Part 7: Can’t Get Rid of Me

It was dark and his head ached. His eyes slowly opened. He was sore everywhere. He took a deep breath. He was in a bed and the sheets smelled of lavender. He clutched them in his fingers; they were soft and familiar. He’d missed this bed, but also had never been in it before. The thought made his head hurt more.

“I told you things were about to change,” a voice came from the opposite side of the room.

He spun quickly, throwing the sheet off his body.

Ace stood by the large apartment window, leaning casually against it. The city behind her was bright with neon and the window was covered in rain.

“How did you get here?” he whispered, but wasn’t quite sure he knew who she was.

“I’m just a flicker of a memory buried deep inside your mind. If you can remember who I am, then you can go home,” she said calmly.

“I… am home…” He blinked and she was on the bed facing away from him. His fingers extended to touch her shoulder but passed through her.

The bedroom door opened, flooding the room with light, “Honey, who are you talking to?” Abigail asked as she entered.

“No one,” he said. He looked back to the bed; Ace was gone.

“Are you feeling any better? You had a pretty nasty spill,” she said as she sat next to him and placed her hands on his.

“Yeah. I must have had too much to drink,” he answered, but knew he hadn’t.

“You can’t get rid of me,” Ace’s voice came from behind Abigail. He looked up to see her face, identical to his wife’s.

“I must have hit my head pretty hard. I keep seeing…” Ace shook her head ‘no,’ “…things.”

Abigail grabbed is face. Her hands were soft and he felt his eyelids get heavy as her hands pressed against his cheeks. His instincts told him to fight, but he didn’t know why.

It was dark and his head ached. His eyes slowly opened. He was sore everywhere. He took a deep breath. He was on a couch with a familiar blanket pulled up to his neck covering him. Have I been here before? He sat up.

“Every time you try to realize the truth they will drag you a level deeper into this world,” Ace’s voice echoed from the kitchen.

He looked at her.

“Fight back. Don’t let them touch you.”

He stood, “Who are you?”

Her eyes focused back on him and like a recording she spoke, “I’m just a flicker of a memory buried deep inside your mind. If you can remember who I am, then you can go home.”

“If you’re from my mind then how can you know this?” He asked, stepping toward her.

“Learn from me. Look at this knife. What’s the first thought that comes to your mind?”

His eyes locked on to the knife and everything seemed to flicker. Ace was standing beside him, “What did you think of?”

“Cutting vegetables,” he answered without hesitation.

“Wrong. Try to think.” She moved from his side around the counter top. Her palms came to a rest on the granite. Her fingers stretched out, framing the knife.

He stared and everything began to twitch again.

“Fight it!” Ace yelled at him, her eyes bearing down on him.

The twitching subsided and the colors in the room began to change to something that felt more real.

“What do you want to do with the knife?”

His eyes lifted to her, “Fight back.”

His picked up the knife very slowly walked down the hallway. A low light came from a crack by his bedroom. He pushed the door open. Abigail lay quietly in the bed. Ace was sitting next to her. She reached out and slid a piece of Abigail’s hair behind her ear.

“Remember when you tried to touch my shoulder? We are from your mind.”

He lifted the knife and knelt by the edge of his bed. His heart was racing. Ace’s voice drowned out as he stared at his wife.

Abigail opened her eyes and looked at him, “Hey,” she spoke quietly.

“I’m sorry.”


His right arm jutted forward, slamming the knife into her torso. She let out a violent scream. Her right arm flew from under the covers and smacked Landon on the cheek. The momentum threw him across the room and out of the window. Glass cut against his face and arms as he flew out over the city street. A building approached. He braced himself and crashed through it like paper.

He tumbled to the ground in what appeared to be a recording studio.

“That’s the first step to go home,” Ace shouted from his bedroom window.

He moved to the edge of the paper and looked to her. Abigail stood from the bed, holding the knife above her head.

“Look out,” he wanted to yell, but couldn’t. Abigail brought the knife down and sliced across Ace’s neck.

The ground began to crumble underneath his feet. He held onto the paper but it tore with his weight. The darkness below him was cold as he fell into it. He broke into a sweat as he continued falling. His limbs flailed as he panicked.

He reached for anything.

Part 7: An Important Experiment in Science

A single forty-watt light bulb swung from a thin wire above Abigail’s head. Her once blue dress was torn at her shoulder and a stream of dried blood came from the part in her hair. Her bangs swooshed across her face, but stuck to the blood on her cheek. Her head hung forward and her eyelids were closed. Her chest still rose and fell with each breath, but with increasing difficulty. Her skin was damp. She rotated her wrists, but the zip ties began to cut deeper than they had already.

