It’s official, Sierra made it out alive after escaping Dr. Fabre’s lab. With no plan and a gunshot wound, she is on the run. Nothing had gone according to plan but she’s at her target destination. It seems like 1994 is exactly as she remembers it. But is Sierra actually safe? Find out in the next chapter of Catching Time!
[Read First Chapter Here.]
Chapter 10: Home Sweet Home
“I never thought I’d be back here,” Sierra whispered in disbelief. The last few hours had been a blur.
Blood pooled across the tile floor in a haphazard pattern. Inside an apartment bathroom, Sierra sat in the tub. It had hurt considerably to peel her jeans off her leg. Dr. Fabre’s gun had left her with a third-degree burn. It resembled the wound that she had left Avery but in a far less lethal location.
Once Sierra landed, she had gotten the bleeding to stop long enough to escape to a place she knew was safe. Her uncle’s old apartment. She tied a shirt around her waist to hide her leg and hailed a taxi to take her there. It was easy to pick the lock to get inside.
Sierra rested her head against the pink tile. “This place is smaller than I remember,” she said, taking a break from treating her leg.
Resting for a little too long, the little device she was using beeped steadily in her hand, alerting her that she needed to keep going. Sierra had her medkit unpacked and she ran the device across her thigh. It would take a couple of passes of the device to get the wound to stop bleeding. She knew she deserved it. Now she knew how Avery felt.
It was four-thirty in the morning when Sierra got up from the bathtub. The wound now completely gone but still slightly pink. In a few days, it wouldn’t be noticeable. She only had one med-kit. It was going to be a disaster when the devices she brought with her from the future will no longer keep working. Sierra had really started to rely on them but they needed regular maintenance. There was no way she’d be able to keep them going in 1994.
Walking into the hallway, she was looking around. The apartment was just the way she remembered it down to the family portraits on the wall. Sierra hadn’t been here since she was six. One thing she couldn’t do was leave her uncle’s place looking like a crime scene. The blood needed to be cleaned up.
In the living room, a photo caught her eye. It was one with her and her brother fishing in a small pond, they were each holding up a carp. Looking back, she never thought that her life would end up like this. What was she doing? She had seen the future and it was complete shit. Not only that, but she was responsible for creating that nightmarish place. How could she end up starting the war that was going to nuke half the planet. How could it be her? Dr. Fabre had to be lying.
“Jason, you really messed up bringing me along,” Sierra ran her thumb across the picture frame as she picked it up. That had been a simpler time, fishing with her brother and picking dandelions until the sun set. She missed her brother.
Placing the picture frame down, she needed to get moving. Now, Sierra reached for the remote control in the living room and turned on the t.v. for some background noise while she started looking for the cleaning supplies. The kitchen wasn’t far away and it wasn’t in the best shape. Her uncle hadn’t been the best cook and she figured he probably ate out most of the time. Hopefully, he cleaned. Looking under the kitchen sink, she gathered up some bleach and paper towels in her arms.
Scratch, scratch, scratch!
Sierra froze as shuffling nearby reached her ears. She knew no one was supposed to be back here for a month. Her uncle often left on long business trips. No one could be here. She checked and double checked that he’d be gone before she came.
The noise continued. It was coming from the cupboard in the kitchen and slowly, she walked towards it. She hoped her memory wasn’t wrong and that he still held his job. Slowly, Sierra opened the pantry door.
“What the-” Something large plopped on the floor and scurried past her.
It was a rat.
Well, it could have been worse. Sierra knew she wasn’t going to stay here for long. She looked back at the pantry and found that several boxes of cereal that were chewed through. Eating here wasn’t an option, she’d think about that later. First, she needed to clean the blood.
“We are live on Highway 60 to report an unusual crash,” A newscaster said from the television as Sierra walked back to the bathroom with the cleaning supplies in hand. The voices were muffled from the t.v. as she cleaned.
Blood was difficult to take out but not impossible. As long as none had gotten on the carpet, she was fine. Fortunately, Sierra had lots of practice. She tossed the dirty towels in a trash bag and walked back to the living room.
“I swear I saw this big lunar lander,” A man with a cowboy hat said on the t.v. The newscaster looked amused as he pushed the microphone closer to the man’s mouth.
“Can you elaborate?” The newscaster asked.
“It wasn’t like anything I’ve ever seen before. It was huge! The thing just appeared out of nowhere and crashed right over there.” The man in the cowboy hat pointed. “I think a woman was piloting it.”
Sierra paused what she was doing and sat down on the couch. She had a bad feeling about this. What the man was describing sounded a lot like her machine but the craft couldn’t have been her’s. There were eyewitness accounts at this site. She hadn’t crashed in broad daylight and she was careful. Was it someone else?
The newscaster brought the microphone back up to his mouth. “Dozens of accounts have come pouring in but we want to inform folks at home that nothing out of the ordinary is out here today. A military vessel on a training mission lost control near Highway 60 early this morning. Clean-up crews have evacuated the area.”
