Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said:
“one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,”
said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for
half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as
six impossible things before breakfast.”
— Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass
“What about Worsham?” I said tightly, for the moment ignoring any talk of plans, preliminary or otherwise. I realized they hadn’t told me anything about what happened… after. Oh, shit…was that one of the ‘complications’ they were talking about?
“Worsham’s dead, Hanalie,” Jim told me. “He’s been dead for nearly 200 years, the records are clear on that. Seems he was murdered in prison, by another inmate. Devious idea Bones had, implicating Worsham in the death of his cellmate’s niece. Apparently that did it. He never came to trial.”
“But…” I struggled to take this in, struggled to believe it. He was just in my apartment. I just saw him.
I looked down and saw there was still a fleck of blood on the cuticle of my little finger. I nervously scratched at it with my fingernail. Out, damned spot!
“How can you be so sure?” I blurted. “You know how smart he is, and you said this Culpepper guy may have known him, so how do you know it wasn’t all a trap, some scam? For all we know, he might have followed us back here in that transporter thingy…” Panic again, rising fast. I thought I’d beaten it down, thought I’d gotten control of myself. I’d been tracking Lester Worsham for too long. I’d been too steeped in the whispered implications of his secret capabilities.
It was Dr. McCoy, sitting next to me, who reached out and put a steadying hand on my shoulder, probably worried that he might need to up some meds. I could feel myself trembling.
He was all calm reassurance when he spoke. “Hanalie, you’re 200 years from where you were. Worsham is dead, and has been for a long time; the evidence is indisputable. Earth is back on track; that’s all over. And whatever’s going on with Culpepper, it’ll die down. You’re safe now. You’re safe here, with us.”
I didn’t say anything else. What could I possibly have said? I wanted to believe; geez, I didn’t really have a choice, did I? I just drew in a ragged breath, wrapped my arms tight around me, and made myself keep listening.
Mr. Spock took up the tale again. “Earth records indicate you were presumed dead, though, of course, your body was never found. Ample evidence was available to convict Worsham on numerous other crimes; although that was unnecessary in the end.”
I picked up a subtle change in the Vulcan’s voice as he went on, “Of more interest, perhaps, is the fact that the collapse of the anomaly occurred at the precise instant we beamed back about the Enterprise. The crewman in the transporter room reports two occurrences he is unable to explain: The first is that essentially no time elapsed between our beaming down to Earth and our return. According to the transporter logs, there is no evidence that any of us actually left the ship. The second was that when he attempted to log Hanalie’s arrival on board, he found the log entry already existed. In essence, she appears to have arrived by some spontaneous, or at least simultaneous, means.”
Jim looked thoughtful, though not as confused as I assumed he should be. It made me wonder what kinds of strange information he dealt with on a regular basis.
“So,” he said, “according to the transporter records, we did not beam down to Earth, did not intervene, did not in fact violate the Prime Directive. The course of events on Earth indicates no more than a slight deviation of a few decades, but otherwise history continued to follow its original trajectory, as evidenced by us all sitting here. With the exception that we now have a guest – a most charming guest,” again that smile, confident, cocky. I knew I wasn’t at my charming best at the moment, but what the hell, I still appreciated the gesture, as he went on to complete his thought, “…who appears here as if by some unknown – or at least undocumentable – force. Quite a day’s work, I’d say.”
Mr. Spock nodded studiously. “The situation does set forth a fascinating conundrum, Admiral, as to what was truly cause, and what was effect. We assume that our pursuit of Worsham was the causal factor in our actions, and that Hanalie’s transfer to our own time was simply an unanticipated effect. However, given the rather remarkable absence of supporting evidence, it is equally logical to assume that Hanalie’s presence, here and now, was itself the factor that was driving all else, and that Worsham’s own actions – and ours in pursuing him – were simply the unanticipated means toward that inevitable end.”
“The chicken or the egg, Spock?” Jim mulled, obviously turning over this mind-blowing proposition in his head. “You think Hanalie’s the reason all this happened, not Worsham?”
Mr. Spock looked unperturbed. “I am simply saying that the existing documentation could be said to support either interpretation equally. The facts only tell us that the man known as Lester Worsham no longer exists in either time period, while Hanalie Surat is dead in her original time, and yet lives in ours. Since time in any circumstance is only perceived to be linear, and since the anomaly quite clearly altered even that normal perception, one must logically admit at least the possibility that what we perceived as cause was, in fact, the effect, and vice versa.”
“You mean it was Hanalie we were looking for all along?” The doctor cut to the chase, “Without knowing it? But why?”
“You are a scientist, Doctor,” Spock’s even voice, I thought, toyed with sarcasm. “Surely you would not leap to form a hypothesis as to that from our currently inadequate data.”
In the awkward silence of the moment, three sets of eyes somehow focused in on me: curious, speculative, as if adjusting their assessment of me, perhaps from fluffy incidental hitchhiker to someone who might actually require a second, closer look.
There was apparently no end to the weirdness of this day. I let the implications of Mr. Spock’s crazy-ass theory sink in. I was all the way down the rabbit hole and this weird-eared March Hare was saying that down was up, and up was down.
I may have been one mind-blown Alice, but somehow I knew what he said was the crazy-ass truth.