Chapter 8: NEXUS
A T-window with a computer keyboard in an opened carrying case sat on the maple desk in the maple-paneled den of Brandon Krouse. The pear-shaped, rusty-haired time track engineer in his early thirties wore white socks, bright green boxer shorts and a white T-shirt with a red Canadian maple leaf. He was a month or so overdue for a haircut and a day or so overdue for a shower and shave. The reddened whites of his green eyes needed a rest. There was a fire, though, behind the tired eyes that burned with the intensity of obsession.
The time map display in the window looked much like a spider web of thick and thin lines with neon red nodes here and there where some of the lines converged. One of the nodes was flashing. At the top of the window the word "NEXUS" flashed with the same pulse and the same color as the node, followed by the intriguing message, "Day one of first calendar year."
"There it is again," said Brandon out loud for the benefit of future generations.
The feeling of being constantly watched and recorded was an occupational hazard that many time track engineers fell victim to. After seeing how often unexplained events on flashback were misinterpreted by trackers and programmers, Brandon did not want to leave that to chance. Not now. Not with the possibility that his earth-shaking discovery was as real as it looked.
He was viewing Jimmy Cains death by way of a computer program called Janus which generated images of past and future events. Janus had shown him what would happen in that so-called New Economic Zone several times before it came to pass. In each preview of the coming event he had seen something different enough to note. Now, seeing the murder as it actually happened he could see that many of the inconsequential details in those versions of the incident were off target but everything that counted was right on.
Janus did not foretell that Shag Man would play Brandons game of orchestrating some elements of the drama with flashbacks in mind. It did see that a poor black boy from Canada in the rich country to the south of Brandons home in London, Ontario, would be labeled a homosexual for sounding too much like an American suburbanite. Janus did see that he would be raped for having been labeled a homosexual. It saw that he would be killed for refusing to sell cocaine.
None of those things would have added up to much if a CBI network programmer with family ties to God hadnt been there when it happened.
Something in the mathematics of motion had decreed the boys death in the way it came about and Minas witness to it long before either of them was born. Certain events were like that. Time track engineers called the curious phenomenon a "nexus." Each time a nexus was found, normally amid an improbable confluence of events called a "coincidence cluster," it was certain to have far-reaching consequences for the planet sooner or later. According to every readout of the event, the consequences of the Jimmy Cain Nexus were going to be no less significant to the world than the reign of Charlemagne or the fall of the Third Reich. Indeed, it would be far more significant.
The trouble was, "sooner" could be Day One and "later" could be a million years.
On the bottom of the window was a permanent menu of time track locators: TIME / SET / PROPS / ACTORS / ACTION / OUTCOME. To see when the Jimmy Cain Nexus would have its historic effect, Brandon touched, "OUTCOME." He expected to get a technical readout that would take hours to decipher. He was surprised when the time web dissolved into a T-window scene of Shag Man in his Taurus Classic listening in on police officer Rick Tyler and Mina Foski. An amber light went on behind the "ACTORS" locator.
Janus was trying to tell him something.
A tiny voice in Brandon's head that wasnt coming from his surgically implanted, multi-channel receiver warned him against making the "ACTORS" pick. But since he couldnt think of why he shouldnt, he did.
When he touched it, the 3-D window changed to a flat screen with a long list of names in alphabetical order. Now he knew what the voice was trying to tell him. After every name was a brief description followed by the words, "Life Span," and a measure of time. He had always found that to be unsettling. This time was no exception as he scanned many names he didnt know until he came to one he did:
Fritz Early: 57. Married. 2 children. 3 grandchildren. Chief Inspector, Illicit Drug Interdiction Division, Ontario Provincial Police. Life Span: 36 days.
Brandons heart sank, "Oh no, Fritz," he groaned, "not you. How could you get me involved in this Shag Man time trace and then...." He didnt want to think about it. There was nothing he could do anyway. Once somebody was caught in a nexus there was nothing anybody could do. The man was as good as dead. Within 36 days he definitely would be.