No, It wasn’t Sierra. This wasn’t a report on her landing. Sierra wouldn’t have been as careless leaving so many eyewitnesses. Had The Organization sent someone else back to find her? Or maybe, it was Bliar? Sierra wasn’t certain of anything anymore.
The newscaster continued, “Traffic is still close to a standstill. It’s recommended that you take an alternate route. Now back to you Katie.”
The live broadcast changed to two newscasters sitting in a desk. Immediately, Sierra lost interest. She stood up.
“A carjacking has also taken place near Highway 60 during the confusion of the crash. Steven, back to you at the scene.” The woman said. Sierra walked to the kitchen to pour herself a glass of water.
What if it was Bliar? Should she stay put?
“Yes, thanks, Katie. During this morning’s events, a woman was reported stealing a 1990 Ford Ranger. The suspect was reported to be a woman in her mid-twenties, 5’5”, Hispanic, with brown hair and brown eyes, wearing overalls. If you have any information please call the number bellow.
Sierra took a drink of water, she wasn’t paying attention to the newscast anymore. Bliar would know where to find her but The Organization would too. It was best that she distanced herself from her family. Sierra didn’t want to get her past involved and have a possibility of crossing paths with her younger self. This was time travel 101, she didn’t want to alter her or her brother’s future.
The crash on Highway 60 already happened several hours before the news crew got to the location. Sierra didn’t have much time. She took a quick look around the apartment. There was no trace of blood, she fluffed the pillows on the couch and cleaned the glass she drank out of.
It was time for her to leave. The pants that she had were questionable and full of blood but with a jacket tied at her waist, it was hardly noticeable. She’d have to find clothes to blend in and transportation but first she needed to get to her machine.
One thing was for certain if it was either Bliar or The Organization, she needed to destroy the tech of her time machine. She wasn’t planning on going back no matter who found her here.
The old car hummed under her feet. It was a green Volkswagen 1989 Golf Mk2 GT. Sierra bought it used at the closest car dealership on foot from a pawn shop. She traded it in for some gold coins from the 1500’s that had gotten stuck between the time machine’s seat cushions. It paid being a time traveler. This car wouldn’t stand out too much either. It wasn’t flashy or new compared to what she could have bought with the money.
The fresh clothes she was in also felt good. Making a trip to the store, she bought herself a suitcase and filled it with essentials. It was time to get out of this state. Feeling refreshed, music filled her ears and she sang along.
“I take advantage while… you hang me out to dry.” The music blared.
A lime green vile sat beside her in the passenger seat. The vile was the time machines power core. Dismantling it was harder than Sierra remembered it being. She couldn’t let anyone from this time period find it so she had to bring it with her. Destroying it was a top priority. The time machine itself was now abandoned for good. Sierra was going to stay in the ’90s and she wasn’t planning on going back.
It was close to noon and hunger pains twinged at her stomach. The first place she saw off the road was the familiar yellow arches of her favorite drive through from childhood. Sierra pulled into the line of a McDonald’s and waited behind a white jeep as she continued to think.
“I’ll have a large coke and two large fries.” Sierra could hear the order in front of her as the driver of the jeep stuck his head out of his window and bellowed over her music.
If that was The Organization’s machine on the Highway, it was already confiscated by the government. She ignored everything around her and went deep in thought as she waited in line. Sierra was going to make sure her time machine was going to get confiscated too but it wouldn’t have any technology that was worth salvaging.
After she left her uncle’s apartment and pulled out the power core, she called the cops on a payphone and reported her time machine behind a Jewel-Osco. This time periods government will put it under lock and key and if The Organization sent someone, they weren’t in any position to get to it without a massive amount of paperwork or a fight. It could buy her some time to disappear.
Sierra couldn’t take risks, she really hoped it was Bliar who traveled here but she couldn’t be optimistic. So who was in that other time machine? Did The Organization send someone else? Would they send Avery again?
The song shifted to a guitar solo and Sierra tapped her finger on the wheel as she thought.
Sierra didn’t know what to think of Avery. The only thing running through her head when Avery arrived on her doorstep was that something was wrong. You just don’t get a personal housecall from a military officer. Sierra had focused so much on Avery’s uniform that she had disregarded that she was an actual person… until Sierra shot her.
The vision of Avery’s body lying in a pool of blood was still stuck in Sierra’s mind since the night of the parade. The memory of Avery’s skin growing pale and the fear of feeling her take her last breath while she worked had been gnawing at her for nights now.
“Hi my name is Steven and I’ll take your order when you are ready.” A boy said behind the speaker, he sounded somewhat nasal.
“Hi, one moment.” Sierra hadn’t realized she pulled up to the drive through speaker. Her body had been on autopilot. She pressed pause on the radio’s tape player and cranked her window down all the way to place her order. It was times like these that she missed automatic windows.
“I’ll take your number two combo with a Dr. Pepper,” she leaned out of the car, taking a quick glance at the menu, “oh, and one small vanilla and chocolate cone.” She hadn’t had any of this food since she was a kid.
“Ok, pull up to the first window.” The boy said and Sierra took her foot off the break.
