Saturday, January 30, 2016

Overwritten: Lima (Part V)

A year after the whole train debacle, Reaver asked me to do the same thing again. He said that the program ran perfectly, and that I should only have this one more mysterious assignment. I knew that he was trying to kill Mateo by knocking a train into him upon his return to the timeline, but I didn’t know how to fix it. Brian had a brilliant idea for it, though. He—oh my God, it’s so crazy—he strung up bed sheets across the tracks after the last stop before the bridge. He tied them loosely enough to safely be pulled right off by the oncoming train, but bright and colorful enough to be noticed so that the train would be delayed long enough for the conductor to get out and try to figure out what the hell was going on. And it almost worked. Brian watched from the trees as a good samaritan removed the sheets not long before the train’s arrival. If he had tried to tie them back up, he would have probably been caught. Instead, he hopped in his car and sped off towards the bridge, hoping to possibly save Mateo in the nick of time. He ended up not having to. Apparently someone time traveled onto the tracks just before the train collided with him and spirited both him and Leona away. We weren’t the only ones looking out. And just how widespread was this time travel thing?
I continued to be a good little security officer for Horace Reaver for the better part of a decade before he asked me to do anything else untoward. He never seemed to suspect that I was against him. I got the distinct impression that he now thought focusing on the success of his conglomerate was what was going to get Leona to fall in love with him again. It obviously wasn’t working, and then the unthinkable happened, from Reaver’s perspective. Leona disappeared one day, never to be seen again by anyone but me and my surveillance equipment. She began to return to the timeline only once a year, at the same time as Mateo Matic. I’m not sure why she became one of us, but Brian assumed it was an indication that some mysterious entity was controlling all of this. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to contact these theoretical people, or if I should avoid them at all costs.
In the year 2031, Reaver asks me to keep watch over a trio of people he’s kidnapped. Leona becoming a time traveler really set him off, and he was no longer even pretending to be a good person. He was turning into the man I remembered from the other timeline. I was changing history, but I wasn’t making it better. We were in a warehouse on the edge of San Diego. It was abandoned and falling apart. Most of the letters for the climate control company sign had fallen off, leaving only LIMA remaining. I take a look around when I arrive, first trying my best to ignore the hostages. I inspect every nook and cranny, as it were, for any hidden cameras or spies. Nothing and no one. We’re alone. I move over to the captives and attempt to unlock their chains, but no such luck. Reaver didn’t leave any keys.
I do not recognize the other two, but the boy is Leona’s brother. “What are you doing?” little Theo asks me.
“I’m trying to free you,” I say. Isn’t it obvious?
“Why would you do that?” the man asks.
“I’m not interested in what Horace Reaver wants,” I answer. “I’ve been trying to stop him for decades.”
“What do you know of him?”
I take a risk. “He’s a time traveler, just like Mateo and Leona. In an alternate timeline, he killed a lot of people. I’m trying to stop him from doing that again.”
“How do you know about Mateo and Leona?” the woman asks defensively.
“He’s been sending me out to spy on them. He didn’t tell me why, but it wasn’t hard to put the facts together.” I quit trying to force the chains off of them. “To what end did he kidnap you three?”
“Just to get us out of the way,” the man says. “Mateo is his real target.”
“He’s holding you ransom?” I ask, giving them a bottle of water from my pack.
“I heard him talking on the phone,” Theo says. “He has no intention of helping our family find us. It’s just a trap. We would have been left to die here if not for you.”
I look at my watch. It’s nearly midnight. “The two of them will be back soon. Where are they going to appear?”
They hesitate.
“Look, my guess is that Reaver already knows, but I don’t. So you can either trust me, or you can let them die. I can help. Please.”
Theo breaks down. “They’ll jump into the timestream in Huntsville, Ontario. There’s a motel not far from there where Reaver left instructions for him to get to us. But like I said, it’s a trap. Reaver is using that just to kidnap them next.”
I take some time to process the information. I could try to warn them through the motel, but who knows what they know? Does Reaver own them? Are they evil spies? There’s no way to know, but it’s possible, and this time, I’m not just being paranoid. I can trust no one. I need to find a way to protect Mateo and Leona without Reaver knowing about it. “How exactly is Mateo getting these instructions?”
“Reaver emailed information to the concierge, or whatever. I think they’re just supposed to hand it off to them.”
“It was his mistake doing all this in front of you.” I pull out my phone and start typing up a new document before looking up the email address of the motel.
“What are you going to do?” The woman is not convinced that I’m on their side.
“Leona Delaney is an incredibly intelligent woman. I’m betting if I leave her a clue, she’ll follow it and do the right thing. All we need to do is make it look like they ignored Reaver’s instructions because they don’t believe him.”
“What does that mean?” Theo asks.
“I’m amending whatever information Reaver emailed the motel with the directions to this warehouse. If I’m right about Leona, they’ll find their way here on their own. It’s the quickest way to alter the timeline without Reaver knowing why, because I can’t straight up tell them that you’re safe. We don’t know who Reaver has posted at the motel. We just have to hope they believe he’s changed his mind slightly.”
“ me,” I say. “I know it’s confusing.” I send off the email so that the motel can add it to the packet left for Mateo, then turn back to the other three. “You look hungry. I’ll go get you some food if you promise me one thing.”
The man eyes me suspiciously. “Promise you what?”
“You cannot tell Mateo or Leona that I was here. I have to stay in character. When they get here, I’ll be out of sight. Just let them free you and leave me out of it.”
“They’ll wonder why Horace Reaver gave them this address.”
“And they’ll never know the truth. You got that? I cannot continue helping them if they know I’m there. I can’t risk Reaver finding out about me, and the fewer people that know I’m a mole, the more effective I am.”
“Okay,” the woman says authentically. “We understand.”

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