Her ankles were bound to the metal chair by thicker zip ties. She’d lost her will to fight long ago. The steady stream of interrogators had broken her. They asked her questions about all kinds of information. It hadn’t taken long, but she gave up all the information she knew. She explained being in the hospital in what she thought was 1976. She described with excruciating detail how much her skin burned when her and Landon had been thrown through time with the Heavy machine.

Her eyelids flinched; thinking of that machine made her body ache. He’d been the last of the interrogators. The voice of Walter had echoed through the room as the machine hit her with its open palm. Walter would give a command in the form of percentages and Heavy’s hits would grow stronger with each hit. As Walter asked questions they began to become less and less relevant and blurred together. The abuse stopped when her head dropped. She’d been alone in the room since. His last phrase echoed in her mind, “They’ll never find you.”

The air ducts rattled as a blast of cold air entered the room. She shivered and her skin rose with goose flesh. Her whole body let out a twitch.

The large metal door scratched open, dragging against the ground and ringing out with a horrendously high-pitched scream. Abigail’s eyes fluttered open. A technician wheeled in a cart covered in various pieces of equipment. She could barely see through her swollen eyes, but she could hear everything.

The wheel of the cart caught on something, her head shifted toward the sound. The man lifted a set of poles from the cart and placed them into the floor behind her chair on opposite sides. He ran cables from the bottom of each of them to a computer on the cart. He stretched an extension cord from the cart to the wall.

A set of footsteps entered the room, dress shoes, she thought. The door scraped closed, causing her ears to ache.

“Abigail Juliet Summers,” the familiar voice spoke. “Getting rid of you has become an obsession of mine lately. You were a fantastic employee, but somehow you always end up a thorn in my side. You don’t know it yet, but I do. The work we do here at ISO-squared is a monumental jump in science. Why can’t you let us have this?”

He paused almost as if waiting for her to respond. The technician continued working on the computer. His fingers slapped against the keyboard and it caused Abigail’s eardrum to pulse.

“You’ve experienced the jump through space, but what we have seemed to struggle with was opening a portal. True, we were able to launch Mr. Daniels into a different dimension via a simple virus in his stolen tech. But we’re just not sure how stable that really is. Since then, what was that? Five, six months ago?” the familiar voice asked the technician.

“It doesn’t matter. We’ve figured out the science. If somehow Mr. Daniels figures out how to come back to his time and dimension you won’t be here. You won’t be a problem anymore.”

Abigail made a faint sound.

“What’s that?” the man said, his dress shoes tapping against the ground as he got close to her mouth.

“What have I done?” Abigail said quietly, below a whisper.

“Silly girl, our technology allows us to see all of space and time. And somehow at the end of it all you are the one bringing us to a halt. You stop us. Can’t you see, this is why we have to get rid of you.”

The technician nodded to the man.

“Well, Miss Summers, it’s been nice seeing you again, really. But it’s time for us to depart. You just weren’t working out here,” his voice shifted away from her, “Begin the overwrite program.”

The fans on the computer began to spin up. Abigail could feel the air on her damp arms. She shivered. An electric arc shot between the two poles. A darkness appeared between the poles, pulling lightly on everything in the room.

The man leaned in toward Abigail, placing his lips near ears and his foot on the metal chair between her legs.

“This is it, Abigail. You are now an important experiment in science, instead of being the downfall of something magnificent.”As he stood he straightened his leg, sliding her chair into the darkness. She screamed as her head went through first. Her body elongated and then her and the chair vanished.

“Turn it off,” the man said.

“Yes sir, Mr. Jones.”

Part 7: When We Danced

Something felt wrong, but he couldn’t place what was off. His tongue ran over his teeth, he tasted liquor. It had been years since his last drink and the flavor burned slightly. His left thumb was twirling a silver band on his left ring finger.

“And that’s when I caught her,” a familiar voice finished.  Landon’s eyes rose to meet the source of the voice. Xander sat across from him. He didn’t startle but felt like he should. His insides screamed like the end of the world was coming, but his eyes remained locked on Xander’s.

“I’m sorry, man,” Landon felt himself say.

Abigail approached the table with three wine glasses. The warm light from the chandeliers reflected off a large diamond on her ring finger. Landon stood as she got closer and took a glass from her hand.

