It started as an pansexually erotic scifi, and then quickly evolved into a contemplation on modern human artificiality and super-advancing technology, with realistic relationships thrown in.
I didn’t remember much right after I was dragged through time that very first trip. Now it seems like ages ago and I have recalled some. It had been an off sort of day, waking up with a hangover not induced by alcohol. As I took a long, hot shower, my body felt numb and my mind philosophical. I was contemplating human mortality, as some people do in split seconds of panic or death, how everyone I was about to see that day would die eventually. So deep in my thoughts was I that I stood half-dry in the bedroom just staring at the walk-in closet like I couldn't decide what to wear for a good twenty minutes at least. It was like every atom in my body knew what was about to happen, and what events would then unfold.
Ending up dressed, I skipped breakfast in favor of being punctual. It was a cold midwest winter day, snow had fallen last night, and my fur-laced boots crunched through the soft new whiteness that covered the sidewalk as it did everything equally. My thick wool coat had its large pockets stuffed with my tablet, stylus-pen, and school ID. Looking left, then right, I didn't pay much attention as I crossed the street, having deduced I was in the clear. After a few steps, my heel dug into a thick layer of black ice and gave way. Making a strangled cry as I fell forward to compensate for my initial backwards momentum, pain shot through my knee as I landed in a crumpled crouch. A Metro bus honked its horn. Turning my head forty-five degrees, a pair of headlights blinded me, the squeal of brakes, the smell of burning rubber, the heat of the tire inches from my face, and vertigo gripped me again as I fell for a second time.
There was no harsh landing-- I opened my eyes. A bright blue sky greeted me, sparse white clouds, blinding sun. No, really blinding. My eyes burned and watered, and I quickly covered my face with my mittens and turned about in midair to face the wind. A flat shimmering ground below and some dark cubic buildings towered above me on all sides. I was falling among skyscrapers. One jutted up so close that I saw my blanched reflection in its onyx-tinted windows.
But I was still far from the ground. Really far. My exposed extremities, which was thankfully only my face, continued to burn, tears crusted my dark eyelashes as wind whipped my streaming black hair into knots. Fear dug its sharp nails into my veins. I screamed like I had never screamed before, hadn't ever. The sound pierced my own ears and as adrenaline coursed through my body, my brain knew it was all useless. From the height I had maybe a minute left before...
I didn't notice the flying cars, the large electronic billboards flashing at my descent, or the fact that the ground turned out to be covered in an immeasurable amount of water. Nor did I even question why I was falling through the sky in the first place. Death was already a very real possibility, after escaping death by bus now it was death by impact at terminal velocity, splat like a bug on a windshield, except the vehicle I was plunging towards was the very stationary and unrelenting ground.
Ten seconds later, when I was beginning to pray my eternal love for my family and friends, a body crashed through the window just below me. A masculine figure met my gaze with deep dark blue eyes squeezed thin by pale eyebrows furrowed in concentration. Falling into his arms was a jarring experience, my breath stolen from me in the most painful way imaginable as my head snapped back from whiplash. I heard my neck crack.
Clinging on like he was carrying me across the threshold, I was crying into his chest incoherently as a flowering wetness spread between my legs. I had peed myself. We hovered in midair for a second, and then my mystery hero slowly brought me back through the hole he had made, into a small ring of people.
Dazed, embarrassed, and on the verge of fainting, everything passed in a blur. I still have no idea how Omega had hovered in midair, now that I think about it, I never asked, and before I knew it I was lying on a bed in a bright room with a woman looking down at me while talking to the man who had saved me, the man who would eventually become my partner to the ends of the world and back.
Detective 56, he was called at the time. Odd name, but it was an odd day to say the least. He was looking at me hard, his eyes stormy, curly golden hair falling over his pinched chiseled face. Barely conscious girly parts of me screamed that he was gorgeous, like an angel, but the realistic majority felt the bubbling burn boils on my cheeks, the uncontrollable shakes, and the sticky filthiness, and wanted to faint. The realistic part won over, and I fell into a deep, dark sleep devoid of any comprehensible dreams.
6 hours later…
I reluctantly woke, torn from REM by the edges of my consciousness. The room had dimmed with only a pale white light bordering the floor, but I could still make out a dark shadow at the edge of my bed in the shape of a person. Not the woman, the man, Detective 56, and as my vision cleared I saw he was wielding a singular pistol-like object pointed at my chest.
He saw me see him, and pressed something. The air was filled with the crackle of fatal electric current. My mouth was slightly open, dry now, and before I could scream he said, “I don't know from where or when you fell, but I know you don't belong here and I have been tasked to kill you.”
“What?” I croaked, pulling up onto my elbows slower than I wanted.
“But I'll answer your questions first, so you may rest in peace. The door is locked. There are no windows, vents are too small, and I am much stronger than you.”
It was like he was answering my frantic thoughts and a chill shot up my spine. I don't know if my neck hairs standing up on end was from the static or foreboding, either way I had to figure out something to counteract this third dance with death. Fast.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“I am an android called Savior 14, this current body is an alias.”
