Random Dingoes

by Ira Nayman

Think back to a time in your life that you made a decision that you now regret. Oh, don’t be so coy – everybody has one. Okay, maybe not Mother Teresa. Or, Bruce Springsteen. But, unless you’re Mother Teresa or Bruce Springsteen – and we’re pretty sure you’re not – you have been in that position. What if you could go back in time and change that decision? What if you could make the other choice? Or, even better, choose a third option that you didn’t even see at the time? Wouldn’t you like to know how things would have turned out if only you had done something different at that critical juncture in your life?

DON’T BOTHER.

Have you never read any science fiction time travel stories? Don’t you know that they always end with either dinosaurs becoming the dominant species on the planet or your grandfather killing Hitler, causing you to be born with a speech impediment and an irrational fear of listening to Born in the USA? Time branches are not something you can borrow books from – they are paths to realities that you couldn’t anticipate and don’t want to live in, and just try to get a decent corned beef on rye in any of them!

In Random Dingoes, the third Transdimensional Authority novel by Ira Nayman, investigators Noomi Rapier and Crash Chumley look into reports of a drug that allows people to travel between universes without technological assistance. They methodically work their way up the drug ring’s chain of command and are just about to arrest its leader when – time travel happens. With the assistance of Time Agency agent Radames Trafshanian, Noomi and Crash must navigate realities they hadn’t anticipated and which they wouldn’t want to live in. But, can they find a decent corned beef on rye? You’ll have to read Random Dingoes to find out!

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Excerpt:

Chapter One
Everybody Remembers Their First Time

“Do you mind?” a woman who was a short bundle of energy with dark skin and hair that would scare Medusa (really, Medusa – look her up on Farcebook and ask her yourself if you don’t believe me, but, uhh don’t look at her directly) asked.

The tall, elderly man who could be described – with all due love and respect – as a fire hydrant with dark glasses and limbs – shook his head amiably. “Nope,” he replied. “Don’t mind at all…”

When it became clear that he had no intention of leaving the immediate vicinity, the woman said: “We’re trying to have a private conversation, here.”

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“Oh, umm, well, mumble mumble, air conditioning,” the old man responded.

“I’m sorry?”

“Air conditioning is best in this spot of the bullpen,” the old man claimed. “Don’t want to get overheated – an old body like mine has trouble maintaining homeostasis, don’t you know.”

“It’s the middle of January!” the woman protested.

“Bertrand,” the mid-thirtyish fire hydrant with dark glasses and limbs with the sandy brown hair and winning smile with whom the woman had been attempting to converse, stated, “I assure you that what girl investigators talk about is exactly the same as what boy investigators talk about.”

“Didn’t say it wasn’t,” the old man huffed. “I surely did not say that at all.”

“I also happen to know,” the younger man vamped, “that the coolest spot in the room is by Barack Bowens’ desk.” He swept a hand towards a desk on the far side of the bullpen, where a short black fire hydrant with dark glasses and limbs guiltily averted his attention away from them.

“Awrighty, then,” the old man tried to be gracious but ended up sounding like he had just swallowed a butterfly. “Thanks for the tip.” He walked away from the man and woman’s desks. You might think that the slowness of his gait indicated a reluctance to move away from the strange attraction of the exotic, but, since the narrative has barely begun, let’s be generous and say it was merely a symptom of his advancing decrepitude.

“So,” Noomi Rapier said when the old man was out of earshot, “what were we talking about again?”

Before Crash Chumley, her partner at the Transdimensional Authority, could answer, they were called into the office of their boss, Albert Abrachnel, and given a new assignment.

“Have either of you ever heard of a drug called Transdimensional Joy Joy?” Abrachnel asked.

They thought they had heard him wrong, but that was not possible: a strange quirk of Albert Abrachnel’s voice (which he had cultivated for decades) was that it became more audible the quieter he spoke. “Transdimensional Joy?” Noomi asked.

“Joy,” Abrachnel corrected her.

“That’s what I said,” Noomi stated.

“No,” Abrachnel insisted. “You said Joy.”

“Isn’t that right?” Noomi, thoroughly confused, asked.

“Transdimensional Joy Joy,” Abrachnel, whose patience for comic dialogue was unusual for a man in his position, stated. “Double Joy. Do either of you know what it is?”

“A phone app the Transdimensional Authority created to try and get three year-olds interested in joining the service?” Crash suggested.

“Three year-olds,” Abrachnel almost smiled. “Nice callback.”

“Thank you.”

“Unfortunately, no. That’s not it.”

“A Japanese girl band?” Noomi tried. “Didn’t they have a hit a couple of years ago with a song called ‘Yummy Yummy Yummy I Got Love and It’s Gummy?’”

“Thank you for trying,” Abrachnel said. “But no. Transdimensional Joy Joy is a new drug that has hit the streets of Montreal. Reports are that it allows users to access multiple realities at the same time.”

“How is that possible?” Crash asked.

“Doctor Alhambra could explain it to you,” Abrachnel told him, referring to the Authority’s foremost scientist and recreational pottery smoker, “but you would need sick leave for at least two weeks, and I need you on the case right now. It’s very scientific – that’s all we laypeople need to know.”

“Is it dangerous?” Noomi wanted to know.

“Not at first,” Abrachnel answered. “It begins with a high similar to that of LSD, but without the high-pitched screeching or scent of madeleine cakes. Users slowly lose the ability to tell which physical reality they actually inhabit. There have been incidents involving people who thought they were eating breakfast when they were actually walking down the street, or believed they were reading a book when they were in reality in the middle of pitching a no-hitter, or, in one especially unfortunate case, a man thought he was making love to his three husbands when he was actually giving a lecture on particle physics to a graduate seminar.”

