She was unconscious and only opened her eyes one more time.
And yes, I saw death on her face. Time to move on.
I hoisted her up on the platform where she lay breathing shallowly while I mopped up all the blood from the back door through the hall, up the stairs and into the tower. I even had to take off my jeans and use them to swab the steps.
I wasn’t positive that she was dead, but I was sure that she wasn’t going to feel any more pain. I piled my bloody clothes on top of her chest and stood at the controls in my underwear. The crazy machine blinked the last coordinates in blood red numbers. The date had to be changed. I dialed it back thirty years to 1989. I subtracted ten feet and sent Erica Wills to a junkyard grave directly under the rusty car. And then, with a most iron will, I blocked the whole thing from my memory.
MY MOM PATTED my hand, but my dad sat perfectly still. I looked at him first. Those kind eyes of his held sorrowful regret, as if he himself were responsible for my wrong-doings.
Why wouldn’t the ground open up and swallow me when I needed it to?
I cast my eyes to the floor then over to my mom.
“Nothing we can do about that,” my mom said, switching from patting my hand to grasping my dad’s hand. She looked at him and repeated, “Nothing, Conner. We can’t change a thing. We stick to the plan.”
My parents had a plan? Mom glanced at the wall clock. “Somebody’s going to show up sooner or later. Hurry up, Laken, tell us about the next one.”
She took my hand again and the thought occurred to me that she was checking my pulse and temperature. If they knew about all my travels maybe they knew about the side effects I’d suffered and were watching for more. I felt fine though. Well, hungry enough to eat a bear and a little itchy around my neck and waist.
“Technically the next one was Ciera,” I said, “but I’ll tell you about Melissa first. That was the younger girl who taunted me along with Erica at Homecoming.”
Telling that story wouldn’t take as long.
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