“Oh, Lord.” I need to draw a straight line while driving a bumpy road.
The doorbell rings, and Nick pounds on my bedroom door. “They’re here. I need to talk with you!”
I can’t lose Old Tim, but I also can’t put Nick in danger. I take a risk and open my closet. “Wait in here,” I whisper to Old Tim.
He grimaces and wags his head, annoyed. But he goes into the closet.
I push the dressing table out of the way, my noise blocking the sound of the shutting closet door.
The second I turn the knob, Nick bursts in and shuts the door behind him. “The Russians are here! What am I gonna do?”
The doorbell rings again.
“Wait here. I’ll go down and talk with them. Are you sure they know you’re here?”
“They must know.” He eyes the room. “Who were you talking with? Is someone else here?”
“Just me.” Is it a lie? Or the truth? “I’ll be right back.”
I steady myself, then leave the safety of my room and run down the stairs to the front door.
Opening the door, I’m taken back.
It’s not the Russians. It’s Sergeant Boice and Susan.
“You have a lot of explaining to do,” Boice says.
Out on the street, the trunk of my patrol car is open and my painting is being hoisted out.
“You’re coming to the station.”
“I’m glad you found us. How’d you know—” I suddenly realize I can’t mention the abduction because it was me who abducted us. “About Susan?”
“We had an APB out for you and your car this morning. Officer Morales here hadn’t heard we’d found you. When he drove by your house, he saw Susan cuffed inside the car and called it in.”
Susan holds up a syringe. “What did you do to me? Why did you knock me out?”
I hadn’t considered what had knocked her out so fast. Chloroform isn’t immediate. That syringe will have my fingerprints on it, too. As will the handcuffs.
There’s nothing I can say. I need to talk with Nick. He must know about his father’s… time machine, and Briggston’s involvement. But he’s up there in my room. And I can’t risk Nick finding Old Tim up there. I need to get back.
A trunk slams shut. Sergeant Boice’s car now holds my painting. What was I thinking? That I’d be waltzing out of this murder investigation with a fancy painting? I should have kept my eyes on the actual goal. It makes me look guilty.
Wait a minute. Where are the Russians?
I look at the nearby cars.
Leaning against a car half a block down the street is the dreamy-eyed guy who works for Grigory. The Russians are here, somewhere. If they poke around my house and get to Old Tim, the future of the world is shot. I need to keep them from going upstairs. But how can I do that? Sarge wants me down at the station.
“How about if I come down later?” I say. “I need to finish up some—”
“No, Reynolds. You are now a material witness for this case.”
“We know you are more involved than you are letting on.”
“I’m not. This is my case, that’s all.”
Sarge crosses his arms. “You’re off the case, Detective.”
My jaw goes slack. Off the case? “What happened?”
“We found your DNA at Jamie Lewis’s crime scene.”
“My what? That’s impossible. I wasn’t there.”
“That’s what we thought. But her time of death was before you arrived at the Black Mansion. There’s enough time. So even if you have a good alibi, the only reason for your DNA to be there is if you were involved in the crime.”
“What kinds of DNA?” I know before he answers. Old Tim poked around the room.
“Hair and fingerprints. You gonna tell me what’s going on?”
Oh, Tim. Oh, Tim. What have you done? The other Tim’s DNA is still mine.
Nick was our focus. What about him? “What about the syringes we found at Nick’s house?”
“You’re off the case.”
“At least tell me if they point the finger at Nick!”
“No. They point again to you.”
“Me? What are you talking about?”
Sergeant Boice opens the back of his car. “The chemical makeup of the liquid in the syringes we found both at Nick’s place and at Briggston’s house include your bone marrow.”
“My what? How do they have my bone marrow?”
Susan fingers her handcuffs.
“How do you even know what my bone marrow is?”
“You had yourself tested for your daughter. It’s in the national database.”
They can’t pull me off the case!
I had nothing to do with Nick’s syringes.
Something strange is happening, framing me in this horrible nightmare scenario. I need to pull the case together, prove how the time machine is involved in killing those poor kids. And if they take me in, I will never get that chance.
I have to make a run for it.
But how? There are five police officers here.
Should I grab a gun, run to the Russian down the street and hijack him and his car? If I can simply get in the vault at Black Mansion, I can find some physical evidence exposing how the kids were killed and prove I’m not involved.
Or should I make a run for the house, lock myself in, and figure out with Old Tim and Nick how to pin this on the actual murderer?
The last thing I want is a stand-off in my house. So maybe I should just go with the police.