Short snippet, not even long enough for a cup of tea. Maybe not even long enough for what matters most…
“Rooster One, the target is now headed directly at your aircraft! Turn right and descend…now!”
“I have acquired target. Permission to arm and engage!”
“Rooster One, do not, repeat do not engage…”
“What is that, Henry? Radar?”
“Yup. And I think it’s an aircraft. Right speed and altitude, anyway.”
“Doesn’t this crate have any windows?”
Henry thought ‘window’ and the entire front of the cylinder seemed to turn transparent – and there about ten miles ahead they watched as a Russian fighter turned and headed right for them…
“Da. Standard doctrine, Genry.”
“Yeah? Well, for whatever reason the pilot never fired on us.”
“Wery unusual, Genry.”
Taggart nodded, but he looked away for a moment – as if collecting his thoughts. “It only took a few minutes to reach the coast. I mean the coast over British Columbia. Then we were at the base and landing, but by then we knew something was really wrong. My skin felt like it was being hit by a million pinpricks, and then Collins told me there was blood coming from my eyes…”
“What?” both Dina and Tracy said, the two physicians suddenly paying close attention.
Henry nodded. “There’d been some reactor damage, a radiation leak of some kind…I still don’t understand all the dynamics and elements involved…but Pinky and a bunch of her people met the ship and stopped us from getting out. They had some kind of containment structure and they got both of us inside the damn thing and before we knew what had happened we were back out at their base at L1. Pinky told us there was no real cure for the damage our cells had sustained, but that they could slow the progression of disease…”
“Oh, dear God,” Dina sighed. “So that is why nothing worked?”
“Yup,” Henry said, nodding. “But here’s the part you ain’t gonna like. Collins and I are now like mutated viruses, contagious in a way…”
“What?” Tracy cried. “And you knew this?”
Taggart nodded. “I knew. But it’s more complicated than you can imagine, Tracy.”
“Fuck you, Henry!” Dina screeched as she stood, now shaking a fist at Henry. “You did this to my girl! To both those girls! How dare you!”
“Unfortunately,” Henry sighed, “the damage had been done years before, after the Russians first moved the cylinder and gained entry. No one from Pinky’s team ascertained the extent of damage to the ship and all those Russian scientists were exposed. Soon after, pockets of a strange radiation sickness were detected in their far eastern provinces, and while they moved to contain it, the disease spread into North Korea and China, and that’s when Pinky and her people got seriously involved. The Greens with this project are geneticists and they’ve been trying to get a handle on this ever since that night, but for all intents and purposes their efforts will be too little, too late.”
“What do you mean,” Edith said, perplexed, “by too late?”
“It means, Edith, that climate change isn’t going to take us out, and neither is some kind of nuclear war. This mutation is going to do the job, but the Pinks and Greens – and especially the Blues – see this as their fault and they’re doing everything they can to come up with a way to save as many people as possible.”
Dina started to cry; Henry looked at her and nodded.
“That’s right, Dina. Britt and Eva were a part of the first experimental group to be treated, but it turned out the treatment causes an even more violent reaction among us. They’re gone – from here, but that doesn’t mean you won’t see them again. It only means that will depend on how you respond to treatment…to how all of you respond.”
“Gone? What do you mean by gone?” Rolf asked. “I thought you said they’re not dead?”
“They’re not dead the way you think of as dead, Rolf, they’re just no longer here. But no, that’s not right, either. They are here, on earth, only – not now.”
“What do you mean, not now?” Dina asked.
“Time travel not possible, Genry. I know little physics, but this much I do know.”
Taggart nodded. “Time travel into the past is not possible…yes, that much is true. Yet, it turns out there’s no limit to how far into the future we can go.”
“No way, Genry!” Anton snorted. “This is shit of bull!”
“No, Anton, sorry, but it’s not. There is, however, one little problem.”
“And what would that be, Hank?” Tracy sighed, suddenly pretty sure she really didn’t want to hear any more of this.
“Well, see…first you, uh, well – you have to die.”
Dina screamed – before she passed out, while the boy looked on – horrified, all his worst fears now completely realized.
“Hoo-boy,” Anton sighed as he looked around the table, “dis no good.”
© 2020-21 adrian leverkühn | abw | this is a work of fiction, pure and simple; the next element will drop as soon as the muse cooperates.