Avery was tired of tagging along for the ride. Feeling powerless about what was going on around her was not something she liked. She didn’t know herself very well but she knew she didn’t like being helpless. The story continues in the fourth chapter of Catching Time!
[Read First Chapter Here.]
Chapter 4: 2091
Sierra and Bliar had said nothing to her in the Jeep. Avery felt like she was imposing. Staring out the jeep’s window, she concentrated on the strange view. The night air smelled unfamiliar and almost of cinnamon as she made out strange shapes in the distance. It was so dark she couldn’t figure out what the shapes could be. Maybe, they were like the deathbringer that had permanently lodged itself in front of Sierra’s house. Knowing that there might be more of those things gave Avery the chills.
“Hey, what are those shapes?” Avery tried to break the silence.
“Nothing that we need to worry about anymore.” Sierra said, turning her head to see what Avery was talking about.
“Don’t worry about it, you’ll remember soon enough.” Bliar sounded disdainful as she continued to drive.
Avery didn’t bother to ask anything else on the drive. Her window to get answers was now closed with the arrival of Bliar.
A few hours later, lights started to grow in the distance and they pulled into a city. A diner was the first place they saw that wasn’t fast food. Bliar had quickly turned into the parking lot without asking them if they wanted to stop.
Once they got in they ordered a meal and were left in uncomfortable silence. Avery tried to stretch out her legs under the cramped booth without kicking Bliar in the shin. Avery’s legs were aching from sitting in the cramped back seat and everytime she moved Bliar shot her a glare. It wasn’t hard to figure out that Bliar didn’t like her very much.
This situation wasn’t pleasant. Along with Bliar eyeing her, Avery also questioned the diner’s cleanliness. The peeling paint on the walls, soap scum on the dishes, and malfunctioning window lights, giving a view of the never ending night made her doubt the place.
Once the food arrived, Avery pushed her scrambled eggs to the middle her plate before taking a bite. They tasted flat. Sierra sat next to her holding another cup of coffee, and Bliar sat across from them as Avery pushed around her food. Bliar shot Avery more disapproving looks when Sierra wasn’t looking. They had just met, she didn’t know what Bliar had against her.
“What about that guy that trashed the house? Aren’t you worried about him catching up to us?” Avery tried asking. It was too silent at the table and she knew it was on everyone’s mind. She hoped that they weren’t going to shoot her down the way they did in the Jeep.
“Yeah, this is just a quick stop,” Sierra said, putting her coffee down. “We’ll leave in a few-”
“Ok, about that.” Bliar interrupted. “Sierra, can I talk to you outside for a minute?” She wasn’t going to let Sierra tell Avery anything.
Sierra nodded, turning to Avery, she had to wait for Avery to get out of the booth before she could step out.
Wordlessly, Avery got out. Sierra followed behind, grabbing onto Avery’s arm to help pull herself out of the booth. It wasn’t hard to notice that Sierra had no personal space when it came to her. Maybe, it was just part of her personality? Avery didn’t notice Sierra doing the same thing to Bliar.
“Alright, let’s talk,” Sierra said to Bliar. She nodded toward Avery, letting her know that she’d be right back and silently she left with Bliar.
Now, alone at the table, Avery pushed her plate away from her. A waitress came by and smiled politely to take away the plate. Politely, Avery smiled back. She was tired of not knowing what was going on. She was also tired of tagging along for the ride. Feeling powerless about what was going on around her was not something she liked. Avery didn’t know herself very well but she knew she didn’t like being helpless.
“The check when you’re ready,” The waitress said, placing a piece of paper face down on the table.
“Thank you,” Avery replied and the waitress smiled again before turning around to leave.
Avery turned towards the window, she could see Sierra and Bliar in a slit in the malfunctioning frame. Guessing, Avery figured they didn’t know what to do with her. They also had someone dangerous on their tail and Avery didn’t know why. It was strange for Bliar to agree to help Sierra after knowing she was on the run from someone like that.
Another thing that was strange was why Avery agreed to go along with them without protest. Besides her memory, Avery’s body was fully healed. She no longer needed any medical attention. Sure, Sierra was interesting to her but now Avery felt like she was an unwanted passenger. With Bliar around, Sierra wasn’t going to give her any answers. Then, what would happen when Avery regained her memories? Something told her that Bliar didn’t like that idea very much. Avery had to think of a plan for herself.