“Ouch!” Noomi said.

“Precisely,” Abrachnel agreed. “Ouch.”

“What do we know about… Transdimensional Joy Joy?” Crash asked.

“Local law enforcement…” Abrachnel paused for a few moments so that they could all sneer derisively, “started hearing about a new drug about six months ago. It started with posters around town – at first, they thought they were for a new kind of pyjama party – Quebec culture really is different from that of the rest of the country. The posters had pictures of shattered mirrors and the line, ‘Decuple the realities, twice the joy!’ After a couple of months, hospitals around Montreal began noticing strange, delusion-based accidents. It only took local law enforcement…” Abrachnel paused for a few moments so that they could all sneer derisively, “until last week to make the connection.”

“Sounds like a local problem,” Crash commented. “Why involve the TA?”

“This is all in the file,” Abrachnel pointed out. “However, since I am well aware that investigators reading files is a pleasant fantasy that helps Transdimensional authority bureaucrats sleep at night, I’ll give you the short, unnuanced version: local law enforcement…” Abrachnel paused for a few moments so that they could all sneer derisively, “started working its way up the food chain. Unfortunately, they only got one level before they found out that the drug was being smuggled into the city from another universe. That is where we become involved.”

“Did local law enforcement…” Noomi paused for a few moments so that they could all sneer derisively. Unfortunately, Noomi did not have enough seniority to trigger the ‘all sneer’ response, and the few moments were filled with an awkward silence. “Uhh,” she eventually continued, “did…they figure out how the drug was being transported into their universe?”

“Mules,” Abrachnel replied.

“Well, sure, that’s what they’re called…”

“I wasn’t being metaphorical,” Abrachnel cut her off. “Joff Gomez, Ambassador from Earth Prime 5-0-3-4-6-8 dash epsilon to Earth Prime 7-4-3-9-0-1 dash iota, uses the mules to transport official diplomatic communications. He rotates members of his herd every two weeks, so they are constantly travelling between universes. Unfortunately, the mules have diplomatic immunity, so there’s nothing we can do about them.”

“What kind of a sick bastard concretizes a metaphor so casually?” Crash asked.

“That’s what we need you to go to Earth Prime 7-4-3-9-0-1 dash iota to find out,” Abrachnel told him. “As well as who is bankrolling the operation. The Dimensional DeloreanTM will be ready for you in five minutes. Any questions?”

“Sure,” Noomi started. “What –”

Holding up a hand to stop her, Abrachnel said, “Could you please humour an old man and read the damn file?”

Noomi and Crash looked at each other. “Uhh, yeah. Sure,” Noomi said in a voice that wouldn’t have fooled a lobotomized Mother Teresa.

“You’re not going to read the file, are you?” Abrachnel asked, his voice dipping ever so slightly in disappointment.

“Regulations require that we read all relevant documentation before going into the field,” Crash assured him. “We would never –”

“Of course you wouldn’t,” Abrachnel agreed with Crash to stop him from being too dishonest. “Only, I was a field agent myself, once, and I know that regulations come in two flavours: by the book, must follow vanilla and slow you down, get in the way of capturing the bad guy chocolate. Did you know that the active ingredient in chocolate, the thing that actually makes it sweet, is vanilla? That’s why gourmet chefs and Transdimensional Authority senior management recommend vanilla for…uhh…everyday use in…in…”

“Union rules forbid us from discussing our choice of sweets with management,” Crash pointed out, preventing Abrachnel from getting too deeply lost in his metaphor.

Abrachnel raised an eyebrow slightly. “Oh, yes?”

“For your own protection,” Crash assured him. “In case we do something against regulations. And get caught. And face disciplinary action. And are subsequently fired, fined, jailed or forced to watch thirty-six straight hours of Law and Order: Tuktoyaktuk in order to be rehabilitated. If you weren’t aware of what we were planning, you could be fired for not having better control of your subordinates, but at least you wouldn’t be subjected to any Dick Wolf marathons!”

Abrachnel smiled with his eyes, which sounds like something grotesque out of a Sandman comic, but which poets assure us is actually quite charming. “Good of your union to be concerned for the welfare of somebody in management.”

“It’s very progressive that way,” Noomi told him. She had been a Transdimensional Authority investigator for such a short period of time that she actually believed it, too.

“Well, just in case you…don’t have the time to read the entire file before going into the field,” Abrachnel stated, passing a newspaper clipping across his desk to them, “you might find this useful.”

Taking the article, Crash said, “For your benefit, we make no promises…”

COLLAPSE

About the Author

Ira Nayman is a comedy writer who stumbled into science fiction 15 or so years ago and decided to hang around and see how it played out.

He is the author of six books in the Multiverse series, the most recent of which is Good Intentions: The Multiverse Refugees Trilogy: First Pie in the Face. The seventh and eighth books in the series, including the second book in the trilogy, are currently awaiting a decision by Elsewhen Press. In addition, Ira has self-published 11 books in his Alternate Reality News Service series; the most recent of these is Idiotocracy for Dummies. He is also the creator of Les Pages aux Folles, a web site of political and social satire that has been updated weekly since 2002.

In another life, Ira has a PhD in Communications from McGill University and taught in the New Media Programme of Ryerson University for five years. He is currently the editor of Amazing Stories magazine. Yes, that Amazing Stories magazine.


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