Monday, September 23rd 1980
It was a gloomy Monday. A torrential downpour was sheeting down on the city, blurring the drivers’ visibility as they rushed to the office.
The peltering of rain against the pane glass window of Steve’s bedroom did very little to disturb the man’s deep slumber who was floating on a cotton wool cloud. Today officially marked his first day of a long overdue holiday and barring family emergencies, he intent on savoring every carefree hour at home, starting by lolling in bed into the late hours of the morning.
He was sprawled ungainly on his bed, a serene grin carved on his face, when the phone jarred him out of his sleep. He groaned his annoyance at the grating sound. With one lazy swing, he flung his left leg over his right to flip over on his belly and reach for the receiver.
“Hello,” Steve answered moodily.
Oscar’s voice instinctively prompted Steve to plunk the receiver down on the hook. A mere five seconds later, the phone rang once more. Steve nuzzled his face into his pillow, using a second one to cover his ears and bury his head in. After fifteen rings, he hurled the pillow aside and yanked the phone off the hook.
“Leave me alone, Oscar,” Steve grumbled.
“Steve, something came up.”
“Not this week Oscar, you promised,” Steve whimpered in hopes to appeal to his boss’s bleeding heart.
“I’m sorry but I’m in need of your help. Believe me I wouldn’t rise you out of bed on the early Monday morning of your vacation had it not be of prime importance.”
Steve heaved a loud sigh thick with aggravation. “You’re going to pay dearly for this, Oscar.”
“I’ll make it up to you, pal,” Oscar assured meekly.
“Yeah, where have I heard that before?” He elbowed himself up on his side and rubbed the haze out of his sleepy eyes. “All right,” he sighed. “I’ll be right over.” He hung up the phone and hauled himself out of bed, slouching over to the bathroom while mumbling a plan to kill Oscar.
The cloudburst has dwindled to a misty rain by the time Steve stepped into his car and drove to the O.S.I, all the while cursing Oscar inwardly.
He nudged his way into the reception area, scanning the room for any sign of Callahan. He perked up his ears at the sound of a muffled growl wafting from under the desk. He craned his neck and peered at the grumpy secretary picking up the papers scattered on the floor.
“Looks like a tornado blew in here?” Steve observed as he sat on his heels to lend a hand.
“A tornado named Oscar Goldman,” she informed huffily. “He must have worked on those files all weekend for when I arrived this morning, there was that mountain. And as luck will have it, I inadvertently triggered an avalanche when I knocked the pile off my desk.”
Steve concealed an amused smile at Callahan’s predicament as he continued to gather the loose sheets.
“What are you doing at the office? Aren’t you supposed to be enjoying your vacation?” Callahan asked.
“That’s a good question,” he sighed.
“Let me guess: Oscar?”
“Who else?” Steve took her arm to help her to her feet and handed her the stack of sheets that she plumped down on her desk.
“Isn’t there anything I can do to ease your workload? Alphabetize the folders or something?” Steve offered amiably to the disheartened secretary sighing in resignation as she began plowing through the pile.
“No thanks. I can handle it. Besides, I sense you’re about the fall into a similar predicament with Oscar.”
“You just know how to cheer me up,” Steve cracked, throwing a knowing wink at Callahan who reciprocated with a broad smile.
“At least let me buy you lunch.”
“You’re not responsible for this mess, but I gladly accept your invitation.”
“Great. Pick you up at noon?”
“Noon it is,” she answered shyly.
For three years, Steve had carried a torch for this petite feisty woman. She was a sight to behold every time he would walk into the office. She would greet him with a warm smile and a girlish giggle that never failed to boost his drooping spirits and provide him with a resilience to face the worse possible situations. Whenever he’d find himself resigning to his fate, he would conjure up his memory of her mesmerizing eyes and fetching smile. This lunch date was the perfect occasion to finally make his longing feelings known.
He left for Oscar’s office, casting a glance back at the coquettish lady before he entered to find the boss sorting out slides to illustrate his next assignment. The blinds had been pulled down for the slide show.
