The Longest Week

All Rights Reserved ©

Chapter Eleven

“This is a terrible idea, kid,” Jonah said. I figured I’d get a response like that, but it wasn’t going to change my mind. We were still driving when he finally woke up again, and after I’d finished recounting everything that had happened since he’d passed out earlier, I told him my plan and asked him to look into the future one more time for me. He had, and while what he saw wasn’t good, it was precisely what I had anticipated.

“Look, I know it’s risky, but this might be the best shot any of us will ever have at taking Tempus down for good,” I stated. “The General agrees with me.”

“I do,” she confirmed. “I underestimated Max before, and I don’t intend to do it again. I’d thought he was completely unremarkable in every way, save the fact that he could travel back in time, but there’s more to him than that. His actions over the past week have shown me that despite what he’s done in the past, he has a lot more potential than even he gives himself credit for. It’s a good plan. And it’s our only plan.”

“Cassie?” Jonah asked, almost pleading with her to disagree with us.

“Sorry, Jonah. I’m in, too,” she said.

“Kid, you realize that even if we manage to pull this thing off, you’re as good as dead anyway, right?” Jonah told me.

“Yeah,” I replied. “Believe me, I’m not thrilled about it myself, but we both know Desmond has no intention of giving me the cure. At best, he’ll just figure out how to keep me just alive enough to use as a battery in that machine of his. At least this way, my death could save a lot of lives. It seems like a decent trade to me.”

“So we’re really doing this,” he sighed. “Fine. But I’m going with you.”

“Negative,” the General said. “Max needs to show up alone. If they don’t kill you outright, they’ll incapacitate you so you can’t do anything anyway. You’re of more use with us. At this point, you’re in the best shape of us all.”

“That’s not very inspiring,” he remarked. “But you’re right. I just hope it works.”

“Just remember, Max,” the General said to me, “Desmond is strong. He has a more powerful mind than you could possibly imagine, even before he became what he is now. You’ll have to work fast.”

*

I’d dropped Cassie, Jonah, and the General off far enough away from the meeting site that if Tempus had eyes on the area, they wouldn’t be spotted. When I arrived, the Bobs were waiting for me next to another beat-up sedan. I wondered if there was a reason they used cars like that despite all the advanced technology Tempus seemed to possess, or if Desmond just secretly hated them. I parked my stolen vehicle across the street and got out.

“You were smart to come alone,” Bob said as I approached them. “The boss will be pleased that you made the right choice.”

“I’m sure he will,” I muttered. “Like I really had a choice.”

I got into their car and Other Bob pulled out a needle, waving it in my face with a cruel smile. “Do not worry - this will hurt. A lot.” He injected me with it, sending a searing pain coursing through my veins, feeling like my insides were on fire. I passed out, but I could still feel it the entire time I was asleep, and the nightmares that came along with it might’ve actually been worse. Thankfully, I couldn’t remember them once I regained consciousness - I just had a deep sense of dread that lingered in the back of my mind for some time afterwards.

I’d awakened to find myself in a plain white cell with no windows and a door that only had an eye slot that was currently shut. Glancing down at my arms, I could see I’d been poked and prodded by medical instruments of some kind. I just hoped the others were able to find me without too much trouble. When Jonah had looked into the future earlier, I had him watch where they took me so he, Cassie, and the General could follow later on. They would have to wait until after dark to come for me, though, and I had no way of knowing what time of day it was.

I waited. And waited. And then I kept waiting some more. I was just starting to fear the worst when I heard shouting somewhere off in the distance, followed by plenty of gunfire. When it became quiet again, I strained my ears until I noticed the sound of people hurriedly approaching my cell. I let out a sigh of relief - they finally made it. As if on cue, the door was quickly unlocked, flying open to reveal Jonah and the General standing on the other side, the former holding a key in his hand. They looked a bit worse for wear, and the General’s broken arm was in a sling now, but they obviously didn’t have any problems getting into the facility. Still, we had a long way to go before this was over.

“How ya doing, kid?” Jonah asked.

“I’m fine,” I replied.

“Great. We’ve got the charges right here,” the General stated, patting a satchel slung across her shoulder. Jonah had an identical one on him, as well. “Now we just need to find Desmond’s machine so we can destroy it.”

“Where’s Cassie?” I asked anxiously. “We need her for the plan to work!”

“I’m sorry, kid,” Jonah said sorrowfully. “After you dropped us off, she freaked out. Couldn’t handle the idea of having to face the Bobs again, after how bad things got last time. It’s not her fight, anyway.”

“Dammit!” I cried. “This makes things a lot harder, you know.”

“We’re aware,” the General replied. “Nobody said this would be easy. Now let’s get moving.”