“Boys, sorry that took so long,” she leaned in and kissed Landon softly.

“Has Sam moved out yet?” Abigail said as she sat, crossing her legs as she faced both men.

“Yeah, she packed her stuff and was gone yesterday,” Xander responded. Landon’s eyes left Abigail’s face and looked at the room for the first time.  The walls were gold, almost reflective of the color temperature in the lights. Ornate crown molding edged against the hand-painted ceiling. A row of crystal chandeliers hung down the center of the long ball room. The crowds danced to a live jazz band. Suddenly, the right sleeve of Landon’s tuxedo began to pull on his arm. He stretched it out and pain surged through his ribs. His eyes widened.

Abigail noticed.

“You alright, sweetie?” she said as she leaned toward him and placed her hand on his knee.

“I’ll be right back,” he said, placing the wine glass on the burgundy table cloth. He moved through the crowd. His suit slid off another tux’.

“Sorry, excuse me,” he said as he placed his hand against a shoulder on his way to the restroom. The heavy door opened. The bathroom was a single. He locked the door and spun, barely catching himself on the countertop.

His vision went double, almost shifting his brain somewhere else. His feet flashed as if they were bare, and the bathroom tile was cold, until his shoes reappeared. He faced himself in the mirror. His perfect hair flickered between nicely combed and gelled to disheveled and sweaty. His face seemed to change with it; drained.

“Relax,” a familiar voice came from the stall behind him. He spun, his feet bare again and his whole tuxedo gone. He ached everywhere. He lifted his shirt; the ribs on his right side were bruised a deep purple and red. The stall door opened. Landon’s eyes drooped taking his whole body with him to the floor.

“Things are about to change,” the voice echoed through the bathroom.

His mouth burned of wine again; his eyelids lifted as if the weight had been dropped to the ground. Abigail and Xander were chuckling across the table from him. He blinked at them. He let out a deep breath. He stood, gently placing the stemware on the navy tablecloth. His eye twitched for a moment, he shook it off.

“Excuse us,” he said, extending his hand to Abigail. She reached up and softly placed her fingers into his palm.

“Oh, fancy. You never like to dance,” she said as they moved away from the table.

His vision flashed a moment; the room as bare and Xander was a stooped machine. Landon squinted and everything faded back to normal.

“Having those headache’s again?” she asked.

He smiled at her, “I’ll deal with them until I can get into Dr. Rosen’s on Monday.”

They moved out to the dance floor. The quartet began playing a half-tempo version of Book of Love. They swayed slowly together. Her head rested against his chest.

“Did you pay them to play our song?” she asked. He lightly squeezed her arm.

Her hand slid down his back and rested on his side. A sharp pain flew through his ribs. His eyes widened and he stumbled back away from her, the pain searing through his head.

“Landon? Darling?” she said as she chased after him.

He bumped a table. The table cloth changed from navy to burgundy. His eyes were heavy again.

Everything vanished in a burst light.

Part 7: Run. Jump. Run.

They slammed to the ground, only from a couple of inches. A circle of grass lay around them. Landon lifted his head and looked to her.

“Abigail?” he asked.

Abigail’s fingers slipped again from Landon’s hand. Steam billowed off her exposed flesh. He dragged his exhausted legs and feet so he could be beside her. He collapsed next to her.

“Where are we?” she asked, her palms flat against the concrete. Her skin rose with goosebumps and tears came from her eyes.

He looked around, wiping moisture from his forehead. It was dark and the ISO-squared building towered over them.

“Back where we belong,” he said.  She sat back onto the concrete, her arms crossed across her chest. She shook slightly. They sat calmly by each other and Landon released a sigh. The bracer on his wrist was quiet and dark.

A loud thumping grew from the distance until a spotlight lit them up from the sky. A Vertical Intelligence Group helicopter hovered above them, the insignia almost obnoxiously visible from the ground. Landon stood trying to block the spot light with his hand. The chopper began to lower. The spot light flickered a very familiar pattern.

Landon turned to his side, his bare feet scraping against the hard concrete.

An explosion of particles came from the side as Heavy sprinted from the void.

Landon pushed Abigail away and drew his sidearm. The gun on the chopper spun up, firing hot lead into the concrete and Heavy. He didn’t stop. The chopper banked away as the barrel stopped firing and slowed its spinning. Heavy lifted Landon from the ground. The gun on the chopper glowed orange as the pilot moved the machine into a different position.

