Saturday, June 17, 2017

Flurry: The Lake House (Part X)

“Quivira? Was she named after the street?” Serkan asked.
“It doesn’t matter,” Ace said, taking charge. “We’re kind of in the middle of our own crisis. We don’t have time for anything else. I’m sorry, but you’re just gonna have to find some other way.”
The way is clear. I know the way. You are the way.”
“We don’t even know your name.”
“I go by many names.”
“Well, great, Bob. I’ma call you Bob. Or no, Not Bob. You’re Not Bob.” Sassy Ace was about the same as regular Ace.
“Look,” Not Bob, said, “I know this might be difficult for you to understand, but there are bigger things at play than just a little snow. By measure, Keanu’s thing isn’t all that big of a deal. His friends are far worse, and they have no intention of stopping. We need you. Quivira is important.”
“Right now, I don’t care about the snow either. I’m just trying to protect my daughter.”
“Well, then, if you’re not going to listen to me, perhaps you’ll listen to a voice your trust.” He started taking something out of his bag.
“We don’t trust many people,” Serkan said.
“This person you do.” He removed a polaroid camera, and carelessly took a picture of whatever was in view at the time as he was swinging it around. By the time he had the chance to put the photo away, the woman they now knew to be an older Paige teleported herself in.
Ace lunged to hug her, but resisted. He didn’t know what she’d been through, or how she felt about them anymore. “Paige.”
“Hi, dad. I can’t stay long, but you need to follow this guy. Keanu is just the tip of the snowflake.” It would seem that photographs were some sort of transportation technique for her, which was fitting since she was holding a camera when they first met her. She took out a phone and started sifting through an album.
Serkan could kind of see over her shoulder. “Are those pictures of us?”
“It’s been awhile since I’ve seen you,” Future!Paige said. “But we’ve had a lot of good years together. It won’t always be this bad. I can’t tell you much about what happens, of course, but know that the three of us always have each other’s backs.” She had presumably found the picture she was looking for. “I’ll see you later, and you’ll see me soon.” She disappeared.
“Well,” Ace said to Not Bob, “it looks like you have your wish.”
Not Bob nodded. “I have a car waiting for us outside.” He lifted his arm to let them pass first.
As Serkan was heading down the steps, he could hear Ace confront Not Bob, probably under the impression that Serkan was out of earshot. “We’ll help you now, but if you ever use my family against me again, make no mistake, I will kill you. In another life, I was a pro.”
Not Bob was scared shitless.
Wanting to avoid another fight, Serkan kept quiet, and just left the house. A couple years back, some now-defunct company produced this weird clamshell car with no navigation controls, and a door that locked from the outside only. It was designed to transfer prisoners, but it never took off. The few hundred models that had already made it through production were being kept in a warehouse somewhere in Tennessee, but it wasn’t well protected. A group of criminals, who were never caught, made their way in, and managed to steal almost every single one of the models. They had been floating around the country, and some internationally, ever since. It was illegal to send one on the road, but not to just have one sitting in front of your house, which was why the one Serkan was standing next to now was being left alone.
“We can’t get in this thing,” Serkan said.
“It’s perfectly safe,” Not Bob tried to assure him.
“This feels like a trick,” Serkan responded.
“You heard Future!Paige.”
“This feels like a trick!” Ace repeated.
“This is the only way to get to Quivira. We don’t have time to fly to Wisconsin.”
“Oh, but a car gets us there faster?”
“It’s a magic car,” Not Bob said with a smile. “The Chauffeur built it himself, with help from The Weaver, of course.”
“Oh, of course,” Ace said sarcastically.
Not Bob stepped in first to show them that he was not trying to lock them up. They were in there for only a few seconds before it evidently teleported them all to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, right next to a lake. They removed all their winter clothing, and left. They walked about a mile before coming upon a house. Nice, well-maintained, secluded, but clearly not built a hundred years ago. There were a few too many windows for Serkan’s taste, but the area did look like a great place to run.
Then they saw it. Through the windows, they spotted a woman place a chair into position right under a noose. Serkan froze. As much of a runner as he was, springing into action wasn’t one of his strengths. He was no scaredy cat, but he hadn’t found himself in any emergency situation before. Still, he wished he had been stronger. Fortunately, Ace was fast enough for the both of them. He ran down the hill to the front door, which was locked, so he kicked it in like a federal agent. Finally, Serkan broke out of his fugue state, and followed him in. Ace was already slowly walking around the woman, trying to give her a berth, but ready to take action, if necessary.
“Who the hell are you?” she asked from the chair; the only piece of furniture in the room.
“We’re here to help,” Ace answered gently.
“You can’t help me,” she replied.
“If you tell us the problem, maybe there’s something we can try.”
“There’s nothing you can do.”
“Maybe there is. You don’t know what we’re capable of.”
“Can you go back in time and stop me from making the biggest mistake of my life?”
That was an interesting question. He looked to Serkan, and gave off a slight shrug. “We may be able to accommodate that, yes.”
“Don’t be an asshole,” she said before starting to place the noose around her neck.
“Wait!” Ace pleaded. “It’s not a joke. We are time travelers. We weren’t just walking along the lake. We were sent here to help...by another time traveler.”
“And who would want to save me?”
“Well...” Ace looked around. “Where the hell did he go?” he whispered to Serkan.
