6.2 You Shouldn’t Have Come, Finale

I’ve got to draw the banker’s full attention. “Mr. Briggston, I have no evidence against you. As far as I’m concerned, everything points to Black here.”

The truth is not good for Black. He shifts the Antikythera device in his arms and eyes the circle in the center of the room.

“You didn’t know about the baby. That’s not your fault,” I say to the scientist. “A jury will be sympathetic.” I think. “Accidents happen.”

Old Tim must be waiting for just the right moment to make his appearance.

I back step toward the middle of the room to keep their eyes off of the vault. If he’s ‘me’—albeit an older and more cynical form of me—he must be looking for evidence in there. Quietly, methodically, listening all the while. Planning a way to get us out of here and to take down the men who caused so much death and destruction. What else would he be doing in there?

Briggston cocks his head. “So you’re saying I’m not to blame? You’re not using any of this against me?”

I shrug.

“Wait a minute!” Black looks at the vault, then back at me. “I agreed to help you. You’re pinning this on me now?”

“No, no! That’s not what I’m saying.”

“What are you saying?” Briggston closes in on me.

If the scientist can keep his head, the truth will lead Briggston to expose himself. If I play good cop—if Black keeps his cool — I might pull a confession from Briggston. Starting with his granddaughter.

“You know, Sophie, my daughter, is dying right now. I empathize about your granddaughter. How did she pass away?”

“House fire.”

I cringe at the terrible words. “Oh, no.”

“I lost my wife, my son, and my granddaughter in that fire. You can see why I’ve invested so much into this scheme here. But I didn’t kill that boy. Or that girl.”

What’s taking Old Tim?

“I can see why you’d want to rescue her. That’s it, isn’t it? A rescue. This machine is quite the thing for rescue. The solution is to hack into how to bring two people.”

Briggston shakes his head. “No, no. Black, snap out of it.”

Black looks from him to me.

“This doesn’t have to end like this,” the banker adds. “You know what we have to do. The transporter.” He widens his arms and heads toward me.

The scientist joins him in herding me toward the circle. I back away.

Behind them, the vault door finally opens—to my great relief. I can see how they want this to go down. Just like it went for Old Tim.

“The question is, what does the evidence show us. William Black used the machine. Two kids were caught in a lab experiment. It’s clearly an accident.”

I watch the old ‘me’ through my peripheral vision while distracting the two men in front of me. He steps to the laboratory door and turns the nob, stepping out. What’s he doing?

Old Tim stands on the threshold and kicks the laboratory door open. It slams against the wall. Briggston and Black swing around.

In his hands are two guns. Mine and Boice’s.

Briggston’s eyes widen and he looks at Black. “Who’s that?”

Seeing Old Tim in control like this rejuvenates my resolve. Until he speaks.

“I’m with William,” he says. “Are you ready to get rid of the detective?”

My attention snaps back to Old Tim. What did he say? He kicks the door shut behind him and struts into the room, one gun pointed at Briggston, the other at… me!

“What are you doing?” I yell.

Briggston turns from him to me and back to him. “Who is this interloper?”

To my surprise, Old Tim says, “I’m William Black’s project.”

Black laughs, and I sober. All my confidence draining away. What does he mean by project?

“William, is the machine ready?”

“Uh, sure.” With a scurry, William Black is at the wall panel. Old Tim stuffs a paper into my chest pocket and pats it. 

“Sorry I had to use you like this,” he smirks.

Use me?

I scan what I know about this guy. He smelled like demonic sulfur. He broke into my house. He threatened my wife and daughter. He gave me a list of things to do that pulled me off the case right away. He even visited my sick girl. He knocked Susan and Sarge unconscious. He ruined my reputation at the station; he hijacked a car and brought me here. Somehow he planted evidence at the scene of Jamie’s death and, somehow, was working with Nick…

All to frame me.

My jaw slacks open.

Wait a minute. Isn’t he me? Isn’t he from the future?

Gun poised, he pivots Briggston up against the far wall.

“Here’s the plan, Tim. You are on your way into the wonderful world of yesterday. I am staying here.” He turns to Black. “Turn it to 1880, New York.” He rattles off a long number that sounds like coordinates.