“Drop him,” Samantha’s voice echoed out from the helicopter.

Heavy looked up at the spotlight, his mechanical body littered with holes. Samantha nodded through the windshield, her hand clutched on the radio. He lowered Landon, brushing the device on Landon’s arm. A spark bounced between the two, shocking Landon lightly. It began to beep. Landon’s gaze dropped to his wrist. He struggled to remove it. Heavy lifted him again and spun in a circle, throwing Landon into the air towards the helicopter.

The chopper pilot tried to evade the incoming Landon. Landon braced himself for impact then suddenly vanished in a slew of particles that bounced off the fuselage. Heavy turned back to Abigail.

The helicopter landed on the ground quickly and two soldiers climbed out before Samantha. The soldiers immediately opened suppressive fire on the machine. It didn’t flinch as it moved toward Abigail. The small caliber round bounced off the metal and rolled away on the blacktop.

“Stop,” one of them yelled. Samantha’s gun rang out three times. Abigail shuttered with the different gunfire. The soldiers fell and the pilot’s blood covered the windshield. Abigail stared at Sam in shock, her hands covering her ears.

“You look like her, but there’s a certain fierceness missing,” Samantha said as she approached the machine and the girl.

The hologram of the Suit appeared from Heavy’s chest.

“Walter?” Abigail asked it. He ignored her.

“Bring her in,” he said to Samantha.

“Where is Landon?” Sam asked.

“Somewhere completely different,” Walter answered, his teeth glowing in the light. He looked back to Abigail.

Part 7: Change the Future

He blinked. The journey felt similar to the first couple of times he jumped but the end was far less painful. Instead of being vomited to the ground it was almost as if the Earth spun around him and placed him gently on the grass. Steam came from his body. His bare feet burned, as he flexed his toes.

A crash echoed behind him. He turned to see Abigail thrown from himself and a scuffling Heavy. The girl moved away from the fighting and then suddenly with a burst of light and particles Heavy and Landon were gone, leaving only singed grass. Abigail stood in shock. Particles settled on the ground around her and she began to weep.

“Abigail,” he said quietly, his voice hoarse. She turned slowly, her eyes lighting up as she saw him.

“Landon?” she asked, stepping lightly toward him and then looking back to the burnt grass.

“It’s me. It’s been so long,” he said.

She wiped her tears and then ran to him, wrapping her arms around him. She was bruised and scraped; her dress was still its original blue, though slightly torn.

“I thought I was going to be stuck here,” she said through tears.

He wrapped his arms around her.

“I tried to get here as soon as I could.” The moment of peace seemed to hang in the air.

A loud boom echoed behind them. They spun. A beam of light came down through the clouds revealing a taller, bigger Heavy. It stood upright, as if unfolding from a cube of metal, and looked at them. Landon pushed Abigail behind him, her fingers laced in his.

A light flickered on Heavy’s chest projecting a hologram of The Suit.

“You will run from us. You will try to hide from us, but we will follow you no matter where you go or when you go,” he said, his image flickering in and out. Abigail squinted, trying to place the voice and blurry image.

The bracer began to hum. The four looked down at Landon’s wrist.

“You’ve stolen my tech.” The Suit said, looking back up to Landon.

“Kill them,” The Suit’s voice echoed as Heavy had already began moving with a loud mechanical whine.

Xander sprinted forward, covering almost four feet in a single stride. The hologram blurred out as Xander passed through it.

Landon twisted around Abigail, pulling her hand as they began running away from Heavy.

The grass was wet and made traction difficult for Landon and Abigail. Heavy’s feet crushed through the grass and threw mud into the air with each step. The hum grew louder but he could barely hear it over the thumping of his heart and Heavy’s feet.

Abigail’s fingers slipped from his sweaty palm. She dropped to the ground, staining her dress with chlorophyll. Landon stopped, his bare feet sliding across the wet grass. His center of gravity shot to his feet and as he tried to turn around he fell. His ribs cracked against the ground and he extended his arm out. Abigail’s hand reached toward him.

The hum grew louder, blaring as Heavy gained on the two.

Landon slammed his other arm into the grass and lunged himself forward. His finger touched Abigail’s as Heavy leapt into the air, his giant-metal feet close together, preparing to slam down on Abigail. The hum stopped and they vanished.

Heavy destroyed the grass that was under Abigail as particles moved away from the newly blackened grass.

The light flickered on again. The hologram of The Suit faced Heavy.

