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The pattern

The pattern

43 mins 165 43 mins 165

As he approached the tracks, he wasn’t sure of what he was about to do. His brain was still doing the calculations.

‘What should I do? Is this a way to get out of this?’

The patch of tracks where he stood was isolated from the residential areas and had a rare sense of calm. He sat down and stretched his legs. It felt good. He glanced at the watch. The second hand was slowly ticking away at a constant speed. He could listen to the feeble tick of the watch. Air was pleasant. A bird chirped every few minutes.

‘Was life so bad afterall?’

He leaned over one track and held his ear near to it. A small unrecognizable vibration could be felt. He still wasn’t so sure. He got back to his previous position. Stretched his hands back and rested his body against them. The cloud of uncertainty that dogged him as he dragged his feet to this place was somehow fading away. He looked up at the sky. This was the strangest of the places to find the peace and calm that he was experiencing.

The clear blue sky was something that he had always imagined to be the most beautiful things. It was weird that he was experiencing all this there on the Railway Tracks, in the middle of nowhere, of all places. The tracks felt like shaking slightly. He leaned over once again and a clear recognizable vibration pattern could be felt. The train was coming. Moment of truth was near.

The calm and relaxation was replaced with anxiety. He was surprised at this sudden change of feelings. A moment ago, everything felt so clear. He felt like he knew what he wanted to do and now, the calculations returned. The Cost-benefit analysis was running in the back of his head. He stood up. The train was visible at a distance and it was approaching fast. The Doppler Effect slowly increased the noise that filled the air around him. The paradise turned into a clogged, clumsy, messy and noisy place. He felt his heart pounding louder, louder even than the approaching train. Drops of sweat could be felt on his forehead. The intermittent cool breeze didn’t affect the sweat one bit. The train was even closer. A few metres and it would all be over.

He closed his eyes. The Cost-benefit analysis would give its output at any moment.

‘What is it all worth? Will this change everything? What about everything I have done? What about my life’s work? What about my Legacy? Will it all just vanish into the thin air? Will all the suffering be for nothing?’

And the answer came. No surprises there. It was time. He slowly opened his eyes.

-----                                                               

As he dragged his feet over the black-white chequered floors of his lab, Dr. Shashank looked tired. He was sweating profusely and looking around for any presence. His office lights were dimmed and all other unoccupied areas dark as his Smart Building System had it designed. The sprawling lab was a creation of years of hard work. Shashank was a successful Neurologist in the Eastern Province of Sixth New Settlement (NS-6). The University of Eastern Province was his workplace for 15 years. He was a renowned researcher and consulting Neurologist at the Teaching Hospital.

-----

It had been around 2000 years since the Mankind relocated to the Phoenix Planet. Scientifically, it was named Soleil-III, the third planet in the Solar System of the New Sun, scientifically, Astromeda. The Solar System was part of the Galaxy Ganges, named after the famous river in India, back on Planet earth. The Ganges may still be flowing, but no one knew what happened to the planet after the last ship crossed over in to the new Galaxy via the Worm Hole. The Worm hole disappeared around 100 years after relocation and any possibility of any updates about the Planet earth faded. Some were still in hopes of sending missions or transmitting signals to see if any life still existed.

On Soleil-III, however, life wasn’t the same at start. The atmosphere was more hostile. The layer of Ozone was very thin and the sunlight was scorching, throughout the year. The planet was much more close to the New Sun and hence the gravity was way too high. As there was no frame of reference left to measure the time, the time seemed the same. The seas would roar with huge tides due to gravitational pull and thus, the areas near the seas were permanently uninhabited. Small Masses of Land were seized and the civilization was rebuilt. Surprisingly, no human-like existence was found on the planet. A Strange set of Flora and Fauna existed.

Man as usual had taken to the new planet, like a fish to the water, but the fishes under the sea-water were still unknown. Small rivers and lakes were the only source of water and structured and rigorous recycling routines kept the needs in check.

All the settlements were a mix of races as the Human Race itself faced extinction. As happened over and over back on Planet earth, it took calamities to unite people forgetting their differences. Hovering fear of Tsunamis, unknown Volcanoes and threats of meteors and comets were the things that kept everyone together. Carnivorous plants and pockets of Carbon Monoxide exhaling jungles had caused casualties in the past and the entire race had come together time and again to fight all the odds and survive. Unlike the Earth, it took very short time for the civilization to be built and prosper as the Man came with the knowledge of millions of years. This was the man’s last stand. Planet Phoenix.

Named simply as New Settlement 1 to 16, the settlements were like countries. The naming convention was followed to avoid regionalism and nationalism, which was the last thing the race needed. Shashank was born and brought up in NS-3 and then moved to NS-6 for his higher education. There was no Visa and Passport system as the entire planet was chartable in matter of hours.

University of Eastern Province was renowned for its Medical Research. Shashank had an early inclination to the field and predictably he ended up as one of the most successful researchers and consultant in the field of Neurology. His specialty was in the hereditary diseases and he had dedicated his life to finding the cure to the Huntington’s disease.

The disease was more prominent now as the races had mingled together. Previously more visible in Western Europeans back on earth was now spread in everyone’s genes. The story was same for many hereditary diseases and most of the research on Planet Phoenix was directed towards minimizing these risks, as the population had to be kept in check for availability of limited resources and that population could not be weak, vulnerable and sick.

