Too Far Back
My power bar is fully charged and blinking. It’s time to do this. Now or never. If for some reason I screw everything up and get myself killed in the 80’s, I hope whoever reads this will respect my wishes and destroy the thumb drive I’ve been using to save these journal entries. The last thing we need is for someone outside of the family to find my ramblings.
Here’s to hoping Uncle Seth and I both return safely.
He shut his computer down and pushed away from his desk again, willing his breathing to stay steady as he glanced at the clock on the wall. 8:07. He would tick-trick in less than thirty minutes. Brody could feel his stomach churning already.
“Are you ready?” Aunt Lauren asked as she appeared in his doorway. “I’ve brought you some of Seth’s clothing. I thought it might help you blend in a little better.” She placed a pile of brightly colored clothes on the bed and all Brody could do was stare.
“You’re kidding me, right?” He asked, glancing her way briefly. “I’m not wearing pink and I don’t want to look like John Travolta in Urban Cowboy.”
“Excuse me,” his aunt scoffed. “I’ll have you know that the Urban Cowboy look was extremely popular that year. Nothing would make you fit in better.”
Brody gestured to the plain white t-shirt and faded jeans he was already wearing. “What’s wrong with this?”
“Nothing’s wrong with it.”
“Then why can’t I wear it?”
“I think you would look very handsome in this,” his aunt picked up the blue flannel shirt and held it out to him. “I would like for you to wear this. Your uncle is more likely to befriend you if you wear this.”
“Thank you. Now, once he realizes you’re from the future you’ll be just fine. I bet he’ll enjoy meeting his future nephew just as much as my past-self will. Do you remember our password?”
“Yep.” It was a ridiculous password, but it’s what they used in case they encountered a member of their family in the past. It was a bizarre thought—he would have to meet his aunt and uncle when they were only nineteen years old.
Why the hell did it take so long for my power bar to get fully charged anyway?
He still didn’t understand how his aunt was capable of tick-tricking in her teens, but maybe that was just a mystery he wasn’t meant to solve. Would his uncle have been capable of doing the same had he lived long enough?
“Just get changed, Brody. I’m going to grab some last minute items for you to take with you.”
His aunt darted out of the room again and Brody was left alone with his nerves. His chest felt heavy as anxiety weighed him down. Tick-tricking was very serious business. What if he failed? What if he got himself killed in the process of trying to keep his uncle alive? What if it hurt really, really badly to jump so far back in time?
“All right, dear. Here we go,” his aunt said, sidetracking him from his thoughts. Brody wasn’t sure why his aunt felt the need to hand him a wad of cash, but who was he to complain? “You can’t use today’s currency. They will become suspicious of the date, you see.” That did make sense. “So here’s some money dated from 1981 and earlier. I’ve also included some extra information about the day my brother was murdered. I know that you’ve read quite a bit about it already, but you need to take this.”
Brody watched as she tucked a few pieces of paper into the scrapbook and accepted it when she held it out for him. Tucking the cash into the wallet, he released a low, nervous breath.
“You’re going to be okay.” Lauren offered in a gentle voice. “You’ll be fine.”
I hope so.
He tossed his wallet onto the bed and then began to thumb through the contents of the binder.
“Whoa, who is this?” He asked, eyes locked on a faded photograph of an incredibly handsome man. The internet hadn’t provided pictures of the first man killed in the fall of 1945, but Brody had always figured maybe the guy’s family was too poor to afford photographs back then. He was immediately entranced. He was hot.
“That’s Daegan Donnelly. I’m a better researcher than you think,” his aunt said softly as she rested a hand on his shoulder. “I’m very proud of you for doing this Brody. And so grateful. I’ll never be able to thank you enough.”
Brody met his aunt’s loving gaze and a smile perked the corner of his mouth. He was trying to accomplish something selfless. Yes, saving Seth would benefit him in the end, but he was ultimately doing it for her.
“You don’t have to thank me for it, Aunt Lauren,” he insisted. “Just make sure you remember who your favorite nephew is when I get back.”
“Silly boy,” she snorted. “You’re my only nephew.”
Brody took the next few minutes to get dressed in the tacky outfit his aunt wanted him to wear. The shirt was tighter than he liked and the jeans felt like they would cut off circulation to his nether regions at any second. The worst part of it was putting on the cowboy boots, but at least he only had to wear the getup for a few hours. He would go back to the 80’s, save his uncle, and be back in time for breakfast. It was a good plan, wasn’t it?
His eyes kept traveling back to that picture of Daegan Donnelly. His gaze was so intense and the finely tailored suit he was wearing helped nothing. Brody really didn’t allow himself to be attracted to many men, and it was a bit stupid to be suddenly attracted to a dead man from the 40’s.
He was fighting to get his wallet into his back pocket when a light knock sounded on his bedroom door.
“Are you decent?”
