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E. S. Pfahl
The question was should the government be able to force a company to create software to open a device, if they have
a warrant, and even the consent of the devices owner given before he died. Lives were on the line after all. And
no one knew this better than Hope.
Hope found her entire universe split. Or rather her life split between two universe's. It started during this
very controversy, and given her own ambitions in the computer field Hope watched this controversy closely
until finally she found herself watching news casts indicating that somehow both scenarios had played
out. It took months for her to realize that it seemed she was watching both because she actually was,
months perhaps even years before Hope really saw the true nature of the fall out of not one course of
action but of both.
In the universe where no such software was created there was a series of bombings, and shootings. Hope
watched news cast after news cast seeing the carnage. Person after person, after person pulled dead,
dying, or maimed from rubble. The number of people who's lives were lost or destroyed totaled nearly
In the other universe Hope honestly thought perhaps it was for the best after seeing what happened. Then
it started. News story after news story, person after person. People who's lives were ruined by hackers,
identity thieves, and the occasional (at least Hope assumed it was occasional) corrupt government official
elected or otherwise. People, often people who had done nothing illegal, or even really wrong lost
everything. They're homes, their jobs and business's, their friends, their families would turn their
backs. Many killed themselves, and for each one who lost something, the lives of those around them were forever
altered, and almost always for the worse. Hope watched and noticed that often the attacks that involved a
device in the other universe still occurred, there was just no mention of the device itself, and some were
delayed, and still other attacks occurred from other sources killing no fewer.
Eventually as Hope went about her errands, a shooter opened fire. She'd thought for certain the attack in
this location in the other universe had happened to long ago would never play out in this one, and certainly
not now. Before she could take cover Hope was shot through the heart. Her last thought as her young life
ended was about how here in the universe where the software had been made she had seen proof that for every
life saved no fewer than five watched their lives destroyed forever suffering to this day, and at least one
other had been ended, she'd just never expected her life to be among those traded for those who were saved.
Hope did not die. Her body in that universe did, but she lived on. When she woke in the universe where the
attacks had happened so much sooner she found herself in a hospital bed. Her husband took her hand and
explained she'd been shot in the shoulder, but she was going to be okay. It's over. She said I can never
go back. The news over joyed her husband, for it meant Hope was finally free from the horrors of the universe
where he had lost everything even her.