I saw he was still wearing his dark jumper with a long brown overcoat and my frown deepened. “You said you were tasked, who tasked you to k... kill me?”
He answered without a pause, as if he was used to greater hysterics. I felt cold all over.
“I work for an anonymous organization whose purpose is to maintain balance of time and space by fixing rifts and eradicating any people who threaten the present and future, including but not limited to all jumpers like yourself.”
Foreseeing my next question, he spat, “Yes, you had no control of your jump, most likely. You could say you are innocent. But your actions caused a rift in time that we now have to close, if it closes at all. Then, even if we do manage to fix the rift, time and space are already distorting around you, a person who was not meant to be here at this time or place. So, I am eliminating you. Only then will we prevent another paradox.”
“All things have their own times and places, and if a thing is misplaced it shoves other things out of their place, out of their time, causing a ripple effect that alters the future, usually for worse.”
He searched my face and relaxed his grip, but kept his arm level. His features softened very human-like and he let out a long sigh. “A couple centuries ago two inhabited galaxies collided, causing mutual destruction and loss of hundreds of alien species. It was not calculated, and so ULAS never thought to take action to preserve those lives. Astrophysicists within all species analyzed why, and later found out that sometime a few centuries before one of the galaxies had shifted through a space vortex, sucked into the proximate vicinity of the other galaxy. It only took the rest of the time for the two to attract each other with their fields of gravity, and then…
“Well. In short, the rift had been created by a space jumper who had failed to close the rift behind him, and ULAS could not prevent it. The jumper was sentenced to death by hundreds of governments, and was eventually caught by my organization and brought to justice.”
His gaze sliced into me and I gulped, my tongue scratching against the gnarly inside of my mouth. My body was weak, too weak. My eyes darted from his face, to the gun, to the wall where I couldn't see the door, back to his face. My breathing was short, sporadic, and my ears were full of a deafening roaring sound. I was feeling more than fear. Wherever I was, whenever it was, it did not agree with me, and I felt a rising nausea threaten to spill my guts. The icy blue eyes blinked, and he pressed another button. Suddenly the electric current was concentrated at the tip of the gun, and filling the room with a loud crackling sound. My brain jumped into overdrive and pushed my sluggish body to rise.
But I was too slow, and he knew it. With eyes that projected his thoughts, I knew he was about to kill me, I didn’t need what he said next to be sure.
“Say your final prayer, if you believe such nonsense. Rest in peace.”
He said it solemnly, like an angel of death.
I held my breath and debated for a split second whether to shut my eyes. The next split second I saw the door behind him whip open and a woman in a white coat rushed in. She was shouting. He was surprised and missed his shot as I made a knee jerk reaction to throw myself out of the way, but my legs were tangled in a thin sheet and I fell off the bed onto a cool, hard floor face first. The bolt dispersed into the wall above as I whined against the pain that shot from my chin. The roaring in my ears became a steady pain, my head pulsing, and my body overcame itself, spewing bile and meager food particles between large, aching convulsions. Calm down, breath, close your eyes, breathe…
A gentle hand cupped my shoulder. A blue-haired woman bent over me. Her skin covered in a shimmering translucent layer of something that slid against my bare, clammy self. Her eyes were covered by a mirrored visor that obscured half her face, wrapping the crown of her head in what looked like a thin helmet. She was fair, big-breasted, with wide hips, but she managed to tiptoe on glass-like heels. On her left hand, the one on my shoulder, there was a glass ring with a red jewel, on her other wrist was a band that was periodically alarming. Making a swift motion, she silenced the alarm and straightened herself to stand between me and the android, crossing her arms with an authoritative frown.
“What the abyssal fucklords are you doing, Detective?”
“I was under orders.”
She made a crude dismissive gesture, and I picture her rolling her eyes, “Funny, so am I. This patient is now under my custody as of one hour and twenty-three minutes ago. Here, have yourself a good look. Ward of the 78th floor Xenobiology Lab, where she will live after she is transferred from this sector, after her injuries are repaired.”
Making a sweeping glance over the screen projected from her wristband, Detective 56 grumbled and tucked his collapsed pistol into his overcoat. With another person he might have argued, but whoever this woman was I got the impression she wasn’t one often argued with. Somewhat reduced in threat, he slumped his shoulders forward, jabbed his hands into his pockets, and made to walk out of the room. At the last second he turned about and addressed the woman, though his eyes were piercing me there on the ground above a puddle of vomit.
“HQ will want to question her before the trial, and I bet they won’t like what they find out.”
She sniffed curtly, “That’s for them to decide, not you.”
His frown was firey, but he snapped back and left the room with a crisp stride. The door slid shut and I let out a long, labored breath, swooning into a pair of steady arms that pulled me back up into my bed, gingerly avoiding my spill. I still felt light-headed and aching all over, feeling my stomach lurch over and over as the now glowing ceiling spun. Mumbling, the woman procured a hypodermic needle from the folds of her white overcoat and slid it under my skin so expertly I didn't feel anything.