“Tim will love it, being a detective in Sherlock Holmes’s day. But this time he won’t have a device to decode.”

The Antikythera mechanism is in Black’s hold. He flips some switches and adjusts it. I stare at my old self, struggling to understand what is happening. How can he betray me so easily?

The Old Tim rubs his chin. “I’ll shave my beard, dye my hair. The nurses today thought I was you.” He chuckles. “Sophie did. Mercy will think so, too, if she awakens. I’ll tell her I’ve aged from the stress.”

Sweat beads on my forehead. No. I shake my head. No. He can’t. “You won’t—” I make toward him, but he swings the second gun in my direction.

“Uh-uh.” Old Tim draws a deep breath. “Yes, this is a good life I’ll have now. You didn’t want it, anyway.” He tsks. “If you’d treated them better, I might never have gotten this idea.” Old Tim turns to Black. “You got it set?”

“Black, what are you and this crazy man up to?” Briggston growls. “Who is he anyway?”

“I am Tim Reynolds’s other self.” Old Tim’s smile widens like the Cheshire Cat’s. He lifts his finger to his lips and forbids Black to say more.

Briggston makes to run, but Old Tim shakes his head. “Stay right there until we’re done.” Then he looks back at me. “How’s your bracelet now?”

I look at the scarf on my wrist. Wait. What?

“If you’re really me, you’d never do this. What are you?” Is he my second self? Or… is he a clone? Have they used my bone marrow to clone me? An old me? How can they clone an old person? Mercy would know. “Black, what did you do?”

The scientist steps toward us, cradling his device.

They’re sending me away—or… oh, no!.. making me a second. Oh, Lord, please no. I don’t know what they’re planning, but it does not look good for me. Lord, you promise good for your people. Please help me hold on to that.

“Ivan, you and Tim put the crate on the transporter.”

Why the crate on the transporter? What do those paintings have to do with anything?

I can hardly plan the right thing to do. I’ve got to go with my gut. “I’m not doing anything you—”

He points the gun at me. “Unless you want to stop living.”

I want to live. But not back in 1880.

Briggston looks from him to me and his eyes widen. He grabs the side of the crate and drags it toward the transporter.

I shove the crate with him, getting it to its place. My teeth clench, furious mostly at myself for giving into his manipulation. I should have taken that time off everyone had told me to. I should never have been here.

We lift the collapsed stack of paintings off of the floor of the crate and I see it. Under the last paintings is the original Antikythera device. I lower the painting to hide it again and scramble for a plan.

If there are two devices and two people, then maybe there would be no molecular disassembly. If it stays hidden, it might save me. If only I knew their plan.

“Don’t you even think about it,” Briggston mumbles.

“What?” Old Tim flicks his gun and we step back. He lifts the painting and sees it. “There it is. You trying to turn this in your favor, young one?” He speaks in a drawl. “Get back against the wall.”

He’s making light of this horrible situation? My fists clench. But I step back, straining to think this through.

He knew it was there. Then is this a test? Is Old Tim going to experiment on me? To see if two people can go together? If there are two people, which person blobs? 

At that moment, I truly fear for my life. I might soon be dead. If I’m gone, this man is going to be with my dear ones. They won’t even know I’m gone. Wetness fills my eyes. Is it that easy to be forgotten?

Stop it, Tim.

I steady my thoughts. I am the detective. The only authority here. Boice had better show up, and soon. He said he’d come. But right now this is my rodeo, and this is my future self. I cannot let him take over my life.

I want to live it. It’s mine. God gave it to me. Maybe he will listen to sense. I can appeal to his faith.

“Tim,” I say. “God is the boss of time. You remember what happened when you tried to stop Mercy’s accident?”

He pivots toward me, but holds his guns out, one at Briggston, the other going from me to Black. Why would he be pointing at Black?

“What about it?” His eyes narrow.

“It didn’t work. Look, we can only be faithful to now. Not yesterday, not tomorrow. We only have today to decide for things. You still have today.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Didn’t you cause her accident?”

“Yeah, so? Stop blabbering. I know what I’m doing.” He turns to Black. “Let me see if you set that right.” He tucks one gun into his waistband.

Briggston takes that delay to make a run for the door.

Thwump! Next thing I know, a Chinese star is sticking out of the door in front of Briggston. The banker freezes, hands up.

