And this week. We get to, again, my favorite part yet. -evil author grin-
We finally get a bit more backstory and idea of what’s going on here with Demetrius and his odd time-quest.
If you’re behind, catch up here!
Part 9: Leave a Note
I just stared at the package and note for a few seconds before I could get my voice working again. I took in a shaky breath. “Chase! I found something!”
Footsteps pounded from somewhere in the house. And then somewhere else in the house.
“Where are you?” came Chase’s voice from upstairs. I could hear Jonah and Demetrius call out things as well, but I didn’t make them out.
“In the dining room! It’s to the left from the front door.” I held the package tightly in my hands, feeling a little shaky from excitement.
The footstep sounds all converged and a few seconds later, everyone was crowding into the dining room.
Demetrius came through the door first. He rushed over towards me, his gaze flicking all over the room and his breath catching. “Where? Where is she? Did you find Jane?”
“She said she found something–not someone,” Jonah pointed out, his gaze going to the package in my hands. “What is that?”
I shook my head, looking over at Chase as he stepped over. “It’s … look.” I held the note out so all three of them could see.
Chase’s brow furrowed as he read. Demetrius’s eager expression slowly slackened into blank shock.
Jonah’s eyebrows slowly crawled upwards. He let out a low whistle. “Now that’s a doozy.”
I had to agree with him on that one.
“Do you remember writing this?” Chase turned to face Demetrius.
Demetrius just stared at the package, slowly opening his mouth like he was trying to speak but couldn’t quite get the words out. He just shook his head, his face paling so the dark circles under his eyes stood out more. “I … I’ve never seen that package before.” He leaned closer to the note. “But that certainly looks like my handwriting. And …” he trailed off, stepping away.
I could back it up that it was his handwriting, from seeing the back of his photo of Jane.
There was no way anyone else would have forged a note for his wife.
Chase eyed the package. “It looks like a book.”
“It’s pretty heavy, but it feels cold. Kind of … metal.” I bit my lip, looking to Demetrius. “Do you think it would be … okay if we opened this?”
He didn’t look at me, staring into space and seeming almost like he didn’t hear.
“Demetrius, I think this could really help us to get you to Jane,” I added hesitantly. “Maybe with more than one person working on it, we can figure out where she is?”
“Hmm.” He sighed, inclining his head slightly, but still not looking at any of us.
Jonah looked between all of us and shrugged, sticking his hands in his pockets. “I’d say that works as a yes. Open ‘er up.”
Chase winced, but didn’t contradict him.
I felt a tiny bit bad opening up the package meant for Jane. But curiosity has always seemed to override conscience for me. I undid the string and tore into the brown paper.
What showed underneath was the smooth, black surface of a screen. Almost like a tablet screen.
A tablet? In World War One? Why did he keep this with him?
I quickly ripped off the rest, revealing, sure enough, that it looked like a really thick tablet. A white button stuck out from one of the slick, metallic sides. But other than that, there wasn’t any sort of marking on it. Silver on all the sides except for the black glass of the screen.
Chase squinted and leaned closer. “I’m … not the historian of the two of us, but that … really shouldn’t be here.”
“But Demetrius is from the future!” I set it on the table to look it over more. “He probably brought it from his time. Maybe it’s a recorded message.”
“And maybe it’s one of the guys trying to kill us, leaving a bomb,” Chase shot back. “Don’t you think any of this looks suspicious?’
I frowned and looked over at Demetrius. He was still spaced out and just tilting his head as he looked around the room.
Jonah pressed his lips together in a flat line and raised an eyebrow at Chase. “We still have a bit of time before the rest of the party shows up to kill us. I think we’re good for now. Plug your ears and duck if it’ll make you feel any better.” And without waiting for argument, he leaned over and smacked the white button on the side.
I didn’t honestly think it was a bomb, but I still jumped along with Chase at the click of the button.
But there was no explosion. Only a soft buzz, then the screen lit up, showing Demetrius. Demetrius with the well-trimmed curls, less lines on his face and the neat suit. He stood in the same room we were in now, nearly in the same spot, leaning over and looking like he was fiddling with the camera on the tablet. It almost seemed like a mirror into an alternate world.
Chase blinked a couple of times. Jonah gave him a short “what did I tell you?” look, then propped one hand against the table as he watched the screen.
Video-Demetrius pulled back a little, sitting down and just staring into the camera for a second. He let out a soft sigh. Then he spoke.
“I … I suppose this whole thing is really my fault. And this may be my only chance to apologize. To you.”
His Fault? Apologize?
I stared, leaning closer and feeling around for some sort of volume control so I could turn it up.
The video continued.
“I really didn’t think … it would go this way when I … I first came here.” Demetrius looked off to the side, running a hand over the side of his hair and pressing his lips together. His brow was furrowed as he spoke. “And I didn’t ever think it could end in this mess.” He took in a shaky breath, still not looking at the camera. “But it seems that the best I can do for now is to hope I can make things right, and to try and leave you some sort of explanation …”
There he trailed off for a second. He steepled his fingers, pressing them against his lips in silent thought.
