had reached the point where it seemed pointless getting to know the new members or even their names. He had some guilt about this and at first thought it would be nice if he went to address them. To let them know he was moving on. Then he had second, third, fourth and ninth thoughts. Despite his erroneous diagnosis he was a fraud. He'd never been in any danger. Essentially he was a gatecrasher at a party for the terminally ill. Okay not a party, but as close as many of them would get to one.
Kevin on the other hand was a different case. Kevin cared about Jake. He cared about everyone. Kevin was a giver. Jake had, reluctantly, become a receiver. They had history which was more than could be said for any other current inhabitant of planet earth. The farewell speech he'd planned to deliver to a room full of strangers must be spouted at his counselor. It was what the minimum the man deserved for all his conscientious caring. So pop in say thanks and goodbye then get out of there as quickly as possible. Kevin cared so much he might be a crier. Maybe he should scrap this and go for a walk. Only there was a traffic warden standing next to his car. Writing out another parking ticket. That made three so far. Rather than peel the damn thing off his windscreen he'd take it.
"Is this your vehicle sir?" The warden asked.
"It is indeed."
"This is the third time I've ticketed this vehicle."
"I am aware of that."
"You now have 48 hours to remove this vehicle or it will be towed to the pound at your expense. Should you fail to pay for the towing and storage the vehicle will be confiscated. Similarly if you fail to pay your tickets within the allotted time of 28 days from issue of the notice you will be pursued through the courts. Which may lead to a fine of up to £2000 plus costs and or six months in jail."
"Thank you very much. Do you usually give the full advisory warning?"
"Only when the same car is parked in the same spot illegally for several days. If you don't mind my saying you seem to be far from disturbed by this. Generally I either get anger with threats against my person or crying and begging. You would not believe some of the excuses I've heard."
"I think I would. Ever let anyone off?"
"No sir. I am doing my job. I take pride in doing it correctly and responsibly. Within the limits of the traffic laws. Laws that apply to you as well as everyone else. You're an unusual one though. Very calm for someone with a large bill to pay."
At this point Jake thought; why not.
"I'm not going to be paying the parking tickets."
"Most unwise sir. As I stated you have 28 days after which it becomes a matter for the courts. They will find you, you know."
"No they won't. I probably won't be here. Even if I am I still won't be paying. You see the world is coming to an end and I'm getting out as soon as I can."
The warden gave a humorless laugh.
"That's one of the excuses I've heard before sir. Is an alien space ship coming to beam you up by any chance? I should add that insanity is not a valid defense for a traffic violation no matter what you've seen on the internet."
"No space ship. No plea of insanity. The world is coming to an end in approximately 150 years give or take."
"Oh really? Getting out before the rush are you? Over a hundred years is not what you would call urgent is it. Not as urgent as say, 28 days from now."
"This world is already going to shit. You can't see it, but I can. There are cracks everywhere."
"Good for you sir. Playing the insanity ploy to the hilt. Here's your ticket."
God damn it. He'd have to move the bloody car now. More annoyingly Hermes had been correct. Jake had thought about warning the world of what was going to happen. That the end of this world was nigh. His inner voice had argued no one would believe him. Even that group of lunatics who were announcing the end of days every alternate weekend wouldn't listen. It was too far into the future for anyone to care about now. Besides which it wouldn't prevent anything from happening or save anyone's life. Due to the nature of time it had already happened. There was nothing anyone could do to change that. He had another epiphany at this point. He'd be leaving this reality. The one he'd lived all his life in so far, so to speak. His departure would cause more ripples in this time stream. Only very tiny ones though. His life was mainly a blank. Very few links or connections between him and it. Jake was suddenly aware that this universe would hardly notice he'd gone. Along with everything and everyone in it. He'd intentionally made his life innocuous and meaningless. The alternative theory, that he was a big fat zero in whichever dimension he existed, was far less appetizing.
"Heads up Jake." Hermes buzzed directly into his ears.
Unexpectedly respectful. Therefore Jake wouldn't bite his head off.
"What's up Hermes?"
"Take a look."
"Where am I looking?"
"Watch the traffic warden. Watch him closely."
He hoped this wouldn't be a repeat of staring at clouds with Doxy. Jake wasn't disappointed for once. Firstly he felt the sensation of static all over his skin. Then as the traffic warden reached the main road things went a tiny bit haywire. Initially it looked like the man was suddenly outlined in black. That black then turned into a crack that also surrounded the man. Only this crack was much wider than any of the others he'd witnessed. It was impossible to judge whether the outline grew smaller or moved further away. Perspective became obsolete for that little bit of space time, then it vanished or grew too small to see.
"What happened to him?"
"This timeline removed him. Budded off a new universe that will consist only of him and have very little time in it."
"Oh my God. Is he dead?"
"Quite the opposite. He's immortal. If you call endlessly repeating the same 10 to 12 seconds for eternity immortality."
Jake attempted to process this calmly. He failed.
"Holy shit. Poor fucker, but imagine what his friends and loved ones will think. Shouldn't we tell someone?"
"Jake, he doesn't have any friends or loved ones. This timeline has removed him completely. He never existed here. How would you tell someone a man who doesn't exist has disappeared?"
"Extremely carefully I imagine. The syntax alone is going to fuck you up. That's scary mental right there. Will he know anything about what's just happened to him?"
"Simple answer? No one knows for sure. The time lines that are expelled cannot be entered by anyone or anything. There's no way to know."
"This is bad isn't it."
"Damn right. Stuff like this should never happen. If it can kick out that guy it could just as easily eject you. Not that it would matter except I'd be with you."
"Oh that's nice." Jake replied sarcastically. "Nothing we can do about it though eh. Instead we should focus on the positives here."
"Oh right. What would they be precisely?" Hermes asked skeptically.
"The traffic tickets have gone along with him, so I can leave the car here for a few days more with no danger of it being towed."
"You are one heartless bastard."
"No I'm not. The guy never existed and he will never die. Enough with the criticism."
"That wasn't a criticism. It was a compliment. That's more like the you I know and hate. Welcome back boss. Now hold still for a bit."
"Because I'm using that steel lamp post as an aerial and hacking into every available wifi router within a 3 kilometer radius."
"Oh I see. Even though we face a fate worse than death you have managed to maintain your equilibrium."
"We've gotten out of situations far worse than this a hundred times before."
"Okay. Thanks for the vote of confidence Hermes."
Hermes laughed derisively.
"Not you ya useless dick. Angelique has never let me down yet. You on the other hand can always be relied upon to be a major disappointment."
"So she's going to be very disappointed when I tell her all those horrible things you said about her behind her back, as soon as she returns."
"What? I haven't.... You wouldn't."
"Oh yes I would. I'm making up some corkers while we speak."
"I'm not helping you out so you can make excuses in advance. Wait and see. Oh God just thought of a really good one."
"If you do I'll shrink your dick so small an ant would laugh at it."
"Meh. It'll be worth it. Trust me Hermes. I am going to slander you so hard your little robots will refuse to have anything to do with you."
"You fucking evil bastard. And that's not a compliment."
"I know, but I'm still going to take it as one."