chronicles of a multiverse vagabond
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This is a work of fiction. All of the characters,
organizations and events in this novel are products of the
author's imagination or are used fictitiously; any resemblance to
actual persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental.
* * *
Copyright © 2013 Archer Garrett.
All Rights Reserved.
No Part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, copied or
distributed in any printed or electronic form without
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What if you were told that this world, as unique and isolated as
it may seem, is quite actually far from being all alone in the
universe? Would you scoff, or guffaw at such a notion? Perhaps
you might feel the urge to introduce the postulator to one of
those delightful jackets that often accompany those plush, yet
Spartan, padded rooms? I will concede it certainly does seem
preposterous, and I myself might even reject such nonsense as
high fantasy, if I'd not been there myself. Perhaps we are alone
in the universe; I certainly've not met any strange fellows from
other planets, but we are most definitely not
alone in the multiverse.
The multiverse, you wonder? What might such a contrivance even
be? Please allow me to attempt to explain, given my utter
ignorance in all things scientific, much to my grandfather's
chagrin. The best that can be determined, this alternate earth
has not always existed, at least not in its current form. If it
did, then it was a mirror image of our own earth. Its history
and inhabitants are exact replicas of our own, up until the point
of the split. This splitting of the worlds was when a
unique life was breathed into the alternate earth, and its point
of singularity was finally reached. The split was a birth, of
The fissure of the worlds occurred approximately (or perhaps
precisely) at the time of the Carrington Event in 1859. The
great solar storm was named after the late Mr. Carrington, a dear
friend and colleague of my grandfather's, though I never heard
the storm referred to by this name. When my grandfather
subsequently discovered the existence of the alternate earth, he
took to referring to the storm as Dick's Disaster; Mr. Carrington
was rather not amused.
Though they originally thought that they had discovered a
completely new realm, a thorough examination of this alternate
world's history yielded an interesting find. The history of the
two worlds began to diverge after Dick's Disaster. The
divergence was minor at first, like a bullet spiraling just
slightly off its mark. In the beginning, the differences were
subtle and barely noticeable, but as time went on, the contrasts
The catalyst for these changes was the very thing that put the
disaster in Dick's Disaster. Perhaps it was a defense
mechanism formulated by the natural order to protect us from an
increasingly volatile sun, or perhaps it was something else, but
while our sun's storms have subsequently grown more
docile, their corresponding storms have been much more
savage. Mr. Carrington hypothesized that after the storm of
1859, the alternate world began to act as a solar buffer for us,
thus allowing our world to continue with its increasingly complex
technological advances. The alternate world however, was forced
to evolve in a manner that was much more resilient to their
frequently-occurring electromagnetic pulses. The volatile
atmosphere resulted in the abandonment of the study of
electromagnetism, in favor of chemistry and biology, though even
they were limited in certain developments because of the storms.
The alternate world fell into a prolonged, hybrid Industrial
As a child, I always found my grandfather's romanticized
recollections of the era of his youth to be fascinating. Later,
when he confided in me about his fantastical sojourns to a place
that still held close the things that our world had seemingly
cast aside, I knew in my heart that I had to see this world for
Upon his death, my grandfather's vast estate was distributed
amongst his children and grandchildren. Many considered it to be
a family scandal when my brothers received all manner of oil and
mineral rights, priceless works of art and numerous other riches,
while I, his supposed favorite grandson, received
nothing other than a bureau containing the bulk of his and Mr.
Carrington's journals and research notes. I can still remember
the feeling of elation as I, his sole confidante, opened the
bureau and retrieved the sealed envelope that waited for me atop
the collection of dusty papers. His words are still as clear in
my mind as the day I read them.
My dearest William,
I have saved the most precious of my treasures for the only
one that will truly appreciate them - you. The greatest danger
of wealth unearned, aside from arrogance and a life unlived, is
the paralyzing fear of losing what has been gained. I leave you
nothing but the riches of an opportunity for a life well lived -
a life of adventure. Seizing the few, fleeting moments of glory
that this life presents us is not about capitalizing on such an
opportunity; it is about shedding the passive for the passionate.
So go, shed the passive, my son; revel in the passionate, live
In this journal, is but a few of my stories.