Brandon could bare to see no more names on the computers list of "actors" in the Jimmy Cain nexus. He switched back to the time web.
The message at the top of the window still said, "NEXUS... Day One of first calendar year," but it appeared to be attached to a different node in the web, one that no one had seen before.
Never before had Janus offered more than one nexus for the same "Day One" date. It meant that Brandon had either made an error no one had ever made before or stumbled onto another nexus. Discovering a nexus was as significant to the mapping of time as the discoveries of new lands and waters were to the mapping of the globe. Brandon Krouses discovery of the Jimmy Cain Nexus was going to make him the Balboa of time track engineering. The discovery of another one would make him the Christopher Columbus as well.
Brandons inclusion in the pantheon of temporal explorers was heady stuff. But as he saw his ascension to the height of heights he also saw a downside in the form of the short Life Span reading of the man who got him involved. If Inspector Early hadnt recruited him to do a time trace on Shag Man for the Canadian Government, the master computer that Janus relied on would not have collected the facts it did about everything and everyone connected to Shag Man. If that hadnt happened, Brandon would not have found the Jimmy Cain Nexus let alone the possible nexus growing out of it. He hadnt bargained on being an actor in one or both of them. If he saw his name listed in "ACTORS," he might also see the end of his life as plainly as he had seen the inspectors.
He tried to drive the chilling thought out of his mind as soon as it arose. "God!" he said to the ceiling, "Why did I have to become a tracker? Why not a programmer?"
Actually, he knew why and he knew why not. He liked the idea of breaking new technical and historical ground and putting flashbacks that no one had ever seen onto the time tracks programmers used to create their audio-video art. He enjoyed the scientific analyses that made the programmers T-window artistry possible. Those were the reasons he became a tracker. He did not become a programmer because he did not have the gift for turning old 2-D movies, old television shows or raw time tracks, into marketable telewindow programs.
"Programmers," he mumbled. "Mina and Vivian Foski." By typing their names in various combinations with Hector Clay, then picking the "TIME" locator, he got a window display of signs and symbols that only a time track engineer could fully comprehend. He saw at a glance that it confirmed the outcome of the Jimmy Cain Nexus and gave some of the Day One answers he was seeking for the second nexus.
Brandon printed a hard copy, checked the figures again and again against previous readouts. Yes, it was true! No doubt about it. By actions great and small, a few hundred people would virtually rid the planet of the kind of human degradation and victimization characteristic of NEZs in the United States and their counterparts in other countries. The root of change could begin to grow from the heroic actions of eight or nine people from only two countries in less than a yearbut produce no fruit for many human life spans.
That was the rub.
The race would survive no matter what. The moral foundations of human interaction around the world would eventually change by one means or another. Sane, humane and prosperous social structures would be built on them. That was the inevitable future of humanity. But if the foundations were begun with both Foski sisters in 92 days theyd be in place by the middle of the next century. If they were begun a day later it would take a minimum of 9,000 years. 9,000 years! The difference would be made by one life or death choice of one man, Hector Clay. His choice? The life or death of Vivian Foski. What choice would he have to make to spare her life? The temporal equations told Brandon only that she would disappear and any attempt Hector made to find her would have a tragic result for Clay and play right into Shag Mans hands.
"Tragic result? Hummm....." What does that mean?
Brandon set the question aside for the moment. He had made a stupendous discovery about the future of civilization. He wished he could have seen himself as the only one sharp enough to have done so. In truth, he knew that any fan of God with access to the Janus program and an elementary understanding of temporal mechanics would have found what he had sooner or later.
The question of "sooner or later" brought him up short and forced him to think the unthinkable. No. There could have been no sooner discovery and there could be no later one if he was as much a part of the Jimmy Cain Nexus or the Vivian Foski Nexus as the principles were. All things considered, that wasnt merely possible, it was damn likely.
