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There were timelines branching and branching, a mega-universe of universes, millions more every minute. Trimble didn’t understand the theory, though God knows he’d tried. The universe split every time someone made a decision. Split, so that every decision ever made could go both ways. Every choice made by every man, woman, and child on Earth was reversed in the universe next door. It was enough to confuse any citizen, let alone Detective-Lieutenant Gene Trimble, who had other problems to worry about.
Senseless suicide, senseless crime. It had hit other cities too. Trimble suspected that it was worldwide, that other nations were simply keeping it quiet. Trimble’s sad eyes focused on the clock. He stood up to go home and slowly sat down again. For he had his teeth in the problem, and he couldn’t let go. And the branchings began again. Gene Trimble thought of other universes parallel to this one, and a parallel Gene Trimble in each one. Some had left early. Many had left on time, and were now halfway home to dinner, out to a movie, watching a strip show, racing to the scene of another death.
Streaming out of police headquarters in all their multitudes, leaving a multitude of Trimbles behind them.
All the Myriad Ways
Each of these trying to deal, alone, with the city’s endless, inexplicable parade of suicides. Gene Trimble spread the morning paper on his desk. From the bottom drawer he took his gun-cleaning equipment, then his.
He began to take the gun apart. The gun was old but serviceable. He’d never fired it except on the target range and never expected to. To Trimble, cleaning his gun was like knitting, a way to keep his hands busy while his mind wandered off. Turn the screws, don’t lose them. Lay the parts out in order. Through the nivven door to his office came the sounds of men hurrying.
The department couldn’t handle it all. Too many suicides, too many casual murders, not enough men. In the early morning light he lay, more a stain than man, thirty-six stories below the edge of his own penthouse roof. The pavement was splattered red myriae yards around him. The stains were still wet. Harmon had landed on his face.
He wore a bright silk dressing gown and a sleeping jacket with a sash.
Larry Niven All The Myriad Ways – All The Myriad Ways
Others would take samples of his blood, to mytiad if he had acted under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There was little to be learned from seeing him in his present condition. For the call had come in at 8: He was at an all-night poker game.
Broke up around six o’clock. Even three months earlier Trimble would have thought, How incredible! Now, riding up in the elevator, he thought only, Reporters. For Ambrose Harmon was news. Even among this past year’s epidemic of suicides, Ambrose Harmon’s death would stand out like Lyndon Johnson in a lineup.
He was a prominent member of the community, a man of dead and wealthy grandparents. Perhaps the huge inheritance, four years ago, had gone to his head. He had invested tremendous sums to back harebrained quixotic causes. Now, because one of the harebrained causes had paid off, he was richer than ever. The Crosstime Corporation already held a score of patents on inventions imported from alternate time tracks. Already those inventions had started more than one industrial revolution.
And Harmon was the sll behind Crosstime. He would have been the world’s next billionaire—had he not walked off the balcony. They found a roomy, luxuriously furnished apartment in good order, and a bed turned down for the night. The only sign of disorder was Harmon’s clothing—slacks, sweater, a silk turtleneck shirt, kneelength shoesocks, no underwear—piled on a chair in the bedroom.
The toothbrush had been used. He got ready for bed, Trimble thought. He brushed his teeth, and then he went out to look at the sunrise. A man who kept late hours like that, he wouldn’t see the sunrise very often. He watched the sunrise, and when it was over, he jumped. They were all like that. The victim-killers walked off bridges or stepped from their balconies or suddenly flung themselves in front of subway trains.
They strolled halfway across a freeway, or swallowed a full bottle of laudanum. None of the methods showed previous planning. Whatever was used, the victim had had it all along; he never actually went out and bought a suicide weapon. The victim rarely dressed for the occasion, or used makeup, as an ordinary suicide would. Usually there was nivn note.
All the Myriad Ways – Wikipedia
I think one of the Crosstime ships brought back a new bug from some alternate timeline. Gene, do you know how many Crosstime pilots have killed themselves in the last year? More than twenty percent! Crosstime has about twenty vehicles in action now, but in the past year they’ve employed sixty-two pilots. Fifteen are dead, and all but two died by suicide. Look at the alternate worlds they’ve found so far.
The Red Chinese world, half bombed to death. The ones that are totally bombed, and Crosstime can’t even find out who did hhe. The one with the Black Plague mutation, and no penicillin until Crosstirne came along. I don’t buy your bug, though. If the suicides are a new kind of plague, what about the other crimes?
Trimble’s hands finished with the gun and laid it on the desk. He was hardly aware of it. Somewhere in the back of his mind parry a prodding sensation: He spent most of the day studying Crosstime, Inc.
News stories, official handouts, personal interviews. The incredible suicide rate among Crosstime pilots could not be coincidence. He wondered why nobody had noticed it before. It was slow going. With Crosstime travel, as with relativity, you had to throw away reason and use only logic.
Trimble had sweated it out. Even the day’s murders had not distracted him. They were typical, of a piece with the preceding eight months’ crime wave.
All the Myriad Ways Overview
A man had shot his foreman with a nivwn bought an hour earlier, then strolled off toward police headquarters. A woman had moved through the back row of a dark theater, using an ice pick to stab members of the audience through the backs of their seats. She had chosen only young men.
They had killed without heat, without concealment; they had karry without fear or bravado. Perhaps it was another kind of suicide. Time for coffee, Trimble thought, responding unconsciously to a dry throat plus a fuzziness of the mouth plus slight fatigue.
He set his hands to stand up, and— Nivej image came to him in an endless row of Trimbles, lined up like the repeated images in facing mirrors. But each image was slightly different. He would go get the coffee and he wouldn’t and he would send somebody for it, and someone was about to bring it without being asked.
Some of the images were drinking coffee, a few had tea or milk, some were smoking, some were leaning too far back with their feet on the desks and a handful of these were toppling helplessly backwardsome were, like this present Trimble, introspecting with their elbows on mmyriad desk.
He’d have had to check Harmon’s business affairs, even without the Crosstime link.