“So Oscar, what’s so important that you had to yank me out of bed on this bright Monday morning?”
“Bright? It’s rainy and gloomy outside,” Oscar remarked with a bemused frown before dropping the last slide into the carrousel.
“For me it was sunny until your untimely call interrupted a dream about….” Steve’s delectable trip down memory lane hung in mid air as it suddenly dawned on him that he was revealing more than Oscar needed to know. “Never mind.”
“Want something to drink before we start?”
“No thanks, Oscar. Let’s just get on with it.” Steve hopped on the desk and crossed his legs at the ankles, psyching himself up for Oscar’s speech.
Oscar switched off the lights and turned on the projector. “We’re sending you to Northridge in California, where you will be investigating the site of an alleged underground biological facility.” The slide of a decrepit barn standing in the midst of a plow land lying fallow appeared.
“That’s an old barn,” Steve observed.
“On the outside, but we have serious reasons to believe that decrepit barn fronts for a terrorist organization. We sent six of our top agents there on a routine inspection in the past month,” he paused and turned to Steve. “All of them vanished without a trace.”
“Does that land belong to the government?”
“That would solve the problem, wouldn’t it? We could simply move in and search the premises. A Maurice Dawson owns the property. He lost his house in a devastating fire two years ago in which his wife perished. He moved away never to be heard from again.
“I’m sure the government can track him down,” Steve said sarcastically.
“Could but they won’t. Not now anyway. The very last thing we want to do is make waves and risk tipping off whoever’s pulling the reins. We want to catch them off guard. We need solid evidence before we raid the place.”
“And that’s where I come in?”
“Right.” He switched another slide showing the barn at another angle. “The property is located at the corner of Pinewood and Bluebell Streets. You’re booked on the three twenty AM to LAX. It’s roughly a three-hour flight to California and with the time difference you should arrive around three in the morning. Once there you go straight to Northridge and scan the area. Don’t worry about your luggage; they’ll be taken care of and waiting for you at your hotel.
“Why so early?”
“We’re trying a difference approach, one that we hope will prove safer for you and by the same token be beneficial for us. We thought by getting you on the field before dawn, you might be able to pick up things that you would normally miss at noon light.”
“You sure about that?” Steve asked with an eyebrow raised in incredulity.
“No,” Oscar answered bluntly.
“At least you’re honest.” He leapt off the desk.
“Our agents all disappeared while investigating in mid afternoon. We’re still in the dark as to what is the common denominator but until we find it, we wouldn’t want to add you to the MPD list. Missing: presumed dead.”
“Hasn’t ever occurred to you that the owner or his men might be shooting down the trespassers?”
“I doubt he could take down our people, especially six of them.”
“He could have hired a professional?”
“If so, that’s what we want you to find out.”
“And this couldn’t wait till after my vacation?”
“It’s a pressing matter. We can’t afford to lose any more men and if someone can get to the core, it’s you. You’ll be given a miniature camera to snatch picture of the inside of the barn. Use your eye to detect anything that might appear unusual: freshly trampled hay, tangled cobwebs, dustless boards, anything that might indicate a concealed trapdoor or evidence of a recent visit.”
“All right. I’ll go pack my bags.”
“We’ll send the car around two in the morning.”
Steve leered at his boss and jabbed at finger in his direction, “I’m holding you to your promise to make it up to me.”
“I’ll tried to catch some Zs before then,” Steve sighed heavily, resigning himself to having to postpone his vacation, time during which he was intent on paying serious court to Callahan. He smiled inwardly at the prospect of a steady relationship.
Oscar stepped up to Steve and laying a hand on his shoulders, he stared at him with genuine fatherly concern in his eyes. “Be careful out there. You call me the minute you arrive at the airport.”
“Yes, daddy,” Steve joked.
At lunchtime, Steve drove Callahan to a posh French bistro where he tipped the waiter handsomely to obtain a quiet secluded booth. With one hand on her lower back, he escorted his lunch date to their table where he gallantly pulled up her chair. They ordered drinks and started making small talk. Feeling the tension mounting as the conversation gradually shifted to the topic of relationships, Steve seized the occasion to learn if the little lady was spoken for.
