April 16th, 2018. 03:55.
“Joe… Joe… wake up…” Joe smiled at the dreamy, feminine voice above him. Despite being unable to see her.
His ears still rang, but it was fainter. Quieter. His head still ached, and he would have ranked it among the worst he’s ever had with the exception of one, but it was far milder. He felt ill and nauseous, as if his dinner wasn’t agreeing with him. And of course, he shook and shivered from the cold.
“Jamie?” Joe asked pleasantly.
The girl sighed, “No, Joe. ‘Fraid not. Blink a couple of times. That shit on your eyes will come off eventually when you do.”
Joe didn’t see much. It was quite dark, and he imagined he was outside. Perhaps even outside of the restaurant. Maybe, thought Joe, I haven’t been out that long. I was just knocked down.
What light he was seeing he figured were a few street lights or vehicles in transit. At first he thought his glasses were fogged up, but it was too dark for that to be the case. So he agreed that to blink would help. In quick succession, his lids bounced up and down. As he blinked he felt a viscous substance being torn off his corneas. With each sweep the translucent film gave way, and he began to see more. More light, more dimension. First things were blurred and dull of course and quite patchy. Especially around the edges of his eyes. Finally he rubbed his, and wiped the corners until Joe deemed his vision restored.
“Jamie?” Joe inquired again.
He turned unable to determine where they were. On two sides were high walls of the same dirty brick and they were quite close together. It was still dark, but it was much quieter. All leading Joe to believe it was some time in the early morning. And that he had been moved. To some alley. Then his clear eyes fell to a woman crouched down beside him.
“Still not Jamie,” she said.
Joe gasped and saw his breath in the cool air.
While she wasn’t Jamie and she wasn’t a stranger either, she was certainly not the paramedic, or the hospital nurse he expected her to be. Rather it was the woman. The woman. The woman with the scarf, and the purse and the gun. She wasn’t boldly illuminated of course but Joe could see her more properly now.
She wore leather hiking boots, denim short shorts, and a white shirt with sleeves to her elbow. Her scarf and a windbreaker had been discarded and stuffed into the bag at her feet. Her whole attire was bold considering the weather. If he was shivering, how could she not be chilly? This small slender creature? Though now without her neckwear, he could see her face.
Excepting her bangs dripping down a long forehead and covering slight brows, the pixie’s hair was cropped and as blonde as a strawberry. Her cheekbones were high and elfin. Her nose was straight though curved at the end. Her full lips were pursed and formed a frown. And her stern eyes looked light and fawn within the darkness.
Although beautiful, the young woman made Joe uneasy and he straightened out and became stiff as he leaned against the cold hard wall. When he did, she drew her weapon and pointed it at him.
“Whoa whoa whoa! Easy there Joe. Let’s take it slow, huh? Make things easier for both of us. No sudden movements, no loud voices and I won’t shoot you in the face. Capisce?”
Likewise, he remembered the gun. He remembered it all too well. The supersonic booms, the sparks and muzzle flashes. The woman had begun shooting in a public place with no regard for human life. Then the man fired back. It all made him picture Jamie.
When Joe saw the pistol, it felt like he was reliving it all over again. He saw Jamie suddenly falling down to the ground. The mist with the red shade hanging in the air. The fear in her eyes. Her letting go of his hand. Of course, he didn’t know if she had been killed, but not knowing wasn’t a good feeling. The uncertainty left him worried, and it was all he could think about. So much had happened, and he had to know just what.
Holding in tears, Joe nodded and asked quietly, “Where’s Jamie?”
Joe looked at her and arched a brow. “Where are we?”
“About a block away from your restaurant.”
Somewhat frenetically Joe adjusting his position and grunted, “What happened to Jamie? Why am I here?”
“Hey, I said slowly, Joe. Do you know what that word means? Slowly means at a snail’s pace. Now I know you’ve had a tough day, but getting shot in the head is not going to make things any better for you.”
Gritting his teeth, Joe conceded and slumped back down the wall. He shivered again, still freezing.
“You obviously looked through my wallet. If you want my money just take it—”
“No, I don’t want your money. You can keep your seven dollars.”
“What do you want from me then? Why am I here? What’s going on?”
“Believe me, I don’t want anything from you. Keeping you with me only puts me at risk. But… it wouldn’t be fair to let you go.”
“No of course not, I’ve always wanted to be kidnapped. Really it’s... irresponsible to let me go free. A black man—”
“Shut up. I don’t care if you’re black. Jesus—”
“Where is Jamie!? Where is my girlfriend!?”
“You want me to answer that one? Then shut up—”
“Tell me what going on!” Joe demanded, getting rowdy. “Explain why I’m here and—”
Once the woman shoved the gun into Joe’s temple he immediately stopped talking and completely stopped moving.
The girl gave a fake chuckle, “That’s better. For a minute there I thought you’d forgotten I had you at gunpoint.”
Joe glared angrily but remained tight-lipped, clearly thinking of a way to escape.
“Just um… just be quiet okay? I’m trying to think.” The woman scratched the back of her head with her free hand. Then she sighed again. “Okay... I’m Danika. Danika Williams. And you… were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Like really the wrong time…”
Still, Joe continued to glare.
“I suppose,” Danika continued, “there’s no point in me worrying about sounding crazy or fucked up since you already think I am, is there? So… here goes. You… are in the future. A couple of weeks into the future, in fact. And now you’re stuck with me. Until I can get you back to March 23rd.”
March 23rd, 2018. 21:02.
A man turned down Durant and shed his coat. Striding along, he promptly tossed it into the first rubbish bin he saw. Underneath he was wearing garb reminiscent to scales, black like graphite. A type of armour. Whenever he would take a breath or move a muscle, his clothing would breath with him, moving like water.
He looked around and was relieved that no one was paying any attention to him. For traffic had just resumed.
He tapped his earbud, “Control, this is Heathcliff.”
It took a moment, but Heathcliff heard a monotone reply in his ear, “Go ahead, Heathcliff.”
“I found her,” Heathcliff muttered, “I found Williams. She’s still alive. But the bitch fucking jumped again.”
“Confirm your time, Heathcliff?”
Rolling back his sleeve, he looked down at the watch fused into his skin. The digital display suddenly changed to three minutes after nine. And he confirmed the date and time with the voice in his ear.
“And there’s something else. She jumped with someone.”
“Please repeat that, Heathcliff.”
“She jumped with someone.”