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“What if Jesus Christ was a time traveler?” All motion stopped among Earhart’s four listeners, and the remaining eight occupants of the room began to drift in his direction. “What if he were from our future, or from another universe entirely, and traveled back to the reign of Augustus, complete with technology embedded in his body?”

“Devices that let him walk on water—”

“Or raise the dead,” a third person suggested.

“I think we’ve had too much champagne here,” Dwyer declared with a laugh that died when it found no company.

“Yes, I’m glad all of you see.” Earhart ran his fingers over his ponytail. “Farfetched, I know, but so were all of the theories before it.”

Wally stared into his empty cup. “And not just Jesus Christ. How else to explain Joan of Arc? Or Rasputin?”

Earhart stared at Wally, then matched the stare with a smile. “Yes, other figures with supernatural powers who altered the course of history.”

“But the theory you just described doesn’t allow for multiple travelers. Once one traveler arrives in a universe, he creates a new, distinct universe.”

“That’s correct,” Wally assented as he pushed Earhart’s diagram back to the center of his desk and reached for the pencil. “But you’re forgetting that multiple travelers could arrive at multiple points. Jesus could arrive at One A.D. and create our universe, as we’re familiar with it up to the fifteenth century.”

“At which time Joan of Arc arrives from a universe in which the French lost the Hundred Years’ War,” a new party to the discussion offered. Everyone clustered around Wally drawing a new arrow that came from the top of the diagram and intersected at an angle with “T2,” about three-quarters of the way up. A new upward arrow was drawn from an angle at this point, and was labeled “T5.”

Alternity, Chapter I:

1/ 2/ 3/ 4/ 5/ 6/ 7/ 8/ 9/ 10/ 11/ 12/ 13/ 14/ 15/ 16/ 17/ 18/ 19/ 20/ 21/ 22/ 23

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