Sierra and Bliar were still outside talking when Avery got out of the booth. She was going to walk out and leave. It was going to be as simple as that.
Avery decided to go through the side door away from where they had parked. She stayed away from where Sierra and Bliar were standing and exited the building. The dark air was cool and crisp and she wished she was wearing something warmer. Cars drove past her and people walked the street in the surprisingly well lit and busy city. Avery found a large group of people and walked in step close behind them, her intention was to blend in as close as possible.
“Did you hear that they are selling tickets back to North America?” A young woman spoke a few feet ahead of Avery.
“What, no way? I heard that whole area was destroyed in the first wave.” A young man responded back to the woman.
“I heard they’re doing it to reopen Disney World.” The young woman said, “It’s the 120th anniversary or something.”
Avery had no idea what they were talking about as she followed the group. Having walked several blocks behind them, she now felt comfortable enough that she wouldn’t be spotted. She had no idea what to do next as she let the group disappear ahead of her and stood alone on the sidewalk. The old buildings seemed to look down at her, taunting at her and her situation.
Reading the shop signs, she looked over stores and restaurants in the area. They all seemed busy. This was a far cry from the house she had woken up in. Here, there were signs of life everywhere around her. One restaurant stood out to her. It wasn’t as busy as the rest and it would give her a chance to step inside and figure out what she was going to do next.
The door chimed as she walked inside and the employee at the front gave her a quick glance.
“Sit wherever you want and someone will be there to serve you in a minute,” she said as she grabbed a stack of menus. This place looked like a sports bar and grill.
Avery decided to sit at the bar and the bartender gave her a nod, letting her know that he’d be with her once he finished serving the man he was talking to. She nodded back. She had no idea why she walked in here but it felt like the natural thing to do.
“What would you like?” The bartender came up to her cleaning a glass with a towel in his hands.
“Just a water,” Avery said, knowing that she didn’t actually have any money to spend but that was not something she was going to tell him. He got out a glass, quickly filled it with ice and water, and moved on with someone else’s order. She watched him walk off and her eyes shifted to the odd screens above the bar. They weren’t really screens but holograms. Some games where playing but that’s not really what she was interested in.
Then, a holographic screen caught her eye that was playing above the bar. It looked like it was showing the news. A scrawny man stood at the front with a microphone and text lined the bottom of the hologram. The image behind him was dark and full of debris as he talked into his microphone.
The hologram changed as men and women in fancy suites stood on a podium. They all took turns shaking hands with the text of ‘Breaking News’ scrolling below them. Four words stood out to Avery. First, was the year ‘2091’ followed by ‘World Peace Treaty.’ Not touching her water, Avery sat at the bar perplexed.
“Hey, looks like you’ve seen a ghost.” A young man sat next to her and leaned over. It was obvious that he already had one drink too many. He was also wearing an expensive suit. It was far nicer than anything anyone else was wearing at the bar.
“Its nothing,” Avery said, and took a sip of her water.
The man just looked at her and narrowed his eyes. He nonchalantly slammed a fistful of cash on the table as the bartender walked by.
“Another round?” The bartender asked.
“Yeah, and one for her too,” The man said. The bartender nodded and brought out two glasses and filled them with whatever beer he had on tap. The bartender placed the glasses in front of them before leaving again.
For some reason, Avery knew it would be this easy. The man was already drunk and she’d be able to pick his brain. That is, if she could put up with getting hit on for a few minutes.
“Thanks, but not interested,” Avery said, getting her intentions clear from the start. Yeah, she definitely knew that she had done this before.
The man shrugged. “You know after the war, it doesn’t hurt to buy a stranger a beer just because,” he slurred and leaned forward,” so much killing going on, y’know.”
“Yeah… just so you know, I don’t go that way,” Avery said.
“Ok, I respect that,” the man said and took a big gulp of his beer and set it down with a loud clunk. “By that you mean, you don’t pick up strange men at the bar?”
“No, strange women on the other hand…” Avery let him fill in the blanks. She had instinctively said this. Now, she knew she had done this before, the reply came effortlessly from her lips. She was telling him the truth. Avery was also aware that she wasn’t helping her chances of being able to ask him more questions but she had to set boundaries.
