-jumps in very late- Wow I need to get better at this.
BUT TEN PARTS PEOPLE WHOOP WHOOP.
Let’s see how it pans out.
Part 10: The Man Who Used to Have a Plan
Chase, Jonah and I all stiffened at the same time.
Demetrius remembering was huge. We could finally figure things out from here. He could answer questions. What else had happened? Did this mean he was better from his time sickness now?
But none of us spoke. After what we’d just found out already, it was hard to find the words. And it also felt awkward trying to squeeze more information out of a crying, grown man.
Demetrius pressed his palms against his eyes for a few more seconds, sucking in a shuddery breath and then slowly letting it out. He pulled his hands down and rubbed them together. Wetness still showed around his eyes, but he pressed his lips together in a tight line, taking in another slow, controlled breath through his nose.
“Sorry,” he closed his eyes for a second. “I apologize, I…” he trailed off, looking out the window for a second. “Just didn’t… remember all of that. A lot of memories get buried in time sickness and I suppose I’m further gone than I thought.”
He seemed so coherent now. Coherent and sane and… tired.
I finally managed to get out my words. “So, is the time sickness gone now?”
Demetrius let out a sigh and shook his head. “This won’t last. Usually the madness comes in fits and starts, but apparently… that’s what the sanity is doing now.” He paced over towards the window, gripping his long fingers on the sill. His injured arm he held stiffly by his side.
I looked over at Chase. His eyebrows were raised, but he bit his lip, looking a little pained. He glanced back at me.
Jonah spoke before either of us could. “Well, with how much time-hopping you’ve been doing, Morrow, can’t say I’m surprised.” He winced a little as he said it, somehow managing to sound sympathetic. He crossed his arms over his chest and twisted his mouth to one side. “Any idea how long you’ve been looking?”
“Years, at the very least.” Demetrius pulled his hand up to rub over his face, his voice quiet. “It feels like ages since I was last with her. And with all the extra memories I’ve acquired it might as well be. Things… did not go according to plan.”
Chase stepped closer as Demetrius turned back around. “And what was your original plan, exactly? The… back door to the society’s headquarters?”
Demetrius turned towards him and nodded. “The plan… I was trying to find another way to get in. Either through a different device, or finding a living relative of another society member so I could possibly get them to override the lock on my watch. Though I wasn’t sure if that would work. I had it all mapped out… everything I needed to do, and…” his voice cracked. His eyes looked haunted, his gaze going to rest on the clock across the room from him. “Whatever they did with… with her name… it threw me off and I didn’t…”
“Her name?” I asked, frowning.
“Jane Doe, right?” Chase pressed. “Did they… change it or something? It is a pretty common…”
“No, no, no,” Demetrius cut him off, holding up his hands. “It didn’t used to be. There used to only be my Jane, when I started looking. And then I started searching and suddenly her name was everywhere. I meant to follow the plan, but then… I kept thinking I’d found her. She…” his voice broke again. “I thought she’d died. So many times, I thought she’d died. The endless days I spent searching through all the women named Jane Doe. All the cold, lifeless bodies in the morgue bearing the name of my wife…”
My blood turned icy for a few seconds.
Demetrius put his hands over his face again.
Jonah cursed under his breath, “You really ticked off the society, didn’t you?”
“I really did think that if they came… when they came… that I could talk to them. That I could reason and work out the kinks I’d added to history somehow. Make sure it made no huge effect on the timeline to have one more family…” Demetrius raked his fingers into his hair and let his gaze rest on the clock again. “And then I woke up one morning and she was gone. The note that wasn’t in her handwriting on the nightstand.” He swallowed. “And I didn’t even wake up.”
Chase just stared for a few seconds. He shook his head. “That…”
“That really sucks,” I muttered, finishing for him.
Chase wrinkled his nose. “For lack of a better word, sure.”
Demetrius still wouldn’t meet any of our eyes with his gaze. He walked over to the table and looked at the roses, gently running his fingers over the petals. He went over to the kitchen and rubbed his knuckles against the counter.
I couldn’t tell if he was actually looking for something or just reminiscing.
But he was actually answering some questions now, so that was better than we’d been getting.
