Salt Lake City, Utah
The lobby of the old masonry building still maintained its ornate architectural detail. Although the sconces on the walls had changed, the chandelier from my last visit centuries ago remained.
“Hello there,” the old guy behind the information desk exclaimed. Had you told me he’d been here the other night, all those years ago, it wouldn’t have surprised me – he was that old. “Are you looking for the rooftop?”
“Yes, I am,” I responded, still trying to guess his age.
He winked and said, “Take the elevator on the far end, it goes straight up. All you have to do is press the button that says observation deck.”
“Has anyone else been up there lately?”
“No, I don’t believe so. You’re the first one today.”
The ride to the top was steady and efficient. The elevator had been upgraded to today’s standards. I half-expected Matt to appear when the door opened, but instead, was greeted by a sharp autumn breeze.
The rooftop had changed since the last time I’d been there, which in cut-through time was only a day or two, but in real time was several hundred years. It was no longer a barren flattop with gravel and ancient mechanical equipment. Sometime during the last few hundred years it had been redesigned as a recreational outdoor space with a pool, bar, lounge area and observation platform. Plants and trees dotted the perimeter to give it a backyard feel.
I cautiously marched along the edge and peered over at the steep drop below. Augustus slipping through my fingers flashed through my mind and I shivered. What a horrible way to go, I thought, and averted my eyes to the high-rises situated across the street.
“You actually came by yourself,” a voice boomed from behind. “I’m impressed. I guess you’re not a two-faced coward after all.”
Matt emerged from the door holding a metal canister in one hand and Jane Austen’s leather-bound manuscript in the other.
“You made this too easy for me, dumb ass,” he continued, “and I’m going to enjoy watching you suffer.”
“And how do you intend on doing that?”
“Like this…” Matt announced and as if on command the cracking sound of a distant gunshot rang out … quickly followed by another. However, the second one had a different sound, as if it had zipped off course.
Matt’s confident and gloating eye suddenly began searching my body for the expected evidence.
“You didn’t think I’d let you finish me off that easily, did you?” I said and his eyes darted from me to the building over my shoulder. “That’s right, Matt, you’re too predictable.”
“The second shot…”
“Yes, the second one was probably your man squeezing off his dying shot after my man put the plug in him. In fact, we both know exactly what happened…” I lifted the sleeve on my left forearm to reveal the wrist gizmo Ms. Petrovich had provided. “…because we both saw it through our own eyes, if you know what I mean.”
“Where did you get that?”
“Sorry, but that’s classified.”
I was glad to see the disheveled look on his face, but that quickly changed to anger and as if on command, Eye Patch stormed out from behind the bar tent. My reaction was too slow and Eye Patch rammed into my stomach like a linebacker taking down a quarterback. I slid on my back across the tiled floor with that animal on top of me. It felt like he was trying to make me a permanent part of the landscape and hurt like hell. However, he didn’t anticipate the sudden stop because when we did, he sailed over like a flailing gymnast and splashed into the pool.
I didn’t wait for him to resurface and sprang to my feet. Matt and the two items in his possession were on my mind. I ran toward him, but he flung a chair in my path. I nearly fell in the water and as I fought to maintain my balance, to my horror, Matt dropped the manuscript and pulled out a gun … and fired!
I dove into the pool and feared Eye Patch would drown me, but then I heard another object fall in … Eye Patch’s lifeless body sank to the bottom and slowly worked its way back to the surface, a stream of blood in its wake.
A bullet cut through the water close to my head and lodged into the concrete floor. Matt was trying to hit me, I thought, panicking and running out of breath. I quickly assessed my options. Popping my head above water was the worst choice. I could swim to the other side as fast as possible, but he could easily outrun me. No, I thought, I know what I had to do…
With one swift motion, I turned and shielded myself under Eye Patch’s body. While doing this, I used my other consciousness, which was parked on the nearby rooftop, and narrowed my – actually his – sights on Matt.
Two rapid shots rang out and stopped Matt from using Eye Patch as a pin cushion. My other consciousness had Matt dead to rights, but I was running out of air and lost my focus. He fired anyway, while I sprang from the pool gasping for air.