There again was the downside to the heights of greatness. Brandon felt his insides turning to jelly. It was like opening a door on the top floor of a skyscraper and finding himself on a slippery ledge looking straight down. If he wasnt careful he would indeed see the appointed time of his own death. Such an event would make him no different than a man on death row awaiting his appointed time of execution
He drew back into himself and tried to catch his breath but it wasnt easy when all he could see was the fatal drop ahead of him if he made the wrong move.
He had long ago accepted the Fate Principle, the principle that said some people were as driven by fate to particular ends as a twig in the swift current of a mighty river. He saw them as great people like Julius Caesar and Nelson Mandela and little people like Jimmy Cain whose freedom of action was so limited by their circumstances to begin with. Brandon did not see himself as being so great or so limited by his circumstances that the Fate Principle could apply to him.
As long as he could see and hear and think for himself about the issue he was supposedly predestined to act on, he couldnt see why he had to go along with it. Why couldnt he choose another course?
He pushed himself away from the desk and stared blankly at the monitor. Then he leaned forward long enough to depress the button that turned the window into a mirror. The redhead with the maple leaf T-shirt looking back at him ran his hand over his forehead. "I can do what I want," he said.
On a wild impulse, he decided to do whatever came into his head, as if by doing so he could prove his own random choices to be the undoing of any cosmic plan. With deadly serious intent, he stuck the tips of both thumbs into his nostrils, waved his fingers and bucked his eyes, "Ooga booga!" he said. "Ooga, ooga booga!"
Surely the great scrip writer in the sky had not thought that one up.
Not satisfied that his little test had been thorough, he leaned sideways until he could no longer see himself in the mirror. Then he sprang upright and snuffled like a pig. He spun his chair 360 degrees, lowered his head and pumped his knees furiously up and down like a bicycle racer dashing for the finish line. After a full fifteen seconds of that, he swiveled his chair 180 degrees, slid panting to the carpet on his knees and fell forward onto his hands. He lifted his bony knees and rounded middle and pumped out one unsteady pushup before collapsing on the second attempt.
Brandon eased himself over onto his back, flung wide his tired limbs and waited for his strength to return. He didnt know whether his heart was pounding more from fear or from exhaustion until he realized how much of the fear had been burned away by the strenuous activity.
Time and motion were two ways of saying the same thing. He didnt want to move. He didnt have to move and he wasnt going to....
His head lolled close to his hairy armpit and he jerked it away, "Whoa!"
He climbed to his feet and trudged out of the den, past the dining room, up the stairs and into the bathroom where he pushed open the shower door and stepped in, clothes and all. The overhead shower soaked his T-shirt, boxer shorts and socks before he thought of something hed overlooked. A slow smile eased across his face. Perhaps he had been an "Actor" in the Jimmy Cain Nexus, but hadnt he already played his part?
Sure, he thought. Of course. That must be it. I have nothing to do with Vivian Foski. Ive already done what I was fated to do. If I stick to the Foski Nexus, Ill be out of it. "Im free!" he shouted, happily, stripping off his wet clothes and finishing his shower with visions of personal and national glory sung to the strains of his favorite song, "Oh Can-a-da...."
Brandon returned to his desk, refreshed, clean-shaven and ready to wrap up his work. He looked himself over once more in the mirror that he was about to turn back into a window.
He considered the small cut on his chin a badge of honor that many admirers of Hector Clay would know from his refusal to use a miracle depilatory manufactured by Condors Psyche Labs.
Being a prominent U.S. citizen, the host of God was taking a real risk by doing something like that. Which is to say, he was risking his reputation. Hector Clay didnt know it, but he couldnt risk his life if hed wanted to. For the next forty three years, he was invulnerable.