“Oh, alright,” He said and they sat in silence for a few minutes. The hologram above them continued to change scenes as the silence ticked by. Avery waited until a scene of destruction was shown on the hologram that she was watching.
“The war was terrible,” Avery picked up a new topic. She wanted information and she hoped that he’d still talk to her. Even if she didn’t know what she was talking about, she wanted him to continue talking about the war. “A fancy suit. Are you one of those guys?” Avery asked, trying to put the pieces together after seeing the news.
“I’m not one of those fancy diplomats if that’s what you’re thinking. I just drive their cars and now I’m here to celebrate. After everything that happened, it’s nice not having to be afraid all of the time.” The man said as he raised his glass to his lips.
“Yeah, it’s been how long now?” Avery started playing along, she acted like she knew what he was talking about.
“Fifteen years,” The man finished. “I thought it was over when we lost half the planet..,” he trailed off.
“Half the planet?” Avery couldn’t help but be surprised.
“Yeah, nuclear bombs?” The man looked at her puzzled. “Are you sure you’re ok?” he asked, leaning forward towards her again.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” Avery finally picked up the beer and took a small drink.
“You don’t look fine,” He said and leaned on his elbow. He glanced at her briefly and changed focus to two women entering the bar.
“You have no idea,” Avery took another sip of her drink.
“Well, anyway, it was nice to meet you.” He got up from his stool, letting her know that the conversation was about over. “If you’re up for it, there is going to be a party along Lincoln Street to celebrate the peace treaty. The local government is closing down the road and everything for a parade.”
“Nice to meet you too, and thanks for the beer.”
“Hey, you’re welcome. My name is Misha by the way, if you want to say hi and visit with me out at the party. I might even know some lesbians and point them over to you.” He said, then spun around. He continued on his way to try to pick up someone else.
“Thanks,” Avery said to his back. She didn’t get all the information she needed but she got a little. Maybe, it was best to wait it out until she regained her memory. Alone. She had no idea what she would find out when she regained everything.
A headache had started behind her ear in the middle of the conversation with Misha and she was finally starting to feel it. She rubbed the back of her ear and ignored it. Relaxing for the next few hours was in her best interest. Sierra and Bliar probably already noticed she was gone by now. Avery wondered what they were doing.
“She’s not here.” Bliar said, looking at the empty booth, completely taken by surprise.
“I can see that.” Sierra rubbed her temples with her thumb. They were so busy arguing about what to do with Avery, it didn’t occur to them that she’d get up and leave herself. They hadn’t been watching her close enough. Sierra believed it was completely her fault. She had felt a kind of connection with Avery that she didn’t feel like she would just walk out like that. “We can’t go after her. She’s going to have her memory back by the time we find her.”
“Ok, so we have one bounty hunter on our tail and add one military officer with a new chip on her shoulder,” Bliar said sarcastically, she picked up the check on the table and sat back down in the booth.
“We don’t know if the guy from last night was really a bounty hunter,” Sierra said, lowering her voice so the people in the booth next to theirs wouldn’t overhear.
“Look, he was a bounty hunter,” Bliar said, matter of factly.
“Shit, I’m so sorry. It’s my fault.” Sierra finally sat down again knowing that Bliar was right. That man was a bounty hunter. She also knew that it was possible that Avery would be back. Next time, she might be pissed off from what Sierra had put her through. If she was assigned to continue with her arrest. Sierra had just made the whole situation worse and Bliar knew it too.
“Hey, look, it’s going to be okay.” Bliar placed her hand on Sierra’s from across the table. “We’ve been through worse” She was trying to make Sierra feel better.
“Yeah, and every time it gets bad one of us dies. We are the only ones left and that was before all of this started happening,” Sierra replied. They had been through so much together that it was hard to believe that they were the last two out of their group of five.
“I have a plan, don’t worry about it.” Bliar removed her hand from Sierra’s.
“You have a plan?” Sierra said doubtfully, knowing that Bliar and her were never the ones who came up with the best ideas. They were both not leadership material. Sierra was too stubborn and Bliar was too reckless.
“It’s better than your plan.” Bliar said, she didn’t even have to point out what had just happened in the last several hours. Sierra already knew what she meant.
“I hope it doesn’t involve killing anyone.” Sierra raised an eyebrow. Her plan might have been bad but Avery was still alive. She didn’t want to have another death on her conscience.
