Kenneth James Crist
seem to think
that once time travel was perfected, everything would just fall into place.
That all of law enforcement’s problems would be solved, right? I mean, some
A-hole kills someone, just go back to before he did it and arrest the idiot,
right? No. Doesn’t work. The crime hasn’t been committed yet. Law says ya can’t
touch him. You can maybe stop him and save the victim, but legally, ya can’t
touch the fucker, even though you know that in your part of the space-time
continuum, he’s guilty as shit. Enter the Problem Solvers. I’m Dale Rogers,
number 666. I know, cool. I picked the number myself. Not because it is
supposed to be Satan’s, but because the Bible says it’s the “number of the
Beast”, and when I do what I do best, I am the beast…The newbies don’t get to
pick their own numbers anymore.
Step number one:
Travel to the correct time and locate the subject. Done. Subject found to be
out for a night of casual drinking, which may or may not include casual sex
later. He is young, white and good-looking. Most likely has good moves with the
ladies. It’s a Christmas party at a local bar, starring a lot of people he
say we’re murderers. No better than the scum we deal with. In a way, that’s
true, but I can guarantee, if the victims knew they were murdered on one plane
of existence, they wouldn’t think that. But we try not to ever let the people
we save know they were targeted. We just go back and quietly erase the problem.
cheap. And that’s a good thing, too, or every dumbass would be building a warp device
and the space-time thing would be more fucked up than it already is. So, since
it costs so much time and energy and money to send someone back to correct a
problem, we don’t do individual cases. Maybe someday, if the cost comes down.
Right now, all we’re doing is serial murder cases.
If you go back in time and kill the serial killer before he gets started, all
his victims get to live. It’s like it never happened, and in fact, it never
did, because we erased it. After making an adjustment
like that, a ripple moves down the space-time continuum and it sometimes takes
months to find all the victims who, of course, are not victims anymore. We like
to do reports on them, just to cover our collective asses. Just to show the
powers-that-be what good things we’re doing. After all, it’s taxpayer money.
Step number 2:
Insert yourself into the subject’s confidence. I work my way up to the bar and
manage to bump into the subject, distracting him and at the same time, adding a
little something to his drink. He’s too busy chatting up a set of big breasts
with a slight personality to notice much else that’s going on around him. This
in the past never know what we’re doing, we go to great lengths to fit in. For
this case, my warp device has been fitted into a 1960 Chevy Bel Aire 2-door
hardtop. It’s period-correct, right down to the whitewalls, silver piping and
buttons on the upholstery and fuzzy dice. It’s had the necessary mods, of
course, and I must be careful not to wreck it here in 1966. If it fell into the
wrong hands, there could be hell to pay. It’s approaching midnight and the
highway is empty as I ease the Chevy upward off the road and kill the lights.
Wouldn’t do to have people see a car flying over. Cars that fly will happen,
but not for at least sixty more years.
unconscious, is a famous serial killer, initials only, T. R. B., a dark-haired,
handsome and charismatic guy who really liked Volkswagens. We know his body
count was at least thirty. Some say as many as a hundred. After tonight, it
will be interesting to see how many lives will be put right by my actions.
Right now, at the age of twenty, he is innocent of any crimes, at least as far
as we know.
Step number 3, Capture subject. Getting him out to the car was a
touch of genius. When he went to the restroom, I followed him. Asked him if he
was busy, or could he break away from the boobs for a little fun? Got his
attention right away. Of course, he was suspicious. I could see it in his eyes.
He wondered if I was “queer”, a term that became passé in the 1990’s,
in favor of “gay”. What did I
have in mind? Told him I had two very young girls out in my car. How young?
Like fourteen and fifteen. What, just sitting out in the lot? No, drugged and
stuffed in the trunk…
the Chevy at 14,000 feet—I told you it had mods, right? —and I’m just waiting
for him to wake up a little, so I can solve his problem. I like them to know
they’re fucked, right at the last. I wouldn’t have to do it that way, but I
have to admit, I like it. So tonight, I’ll give myself a little Christmas gift.
We are far out over the New Mexico desert when he begins to come around. I hit
a button and a section of the roof over the passenger seat slides back. The
rush of cold air wakes him up further.
When we got out to
the car, he was all, “Hey, cool ride. Big trunk, too, huh?” He was practically
licking his chops. He might not have started killing girls yet, but he was not
far off. I handed him the key and, when he popped the trunk, we had a bad
moment. He was very fast, for being half drunk and doped, too. Once he saw the
empty trunk, he turned and suddenly there was a knife in his hand. Fortunately,
his heart rate had spiked, and the dope finally kicked in. He slumped back
against the car and the knife dropped from his numb fingers. All I had to do
was sort of guide him into the car as he started going down. Didn’t even need
out at the
stars and then turns to say something to me, a sappy smile on his face. Oh
yeah, he’s flyin’ high on the stuff, but it’s known for wearing off fast, so I just
say, “Goodbye, Ted, you fucker.” Initiate
step number 4. Erase the threat of subject’s actions. I hit the control on
his ejection seat and blow his ass out into the night. No parachute, of course.
If they ever find him, it will be just one of those mysteries that occur from
time to time, unsolvable and soon forgotten. I close the roof and log the time
and date into the computer. December 25th, 1966, 12:24 A. M. I set
the controls for April 15th, 2108 and trip a switch. I’ll be home in
time for supper.
and the warp drive begins to whine, I think, “Merry Christmas to all, and to
all a good night…”
My laughter is beastly
and mostly lost in the noise of the field generators…
Kenneth James Crist is one of
the editors of Black Petals and has been a published writer since 1998, having had nearly
two hundred short stories and poems in venues ranging from Skin and Bones and The Edge-Tales
of Suspense to Kudzu Monthly. He is particularly fond of supernatural biker stories. He reads
everything he can get his hands on, not just in horror or sci-fi, but in mystery, hardboiled,
biographies, westerns and adventure tales. He retired from the Wichita, Kansas police department
in 1992 and from the security department at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita in 2016.
Now 74, he is an avid motorcyclist and handgun shooter. He is active in the
American Legion Riders and the Patriot Guard, helping to honor and look after our military.
He is also a volunteer driver for the American Red Cross, Midway Kansas Chapter. He is the owner
of Fossil Publications, a desktop publishing venture that seems incapable of making any money
at all. On June the ninth, he did his first (and last) parachute jump and crossed that shit off
his bucket list.
D. Duncan was born 1958 in Alton, Illinois where he still
resides. He has degrees in Political Science, Classics, and Art & Design.
He has been freelancing illustration and cartoons for over 25 years. He has
done editorial cartoons and editorial illustration for local and regional
newspapers, including the St. Louis
Post-Dispatch. His award-winning work has appeared in numerous small press
zines, e-zines, and he has illustrated a few books.