No one said anything for several minutes. Eddie felt empty. It was all his fault. He'd destroyed the world.
He tried to picture what a simultaneous infinite loop would be like. He pictured seeing himself emerging from a doorway, and a moment later, he walked through after himself. Seeing himself would affect how he would go in, which would affect how he came out, which he would see before he went in. In that two second period, effect became cause became effect became cause... ad infinitum.
He couldn't remember the moment, but he remembered the words of Jarrock's so-called spell. Eddie had been telling a joke. As he walked through the portal, he'd been saying, "You have to hear me finish a sentence before I started it." He'd time it so that the end of his statement would come out once he was on the other side, two seconds earlier.
But that would mean he'd hear himself finish the sentence before he started it. Would that make him hesitate? Would he change what he was saying? Again, anything he changed would be changed an infinite number of—
As he focused on that moment, the unbidden memories came crashing over him again. Horse-spiders on thirty-foot stilt legs walking high above the carnage of the beetle plagues; Nazi overlords killing children in the public square; Genetically engineered candy cane trees guarded by mercenary elves...
"I know every language," Eddie said. "I know things about every culture—every history."
"That must be weird," Kevin said. He was pacing again.
"Do you have any theories about how that's possible?"
Kevin scratched his head. "I can make one up if you like. You are at the center of the singularity. You are the singularity. All of the realities that collided—they did so through you. You know everything because in that brief instant, you experienced everything. And if that's true, you should be insane. Your head should explode with everything that's passed through your mind. It was through you that the world fused together out of fragments of alternate realities. You know it all because you lived it all."
"Is that possible?" Ruby asked.
"It's just a theory."
"But it fits," Bryce said.
Eddie caught a glance from Bryce. What did he see there? Accusation? Contempt? And could Eddie blame him? Eddie destroyed the world.
"I'm sorry," Eddie said.
"For what?" Ruby asked.
"For walking through the time portal. For ruining everyone's lives."
"It's not like you knew what would happen."
"So what happened to all the people we knew before?" Bryce asked.
Kevin shrugged. "They ceased to exist? They're on one of the other Earths up there? Or maybe the realities we all came from are still continuing as they always have, but we've been ripped from them into this new world. Our families could be out there, living their lives as always, wondering what ever happened to us. Sorry. We'll never know what's happened. The damage can't be undone."
That quieted them all for another minute, contemplating lost loved-ones.
"So, what about Tim?" Eddie asked. "He said he witnessed a tear in reality, and through it, he saw God."
Kevin stopped pacing. He shook his head. "How should I know? I've got no theories about God."
Farook and Hera stood a few feet away, listening. Eddie hadn't noticed them approach.
"Hera?" Ruby said.
Hera didn't answer. She stared at Eddie.
"Am I to understand," Farook said in a low, quavering voice, "That this young man is the Usurper of God? He is the true cause of our world's destruction?"
The man approached Eddie, his fists clenched, his eyes filled with rage.
Ruby moved to intervene, blocking Farook's path.. "No, Farook. No, it's not him. He was... he..."
Eddie lowered his head. "I'm the sacrifice. At least, that's what the prophecies call me. But it's no comfort. I'm just as much to blame."
"No, you're not," Ruby said. "You didn't build the time portal. If Tim was so smart, he should have known what might happen."
"He didn't care what would happen. He was half insane with grief after his wife died. I should have at least doubted him. He was the classic mad scientist, and I was his eager assistant."
"Anyone in your place would have done the same thing," Ruby said. She waved a hand. "All of this was impossible to predict."
"Which is why you should have refrained," Farook said. He turned to Bryce. "Hera has agreed to return to our city. Would you please take us?" He pointed at Eddie, "And leave this young man behind. He is not welcome."
Bryce glanced at Eddie, his expression impossible to read. "Fine," he said and pushed off the wall.
Kevin had resumed pacing. Hera approached and stood in his way. He stopped, surprised.
"Come with us," she urged in Starrik. Kevin had turned his phone off, so Hera tapped at her earpiece and repeated her request in English.
"I have some things I need to think about," Kevin said. "I need to review my data, do some research, try to figure out what's happened."
"Does it matter?" She stepped closer.
He frowned down at her, his shoulders slumped. "It's the only thing that matters."
Hera leaned in and hugged him. She looked tiny compared to the giant of a man. "Will you at least visit me?"
"Sure. And you can visit me."
Kevin followed the group out to the car. The only ones who didn't move was Eddie, who wanted to be alone, and Basha, who now slept on the couch.
Ruby lingered at the doorway. She looked back at Eddie and gave him a sympathetic smile. "I don't blame you."
"You don't have to. There's millions out there who will do it for you. They'd probably tear me apart."
"Tim's the one that's to blame," Ruby said. "All you did was take a short walk through his portal."
Eddie sighed. He buried his head in his hands again.
Ruby crossed the observatory and knelt beside him. "Eddie, I was hoping when we finally met again, it would be a happy occasion. We can't get a break. She laid her hand on his shoulder.
He sat upright, looking her in the eye. She smiled.
He wanted to smile back. He wanted to share a moment with her. He'd thought about her so often over the past weeks, and now they were together.
But a smile at this moment would be an obvious fake. He felt the weight of an entire multiverse crashing down on him. He'd not only ruined one world. He wiped out worlds in parallel universes. How could he smile?
"Come with us," Ruby said.
"They don't want me along."
"But I don't want to leave you."
Eddie shrugged sullenly.
"Do you have Skype?"
"You know, video chat?"
"We'll talk later. Kevin's got a phone charger in the kitchen."
Eddie managed the slightest smile. "Thanks for... I don't know. Thanks for not hating me."
"No problem." Ruby hesitated a moment, then leaned down and kissed Eddie on the cheek. "You should get some rest."
Eddie watched her leave. He wanted to say something. He wanted to find the perfect words to express how he felt. As she reached the door, the fixie leaped from somewhere high in the observatory, spun around Ruby's head twice and zipped out the doorway. Ruby looked back once, smiled and left. Eddie said nothing.
"You should hit that."
Eddie glanced over. Basha lay on the couch, grinning at Eddie.
"She's obviously into you. You should go after her."
Eddie scowled. "Leave me alone."