“Jason was great. Charming, handsome, very gentleman but,” she grimaced, “boring to death,” she heaved out in a drawn-out breath, making Steve titter. “All he ever talked about was computers. I could hardly get a word in edgewise. I liked him a lot but we couldn’t find any common ground. The scope of our conversations wouldn’t extend beyond computers. Occasionally we would discuss people in the news, but that’s as far as it went.”
“So it’s safe to assume you’re not dating him anymore.”
“No.” She sighed and lowered her eyes for a short beat. “I don’t know Steve, maybe it’s me. I should try harder to make my relationships work. Get involved in other fields. Maybe I’m the one who’s boring,” she sighed with resignation.
“Now that’s nonsense and you know it. You’re a very captivating woman. I myself am no Johnny-come-lately to the dating scene and I’m still a handsome bachelor.
Callahan smiled at his ‘handsome’ qualifier.
“We just haven’t found our kindred spirit, that’s all.”
“I guess you’re right, Steve. I need to be patient.”
Their eyes met in a tender gaze.
“Often we try too hard to seek them out when they’re right under our noses.”
“That’s true,” she answered with a nervous gulp, her eyes welded onto Steve’s. That man was stealing her breath away. She momentarily lost herself in the mirror of his soul, drowning in what she perceived as a reflection of a deep love that she failed to notice before. Could it be that finally he was acknowledging her hail?
She drifted back to the surface when he casually wandered back to the day of their first meeting.
“Peggy, we’ve known each other for what? Five years now?”
“Five and a half,” she corrected amicably.
Steve flashed a musing lopsided smile. “Five and a half. I was wondering.”
“Yes?” she said with eyes widening in anticipation.
“Well, since neither one of us is attached, we could…” he shrugged lightly.
“Go on a date? See where it takes us?”
Callahan heaved a silent long-drawn-out sigh of relief. ‘What took you so long?’ she chastised inwardly. She struggled against her yearning to leap across the table and shower him with kisses. “I’d like that,” she answered sheepishly.
She nodded. “Uh huh.”
“Alright then. When I get back from my assignment, we’ll make a weekend out of it. How’s that sound?”
“That sounds perfect,” she smiled broadly, catching her breath.
Once more, Callahan felt herself drifting in that bewitching ocean-blue sea, only to be yanked back to shore when the waiter arrived with their drinks.
Steve raised his glass in a toast. “To Steve and Peggy; the newest cutest couple in town,” he teased with an elfish wink.
A small chuckle escaped her lips before she clung glasses with the man she was hankering over to share a lifetime.
Tuesday, September 24th 1980
After landing safely at the Los Angeles airport in the early hours of the morning, Steve drove his rental car up to Northridge. Dawn was barely mantling the sky when he arrived at the corner of Pinewood and Bluebell. He parked across the field and pulled out a snapshot of the perimeter, his eyes darting between the still and the actual area to establish a positive identification.
He stepped out of the car and crossed the street to the property. As he studied the weediness of the field, he noted a small path of crushed sprigs. He zoomed in on what appeared as footprints, dismissing them as ones belonging to the agents who trod the land before him. He followed the path with the mistaken belief that it led to the entrance of the barn but to his surprise, it continued on to the open follow plow land.
He took a quick survey of the area before he elbowed open the jammed barn door, heedful not to trigger a collapsing of debris. He coughed and dusted himself off as he wend his way up the alley, taking snapshots as he swept every inch with his infrared device, and knocked on floorboards for any hollow cavity. He pressed on to the tack room. Again, there was nothing out of the ordinary.
He walked back out and moved in the lightly trodden path. He stopped and scanned the surroundings, after which he ploughed his way through the weeds to a flattened area that had the semblance of a crop circle. He hunched down and carefully examined the trampled sprigs. Much to his astonishment, he observed that the stems had not been snapped, but rather bent at the molecular level as though they had been steamed down.