I couldn’t help taking a second to look back at the Demetrius we had with us, compared to the Demetrius in the video.
He looked insane before, sure. But the contrast to the man he used to be …
It was even more shocking, seeing him now. Like someone had gone along and highlighted the hollows in his cheeks, the haunted, blank look in his formerly clear eyes and the tangled mop of hair.
He watched the screen, standing as still and quiet as a statue.
“Starting at the beginning is probably best.”
I looked back to the video. Sane Demetrius was looking into the camera again, his fingers still steepled, but his face determined and calm now.
“You see, I told you I was a historian, and that I came from the future to record events. But I didn’t tell you what all that entailed. And… how you changed everything for me. When we met on the Lusitania… I…” He let out a breath, closing his eyes for a second and bowing his head to pinch the bridge of his nose.
It felt like someone had just dumped snow down the back of my shirt from the chills I got.
Chase saw me stiffen and frowned. “Where’s that? Is that …” he looked over to Jonah. “Is that somewhere in the future?”
Jonah shook his head.
When they first met? On the Lusitania?
My mind went a million places in the few seconds of silence the video gave.
The Lusitania. The British passenger ship that was hit by a German torpedo in nineteen fifteen, killing over a thousand people.
Demetrius didn’t bring Jane back with him to this time. He found her here. And that meant…
“My assignment …” he continued, “was to get a more detailed account of her sinking, since most of the details in my time had been lost. And personally, I thought we had enough of knowing the riches and luxury of the ship, so I thought it would be more interesting if I got the story more from the angle of the steerage passengers.” He kept looking straight into the camera, keeping his hands clasped in front of him – almost like he was giving some sort of police confession.
“The two most hard and fast rules in the Historian Society, as I’ve told you Jane, are that you do not kill.” He held up one finger, then put up a second.“And you do not change what is already written in history. Even the smallest change could have enormous repercussions. One death could mean the death of an empire, later on in time. Or… one out of place death, at least, was what they would say. Death is a part of history and it wasn’t our place to change any of it that was already meant to happen.” I couldn’t tell if the video glitched just then or if Demetrius’s voice had cracked.
I swallowed, unable to take my eyes off the screen.
“I thought it would be a good idea – going back to get a different angle. I … I was only thinking of it from an academic standpoint. How it would look on a page when I wrote it all down…” He ran a hand over his hair, scrunching his fingers into it in the same way I’d seen him do with his longer hair. “But once I got there and … when I met you. I’d never met anyone like you before, Jane. Someone so kind and beautiful and brave, and … I …”
Video-Demetrius rubbed a hand over his face. “According to history, Jane … you were supposed to die. And I’d never even thought about changing anything before I took the trip to the Lusitania. But I just couldn’t let you go when I had the means to save you. I thought I could make it work, but I’m afraid …” his voice definitely cracked this time.“It’s my fault that you’re gone.”
He pressed his lips together tightly and swallowed, taking a slow breath. Then he put his face in his hands and I saw his shoulders tremble a little.
The same voice came from behind me, pitched low and sounding small and confused, even as it came from Demetrius’s height.
“That’s … me.”
His tone felt like he meant it to be a question, but it didn’t come out that way. The slight raise of an attempted question mark fell flat. He knew.
I didn’t know what to say. I could only hold my breath, hoping that the video wasn’t over.
And it wasn’t, just yet.
Video-Demetrius took a deep breath, straightening up and raising his head again. He shook his head, blinking away some wetness from his eyes. “I’m sorry. I really don’t have much time to waste here.” He took another breath, clearing his throat and squaring his shoulders, then launched back in, sounding much more professional this time.
“I expected someone from the Society to show up eventually, but I wasn’t anticipating them taking you without first confronting me. So I had to formulate a new plan. My pocketwatch warper has been locked out of going back to headquarters, where I believe they’re currently holding you. And my shield scarf is missing.” He winced at that. “So I’ll have to calculate my moves carefully and hope I’m lucky enough to keep my head clear. I hope to find a backdoor route into HQ that doesn’t involve my warper, but someone else’s, or figure out a way to override the DNA lock on mine.”
He held up his pocketwatch for a second, and I got a look at just how shiny and new it had looked back then, dangling and spinning on its gold chain.
Then he set it down again and stared into the camera like he was searching for more words to say.
“I’ve … possibly doomed us both through my actions. And I realize that now. But I promise I’ll bring you home and keep you alive, no matter the cost to myself. You deserve to live.” He managed a half-hearted smile. “I love you, Jane. And I will find you.”
And with that, he reached over towards the camera and the screen went blank.
We all sat in silence, all staring at the black glass of the screen and our own blank expressions reflected there.
My brain raced around and around with the new information. The horrible, sinking feeling in my stomach as I realized this was a much more tragic story than I’d ever guessed, first reading the letter from Demetrius’s pocket.
The silence was broken by the sound of a quiet sob behind me and I turned around.
Demetrius had the heels of his palms pressed against his eyes and his shaking fingers clenched into his hair. He choked in a breath, then let out a whisper.
“I remember now.”
Well, what’d you guys think?
See ya next week for more!