“Yeah, Aunt Lauren. Come on in,” he grunted. “You will go in, you leathery bastard.”
“I think you may want to put it in your front pocket for now.” His aunt laughed. Her eyes sparkled with happiness for once and Brody wanted to think it was because of him. Hell, she needed to be happy considering the circumstances. Tick-tricking through three decades was a seriously big deal.
“I guess that’ll have to do for now,” Brody huffed as he shoved his wallet into one of his front pockets. He sighed and glanced at her. “I guess this is it. Any last minute advice?”
“Yes,” his aunt pulled him into a hug and Brody immediately wrapped his arms around her. He breathed in the scent of her strawberry shampoo and closed his eyes. What if this was the last time he got to smell it? What if this was a permanent goodbye? “Don’t get yourself killed, Brody Jamison. Come back home to me and bring your uncle with you.”
“I can do that,” Brody nodded confidently. Hell, at least he hoped he could. He flexed his fingers and glanced at the open binder on his bed. His uncle’s smiling face stared back at him. “We’ll be back soon.”
“I know you will,” Lauren smiled bravely. “Go get ‘em, Tiger.”
Brody closed his eyes and focused on where he wanted to be. He’d done it countless times before. A particular moment in time; hearing a certain sentence spoken by someone he knew; a specific song playing on the radio as he tried to recall exactly how an event started. All he had to do was focus on his uncle’s face and think about the night before he died. Aunt Lauren had told him about the basketball game behind the school and how his uncle would always yell, ‘It’s good!’ when he scored. That’s all he needed to focus on to open the portal.
He could hear the song Jessie’s Girl as clear as day and the warmth of a perfect fall evening kissed his skin. A gust of cool air sent shivers down his spine as he grinned. This was it. He was going to do his biggest tick-trick yet and he would be a hero.
“That’s it!” His aunt said excitedly from somewhere in the distance. “You’re doing it!”
He knew he was still in the same room as her because the scent of her shampoo was infiltrating his nostrils. His time and the time he was trying to jump to were colliding in an intense power struggle. Both wanted him, but only one could have him at the moment. Brody could already feel the discomfort in his stomach as he clenched his jaw.
“Just relax and let go,” his aunt called over the deafening volume of the music. He could hear a basketball being dribbled and he knew his power bar was ready to be executed at its full potential. “Let go, Brody!”
But as his life would have it, as always, Brody’s mind immediately wandered back to the handsome face of one Mr. Daegan Donnelly; the first victim of the Kesseley Killer. Why was he even thinking about him right now? He needed to focus on his uncle!
The music suddenly shifted, like a radio rapidly sifting through stations and the blare of jaunty trumpets caused Brody’s eyes to snap open. He was no longer being embraced by the coolness of an autumn day, but rather the bitter cold of a quickly approaching winter. Brody glanced at his aunt and the look on her face said it all.
“Brody, no!” She shrieked, reaching out for his hand. “You’re going too far back!”
He really did try to reach for her, but 1945 reached out and grabbed him before he had the chance.
If only tick-tricking involved reaching a speed of 88 miles per hour or a blue police call box that was bigger on the inside. If only Brody knew how to ignore the pain of his innards being twisted to hell and back. If only he hadn’t thought about a stranger’s attractive features when he took the leap…
But it was too late to turn back now.
All Brody could do was clench his teeth and brace himself for whatever was going to happen. He knew he was heading back to 1945, but when, exactly? He’d never been too much of a history buff, which didn’t make a lot of sense; he could manipulate time for Christ’s sake.
At least I’m not going back to 1912. He thought as his body spiraled further and further into an invisible inferno. There were no brightly colored lights or rainbows. There wasn’t a storm of electricity attacking his nerve-endings as he plummeted through the abyss. Brody couldn’t see anything as he fell through time at hurricane speeds.
It probably didn’t last as long as it felt either. Tick-tricking was like gravity. If he wanted to go back a few minutes in time then it only felt like he’d jumped a few inches off the ground. Hell, even a week’s worth of tricking only felt like a tumble off the trampoline, but Jesus H. Christ, this was taking forever.
Brody’s hands grasped at nothing but air as he spun his body around, trying to brace himself for impact of wherever he would end up. The possibilities were endless, really. What if he wound up in the middle of a busy street? It would suck to get hit by a car.
What if I end up in Kesseley Bay? He thought, horrified. He was an exceptional swimmer, but he always felt so disoriented from time-leaps. His chances of being able to successfully fight his way to the surface of the water after landing were very slim.
God, don’t let me die. He thought as his entire body tensed, signaling his arrival to a new time. He sucked in a big gulp of stifling air only to have it knocked out of him as his back slammed into something hard and unforgiving. The sickening crack of his skull hitting wood caused his world to go dark and the last thing he heard was the startled yell of someone who most certainly hadn’t been expecting company.
I hope it’s not the cops.