As he began retracing his steps to the barn, a faint rumbling was heard in the distance. He cast a look behind him as the sound drew closer. He witnessed the formation of a maelstrom that quickly rose some twenty feet above the ground. The electro-magnetic energy generated neutralized Steve’s bionic powers, rendering him vulnerable to the impelling force that eventually sucked him whole.
Shortly afterwards, the vortex disintegrated and the whirlwind dwindled into a gentle breeze.
Tuesday August 16th 1977
Two hours later, Steve was settled on a couch, Dr. Levin sitting by his side studying his heartbeat with a stethoscope. He removed the earpieces from his ears, wrapped the instrument around his neck and checked Steve’s eyes. The absence of any dilation or constriction in the left eye left the doctor completely baffled. He knitted his eyebrows.
“What’s wrong Paul?” Maurice Dawson asked.
The grayish sixty-year-old doctor shook his head. “Don’t know, Maurice. His left eye’s not responding to light.” Using his thumb and index finger, Levin widened Steve’s eye and flashed his light stick to re-examine the corneal reflex. “Nothing. I have to assume it’s an artificial eye.” He ran his hand across Steve’s forehead. “He doesn’t appear to have a fever nor is there any sign of a concussion. His heartbeat’s mildly irregular. My guess is he suffered a shock, which would explain why he’s unconscious.” He looked up at Maurice perplexedly. “And you have no idea who this young man is?”
“Ain’t ever seen ‘im b’fore today,” replied the rugged middle-aged farmer.
Steve slowly emerged from beneath, the annoying drone of muffled voices beckoning him to the surface. He awoke with a start.
“Easy son,” the doctor mollified with his hands on Steve’s shoulders to keep him lying still.
Steve’s eyes roved over the room frantically before they came to rest upon the doctor’s unfamiliar face. He took a deep breath and rubbed the fog out of his eyes that prevented him from focusing on the two men leaning over him.
“How do you feel?”
“Galvanized. As though I just received an jolt of electricity.” A sudden spasm coursed through his body while he glanced around with creased eyebrows. “Where am I?”
“Yer on my farm. Found ya in my crop field at cock’s crow. Nearly grinded ya with my corn picker,” Maurice informed.
“What’s your name?” the doctor asked.
“February fifth nineteen forty-two.”
“Where do you live?”
“A lil’ outta yer way, ain’t ya?” Maurice remarked amusingly.
“I’m here on business.”
“And yer biz has sump’thin’ to do wth ya bein’ on my property?
“Your property? You wouldn’t be Maurice Dawson?”
Maurice recoiled in surprise. “Ya know my name?”
“We’ve been trying to locate you.”
“Why’d they want with me? I’m an honest to good citizen. Never cheat on ‘em taxes.”
“No, that’s not it. It’s…” Vertigo struck Steve as he tried elbowing himself up.
“You’d better lay back, son,” Levin suggested with a push of his hand against Steve’s shoulder.
“No,” Steve insisted, shoving the doctor’s hand aside. He pinched the bridge of his nose and inhaled deeply to calm the wave of dizziness. “I need to contact my boss.” The doctor stood as Steve slid his legs onto the floor and sat on the edge of the sofa.
Maurice’s wife, Ellen, walked into the living room with a glass of water. “Is he awake?”
“Yeah, but he ain’t feelin’ too good.”
She squatted down by Steve and handed him the glass. “Here, young man, Try some water?”
Steve stared at the fair-haired woman with bewilderment as he slowly reached for the glass. “Are you Mrs. Dawson?”
“That’s right,” she answered with an edge of surprise. She glanced up at her husband who simply shrugged.
“Says Uncle Sam’s lookin’ fer us.”
Steve continued to eye the woman with disbelief. “But it was reported that you died in the fire?”
She bolted upright, jerking her head towards the doctor. “What’s going on, Paul?”
“I’m not really sure, yet. I’ll bring him down to the hospital for a checkup.”
