I drop my phone into my pocket and rush in to help.
Briggston has Black pushed against the crate, his hands clenching Black’s throat. The scientist wrenches and squirms to get away from the grip, but to no avail.
“Stop in the name of the law!” I reach for my gun, but it’s not there. Where’d it go?
Briggston glares. His eyes narrow and he turns back to Black, squeezing tighter. “I knew you were working with the police. You think you can trap me? I’m not going down for what you did.”
I touch his shoulder, trying to win him with words. “Let him go. Aggravated assault will not reflect well on your bank, now, will it?”
The banker releases Black, shoving him onto the crate. The paintings collapse with Black on top of them. His hand bursts through the one with Christ behind a table.
Briggston lifts both hands in front of him. “This was all him. I was just his banker. I invested. Is that a crime?”
Black scrambles up and out of Briggston’s reach.
I can tell Briggston I have evidence to the contrary, but don’t want to show my hand. “It’s not a crime.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Black, but what you did is clear.”
The scientist gawks, as if betrayed. Then his jaw clenches shut.
I need to call it in, to document what I heard before anything happens. I wish I had my gun. How am I going to keep these men in place while I use my phone? If I look away for a second, everything can flip. Then again, if I push Briggston’s button, I may gain time.
I display my hand to the disaster arrayed in front of us. “So whose paintings are these?”
Briggston spins back toward Black. “You ruined everything,” he growls.
I dial Sergeant Boice at the station.
Black snorts. “You can keep the paintings. Just leave me and my family alone. It was a mistake. All a mistake.”
“Not a mistake. A contract. And unless you fulfill it—”
Boice picks up and I put the phone onto speaker. My authority alone restrains these men. With Boice on the line, we can document things.
“Where you at, Reynolds?” His irritation reminds me. Last I saw him we had knocked out him. He’s clearly not happy.
“I’m at William Black’s mansion.”
“I told you—”
“I know. I know. Hear me out. I have Black here, and Briggston. They’ve confessed.”
“I said nothing,” Briggston snarls.
Boice draws a deep breath. “Is that so? I have Nick here saying some pretty crazy things.”
“I know, right?” I snuff. At least with Nick to back this up, it won’t sound so unbelievable. “Black confessed to accidentally killing his son when a… machine he has malfunctioned. The machine’s side effects debonded the kids on the molecular level. I can prove this when you get down here. Ivan Briggston was the financial backing behind William Black’s machine. And–”
“What machine are you talking about?
“The… the time… machine.”
“Hmm. I recall hearing that—just before you knocked me out. But Nick told us everything, and there’s nothing more you can say in the matter, Reynolds. There is no machine. Hold on a second.” He puts his sound on mute.
No machine? What did Nick say, and why is he lying?
Black and Briggston look at each other, and the banker’s mouth curves up into a slow smile.
I gulp. Sarge is undermining my authority. He thinks I willingly ran off with Old Tim. He still thinks I’m complicit in this crazy murder.
Black pivots from Briggston and toward me. A light glimmers in his eyes, and I get the feeling they think I’m dispensible. That must have been the same look they gave each other before they sent Old Tim forward in time.
I will not let that happen again. Come what may—an ounce of prevention and all. I have no gun and I refuse to defend myself by telling Sarge I’ve recorded the confessions. It’s the only thing that’ll back my words.
Taking the phone off of speaker, I hold it to my ear. “Yes, sir. Black and Briggston are here. I have evidence… I heard them detail the crime.”
I pray, Lord, this is not the world I’m used to. These days are not the kind I ever wanted. None of this makes sense. But even so, I will do right by you.
My job is to put criminals away. If Sarge doesn’t believe me, I’ll have to find another way. What can I do?
They’re whispering to each other. I flick my attention to the dark vault. Why isn’t Old Tim coming out? Did something happen to him?
Sarge’s voice comes back. “You gave them their Miranda rights?”
“Uh, no. I did not. They weren’t under arrest—”
“You have a warrant? Probable cause?”
“Yes, probable cause.”
“For what? Time travel?” Laughter resonates from the other end of the line. Boice must have me on speaker, too.
Lord. How can I prove this?
I look down at my phone. Did my phone call stop the recording? I hope it didn’t erase the testimony.
I steady my resolve and lower the phone. It doesn’t matter. I know what happened, and I can make it stick. All I need is the Antikythera device. I scan the room. The device is on the crate. And a painting. And Old Tim. And Nick. Except Nick is with the police and apparently has said something different.
But I know how it happened. I see a time-traveling William Black try to bring his son forward in time. A jury might not see it as accidental. And Briggston is complicit, but how is Jamie involved?
“Reynolds? You there?” Boice shouts through the other end. “We’ll be right there to help you. Stay there. Keep everyone there.”
I turn off the phone and start the recording app. I don’t see the previous recording, but have no time to search. Worse things are happening than missing evidence. My sergeant has ridiculed my words, and I’ve lost the trust of my team. What more can I lose, Lord?
Briggston pushes the crate off of the transporter circle, and Black hastens to the control panel. The second device is in his arms—he adjusts it, aligning it to something on the panel.
The binder-sized gizmos are wooden-framed, gears inside of gears surrounded by moveable levers and knobs. They’re moving ahead with the plan to take the device five years back in time!
But how to stop them? “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” The verse comes with an image in my head: holding up truth over them. The truth will set us free. And the girl is the key.
“So why did you kill Jamie? Did you do that because she was pregnant?”
“Yes. You killed your son, your grandchild, and the mother of your grandchild. You entered the room when Jamie was arguing with Noah. You told me that girlfriend meant potential wife, which means you saw a scandal. Considering inheritance complications from yet another Black in the picture, and with your own money in question, you decided to do away with her.”
“No. I didn’t know she was pregnant. She was in the room with Noah.” He pinches between his eyes.
“You ready?” Briggston asks.
Black winces and flits his attention to my face, apologetically. “Yes.”
They’re going to manhandle me. Are they going to take me as a second person in the time machine?
I turn back to Briggston. No. They wouldn’t, would they?
But Briggston’s no longer looking at me. His attention frowns on the partially opened vault. Did he see a movement?
Should I take Briggston’s attention off of the vault so Old Tim can stop them unaware, or should I call Old Tim to help me?
SEE VOTE ON MEWE