“There, this usually treats severe dehydration due to prolonged drug intake, but this will clear your head temporarily.”
The ceiling slowed to a snail's pace, and I was able to focus on the soft almost cloud-like pillows encapsulating me in a round bed. I realized I was wearing a light gray shift, nothing underneath, and there was no sign of my old clothes. My face didn't burn, and I touched my cheeks to confirm there was no pain or boils. Sitting up on my elbows, I saw the floor that had been cold and hard like tile didn't look like tile, linoleum, metal, or wood, it was an nondescript white like the walls and the ceiling. And it was glowing where the woman was standing. A red orb hung on the wall above where the door was, otherwise there were no visible cracks. Beside me, the woman was fiddling on a panel attached to my bed.
With a swift motion of her fingers, she pressed something on the side of her head and her visor cleared. Striking turquoise green eyes and long glittering blue eyelashes looked up at me, her straight pearly white teeth disarmingly charming after what had just transpired.
“You, you are anomaly itself!” She smiled wider and pressed her wristband to the panel, waited until a small blip sounded, and leaned in close over the bed. I caught a heady scent of flowers as the jutting curve her breasts fell tantalizingly close to my face. She did some more fiddling with another panel above my head, pressing her wristband against it until it beeped.
“You fell through a time rift," She continued, pulling back and studying her wristband's projected screen, "an event caused by a sudden and disastrous shear of nantoms in the time vortex of this universe. Put it simply, judging by the archaic clothes you arrived in, you are from our distant past, and we are your distant future.”
“So, outside was... we're still on Earth?”
She tipped her head back with a bark of laughter, and then forward to look down at me, searching and measuring me. She pressed one final button on the wall above my head, flowers enveloping my sense.
“A drowned Earth covered in water from melted ice caps, burnt by a maturing sun. You are in Freedom Tower, the central North American skyscraper consisting of large government projects and organizations. The world is covered in skyscrapers, built above the surface of the water with the strongest metals in the universe. Our population numbers around two billion, with the rest of humanity spread throughout known space.”
Her eyes glinted and she giggled girlishly as she pulled back to throw her weight onto one side, tossing a hand onto her hip, “This is all quite unbelievable to you?”
Yes it was. I had watched the new Star Wars movies, the ones about Obi Wan Kenobi training to be a Jedi. Sometimes, I dabbled in TV shows like Doctor Who: Regeneration and scifi horrors that feature salivating aliens annihilating humanity one colony at a time... But to think I was now living in a scifi fantasy! To think I could ever fall through a sky thousands of years in the future, rescued and almost killed by an android, healed overnight, and ending up in the custody of someone who looked like a futuristic fairy godmother. It was all very unbelievable.
“What year is it?”
“Equivalently... it would be around 100,000 years from the beginning of recorded history.”
My head pounded and my breath caught. One hundred thousand years! And Earth was a big water park, and humans were zooming around in space, and the floor glowed, and androids hunted people, and and and... My lungs couldn't hold oxygen anymore, and my mind went blank. I could hear the woman's voice, I could see her blue lips frowning, I knew she was patting me on the shoulder and then placing a cold pad to my left breast. I felt small shock to my heart and my breathing slowed instantly as adrenaline kicked in.
“Take it easy, now. You survived the jump, you are healthy, that's a miracle by itself. I have restricted that faulty Detective to limited duty, meaning he is restrained from coming within one floor of this room or the lab or making another attempt on your life. What he was about to do... Let's say he is an anomaly himself. Detectives have been one of the most reliable versions of Saviorbots, and don't usually have glitches like that...”
Her eyes took on a distant look as she adjusted my shift and sheet neatly, pressing down along the edges so that my whole body was cocooned from foot to neck. She smiled crookedly this time. “You have been assigned to this room for one week. Feel free to stand up and walk around this floor, but you will not be able to use the elevators. This entire floor is an emergency ward, catering to the injured from all the other floors. If you need any help don't hesitate to press any red buttons you see, a nurse will answer the call immediately.”
Following her gesture I found a palm-sized red button on the side of my bed, next to the panel. I looked back at her and spoke softly, “Who are you?”
She laughed that light bubbly laugh as she hooked one of her hands on my shoulder, and her voice became much younger, almost flippant, “I'm Dr. Kharnova, Amelia Kharnova. Please, call me Amy since you're not one of my boring colleagues.”
A loud beep cut between us, and she pressed the face of her red flashing wristband. A feminine voice rushed to speak, “Ma'am, Code 27 on the floor 247.”
She snapped a foreign curse word under her breath and shrugged her broad padded shoulders at me with another curve of her lips, “Duty calls. Take my advice. Maybe not today but tomorrow take a walk around. Just be careful, Serafina, until we meet again.”
“Wait, how do you know my name?”
Her barking laughter echoed in the large hallway beyond the door that framed her curvature, “You'll figure it out when you find out who exactly I am in a week, I promise. But a little trivia, I know everything.” And the door whispered closed with a distinct period.