“That went well,” Hal acknowledged. Sham was returning from the police office, where he had left a well documented statement. After all, once Sham looped, Ray Toobe would likely have no memory of the pivotal events.
“It’s remarkable that Millie came quietly,” Sham markedly remarked.
“I don’t think she really believed you could expose the truth,” Hal observed. “She seemed unphased.”
Sham shrugged. “I just figured that Millie’s encoding was going to have something to do with 357,686,312,646,216,567,629,137,” he pointed out. “No matter how you decapitate that number, you end up with another prime.”
“I don’t know how your swiss cheesed memory can recall stuff like that but forgets terms like the ‘lucky numbers’ or the ‘weird numbers’.”
“The weird numbers are abundant numbers without being the sum of any set of it’s own divisors. Like 70,” Sham noted.
Hal rolled his eyes. “If only you’d remembered that last loop…”
“So, what happens to Millie Niem anyway?” Sham continued.
“Oh… it looks like she gets off with a light sentence but they confiscate her viral device,” Hal answered, tapping at his calculator. “So everything’s back on track at the Project because of that… she doesn’t try it again. And hey, Sham, it looks like you accomplished your mission too!”
“What? I thought it was to provide room for terminals.”
“Yeah, well it looks like Millie’s son, Tita Niem, was going to prevent some initiative by the University of Mizuloo this year… that is, in the year 2000. But due to this disruption in her life, now Millie never has kids. And without the hinderance to the Mizuloo space program, it seems there is no longer a need for you to renovate the original MC design!”
“Oh.” Sham paused. “But then if I’ve fixed Y2K and accomplished what I was supposed to do here, why haven’t I looped yet? Am I supposed to prevent your alien invasion in the year 2000 too?”
“Oh… that turned out to be a hoax. It was a scam run by some cracked group of PCs,” Hal admitted. “And… it seems you’re still here because you need to render your art.”
“My art? Do I have to make a mosaic?”
“Hmmm… if ice in act, I’ve…” Hal smacked his calculator. “Sorry, you’re here to render your artifice inactive. BigE is playing with parsing…”
“You know, the thing you used to broadcast your mapping? It’s going to cause problems for some guy named Sine Field who ends up living on the sixth floor.”
Sham shrugged and detoured back to where he’d left his equipment. Arriving promptly at his destination, Sham Breakit switched off his device and began to dismantle it. “So, I guess that even though this wasn’t a routine loop, it at least has a good end,” Sham concluded.
“Uh oh… wait a minute,” Hal abruptly broke in. “It looks like there’s still a lot of unexplained Y2K problems in the future.”
“Pardon?” Sham mused, putting away his circuits and wires before looking back at his friend.
“Sham — someone else has a Y2K Bug!” Hal declared, shocked. “And… oh man, Sham, it’s…”
–Greg “hologrami” Taylor
[Thus ends “Quantum Loop” as a serial, in December 1999. I hope you enjoyed it. In the issue’s mastHEAD, I was pleased with myself for avoiding coffee to that point in my life. I’m pleased to say the trend has continued over 20 years later.
That said, there was ONE more entry, as part of the “General l’Hopital” serial in 2001. Once it’s published, I’ll switch the “Next” to link out to it. Beware, there’s no returning from that. Alternatively, you can look up the standalone “Sine Field” entries (a column about nothing), referenced above, of which there were four. Seems I loved to multiverse my stories even back then.]