Demetrius stopped what he was doing suddenly and blinked, frowning. He put his hand up to his hair, slowly, like he was scared he’d frighten away some wild animal. His fingers touched on the tangles and he pulled a clump into his face so he could partly see it when he crossed his eyes. “My hair is… long. When did it get long?”
Jonah raised an eyebrow. “I dunno, maybe the years you’ve been searching for Jane?”
Okay, so maybe he wasn’t completely un-crazy now.
Demetrius let go of his hair and turned a little, looking to the stove. “She… she used to sing when she was…” he closed his eyes for a few seconds, holding his head. He let out a soft groan.
Chase moved over, looking worried. “Is there… anything I can do?”
Demetrius shook his head. “Just the time sickness.”
That was something I was sort of wondering about. “How… how could you forget your own name with the effects, but not forget Jane’s?”
“Priorities,” Demetrius muttered, rubbing his hand against the side of his head. “She’s… the whole reason I’m doing any of this. Anything else, I can let myself forget, but I can’t forget her. I brought all my pictures of her. I wrote her name on nearly everything I have. Trust me, it’s been through a lot of effort that I haven’t forgotten her.”
His voice got a little more strained as he spoke and he winced. “Everything else… my life… sometimes it’s easier to forget some things. I don’t need to deal with more painful memories than necessary.”
So to an extent he… let himself forget, so he could focus more on finding Jane. I bit my lip and looked away.
It was then that I heard something.
There was the steady clatter and clomp of footfalls and horse hooves on the cobbles outside. But they’d been going on since we’d come here and were mostly off on the other streets, so I’d gotten sort of used to that.
But this was a new set of footfalls. It didn’t sound like the clumping of everyone else’s shoes. And this was much closer.
Demetrius started saying something else about Jane, but I didn’t listen, instead moving more towards the front door and leaning forward to hear the footsteps better.
They came up the steps to the front door, then stopped. Just staying there for another minute.
I could hope it was the postman. But if it was, he was standing there an awfully long time and not doing anything.
I realized everyone else had gone quiet as well just as Chase came up behind me and whispered.
“Zoey? Is everything okay?”
I looked back and put a finger to my lips. I nodded towards the door, whispering back. “I think there’s someone out there. Waiting by the door.”
Jonah’s face paled and he swore. “We should’ve gotten out of here quicker,” he muttered. “Everyone, we gotta…” he stopped and looked over at Demetrius. “This is your house, where’s a good place to hide?”
Before Demetrius could get out his answer, the sound of the door creaking open echoed through the house.
Chase stiffened. He grabbed my arm and pulled me over, nodding towards Jonah and Demetrius. “I saw a shed in the backyard,” he hissed. “Let’s get out there. Probably have a few garden tools we could arm ourselves with too.”
The footsteps started moving towards us, clunking on the creaky wood floor.
Everyone silently agreed and we frantically tiptoed our way to the back door. My heartbeat pounded so hard I thought for sure the other mercenary guy could hear it. Demetrius was mumbling a few more things under his breath and I could see his eyes slowly getting their vacant look back.
Jonah shoved the door open, barely catching it before it slammed against the outside wall. We all ran outside, going back towards the teeny garden shed.
The grass in the backyard was muddy and squished loudly under our feet. I winced. Chase curled his bare toes against the cold as the mud splattered up on his ankles and the cuffs of his too-short jeans, but he kept a hold on my hand.
Demetrius opened the door and we all squeezed ourselves inside.
There weren’t a lot of garden tools that could really be threatening against a gun. No sickles, sadly. But Chase grabbed a spade just for good measure. Jonah muttered under his breath and grabbed a rake.
And then we all tried to be as quiet as possible.
I held my breath for a little bit. Then I looked back at Demetrius, once my eyes were adjusted to the darker interior of the shed.
He was mouthing a few words under his breath and spacing out as he looked at the gapped wood of the walls. We were losing the small amount of time we had with sane Demetrius.
I chewed on my lip for a second, then elbowed him in the side. “Hey. Demetrius.”
He snapped out of his daze a little and looked down at me.
