Author: Rollin T. Gentry
Despite what Detective Bouchard still believes, I did not kill Cassandra Gibbons. I didn’t kill her two years ago, and I sure as hell didn’t kill her again this morning.
Cassandra was a physicist and a postdoctoral renegade who was obsessed with all things quantum. Schrodinger’s cat required no imagination, she’d say. Live cat or dead cat. What about vanished cat? What about a mutated cat with one eye that looked like a small pumpkin and a paw that squirmed like a millipede? What about that cat!
Her paper, “The Topology of Unknowable Surfaces,” branded her forever as fringe. “Every box-like volume might contain nothing or anything at any time T,” she wrote. “A microwave, a refrigerator, a trash can with a lid, the trunk of every car. Nothing or anything.”
That’s why, while I was shocked to find a body in the trunk of my car this morning, I wasn’t surprised that it was her body. Even before I peeled back the tarp, I knew who it was. One shot through the heart. No decay. She was killed recently. My only thought was that if Detective Bouchard paid me one of his monthly visits today, I’d be screwed.
I didn’t waste any time theorizing about the two-year gap, because Cassandra’s experiments to “turn Schrodinger’s cat up to eleven” had these kinds of side effects. Whenever something truly bizarre would happen, she would laugh and refer to herself as the girl who accidentally broke the Multiverse. But in the end, I guess she forgot that her laboratory was just a box inside a larger box. I was there the night she vanished. That, plus the fact we’d been dating, was why the cops wanted to pin her murder on me.
So, I sent an email to my boss, claiming a stomach bug, grabbed a shovel from the toolshed, and hopped in the car. I knew just the place. My grandparents had a cabin that they’d all but deserted. It was surrounded by acres of forest. I took a dirt road to a random clearing, closed my eyes, pointed with the shovel, and walked to a random spot. I sunk the shovel into the dirt and hit something.
It didn’t feel like rock or roots. I kept digging until I revealed a body wrapped in a tarp. This couldn’t be happening, I told myself. How? I held my breath and looked under the plastic. It was Cassandra. Quite decayed, possibly two years worth, but her. On her chest was a mini-cassette recorder. I picked it up and pressed play.
“If you’re listening to this,” my own voice said, “you must be wondering what’s going on. Forget the bodies for a second. There is something you need to know. Cassandra wasn’t the only one affected that night two years ago. You disappeared from that world as well and have been traveling ever since. You probably never noticed. The transfer usually happens in your sleep.
“The good news is that the best minds in the Multiverse are working on the problem. The bad news is that until they repair the damage Cassandra did, there will be more bodies, there will be more police detectives, and there will be less real estate for unmarked graves.
“And one more thing. If you come across a Cassandra that’s still alive, do your best to keep her that way. Those “best minds” I mentioned have more than a few questions for her.”
The tape hissed to static and clicked off.
I took a deep breath, exhaled loudly, and reached for the shovel.