Journal Entry 37a
An Introduction to the Caribbean Expedition
I've likely repeated it numerous times in my diaries, but I
suppose once more will not cause you any undue suffering; Terra,
as I've taken to calling it, advanced in a manner that was
technologically divergent from our own path. As a note, Terra is
merely Latin for Earth. I've bestowed this alternate world with
a title for no other reason than as a measure to distinguish
between the two earths, so as to avoid confusion. After perusing
some of my earlier entries, I sometimes found myself
confused as to the whats and whoms of which I was referring.
Nonetheless, back to Terra.
Since the study of electromagnetism was mostly abandoned, the
minds of many thinkers were freed to pursue other fields of
study; namely, these being chemistry, metallurgy and biology.
Note I say that the study of electricity was mostly
abandoned; the electrical does exist here, though it is
very limited in scope. Because of the need for Faraday cages in
all things electric, the costs and application of such can be
The advancement of chemistry in Terra was far greater than
anything in our world. Many of these discoveries were used for
the betterment of society, but some, I fear, will soon be used by
evil men - just as we've recently scene in our own world. That
however, I shall save for another entry.
As you look around your world, you've probably realized that
science and technology often outpace the sensibilities and ethics
of man. We often have to learn by burning our fingers, but our
collective memories are short-term and our lessons learned are
soon forgotten; our bandaged fingers always go wobbling back into
the dancing flames.
In the early years of the divergence, environmental concerns were
nonexistent, and pollution was rampant in both worlds. The
inhabitants of the multiverse were forced to eventually address
their smog-filled cities and the acid rain that pattered on their
heads, but Terra had a far worse problem in the early days - what
to do with the extremely toxic by-products of chemicals and
processes that were being developed?
At first they were dumped openly on the ground in deserts and
other sparsely inhabited areas, but this created vast wastelands.
Burying the chemicals was attempted next, but due to their
highly corrosive nature, contaminated groundwater soon became a
dire issue. Finally, a solution was devised; the by-products
would be dumped in the depths of the oceans, far from
civilization. What could possibly go awry? As we would soon
discover, quite a many things, actually.
Most of the creatures of the sea that ventured into the
designated dumping grounds quickly perished, but this was not the
case for all species. Some creatures experienced horrific
mutations, far worse than any could have imagined. One class in
particular that was affected in this manner was cephalopods -
specifically squid and octopi. These creatures experienced
vastly increased growth rates and exhibited extremely aggressive
and territorial mannerisms. Even so, this journal entry would
not exist had it not been for architeuthidae, known to us
commoners as the giant squid.
The largest documented architeuthidae was 43' long and weighed
over 600 pounds, but many an old sailor had a tale or two of a
monstrous beast that exceeded 60' in length. Our toxic dumping
had the effect of tripling, or possibly even quadrupling, the
size of the already-massive creatures. Entire ships began to
disappear without a trace, and sailors began to bring stories to
port of mythical krakens, except they were no longer a myth.
After a particularly gruesome attack against a barque in the
Caribbean was witnessed by a passing vessel, a team of men was
organized to track down and exterminate the offending beast.
This is where my story begins.
Journal Entry 37c
The Culmination of the Caribbean Expedition
We'd been on the hunt for two long months, and every man was
exhausted. We had grown weary of our expedition, and all desired
far more than a single night in port. Consumption of rum was
forbidden by the captain, because of the nature of our charge.
Some had even taken to murmuring that it all was a farce; there
was no monster, it had all been just another fable created by
drunken mariners to explain one more ship lost at sea. I began
to fear the men would soon mutiny if the campaign was not
There had been no sign of the kraken, as if he knew we
were seeking him out. I don't mean to imply that our presence
would have struck fear into the beast's heart, for we certainly
wouldn't have; he had taken ships much larger than ours. If I
should dare venture into the mind of the beast (which is a
preposterous endeavor, I admit), I would suppose in hindsight
that we'd been followed for perhaps weeks; I shall never be
convinced otherwise that the kraken had not taken it upon himself
to follow us, so that he might better understand his adversary.
We had left Cockburn Town, on the tiny island of Grand Turk, only
two days prior on a southeasterly course with a destination of
Tortola. Though I no longer recall our exact location, I do know
it was somewhere in the Puerto Rico Trench. Knowing what I know
now, it should've been rather obvious to us that we should meet
him where we did; the Trench was home to the deepest depths in
the Atlantic, the perfect place for the Kraken to set his snare.
