Home > Character Interviews, My Favorites > Day One Hundred and Sixteen: Paul Barbeau

Day One Hundred and Sixteen: Paul Barbeau

Part of writing is getting to know your characters. The way that I’ve been working so far, there’s not been a lot of time to do that. I write a story, and move on – maybe coming back another time to revisit the people I have created, but usually not. So just for fun, I’m going to do some character interviews this week and see what I can find out about the folks who emerged from between the folds in my brain. To do so, I’ve got my list of characters and the fine folks over at random.org, and together I’ll be randomly choosing my subjects. If you have a request for a character interview, let me know in the comments and I can see to it that he or she jumps to the head of the queue.

Today’s subject is one that we’ve heard a lot about. He’s been referenced in several stories so far, but he has yet to have the chance to lead in his own story. Paul Barbeau was first introduced to us on Day 33 – Monsters. That story tells of the many attempts on his life by time travellers who are determined to change history by taking him out of it.


I really don’t have a lot of time, miss, so let’s get this done quickly.

Umm… Mister Barbeau? Do you think your bodyguards could point those guns somewhere else? Not at my head would be preferable.

Miss, do you know who I am?

You’re… Paul Barbeau?

You sound unsure. Are you sure?

Yes? Yes. You’re Paul Barbeau. But I-

And do you know what the single most defining quality of my life has been, since the moment I was born?

People, um… You have had…

People have been trying to kill me. For the last sixteen years, I have managed to avoid being assassinated no less than twenty-three times. I have been shot at, I have nearly been stabbed, I was successfully poisoned when I was twelve. My entire existence has been predicated on the knowledge that there is a group of people who so desperately want me dead that they will do anything in their power to achieve that goal.

But I’m not –

Aren’t you? How do I know you’re not one of them? Or that you won’t be, sometime in the future? You see, miss, this threat is not some guerrilla group in the mountains or a bunch of crazy hicks who blind themselves on homemade moonshine and convince each other that the Jews are ruining their lives. No. I am under attack by an organized group of people with great resources, up to and including the ability to travel through time.

Excuse me?

Did I stutter?

No, but you said they could travel through time?

That’s exactly what I said, yes. What’s the problem?

Well… Time travel isn’t possible.

Yet. And that’s the key word. “Yet.”

The human brain, miss, is a powerful organic computer. It is capable of understanding the world in both concrete and abstract terms, of generating scenarios and testing them against reality. It is able to simulate reality and re-build it to see how it works. Just one of these brains, working by itself, is a marvel of evolution. When they come into contact with each other and share information, their power multiplies. The more brains, the more processing power. And when one brain hits upon a brilliant solution to a problem, that information is available to all of them. Idea builds upon idea, discovery upon discovery, and soon the human race is doing miracles and calling them quotidian trifles.

Do you think it is a coincidence that our technological abilities increased sharply as the human population increased? Of course not. More brains, better brains, able to process more information, and we grow even further.

Now, while some people are concentrating on trivialities like eco-friendly cars and social networking, I can guarantee you there are others who are working on the problem of time travel. And once they discover it, it will have always existed. The very concepts of “future” and “past” will become malleable and impermanent, and someone will get it in their head to use it to come after me.

But… Why?

My security people have managed to capture some of these terrorists. Under questioning, they have revealed a future that is truly horrifying. Nearly all of humanity is enslaved to a hive mind, to the consciousness of Humanity itself. Individuality is destroyed, the very concept of “I” is obliterated from understanding. The human race becomes a single-minded macro-organism no more diverse or complicated than a slime mold. Some manage to escape, it seems, and it is those people who have decided to use the technology of time travel to undo the world that they live in. They wish to unmake their hell – and themselves – by killing me.

It seems, you see, that one of my creations is what triggers this apocalypse, this… end of history. A particular nanotech virus that I will develop as a cure for all disease. It will work, there is no question about that. But as the virus spreads and takes hold in host after host, it eventually manages to become self-aware. It invades the brain of the host and hijacks it, turning what was once an individual, unique human being into little more than a drone.

You know this for certain?

Their stories are consistent, no matter how we pressure them. And I do have work in progress that could lead to the virus.

But why? If you know that you’re going to destroy the world… Why not just stop? Why not stop the project, throw away the notes, and it’ll never happen!

You… you really think that will work, don’t you?

Miss, most people who are targeted for assassination are indeed assassinated. It may take a few tries, but the killers only have to be successful once. The target has to be successful – or lucky – all the time. And there is no one so lucky that they can survive near-constant attempts for their entire life, as I have.

Do you understand what this means?

N… No?

I cannot be killed, miss.

They cannot succeed. All of these bodyguards are really just here to make the odds as small as possible, but I could go wandering through the poorest part of the city wearing a tuxedo made of thousand dollar bills, and I would not die. I could be surrounded by murderous time travelers all day, and they would not kill me.

No matter what happens, I must survive to create the virus. The killers are themselves the evidence of that. If I gave up, they would have no reason to kill me, and thus would never have started their mad crusade. But still they come, which means that I must succeed. It is a thing that is beyond my control.

You can’t possibly believe that.

Reality doesn’t care what I believe, miss. Reality just is.

In any case, it seems that my destiny is to be a monster. To be the destroyer of mankind as we know it. So, if I am to be a monster, I will have to be the best monster I can be.

Take her away.

What? What are you – NO!

I’m sorry, but I cannot allow this interview to be published. As I said, my destiny is irrevocable, but it’s one more problem to be solved, and I have enough of those already. If it makes you feel better, your family will believe that you died well. I’ll see to everything.



[Note: This recording was unearthed during a raid on the original Barbeau Pharmaceuticals complex in 2066. Our tacticians disagree with his conclusions on inevitability, and it is further evidence that our past-based efforts must be pushed forward. Future missions must succeed in releasing this interview to the public. If we cannot stop Barbeau directly, perhaps through other means.]

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