Chapter no 107

Quantum Radio

In the Looking Glass World, Nora walked down the street, grocery bags in her hands. On the sidewalks and in the small front yards, children were laughing and playing. Adults and older children passed by on bikes and scooters in the dedicated lane beside the road.

At her home, Nora pushed open the white wooden gate and walked up the bluestone path to the front door. A small package was lying on the porch by the welcome mat. She picked it up and tucked it under her right arm and stepped closer to the door, which clicked open thanks to the camera’s facial recognition.

In the kitchen, she set the bags on the island and ripped the package open.

Inside was an author’s proof copy of her book: The Birthright: Life Lessons from a Thousand Worlds.

She ran her hand over the book, feeling it. For her, there was something transcendental about holding the tangible result of a project she had worked on for so long, a book she believed would touch so many lives.

She opened to the first page and read the opening lines.

You have a birthright. That birthright is to be happy and healthy. Not all of us claim that birthright.

To me, that is the greatest human tragedy. This book is about ending it. It is about helping you understand your own mind and the people around you. Ultimately, that is the lever of your destiny: understanding yourself and the world around you.

This may sound strange to you, but right now there is a version of you living a very similar life on a very similar world. Let’s call that person your counterpart. The only difference between you and your counterpart is that they have discovered the principles of The Birthright. That other version of you understands their own mind. They

understand how their decisions impact their life. They understand the people around them. These things are as vital to you as the air you breathe.

I believe a life is built a day at a time. Our days are numbered, like the pages of a story we write with the decisions we make. Decisions are forks in a road we travel through the multiverse. They determine where you end up in life—and how happy you are.

Our minds are what steer us along this road. The trouble is, we’re never really given a map of the road or a manual for our minds. Most of us feel, for so much of our life, like we’re lost, or only possibly on the right track.

This book is about helping you find your way. It’s about how to operate your mind. It’s a map of the roads you will encounter. And ultimately, it’s about arriving at the destination that is your birthright: happiness and health. Let’s begin.

Nora set the book down. Her gaze settled on the refrigerator. Written there, on the digital whiteboard, in her neat handwriting, was a grocery list. Beside it was a weekly schedule. As she read the names of the people in her life, a smile spread across her face.


Ty stood in an auditorium. It was similar to the one he remembered at CERN, with slight changes. This place was a little larger, with seats that looked more comfortable and wood-paneled walls. It was, in a word, plush. The CERN facility had been more utilitarian.

The audience was different too. About fifty young men and women sat quietly in the rows of stadium seating. Most were college age, or a bit older, as though they had just graduated.

On the screen behind Ty, white letters on a blue background read

Welcome to the QDA.

Ty stepped to the podium and scanned the crowd. What surprised him wasn’t what he saw. It was what he felt. The nervousness that had consumed him at CERN was gone. He felt confidence born of a deep sense of peace and kindness. His voice boomed in the auditorium.

“Welcome to your first day at the Quantum Defense Agency. Today, you join the ranks of thousands of individuals working with a single purpose: to protect our world from quantum intervention. Our enemies are, for the most part, flesh and blood like you and me. But the tools they use are subatomic.

Unseen. But that doesn’t mean they’re not there. Trust me, they are. At this very moment, they may be trying to infiltrate and alter our world.”

Ty paused. “The potential damage they could do is limited only by your own imagination. Or rather, their imagination. Imagine, if you will, a world where the United States never entered World War II, where Britain lost the war, where bombings in the US homeland were a daily occurrence. Consider the possibility of even stranger worlds, where ice covers the Earth. Where water covers the planet. Where dinosaurs walk among humans, hunting us. Where Neanderthals are fighting a war against humans like us.”

Ty studied the crowd. “But I submit to you that those are not the scariest worlds one can imagine. What terrifies me the most is a world suspiciously like our own but with debilitating problems the population has lived with for so long they’ve stopped trying to fight them. Imagine a world where hate is spewed online and in person every minute of every day. Imagine a world where politicians gain power by setting us against each other. Consider a world where hunger and disease are so common people accept it, where only a small percentage are trying to end it.”

Ty let those words sink in. “I know that world exists, because I was raised in that world, not the one you know. At the QDA, we’re fighting the most important war in human history: a war to protect the world we’ve built

—to protect our timeline and the quantum integrity of our universe. We’re fighting for the future. We’re fighting for the past. We’re fighting for the very lives of each of us living right now. We can’t lose. We have to win every day. Because if we don’t, we lose everything.”

Ty smiled. “No pressure.”

At the back of the room, the door opened and Ty’s twin brother, Tom, stepped inside. This version of Tom was a near mirror image of Ty. His face looked fresh—not worn or aged by the stress of prison. An employee ID badge for the QDA hung around his neck.

When Ty’s talk was over and the new employees were filing out of the auditorium, Tom made his way to the stage. He smiled at Ty.

“Giving them the ole ‘Welcome to QDA—don’t screw up or the world is over’ bit?”

“I like to start with the easy stuff.” “You’re an inspiration, Ty.”

“How’s it looking today?”

“Quantum traffic is low. Zero interdictions in the last forty-eight hours.”

“What I like to hear.”

“They actually sent me to tell you that you’re coming up on mandatory time off in the next few days. Apparently, the GovAI thinks you might be on the verge of working too hard. You’ve got to take a half-day either today or tomorrow. It has analyzed your schedule and strongly suggested you take a half-day today.”


A few minutes later, Ty was sitting in the back of a self-driving car, watching the pristine streets of Washington, DC go by. There were no homeless people, or individuals shouting and holding signs on street corners or in front of government buildings. He saw a city in harmony.

The screen on the back of the front seat came to life and a message flashed, “Incoming Call. Helen Richter.”