Our ship was an armored cruiser of approximately 250' in length,
with a complement of 300 officers and men. She was powered by
twin steam engines with a three-mast barque for auxiliary
propulsion, to aid us on the open waters. She had been outfitted
with a series of massive harpoons that could fire in any
conceivable direction or angle. The vessel was smaller than most
cruisers, and was selected for that very reason. The thought was
that we would need a nimble ship to pursue the beast for days on
end, slowly wearing it down until finally, we would strike.
The evening sun blazed like an unbridled inferno, deep in the
west. The horizon would soon be awash with oranges and reds and
pinks, before fading into a purple so regal that Victoria herself
would lust to be wrapped in its cloak. Finally, all would be
consumed by a blackness so complete, that we would all certainly
die if it were not for the countless, twinkling sentries of the
Caribbean night. But for now, the sky was still the deepest of
azure, its only blemish the black smoke that billowed from our
I remember the sky so well because I was on deck, leaning against
the starboard railing and breathing in its beauty. Pagan and
French were beside me, puffing on their pipes and musing aloud
the merits of abandoning ship.
"…No, I'm serious; when we make it to Road Town, I'm leaving this
ship and never coming back."
French laughed heartily and replied, "You said that in Cockburn
Town, and on Cat Island, and in Nassau! But here you are Pagan!
I already know you for a liar, but if you keep it up, everyone
else will too!"
"He said it in Miami also." I added leisurely.
"Miami!" French roared even louder in remembrance as he
continued, "I forgot all about Miami!"
"Bah," Pagan muttered as flicked his wrist, "the devil take you
Pagan turned and stared out over the water as he continued to
murmur to himself.
French's laughter slowly faded, until the three of us were
standing in silence. He slapped his friends shoulder
reconcilingly and said, "While I would agree that freeing
ourselves from this floating stockade sounds rather appealing,
they would surely find us and hang us from the yardarms, my
friend. Tortola is no Puerto Rico; we would certainly be found."
Pagan did not respond to his friend, but rather continued to
stare out across the waves.
"Come on now Pagan, don't-"
"Quiet! Look at that!" He ordered.
We both turned and gazed in the direction of Pagan's outstretched
arm. In the distance, scarcely more than a hundred yards away, a
dark shadow rested just beneath the surface of the water.
Slowly, the shadow drifted in our direction. Suddenly, it surged
towards us with a speed and fury that shocked us all into a
French was the first to wrest himself free of the trance; he
turned and fled to alert the others, shrieking and waving his
arms all the way. Pagan's pipe clattered on the deck, its sound
freeing us from our daze. I fumbled awkwardly with the rifle
slung over my shoulder, while Pagan retrieved his in one fluid
motion. He tracked the shadow's movement toward us with deft
precision, while continually stepping back from the railing.
Suddenly, when it seemed it would certainly slam into our hull,
the apparition disappeared into the depths.
We turned and stared at each other, dumbfounded as to what had
just occurred, too frightened to speak. By now, a group of
sailors had begun to gather behind us, on the upper deck. A
chorus of laughter began to erupt among them as they looked down
upon the likes of us, shaking visibly while we clutched our
rifles. Pagan turned and violently shook a fist at them while
remaining perfectly quiet, but it did no good.
Finally, I spoke.
"Perhaps it was a whale?"
He turned and scowled at me as he snarled back, "Weren't no
As Pagan began to edge closer to the side of the boat, I tried to
talk him back, but it was no use. "Give it a moment!" I pleaded,
and then, "Stand down now!"
When he reached the railing, he leaned over cautiously, his rifle
still plastered to his shoulder at the ready. For several long
moments he stared down into the blue abyss, scanning intensely
for any sign of the disturbance.
Pagan jerked his head around as the catcalls from above began to
rain down on us more intensely. He pointed at the leader of the
group and began to curse violently at them, his face red with
fury. The men cackled and riposted with insults of their own,
until all at once, they grew silent and stared at him blankly.