Hector Clay also seemed to be unaware of his popularity with the extensive dissident underground in the States, not to mention the American expatriates in Canada, South America, Europe, Australia, Africa, and Asia. Brandons thoughts leaped back to an era of cowardice and hypocrisy in the guise of superior morality when Canada last gave sanctuary to so many Americans. Brandon was as ashamed now of the good name his country had given to those men as he was proud of the good name it was giving to the American citizens in Canada who opposed the American Party. These people knew where the idea of New Economic Zones came from. They understood the power of the people who controlled the sights and sounds of their time to keep those slow-burning death camp ovens in service.
Without fully understanding the connection between that thought and the picture that popped into his mind of the old man who had caused Mina Foski to pee in her pants, Brandon wondered what Mina would do when she found out his connection to her sister. He grinned to himself, intending to look ahead for the answer in the Vivian Foski Nexus before tackling the momentous question of whether she would survive to open the gates to utopia in his lifetime. But as soon as he was confronted with the maze of potential time tracks leading to the 92nd day or the 9,000th year of change, he realized that it might not be that simple.
What if the nexus did include him in some convoluted way? If a random factor were involved, hed never be able to pin it down. If not, he wouldnt know unless he tried. The more he thought about it the less he wanted to do it. His name might still show upor his imagealive or dead as an actor in the unalterable future. He still might turn out to be that twig on the rapids of time.
His insides started to sag again.
Then, his spirits were buoyed by a thought from the blue about Mayhews past which had nothing to do with the future. It may not have been a productive thing to look at but it was a lot safer than looking ahead. Brandon reasoned that he could go forward later, when he figured out what time track locator he could use to tell him about Vivian and Hector without revealing anything about himself.
He touched the "TIME" locator, brought up the message block and typed in, "Mayhew, 1976." He hadnt programmed many stories that he would have been willing to take credit for, but this was one of them. The irony was that he borrowed the technique from Mina Foski.
The challenge was to find a time track with someone telling a story that matched the flashbacks on other time tracks. Since Brandon lacked the skills to create believable ELFs, he had to use whatever showed up on the tracks. Thats what made the people who worked with Vivian so different and such terrific sources of usable material. People who knew the truth when they saw it and told the truth when they were asked, were as scarce as winning ticket holders at a fixed horse race...
The program window opened above the deserted, dimly lit intersection of Broadstreet running north and south and Elmhurst running east and west. On the northwest side of the intersection was an abandoned gas station converted to a taxicab stand. The sound of a lone internal combustion engine preceded the westbound appearance of a black City Cab on Elmhurst. It stopped at the red light, puffing black smoke out of the tailpipe.
The T-window zoomed in on the taxi and rotated to the drivers side until a black-bearded man with a green Army bush hat on his head was framed in profile. A tangle of long black hair spilled over the olive drab collar of his shirt. On the upper seam of the shirt was a field "Airborne" tab with the wing and bayonet patch of the 173rd Airborne Brigade below it.
A lit cigarette dangled from his lips.
The telewindow frame followed the man's right hand to the cigarette which he took out of his mouth and slid into an aluminum cigarette snuffer of his own design in the ashtray. Then the frame shifted to a newspaper unfolded in the right front seat and zoomed to a tertiary headline that said, "Vietnam vet kills four in shooting spree."
The frame shifted back to the front of the cab drivers olive drab shirt, to the name tags over the pockets which said "U.S. ARMY," on the left side and "MAYHEW" on the right. Then, as the window frame pulled back to show the black cab with the yellow letters move across the street with the green light, a man with a lazy-sounding voice began to speak:
"It was everywhere. Not just what the papers had to say about us or what you saw on television or heard on the radio but at parties and at workwhen I had a regular job. Even with the taxi driving gig youd get them funny looks sometimes from the fares, like they was lookin to see if there was a body in the back before they got in."
While Mayhew told his story, the T-window showed him parking in the cab stand and handing his keys to a young black man who had left the tiny office as Mayhew pulled in. The young man got in the car and drove away as Mayhew, in his cowboy boots, blue jeans, Army shirt and bush hat walked to the office. The door closed behind him. The picture stayed fixed on the door.