Huge funds were available for hereditary disease research and breakthroughs were seldom achieved. But the hopes were there as there was no other way.

Shashank had two very close colleagues, Dr. Will Collins and Dr. Krzysztof Kaczynski. A task force of around 20 that worked on various experiments that were part of testing various theories and documenting everything.

Shashank was approaching his 40s and was growing conscious of the fact that he was in his prime to be hit by Huntington’s. He knew all along that he was positive for Huntington’s and was determined to find the cure before it was too late. He never married, partly due to the fear that his family life will be affected once the disease hits and also he didn’t want his genes to continue in next generation and risking their lives.

One fine Winter Morning, yes, there were seasons. Two of them. Winter and Rains. No summer, surprisingly, considering it was so close to the Sun. However, Rainy meant around 50 Degrees and winter meant around 25 Degrees Celsius all through the Hemisphere. So, on the Winter Morning, Shashank could feel involuntary movements in his hands. His fingers shivered and then the coffee cup fell off his hands. At first, he decided to overlook it and continued to clean it, but then his leg jumped and he fell into the porcelain pieces, giving him a scar above his left eye.

He sat looking out the window, at whatever greenery that existed on the planet and the scorching, big Sun that stood in the background. He hardly noticed anything as he started accepting that, his days as a researcher and even a normal, in control human being were about to be over.

Was it the time for Plan B yet? He shrugged and tried to shake the thought off his brain. But the phase of denial would soon be over. Moment of Truth would eventually come.

-----

It was considered a miracle when a man in a coma suddenly got up.

He was last seen driving his car, when he probably suffered a brain stroke. He was found lying unconscious near train tracks and taken to the nearby hospital. His car was found parked nearby. There was no loss of blood and he seemed entirely fine, except he was totally blacked out in his brain.

Doctors were unable to explain the sudden shutting down of his brain. The patient lied in the hospital bed for around a year, when suddenly brain activity started. Initially, it was like static, but then the neurons started firing in a pattern. It seemed like a conscious and normal brain activity, until the patient opened his eyes.

The eyes were restless. They were not responsive to the movements presented to them but were full of bewilderment and unrelated movements. The movement themselves were not uncoordinated, but something was off. As if, the brain wasn’t able to fathom the proceedings around. The brain activity, however, suggested a complete normal operation level.

No one was able to understand the phenomenon. Some related it to the Devil or Satan, while some related it to the Ghost and Demonic Possession. The man really did behave like possessed to be fair. He moved very lethargically on the bed. It took him hours to move from one position to the other. And then again he had to be moved back. He could not eat as the food would be there for hours in his mouth. He was fed through veins and kept on bed pans. He had to be tied to bed. His relatives felt it was better when he was in a coma. Howsoever selfish and petty it sounded, it was the truth.

The man had a brother and brother had a wife and a son. They would come visit him every Friday. The nephew was very close to the man and would spend great amount of time looking in to the man’s eyes and hoping for him to blink. Only he could find a glimmer of life and sanity in his eyes. He was too young to explain it to even himself, but he understood something. He understood the underlying meaning. Somewhere, something was recorded in his brain. Like inception. Something was planted there.

----

Shashank put his palm over the touchpad and he winced as the micro sensors pinched his fingers to draw out the blood to match various aspects, the palm veins scan and fingerprint scans were done simultaneously and a small beep of approval could be heard. A small hatch in the door opened and a small screen came forward. Shashank placed his eyes in place and a beam of light entered each of his retinas, piercing through to his brains. He thought of the password and after a few seconds, the screen went back in and the hatch closed.

‘I need to polish this, there are still noises in the head that aren’t being filtered. It takes such a long time.’ He thought to himself as he waited for his ultra-secure-thought-password system to process the data it just gathered. After some 40 seconds, a small click could be heard and then the big clicks of various interlocks and rolling sounds of gears that operated the heavily fortified door were heard. The door slid and the small, dimly lit, super-secret lab waited in anticipation for Shashank. As he set his foot in, the Smart technology lit the lab up with appropriate lux level.

Shashank went to his desk and repeated his thought-password procedure at the small screen there. This opened the hidden drawers and he took out a small very old looking wooden box. It contained his hand written notes. Shashank knew that Soft copies of anything and encrypted, encoded to any level can easily be stolen, decrypted and decoded; so, he trusted only in the hand-written paper notes.

The papers were very critical. They pertained to a research that wasn’t related to Huntington’s cure, at least not directly. He went over them once. He checked his watch. It was 8 P.M. He walked towards a wall and simply stared at it. A hatch automatically opened in it. He pulled a chair and sat in front of it. The device looked like a computer and had a manual entry option and touchscreen.

Shashank looked through the papers again and keyed in some encrypted commands. After a few commands and a few thought inputs, a metallic head cap connected with the computer came out of the wall and Shashank placed it over his head. It’s ports penetrated his head skin up to a point which wouldn’t cause long term damage. He winced in pain. He continued keying in various commands. He was furious at himself for this long procedure. But at the same time, he knew he designed it purposely this way to avoid any sort of misuse by any one.