I watched in horror as Pagan continued to berate the men,
thinking he had triumphantly threatened them into silence. His
sneer faded into a look of confusion, as a steady patter of
seawater began to rain down upon him. My heart sank as I watched
his face flash with terror as he looked skyward and saw the
towering, black tentacle that loomed overhead. I shouldered my
rifle and fired at the limb, but it was too late. The feeler
lunged at Pagan and wrapped around his torso before he could
utter a sound. His eyes bulged from the pressure it exerted on
his body as it squeezed him without remorse. As it lifted him
off the deck, the massive head of the kraken surfaced; a series
of smaller tentacles flailed about, until it brought Pagan near.
The feelers then folded outward, like a monstrous flower in
bloom, revealing two mandibles that opened and closed hungrily
over its mouth. The kraken relaxed its grip just enough for
Pagan to cry out with dread, before it tossed him effortlessly
into its beak and swallowed him whole.
As my friend's wail was forever cut short, I turned and ran for
safety. Overhead I could hear the sounds of pandemonium, but it
all was a blur of distant echoes, as if I had suddenly fell into
some deep chasm. A confusion of orders and panicked shouts rang
out all across the deck. Smoke began to fill the air as shots
rang out from rifles and pistols. All of it melted together into
a collage of cacophony, except for one sound; I can remember the
clarity of metal scraping against metal, as a group of men above
me turned the crank that pivoted one of the colossal harpoons
towards the beast.
I suddenly slammed face-first against the deck as my feet were
yanked out from underneath me. A wave of pain rushed outwards
from my nose as crimson sprayed all around me. My eyes watered
uncontrollably from the impact to my face; I rubbed them with my
sleeve in an attempt to regain my vision, and was astonished at
the amount of blood that gushed from my nose and stained my coat.
This was not the condition I had hoped to be in during the
encounter. Still confused by what had happened, I rolled over
onto my back and gazed in trepidation at the ghastly, black arm
that had wrapped itself around my ankle. The last moments of my
friend's life began to flash to the forefront of my own mind. I
strained to reach my rifle, but it was hopelessly out of my
reach. I clawed furiously at the deck as it began to drag me
towards the railing.
In the haze that surrounded me, I could hear what sounded like
the voices of men calling out to me. Their chants were rhythmic
and urgent, like the angry shouts of a lynch mob around a gnarled
oak tree. Were they calling for my death?
No! My cutlass! The words finally rang true to my
ears; of course! I twisted my body and unsheathed my blade; all
the while, the railing loomed ominously closer. Despite the
sharp pains that shot through my face and the blood that now
burned my eyes as it threatened to paint my entire face red, I
focused my strength. Every muscle in my body contracted at once,
and like a bolt of lightning I shot upright. I growled like a
cornered animal and swung the blade in a wide, sweeping arc,
connecting perfectly with the stinking, black limb. All around
me, I could hear the cheers of the men erupt and then fall silent
again; still, it pulled me closer. I hacked furiously, again and
again at the tentacle until finally, a screech unlike anything I
had ever heard pierced the air. Begrudgingly, the kraken
released its grip.
I turned and scrambled on all fours, searching for the traction
needed to stand upright, but the deck was slick with my own
blood. I finally found my footing and again resumed my retreat;
I ducked low and snatched up my rifle mid-stride.
After disappearing behind the quarter deck, I attempted to regain
my composure, but my mind refused my efforts. I shrugged out of
my coat and cut off one of my shirt sleeves to use as a temporary
bandage for my shattered nose. The crimson plume spread quickly
across the white cotton, but the pressure did begin to restrict
the blood flow.
A great disturbance to my right caused me to turn and look
towards the ship's bow. A long tentacle wrapped itself around
the ship's front mast and began to tug vigorously. As I peered
around the corner, I gasped in shock at what I saw; the kraken
slowly began to pull itself up onto the deck.
Our cannons were useless at this angle; all that we had at our
disposal were the mighty harpoons. The sailor seated behind the
giant, mechanical sea spear began to lower the hulking beast into
position as his companions spun him in the direction of his
quarry. The kraken screeched angrily as the disgustingly large
eye (I would venture to say it was nary a bit less than four feet
across!) on the side of its head focused on the sailor and his
weapon fashioned uniquely for this very encounter. The beast
reared back unexpectedly and spread its numerous, smaller feelers
wide, like a strong gust of wind tussling a dainty sun dress. At
first, I thought the kraken had seen enough of his foe, and any
moment now, he would dive back into the depths, but I was wholly
A wave of motioned rolled through the creature, as if all of his
expanded muscles were contracting in concert. A disgusting,
belching noise filled the air, and an even more hideous, black
blob shot forth at the harpoon. The shrieks of the men were
short-lived; the ink melted man and metal alike.