“No! No hospital,” Steve argued as he handed the untouched glass over to Mrs. Dawson before heaving himself up. “I’ll drive back to my hotel and contact my personal physician.”
“I’m sorry son, but I can’t allow you to drive in your condition.”
“I’m fine. I’m just a bit confused, that’s all.”
“Nevertheless, I’m not prepared to take any chances,” Levin held Steve by the arm to assist him out the door.
Outside, Steve was seized by a painful spasm that caused him to lose his footing on the step. Luckily Levin’s hold on his arm prevented his fall. As Steve steadied his poise, his eyes roamed around before they fastened on the cornfield. His first thought was one of an illusion, eyes playing tricks on him, a figment of his imagination. He tried zooming on a particular area but found the mechanism to be defective.
“This cornfield…it wasn’t there this morning. It was full of weeds. Kind to think of it,” Steve swirled around to eye the front porch warily, “ this house wasn’t there either.” He felt his blood run cold as a sinking feeling crept over him. “Where am I?”
“The Dawson property.”
“Can’t be. The house was leveled to the ground in a fire two years ago. Early this morning, a decrepit barn was standing the middle of a fallow land. I was told this was the old Dawson property.”
“Two years ago? When was that?”
“Nineteen seventy-eight, of course,” Steve replied petulantly at what he considered a stupid question.
Levin flashed a strained smile and tugged at Steve’s shoulder to nudge him onward to his car parked in the driveway. “I think a good checkup is in order.”
“ I told you, I’m fine.” Steve insisted, flinging his arm free from Levin’s grip. “I’m just a bit mixed up.” He lowered his head and rubbed his eyes.
“I’ll say! This is nineteen seventy-seven.”
Steve jerked his head up and stared incredulously at Levin. “What?”
“Come on,” he said taking Steve’s arm, “ I’d like to run a cat scan.”
“No! I’m okay.”
“Sure you are,” Levin opined sarcastically as he assisted a wobbly Steve to his car.
“Could you drive me to my hotel instead?”
“Mister Austin, I really think he’d be best to….”
“I promise to see my personal physician. But right now, I need to get to my hotel.”
Levin finally relented and nodding his approval, he closed the car door.
They drove in restrained silence as Steve attempted to make sense of everything. His recalled a similar occurrence a few years back where enemy agents had astutely manipulated him into believing he had traveled five years forward in time, only to discover that it had been an elaborate hoax to extract confidential information out of him. Their plan had been engineered to perfection. The remote island on which he was held isolated him from civilization, denying him access to places and faces that could have tipped him off.
However this was different. Had Levin been part of a similar scheme, he wouldn’t willingly be driving him to his hotel? He’d be taking him to a remote area.
Steve looked askance at the driver, searing every facial features on his photographic memory for future references. Hard as he tried to summon the memory of the last crucial seconds after the twister formed in the field, his mind kept drawing blank after blank. He suspected he’d undergone some type of brainwashing to rob him blind of those two missing hours.
Another spasm jarred him out of his thoughts.
“Are you all right?” Levin asked.
“Yeah,” Steve breathed out, swallowing hard as the increasing pounding of his heart against his chest engendered a slight light-headedness, one he successfully managed to deaden as they arrived at the hotel.
“Here we are.” Levin parked alongside the sidewalk and cast Steve a worried glance. “You sure you’re feeling all right?”
“Yes.” As Steve opened the car door, he felt Levin’s grip on his arm.
“Remember, you contact your doctor.”
“The moment I get to my room, I promise.”
Levin’s seemingly genuine concern for his health was leading Steve astray from his conspiracy theory. Had he been stringing him along on the concept of a voyage back in time, Levin would surely have denied him access to a public phone to allow him to contact the only man who could vouch for his sanity, Oscar Goldman.
This all seem surreal to Steve. He shook his head in disbelief before walking inside the hotel.
He crossed the lobby to the main reception desk to enquire about his room.
“What did you say your name was again, sir?” the clerk asked quizzically when the name Steve Austin didn’t show up in the register.
