“Alright, let me get this straight,” Stephen said, sitting in the middle of the ISRFA infirmary. “There are two versions of me now, and it’s all because this secret time travel project you’re working on went to shit?”
“Pretty much,” Richard said. “I had no idea about the going to shit thing until now either, though, so don’t ask me about it. Ask her.” She pointed to Dyan.
“I honestly don’t know. Future Richard is still out cold, and Future Stephen is too preoccupied with taking care of her to answer any of our questions. So I guess we’ll know in a few hours, assuming nothing goes to shit on our end.”
“Well it wouldn’t surprise me if it did,” Stephen said, standing up from his chair. “You guys are trying to play God, for what purpose? Science?”
“Yeah,” Richard said.
“Basically correct,” Dyan said.
Stephen sat back down in his chair and grumbled. Richard wondered what could have possibly happened in two weeks for everything to go as badly as it apparently will, but she guessed she would soon hear the story straight from her own mouth. Or, the mouth of her future self. Alternate universe future self.
Future Richard (as we will now call her so that we do not go completely insane through the narration) opened her eyes. This time, she wasn’t covered in pieces of burning metal and partially buried in sand, but instead she was laying on a hospital bed, with several monitors attached to her, and her right hand in the grip of Stephen (Future Stephen, that is).
She tried sitting up, but Future Stephen wouldn’t let her move. “Shh… don’t stress yourself out. We made it back, then you passed out thirty seconds later. We’re safe now, six days before the project launch date.”
“The hell…” She felt dizzy, and she couldn’t feel her left arm, like it was all numb or something. “I’ve been out for an entire week?”
“Yes… I’m sorry. I wish it was me who went through such devastating injuries… All I got was a concussion.” Future Stephen actually started crying.
“Wha… What happened?”
“You… lost your left arm,” he said. This fact hit her and her heart rate skyrocketed. “Also both of your feet.” She felt like she was going to explode; she didn’t feel the pain, but hearing about all this was horrifying. “And you’ve been diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, so you will have trouble with vertigo for your entire life.”
“Am I.. Really, all of that?”
“What, did I lose an eye, too?”
“Oh yeah, that too. Yes, you did.”
Future Richard passed out once again.
Three days later; it was now three days until the project launch. Obviously, the project had been delayed, and the entire staff had not yet been fired. So the future was at the least temporarily delayed in that regard.
Future Richard was finally conscious enough to sit up in bed and talk to Dyan and Richard about the incident. Future Stephen ran into the hospital room and stood by Future Richard.
“Don’t stress her out,” Future Stephen said. “I don’t want you guys causing her any more pain.”
“Stephen,” she said to him. “Please go talk to the other Stephen, if you will.”
“…Sorry.” He left, slightly embarrassed. Dyan and Richard sat beside her.
“So,” Dyan began. “Your Stephen has mentioned some stuff about ‘superhero dinosaurs’, but he was very unclear about it. He doesn’t seem to have very much scientific knowledge about the situation, so we definitely wanted to hear your side of the story.”
“Uhh… The moment we started the experiment and let the walls up, five sentient, super-powered dinosaurs destroyed the observatory hall and killed everyone but us. It’s hard to explain further than that.”
“It sounds like the experiment was a success, then.”
“Apparently, these dinosaurs evolved the way they did specifically because the project was engineered so poorly. At least that’s what they said.”
“Oh.” She paused. “Also, the crows. How did the crows work out?” Future Richard didn’t bother responding to that.
“So we should fix whatever problems they said it had,” Richard said. “Right? Is it that simple?”
“I think so,” Dyan said. “But these dinosaurs are apparently from several million years in the future; they may know from archaeological evidence what problems the ISRFA may have had, but they wouldn’t know the specifics. Anything they said was probably speculation at best.”
“Though… they WERE superpowered dinosaurs…” said Future Richard. “There’s a chance they had some strange communal memory with the rest of their kind and could remember the entire history of their species.”
“Now THAT’S some sci-fi bullshit right there,” Dyan cracked. Richard elbowed her in the arm. “Ow. Sorry. It just seems very implausible.”
“It was worth a shot.”
“Well.” Dyan stood up and stretched. “I was going to fire almost my entire staff today, but I think we’ll wait and do that after we’ve made sure the project isn’t going to end up killing the world. C’mon, Richard, let this Richard rest.”
Richard stood from her chair and began to follow, but then she turned around. “Hey, alternate future me,” she said. “Nice to see you.”
They looked at each other for a few moments. “Do you remember, that one time, that we kept saying–”
“Yeah…” Future Richard interrupted. “Not right now, me. We can talk about that kind of thing later…”
“Okay. See you later,” Richard said. She left the room. Future Richard was alone once again.