The first thing we did was check the other cells for Emerson. To no one’s surprise, we found him lying dead in the last one, looking like he’d been pounded on by a sledgehammer for a good long while. Despite everything he’d done, he didn’t deserve to die like that. “Poor guy,” I murmured. “Looks like the Bobs’ handiwork.”

The three of us headed out of the cellblock and made our way down the corridor, only to find ourselves cut off by a cadre of guards. Jonah raised his rifle and opened fire. “Guess we’re going the other way,” he said.

We rushed in the opposite direction and were almost across it when we heard a pair of heavy footsteps coming from behind us. The Bobs rounded the corner and smirked. They were no longer restrained by any orders to take us all alive - now that Desmond had me, the others were expendable.

“You need to get to his machine and destroy it!” the General shouted. “Just go! I’ll hold them off!”

Jonah and I raced down the hallway, headed for the main laboratory. We heard the sound of bones cracking as the General attempted to fight the Bobs off, but we both knew it was futile. I knew what would come next. Ducking around an adjacent corridor, Jonah pushed me against the wall and braced me as a blast went off, the shockwave rocking the entire area. The General had used one of the charges in her final moments to take the Bobs with her. They probably weren’t actually dead, but they would be out of the fight long enough for us to do what we needed.

“We have to keep going,” Jonah stated. “She knew the risks. It’s up to us to finish the mission.”

Just as we started running again, a group of guards who had been headed towards the sound of the explosion spotted us and opened fire. Jonah took a bullet in his leg, but he managed to hit several of them and cover us as we fled. I saw the lab in front of us, but when I glanced back, I noticed he was starting to lag behind.

“Jonah, hurry up!” I urged. “We’re almost there!”

“Right behind you, kid,” he replied with a groan. We entered the lab and gave a quick look around to see if any guards were there, but it appeared to be empty. “Here,” Jonah said, handing me his satchel. “You go set the charges, and do it fast. We don’t have much time.”

I took the bag and rushed towards the machine, pulling out one of the explosives as I did. I heard Jonah yell and start shooting again. When he emerged from the hall, I could see he’d been shot several more times. He stumbled to the ground, but kept his gun aimed towards the oncoming guards. I began placing the charges, my sweat-covered palms shaking as I tried to keep them steady.

“Hurry!” Jonah hollered at me and then turned to let loose a volley of fire as he pushed himself closer to the machine. “Set those charges now, kid! I can’t hold them off much longer!”

I finished attaching the last of the explosives to the base of the machine and called out, “Done!”

“Good job, kid! Now just-” He never got a chance to finish his sentence. To my horror, I looked up to see a chrome fist protruding through his chest. Standing behind him was a horrific-looking figure, an amalgamation of flesh and metal to which the fist belonged.

“Oh no, Max, what have I done?” the figure asked mockingly, speaking with Desmond’s voice. He glanced over at the guards and dismissed them with a wave. “Did you really think your little ragtag band of misfits really stood a chance at destroying my beautiful masterpiece?”

“You’ll pay for this!” I shouted in fury and charged at him, but he swatted me aside like I was nothing more than a gnat. He picked me up by my throat and carried me over to the machine, slamming me down in the chair set in the center before strapping the restraints onto my arms and legs. After that, he hooked me up to a series of tubes and wires, clapping his hands together once he’d finished.

“It’s a shame your invisible woman chickened out on you. Though, honestly, I don’t blame her for not wanting to die,” he taunted. “Yes, I heard everything. Did you really think there was anywhere in this place I didn’t have under surveillance?” He circled the base of the machine, removing the charges and using a device to disarm them with an electrical shock, discarding them on a table nearby. “I knew you and your pathetic friends would try something like this. I’m afraid you never really stood a chance.”

“What have you done to yourself?” I asked in disgust. “I thought you were stuck in a computer or something?”

“Well, that’s a pretty reductive way of putting it,” he said with a laugh. “But essentially, yes, I was. However, after my untimely death at the hands of that brute Iris, I put my old body on ice, just in case I might ever have need of it again. And good thing I did. Once I ran some tests on you, I discovered something interesting - turns out, I need an organic brain in order to utilize your power. So I threw this together,” he stated, gesturing at his cybernetic body, “to fill out all the bits and pieces of me that were no longer usable. I downloaded my mind back into my original brain, and voila! Here we are.”

“So now what? You drain my power, use it to jump back in time and manipulate society? You really think being able to go back a week will help you that much?”

You can only jump back a week,” Desmond said. “But this machine will allow for so much more! I’ll be able to travel back as far as I want. And not just that - I’ll be able to travel back into anyone I want. The world will be mine to mold as I see fit! And after I’m done, when I’m feeling nostalgic for the good old days, maybe I’ll even come back to this moment, just to re-experience the look on your face when you realized just how completely and utterly you failed!”

