A new short story by Captain Fun


It was a strange sensation, sitting alone in my cubicle. It was like being in the middle of a crowd, but instead of hearing everything with your ears, it was like sounds in your mind’s eye.

It had been like this all day. I woke up in my small apartment in Terrace Heights, a neighborhood in Old New York. I checked my calendar. April 24, 2079. I could hear so many things, but my eardrums were not bursting. Maybe it was exposure to radiation. Or some kind of electrical signal that got stuck in my head. I could hear what people were thinking. Not only that, but I could feel what they felt.

I went to work, knowing when someone was going to change lanes or honk. I heard all radio stations. Mixtures of Techno, Classical music, and the Oldies Rap stations. I knew when the light was going to change. I knew who was angry, sad, lonely, hungry, whatever. It was all a jumble in my head.

I was cleared at the security checkpoint to the building where I work. I’m Trevor Holden, program engineer for Dude/Hapt Electronics, the biggest electronics company in the North United States of America. I’ve had my job at D/H for about seventeen years now. I’ve never married, and I’m 39 years old. I have pretty much no hobbies. I simply help devise programs to assist other programs in making VR units. I work in one of twelve different buildings scattered all over the country that does this. In what little spare time I have, I like to watch old movies while eating TV dinners and popcorn.

And now I have what they call “Extra-Sensory Perception,” or “E.S.P.” for short.

I was sitting in my cubicle, trying to drown out all the noise in my head. It was something like a headache, only nothing hurt. I closed my eyes and laid my hands on my knees. Then I pictured a waterfall. I know how to do this thanks to the mind health tape the company gives to everyone. This is to prevent things like shootings at the office.

I pictured my waterfall, a beautiful, flowing stream of water. Surrounding it was a forest of large evergreen trees, like the kind you see in old magazines or movies, the ones before the great forest fire. Drinking from the stream is a deer. I’ve never actually seen a deer firsthand, but I’ve seen pictures and they look like wonderful creatures. I concentrate on the deer. It’s taking its time drinking. Now I breathe in and out very deeply. I tell myself it is time to clear my mind. I imagine a large black emptiness, devoid of sound and sight and taste and texture and stench. I put everything in my mind in this place, then imagine myself closing it up and sealing it.

When I open my eyes my mind is only thinking of one thing. This isn’t my imagination. I can tell that this is real, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Someone is going to kill Mazer Creegan, a renowned religious philosopher, in ninety minutes outside of a courthouse on the other side of town.

Now I’m faced with the question: if I knew about a murder before it happened, would it then be my obligation to try and stop it?

There are many things to consider when pondering this question. The first and foremost is fate. If fate exists, then fate dictates that no matter what I do, Mazer Creegan is going to die in exactly ninety minutes. But if fate doesn’t exist, that would mean that stopping his murder would inevitably trigger some other chain of events that could lead to anything ranging from something as small as a phone ringing to something incredibly huge like a hurricane. In effect, saving him could cause consequences so huge that the world would be better off with him dead anyway.

Take the example of Adolph Hitler, a man who tried to take over the world early in the twentieth century. He conquered most of Europe by convincing tons of people to follow him. Then, he convinced these people that people of the Jewish faith were the trash of our race and should be killed. Millions of Jewish people, in effect, were killed because of this.

Now, picture having a time machine and having the ability to wipe out Hitler. Now he has died a martyr, which then enforces his beliefs amongst his people and inspires them to work harder to make his world the way he wanted. In effect, you’ve created genocide.

And if you went back in time and killed him as a child, then the old United States of America becomes a third-world country by the 1950s thanks to the Great Depression and the fact that Japan has not bombed Pearl Harbor and forced Americans into the war, increasing the economy. And God help you if you prevent the assassination of Abraham Lincoln!

So now I’m faced with a decision: sit back and do nothing, and let the normal flow of time continue, or stop the murder and save a life.

At first, I thought about sitting back and continuing writing my pages of code. Then I realized something. Maybe I was meant to develop E.S.P. Maybe the reason I have developed this is because of fate. Perhaps I’m destined to save this man’s life.

On the other end, maybe this worked against fate, and so my saving this man’s life triggers a horrible chain of events. Unless the flow of fate is meant to happen, in which case he’ll die anyway and everything will still work out according to fate’s plan.

But if there is no fate, and I’m meant to know about his murder, then saving his life could be the right thing to do.

I jumped out of my chair and headed downstairs. On the way, I ran into a coworker of mine, Jake.

“Hey Trevor, you up for lunch?” he asked.

“Not now Jake. I have to go do something,” I say hastily.

“No prob,” says Jake, although I’m out of earshot. I still hear him, though, in my mind.

I climb into my car and race out of the parking lot, showing my ID at the security checkpoint. I have exactly eighty minutes to get to the place where Mazer Creegan dies. It’s close to lunch hour, so traffic will be busy.

I concentrate harder on Mazer Creegan’s death. I see that he’s shot, but from where? In my mind, I scan the street and surroundings. Then I see a parking garage across the street where Mazer is. In my head I concentrate on the garage. On the fifth floor I see a masked man with a sniper rifle.

I come out of concentration. I have to get to that parking garage.

It’s about seventy-five minutes later when I finally get through traffic to the other side of the huge city where I live. I’ve never even been in this part of the city, but my E.S.P. leads the way.

I find the parking garage. I get a ticket at the security checkpoint and work my way up to the fifth floor. I find a parking spot, then run to the area facing the courthouse. I find the man with the gun. He’s about to pull the trigger. I look down and see Mazer Creegan stepping out of a limo.

I tackle the shooter as he fires a shot. I look up. The shot missed Mazer.

“What’d you do that for?” cries the shooter.

“For my sanity,” I say.

“Do you realize who you hit?”

“Hit?” I asked, befuddled. I looked down and saw a man lying on the steps of the courthouse. Mazer Creegan was holding him. I heard what they were saying, but none of it registered. I couldn’t move. Cop cars surrounded the shooter and me.

All I was wandering on my way to jail was this: what kind of life would that man have lived had he not been killed? He was never the target. Fate had not chosen him.

Or had it? Had fate meant for me to acquire E.S.P. so that I could change the murder of Mazer Creegan to the murder of the other man?

Maybe, but you see, it’s been four years to the day of that awful occurrence and for four years the people I heard in my mind on that day have all been silenced. I’m sitting alone in my cell, hearing nothing and wondering: when I changed fate, did the world stop? Or did I just lose my Extra-Sensory Perception? I may never know.

About the Author

Nick “Captain Fun” Varnau has written tons of short stories, essays, and movie reviews. He has written for both the HiLite and The Indianapolis Star. His short stories include the “Amazon Jihad” series, “Return,” and the “Legend of the Suburban Ninjas” series. He also wrote, produced, and starred in the short-lived TV show “Cafeteria,” co-directed the “Star Wars” fan film “Rise of Romeo,” founded Double Club Movies and Stickboy Productions, and acted in a variety of plays including “The King and I,” “Peter Pan,” and “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” He is nineteen years old and lives in Carmel, Indiana. Email him at Stickboyprez@indy.rr.com.