I forced a little bit of a smile up at him. “Tell me how you and Jane met. On the Lusitania, right?”
Demetrius blinked hard a couple of times, still looking a little muddled, but he nodded. “I… hurt myself when I landed. And she helped.” His voice was hoarse and low, but it felt more like it was out of respect for Jane rather than caution for the mercenary who was chasing us.
Chase crouched down near the door, squinting through one of the knotholes to peer outside.
“She helped everyone she could,” Demetrius continued quietly. “Jane had barely been able to afford passage for herself, trying to get to a better life in America… and she still gave almost everything she had to others who she thought needed them more…”
I thought I saw a few tears in Jonah’s eyes. He hesitated a second, then put a hand on Demetrius’s arm. “We’ll find her, Morrow. I give my word, I’ll do as much as I can to…”
“Shh!” Chase hissed. “I can see him in the kitchen window, he might come out.”
We all fell silent again.
I drummed my fingers against my leg, fidgeting around a little. The urgency of how little time we had pressed in from both sides. I leaned over closer to Chase and whispered through my teeth. “What do we do?”
“Well…” Chase responded slowly. “We either attack him with garden tools or…” he trailed off, his expression changing a little.
“Or we continue looking for Jane elsewhere because she’s certainly not here,” Demetrius put in, his voice just a touch too loud and sounding a little sing-song-y at the end. “I do still have my watch. Maybe we should ask the… the bloke in the red bathrobe. He seemed to know a thing or two.”
I made a small shushing sound, but Chase didn’t even seem to notice. He still seemed lost in thought, frowning out the knothole for another few seconds.
“What is it?” I whispered.
Chase pressed his lips in a line for a second before turning back to Demetrius. “What did you say was part of your plan at first? To try and get back into HQ through another device?”
“I… I believe so, yes.”
“And…” Chase seemed to have physical difficulty forming the next words.
Jonah spared him the trouble. He snapped his fingers and pointed. “We have another device! We have mine!” He let out a laugh. “I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before. Of course!”
Demetrius’s face lit up.
My heart jumped at the same time my stomach twisted a little. Just remembering what Jonah had remarked on about Demetrius’s watch jump being a “smooth ride” compared to his.
Chase was clearly thinking the same thing, by the grimace on his face. But he didn’t say anything, only nodding to Jonah. “Can you get it booted up and locked on so it’ll take us to the… HQ place?”
“I’ll enter the coordinates,” Demetrius corrected. “They’re rather tricky. It’s a protected time field, so no one who doesn’t already know their way there can’t find it.” He moved over to Jonah’s side as Jonah pulled a clunky, black box from a pouch on his belt.
The two of them set to twisting knobs and pressing a few buttons around the outside of the little box. It looked… a little bit like a ring box, I noticed.
I looked back at Chase, who had returned to watching the knothole. “Good thinking,” I remarked quietly. “You gonna be okay?”
“Just don’t take it personally if I end up throwing up on you,” Chase muttered. And after a couple seconds silence, he added more sincerely: “I hope we’ll both be okay.”
“It’ll be fine,” I assured him. “Jonah’s used this thing lots of times. He knows what he’s doing.” I looked back to Jonah for some reassurance, but the face and shrug I got in response weren’t super reassuring.
The smack of the door opening and whacking against the outside of the house made us all jump.
Chase shoved back, getting to his feet and standing between me and the door. “He’s coming this way!” his frantic whisper was barely a louder than a breath.
Jonah cursed. “Faster, Morrow!”
Demetrius didn’t seem perturbed. He gave one knob a few more careful twists as the footsteps got closer. Another second and he smiled. “There. That should do it. Everyone make sure we’re touching, this warper is a little more primitive.” He wasn’t even trying to whisper.
The footsteps sped up and I heard a voice bark out something that definitely wasn’t friendly.
Chase threw his arms out and yanked everyone together into a sort of violent group-hug. “Do it! Now!”
Jonah wiggled his arm free. The box flicked open just as the door swung open behind us. And it to me, it looked like the shed exploded.
And thus we leave the land of where I had an idea what I was doing and head into a wHOLE NEW REALM. This should be exciting. xD
Check back in next week!