“You’re insane. You know that, right?” I told him.

Desmond simply cackled in reply. “Don’t worry. While you were out, I fiddled with that clumsy virus Iris infected you with. It won’t be fatal, but I accelerated its effects, so your mind will be plum pudding soon enough. You won’t have to suffer for too much longer.”

He flicked some switches on the console of his machine and it roared to life. Walking over to Jonah’s corpse, he knelt down and said, “Sorry, Jonah. I really wish you could’ve seen me achieve everything you’ve spent years trying to stop. Ah well.”

As the machine gained power, I started to feel waves of energy pulsing into me. I tried to keep my breathing steady, but every time I was hit by one, it was like being shocked by a thousand volts of electricity. Desmond strode back towards me, and his footsteps echoed in a peculiar way as he did. With a gleeful smile plastered across what was left of his torn-up face, he raised his outstretched mechanical arms and said, “This is it, Maxy-boy! Can’t you feel it? We’re about to make history together!”

The machine was whirring so loudly that it sounded like it might break apart at any moment. I tried in vain to move my limbs, but there was no way I was going to be able to slip out of the restraints. Desmond moved to the control panel and began tinkering with the settings, getting it ready.

“I really must thank you before I miss my chance,” he said. “I didn’t know when the next opportunity would present itself for me to get someone with the type of power I needed to move my plans onto the next stage. And then you came along and fell right into my lap, all nice and shiny like a present on Christmas morning. It was more than I could’ve dared to dream of!”

I looked at Jonah’s broken and battered body one last time. If I could just hold out a little bit longer, I might be able to save him. Maybe I could save everyone. I prayed that we’d timed it out just right. As the machine’s power source neared critical mass, the cacophony of noise emitting from it made it difficult to even think.

“Here we go, my friend,” Desmond shouted, so as to be heard above the awful din. He started the ignition sequence. This was it. I could feel the machine’s energy pumping into me, significantly augmenting my abilities. Once I’d been primed, he would drain my power to use it himself, and it would be too late.

I mustered up every last ounce of strength I had and screamed, “Now!”

Before Desmond could register what was happening, his cybernetic body was short-circuiting and he crumpled to the floor. Cassie rematerialized next to him, still holding the device Desmond had used earlier to disarm the charges in her hand. She gave me a nod and yelled, “He’s out! Go!”

I closed my eyes and summoned the power within me. The sensation I normally felt before I made a jump back through time was magnified by a thousand. It was like my mind had been set ablaze. At the same time, there was something new and exhilarating about it - I knew I could reach back years and cast my consciousness into anybody I desired. For a brief moment, I considered returning to my childhood, to relive my entire life, or become somebody else entirely, and enjoy the fruits of their labor without having to actually put in any of the work. But no. I couldn’t live with myself if I abandoned everyone to fulfill some selfish wish. I finally resolved to finish the job, and sent my mind back into Desmond, on the day that he should have died.

The world around me spun violently for what felt like an eternity, and a howling wind seemed to rip and tear at my consciousness. I struggled not to give in and let it annihilate me so I could be rid of the pain, but I withstood it long enough for it to finally subside. When I realized I was down on all fours, my body propped up on the cold tiles by unfamiliar hands, I knew it had worked.

“I’m sorry, Desmond, but you’ve gone too far. This had to end now.” I glanced up and saw the face of the General, although she looked much different. She was younger, of course, but she also hadn’t been hardened by years of battle; years of seeing the trauma endured by people in the past and wanting nothing more than to shoulder that burden for them, but unable to do so. In fact, she wasn’t the General at all - she was still just Iris. “If you’d just listened to me, things could’ve been different.”

I touched my mouth and noticed I was bleeding. I must have arrived just after the fight between her and Desmond. If I didn’t act fast, Iris would finish me off, and everything we went through would have been for naught.

I held up my hand in a gesture of surrender and said, “Iris - wait. You’re right.”

“It’s too late, Desmond. I’m not falling for any tricks this time,” she stated defiantly.

“No...no trick. Just look into my past. Tell me what you see,” I half-ordered, half-begged.

“Why? I’ve already seen your past. That’s why I know you’ll never change,” she said.

“Please! Just do it!”

“This won’t save you,” she replied, but I saw her eyes turn cold and knew she had complied with my request. I hoped it would work as it had before, with her seeing not just Desmond’s past, but mine as well. That she would see what I’d been through, what would happen in her future, and be able to stop it. “I...I don’t understand,” she suddenly stammered. “What did you do to me?”

“I didn’t do anything,” I insisted. “I’m not Desmond. I’m Max. You’ve seen what I’ve been through, right? All of it’s gonna happen unless we change things right here, right now.”

