The Second Time Around

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17

Gregory moved his hand just a touch, and winced at the pain and the startling flow of blood that started. He clamped his left hand down hard on the wound again. He took a deep breath, and cried out in pain as he lurched over towards the SUV. He managed to reach both pistols the man had dropped. With the one he'd taken first, that made three handguns and at least as many bullets. As an arsenal, it wasn't great, but it would have to do.

Gregory bit down hard on his lower lip as he pulled himself to his feet. He stumbled forward, hobbling and lurching along towards the professor's house. Luckily, no one was home on the street today, and every house was quiet. Whether they were out shopping or at work, Gregory had the street to himself.

But Lucky was on his way, and would be there in less than twenty minutes.

Gregory swallowed the bitter metallic taste of bile mixed with blood on the back of his tongue, and he lurched up the steps leaving a trail of bloody footprints. He pounded on the door, and a very pale Dr. Mathis opened it. Gregory stepped and nearly fell through the open door. Dr. Mathis caught him and laid him over on his back against the inside wall as gently as he could. He closed the door and locked it, then knelt.

"What can I do, Gregory?" Dr. Mathis asked, his face growing even more pale as he looked at the wound beneath Gregory's hand.

"Check my back," Gregory managed between gasps, "See if there's an exit wound. If the bullet punched through."

Dr. Mathis turned Gregory as gently as he could, and lifted his sweatshirt. "Yes," he said, a bit breathlessly, "there's a whole in your back about the size of my thumb, and it's bleeding rather badly."

Gregory nodded. "Good," He gasped.

"Good?" Dr. Mathis asked, incredulous, "You've been shot through the side! How can that be good?"

"Cause if he'd used hollow points," Gregory gasped, "The bullet would have probably broken up and still be inside me, if I was lucky. If I wasn't it would have blown a hole the size of a grapefruit in my and I've have bled out on the sidewalk."

"If we don't do something, you might bleed out here," Dr. Mathis said.

"Sugar," Gregory whispered, "Granulated sugar. Rinse the wound with water, dry it, then pour on dry granulated sugar and pack it in as much as you can. It's going to hurt, and I'm going to make a lot of noise, but it should stop the bleeding."

Dr. Mathis swallowed hard, but nodded. He went to the pantry and came back with a five pound bag of sugar and a pitcher of water. He had two towels draped over one arm. He set the sugar down and poured the water over the bullet wound. He wiped the water dry and poured sugar over Gregory's side. Gregory winced, and his breath hissed out suddenly, but he ruthlessly packed the sugar in with his own hand.

Dr. Mathis repeat the process on Gregory's back. By the end of it, Gregory was pale, drenched with sweat, and his breath was coming in short, ragged gasps.

"Was this part of your grand scheme?" Dr. Mathis asked.

Gregory actually smiled. "As a matter of fact, it was," He panted. "Only way to change a timeline is to enter it for good. I thought there were two ways of doing that, but maybe I was wrong. Maybe there really only is one way." Gregory chuckled, and ended up coughing hard. Gregory checked his watch, and nodded. "Time to go up stairs and call that number. Remember your line?"

Dr. Mathis nodded. "What about you?"

Gregory smiled, and pulled himself to his feet slowly. He pulled one of the pistols from his waist band. "I've got to finish this. I've come too far now to give in. Don't worry, Professor. I plan to live a while longer, yet."

Dr. Mathis nodded, and ran up stairs. He picked up the phone, and with shaking fingers dialed the number that Gregory had written down for him earlier. The phone rang five times, and then the line clicked and a voice said softly, "May I help you?

Dr. Mathis swallowed, his voice suddenly dry. "Even a good weatherman can't make it rain." Dr. Mathis said hesitantly.

There was a brief pause, and the voice asked, "Do you need an umbrella?"

"Four. At this location. Fifteen minutes," Dr. Mathis said, reading off the paper in front of him.

"Done. Don't go mobile." The line clicked and went dead, no dial tone.

Dr. Mathis hung up the phone, and sat on the bed, his hands bloody and shaking.


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