Shashank finally got something on his monitor. He stopped. Lunged back in his chair and rested his head against the neck of chair. Then he looked at the monitor once and calmly closed his eyes, his heart racing.

-----

Swastik was walking towards his car when he felt a sudden jolt in his knees. A small wave of pain passed his forehead and then back of his head. Then everything went dark for a moment and when he opened his eyes, he could see the sky. Clear Blue sky. He felt a sense of surprise and delight looking at it. As if he was looking at this scene for the first time. Small bunches of white clouds were passing and cool breeze played with his cheeks. He felt weird in his head. He got up and thought for a moment. He felt a mixture of strange memories in his head. He couldn’t decide what he was about to do. It was at this moment that he looked at Evening Sun. A calming image. Small orange-reddish yellow ball. He was amused to look at it. A strange feeling to have, he said to himself.

He somehow gathered his thoughts and walked towards his car. He sat down and thought again. His memory was playing strange tricks. He was recollecting a lot of things. Things that weren’t his. Memories that seemed someone else’s. He felt as if someone else was living in his brain. There were two different actions that he would think of doing at the same instant. He was confused and frightened as to what was happening to him and slowly he felt a sense of calm. One set of commands were getting stronger. He felt the thoughts aligning themselves better. He could feel in control. A small thought of something going wrong lingered at the back of his mind, but it was so weak that he chose to ignore it completely.

----

As Sanjay drove his car to the neighbouring city, he was feeling a little unwell. To add to that, after a while, he felt shivers in his hands and a vomiting sensation. He ran a fever and stopped the car. He was trembling as he got out of the car and vomited immediately in a nearby bush. He dragged his legs a few metres and fell down near the Railway tracks that ran parallel to the road.

As he looked up at the sky, he felt losing control over his limbs. Strange new memories and strange new thoughts suddenly flooding his brain. Physically weak, he couldn’t get up and even if he wanted to, he couldn’t. Unable to do anything, he simply closed his eyes.

Slowly the new thoughts started getting clearer. He opened his eyes and was aghast by what he saw. Everything was moving so fast. It was like watching a movie being fast forwarded. He could not comprehend anything. He was physically being moved, but the mental recognition, could not happen. There was something wrong. Something went drastically wrong. He thought to himself.

-----

Swastik silently sat for a while, thinking about what to do. He felt as if he did not know the roads or even how to drive, but the very next moment, he recollected something.

‘This is utterly confusing!’ he said to himself and got out of the car.

He gazed at the building gate and started walking at the same time, straining his memory. The very next minute, he decided to not overthink the situation and felt very weak and regained the strength in the next moment. He was surprised, angry, frustrated, bewildered and frightened all at the same time. Yet, he started the car and navigated it to the road.

He reached the hospital and got out of the car. He was in a strange state of mind. A mix of thoughts, a sense of wonder while looking at everything around and a deep sense of something vaguely similar or dissimilar. He couldn’t make out exactly what he wanted. His mind was getting tired every passing moment.

He walked in to the hospital and let his subconscious guide him to his regular route. When inside the room, he glanced at the patient and again a flood of memories, strange thoughts and fluctuating neural commands started bouncing around his head.

It was his uncle, one of his memories had a record. He felt a deep connection with that person.

‘There is no improvement Swastik!’ The doctor said, entering the room.

He turned his head and listened intently.

‘He is still in Coma. Like past 10 years.’ Doctor was talking like it was a regular conversation. ‘Only thing that has changed, is he no longer has any will to come back to life. His neuron activity has ceased.’

‘Why?’ He felt as if he had spoken for the first time.

‘Why, I have told you this before as well.’ The doctor looked surprised. ‘When he was brought in, he had this normal brain activity but no comprehension and after few years, it all suddenly stopped. It was as if, his mind was tired of trying. He only is medically alive.’

While he listened, his brain started connecting the dots. The two sets of memories, converged somewhere and it was that point from where he could piece each piece of information. As the picture became clearer to him, he knew what was happening. He closed his eyes to frame the picture in his mind.

He suddenly opened his eyes and carefully observed the life supports. The doctor was a little uneasy with all this silence and strange behavior. He was about to leave, when suddenly Swastik lunged forward and took out his uncle’s life supports. Flabbergasted, the doctor did not know how to react. After a moment of blankness, he shouted for help and tried restraining Swastik to avoid further damage. Swastik pushed him away and closed the door.

-----

A small syringe of a greenish fluid was picked up and slowly injected in to Shashank’s right forearm. Within 15 Seconds, Shashank’s heart felt a thud and his entire body twitched. After a moment’s pause, he opened his eyes.

Whatever that was. It was rough.

Shashank looked at that syringe and felt a deep pain.

‘How could I be so ignorant to overlook this important thing? This is so dumb. I just possibly wasted 7 years of my life and a possible chance at cracking the Huntington’s mystery.’

He shut the system down and tried to get up, but due to weakness, faltered and fell to floor. It all seemed so strange. Did he just make the fatal mistake? He couldn’t be sure. But the next moment, he realized, he had to dig further. He couldn’t give up.

