Elmer’s Derivative

Elmer U. Kettlebaum punctured time with the tip of his pen. As the future revealed itself—slowly, indecently—he punished it, inflicting fresh wounds with each new stroke. Wounds that would never heal….

the instrument of his own undoing

His technique formalized the appearance of any contrived future, by using a modified bucketeering code he’d learned as a teen. This code was endemic to finance, in the form of contracts meant to secure arbitrage for certain unrealized variables. When traded, these contracts would, in fact, determine the characteristics of such variables— but Kettlebaum did not write his code so that others could hedge value. He wrote it to form autonomous, self-fulfilling proclamations which could determine any outcome, variable or not—on any scale—enabling bearers of such documents to fold time.

He hatched plans to nest his proclamations—as decrees ordaining the proclamation of further decrees—to enhance their influence. He contrived language to fit dozens— indeed hundreds—of decrees within decrees until finally proclaiming the ultimate code: an integral formula which defined a limit to the future, as the number of decrees approached infinity….

It was while executing this last contract—this instrument of supreme influence and the pinnacle feat of his terror—that Elmer U. Kettlebaum was swallowed whole. He was sucked, spaghetti-like, into a vortex of time ripped by his own pen, within view of a room filled with disciples who in turn also vanished, one by one, during the future moments of their lives.

The sole remnant of Kettlebaum’s scheme is the very instrument of his undoing—an item we here at Lost Signals keep hidden, deep within our stacks….

—Hilbert David

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