We were almost at Northampton. Marcus thought it would attract less attention if we drove. He had disguised us as- much to my surprise- a family with a father (him), a daughter (Victoria), a son (Norman) and his girlfriend, (Me, Opal). Marcus gave a slight smile when he handed us our new identities.
I asked him if he had forgotten about my father and what he would do if he found out I was with them. Marcus inclined his head and said that my father would believe I had run away from home. Lucky for him, I had already, unknowingly set up the conditions for this to become real, and technically I was running away from home.
Norman had been in such close proximity to me that Marcus must have thought that there was no way I could have passed as Norman’s sister. I didn’t blame him, and I definitely did not want to be Norman’s sister.
It was funny; the way things had worked out- my dad being the bad guy all along, and finding the perfect guy among the good guys who were taking me to meet the person who mirrored me- my Double. It was said that Doubles were born of the same parent- to prevent any hint of a relationship between them- and it made me wonder which of my parents had another child- and with who?
I was getting more and more excited every time we passed a road sign which said the amount of kilometres between here and Northampton. Although we didn’t know exactly where in Northampton they lived; I was pretty sure I could figure it out.
“Are you alright?” Norman asked in a low voice. “You’re shaking.”
I looked down at my arms and found that they were indeed, shaking.
“She’s just excited, Norman, imagine how it is going to be when you find your Double.” Victoria rolled her eyes in the front seat.
“Hey, Victoria?” I asked, attempting to control the quiver in my voice. She raised her eyebrows at me in the rear view mirror.
“Where is your Double- if that’s not rude to ask?” I was very curious to know who he was and whether he was nearby or not. Victoria lowered her eyes. “You don’t have to answer.” I said hurriedly, but Victoria was already reminiscing.
“Once, there were no Doubles. Just a bunch of Time Jumpers being awesome as they usually are. We had partners. Someone we could trust to have our back. Someone we always went on missions with. They almost always became best friends. My Double was like that. We absolutely loved each other- adored each other. When the time came, we decided that we loved each other and nothing was going to stop us from being together because there were no rules against it in those days- and Doubles weren’t brother and sister or sister and sister or brother and brother.
We had something special, until one day, we were on a mission in 1762 and a group of Enders caught us by surprise. We had already completed our mission, and I told him to Jump but he couldn’t. He had lost his powers as a Time Jumper. An Ender hit him on the head before I could get to him and after I murdered them, he woke up.
He didn’t remember who I was. He didn’t remember any of this shit that we do. He said he was grateful that I- a stranger- had stayed with him, but he really had to go because he was due at Mozart’s tour.”
I counted the years in my head and frowned.
“Mozart was only 5 or 6 years old in 1762.” I pointed out. Victoria smirked and then laughed out loud. I wondered what kind of other things Jumpers had seen. Mozart was pretty cool as far as I was concerned. Without him, advancements in music may not have been the same. “What was your mission?” I asked carefully.
“Believe it or not, Mozart was murdered when he was 6. In 1762, a jealous musician by the name of Zuire Dweschen shot Mozart as he took the stage during his European tour.” Victoria’s voice wavered.
“I’ve never heard of Zuire Dweschen before.” Marcus said in a low voice.
“That’s because I told some people in high up positions that he had a gun before he got anywhere near little Mozart. He was sent to Australia in the winter of 1791.”
“How come we don’t know any of this? Shouldn’t there be records of a lady saving Mozart’s life?” I asked. Norman chuckled and I slapped his arm lightly. “Seriously,”
“Honey, if there were records of the amount of times someone had saved someone else’s life, the names would be completely unknown. Do you realise that Beyoncé was never meant to be famous? A Jumper got bored and signed her up because she felt sorry for the burned out pop star.” Marcus laughed.
“What happened to your Double after that?” I asked. Victoria shook her head sadly.
“I waited for him to come out of the concert and asked him whether or not he remembered me. When he said that he had no idea who I was, I thanked him for his time and let him go. It’s what they always used to say, if you love someone, let them go. So I did and it broke my heart but it’s what he wanted.
