“I quit. I don’t care about the money. I don’t care about anything. You’re going to get me killed.”
Martin Fields removed the Temporal Jump Suit and threw each piece on the floor of his bedroom rather than packing it in its customized carrying case.
“That idiot in Las Vegas almost shot me.”
Isis stood passively listening to Martin as he started removing his clothing, which was appropriate in New Mexico of 1879 but would look like a foolish costume in the present day.
“That idiot was John Henry Holliday, also known as Doc Holliday, and perhaps he would have been less inclined to threaten you if you hadn’t been staring at his common-law wife’s nose.”
“How was I supposed to know she was called Big Nose Kate?”
Martin had pulled on a pair of contemporary jeans and was reaching for a t-shirt. “I’ve had it, Isis. Time travel is just too damn dangerous.”
“You weren’t hurt, Martin. Holliday didn’t even produce his firearm. He just threatened to hit you with his fists.”
“Do I look like a fighter to you?” Martin kicked the empty case for the suit. “Here, take your toys and leave. I’m going out for a beer and I don’t want to see you or that suit when I get back.”
Grabbing his wallet, cell, and keys from his night stand, the reluctant time traveler marched out of the bedroom, across the living room, and slammed the door of his apartment as he left.
He wasn’t gone long.
Martin’s hands were shaking so badly, he could barely fit the key in the lock. Managing to finally get his apartment door open, he ran into the bedroom and saw that Isis and the suit were still in the same positions as when he left.
“You’ve got to let me use the suit one more time!” Martin was staring at the impassive Isis as he scooped up and started to don the suit’s components. “It was horrible. A little kid ran out into the street and was hit by a car. There was blood everywhere.”
“Yes, you’re allowed to change it, Martin, but there’s a price.”
“I know, I know. I’ll be your time traveling slave. I’ll do anything you ask. I just need to save that girl.”
“You will, Martin. In fact, you already have.”
One of the things Isis had explained to him was that he wasn’t free to go back in time and change anything he wanted, even if it were something horrific like letting Adolf Hitler come to power, or stopping the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York. There were only certain anomalies in time he could alter. If he hadn’t felt so panicked, Martin might have wondered why saving a six-year-old girl from being killed in a car accident was one of those anomalies.
“I’m ready.” The suit was completely assembled on Martin’s body and powered.
“I’ve already configured the controls. Please sit in a chair.”
Martin wanted to run back outside and travel back just far enough to keep the girl from dashing into the street at that critical moment, but he sat in the chair he kept in the corner and waited.
Then he was sitting in the passenger seat of a car parked in front of the bar where he had originally intended to get his beer. “What the…?”
Looking left, he saw a man staggering toward the driver’s side door. It was locked and the way the guy was fumbling with his key fob, Martin knew he’d had at least one too many.
The man was middle-aged, jeans, a work shirt, and light jacket even though the afternoon was warm. He was halfway in the driver’s seat when he saw Martin. “Hey! Who the hell are you and what are you doing in my car? And what the hell are you wearing?”
During his other trips to the past, Martin took the suit’s case with him. It could be configured to look like any piece of luggage appropriate for the period he was visiting, but he didn’t have time for that now (ironically).
“I’ll just take those.” Martin grabbed the car keys from the man’s right hand and exited by the passenger’s side door.
“Give those back!” The man got out of the car and walked around the front end and toward Martin in a threatening manner.
“You want them? Fetch.” Martin threw the keys into the street as hard as he could. He didn’t have to stop him, just slow him down for a bit so the accident wouldn’t happen. Then he returned to the present, which was only five minutes in the future. Someone could come out of the bar or walk around the corner any second and he couldn’t let anyone see the suit.
What Martin didn’t see was the driver running into the street after his keys and narrowly avoiding being hit…by a police car.
Martin appeared back in his bedroom and rushed to remove the suit. He had to see if it had worked, if he’d saved the girl.
“You can slow down, Martin. The police arrested the car’s driver. The accident will not…did not take place.”
He kept removing the suit’s components, but more slowly now, and this time, he returned them to the suit’s case. “What a relief. Thank you, Isis. Thank you so much.”
“You are welcome, but I remind you that my first duty is to history, not to your emotions.”
He hated this about Isis, her lack of feelings. No compassion, just logic and the next training mission. Or was he in training anymore? Saving that girl was as real as it gets.
“Keep the suit safe, Martin. I’ll be in touch.”
She vanished. No instrumentality, no suit or machine, she just vanished to somewhere or nowhere.
Isis deliberately didn’t tell Martin that the time anomaly wasn’t the girl’s death, but the driver, Samuel Quinn going to prison for vehicular manslaughter. Now Quinn would be sentenced to thirty days in the County Jail and then a year’s probation.
This was the first time Quinn had ever been arrested for any reason. He typically didn’t drink to excess and certainly not drive after drinking. His wife walking out with their two kids hit him pretty hard, and he decided to stop by the bar on impulse after he got off of work.
The terms of his probation included going into counseling, which caused him to re-examine the priorities of his life. He was able to reconcile with Julie. She and the kids moved back in three months later, and his son Terry would finish high school and go on to college rather than commit suicide the following year.
In the decade after Terry finished medical school, he would lead the research team that cured ALS, saving the lives of tens of thousands each year.
This is the second submission in my seven-part miniseries about Martin and Isis. The first is On Wednesday the Time Traveler Got Wet.
The next story is On Friday the Time Traveler Slept Late.