C-0° 02/12/2022 18:24
I continue to explore the Scarlet Brook exhibition hall. Geoffrey’s 0° portal seems to be in good shape. So far so good … Rupert swirls about the fishbowl restlessly. 
‘Jumping, skipping, skidding, one, two, three … Hop, hop, through the gate,’ someone beside me says. 
It’s Timothy Sanders, a brilliant astrophysicist, the first proponent of the Great Convergence idea — his greatest scientific achievement and, inadvertently, his biggest professional fiasco. Timothy tries to warn everyone present about the imminent disaster — by which he means an invasion of the universe 74-W by the alternate versions of himself. Never mind the explosives he’s hidden earlier in Geoffrey’s portal. 
Timothy’s attenuated figure stands six foot seven inches tall. His dishevelled appearance and gangling height remind one of an unwatered cypress tree. Sunken cheeks puncture an elongated face covered by a slovenly — a week or so old — bristle. Strawy blond hair falls dejectedly onto his bony shoulders. A black eye and minor scratches under his nose indicate a recent physical altercation. Timothy wears a tensile pullover of unclear hue and mostly grey trousers, wrinkled like an old elephant’s skin. A frowzy anthropomorphous plush toy crocodile, clothed in a nineteenth-century gentleman’s bathing suit, peeks out, tightly clutched under Timothy's right arm. 
‘One by one … Drawn by the portal … It’s the end,’ Timothy says in a shaky voice, slowly looking me up and down. 
His comically low baritone reminds me of the science-fiction villains set to destroy the whole world in the name of some highly equivocal objective. 
‘The end, the beginning … Depends how one looks at it,’ I say listlessly and keep looking around. 
I don’t feel like talking to Timothy at all. There are hundreds of books, bah, an entire library, dedicated to him alone, most of which I’ve read a couple of times over. I doubt talking to Timothy in person would provide me with any new insights. Although … 
‘Mind holding it for a moment?’ I hand the disoriented Timothy the ducky, which he squeezes with all his remaining strength. 
‘One by one …’ Timothy narrows his eyes. ‘Here they come …’ 
‘Yes, an hour or two, give or take.’ I check my mobile. 
Nothing. Nada. I’m wasting my time here. Timothy focuses his attention on Rupert in the fishbowl. He opens his mouth, then closes it in a sudden instance of self-reflection. 
‘I’ll need my instruments back, I’m afraid.’ I retrieve the ducky from Timothy’s palpitating hand. 
‘You’re not real, are you?’ Timothy jolts suddenly, stealing sideway glances. 
He promptly walks away, taking long strides as if distracted by someone. Soon, he stops by a heavyset man in a blue tuxedo. 
‘They’re here. Hop, hop, hop … Found their way. Back away,’ Timothy says. 
The man raises his eyebrows. His whole posture freezes. 
'A cause for concern … If you’re real, that is.’ Timothy bolts away. 
‘Some psycho; let it be,’ someone whispers. 
'Croak,’ says Rupert. 
‘Don’t care about the reading. I must be missing something.’ I keep watching Timothy jostling against the guests. ‘A cause for concern, indeed …’
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