I came back every now and then to that time. He was a handsome fellow, and seemed to fit right into the community there. Eventually he was married and produced three beautiful kids. I could sense that two of his kids had inherited the Time Jumper gene and very selfishly and wrongly, stole them away.
The boy was just like him in every way, and that was one of the reasons I took the boy- to have a part of my Double with me even when he wasn’t. I explained it all to the children and they accepted it. The girl loved it. She was like my own daughter after many years until she was brutally murdered on a mission of her own.
Then the boy turned. He became an Ender and I didn’t blame him. I still keep in touch with him now. One day, he became drawn to this one girl. Never would he tell me anything about her, just that she was special.” Victoria’s voice was haunting, quiet…
“I visited my Double once more after his son turned. I pretended to have been caught in the rain and needed shelter. He was always a helping hand and so he didn’t hesitate to help me now. He was old in this year. I didn’t understand why I would go forth in time as such to see him aging when I could always go back to the same time and see him exactly as he was.
I sat down with him and explained that his son was doing fine. I broke in front of him- glad that his wife had died three years earlier- and told him everything. Of course I told him how much I missed him and how much I still loved him. I wanted him to know before he carked it.” Victoria whispered. I was very confused. I was sad for her but also conflicted because she had stolen someone’s children. How was I supposed to feel about this?
“What did he say?” I asked her.
“He smiled and said- I know. He knew all along, but he didn’t want me to put my life- my job- on hold forever just because our relationship had cost him his powers. He said that he did not want to risk my life. I cried and cried and he held me and it was strange but comforting.
He knew it was me who took two of his children and he knew that they were Jumpers. I had to break it to him that his daughter was dead and that his son was an Ender. He was not perturbed. All he wanted to know was whether or not I was happy. I said of course not. My Double, my partner… my love was lost to me forever. I told him he broke my heart and he looked at me with sad, sad eyes as he spoke and he said- it is as it must be.
Everything happens for a reason, he said and the current plan forming in my head vanished. I was going to go back and stop him from getting hit in the head because even if he couldn’t Jump; I would still have him in my arms when we got back. I couldn’t do that to him. He had a dream that he would retell every morning and every night and he told me again then.
He said that he had a dream. Where he was old and he had lived and he had loved. I told him again that I missed him, that I loved him and that I wished things had turned out differently but he shook his head and I rolled my eyes. It is as it must be. He said it multiple times and it made my breath catch in my throat. He died a week later with his daughter and her four children by his side. He was happy, but I never would be again.”
“And then I found her. She had made a mess of a Jump and I fixed it for her. She wasn’t my Double, but she was for sure someone I could feel safe with and someone who could have my back.” Marcus said.
I smiled. It was a nice ending and now I had a lot to think about.
I looked out the window as my mind replayed everything Victoria had said. She had had a rather dark past, one which wouldn’t leave my brain- especially in my nightmares. As soon as I concentrated on the houses flying past me outside I felt a familiar pull towards the area.
“Stop,” I said quietly. Marcus and Victoria paid no attention to my command and so I yelled it again. “STOP,”
The car lurched to a stand-still. I struggled to unbuckle my seat belt and when I finally succeeded I threw the door open with all my strength and jumped out of the car, staring out into the darkness, wildly trying to feel some sort of connection with something.
“Hey there sweetie, your dad isn’t going to be very happy when he sees who you were with.” A lady said from the shadows. Norman was behind me and I could feel his breath on my shoulders. She was stunning. I began to feel very meek; as every Jumper or Ender I had met was relatively good looking and I didn’t fit the bill.
Her hair was abnormally red, as if she was a Viking warrior and her eyes were the normal bright, piercing green although dark when the shadows highlighted her face. Her skin was pale and her figure athletic.
“Your dad has been looking everywhere. Sweetie, he is very worried about you, and all he wants is for you to come home safely. Then we can discuss the brainwashing that these disgusting Jumpers have done to you.” The lady said. She seemed so sincere and it made me doubt everything I had been told. “Come with me, sweetie.”
