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Chapter 18

Friday, March 16th, 2029


I can see why Andy does what he does. I felt the anxiety and the thrills of the job from all the way in the gallery. It also makes me think. Times have really changed. I’m not really from this time, not yet, anyway. I’m supposed to be forty-one this year. This all started back in 2018 when I’d first learned of my power to jump.

Now I’m in a body that doesn’t age because it’s not even really human. It’s a bionic clone of what my twenty year old self would be like called an automaton. My consciousness, or soul, rather, jumped into it once my real body exploded back in 2018 which leveled Denver. My consciousness traveled throughout time landing in this automaton just like my future self, Micah, had planned.

Now I’m in 2029 trying to stop the end of the world. According to what I saw in my future, there was a significant importance placed upon Jay’s son. If John here turns up to be this kid we’re looking for and I think he is then we might just have the fire power to end this madness once and for all. His friend also interests me, but for a different reason. Her blonde hair tells me to assume that she may be one of Jack’s daughters. It sickens me that he had the gall to continue on with his work after what had happened.

I’d been thrown into this destiny because of my father and his work. The work that lead to the death of Jack’s first daughter, Megan. That was what sent him over the edge. I know my place in all of this. I will not rest until his madness ends.

Throughout my own trials and tribulations, I’ve managed to learn a lot about Jack’s projects with Radical-9. I’d been able to jump back to when he had been a hopeful scientist and when Radical-9 had escaped.

I’ve realized I can’t tell much of anyone of my body’s condition, not unless it’s necessary. Andy and Lindsey know because of how much time we’ve spent together and I trust them completely. It’s not like I don’t trust any of these people, I just think it’s too soon.

Andy’s been a big help through this mess. I hope he understands that I’ve chosen not to tell Sarah and Iris. I don’t know why, maybe because I don’t want them to look at me differently. I’m still me, right?

I mean, how much can you afford to lose and still be yourself? Would I still be me if I’d lost the rest of my body? What of my mind? What if I became a vegetable and just lay in a hospital bed all day, would I be myself still?

“Gavin, are you alright?” Iris asks me.

It’s her.

She’s the reason why. I feel…an urge to keep her safe. I mean, I can’t really put my finger on it, I want to keep everybody safe, but maybe it is from the words of an old friend that connects us. She told me that I’d meet a girl who would see me when I die. Maybe it was her, maybe I don’t want her to know that I will, maybe to keep her safe from that.

“Hello? Earth to Gavin?” Iris asks, not for the first time.

“Wh-What? I-I’m sorry, I kind of zoned out,” I say.

“Yeah, I can see that. We need to go to the lobby! They’re going on recess!” Iris says, grabbing my arm. I flinch instinctively, but she doesn’t notice. She pulls me out of the gallery and we’re running at a pace much faster than everybody around us.

She reminds me of her. She has that same playful attitude. It’s uncanny.

“Hey, are you going to hang back there all day? Or am I going to be doing all of the running?” She asks, laughing. I give off a smile and run up beside her. She lets go of my arm and looks right into my eyes. “Race you there,” she says.

“You’re on,” I say.

We speed up and we bob and weave in between the other people around us. I think I catch sight of one guy drop his cell phone out of pure shock. We reach the end of the gallery in a matter of moments and it’s Iris who reaches the doors first. She swings them wide open and then resumes her pace. I hold the door open a second longer and pick up my pace as I try to reach her. I catch up to her in a few seconds and I can see that she is surprised by the look on her face when I run up right beside her.

We burst through the doors at the end of the hallway and we breach right into the courtroom lobby. I bend over, my hands on my knees and I’m breathing heavily. It feels different, though. I feel like my vision is waning and a rush of thousands of emotions rush over me like a waterfall. I’m feeling everything and nothing in one moment. What is going on?

“Hold up, what’s the rush for you guys?” Andy asks, sotto voce. Everything is murmured. I can feel my heart beat slowly and I blink slowly. I look up and Iris is saying something, but I can’t hear her. Then, all of a sudden Andy cuts through and everything turns back to normal. “Hey, can we get back onto the important topic, here?” Andy asks.

“Uh, right. My apologies,” I say, still breathing hard.

“Now, I don’t want to jinx anything, but I think we may have this in the bag,” Andy says.

“What makes you so sure?” Lindsey asks.

“If that note comes out as a positive match, which I believe fully it will, then I doubt that Jake will have an argument for the legality of it,” Andy explains.

“You really think this is it? Are we almost done?” John asks.

“Yeah, I think so.”

“That detective just rubs me the wrong way,” I say.

“That asshole should be reprimanded just for leaving us out to die!” Iris nods her head.


“That detective, before he arrested John we had a bad car wreck. John pulled Iris and me out of it. When he did arrest him he left us both to rot there in the forest.”

“That’s terrible,” Lindsey says.

“How did you make it back?” I ask.