“Begin the trace. Follow them until they’re dead,” the Suit said between gritted teeth.

Heavy pressed a button on his arm and relaxed back, folding back into his cube. In the blink of an eye he vanished, leaving residual hologram and throwing grass and mud into the air.

Part 7: Bloody Metal Hands

The elevator was moving, but none of the floor lights were illuminated. The car slowed. Before the doors opened a gunshot rang out. She drew her pistol and the doors opened. Landon stood before her firing down the hallway. He turned and fired at the glass. As he sprinted toward the damaged glass Ace dove from the elevator car and tackled him away from the pane.

They slammed to the ground. Landon rolled and looked to her.

“Abigail?” he asked, confused.

She looked to her side as Heavy ran at her. She clamored across the Italian marble floor away from her attacker.

Landon fired at Heavy, the bullets bounced around his legs and into the ground. He continued toward Ace. She fired at Heavy landing a bullet in his eye. He stumbled and tripped around her, slamming into the bullet riddled window.

The panes shattered as the machine fell out of sight. Glass danced lightly on the tiles. The two agents looked to each other breathing heavily.

“How did you get here? I lost you in…” He paused trying to catch his breath.

“You have to go back and save me,” she said through gasps for air, “I can’t be here when you come back.”

They pushed off the ground and walked toward each other.

“I don’t understand,” Landon said, “You’re right here.”

“But if you don’t go get me, then I won’t be here. I’m not your Abigail and she can’t…”

She began walking down the hallway Landon had came from. She checked a corner and disappeared around it. Landon looked back to the broken window and then followed her.

He found her in a room similar to the one in the ISO-squared labs. She was typing into a computer.

“I’m sending you to moments after you and the machine vanished,” she said, not looking to him.

“Why not for the amount of elapsed time?”

“She…” A lump dragged her throat down, tears beginning to well in her eyes, “can’t become me,” she responded.

“Why not?”

“Because I don’t want to put her through that. It’s too much pain to put on someone else,” she said, lowering her head and flattening her palms on the desk.

“But if we change things…” he started but was quickly interrupted.

“I am the target. The person I’ve become is the target. If she doesn’t go through the events I went through she won’t become me. She’ll be able to have a different life. You have to bring her back to yours and her time. Forget you briefly knew this version of her.”

She was staring at him. Only the hum of the computers filled the room.

“What happened?” he asked.

She looked away and began typing again, “I’m preprogramming the device to jump you to her and then return you both to your time. The only caveat is when the timer goes off you must be touching her.”

Her finger slammed against the return key and the computer began to whine. Across the room a hole in the wall slid open and a drawer came out. A wrist bracer sat on the drawer. Ace made her way to the device and inspected it before picking it up. Landon took a deep breath as she made her way back to him.

“Wrist,” she said unlatching the underside.

He held out his left wrist and she slid the bracer onto his forearm. She pressed a single button near his elbow and the bracer tightened down to his wrist size. Several small needles pierced his wrist from inside the bracer.

“Ah!” he said stepping back and shaking his wrist in pain.

“You are the battery; it only works if it’s attached to a person. Come with me,” she said walking passed him out of the room.

He followed her in silence back to the elevator lobby. She stopped by the elevator doors and faced him with her back to the missing window. The bracer on his wrist began to make a humming sound.

“That is warning that you’re about to jump. The new design won’t hurt like it used to.” A loud thump came from outside the window.

Ace closed her eyes. Landon took a step forward. She lifted her hand for him to stop. He complied.

Another thump came from the outside, this time it shook the floor. Her eyes opened and she looked at Landon. The hum was almost so loud he could barely hear.

“You have thirty seconds once it starts the jump process,” she said her eyes welling up with tears.

“What happened to make you the way you are?” he asked, stepping forward again.

Another loud thump. Long mechanical fingers came from the window opening and dug into the marble tiles.

Landon stepped back, pulling his sidearm, “Abigail!”

“Take her dancing,” she said quietly.

The hand pulled up the damaged Heavy machine. It looked to Landon and then to Ace. It moved its free hand toward her. It’s long fingers wrapped around her torso.

“Landon,” she said. He looked to her.

“I lost you,” she said as a long blade pierced through her chest. Her eyes widened.

Landon jumped forward. Heavy’s hands slid off the tile, dragging Ace through the window. Her body collapsed out of the hole as a swirl of particles engulfed Landon.

The lobby sat empty, only glass debris and bullet casings littered the floor.