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Sit back, relax, and allow your mind to see more than ever before.
- Ayami Tyndall
“Mr. Quale?” Dylan turned. A uniformed police officer had stepped from the line. “Dylan Quale?”
“That’s me,” said Dylan absentmindedly. In his pocket, he fondled the phone connecting him to Michael. Whatever had been done, and whoever had done it, he and Michael were setting it right. Dylan nodded to himself, turned his attention to the policeman.
“I’m Detective Gillian and I’ve been looking for you, Mr. Quale.” Dylan felt a pang of worry and he checked in his mind where he’d parked that borrowed car. But Gillian didn’t seem at all angry, just relieved. “You made quite the escape from that garage,” said Gillian, and Dylan couldn’t help laughing a bit in relief.
“Yeah, I guess I did,” he said, eyes still wandering over the crowd. Katz was with his aides, being taken to his car. “I admit, I was pretty terrified, but I knew I had to get out.”
“Well,” said Gillian, “normally we suggest hostages wait to be rescued, but…”
Gillian didn’t trail off, but Dylan’s attention did. There was someone by Katz’ car, a young man standing anxiously. It was Percy. He dismissed the aides the moment they arrived and began to speak stiffly to Mayor Katz. Dylan could hear nothing he said, but he was almost shaking.
Something caught in Dylan’s ear and his eyes snapped back to Detective Gillian. “What did you say?” he demanded.
Gillian blinked, then repeated, “We already have a statement from Mr. Katz, but we’d also like –”
“Katz?” asked Dylan. “Percy Katz?” The detective nodded.
Dylan turned sharply around, pressed against the police line. Percy was still speaking at his father, who stood supporting himself on the car. Another car arrived, parking by the first, and Dylan watched as a middle-aged woman disembarked. She could only be described as chiseled.
“Ah,” said Detective Gillian, joining Dylan, “Mrs. Katz.” The thick haired woman joined her son and began to set into her husband so loudly that many in the crowd turned to look. Percy just stood by, arms wrapped around himself.
Dylan shook his head, confused. This was his family? But where…
And then another climbed from the second car. It was a young woman, barely out of her teens, and she swept by her mother, an aged, hardened image of the younger woman, to embrace her father. He finally released the car, brought his eyes down to look at his daughter. She held him crying. Her mouth moved dumbly, but she spoke with her hands. Dylan knew no sign language, but even Mrs. Katz and Percy fell silent. Mayor Katz just smiled and held his daughter’s face gently between his hands.
Dylan had given him that daughter, desperate to make the man want to live. And the wife and the son. He’d met Percy before, but he never knew his surname or who his family was, so chance had still been open. But why would it turn out like this? He’d wanted to be more delicate, but he had still only really affected the gross outcome. But he had done it. Katz was alive.
So why did Dylan feel so guilty?
Detective Gillian had his hand on Dylan’s shoulder. He turned as the man spoke. “I can see you’re still quite shaken, Mr. Quale.” Dylan realized he had broken out in a sweat. His breath was short, his mind distant, but he followed Gillian’s downward glance. “Here,” said the detective, and in his hand was Dylan’s discarded phone. “We found it by the garage.” It was dented and scratched, but seemed functional. “Get some rest, Mr. Quale. When you feel up to it, please come to the station.”
Dylan just mumbled through the finale of the conversation, barely noticing as Gillian left, as the police packed it in and the crowd dispersed. Watching the people wander back to their lives, Dylan wondered, Do any of them realize how impossible this day has been?
When the phone rang in his hand, Dylan didn’t have to look.
“Dylan, you did it!” All of Gabriel’s reservation was gone. “I don’t know what the hell you did, but I saw it happen. You created a new Fork, one where Katz lives, and now his life is stretching out again.”
What Fork? thought Dylan. He hadn’t just created a maybe, hadn’t just made it possible Katz would live, he’d made it happen, made it a fact of, well, life. Had he really created the possibility, or just made something already possible happen? Added a new face to the die, or just cheated it? In either case, he’d chosen this himself. The world only existed as it did now because of his actions. Would Mayor Katz thank him if he knew the truth?
Dylan stepped out, watching Mayor Katz. He clutched the phone in his pocket, a call open, his finger ready to enable the microphone. He was already choosing his words.
“Mayor Katz,” he called, staying back to not scare the man. He spun around, unfocused eyes searching a moment before finding Dylan. He stared blankly; Dylan felt pity for the man. He already looked half-dead.
“Mayor Katz,” he said, “please come away from the edge.” Katz shook his head, tears rolling under the press of the wind. He began to walk slowly backward. Dylan moved closer, free hand raised imploringly. “Mr. Katz, please don’t do anything you’ll regret.”
“I won’t,” said Katz, smiling crookedly. His eyes met Dylan’s, still drifting in and out of reality. “I won’t ever again.”
“Think of your wife!” called Dylan, tapping his finger on the phone’s Unmute. “Your wife is waiting for you.”
Mayor Katz pulled a shallow breath, his eyes finally returning. “I’ve lost her,” he whispered, his tears speeding suddenly.
Dylan swore under his breath. Did it not work? Had Michael not heard him? “I understand,” he said, falling back on his own power of persuasion. “I lost my wife many years ago, but she is still with me.”
Katz smiled suddenly, a hand raised to his chest. “Yes,” he breathed, “what once was.”
“And what still is,” said Dylan, and he again set his phone to listen for a moment as he spoke, “You have a son. He cares about you. He wants to see you walk away from this.”
Katz leaned back and Dylan jerked forward, thinking he was going to tip over, but it was only a sigh. A long, wretched sigh. “I don’t even know my son anymore,” moaned Mayor Katz.
Dylan’s heart clenched and he touched the phone a final time, drew out his hand as he moved closer. He could see clearly the deeply etched scars of worry across his face. This man had fought battles. “Your son is still there,” he said. “You can know him again, be there for him again.”
Mayor Katz let his head tilt, seemed to look past Dylan. Then he began to turn.
Dylan’s heart climbed his throat. He was losing him. He had to do something, had to find some way to make Michael believe this man would live. Yes, it had to make sense, had to maintain logic. He needed to give Mayor Katz what the narrowing had eroded: his reason to live. Closing his eyes, Dylan reached out and shouted, “Mayor Katz has a daughter who loves him and needs him and he can’t leave her now!”
When Dylan opened his eyes to the biting air, he saw Mayor Katz kneeling by the edge, arms limp at his side. “I’m so sorry,” he howled. Dylan ran forward, fell to his knees and grasped Katz, holding him fast. “I’m so sorry,” he whispered, collapsing into Dylan, completely spent.
Dylan almost had to carry Katz back to the elevator. The broken mayor mumbled all the way down, but Dylan could see the light had returned to his eyes; he would not die today.
The lobby was deserted, but through the doors, in the gloom, Dylan could see the flash of sirens and warning lights. Somebody knew they were here and they were waiting. When Dylan walked Katz out onto the street, they were immediately surrounded by police, hospital staff, Katz’ aides. They were in turn shouting, confused, frightened. Katz was lifted from him, carried away, and the throng of onlookers closed in around them. Dylan was buffeted behind the police line, but he watched Mayor Katz as he was walked away. Dylan smiled.