No copyright inFRiNGEment intended.
Note: I had to try to make something out of this strange idea I had out of the blue. I think it turned out okay. What do you think?
Eight gummi bears.
Eight. Not seven. Not nine.
Eight. Perhaps it was not supposed to be consider as a number but as an infinite number of terms, the infinity symbol which arise in theology, philosophy and mathematics…
The perpetrator might have picked up any kind of confectionery from simple rings, wriggly worms, apathetic frogs, rainbow snakes, red spiders, twin cherries, sugared cola bottles, or even a motley crew of Smurfs.
No. He chose gummi bears.
Pairs of gummi bears to be accurate. Two yellow bears, two red bears, two clear bears and two green bears. She knew that yellow tasted remotely like lemon, red was some kind of berry, probably raspberry, clear was her favourite, a perfect artificial flavour of pineapple that used to make her dream of Florida and green was a strange mix of strawberry and lime she used to trade for a piece of gum or five minutes of peace and quiet between two periods.
She knew because they were her favourite as a child.
… mainly empty calories and animal gelatine, she mused. Politically incorrect confectionary she fed on when she was ten. Or less.
She resisted the impulse of aligning them on her desk blotter. Even if order dictated that they should be displaced, she could not temper with evidence.
But the temptation was great to touch the viscous creatures. How odd it would be to test, like in the old days, the resistance of the sticky candies. They would bounce under her expert finger and she would lick it to extend the excruciating wait for a few extra seconds.
She pressed the speed dial and her call went directly to Charlie's voice mail. She bit her lip and hung up. She would pass for a fool had she left a message now. Her mind was in overdrive, not knowing if these relics of her past were real or another manifestation of an altered space continuum.
She chuckled mentally. Altered space continuum. Clearly, she was out of her mind. She had made up the previous subtle shifts in time and scenery. There was no way it could be happening. Not to her. She worked too hard to achieve her professional goal and be here. Exactly where she had planned to be. On top of things, not entangled in some déjà vu nonsense.
Except for those eight gummi bears laughing right back at her on her desk.
Was it related to a system of hyperreal numbers? It could represent a method of treating the infinite and infinitesimal events in the Pattern. She stared at Walter on the other side of the blinds and lost herself in an ocean of possibilities and impossibilities. He was prancing along with ample arm movements. Astrid did her best to stay out of his way, hopping in the opposite direction every time he came too close. Suddenly he stopped dead in his tracks and asked her something adamantly. She shook her head and despair spread quickly on the professor's face. So happy and carefree the second before, he was now the spitting image of an agonizing father who had just lost a child. Olivia could not get her eyes away from him. As if he knew she was watching, he quickly glanced in her direction. She flinched, transfixed by his stare. He charged, his brow furrowed, his lips a thin line on his weary face. Astrid did not even try to get a hold of him and watched him helplessly barge inside Olivia's office.
"Agent Dunham!" he said. His voice trembled and he put his hands together in front of his chest and leaned to her. "Are you all right?"
"Yes, yes I guess I am," she prompted folding her arms in an unconscious defence gesture. "What is it Walter? Is there something wrong I should know about?"
"Something wrong? Why would… Oh… oh I see. You are wondering… Peter will be back soon agent Dunham. He had some urgent matter to attend to this very morning."
"Really. And what would it be?"
"I have no idea, but he was very excited about it… whatever it was," he muttered for himself. His eyes swept the wall and door and he swivelled round, turned back to the lab, and would have left eventually when Olivia called his name.
"You wanted to tell me something?" He stopped, hesitant, a finger still pointed to the lab. "You needed to talk to me? What is it Walter? Is Peter in any danger?"
"Peter? Why would he be? Is there something you're not telling me agent Dunham? Peter is my only son and if anything…"
"Calm down Walter. Peter is not in any danger."
Walter sighed. The fury in his eyes receding, his face lighted up and he turned around to Olivia. "I see that you got my present," he gloated. "I kept the orange ones in my drawer. They're not very good, --no-no-no, I have more if you like them. I manage to acquire quite a large quantity of them online. You got to love the Internet," he mumbled.
"You bought the gummi bears?" she was not sure whether she felt relieved or infuriated.
"Of course I did. It's your birthday isn't it?" his voice reached a higher pitch. He dropped his head to his chest and closed his eyes mouthing silently rapid sentences of words mixed with numbers.
"Oh, thank you Walter. I had no idea it was your gift to me. I am... so pleased." She reached out to him and embraced him gently. He quivered in her arms and nodded briefly, his arms fell limply on his sides and he nodded. "Peter will be right here."
She let him go and they faced each other. Walter looked more lucid than he ever was and he patted her arm as to comfort her. "I know," he said, and with that, he scurried away. He looked happy and carefree again and Astrid flashed him a brilliant smile.
"Honey, I'm home!" Peter's voice echoed in the lab and a door was slammed.
"Peter, you did took your time. You spoiled the surprise for Olivia," Walter complained.
"I did? And how did I do that Walter?"
"… were away looking for the perfect birthday cake."
"Oh, right I forgot. I gave her her present already," Walter said softly, glee written all over his face.
"Her present? Enlighten me Walter, what present would it be since the present we chose together, the three of us, is right there in my coat pocket?"
"You know, Peter. It's the bears!" he wailed.
"The bears? What bears?" Peter tossed his peacoat on a chair along with his keys and scarf and jogged to Olivia's office.
"Walter got you a present?"
"Good morning to you too," she snapped. She regretted instantly her irrelevent display of bad humour.
"Sorry," he grinned like a little boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar, "Walter seems to know exactly how to press my buttons. Morning 'livia. And happy birthday!" he put his hands on her shoulders. He planted a resounding smooch on her cheek and cocked his head. "Now that it's not a surprise any longer, thanks to my father, are you ready for the cake and your present?"
"Oh…" she felt her cheek going hot, "there's more?"
"More than a bunch of slimy candies, you bet," he chuckled, grabbing a handful of the bears and swallowing them up in a single bite. "You coming?" he rushed out and signalled Astrid for the candles. She quickly grabbed the matches while Peter was keeping watch.
So much for my multiverse theory and my precious evidence, she thought before leaving her office. She tucked her hair behind her ear, straightened up and walked to her friends. Her left eye caught an oblique blue light and she turned her head to the flash but it was gone, --or merely a figment of her imagination. When they began to sing Walter's special birthday song with Peter at the piano, she grinned and the smile even graced her eyes.