“Trump sucks! Trump sucks!” screamed a woman, haggard and wearing nothing six inches above and below her belly button. Her scraggly brown hair streamed in the intermittent wind.
“Well, you suck too!” screamed the man on the other side of the partition, not ten feet away. “You suck balls! Look at you! You slut!”
“Well, you can’t get this!” screamed back the woman, pointing at her lower half. “This is too good for you! You’re old and fat!”
The police officer in between them watched calmly as they continued to insult each-other. It was a curiosity I was not used to. Being a first-time time traveler, all of this was novelty to me. How the officer could not do anything, did not do anything to restore order… it was horrid. An abomination. If they had lived in my time they would have both been subject to hormonal correction.
“Trump’s a fucking moron!” screamed the woman, spittle flying out of her mouth. “A racist! A fucking racist!”
“At least he isn’t a pussy!” yelled back the man--a portly forty-something (they had shortened lifespans back then) with little to no hair on his head (they had natural hair back then). “He is going to pummel North Korea! They won’t stand a chance! If Obama was in there, he’s practically be worshiping that slimy dictator!”
“Spread our democracy, spread our democracy!” snivelled the woman as the rest of her group started chants of “Right to Choose! Right to Choose!”
“You’re fucking murdering babies, you ----!” said the man. He was reaching for the barrier, as if to push it aside. The policeman reached out one arm. The man stopped pushing.
“One more aggressive action, sir, and you’ll be arrested,” said the policeman to the offender.
The Trump man looked the officer up and down, staring at his glossy blue uniform and sinister sunglasses with the same calm expression the officer had worn moments before. “I’m done, sir, no need to worry about me,” said the man calmly, staring the officer full in the sunglasses. I, Thedius Thalbolt, stare at the pair in fascination and then abruptly look away, pretending to scan the crowd. I then turn my face back to the fascinating pair. It is about to happen, the moment I’ve been waiting for. I sigh--because I must stop observing the fighting (!) pair and focus on what I’ve been assigned to observe. The gun fires. The crowd screams.
The man dies.
It’s the man directly in back of the anti-Trump woman I’d been was watching. He collapses in a pool of blood. All tragic, of course. Not only for the loss of life, but also because he’s someone famous. And this shot is what starts “World War Three.” Which leads to the Revolution of Dulling. Which leads to me. Us. Society and life as it should be. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Who fires the shot? That’s what I’m here to investigate.
I had lined myself up just right to observe the small firing window. I knew where the wound was in advance (from past photos and such) so I only had to but glance at the twenty by twenty foot window where I perceived the shot was coming from. I could barely feel the air of the bullet as it careened by, but I could still feel it, as they told me I would. So I knew it was
coming from one of six windows.
There was the briefest glimmer of movement from one of the windows--a bright spot in the darkness, a circle about a centimeter across: the gun. Apparently it was that easy, as they also told me it would be. Now all I had to do was catch the perpetrator.
Easy as pie. Assuming they had pie in my time--I had only just found out about it.
“Grab ’em by the pussy! Grab ’em by the fucking pussy!” screamed the woman before she realized what was happening. Then, “Oh, no!”
No time for lingering on the dead man. I had the map of the area memorized down to the smallest conduit (there was no communication into the past) and I acted on instinct alone as I sped my way through the crowd and into the building. But then I realized he (DNA analysis of the blood--he wasn’t very careful) would definitely be using either the back entrance or the garage, so I raced to the back. But wait: a window was open! I paused and listened. Feet running down stairs, not slow fast but fast fast--it was definitely him. I glanced up (stupidly, I’ll admit) but I couldn’t see him. I sure hoped he couldn’t see me.
I raced to the stairway exit at the back of the building, trying to keep a low profile while doing so. Copying a common custom of the times, I held my hand to my “baseball cap” (baseball is an archaic and dangerous sport involving small, heavy projectiles that fly upwards of a hundred and fifty kilometers per hour). So that I could keep a low profile in case people were watching me; when you’re a time-traveler, you don’t want other people noticing you--you might end up in an institution for doing things without explicable reason (you really, really don’t want to tell anyone the real reason).
I reached the garage entrance. There were two cars pulling out. But which one was it? Or was one of the cars even him? I needed to know, so I whipped out my vibration sensor--it sensed vibrations in objects and people. This was particularly useful if you needed to track someone who was nervous: when palpitations appeared on a person’s skin, the detector lit right up--figuratively. (In reality, numbers just blinked on the screen.)