"I could have taken off my hat and worn a different shirt but that would have been like a black guy havin one of them race change operations and I aint never gonna do no fucked up shit like that. I was proud of who I was and I had every right to be."
After a pause that stretched longer than it would have if a professional programmer had been in charge, Mayhew emerged from the office. From that point on, his words and the 3-D pictures in the window complimented each other well. He never mentioned that the other people in the story were black, which said more than Mayhew ever could with words about his sense of what was relevant.
"I kept looking at the money I had after I turned over the companys share of what I made. It was pitiful. Things was the slowest theyd been in years and after twelve hours of rollin I didnt have twelve dollars to show for it.
"I just kinda said, to hell with it, and headed home. It had gotten chilly and I was wishing I had my field jacket. I lived in the next block so I didnt have far to walk.
"When I got to the corner, I stopped for the light. Force of habit, I guess. Then I heard this car coming around the bend on Elemhearst. By the time it got to Broadstreet the light changed and it stopped.
"It was a brand new Oldsmobile Cutlass. The driver had his window rolled down and the radio was going pretty loud. A girl was sitting next to him. They had this clean-cut look aboutem, like college kids from the '50s and they were laughing and carrying on like they were having a great time.
"Well, you know how it is when you see people enjoying themselves like that on a cold, lonely night; it kinda makes you feel like you want to be a part of it. You know, they smile, you smile with them. You cant help it.
"I started across the street lookin in atem with this big happy smile on my face.
"But then, they looked at me like they hadnt seen me before and it was like they was looking at Jesse James or some shit. I mean, I couldnt see the girls face real good, but I thought the guy would piss his pants. He started cranking up the window and when he couldnt get it up fast enough he stepped on the gas. Vroom! Right through the fucking light."
Brandon caught the allusions to the Jimmy Cain Nexus in Mayhew's monolog from several generations earlier. There were other Mayhew time tracks that put all of the Jimmy Cain Nexus elements in place from his perspective in every significant respect. Examples like these were so plentiful in general that in retrospect it was amazing that it took so long for time track engineers to figure out how to isolate them and use them to look forward in time as well as backward. Like Mayhew in 1976, few people knew how to look forward in time because they didn't know how to look back.
"Talk about depressing," said Mayhew's voiceover as the action in Brandon's T-window followed his story.
"I dragged ass all the way down Broadstreet. It wasnt like the rest of the night had gone that well. People were flagging me down to go two blocks. Other cabs were stealing my fares. I had two decent runs the whole shift and I got stiffed on both ofem. Now this. Man, I was seriously bummed out.
"But no matter what happens, you gotta drive on anyway, right? So I drove on.
"My house and the one next to it were two-family, mirror images of each other. I knew the upstairs neighbors slightly because the houses were close together. Our front doors were directly across from each other and sometimes wed see each other at close range coming or going. It was a man and wife in their forties, a teenage boy and his grandmother. I aint sure if it was the mans mother or his wifes.
"Now grandma had this thing for the Gin bottle and when I got close to the house, I saw her on her porch teetering against the wooden railing like she was gonna fall over it. You could see her trying to aim her key at the keyhole, then kind of lunge for it and lose her balance. She kept falling to her left next to the railing, and it looked like she was gonna do a headfirst dive to the pavement every time. Then shed catch herself and start over again.
"Scared the shit out of me. I didnt know whether to run up on the porch and try to stop her from falling or run between the houses and try to catch her on the way down. It depended on which way she was rocking when I got to where I had to make my move.
"I was on the sidewalk between the houses when I saw her tilt back toward the door so I ran up the stairs. I tell ya it was a close call, cause as soon as I committed myself she started back the other way. Her coat was open and I could see that her pants were slipping down. It looked like she was trying to catchem. Only she was getting tangled up in her purse straps and concentrating so hard on her pants that she forgot about the low rail.