Next day, after a good night’s sleep, he started researching Time Dilation. As he dig deeper, he knew just the person to talk to. He called up his colleague, Dr. Collins. Dr. Collins’ wife Amaterasu “Amy” Hagihara was a known physicist with a mastery over relativity theory. Shashank set up a meeting with the couple.

On the day of meeting, Dr. Collins avoided to come as he wanted to run the lab in Shashank’s absence. But Shashank knew the real reason. Dr. Collins did now want an awkward situation. Amy and Shashank had a history. The three of them worked together on an experimental drug years ago. Shashank and Amy were very much in love. But Shashank was firm on not marrying and never having kids. This led to the break-up and Amy subsequently married Dr. Collins a few years later. Amy and Will were both surprised by Shashank’s request, but both were very sure of Shashank’s intentions and professionalism and agreed.

-----

Swastik was jailed due to the act he pulled at the hospital. His uncle was dead and the hospital staff assisted Police in arresting Swastik. Swastik’s family was devastated at this. No one ever thought Swastik would do something like this. What was stranger was looking at him. He was confused and looked out of place. He seemed like he didn’t understand much of what was going on.

He was put in a prison awaiting trial. He was by far the most sophisticated person to ever see the inside of that prison as inmate. Naturally, he was seen as the most vulnerable person. He was young, fair and boyishly handsome, which made him a prime prey for the perverts and predators. He was bullied around and seemed extremely detached. Most of the times, he wouldn’t even understand the easiest of the tasks. He was tortured by guards and inmates alike.

One day, as everyone was exiting the showers, Swastik slipped over soap and was knocked unconscious in a corner. Unbeknownst to him a scuffle between two of the powerful rival inmates unexpectedly started. In a strange course of action, they accidently killed each other with the makeshift knife one of them was hiding. It all happened in the span of 10 minutes.

When Swastik opened his eyes, he got up quickly and ran to the door, thinking about reasons to avoid more bullying from guards for being late. While he ran he was shocked to see the two corpses lying on the floor and the knife besides their dead bodies. Out of curiosity, he kneeled near the bodies and inspected the wounds. Somehow, he knew how to gauge the width and depth of a wound and the possible reason for death. He picked up the knife and inspected it. It was a shard of some construction raw material, which was sharpened by sawing against a rock of some kind to create a makeshift knife. He was intrigued by this scene and it was at this moment that the guards entered to see what was going on. Swastik was kneeling over two dead bodies with a bloodied knife in his hands. The story was clear.

-----

‘How is everything?’ Shashank asked nervously sipping the coffee that Amy had poured him.

‘I think we are past that Shashank. We don’t need formality right?’ She said with a smile. Her eyes telling she still missed him.

‘Well.’ He cleared his throat. ‘I wanted to talk about our project.’

‘What about it?’ She was surprised. ‘After so many years?’

‘I just wanted to know, if you ever made any headway in it after I left?’ He quickly got over with his question, expecting a sharp answer.

But she was quiet. Visibly hurt that he only came to her after such a long time to ask for a research. Human mind didn’t change much even after so many trials and tribulations. It always craved the things, which they denied themselves of.

‘As a matter of fact, I did!’ She said and went quiet. The memories lingering in her mind from their moments of togetherness.

Shashank went quiet too. He knew this was bound to happen. If it wasn’t so necessary now, he wouldn’t have met her and hurt her. He would never hurt her. He loved her. He was saying this repeatedly in his mind to himself. But did he? Was she the all important thing to him, ever? Or was it the research. Was this all means and an end or?

He was tired of moral dilemmas. It was the first reason why he decided to be alone his entire life. He knew moral dilemmas destroy great things that could have been. He always believed in that and now there he was, pondering over whether to directly ask for it or just go slow, to avoid hurting her more.

He decided to go for it eventually and she granted him access to her lab and notes.

When Shashank and Will were on brink on finishing their studies, they wanted to do a side project to keep their minds sharp and focus to avoid being bored by syllabus and exam routines. A fellow University student, Amy had put up an ad for colleagues studying neuroscience to assist her on a project. Curious to know why a Physics student would need neurologists, Shashank had contacted her and not only was he impressed with her idea, her charm played a big role to get a young Shashank onboard.

She wanted to explore the possibility of ‘Time Dilation’ as a state of human mind. An accurate clock at rest with respect to one observer may be measured to tick at a different rate when compared to a second observer's own equally accurate clocks. Despite the complex definition, it was simply a perception of time as moving slower or faster with respect to the others.

For example, a planet closer to the sun would have the time moving slower with reference to the planet further away. Simply speaking, the time would be like the circumference of their orbits. The closer planet would cover a smaller time for the same angle. 1 hour on the closer planet, would be similar to several years on the farther planet. This was supposed to be a function of gravity and the nature of Spacetime.

But, Amy had different ideas in her mind. She wanted to see, if the time dilation would be independent of Gravity. Her argument was that insects like flies (yes, they existed on the Planet Phoenix, apparently travelling with the human expedition.) perceive time slower than humans. Apparently, the number of frames of each action that their brain processes are higher than that of humans. Thus, they see each action as a slow motion and so, they are difficult to beat. If this could be achieved as a mental state for humans, the mind can work several times longer. The argument may be flawed at some level and had too many assumptions, but was worth looking at in Shashank and Will’s opinion.