Pulling up to the first window of the drive through, she paid the employee and the boy handed her the familiar brown bag and an ice cream cone. She then pulled the car into the parking lot, taking a lick of her ice cream.
Avery was still on Sierra’s mind, she wasn’t as intimidating once she was out of uniform. Thinking a little deeper, Sierra remembered her being pretty and fit. Her age on top of being athletic had saved her life in the end since Sierra had to use old technology and had no support from the resources of a hospital. Being shot point blank with anything was a miracle to bounce back from.
So, if it were Avery, could they talk this over? What kind of person would she be with her memories back? Couldn’t Avery tell that Dr. Fabre was lying? Sierra wasn’t the kind of person to hurt anyone, she saved Avery’s life after all. Avery should know this now, right?
The ice cream cone was gone before Sierra realized it. She was overthinking and asking questions to someone in scenarios that didn’t exist. Why was she thinking about talking to Avery again? The best thing to do was to keep going. Instead, she was going to treat this situation as if Bliar was the one who crashed here. They had a protocol of what they would do if they got separated.
She finished the burger and fries and tossed the power core into the empty bag. Crumpling up the bag, she placed it on the seat and turned the key to the car, starting it up. The food was good but it had lost its magic. It was no longer viewed from the eyes of a four year old. The cheeseburger was cheaply made and hastily put together. Sierra pulled out of the parking lot.
The desert was hot but not as hot as it could be by mid-day. Clouds were rolling in on the border between Arizona and Utah. It was going to rain soon.
Sierra wiped sweat from her forehead. She had dug a shallow hole with her empty Dr. Pepper cup and she threw the fast food bag with the vile into it. Finding a large rock, she smashed the bag. It popped and sizzled as green liquid oozed out. It smelled like sulfur.
That was it, the end of the time machine’s power source. The machine she came in was now useless and this acidic goo was unsalvageable. Good. She covered some dirt on top of it and got back in her car as it started to rain.
It didn’t just start to rain it started to pour. Hard. The hardest part was when Sierra made it to a small town as the sun began to set. The place wasn’t built for rain and water flooded the streets. As Sierra drove she could feel her car drift from under her because it was so low to the ground. It forced her to pull over to the side of the street as she attempted to wait out the storm.
The weather was getting cold too as the sun disappeared in the sky and was replaced by the full moon. Sierra shivered in her seat. It was strange how the weather could change so much in a couple hundred miles. Sierra watched as cars drove past her. It would take a couple of days to get to Bliar’s hometown in Washington. She wasn’t in any hurry. This was okay, this time period felt familiar and safe.
Bliar should be waiting for her in their rendezvous spot. No matter what time period they traveled to Earth never changed. They would wait for each other in their hometowns if any one of them got separated. Bliar choose the time period so it made sense she’d be the one waiting. If anyone from The Organization was after Sierra, it gave her the chance to be on the run.
Closing her eyes, Sierra drifted off to sleep. She’d start traveling again when the rain stopped and she felt more rested. This was a perfect opportunity for a nap, the day had been eventful. She didn’t notice a vehicle pull up directly behind her car as she slept.
What woke her up were the lights, they were blinding behind her. When Sierra opened her eyes she squinted, holding up her hand to shield her eyes. It took her awhile to get her bearings but then everything started rushing back to her. She was in 1994, somewhere in Utah. The bright lights were from a vehicle that pulled up behind her but it was raining and the lights were so bright that Sierra couldn’t make out what was going on outside the car.
Quickly, Sierra reached for her car keys and the car hummed to life. Her window wipers flicked urgently against the rain giving her a clear view of what was in front of her.
A woman stood alone, getting drenched from head to toe in the rain. Sierra couldn’t believe her eyes. Could she still be dreaming? The woman was familiar but she didn’t look lost. She looked like she had a purpose.
“Turn off the car now or I’ll shoot!” The woman yelled but in the rain and with Sierra’s windows closed, the threat felt empty. Sierra glanced at the gun. It wasn’t from the future. It looked like a Glock. Sierra cranked down her window with urgency.
“Yeah, just try. I’ll just drive right through you!” Sierra yelled back. She was still shaken by surprise. Was this Avery? Her demeanor completely changed.
The two were at a draw. The truck was parked too close for Sierra to back up. If she wanted to leave, her only option was to go right through her.
“Do you really want to try me? Get out of the car!”
“You’re going to have to drag me out!” Sierra kept her foot on the break but she revved the engine. She saw the woman wince slightly at the noise.
“I can drag you out if that’s what you want.” With her hand, the woman motioned with the gun and pointed it at her windshield. Sierra could see her eyes, she looked like a military officer. This woman looked like someone who had done this before, like she was someone who killed before. Sierra realized she shouldn’t have felt guilty for almost killing her. God, she really was Avery.
Avery could actually shoot her.
Everything from earlier was just wishful thinking. Avery wasn’t going to be convinced and Sierra wasn’t ready to die. Lifting her foot off the break, Sierra pressed on the gas.