The sensor showed no matches on either person (a man and a woman--wigs were always possible--, both wearing sunglasses--might as well shoot myself in the head after not getting any id!) I hesitated, always a bad move; the two cars moved up and out of the garage. Which one should I follow? Should I stay here and wait for the next car? I did the smart thing and stared at the back of their cars for an instant, recording their license-plates. Then I waited some more.
He almost didn’t come.
Then a black Mercedes cautiously pulled up to the exit. I turned to face my back to him so he wouldn’t notice my face and chuckled to myself. I didn’t know it would be this easy. Hubris had perhaps crept into my mind, but this job was a path to earning two hundred thousand credits a year, for starters--who knew how much more lay ahead down the road? So I took a quick peek, even though I had a camera at my back--I wanted to be able to tell the story to my grandchildren. And what happened? What else but him flashing me an evil grin, and positively speeding out of the garage and down the parkway like some kind of accursed adolescent (as if those existed anymore). Perhaps he was indeed an adolescent, but I didn’t have the luxury of taking the time to wonder. I threw all caution to the wind and activated my rocket-sneakers (I know, it was dangerous, both physically and from a publicity standpoint--I didn’t want them
locking me up in a secure location like Area 51 or Guantanamo (was it still open?) and eviscerating me from the inside-out).
I cursed and my head snapped back from the acceleration. I wobbled through the air, roughly twenty feet above of the speeding car (a red Porsche). People gaped at me as I rocketed past, but it was necessary--I needed to determine the identity of the perp. Fortunately I was moving too quickly for a general hubbub to arise. At least, until now.
Some people screamed in high and low voices as I narrowly missed their heads after a rare dip. I struggled with the computer, telling him to let me fly higher but not succeeding in the attempt; I would have to modify him before I embarked on my next time flight. If I made it. I might end up in a parallel universe with no way back. But that’s another discussion.
There was a loud thunk as I dropped onto the top of the car. They had prepared me for this, as well; I was given acrobatics training, as was appropriate for what I was doing. What I didn’t know was why they hadn’t prepared me for what came next:
As soon as I landed in the passenger’s seat agily like I was taught, the man grabbed me; or, rather, his prosthesis did, if he could be called a “he” (I’m all for machine rights, but there is still debate within the ethics community/or, there will be debate, as to whether they have gender).
New pronouns abound.
“So,” he said, fixating his unsmiling glance on my rigidly-scared body, “you have found me. This is not the first time, you know.”
“Perhaps,” I responded, as was customary, in the traditional tone of voice. “But I don’t really believe you...”
“Curses on you!” spat the robot, the android, whose model was discontinued twenty years ago… my eyes widened, then narrowed. Twenty years ago! How could this be possible?
His angry, red, blinking eye flashed as it probed my body. “Unremarkable,” it commented after a few seconds, shrugging his shoulders obliquely. “They haven’t made any improvements on you, it’s almost like they’re telling me to not even bother trying. You know, I could crush you like a bug, assuming they still existed, but even that would be a waste.” So he just shrugged and kept driving.
The speed kept increasing: 80 km/h, 90, 100, until we were practically driving twice the speed of the other cars. This resembled something called a “racecar,” which is an extremely dangerous sport where drivers try and race around a track five-hundred (or four-hundred, or six-hundred, depending on the race, if I remember correctly) times while mercilessly killing the other drivers. Fortunately, most of the other drivers end up surviving.
This has promptly brought a tear to mine eye: in fact, multiple tears. My face is almost all wet as I stare at our impending doom: a rapidly (it seems) closing drawbridge that was now at thirty--no, thirty-two degrees in inclination. I braced myself for impact as the enemy agent (the android, or robot, whatever you want to call him) drove on impassively. Then came his voice again, like a droll, nasal sound-recording amplified up over a thirty-year-old loudspeaker (still wireless, if you can believe that!), reeking of oil and burned circuits: “Seriously.” Then a pause.
“Well, seriously what?” I inquired brazenly, looking at the empty road ahead, which was pointing up ahead like an arrow at the setting sun, shining its blinding rays into my eyes and forcing me to shut my eyes like a woman (that’s what they say they did, when they existed) as I contemplated my impending death.
“They sent a mortal,” declared the robot, laughing maniacally as our car hurtled toward its doom, the deep horn of a ship resonating below, causing the girders to shake and the birds to rise up in a frenzy.