Something jerked me from behind and almost caused me to tumble
backwards; I teetered for a moment as I struggled to regain my
balance. Finally, I spun on my heels, rifle at the ready; it was
French, urging me to follow him. I chased after him and a small
group of others as they frantically raced to the back of the
ship. A loud commotion caused me to look over my shoulder one
final time; as one of the kraken's long tentacles continued to
pull it farther up onto the deck, his second tentacle whipped
through the air and flung a group of men like rag dolls. My
nights are sometimes still haunted by the sound of their cries
and the sudden, sickening crunch as they collided with the ship.
As we rounded the back of the ship, we happened upon a group of
marines and sailors. Perhaps it was French's plan all along to
meet up with the men, but I am rather unsure; I never asked him
later, and he never brought the encounter up again. From the
look in his eyes just moments before, I assumed he aimed to
commandeer a lifeboat, which was a perfectly acceptable act of
cowardice to me; we were facing a kraken, after all.
Nonetheless, as the men came into sight, French threw his
shoulders back and swaggered up to join them.
I'm certain I looked a sight to the others with the blood-soaked
bandage tied around my face, but they paid my oddity no mind. As
we approached, the men were just finishing the plans for their
assault, which seemed to amount to nothing more than to charge
the beast with guns blazing. I wanted to remind them that such a
tactic had not turned out well for Pagan, but instead held my
tongue. At this point, I was fully committed to the idea that we
would all certainly die soon, so why should I preclude these men
from dying with their honor? The sailors were grim-faced, but
the marines appeared as fearless and unshaken as any men I have
ever seen. Looking into their eyes, I found my courage; I could
fight and die beside men like that.
Once again on the starboard side, we were half the ship's length
away from the beast. Martel, the marine's commander, ordered us
to follow him in a single-file line along the wall of the quarter
house, so as not to garner the kraken's attention. We rushed
forward while the beast continued to assault our compatriots.
On Martel's command, we broke our formation and swung wide across
the deck. We stood shoulder to shoulder firing on the beast with
our lever-action rifles. The rounds pierced the kraken's soft
flesh and caused it to emit a blood-curdling squeal. The hair on
our arms stood on edge as we continued to march forward, while
the war cries of the marines urged us on.
The beast turned his attention to us and began to use his two,
long tentacles to pull himself in our direction so that he might
consume us whole. The sight of the creature charging our ranks
will always be remembered as one of the most strikingly fearsome
images recorded in my mind. With every awkward movement of the
kraken as he dragged his body across the deck towards us, my life
began to flash before my eyes with thoughts of everything I had
yet to do. In a moment of selfishness, I was filled with sorrow
for my lot, before realizing that the men beside me had wives and
children that would never see them again.
When I thought that our fate was surely sealed, a blur caught my
eye in the distance. Before I could conceive what the blur might
be, a massive harpoon slammed through the kraken's head and sent
a hail of splinters in our direction as it pierced the deck an
arm's length from our feet. With the creature pinned to the
ship, we redoubled our assault with a newfound ferocity. The
kraken struggled in vain to wrest itself free, but it was no use.
After several more volleys from our rifles, the creature
collapsed into a lifeless heap on the deck.
* * *
That night, with a mangled front mast and the sobering loss of
seventy brave souls, we turned south and made our way towards
Puerto Plata with our trophy. Perhaps it was a commendation from
Pagan and the other fallen as they looked down on us from the
heavens, or perhaps it was just another of the solar storms that
frequent this realm, but we stood on the deck and stared in
wonderment at the most magnificent aurora that I have ever
witnessed in all of my time in this place. A wholly
indescribable array of reds and greens and blues swirled over our
heads and reminded me that, as dangerous and unforgiving as our
worlds may be, there is often beauty in the midst of the
Armed with new knowledge of the beasts, the subsequent
expeditions paid much less dearly with the lives of their men.
Though the beasts are rumored to still lurk in the depths of the
deep sea trenches, the stories of them are much rarer these days.
Some already say that it was an elaborate conspiracy of sorts,
and that they never truly existed at all. But I
remember the day, with a crimson-stained rag wrapped around my
face, I stood in defiance alongside giants of men, and defeated