Together, they developed a simulation model of a brain and various changes that could effect a time dilation experience. But, just when there were arrangements made by Will to actually test the medicine on a primate’s brain, Shashank walked out. Apart from the fact that he wanted to cut away from Amy, they had already finished the studies some time back and Shashank felt that this venture was wasting his invaluable time for researching Huntington’s.

His abrupt departure put the whole experiment in jeopardy, but Will, before joining Shashank helped Amy. Not only did he help her with her experiment but also tended to her psychological wounds after Shashank’s departure. This formed the bond between the two that eventually led to their marriage after some years.

They in fact had a small breakthrough. The only problem was, that the drug, which indeed created a sense of time dilation, also attacked brain cells. Some form of brain hemorrhage was visible in primates. This was completely random and it could not be predicted, which part would be damaged. It wasn’t yet tested on Humans and nothing could be concluded about the effects on Humans.

Amy was mechanically dictating from her notes as Shashank intently listened to each piece. He was staring at the small bottle of the drug that was preserved in a small locker in front of him.

-----

Swastik quickly became the Prison sensation. The man who killed the powerful two. Everyone assumed that he must’ve been sexually assaulted by the two and he killed in self-defense. But, the fact that he killed the two of them, gave him not only immunity but also notoriety. Weak and victimized people started flocking around him in the free time. He got attention of even the toughest guys who did not align with any of the power centres before. Swastik, though still behaving strangely showed good understanding of the situation.

One fine day, however, Swastik had a blackout. He suddenly lost control over his senses and fell in his prison cell. He woke up within minutes, but he was doubly confused after that. The entire reality of prison and the incidents of the past few months were feeling like a bad dream to him. He had recollection of most of the facts, yet, he was feeling better. He knew what he was doing, the double commands and mixed feelings were no longer existing. He decided to start afresh and accepted the facts.

There was one thing though, he also accepted the fact that he had killed two inmates and was in fact a power centre in Prison. Over the next few months, he showed great capability and talent in organizing and running a powerful prison gang. His gang was practically invincible. They could smuggle anything in and out and would get every possible comfort for themselves. Everyone around him were amazed with this transformation in him after the blackout. He was never second guessing anything. He was sure of himself and comfortable and confident in making every decision.

-----

Amy was worried sick since she discovered her sample drug stolen from her lab. The same drug she showed Shashank the other day. She wasn’t worried about the theft, but she was worried what would happen to Shashank if he tests it on someone or even himself. She had immediately informed Will about the drug and Will was trying to track Shashank down. Even Krzysztof was asked to look for him. Everyone at the lab were simply told that he was missing and possibly sick, so to keep an eye out.

Amy was tired of thinking of all the possibilities of what Shashank would do with the drug. The only thing she could say was possible was terrifying. That Shashank would take it and use it to continue his research on Huntington’s, in the process possibly damaging his own brain and even die.

Shashank indeed had planned to take the drug. Only his reasons were a little bit more twisted.

When Shashank performed his first experiment with the head cap, he had successfully transmitted his thoughts through the time using the newly appeared Worm Hole. He had reached earth back in time. It was an experiment that had almost zero probability of actually being successful. The weirdest part about it was, he was able to control the brain of a person in that distant past on a completely different planet.

The reappearance of Wormhole had triggered Shashank’s approach to Plan B. He wanted his lifespan to increase in order to get more time to research. Huntington had become his obsession. He was so absorbed by the thought of ending Huntington’s that he could not believe he had ran out of time to do so.

Spending a lot of time with Amy, he had learnt a lot about Wormholes and the science related to them. Amy was a master of the subject and had calculated various aspects relating to it as part of her research. The calculations had indicated the Wormhole’s reappearance somewhere around the time it actually reappeared. Keeping this at the back of the mind, Shashank had created an own lab – his Plan B.

The lab was specifically designed to be able to directly transmit signals in to the space, where Wormhole would eventually appear. It had Shashank’s trademark Thought processing security. The best part was, he was using “Thoughts” as his signals in to the space. “Thoughts” were faster than even light and his calculations and its actual application was kept carefully under the wraps by using only handwritten notes, tucked away safely.

Shashank’s experiments with thoughts were the pinnacle of his “Side Research”. This was so strange that Shashank’s actual research did not have any real breakthrough, yet his Plan B had taken him to a whole new level in Physics. Having a Physicist girlfriend worked wonders for him.

Shashank had etched out a detailed Plan B. Once the Wormhole reappeared, he would transmit his thoughts through them. Their velocity and the wormhole, would take them to the earth and a Past section of Time. Through a volume of calculation, he was able to roughly put a calibration for the signal strength, velocity and the time period which could be reached.

The next step was more critical. He had to use a human brain. He had planned to have himself free of Huntington’s. He wanted to alter the course of time. He had traced his genealogy back to around 2500 years. He had thought that if he would be able to pinpoint the exact patient zero in his family, he would be able to orchestrate a different history. He had decided to create a baby from the same set of parents in the lab, where through multiple attempts, he would be able to obtain a Huntington’s-free embryo (Since, it is a game of probabilities). Then the same embryo would continue the lineage and all the other infected ones would be discarded. Hopefully, this procedure was to give him a healthy body.