"This time I knew she would have gone over if I hadnt been there to catch her.
"So, now I got her wrapped up safe and sound. Im feeling like a hero and thinking that the media oughta be around to see a Vietnam vet do some good. I asked the old lady to let me help her with the door and she starts getting abusive."
Mayhew didnt say how abusive she became but it was on the time track:
"Get yo muthafuckin hands off me!" she snarled.
Mayhew tried to position his hands on her body in such a way as to hold her fast without touching anything intimate. "Please," he said, "Im your next door neighbor. All I want to do is help."
The woman pitched and squirmed and cursed. "I know who the fuck you is, muthafucka!" All the while, her pants slipped farther down her hips and Mayhew could see through the open flap of her coat that her panties were coming with them.
"Oh, Jesus," he said.
"Fuck you," said the woman, still struggling to get away and still falling toward the rail as if the porch was tilted that way on a steep angle. "You cant do nothin for me... Ill cut you with my knife."
Mayhew took over the narration:
"She wasnt shittin about the knife. When I turned her around so that I was next to the rail, she went in her purse. I didnt think anything about it. I mean, even if she had a knife in there she was so drunk I didnt see how she could find it, open up the right end and put it to use. But the next thing I knew, she had this thing in her hand and, CLICK, out snaps the blade, long, shiny and ready to do business. Ho-ly fuck!
"I went for her wrist. With all the moving around she was doing I lost my balance and we hit the porch together. It was some bad shit. Nobody got hurt or nothin. I mean, Im the one that took the fall and I know how to take a fall. And this wasnt the first time I had to take a knife away from somebody. I got hers easy. But damn. If the police or somebody had come by right then the ol' trooper would not have been looking good.
"So, here I am on my neighbors porch at three oclock in the morning scuffling with his motheror her mother. I dunno. Anyhow, Im on top of this old lady. Shes kickin and cussin, her pants are down past her kneesand I got the knife!"
Brandon Krouse was laughing so hard that he was slow to see the obvious connection between the Mayhew program and the second nexus. The thought about Mayhew hadnt come out of the blue. It had to do with the knife. But it wasnt the womans knife that his subconscious had tried to tell him about. It was the one on Mayhews shoulder patch, the bayonet of an airborne unit conceived, equipped and trained for jungle warfare.
Brandon touched the "PROPS" time track locator on the permanent menu and entered "Bayonet/Sgt. Clay/Bogeyman" In a frenzy of excitement, Brandon ran through a series of flashbacks showing that Hector Clay had also worn an Airborne patch in an elite jungle warfare unit. They showed that he fought as a Ranger in the Guido Calvera drug war with far more close-quarter kills than he chose to reveal. All of this was old news to Brandon. He sped through one section of the "PROPS" time track locator after another, stopping only long enough to renew his feel for what to look for in rapid scans of the immutable projected future.
Every action of the past carried with it momentum for the future. The question was always, how much momentum did it take to go how far? That question, in turn, was answered by whether the momentum of another event would knock it off course. It was a corollary to Hector Clays principle of dominating influences with a mathematical rather than a philosophical basis. If there was a way for Brandon to pin down the answer to the biggest question of all time without the risk of running into himself in the future, this had to be it. What possible link could he have to Hector Clay?
Brandon felt a new surge of enthusiasm for the task ahead.
In a blur of digital motion and rapidly changing scenes of horrible carnage he brought himself to the end of the string. The bodies of seven young black men, and parts thereof, lay strew on a blood-splotched sidewalk, against a boarded-up storefront, and in a dirty city street. It looked like the aftermath of an incredibly vicious battle that Brandon had seen in flashbacks of the war in South Americaflashbacks of Hector Clay wielding a swift and deadly bayonet.