“It doesn’t involve killing anyone. I’ll tell you once we get out of this place.” Bliar stood up from the booth and took the receipt with her.
Taking one last drink of her now cold coffee, Sierra stood up and followed behind Bliar. They walked up to the register.
“Do you want to take home one of our signature pies?” The woman behind the register said as she stared at them with glossed over eyes.
“No thank you,” Sierra paid as the woman rang up their meal. None of the staff looked like they cared about any of the customers here. Sierra and Blair were just another face out of many that the staff was going to see that day. It was just the way Sierra liked it. She wanted to blend in and she wanted to disappear in the crowd.
Getting back in the jeep, they drove off with a new sense of anxiety looming over them.
Beep! Bep! Beep!
A truck honked at the stoplight at a car a few vehicles ahead of them. The line slowly started moving as they made their way down the street. Sierra wondered what kind of plan Bliar had in mind. She also wondered where Avery had gone off too. She didn’t know for certain, but she figured Avery was still lost and wandering around the city without knowing who she was. Sierra knew that it wasn’t the best feeling in the world. Avery was basically wandering around the streets blindfolded.
“We’re here.” Bliar pulled up to a filled parking lot and waited for a car to back out before taking its place. She put the jeep in park and turned it off.
“Why is it so busy?” Sierra watched as a group of people stepped out of an SUV. The streets had been packed and the hotel that they pulled into was also packed.
“Ok, before we get in, I need to talk to you.” Bliar changed the subject and turned in her seat to face Sierra.
“Remember what I said about us being the only ones from our group left alive?” Bliar continued.
“Yeah?” Sierra didn’t know where she was going with this but she figured Bliar was going to finally reveal her plan.
“Well, that’s not entirely true.”
“What do you mean?” Sierra had been there when most of them died. She was the one that treated them, the original group of five that The Organization allowed to time travel. Five people out of five groups. Bliar wasn’t making any sense.
“Do you remember Sable?” Bliar sat back and continued, “He stayed behind in 1890.”
“I heard that too,” Sierra didn’t really know what to say, her hopes immediately started to sink. What Sable did was more of a myth that everyone knew about in the program but nobody actually believed, “So that’s your plan?”
“Yes.” Bliar shrugged again but she didn’t lose her enthusiasm despite Sierra’s doubt in her.
“Ok, and you told me my plan was bad.” Sierra rubbed her temples with her thumbs again. There was no way anyone stayed back in time without the knowledge their employers.
“I think we can do the same. You have to believe me, if it’s a myth or not it could still work.” Bliar said, she looked like she really believed what she was saying.
“You sure it’s going to work?” Sierra was doubtful. Sable died. She was one of the few that had seen his body. It was just a story that started to go around and nothing more. They couldn’t stay back anywhere without The Organization’s permission and faking your own death while in thier crosshairs was impossible. They also no longer had access to a time machine.
“It’s worth a shot, we can stage our own deaths and be done with all of this. Y’know, fake our deaths, move to Mexico, and start a new life? ” Bliar started again, “This time stage a death, travel back in time, and start a new life.”
“And what time period would you choose?”
“Why 1994, do you really want to see The Lion King on the big screen that bad? They made several remakes of that, all you have to do is wait a year for another one to come out and I’ll take you to go see it.” Sierra said with an eye roll. Even if they could fake their own deaths it was still impossible for them to get into The Organization’s facilities again.
“It doesn’t have to be 1994. You don’t have to go with me. You can go when and wherever you want,” Bliar said.
“Do you really want to do this?”
“Then, I guess we’re going to 1994.” Sierra shrugged. It was only fair, Bliar followed her here and this time she’d follow Bliar. “Do you even know how we are going to do this? It’s not as if we could hop back in one of The Organization’s machines and go whenever we want.
“Leave that to me, I already got us tickets to Earth. We have to be at the skyport by tomorrow night.” Bliar said with a smile. She looked pleased with herself as she opened the door to the Jeep.
“We need more than tickets to Earth to get back to 1994.”
“Don’t worry about it. I still have some connections. Do you trust me?”
Sierra looked at Bliar in disbelief, “I trust you.” She didn’t. Sierra didn’t know if this was actually a good idea but she’d follow Bliar anyway. She had nothing else to lose and nowhere else to go.