Author : Janet Shell Anderson

All our executions are political. Of course, that makes them right, and no one rich or well-connected dies.

The poor man’s on his knees in his orange jumpsuit, with the red waves of the pitiful surf of this prison world, Kepler 435b/Gilgamesh, behind him, a red pseudo-gull that doesn’t know what’s going on overhead, and the tall masked figure in black with the knife, sword, whatever, beside him. I don’t look. It’s live, popular on homeWorld. Millions watch.

Here, not so much.

Back in the cells, Joker watches and laughs, although next dawn, out in the red desert, he dies. Joker’s a politico, hard to like.

Being a woman, I have to be a guard here (unless I’m a prisoner which would be unthinkable). Or at least I don’t want to think it.

Gilgamesh’s the best prison planet, has big-time criminals like Joker and nobodies like Freddie Graywhale. Our trials are fair; our executions quick. Now, though, this new information about time, what it is, how it works, makes the death penalty problematic. My cousin has proved time is circular. So if someone is executed, what’s the point? Do they come back? Can they sue?

The new physics had to come from Kepler 435b/Gilgamesh of course, not the homeWorld, because my cousin George Poorbear’s here. Why is he here? That’s another story. I’m here because I’m his cousin; it’s an honor. Doesn’t feel like an honor.

George shows all the worlds that time is not as linear as we think. Past. Present. Future. Lined up? No. George replaces Albert Einstein. Knowing George like I do, this is hard to believe.

We’ve got problems on this clean, well-packaged, well-presented, low-populated prison planet Kepler 435b/Gilgamesh, with its red star dunes, a thousand years old, and its sitcom lizards, who can talk but never say anything worthwhile.

We’ve got believers and unbelievers.

We avoid them. Some believe time is circular; some don’t.

I’d like to deal with George face to face, but having created both the believers and unbelievers, George is holed up in some fortress on the edge of the Anvil of the Heavens, a wasteland no one wants to travel. The believers and the unbelievers are getting ready to have a war, George thinks.

My prisoners cry, beg, offer money, every kind of sex, diamonds which will melt in your hand, pizza. You can’t imagine. Some of the other jailers get so tired of it they hang the prisoners before their due dates.

I won’t watch another death. I’m disgusted by it. My Somalian cat, who can talk but won’t, helps me patrol this afternoon. The sky’s red and dim, and the desert’s bitterly cold.

I’d like to have a universe that makes sense.

I go among the prisoners to one cell.

“Hey, Freddie. I’m going to let you out. Your wife sent the money.” I push the button, and my deeptime keyless lock pops the door open. One click. It’s important not to do more than one click. George was very specific about that. More than one click does something else.

Freddie Graywhale grabs me around the neck, kisses me. I walk him to the exit toward the transport.

The desert’s serene in the slanted light. The cat and I patrol; puffs of red dust rise. Somebody killed a man I loved in these low red hills. I don’t know who killed him. Somali knows. Maybe someday she’ll tell me. Probably not. Our somedays are running out. We need a change.

I’ve got the deeptime keyless lock. George talks about Calabi Yau Manifolds, pieces of space so small you can’t imagine them, where time goes backwards, sideways, upside down, for all I know. George’s always talking about things like that, and when I ask him about my lover, it’s more Manifolds. No answers.

I walk with Somali out in the red desert. Maybe George’s right. Maybe not.

I’m letting all the prisoners free. I may even talk to the cat Somali. The deeptime locks open everything, change everything. Will anyone remember the past? Will anyone find the future? Do they even exist?

At the very least the deeptime locks will open up the Calabi Yau Manifolds. It’ll be fun.

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