It seem exceedingly unlikely that one man could be responsible for all of those violent deaths in one time and place. Brandon knew that it was possible only because he had seen the evidence of it several times before. He had studied the tracks backwards and forwards in slow motion from many ranges and points of view. Only after he had devoted hundreds of hours to analyzing those seemingly chaotic clashes in detail did the clear pattern of Sgt. Clays inevitable victories emerge.
Hector, the soldier and the vigilante, had no compunction about ducking a fight he didnt think he could win and an unbeatable advantage over anyone he chose to fight: He was protected by that peculiar temporal phenomenon that trackers like Brandon called, "The Fate Principle." It prepared him with whatever physical, emotional or intellectual tools he needed to meet and overcome any challenge to his survival. No matter what any combatant or group of combatants tried to do to him, he had a defense or a preemptive offense ready to go. If he took the initiative he could sustain it. If he could sustain it, he could not lose. In 60 seconds or less the fight would be over every time.
Hector understood the Principle of Diminishing Options that wouldnt allow armed men in groups to get at him without killing or maiming one of their own if he made the right moves first. He always made those moves when he had to. He could calculate and orchestrate moment by moment when each of his opponents in the death struggle would run out of options. He was the Michealangelo, the Mozart and the Shakespeare of hand-to-hand combat. And he knew it.
Brandon leapfrogged back and forth in time for a showdown with Shag Man that would explain the readout and the final street battle. He saw no need to watch the gory spectacle all the way through in any of its projected versions because the result was always the same. He had seen the result but it was only a projection of the future based on a potential for action involving Hectors weapon of choice. It wouldnt necessarily play out that way in real life. Or would it?
Was the final street battle going to be the cause of Hectors grief? Was it inevitable or would it be the result of the choice he shouldnt make? If it was going to happen, Brandon needed to know when. A date certain would make it an event certain to transpire. More than one date or the absence of a date would make it an option.
Brandon touched "TIME." "24 HOURS," it said. So much for options. In 24 hours or less the boys were going to die. Hector Clay was going to kill them. But where was Shag Man in all of this? Where was Vivian? Would another time track locator show whether Vivians life would be taken or spared by the killing of the seven youths? Well, even if the street fight proved to be a red haring, Brandon figured he was ahead of the game. From here, he no longer had to step back to go forward.
Either "OUTCOME" or "ACTORS" might have been the track he was looking for. This part of the job was often hit or miss. But given the narrow time frame involved Brandon had no fear of picking either one. In fact, with the possibility that his next touch of the menu bar might become as famous as Neil Armstrongs first step on the moon, it was all he could do to keep from beaming.
If a random factor were involved, he would, of course, get nothing useful from Janus. But if deliverance day for all of humanity was going to come in the next 92 days by the sparing of Vivian Foskis life on this dayDay One of the Vivian Foski Nexusthe discovery of that event deserved to be made with dignity. Brandon rubbed his palms on the top of his thighs, straightened his back, lifted his chin and picked "ACTORS."
He held his breath.
On the screen was a list of names including Dean Piper, the CEO of Condor Industries, and his two top lieutenants, Jeff Easton and Phil McBain. The lovely Margaret St. Clair, the creepy Walter Judd and other employees of CBI were also on the list as well as household names like radio commentator Corey Becket and his telewindow counterpart Sam Jinks. In no particular order were scores of others identified as high ranking government officials, business leaders and members of three separate street gangs. Shag Man was there with Hector, Mina and the entire Tyler family. Clay was also linked in some significant way to a T-window pornographer called Blue Monday, a married couple called Gidarb, and the Michigan attorney general.
Vivian had to be there somewhere...perhaps on the next page....
The high number of names on the second page with life spans of a week or less was appalling. But Brandon stopped and stared in eye-bulging, open-mouthed, dumb-struck, shivering shock at one such name near the bottom: "Brandon Krouse: 33. Divorced. No children. Time track engineer, Tanaka Broadcasting Corp., London Ontario. On temporary assignment with the Ontario Provincial Police. Life Span: 21 hours."
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