“This next one has your name on it, Ivan,” Old Tim says. Between his fingers is another star.

Where’d he get that Chinese star?

Except I know, as Old Tim knew. Under Noah’s bed. That explains why he went upstairs, preparing for this eventuality.

“Don’t risk it,” he taunts the banker. “This is going down the way I say, got it?” He yanks the device from Black’s arms, then flicks his gun toward the vault. “All of you, get in the vault.”

“What! I thought we were working together.” Black whines.

I straighten my shoulders and glare at him. “No.”

He grits his teeth and aligns himself with me. Oh, what I’ve become. I’m ashamed of it.

Lifting his hand, the old man that looks like me drags a Chinese star across my cheek. I bite down on my tongue to keep from yelping.

“Get in there.”

Black and Briggston scurry inside.

He lowers his hand, and I slap my cheek with my own, covering up the blood. As much as I loathe the idea of being locked in, stuck outside with this crazy version of me is worse.

And, ultimately, I’m relieved to be locked away from the time machine. I’ll be nobody’s second person. As long as I’m here, I can return to my wife. But what is Old Tim planning? And why 1880? I thought he wanted to be me.

Though the door is open just a few inches, the light shining in is enough to see the phenomenal amount of treasure in this room: a gold chair with hammered young Egyptian prince and princess design, a blue Egyptian mask, filigree gold crowns, so much money represented here. I steady myself for a long time in the claustrophobic dark. If Boice comes, they’ll know to open the vault, right? Lord, thank you for saving me from that machine.

I lower my hand and check it. It’s covered in blood and my cheek stings from the deep slice.

“Don’t lock the door. Nobody else knows the combination,” Black begs.

I tense again.

Old Tim hasn’t shut it yet, and he’s out of our vision. I strain for an idea. Even if Boice comes, I’m the only one the evidence accuses. What is Old Tim planning with that device? For what reason did he load up those paintings? And why 1880?

“You shouldn’t have worked with the police,” Briggston snarls at Black. “Things were going fine. Now we’ll never succeed.”

Black’s eyes fill with tears. “You told me to send my son.”

Old Tim begins pressing the door shut, grinning again at our predicament.

I’d fight to open it, except then what? No one wants to cross a guy like this with a gun and an agenda.

“I told you to test on your son because you’d get your boy back as soon as I got my girl. Don’t you see? If we’d fixed this, there’d be no death. We could undo it every time. You’re really dumb for a scientist.”

The recorder! I caught him saying it. My hand clenches the phone in my pocket. Accomplice. Instigator. The malice aforethought was in Briggston, as Black had said.

Old Tim’s eyes move from my hand to my face. “Stop. I see what you’re doing,” he hisses. “Get your crooked self out here.” He flicks the gun at me.

I do not want to go out.

I do not want to face my evil self.

But the man can make us do what he wants.

I need to make a decision somewhere. To get out of this, somehow. I’m the one trained in crime, in profiling, in detecting evidence. What do I know here?

He grabs my arm and yanks me out, then he reaches in and drags out a large duffel bag from the corner. And with a spin of the locking wheel, he closes the vault.

I’m so disappointed in him. In myself. What have I become?

“You betrayed me. You betrayed Black. You betrayed your love for Mercy and Sophie,” I say. “Most of all, you’ve betrayed our Lord. I’ll never become you.”

“Oh, you think so?” He sticks his second gun into his belt. “I am you. You will become me.”

“No. You’re bitter and resentful. You have no faith. I’ll always stay faithful.”

He rolls his eyes and sniggers.

I take in my situation. His guns are out of his control. I am between him and the door and can escape if a single thing steals his attention.

He inhales and blows out through his lips, long and exaggerated. “Sometimes I think you are so dense. I know you think so, too. All the clues right there in front of you and you see nothing.”

What’s he talking about?

A door slams open in the office and we both look over.

“Reynolds? Where you at?”

It’s Boice. My heart feels light as a feather.

Old Tim pulls the gun out and points it at me, flicking off the safety.

“Bolt the door,” he says

I take in at once the locked vault, the loaded crate, and the aiming gun. I have a second to decide.

Should I slide the bolt and lock the door?






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