He had researched and made sure that the facilities to this kind of work in the given time period would exist. He even pinpointed the possible patient zero. It was just the question of when. The first symptoms of Huntington’s gave him the answer of when. He had neglected the reappearance of Wormhole for a while, hoping to get ahead without this twisted, almost impossible, based on completely outlandish calculations and unverified research kind of a plan.

But an obsessed man is unstoppable, add scientist to the mix and you get a lethal potion.

-----

Swastik had built an empire inside prison. Prison gives you access to biggest of the influential persons. He leveraged everything to the best he could. He was the prison kingpin after all, many of the inmates were in fact associates of some big shots and some shady big shots. He pulled a few strings and got the doctor to reverse his statements and gained himself a bail.

Once out, he tried to resume his life, which had become far from normal. He was still the kingpin and he just became vulnerable. Being in the open world was far more dangerous and he knew that from the beginning. He was promptly attacked twice within a span of four days out of the prison. He knew he had too off the radar and so he did.

There was just one big problem. He had fallen in love with a Prison guard’s daughter, who used to come visit her father regularly. He had to convince her to flee with him. He used all his connections to gain two fake identities. He decided to discuss the situation with her once everything else was put in place. He had hatched an elaborate plan. He would get away with her to Andorra a tax haven and a non-extradition treaty country. A small piece of heaven, far from chaos of the real world.

But, it wasn’t going to be that simple. On the eve of his arranged meet with her, he got another one of those black outs.

-----

Before he could actually transmit his thoughts, he had to think of what next. The signals had to be strong to travel long distances and he also had to think about what his thoughts would do, when they reach another place.

This is where it got interesting. He was on such a roll, that he could postulate about anything and that worked. He postulated that, given that the thoughts are a product of brain activity, they can only be compatible to another brain of the similar composition i.e. brains of relatives. He theorized to himself that, if the thoughts could reach in the vicinity of any of his ancestors, he can tune in to their brains and control them remotely. This gave him the complete access to his further ancestry. He could do whatever he wanted to with the lineage. He didn’t think about morality and possibility of it all for a second. He had siphoned off millions from his base research work in to this for years. He was going to go through it.

His plan was simple. To transmit his thoughts using his elaborate machine and once on earth, controlling his available ancestor. Then on, he had to improvise. He had studied the languages, the customs and many more things. If he would have put in so much effort and time in his main research, it probably would have been more productive. He also had a fail-safe. It was a medicine he had developed that would shut the heart and brain activity completely for a span of 10 seconds. It was kind of a reboot. This was activated through his thoughts. He had to concentrate and command the release. That would bring him back to his present.

On his first attempt though, he made a huge mistake. He forgot about the ‘Time Dilation’ effect. Earth was farther from its Sun. 1 hour on Phoenix, would amount to 1 year on Earth. When he entered his Ancestor’s brain, he got confused. The time was practically flying. His 1 second was almost 10510 seconds. His Phoenix brain could not process that data. He was trying to fathom what was going on, but could not. He had access to memories and other things already stored, but the outer world. The Time dimension, he just couldn’t understand. This made the body he was using comatose, with full brain activity. After trying for some time, he gave up and used the fail-safe to return. But, the damage was done to the body. His brain had ceased acting upon itself after a long struggle to comprehend the massive amount of data.

When he returned back. He realized that he was still existing, which meant, he had not destroyed his lineage by doing what he just did. He had to go back. He had a recollection of looking in to a set of eyes. Nothing else was clear. But, he knew, he could still go back. All he needed was a medicine for ‘Time Dilation’. Something, he never thought would be useful when he abandoned it along with Amy. He had to get it back. He had to get his brain to experience ‘Time Dilation’ if he had to stand any chance of doing what he intended.

-----

Swastik woke up and to his horror, he was confused again. He had recollection of many things, yet some things were clearer than the others. Double commands and mixed feelings were there again. A strong headache also accompanied this time. One set again prevailed and he gained his balance.

He looked around and slowly started piecing the information together. He was worried as a relationship meant the lineage may start. He had to make sure he would work this the way he wanted to. Going to a small country would in fact help. But, he had to make sure that he was in control from now on. He was pretty sure that the woman that he would be meeting tomorrow, will indeed be the patient zero. He had to be careful. He planned on taking some of her blood tomorrow, just to confirm and decide on the next course of action. He felt like a changed man. A lot had passed under the bridge since his last black out, he thought. He quietly sat down to surf through the memories that had been generated in the time that had lapsed. It was around three years.

When he met her the next day, she was overjoyed to hear his plan. She hugged him, kissed him, all of which felt strange to Swastik in some way. He was extremely uncomfortable. She also asked him the reason, but he made up something. He was behaving as if it was the first time he was meeting her, yet he had recollection of everything and every moment they had spent together.

He asked her for a vial of her blood, to get her new Passport, Visa and other immigration documents. He threw names of a few medical tests that needed to be performed. Once that was done. She had arranged for a special lunch and it was at the table that she decided to surprise him. She had a news of her own.

She was pregnant with his baby!

