Other Worlds Austin’s next Orbiter screening is the Texas premiere of DIVERGE on Wednesday, August 16 at Flix Brewhouse. In the film, a man discovers how far he’s willing to go to return to the one he loves, and what he stands to lose in doing so. In the aftermath of a global pandemic, one survivor is given the chance to travel across time to stop the cataclysmic event and regain everything he has lost. To do that he must kill the man responsible for sowing the seeds of mankind’s destruction - his past self.
Some of the OWA staff, using our handy-dandy time machine, went back in time to change one thing about their favorite dystopian film to see how the timelines DIVERGE. The shocking results are reported here. Next up, Fest Founder/Executive Director Bears Fonte with his DIVERGE-nt version of Stephen King's THE STAND:
Years ago our world was decimated by the Captain Trips virus. Eliminating 99.9% of the population, the weaponized influenza can be traced back to a remote U.S. army base in East Texas. A strange side effect of the superflu seemed to be the division of survivors into essentially ‘good’ and ‘evil’ camps, who heard voices drawing them to Boulder, CO, and Las Vegas, NV. The population of the world was further reduced by the accidental nuking of the entirety of the Vegas contingent (sorry, spoiler, but I am writing from the future), leaving only the ‘good.’
From where I ‘stand,’ twenty years later, that description glosses over some of the most important details. For one, the three months of the events of ‘The Stand’ did not give enough time for all the ‘evil’ people to make it Las Vegas, considering they were mostly without modern technology. How did all the evil make it out of Russia (or at that time the U.S.S.R.) halfway across the world? Were the .1% chartering airplanes to desert paradise? Also, ‘good’ people are boring people. The utopian model of green energy and pure democracy that gathered around Mother Abagail got dull real quick. Do you think Harold Laudner is the only conflicted person left in the world?
So yeah, twenty years on, the world is not really all that amazing. We have regressed years in technology, and people are so focused on this battle of good vs. evil thing that happened just recently it’s like living under a theocracy. I might call it the ‘Taliban of the good’ although see in our timeline, the Taliban never existed, because Captain Trips took out most of the world in 1985 (or 1990 if you are living in the The Complete & Uncut Edition).
Fortunately, I may have developed a time machine that will allow me to go back to the past and change history, causing the timeline to diverge from the one I am currently living in. If I can go back to one particular moment and change one thing, then I can save the world from its present incarnation. As a bonus, I will be able to save millions of people.
The most obvious thing would be to stop the virus from being released. A couple of problems with that. 1) I would have to find some way to get security clearance to get into a top secret military installation – so I would need to find a counterfeiter and some way to pay him (assuming he does not accept the shells and shiny stones we use as currency now). 2) honestly the world in 1985 (or 1990) did kind of suck. I mean, New Kids On the Block? So a little culling of the population, not so bad.
Maybe there would be a way to isolate the virus in North America only and life can go on as usual in Eurasia and Africa. Oh yeah, and Australia. That’s always the last hold out in the post-apocalyptic world anyway, right? So go back, warn everyone the virus is coming and shut down all flights and boats leaving the US. That sounds like a lot of work. And who is going to believe me, crazy guy claiming to be from the future. They will probably just throw me in the mental hospital.
Maybe I can go back and broker a deal between Boulder and Las Vegas, some sort of détente that can combine the best of both factions. Clearly Mother Abagail can be swayed if I come to her as some sort of angel-vision, she believes all that hokey-hokey. Randall Flag? He’s a different sort of leader. But he believes in self-preservation, so if I told him the city was about to be taken out by a nuke, he might go for it.
Still… that’s a lot of work. I’m not a very convincing person. I couldn’t even convince the goodie-goodies in my town to divert some of their water-power to fuel my diverge-a-tron device (I know, not the best name, but I’m a scientist, not a device-namer). So I’ve come upon this plan. I’m going to go back and take out the Trashcan Man. He’s crazy and easily manipulated. Without his arrival in Vegas with the nuclear warhead, Vegas is saved (sorry, spoilers again but I’m from the future, and I’ve read the book).
No explosion, equilibrium restored. Good and Bad, in equal proportions, just like in the old days. A competitive cycle that drives forward progress. I am tired of eating hummus and playing bridge. Now, to fire up the diverge-a-tron. It’s a shame I had to kill all the village elders to get access to the electrical supply. Then again, over here in Finland, most of us didn’t make it to the Boulder-Vegas showdown, we just stayed put. And if you're one of the ones, like me, who heard Flag’s call instead of Mother Abagail; you just kept quiet about it, bided your time, and waited for your chance to turn the tides back in favor of chaos.