“We had to walk to the hospital and we were lucky to only have a few bruises and scratches. John had a broken leg when they’d arrested him.”

I look over to John, who doesn’t seem to be in any physical pain whatsoever.

“If he had a broken leg, why the hell isn’t it broken now?” Andy asks.

“I don’t know. I could only walk then because of the adrenaline and when the detective showed up I couldn’t even stand by myself. Once I woke up in the cell everything seemed to be fine.”

“Maybe they treated you?” Lindsey looks to him.

“When I was in the future they had these machines that could keep people alive cryogenically, maybe there’s something similar with the idea of icing your leg over?” I suggest.

“Really? The future?” Iris looks to me.

“I don’t have time to explain it at this very second, but maybe you were taken in, John and they have some sort of machine like it? I mean, I didn’t really get to know who made that thing and if the good detective is working with the new government, maybe they’re further along with technology than we’d expected,” I explain.

“There was also when I woke up in the gym…” John begins.

“The gym?”

“The night I disappeared, I had a wound on my head and it was pretty bad. When I woke up it was completely gone. It’s gone even now.”

“Yeah, I was wondering how that went away so quick. It’s like it was never even there,” Sarah says.

“Reminds me of Jack, to be honest,” Andy says.

“Huh?” Iris asks.

“Andy’s right, Jack has a healing factor, that was one of the abilities he’d received from the radiation of the Radical-9.”

“You said he was burnt nearly to a crisp when it first happened, correct?” Iris asks.

“Yeah, he healed much faster than anyone could have guessed. And then there was the time where I just barely got away from him. I basically impaled him with several knives, and I’m willing to bet he doesn’t have those scars now.”

Just then, the door behind us opens and the bailiff peeks his head in. “Five minutes until court resumes, Mr. Cress. You need to head back to your stand.”

Andy nods his head. “I’ll be right out.”

Sarah stands up and gives John a hug. Lindsey bows her head slightly, Iris looks away. We all walk back into the hallway and we pass by the bailiff who has come to watch John.

“So, tell me about the future,” Iris says.

“What?” I ask.

She looks at me, her brown eyes shine.

“The future. You said you didn’t have much time to talk about it there, so how about here?”

I’m quiet for a moment. “Right, it is technically a future, just not our future. The time I visited was the year 2060, but it was a parallel timeline to our own.”

“And this is where you figured out this whole parallel universe travel thingy?” she asks.

“I feel like I get more confused each time I hear it,” Lindsey says, chuckling.

“Trust me, it’s harder going through it personally,” I say.

“I bet.”

“This time wasn’t a happy one,” I start. “That’s the timeline that Micah came from. He’s that universe’s version of me, and alternate life that lead him to becoming who he is now, here.”

“He’s you?”

“He stripped away anything tying himself to me like his name. And Jack gave him this weird power, it made him like this monster, almost like a wolf.”

“How could something like that happen? One universe apart and be so radically different.”

“Ha, radically,” Sarah adds.

I give her a look of mild discomfort, “I already get my fair share of puns from Andy, I think we’re good on that quota.”

“Oh come on, you know you love it,” Lindsey says.

“Anyway, Micah became who he was because of the time he lived in. In that world humanity is all but wiped out. Where he is in 2060 isn’t on earth, it’s the moon. There’s a settlement there that was created in the case of a nuclear fallout.”

“There was?” Sarah asks.

“This part is important, when people who have Radical-9 in their system die, the excess amounts of Radical-9 begin to form a chain reaction, causing a nuclear explosion.”

“What?!” Sarah asks. “So I’m like a bomb right now?”

“I’d choose your locations wisely of where you ask that question,” I say, hushing her. “And yes, but there is good news. I think that there might be a solution to neutralizing that reaction. Jay and I have been working on that for the past few months.”

“Let me guess, in that timeline a lot of people got exposed to Radical-9?” Iris asks.

I nod. “They got exposed on March 18th, 2029 after a single man exploded in Denver, Colorado. That man was Jack. Thirteen years later in 2042 the world as we know it disappears, and my consciousness of that time is the only one tending to the last pillar of humanity for eighteen years until this timeline’s Jack reaches out to him for help.”

“Huh, a bit more doom and gloom than I would have hoped,” she replies.

“That’s why this is very important that Andy gets John acquitted, so that doesn’t happen” Lindsey says.

“So, that’s what happens on the eighteenth? Jack explodes?” Sarah asks.

“From what I learned, yes,” I say.

We reach the end of the hallway and I open the doors. Inside of the courtroom, I see Andy has returned to his bench and so has Jake. Jen is standing back on the witness stand and everything seems to be back where it was before recess had begun.

Just how safe are we from this virus’ lasting effects? Are we truly immune to the effects of Radical-9, or can it only be biding its time for the coup de grâce? This poison inside me, how long will it be until I succumb to its grasp? I can already feel the effects of my mind wanting to tear itself from my own body, its sick call beckoning me to join it in the darkness.

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