Bill, The Quantum Mechanic
Episode Two: Lick this Spot, Please
"Thank God you're here!" cried the woman. "I thought you'd never
Bill looked somewhat hurt by this statement. He made an
apologetic motion, then picked the Handheterm from his belt.
Bill punched a couple of buttons. "I'm sorry, Ma'am," he said.
Then, pushing the Enter key on the device, he was gone.
Bill appeared again precisely thirty minutes earlier.
"Thank God you're here!" cried the woman.
"Got here as fast as I could, Ma'am." Bill replied with a smile.
"What's the problem?"
"It's my husband," she cried. "He was listening to some old
records in the basement. Something terrible has happened."
"Where's the basement?"
"Down there," she replied, pointing to a door.
Bill walked down the stairs, and followed the sound of strident
acid rock to a back room. There, amid a pile of worn records, a
BSR record changer, and a torn poster announcing Iron Butterfly,
Moby Grape, and various other artists appearing at the Fillmore,
lay a heap of marginally recognizable human flesh. Despite heavy
temporal deformity, Bill surmized by a count of limbs that at
least two people had been involved. He found a coil of headphone
cord leading into the pile and fished through the goo before
locating a man's head attached to headphones. Pasted to this
head was all that remained recognizable of a youngish woman-- a
length of long blonde hair. Pulling long forceps from his belt,
Bill continued the examination. There was a hand holding the
hair-- obviously the man's. Shreds of paisley, leather, and bits
of beadwork were likely the woman's clothing. Bill searched
patiently through all this before grabbing a tattered magazine
from the bottom of the pile, he worked it out of the mess and
read the cover.
"KOMMUNNIST KOMICKS" was blazoned in 80pt Helvetica Psycholdelia
on the cover. "Property is Theft-- see Page 4,"--this must have
been the lead story. Bill paged through various comic strips
which depicted unlikely animals having unlikely relations with
equally unlikely humans. Finally, he stopped on an page of copy
with an odd piece of filler in one corner. A small box had been
placed between two stories. Inside the box was printed: "Lick
this spot. You may be one of the lucky 153!"
"Lucky," Bill snorted. He pulled the Handheterm from his belt.
punched a few buttons, and then pressed his hand to a lapel
"Central. This is Inspector Zero-One-Two-Two. I'm at the scene
of the reported anomaly in Grid 7," Bill said.
"Central copy." Came a jagged PA voice from nowhere in
particular. "What's your status?"
"I've got a Class-Three anomaly. Two victims. Male Human
approximate age 45. Female Human, age. . .make it 21. I've got
evidence of heavy psychoactives in use by one or more of the
victims. I have one witness-- male victim's wife. Didn't see
it happen, but knows something's wrong."
"Viability and Cause?" asked the dispatcher.
"Viability is pretty certain, as long as we move quick. Cause:
Well, I'd say this guy went leafing through his old personal
effects, found a hit of acid, and somehow got stuck on a trip
down memory lane."
"Probably an old girlfriend." Bill said. "Found her when he was
out there, and got into trouble. You get into conception while
you're time tripping and it'll foul everything up."
"We copy on that One-Two-Two."
Perhaps it was the sight of twisted bodies turned inside out that
caused the Quatum mechanic to allow the moment to creep under
his tough professional skin. Bill's voice waiverd. "They tell
you to wear condoms to prevent AIDS, but they don't breath a word
about wearing them to prevent this sort of thing."
"Okay, One-Two-Two! Let's keep the channel clear."
"I walked in on them." said the wife. Bill whirled around
surprised to see the woman standing in the doorway.
"Stand by Central. The witness is here." Bill said.
"I walked in on them." she repeated.
"I'm sorry Ma'am." Bill said. "You really shouldn't judge him
for this. That Acid they were cooking up back then doesn't age
well. Half our calls are over this sort of thing. They really
can't control it."
"I know." said the woman. "It just hurts to see it."
"I could send a counselor around to talk to you and your
husband." said Bill, before looking questionly.
"No, that won't be necessary." she said. "Can you make him right
"No problem, Ma'am." Bill replied. "I'll put everything back
together right away. You and your husband won't remember a
"Can you leave me out of the rebuild?" asked the woman.
"What?" Bill said. He was not expecting the woman to know
anything about quantum mechanics.
"It's happened before." she said. "Twice last year. I allowed
myself to be wiped the first time, but I would prefer to leave my
memory intact from now on."
"Are you sure you don't want counseling. It's free to victims of
temporal anomalies and their families?" Bill pleaded.
"No. I know what's going on now." she said. "He's been missing
her all these years, and can't get her off his mind. "Maybe if
we talk through it together, we can straighten things out. I
doubt he'll be able to get there again anyway. I found the last
issue. She held up a copy of the magazine."
"I'm going to have to confiscate that, Ma'am." Bill said. "We're
still trying to analyze it to see if we can't find a permanent
"I hope you do." said the wife, handing it over. "It's sure put a
dent in our day."
After the woman signed all the necessary consent forms. Bill
contacted the dispatcher and requested the necessary procedures.
"You have a go on rebuild, One-Two-Two." Called the dispatcher.
"Time Boss has the file and has given an okay not to wipe on the
witness. Warn her that both victims must be wiped to
re-synchronize their neural patterns."
Bill looked at the woman, who acknowledged silently.
"Control, One-Two-Two. Witness copies on last transmission.
We're ready to proceed."
"One-Two-Two. Initiate at your discretion."
Bill made the customary "Circle of Safety" around the pile of
flesh. Then typed a command on the handheterm. "Will the girl
be all right?" asked the wife. Bill nodded confidently, and then
The room filled with the static fury of temporal ionization.
There was a rumble in time, a bright flash, and a tinkle of
sparks. The room was left with the smell of ozone. The husband
looked up from an over-stuffed chair that had previously been
hidden in the pile of innards. He was surprised, confused, but
looked at his wife with straight eyes. Bill was standing behind
him, out of sight.
"Sorry honey!" said the wife, calmly. "Did I wake you up."
"Uh, yeah. . . .just . . .just scared me, that's all." said the
man. He looked at his hands, then back to her.
"You look tired, dear." she said. "Go back to sleep and I'll
come and get you in an hour. I've got an idea on what we can do
tonight, and I want you to be rested."
"What kind of idea?" asked the man.
"You'll just have to wait and see." The woman winked, but the
wink was to Bill, who nodded. He touched a button on his
Handheterm, and was gone. There was a sizzle and a clatter, as
the old hi-fi, whose electronics had been subjected to major
cosmological insult exploded in a shower of sparks that neatly
covered Bill's exit from the scene.
"I'm going out shopping for something to wear." she said. "Try
not to stray to far."