Sunday, October 16

Chapter 32:

In Which We See A Woman Die Again and Again and Again... For The Cause of Humanity
Her car swerved a bit before the semi smashed into the front end of her Volvo sending it careening off the road, flipping as it hit the small embankment, and finally winding up on its roof. She was killed instantly. The main witness to the act was seated in a white plastic lawn chair a few yards from where it all happened. He wrote down all the information and carefully copied down every detail he could. These he sealed in a canister and buried the day after the funeral just below the white cross erected in her memoriam in the exact spot she had met her end.
* * *

"Brian," Doctor Johnson’s voice came over the intercom, "make your way to the ready room at once." There was a long pause, "bring your team prepped and ready to go." The team was assembled and seated before a screen where, as Dr. Johnson made each point, the computer pot them into a verbal statement in green letters with a bullet point next to each one. "First and foremost," Dr. Johnson said, "you are not to be detected. Each move you make is to be covert and carried out with extreme prejudice. If anyone even detects that you are from here, it could alter the entire course of human history – you may even wipe out your own existence." A small robot entered the room carrying a tray of coffee with non dairy creamers already mixed in to each member’s preference. "Now, let me tell you about your subject: Mary Hart." He nodded at the computer’s visual scanner, and it put up her photos one at a time. "Study her face well gentlemen," he said as her college yearbook photo from 2006 flashed on to the screen. "What you are looking at is the face of an angel." Family photos were shown one at a time showing them her face from every perspective. "After researching the ancients of this period and others in her field, the computers told us she had the greatest probability of finding a cure for cancer within five years, except for one small thing..." another picture came up of her car overturned on the side of the road. "One of our operatives has already made the journey and documented everything you have just seen – he was to watch her and find out the exact time and location of her death for us. As you can see, he has done well." The screen faded to blend with the white of the wall, and the doctor continued. "As you al know, the mission you have been selected for is dangerous. There is no coming back. Once you have traveled back there, you are there for the rest of your days." He gave a rather wry smirk to the recruits, "You will die before your parents were even born." Nervous laughter came from many of the recruits. "You will be sent back one at a time. Who is first?"

Private John Dugon’s mission was simple: distract her from her goal of driving from Chico to Durham on the night in question. He chose to work on her emotions, and so went back a month early to make her fall in love with him. Things went smoothly until that night in April when he said something stupid, and he broke up with her. She then immediately took off to see her parents. "Mission accomplished," he thought to himself since her parents lived in Reno. What he did not know was that she did not drive straight to Reno, but instead had taken the Midway to Durham. She lost control of her vehicle, which slammed into an on-coming semi which knocked her and her car into the orchard just off the road. Her car landed upside down. The only witness was seated a few yards off in a white lawn chair. After her funeral, he sealed all the information in a time capsule and buried it in the exact spot her car had landed.

Private Aaron Douglas had a less direct approach. His first week was spent getting his drivers licence with the forged documents sent back with him. The next week found him in a school for truck drivers. He figured that, if he could not stop her from taking the route, he could at least stop the truck from hitting her. He planned everything out carefully, studying, before he left, the exact route the truck had taken and the owner of the company. He quickly got a job for them, and in no time had so familiarized himself with the exact route that, when the 14th day of April came, he was thoroughly ready to take a separate route to Chico. He started out the correct run and came to the first of four stops on the route. He tried the brakes, and found that they were inoperable. He swerved to miss the parked cars at the stop, and was trying all in his power to stop his rig, but was unable. So he took his foot off the accelerator. He didn’t slow. The pedal was stuck. He tried pulling up the pedal with his hand, and it came up. He lifted his head back to the road in time to see a red Volvo swerve into the front of his truck. The car bounced to the side, struck the ditch, and overturned in an orchard, killing the driver instantly. Private Douglas was rushed to the hospital where they found he had massive brain trauma, and all that he would say was that he failed his mission.

Major Linda Friends was the next sent back. She had decided that the only way to keep Mary Hart from taking the road was to become a friend to help her be consoled over the loss of her boyfriend when the time came, and keep her from going to Durham on that day. Everything went smoothly, and Linda and Mary were almost inseparable... but one thing bothered Mary, and that was how friendly Linda was with John, her boyfriend. On April 14th, John broke up with Mary, and Linda was there to console her right on schedule... but after Linda left Mary’s apartment, she ran into John in the street. They were smiling, and Linda even gave John a hug. They both laughed, but did not see Mary inside watching them through the window. She stormed out into the street and told them both she never wanted to see either of them again, hopped in her car, and drove off. Mission failed.

Major Ted Ryan asked himself why she deviated from her route to Reno through Durham, and decided it was because she had a friend in Durham who was close, so she had gone that way in order for a quick consolation. He fed all the data into the central computer, and the probability came back high. Short of killing the friend, the only way he could think of to stop her was to physically restrain Mary from going to Durham. And so on April 14th, as Mary, Linda, and John were arguing in the streets, Major Ted Ryan broke into Mary’s garage and stowed away in the back-seat of her car. He soon heard Mary storming in and getting in the driver’s seat. She started the engine, and drove off with him in the back seat, hidden beneath a blanket. He wasn’t sure where he was, and so he looked up from under the blanket to see, to his utter horror, that he was on the Midway. She saw him, and screamed.
"Don’t panic," he told her, "I’m not going to hurt you, but you need to turn this car around this very minute, and drive home."
She reached for her glove compartment and pulled out a can of mace which she turned and sprayed into his face. Before the can went off, Major Tom saw the front of a Semi bearing down on them. He reached blindly forward through the mace, and grabbed the wheel. He turned it away from the truck, but she wrenched it out of his hands. The next three seconds played themselves out like clockwork: car hits truck, spins off, hits ditch, flips, lands upside-down in orchard. Tom was flung out of the back window and slammed into a tree some fifty feet away, knocking him unconscious.

When he awoke, the tow-truck was just pulling the car onto the road behind it, taking it back to Chico. He saw the man sitting on the white chair and tried to crawl over to him, but he ached from every limb, and his eyes were swollen almost shut. He was picked up by a passer-by and driven to the hospital where they believed he had suffered brain trauma because he kept repeating some story about being from the future, and how the dead woman was to be the savior of mankind.
* * *

The project was scrapped: not because of the results, but because of a computer error. There was a factory recall on all computer models with the probability engine, because it was faulty in its estimates by over 50%.

Linda, John, and Tom were never able to tell the world about their lives, and went into hiding while they began trying to create a time machine... which would not be completed for one hundred and fifty years from that day, on April 14th, 2156.


At 10:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that's an interesting idea... would make a good movie (well, you'd have to write 500 pages more, but the idea is there).

At 7:37 AM, Blogger Elwood said...

Actually, I got the idea from a movie.

12 Monkeys starring Bruce Willis.


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