“This has to be some sort of trick,” Iris said angrily. “It doesn’t make any sense! I don’t see the future, I can only see the past!”

“It’s time travel,” I explained. “What’s the future to you is the past to me, so that’s why you can see it.”

“If what I saw is true...if what you’re saying is true, and you’re really Max and not Desmond, then what you want me to do will actually be happening to you, not him. Are you really willing to let yourself cease to exist?”

I could feel something itching in the back of my consciousness, desperately trying to claw its way through. The General had been right - Desmond’s will was strong, and it wouldn’t take long for him to regain control of his mind. I was out of time.

“Yes!” I exclaimed. “Please, you have to hurry - my power was never meant to let me travel back into another person’s mind, and both of us can’t exist in the same place for very long! He’s stronger than I am, and once he’s back, I’ll be gone anyway. You need to do it now!”

With a look of great pity and sorrow, Iris nodded. She ran over to grab a scalpel from one of the overturned medical supply cabinets and returned to my side. Placing the edge of the blade near my eyes, she whispered, “Goodbye, Max.”

I won’t describe what happened next. Just look up “How is a transorbital lobotomy performed?” if you’re really curious about it. Suffice it to say, the pain was excruciating, and I was counting down the seconds until I would be free. I waited for the void of nothingness to claim me. But instead, I opened my eyes and was lying in bed. In my bed, back at home. I don’t know how or why I got there, but I leapt up and ran to the bathroom to look into the mirror. I saw my face staring back at me. I’ll admit I was relieved not to be dead, but I was also anxious about what that meant. Did it work? Did we change the future? I had to find out.

I turned on my computer and checked the date - it was the last day I’d lived out before I went back a week to stop the bomb from going off at the Gregson & Lyle Building. I started furiously searching through every news source I could find, and my heart leapt when I couldn’t find anything about mysterious explosions. I Googled the names of Jonah, Cassie, Emerson, Iris, and Desmond. Jonah was apparently a minor celebrity psychic, and even briefly had his own TV show. There wasn’t much information on Cassie, which I figured was how she wanted it, but she was named as a “person-of-interest” in a number of unsolved high-profile thefts. Emerson had helped found a start-up tech company in Silicon Valley and was quite wealthy. Maybe later I’d see if that number I’d found in Henry’s wallet still belonged to him.

Iris had almost nothing about her other than her connection to Desmond’s institute. There had been an explosion that destroyed the entire facility, and Desmond was found still alive a few hundred yards away, but his brains had been scrambled and he spent the rest of his life in a psychiatric hospital. The authorities found evidence of his extreme experimentation on his own patients, and they determined that one of them had done it in revenge for what he had done to them. Iris was originally listed as “missing,” but it was later changed to “presumed dead.” I hoped she’d managed to escape and carve out a life for herself somewhere that she could be happy.

That night, I went to bed feeling good for the first time in a long time. I was ready to wake up the next day and actually live my life right. I resolved not to use my power anymore. I would get a job, even if it wasn’t anything great, and do the work to improve myself. I’d finally be able to make friends, maybe meet someone special and start a relationship. It wasn’t too late for me to change my future.

When I awoke in the morning, I happily started my day with some coffee. I headed over to my computer to start looking for work when my eyes glanced down at the date and my heart froze - it was the same as it had been yesterday. Hoping it was just a glitch, I checked online, but to my horror, they all said the same thing. I searched through the news outlets, and everything was exactly as it had been the day before. This was not good in any way, shape, or form.

The following day, I got up and immediately went to check the date. It still hadn’t changed. This happened again and again, until I had no choice but to acknowledge that I was reliving the same day over and over. I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know what to do. I tried everything I could to get the day to change, but nothing worked. I can’t travel back in time. I’m stuck. And as far as I can tell, everyone else in the world is stuck here with me.

If you’re reading this, then there’s a chance I haven’t doomed us all. Do you remember reading it before, or is this the first time? Maybe you have read it before and just don’t realize it...Hopefully, you’ll wake up tomorrow and remember reading this yesterday. In that case, I can at least take heart knowing the rest of the world is safe, even if I’m still trapped. Everything we sacrificed in order to stop Tempus wasn’t in vain and we succeeded. I can’t be certain that there won’t be any more danger from someone like them in the future, but if I remain stuck in this day, it’ll fall to someone else to deal with. That someone might even be you. Good luck and Godspeed, my friends. Trust me - you’re going to need it.

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank my family for all their love and support over the years as I’ve pursued my dreams of becoming an author. There have been many ups and downs, but throughout it all, we’ve stuck together. Without them, I would never have been able to achieve my goals. So I just want to say thank you and I love you.

Continue Reading

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.