-----

It had been around 20 hours since he came back from Earth. It must have been 20 years since there. He had to find the next generation nearby. He quickly sat in position, entered all the commands and slipped the ‘Time Dilation’ drug in his veins. After a few moments, he felt dizzy, it was at this moment that he realized; he had forgotten to put a new fail-safe vial in place. He started feeling weird. He could see everything in slow motion. He somehow picked up a new vial from the drawer below, placed it in its place and pulled the head cap. He so desperately wanted to close his eyes.

He caught up with his previous ancestor’s nephew. When he encountered his old victim in the hospital, he couldn’t face letting him suffer and unknown of the laws against euthanasia, he simple killed him to end his suffering. The man’s own brain had lost the power to control the cells. This happened because Shashank took the control when his body was sick and weak.

Shashankwas stunned to be inside a prison and all the problems of double memory, double commands and unknown rules of the game. Also, the ‘Time Dilation’ drug was not exactly calibrated for the time difference between Phoenix and Earth. This caused immense confusion and failure to understand. The language used and the slang words in prison didn’t help either.

Within minutes of taking the drug, Shashank possibly had another of Huntington’s attacks. He could feel his brain activity affected. He felt like losing control. Maybe some of his functions were temporarily affected in the present. Or was it the side effect of Time Dilation drug? Was it the start of end of his brain activity? He couldn’t be sure. This was his last thought before he blacked out for three hours.

-----

‘This can’t be happening!’ Swastik was devastated. He had plans. He had plans for this birth. He had to get rid of this fetus. Once he was through with his first reaction, he was ashamed of himself. He wanted to kill a fetus, just so that he could prevent himself getting infected with a mutation.

‘Why not?’ was his next thought. This was anyway a past. He had plans in present. He could have changed the human life forever.

The pregnant girlfriend couldn’t understand his silent reaction. She was worried if he liked it or not. He just got up and left. Cryptically telling her to wait for his next instruction.

He was frustrated, angry. He had done so much to achieve this. He had to succeed. There was no other way. He had to. How could this happen? Or was it the destiny all along. After all his attempts at altering it, it still continued the way it did. He was destined to be Huntington’s affected and he was destined to die the ugly death, he so despised. He was indeed the unlucky one. He was cursing his fate. He saw a train line running parallel to the road. He parked the car on the side and got out of it. He walked silently towards the train line.

‘What is going to change if I die now? Will the child go on to be the same? Will I still exist in the future?’ He was really depressed.

‘What is the use of all this? She is already pregnant. I will just reduce her probability of keeping the child if I die now. But that risks my existence in the future. But it is still fine. There will be one less cursed lineage.’

As he approached the tracks, he wasn’t sure of what he was about to do. His brain was still doing the calculations.

‘What should I do? Is this a way to get out of this?’

‘What is it all worth? Will this change everything? What about everything I have done? What about my life’s work? What about my Legacy? Will it all just vanish into the thin air? Will all the suffering be for nothing?’

And the answer came. No surprises there. It was time. He slowly opened his eyes and jumped off the tracks just in time.

‘I am confused dad.’ Swastik was telling his father, a rare father-son dialogue since he was jailed.

‘There is nothing to be confused. If she is pregnant, it is fine. In fact, it’s a good thing. It will keep you grounded. Run along son. I know you had no bad intentions when you killed your uncle, in fact you did him a favour. Now, this is your chance to run away from all the wrongs that have been done to you.’

‘I feel strange dad. It is all so random. I never expected life to be so twisted and cursed.’

‘There is nothing random in this world boy. There is always a pattern. All you have to do is step back a little to see the larger picture.’

‘What are you talking dad.’

‘What is random, it is something that consistently denies any pattern. Which means there is consistency. Which means there is pattern. Look at the Universe. It looks so random. But when we look from earth, we form constellations out of randomly distributed stars. That is what is stepping back. See the larger picture. There is always a pattern.’

-----

The fail-safe vial was inserted in Shashank’s vein and Shashank came back to life after a thud. He ran to the box in which he had kept his secret papers. Opened it and inspected it for any secret compartments. He found a big mark which he had never seen before. It had a pattern printed on it, which needed a puzzle to be solved. He solved it quickly and opened it. There was a small, old and decrepit note “Do not go back in time. Do not interfere with the pattern. It is useless, instead concentrate on your work.”

He was wondering, why was he still there. How did he exist? How did he find this note so late? Why not before? Was there any other loop of time, where he did find the note before doing all this? Questions were numerous.

-----

Swastik had her blood tested and she was indeed the Patient Zero. He had to kill the fetus somehow. He decided he would do it in Andorra. He flew there with her and under the guise of her check-ups, started developing embryos in the lab. He had to kill the fetus in a month or it would be late. He wanted to come up with a flawless embryo on the side, so that once she recovered, he could place the new embryo to establish a new, possibly healthy himself in the future. It was convoluted, but that was his only chance.

He, however, could not bring himself to kill his own child. Either his conscience prevented it or ‘the other’ part of his brain overpowered his controlling counterpart to deviate from this plan. He understood that he would not be able to do it. Doing many random acts of questionable morality was one thing and killing a fetus was another. He gave up. He started thinking of the alternatives.