Ty tapped the accept button and his mother appeared on the screen. She was standing in her kitchen. A plume of steam rose from a pot on the stove behind her like a volcanic eruption.

“Hi, sweetie,” she said, leaning forward. “Hi, Mom.”

“We were wondering if you all want to come for dinner tonight. We’re inviting Tom and Sarah too.”

“I’ll check, but that sounds fine to me.”

Ty’s father leaned into view. “And don’t be late like last time.”

They set a time, and Ty asked what they could bring, expecting his mother to refuse any help—which she did.

As the call ended, the car pulled onto Ty’s street, rolling through the shadows cast by the old trees that loomed above.

The garage door lifted as the car approached and closed the moment it was inside.

Ty stepped out and into the mudroom and listened, hearing rustling in the kitchen. A woman’s voice rang out.


He stepped into the kitchen. “The one and only.” He shrugged. “Well, technically, one of an infinite number of possible Tyson Richters across the multiverse—”

She held a finger to his lips. “Why are you home?”

“My AI overlord is worried I’m working too much. So I couldn’t stay at work. And I came home because… well, I thought you might like me being at home.”

“You thought right.”


Kato awoke in a large bed with a woman sleeping beside him, her arm across his stomach, her head lying on his chest. He glanced down and realized that it was his wife, Joan, sleeping peacefully.

To his right, morning light streamed in through the sheer curtains.

Kato inclined his head, trying to get a better look around the room. Joan inhaled sharply and turned away from him, freeing Kato to rise from the bed.

At the window, he saw a faint reflection of his face. It was cleanly shaven. And the scar was gone. So were the shallow lines that had begun forming on his forehead.

But that wasn’t the biggest change. The biggest change wasn’t how he looked at all. It was how he felt. When he stared at the morning sun, a warm sense of calm settled over him. This life was one he looked forward to every day. It was a life where demons didn’t hide in the recesses of his mind, waiting to emerge around every corner. It was a life where he could become the most important thing he was ever meant to be: a good father and husband.

Through the window, he watched snow fall on the backyard. The swings of a child’s play set swayed gently in the wind.

Beyond the bedroom door, the pitter-patter of little feet grew louder.

The handle turned and Akito burst through, followed closely by a girl a few years younger than him.

Both yelled, “Daddy, Daddy!”

“Come see what Santa brought!” Akito screamed before turning and rushing out of the room, his younger sister chasing after him. Kato started after them, eager to see Akito—and the daughter he had never known—but stopped in his tracks when Joan sat up. She squinted at the light through the windows and rubbed her puffy eyelids.

A silent moment stretched out for what seemed like an eternity as he waited, wondering what she would say, wondering what their relationship was like in this Looking Glass World.

When she smiled, it felt to Kato like it was warm enough to melt all the snow for miles.

“Hi,” she said, yawning.

He let out the breath he had been holding, carrying with it a single-word reply, “Hi.”

Joan closed her eyes. “I need you to get me a last-minute Christmas present.”


“Another hour of sleep.” She yawned. “Can you watch them? Please?”

He swallowed hard as tears welled in his eyes. “Yeah. I can watch them.

For as long as you want.”


Maria sat in a salon chair in the dressing room, staring at a mirror surrounded by light bulbs. The counter was covered in makeup and hair products. Brushes coated in powder lay atop round tins of foundation and blush.

The woman Maria saw in the mirror was her—the most beautiful version of herself she had ever seen. Here, in this dressing room, she glowed brighter than the lights around the mirror.

Beyond the door, the crowd roared, singing along to the song performed by the opening act. When the music ended, they began chanting for Maria to come out.

What surprised her most was not what she saw or heard, but what she felt: calm. In that dressing-room chair, she felt a sense of joy and serenity she had never known. She felt as though an invisible sun were burning inside of her—one that bad decisions had once nearly put out, but now shone again, a force of nature only she could stop.

The door opened, and a woman wearing a yellow polo leaned in. “Ready when you are, ma’am.”

Maria rose from the chair and strode out into the corridor, security falling in beside her. The coliseum staff and event workers stood aside as she

passed, all eyes on her, everyone smiling, some clapping, the sound drowned out by the thundering crowd that grew louder with each step.

At the entrance to the stage, the lights were blinding. Maria paused a moment, letting her eyes adjust. After a few seconds, she was able to make out the massive letters on the screen above the stage:

Maria Santos Worlds & Time Tour

The chanting grew louder, the sound beating in her chest harder than her own heart.

She climbed the first step, then another, and on the third rung, the crowd caught a glimpse of her. Those who weren’t already wearing their augmented reality headsets slipped the eyeglasses on, ready for the groundbreaking show that was redefining live musical events.

The eruption of sound that came then was nearly enough to bowl Maria over. It flowed around her like a wildfire carried by the wind: untamed, searing and unstoppable. It seemed to combine with the invisible sun inside of her, giving her even more strength, a force she didn’t even know was possible.

She glided out to the center of the stage, took the cordless microphone from the stand, and paced before the raging fans, hearing the cheers building, waiting for it to ebb. Some performers liked singing into a headset. Maria had always preferred a handheld microphone: it was how she started, in those dive bars, and it always reminded her of how far she had come. And besides, without it, she wasn’t sure what to do with her hands.

At the first break in the cheers, her voice rang out loud and clear in the massive stadium. “Thank you. Thank you so much. Tonight, I’m going to begin with a song that’s very special to me. It’s about some of my very best friends in the universe. It’s about figuring out who you are and overcoming the challenges in your life. It’s about learning to love and to trust, and when you must, to fight with everything you have. And win.”

She took a deep breath as the crowd started up again. “It’s a song called ‘The Heroes of a Thousand Worlds,’ and it’s based on a true story.”

You'll Also Like