Matt was behind the bar now and started firing at me. With my concentration back in order, my other consciousness made minced meat out of the mahogany bar.
Matt’s gun clicked rapidly indicating he was out of bullets. He threw the gun at me and stretched the manuscript in front of his body like a shield.
“Your friend over there wouldn’t dare destroy the manuscript,” he snarled cunningly.
“He’d rather not, but he won’t let you walk away with it.”
“I underestimated you, Trenton,” he said, trying to spot the rooftop gunman. “It’s not too late, you know, for both of us to walk out of here with the book and the mineral.”
“Oh, how’s that?”
“As I’m sure you know, the manuscript was missing a key component needed to complete the formula … and even someone as smart as me needs time to work it out.”
“How humble to acknowledge your limits.”
“In the meantime, the mineral,” he shook the metal canister, “will have to suffice until the theory is worked out.”
“Or … you can join me and my father and help us speed up the process by accessing it through regression.”
“You want me to work with you … to help you out?”
“Think of the things we can do with that power, not to mention the possibilities we haven’t yet realized my little invention can do.” He indicated his wrist gadget. “What do you say … want to rule the world with me?”
“There’s a fine line between genius and cuckoo-ville and I’d say you crossed that line, Matt.” He frowned. “But answer me this, how did you know the Benadine Mineral was at the bottom of the lake?”
“You’re not the only one who’s accessed a past life through regression. I was on that hilltop too when the meteorite struck … remember, Ben Min?” Gloating at my surprised reaction, he continued, “The rest was easy. My father had a salvage team extract it.”
“So now what, you’re going to slowly feed the world superpowers the Benadine Mineral until the wormhole theory becomes a reality?”
“I haven’t decided yet. Don’t forget, thanks to you, I have Augustus’s coin and I can think of one superpower that would pay a lot of money for that technology.”
“It looks like you hold all the cards then.”
He whipped out a lighter and placed the jumping flame beneath the manuscript.
“I only hold all the cards if I can get away from here without your sniper taking me out.” He dipped the corner of the book into the flame and laughed as it caught hold. “Kind of fitting, wouldn’t you say, Crimson?”
“The formula!” I yelled.
“Do you want me or do you want the formula, Trenton?” He asked and threw the book over the pool where it landed with a thud and tumbled across the tiles, finally resting against the same section of wall where my grip on Augustus’s foot had failed.
“No,” I yelled and sprinted for the book. I had to run around the pool, which took precious seconds. Panting, I grabbed the burning book and dipped it into the pool, dousing the flames.
When I turned, Matt was gone.
“Excuse me, son,” the old man said to Matt, who was in no mood to be bothered by a crazy, old coot.
“Get bent, old man,” Matt spat as he passed the information desk.
The old man’s face tightened. He didn’t like this punk’s attitude, so he stepped from behind the desk and cracked him over the head with his cane. Matt dropped to his knees and immediately felt the lump on the back of his head.
The old man cracked him over the head a second time, dropping Matt fully to the floor where he lay spread eagle on his stomach.
“Who’s the bitch now, sonny?”
The old man whacked him again for good measure and Matt passed out.
I saw this all happen as I was running down the stairs at full speed. You see, the old man was one of my consciousnesses and despite his age, he became my most valued asset.
I reached the lobby and found him waiting, metal canister in hand, although Matt was nowhere to be seen.
“Here you go, Trenton. I think this is what you’re looking for.”
“Thank you. Believe it or not, you may have just saved the world.”
“Sure, kid, and tomorrow I’ll wake up a young man with the rest of my life ahead of me.”
“There’s some truth in that, I think.” I studied the area where Matt took a dive. “Where’d he go?”
“Staggered away. I think he heard you coming.”
I glanced at the cane. “Or maybe he didn’t want another beating.”
“You know, it’s the strangest thing, but I feel like I could take on the world right now. I haven’t felt this way in years.”
“Enjoy it while it lasts.”
“You bet, kid. Have a good night ... I know I will.”