“Steve Austin. I have a room ready. My luggage was supposed to be brought in early this morning?” Steve explained calmly with an embitter tone bordering on exasperation.
“I’m sorry, Mister Austin. I don’t have your name in the register. Did you make the reservation yourself?
“No, someone else made it for me yesterday.”
“I’ll check again.”
“In the meantime, may I use your phone?”
“Certainly. You can use the one at the end of the desk.”
“Thank you.” Steve moved to the phone and dialed the O.S.I. offices in Washington. Callahan’s replacement answered.
“Callahan, is that you?”
“No I’m sorry. Miss Callahan is off for the week. I’m Helen Johnson. May I help you?”
Steve’s mind took a few seconds to process the unsettling news of Callahan’s sudden leave of absence. “Is she sick?”
“No, she’s on vacation. Sir, may I ask who’s enquiring?”
“This is Steve Austin.”
“Ah, Colonel Austin, I’m sorry, I didn’t recognize your voice.”
“That’s okay. May I speak to Oscar?”
“I’m sorry but Mister Goldman and Doctor Wells are abroad for a summit, but they are scheduled back this afternoon. Weren’t you advised of that trip?”
“No. They didn’t tell me.”
“Yeah, it is strange.” Steve observed with the same sinking feeling as before. He briefly recalled the summit on nuclear armaments that Oscar and Rudy attended in 1977. It coincided with Callahan’s week’s vacation in August. An icy clutch of dread seized him by the throat when his roving eyes caught sight of the 1977 calendar on the wall.
“Colonel Austin, are you there?”
“Yeah…yeah, I’m…I’m still here,” Steve stammered from the shock that threw him for a loop.
“Should I tell Mister Goldman you called?”
“No, no. I’ll call him later.” He hung up and went to a newspaper stand to confirm today’s date. He tried zooming in on the finer print, but found the mechanism to still be on the blink. He picked up a copy off the stand and focused on the upper right corner where he noted the startling date of August 16th 1977.
Keeping his wits about him, he hurried outside to take a taxi to the airport. There, he booked a seat on the next available flight to Washington. The date August 16th 1977 appeared everywhere, staring him the face, impelling him to acknowledge a fact that he was so desperately trying to refute. His mind was a maelstrom of confusion, whirling with dozens of hypotheses as to what occurred in that field. He recalled the paralysis, the electro-magnetic energy that neutralized his bionic powers. He rejected the theory of a drug-induced hallucination and one of conspiracy. Had it been an elaborate scheme, the enemy would have kept him at bay and not allow him to flee the state. He lost himself in conjectures trying to offer a plausible explanation to his bizarre situation.
When the plane landed at Dulles airport, he took a cab straight to his suburbia home. He walked up the driveway to the car. His lip and right eyebrow twitched as he noted the date on the license plate. He took a quick survey of the surrounding neighborhood as he edged along the purple lily-fringed path up to the front door. He bent down to pick up the morning paper. Again the same date appeared.
When he turned the doorknob and found it locked, he groped himself to search for his keys but found them missing. Instead, he resorted to the use of bionic force to break open the door, but his strength failed him. He stared down at his hand, frowning with worry at the lack of power, clenching and unclenching his fist and wiggling his fingers to boost up the charge and tried the knob again, but to no avail. He therefore resigned himself to sneaking through an open window.
Once inside, he began to tread warily across the living room, scanning every object that might appear out of place. His eyes widened in shock when he caught glimpse of an antic vase that he recalled breaking accidentally a year ago, that is to say 1979. The wall calendar was opened to the mouth of August 1977. Everything lent credence to the time travel theory to which he still had trouble subscribing to.
Nervous spasms slashed his face as he flinched at the very thought of having been thrust backward in time. He plunked down on the sofa where he breathed away a wave of nausea.