“I thought he was here.” He looked out the windows, but Not Bob was gone. “Maybe he had fulfilled his purpose by getting us here.” Or maybe he was just worried Ace would kill him.
“That’s right,” Ace said, turning that news into an opportunity. “His job was to bring us here, and my job is to bring you down from there.”
“Then what’s his job?” the woman asked, indicating Serkan. That was a good question too. He would be useless in this situation. He had no idea how to help this woman, either as a time traveler, or an empathetic human. He had empathy, but no training or predisposition to use it effectively for something like this. He had turned eighteen, but in the end, he was still just a kid.
“He’s here to save me,” Ace said quietly.
This gave her a reason to stop what she was doing.
“Now, your name is Quivira, right? Quivira Boyce?”
“It is, yes.” She didn’t seem too bothered that he knew her name.
“I feel like a knew a Boyce once. “Gavin...or Gideon, maybe?”
“My parents were gonna name me Gilbert if I had been born a boy.”
“Hmm.”
They stood in silence for a moment.
“Why don’t you tell me what happened?” Ace probed.
“If you can go back in time—if you really can, then I would want nothing more. Otherwise, we have nothing to talk about.”
“If we do find a way back, we’ll need to know what we’re doing. So start there, and we’ll see what happens. Deal?”
“Okay.” She stepped off of the chair, and sat in it. Then she waited until she could figure out what to say. “I’m not a good person. My parents were civil servants, working their whole lives to serve a country that never gave a fuck about them. When it came time for me to become an adult, I couldn’t, because I didn’t have very many options. I could shovel shit at a zoo, or I could take what I wanted. I chose the one with less cleanup. It started out small, as you might expect. Most people don’t break into Fort Knox on their first day. A little shoplifting here, a few car stereos there. Then I went on to credit card scams, and ATM skimming. Eventually, though, I started actually putting people in danger. I cased houses so I could rob them when they were on vacation, but there were a few miscalculations. The worst one was three weeks ago. I got away with something I shouldn’t have, and it’s been eating me up the whole time.
“It’s worse than you think. Yes, I killed someone, but it’s who I killed that matters in this story. At first, I just saw him. He must have realized what was going on in his house before I knew he was there, because he already had his gun. I didn’t carry weapons, so all I could do was hope he didn’t do anything stupid while we waited for the cops to arrive. He was angry, though. He kept screaming at me, trying to find out where my partner was. I didn’t have a partner, but he didn’t believe me. It was a huge mansion, so he just figured I was working with a team. I guess he had seen Home Alone a few too many times. He was waving the gun around, and growing more and more agitated by the second. I don’t think he knew how to use that thing; he just bought it for protection. I just could not convince him that I was alone, and that I wasn’t dangerous. I wanted his stuff, but I didn’t want anyone to get hurt.” She kind of got lost in her own thoughts. “I just wanted his stuff...”
They waited patiently until she was ready to get back into it. “The floorboards creaked behind him, and I assume he thought it was one of my people. But the hallway was dark, and he was flustered, and he couldn’t think straight, and he wasn’t trained to only point a gun at something he wanted to shoot...and to be sure what he was shooting deserved to be shot. He just swung around and fired. It was his son. Maybe seven or eight. He had come up to help his father stop the bad man. At least...that’s the story I made up in my head, because the kid didn’t make it. Way it looked, he died pretty quickly. I tried to console the father, but of course, I was the last person who could do any good in that situation. He decided that he wasn’t going to live in a world without his son, so after spending some time sobbing over the body, he lifted the gun to his temple, and left this world.
“It was like he completely forgot about me. In fact, he had never gotten the chance to call the police. Upon realizing this, I put everything back, wiped my prints, and walked away. There was no evidence that I was there, or at least as far as I knew. I had completely resigned myself to the fact that a SWAT team would soon break down my door. But they never did. I was fine. Two people were dead; one a child, and I was free to do it again. I’ve tried moving on with my life, but can’t.”
“I remember this,” Serkan said, possibly insensitively. “It was on the news. They say a father accidentally shot his son, so he killed himself.”
“Yes, it was national news. But they didn’t say anything about a robbery, because I was just that good.” She stared into space for a good long time. “I have to kill myself. I can’t live while they’re dead. That is...unless you can kill me before I even step foot in that house.”
Ace smiled warmly. “We don’t have to do that. Now that you’ve told me the truth, I can tell you mine. I’m saying this now, and just hoping it makes sense in the future...before it’s too late. Forgive me if I fail. I didn’t know your name because that teenager told me. I knew it because you and I have already met. You have a bright future ahead of you,” Ace said to her believably. “You go on to do great things...save a lot of lives. You even save me once. You can’t die here today, Quivira Boyce. If you do...I do.”
Her eyes widened. “Really?”
“Would this face lie?”
This made her smile narrowly, but it didn’t last long. Everything changed. She disappeared, furniture appeared all around them, and they were even wearing different clothes.
“I thought we were changing the future,” Serkan said, confused.
“We changed her future, which is part of our past, and thus our present. All this is the result of those alterations.
“What made you think to lie to her about having met already?” Serkan asked.
“I didn’t lie,” he explained solemnly. “It happened.”

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