What if he avoided his coming back in loop from future? He would never kill his uncle and never end up in jail and thus, would never meet her. Was that feasible? Would that prevent his existence in the next loop? Was the life simply a circle? Is one loop same as the other? Are there multiple possibilities? Would he be able to change the next loop? Or was there a completely different timeline that existed? An alternate universe? Did he come to the right universe?

‘Time is like a circle penetrating the sphere of three dimensions. The arc which cuts through is so infinitesimally small as compared to the entire circle that it feels like a straight line.’ He was telling himself. ‘The time had to be circular. Just as the Ancient Indian scriptures described it. It has to be continuous loop. It may be altered, but the overall outcome would remain the same. Will it?’

He got up and decided to go along in the loop. Only thing he did was buy a wooden box that looked same as the one he had in future. He created a secret compartment inside and put in a note, “Do not go back in time. Do not interfere with the pattern. It is useless, instead concentrate on your work.”

He put a puzzle to open the compartment, which he knew only he would crack as it had elements from the new world and decided to pass it along to the next generation as a rule in his family, until someone is able to open the secret compartment.

-----

When Shashank created his secret lab, he decided to put all of his Plan B research in to the ancient wooden box that was passed along in his family for generations. He opened it for the first time in his life and observed the secret compartment. It had a puzzle. He had to run the small handle along the maze in a particular pattern to open it. He knew it instantly. It was the pattern he had used as his signature on the main lab’s front door. He ran it the same way and the compartment opened.

He was puzzled to read the note. Should he really abandon his Plan B? Wasn’t it a fail-safe if his symptoms appear early? But the note, it knew the pattern that he would use. Wasn’t it a sign? He was confused.

-----

As Sanjay drove his car to the neighbouring city, he was feeling a little unwell. To add to that, after a while, he felt shivers in his hands and a vomiting sensation. He ran a fever and stopped the car. He was trembling as he got out of the car and vomited immediately in a nearby bush. He dragged his legs a few metres and fell down near the Railway tracks that ran parallel to the road.

He was taken to the hospital and he recovered well. He had flu, he was weak but was fine otherwise. He was going to the neighbouring city to meet his fiancé. She came down to meet him and his family. He didn’t have much recollection of the entire incident, but he was fine. He married his fiancé and had a daughter. Apparently, his wife and daughter were both positive for Huntington’s. His brother and his son were killed in a brutal accident and Sanjay’s world was turned upside down.

-----

Shashank sat in his chair, wondering exactly what had happened. He had come back after putting the note and yet, he had not seen the note until now. How did he exist still? Did he complete another loop somewhere in time, where he did not go back and did not interfere with the pattern and yet ended with Huntington’s nevertheless? He did have a recollection of opening the secret compartment before and reading the same note that he had put in it in the past. He, however, had chosen to ignore it or did he follow it? But then how did he come back to the same place with lab in such an advanced phase? Or was it some entirely new timeline?

‘The pattern, yes, the pattern.’ He said to himself. ‘It has to be a pattern. I have to take a step back and look at it all.’ Another of his symptoms struck or was it the ‘Time Dilation’ drug and he fell down to the floor. He was unable to move his limbs. He convulsed and looked at the ceiling. A bright light was at the centre and many circles were passing through it as a part of the design. Each circle had a different radius and some of them were not even completely printed on the space available. It gave him a moment of clarity. Those were the loops. The loops that passed through the bright light that was his present moment in life. Or was it? He looked at the other bright lights. The circles passed systematically through all of them, forming a strange web.

‘Are they all different timelines? Apart from the loops where I could be born from either Sanjay or Swastik, I could also be playing with the loop from some different position on the circumference of time. Could I be healthy in one universe? Same circles entangling through different points in the spacetime. All are part of a loop, which alters in itself after each cycle and yet, all the points have their other loops as well, which exist due to the choices we make or modifications we may cause due to our free will. What if she decides to abort her child in one loop? Won’t it begin an entirely new timeline?

Oh my God! Should I jump to another timeline itself? There has to be an access to another timeline from this moment itself. I just have to figure out the Math of it. I have to go to Amy.’

He was in immense pain. Slowly his senses started numbing. The sound of slowly dripping liquid, possibly something he knocked down while falling went silent in steps, the lights felt dimming. Was the ‘Time Dilation’ drug so fast in action on humans? Was it really hemorrhaging his brain fast? Or his Huntington’s was progressing magically fast? He couldn’t tell. He was going in a trance. All he could think of was a plan to meet Amy and study the math to jump to another timelines.

-----

Dr. Collins had found the secret chamber but as he could not enter, they simply demolished that part as part of emergency procedure. They had found him lying on the floor in fetal position, feebly mumbling to himself. The detonation had rendered most of the equipment useless and broken. No one could understand what he was doing.

Amy tried to decrypt the paper notes, but they were unbreakable. No one could understand what went on inside. He was in no position to answer. He was sedated and being treated for his symptoms. His brain was damaged due to the experimental drug and his symptoms were progressing fast.

‘He was delusional and we couldn’t read it. All these notes and all that unbelievably expensive equipment? It’s all madness. We should’ve supported him more.’ Amy was telling Will, sobbing.

He woke up in a hospital bed with his head bandaged and his hands and legs tied to the bed. He simply stared at the ceiling. He could not feel a thing.


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