“Now where have you taken me?” Kylie gasps. At least she doesn’t vomit this time. “It’s too hot here.”
She looks around at the desert landscape. We are standing in a town square, of sorts, where some children are playing baseball. The square is surrounded by a few tall buildings. Hot air whips at her hair as she tries to keep it out of her face.
“In my many travels, I met a very compelling man named Carlo, an assassin trapped in a world he wished beyond anything he could escape. Something about his story calls to me. It is this very moment that defines the rest of his life. We travelers are not supposed to meddle in the affairs of humans, but as you may have learned, that is not always so easy. I have tried, and failed, many times to change this. For both their sakes.”
“What happened here?”
“Happens, present tense,” I correct her. “Watch, up there.”
I point to the roof several stories above our heads. I see the familiar scene unfold as it always does. Carlo is on the roof, looking through the scope of his rifle.
“He’s going to kill someone?” She asks.
“Her.” I point to a woman on the ground a few feet away from us. Her face is beautiful, framed by brilliant auburn hair. “He loves her more than his own life.”
“Then why kill her?”
“He has no choice. Punishment, for trying to leave his profession.”
The deafening thunder of helicopter blades drowns out further conversation. It hovers just above the rooftop where Carlo is perched. After seeing the helicopter, Carlo runs to the closest storm drain, trying to reach ground level.
“He can’t do it,” Kylie realizes. “He loves her too much.”
“No, but they will.” I point to the men with guns hanging out the door of the chopper.
“We have to do something.”
“I have tried.”
“But I haven’t.”
I doubt Kylie can be successful. I have tried talking the woman into leaving, sheltering her from the bullets, every time she somehow ends up dead.
But Kylie still frantically searches for inspiration. Finding it, she grabs a baseball bat from one of the kids and runs to the woman.
“I’m taking her out of the equation,” she yells to me.
I follow, unsure how this new development will change things, if at all. My nature as a Time Walker allows me to perceive events as if they were happening in slow motion. The scene unfolds around me…
Carlo makes it to the ground and locks eyes with the woman just as we reach her. The helicopter descends, the sound of which distracts Carlo for just long enough. Kylie swings the bat and knocks the woman unconscious, who crumples to the ground. The inevitable shot from the helicopter’s gunman splits the air. I push Kylie down so that both women are out of harm’s way.
Then fire rips through my chest.
In case you’ve missed any of Zeit’s story, you can read all about him here.