“Think Steve…THINK,” he goaded himself on, tapping his clenched fist over his mouth. “What’s happening to you?” He stared down at his right arm with fascinated horror, balling his hand into a tightly clenched fist with his fingernails digging into his palms. He scooted over further down the sofa to the end table, opened the top drawer and pick out a small pair of nail scissors. He pricked his index finger with the tip of one blade to see whether he would draw blood. ‘It’s still the same,’ he thought to himself. “Of course, why wouldn’t it be?” Steve chided, his shoulders slumping and his head flopping backward against the back of the couch.
“The whirlwind…the electro-magnetic force and the funnel…could it have been a spacial-temporal rift?” he theorized aloud. He stood up and started striding up and down the room absently, burrowing through his mental files for his old college notes on quantum physics. “Professor Whelan once exposed us the theory of the Einstein-Podolski-Rosen Bridge. The Holy Grail of Physics. Could it be possible that I actually crossed it?”
His train of thoughts was abruptly interrupted by a knock on the front door. He opened it at a crack and poked his head out.
Callahan cocked her head sideways and smiled “Hi Colonel!”
“May I come in?”
“Huh, sure…of course.” He opened the door wider to let the petite woman carrying a porcelain dish inside. Her hairstyle was somewhat shorter and darker than the one she sported just yesterday during their lunch date, and the fact that she called him ‘colonel’ disturbed him.
“When you told me you were feeling a bit under the weather, I thought you’d like some of my homemade chicken soup. It’s my own recipe. Well, my grandmother’s actually, but I’ve added some of my own ingredients.”
“That’s very nice of you. I love your chicken soup.”
“How would you know? You never tasted it before.”
“Of course I have. Remember last year when I had the flu, you…” he choked on his words as it suddenly dawned on him that he was alluding to the year 1979.
“Are you sure you’re feeling okay? You look a little flushed,” she observed with a worried frown at his pale complexion.
“Yeah, I’m all right,” he expelled with a facial twitch that betrayed his emotions.
“Where can I put this?” she asked, referring to the dish she held in her hands.
“Let me.” As he released her from her burden, their eyes met in a tender gaze. Time froze as each peered through the windows of their souls, seeking to arouse the feelings buried deep inside.
“I...I’d better go,” she stammered, emerging from a sea of passion she slowly felt herself drowning into. She turned to walk back to the door. “I’ll be at home the rest of the evening if you need me for anything.”
He gallantly opened the door for her.” Thanks. I appreciate you coming by”
“You’re welcomed. Well, take care of yourself.”
“I will and I’ll try to bring back the bowl tomorrow.”
After closing the front door, he went to the kitchen to set the dish on the counter. He raised the lid and took a long satisfying whiff before driving a spoon into the soup to get a sip. “Mighty good,” he said, licking his lips. “Okay, why does she think I’m sick?” he queried aloud, his eyes swiveling back and forth to jog his memory of the events that occurred on that day back in 1977. “August nineteen seventy-seven. I went on assignment in…” his eyes widened in horror at his recollection of the disease he had contracted while on mission in Central Africa.
He dashed out of the kitchen, streaked past the living room and strode upstairs to his bedroom where he saw himself sleeping. He inched cautiously toward the bed and hazarded a hand over the bare shoulder. The contact with both skins sparked a chill down his spine. He brushed his hand lightly against the brow “I’m feverish.” He quickly reviewed how the scene was played three years ago and realized that he’d just jeopardized his life by interfering with the flow of continuity. “My God, she was supposed to find me!”
He perched himself on the edge of the bed and yanked the phone off the hook to dial Callahan’s home number. He left and urgent message on her answering machine to drive back to his house for he’d suddenly been overcome by dizziness.
He glanced at the alarm clock beaming a bright 5:05PM. Knowing Rudy was back in Washington, he thought of contacting him directly to spare crucial minutes but just assumed not interfering further to complicate matters for fear of winding out altering the course of history.
He bent over himself and whispered in the ear, “Hold on there, Steve. She’s coming. You’ll be okay. You have to.”
He stood and ambled over to the window. “This is too weird,” he breathed out as he began rubbing a distractingly intrusive prickling sensation in his left arm.