Image by Pinary
Scott Williams is a character in The Fatal Conflict.
"We're live in 4... 3... 2..."
The theme music for Events of Import chimed briefly through the studio as the lights came back up.
The host, a charming woman in professional dress, beamed at the camera. "Welcome back to Events of Import, I'm Linda Stacey. Coming up later, I'll meet with Airlock! producer Ian Berkowicz to discuss the coming season of the hit show. But first, we've got an interview with Scott Williams, one of the 340 unfortunate patients to receive the Old Sol nervous system treatment. Welcome to the show, Scott."
The man sitting across the desk from her looked to be in his mid-twenties. He was somewhat tall and unusually thin, and his long-fingered hands twitched a bit on the desk. He was wearing a rather nice dress shirt and slacks, and he'd put on his good rimless glasses for the interview. He was looking rather nervous- he'd been on a few shows before, but nothing as big as Events. Half the city got their news from here, and while not everyone stuck around for the human interest story, there were still going to be millions watching.
"Thanks for having me, Linda." He did his best to smile naturally at her, but it just looked forced. "It's great to be here."
"Before we begin, can you give us a bit of background here? Most of us have heard of the failure of the Old Sol treatment, but what actually happened?"
He knew this whole tale by heart, and the rote repetition calmed him down a bit. "For me, it started when I was five. A combination of a rare neurodegenerative disorder and an allergy to the normal medicine left me bedridden for weeks. There didn't seem to be any hope of a cure, so when the Old Sol Medical Corporation announced trials for their new nervous system treatment, my parents jumped at the opportunity."
"What did this treatment do, exactly?"
"Essentially, it was a process to replace the entire peripheral nervous system with a network of artificial nerves. Medically, it was quite impressive- something of the sort had been attempted before, but only on a limited scale. Old Sol managed to replace the entire peripheral nervous system over the course of just a few days and with an almost-nonexistent recovery period."
"So what went wrong, then?"
"Well, there wasn't anything wrong with the procedure itself- the issues arose once I was back up and moving around again. See, the system draws its power from a small generator in my heart, and while I was simply laying in bed, there wasn't any trouble. As soon as I got my pulse going at a higher rate, though, the generator started putting out more power than expected. Now, they didn't catch this when they were doing the exit exam, so I was free to go. I got out of the ho-" He was interrupted by a flash of light and a snapping sound in the back of the studio, which was instantly followed by a quiet beep. The camera crew looked around, a bit confused, but Scott just sighed and continued.
"I got out of the hospital two days before my sixth birthday, and my parents and I were walking home. We only lived a few decks up, so we decided to take the stairs. I was especially exited, having been cooped up in a hospital for weeks. I was running ahead, going back down, and generally being an exuberant child. "Suddenly, there was a big flash of light, and people were panicking, rushing around the stairway. Someone shouted something, and then everyone started making a fuss over me. Turns out I'd vanished nearly three minutes before, and they'd spent that time looking for me."
Linda leaned forward a bit, her face a prize-winning mix of curiosity and concern. "So you moved forward in time?"
"That's it exactly. The-"
There was a bright flash of light and an electrical-sounding snap, and he vanished from his chair, leaving Linda without someone to interview. Smoothly, the ever-calm host turned to the cameras and started, "Well, we'll be right-"
Before she could finish, her guest stepped out from behind the cameras and took his seat again. "I've done some math, and I only jump forward about one in three times. It's actually more likely for me to jump back a bit, arriving a few minutes before I left."
The viewers at home were treated to the rare sight of a ruffled Linda Stacey. "So... that's what just happened? You jumped back?"
"Right. The actual distance varies, but it can be anywhere up to about ten minutes. Usually, it's somewhere around four or five. The actual stats show a bit of a skew towards shorter jumps, but-" He caught himself. He was rambling again. "But if they want to learn more, your viewers can check the datanet."
The director held up a finger. One minute left.
"Well, Scott, that is fascinating. One final question- is there nothing that can be done?"
"No, I'm afraid not. The failure of the Old Sol treatment kneecapped the field, so there isn't really an alternative available. They paid out a large bunch of money to each of us, but there isn't really any way to stop the jumps."
"That's a shame. Unfortunately, that's all the time we have. Scott Williams, thanks for coming on the show-"
There was another bright flash and crack, and Scott Williams stumbled back into the desk, staring wide-eyed around him. He was bleeding from cuts all over his body, and one leg collapsed under him, sending him sprawling to the floor. There was broken glass in his hair, and a few larger shards were sticking out of his body here and there. Horrified, Scott looked on as his future self rolled over, coughed up some blood on the studio floor, shuddered, and died.
He stood up, knocking over his chair as he did. "No, no, no," he said, repeating it over and over. "No, I can't. No. No."
He backed away from his corpse, eyes locked on it. In the panic, no-one remembered to warn him about the six-inch platform the desk was on- all eyes were on the dead man.
He stumbled over the end of the ledge, losing his footing and tumbling back into the ornamental glass backdrop. It shattered as he fell into it, shards tumbling down towards him, sharp and deadly. His heart thudded loudly in his ears, and a moment later, he vanished in one final flash.
With him, he has just his ID card, a pen, and some spare change. He also wears a customized watch with three main functions. Mainly, it tells time, as most watches do, but it also broadcasts that time on a set frequency. If it picks up another signal on that frequency, it will display that time as well, letting him know if there's another version of himself running around and how far ahead of him they are.
Scott randomly jumps through time. The maximum range is about 10 minutes either way, with a 2 in 3 chance he'll end up in his past. The distance is more likely to be in the 2-5 minute range, but as his heart rate increases, so do the likelihood of a jump and the distance of the effect.
Scott is a bit taller than average, but the appearance is exaggerated by his extreme thinness. Everything about him is lean and stretched, from his thin features to his long, nimble fingers. As a person, he is rather nervous, always overthinking things and getting caught up in the details. He has a particular affinity for numbers and a particular lack of affinity for people.
Scott Williams, age 26, was born on October 17th, 2410 aboard Bertrand City, the second-largest city-ship in the Human Federation. At age five, he was diagnosed with a rare neurodegenerative disorder. An experimental treatment left him jumping a few minutes randomly forward and backward in time whenever his heartbeat rose.