I sat on the floor of the Exarch’s dungeon, legs curled up to my chest and head resting limp between my knees. There was no light except for what meager amounts emanated from the torch down the hall, far beyond the bounds of the iron bars that made up my cell. Metal chains connected my manacled wrists to the wall behind me, but I didn’t care—it was pointless to keep thinking there might be any way for me to escape. There was no getting out of this one.
I stared at the blinking cursor on the screen in front of me, buried at the bottom of an impenetrable wall of error messages. The server didn’t have enough memory available to complete the package uninstallation—as if that made the slightest amount of fucking sense. Frustration rising, I placed my hands back on the keyboard and typed out another string of terminal commands, all while grumbling “I hate DevOps… I hate DevOps… I hate DevOps…”
The sun shone diagonally through my half-closed window blinds. The pitter-patter of typing fingers and the hum of Ubliquo workstations surrounded me.
It was 3:10 PM on Friday, April 16, 2021—three hours before I died.
Vaxal’s fingers clasped around my neck, squeezing with such force that my metal collar deformed under his pressure. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t even look away. Vaxal stared into me with eyes so full of malice that they practically glowed.
One of the most important details of good science is the ability to reject the null hypothesis. To not only be able to test your own wacky hypothesis in the first place, but to be sure that your test disproves all the other, less wacky possibilities. Falsifiability is a good start, but it doesn’t take you all the way—you need to be able to reject the null hypothesis.
Do the words “captured” and “captive” have the same etymology? They probably do in English—both sourcing from the same root word, some Latin infinitive I didn’t know. But what about in Beleric? Would they have the same etymology there? Maybe not, if the story of the multiverse was one of convergent evolution—of languages inching ever closer to their multiversal ideals over geological time scales. If that was the case, then it might be possible to compare and contrast the etymologies of all the words in English and Beleric to figure out where both languages were heading next.
There’s a funny thing in psychology—or maybe it’s more appropriate to say in reverse psychology—where trying to suppress a certain thought makes it stick in your mind longer, harder. Your brain can’t just turn off a thought, because keeping “don’t think Thing” in the background of your mind just primes your brain to bring Thing back to the foreground. The technical term for the phenomenon is ironic process theory, but it’s easier to summarize the concept with that age-old mind-game expression: Don’t think of a pink elephant.
Crisp sunlight shone in through the open window. Mountainous wind howled outside, energized by the warmth of dawn. I sat at my desk, pen in hand and blank first page of my new journal in front of me—my soon-to-be My Time on Era So Far, By Ash Kyriakides. I took an exhilarated breath as I placed the tip of the pen on the paper. It was the moment I had long been waiting for. Okay, let’s do this.