I stepped towards her until I felt Norman’s fingertips graze my back.
“Opal, no, don’t do it.” He mumbled.
“The only brainwashing that has been done here is from you and the other Enders.” I hissed. I stepped back and felt Norman engulf me with his body.
“Get in the car, Opal.” He muttered in my ear. He twirled me around and basically threw me into the car, slamming the door behind him. I didn’t want to look, but if this was going to be my future, I needed to know what I was in for.
“Oh, three against one is hardly fair, don’t you think?” The Viking lady said.
Then she struck; taking out Norman. I screamed his name and then sighed in relief when he winked at me from the ground. He was ok, and that was all that mattered. I looked back up to see Victoria kick the Viking lady and Marcus hold her head in his hands.
“You cannot kill me.” She said. “You have no fire knives.”
“Neither do you.” Marcus reasoned. The Viking Lady spat in his face and he let her go, jumping back in disgust. Lucky Norman was up and he snapped her neck in seconds.
She fell to the ground without a sound and made bile rise in my throat.
The guy I was crushing on had just snapped somebodies neck in front of me and I was still totally into him. I knew now that I was in the deep end and I was never going to get out until I was dead. This was my life now. This was what I got to look forward.
I opened the car door and stood up in front of Marcus, Victoria and Norman; careful to stay far away from Viking Lady’s body.
“Let’s go find my Double, what do you say?”
“I’m calling one of my contacts, if you guys can stay put for a moment- oh and keep your hands off each other.” Victoria ordered. Norman tipped his invisible hat and Victoria snorted. “I’ll be back.”
“Wait, when she meant call, she actually meant…”
“Jump to their house and freak the hell out of them to see if they know about an elder living here?” Marcus offered. “Yeah, that’s Victoria,”
I noticed the affection in his voice and glanced at Norman for confirmation. Norman shrugged and moved a little closer to me.
“What if more of them come looking for me?” I asked. Norman grabbed my arm and forced out a smile.
“Until we can be sure that you’ve switched sides, we’ll pretend that we’ve kidnapped you. You can tell them that you hate Jumpers.” Norman said. I shook my head, but Norman brought his fingers up to my lips. “We’ll keep you safe, Opal. I’d die for you in an instant.” My breath caught in my throat and I couldn’t take my eyes off him. This dude that I barely knew would die for me?
“Sorry to break up your little loving moment and all, but we all need to get going. There are two Enders on their way here, and I found Caspar.”
We all turned to look at Victoria and she had her hands out as if to say- what the hell guys. Norman took my hand and I smiled as I saw it intertwined with his. Victoria told us the street number and what the house looked like and then disappeared with Marcus at her side. Norman looked at me for permission and I nodded. Suddenly, we were flying and falling at the same time. I felt powerful and free until Norman’s grip slackened. I screamed, but the sound was lost in the time that we were flying through.
My knees hit the ground first. Shortly after that, my hands slammed into the ground and Norman was on the ground next to me, keeled over, coughing out blood.
“What the hell just happened?” I yelled. Never mind the fact that we were outside my Double’s house, I was too worried about what was going on currently to worry about Calum and Elodie and Caspar and whoever else was waiting for us.
“Unsuccessful jump. I’ve only been doing it for a year, I’m so sorry Opal, I never meant for that to happen.” Norman croaked as he stood. He offered me a hand but I refused, standing up for myself. Marcus and Victoria were already at the open door, talking to an obviously perturbed old man. “It’s Caspar.”
He gestured for all of us to come in; obliging, we all sat in his living room quietly, and no one saying anything at all until raised voices reached us with ease.
“I’m not telling you who it is.” The old man said.
“I don’t want to know who it is, we have to find Elodie.”
“Sam will find her. Give him some time. Give her some time.”
“Alright fine, who in the world is more important for me to see than Elly?” The boy screamed. His voice was familiar, but I couldn’t place it.
Until he walked through the archway and locked eyes with me.