Another week, another time travel story part. On the right day this time, no less.
We’re getting close to the end people.
Only a few more weeks.
If you’re new or forgetful, catch up here:
Part 17: Making/Breaking History
Jonah came into the room just in time for my biggest flicker yet.
My fingers and toes felt tingly. I didn’t just know that I was disappearing from the timestream—that I was slowly being erased from existence—I felt it. Even memories of my own life were getting fuzzy.
I was scared. I was really, really scared.
Chase kept his arm around my shoulders when I actually stayed solid enough for him to touch. I curled my knees up to my chest again and kept most of my face hidden.
Jonah stopped cold the second he saw me flicker. He looked between the two of us, his face paling. “Oh, no. Don’t tell me…”
I swallowed hard at the knot in the back of my throat, squeezing my stinging eyes shut for a few seconds. I sucked in a breath to explain, but Chase spoke first.
He pushed to his feet, looking desperately to Jonah. “She’s disappearing. The watch went to her and she… if Demetrius and Jane…” he stopped and swallowed. “How do we stop it? How do we keep her here?”
Jonah didn’t take his gaze off me. He was silent for a few seconds and just slowly shook his head. “We… don’t. Just the fact that she’s disappearing means that time has already changed. The only thing that’s even kept her alive and kicking for all this time was Demetrius’s sheer determination that he would get Jane back. It was a foregone conclusion, and we…” his voice cracked a little.
He blew out a breath and clasped his hands in back of his neck, dropping his head down so Chase couldn’t see his face. The haunted look in his eyes. Jonah shook his head, shrugging. “Apparently, we screwed it up.” His voice was hoarse. “Demetrius and Jane don’t end up together.”
So there had been a timeline where Demetrius had found her. One where he had been able to take her back to their life together, and they’d had their baby and grown old together.
But now she was going to die, a nameless steerage passenger on the Lusitania. And he was probably going to live out the rest of his days locked up, raving mad and alone.
Because we screwed it up.
If I just hadn’t asked about those dumb clocks. If I hadn’t asked to come along in the first place. If I hadn’t been so stupid…
There was another sick, numb moment where I felt like I could fall right through the floor, and then I was solid again.
The tears I’d been blinking back finally spilled over and I put my face down against my knees. I held my breath for a few seconds to try and keep from crying, but I still felt my shoulders trembling.
Chase and Jonah stayed silent. The room felt stuffy with the hopelessness of the whole situation.
I felt the quiet movement of Chase sitting back down next to me and putting a hand on my arm. My eyes stung and I squeezed them shut tighter, taking in a shuddery breath.
“I-I’m sorry, Chase,” I choked out. “If I just…”
“This isn’t on you,” Chase’s voice sounded firmer than I expected. “We’ll figure this out.”
Figure this out? Did he even hear what Jonah was just saying?
I lifted my head a little bit to look at him.
Chase had already turned his head towards Jonah. His jaw was set and his eyebrows drawn as he spoke. “So, Zoey has Demetrius’s DNA, right? The watch came to her.”
Jonah turned from looking out the window, his arms loosely folded across his chest. “Well, yeah, that’s the whole reason she’s disappearing.” His tone and expression were more tired than just a minute before. He looked older.
“The watch would work for her, then? She could warp with it?”
I stared at Chase.
Jonah’s eyebrows went up. “I… guess she could, yeah. But…”
“So we go back,” Chase interrupted. “We take Demetrius’s watch and go to the Lusitania to save Jane ourselves.” He raised his eyebrows back at Jonah, his gaze challenging.
It was Jonah’s turn to flat-out stare. He opened his mouth and closed it again a few times. “Chase… if we wanted to miss the society member who was taking Jane back to the ship, we’d have to get there right when the ship got hit.”
“The Titanic took hours to sink,” I muttered, still turning the idea over in my head. “But the Lusitania got nailed by a torpedo and sank much faster. We’d have only a little over fifteen minutes, and there’d be a bunch of panicked passengers to fight through, and if we’re not off in time…” my mouth moved, but the last of my words didn’t come out as another flicker coursed through my body.
My stomach turned and I bit my lip.
Would that even work? Finding one woman in the steerage section of a sinking ship that huge…
Chase put his hands on both sides of my face forcing me to look at him. “Look, Zoey. Demetrius gave up years of his life and almost all of his sanity to try and save Jane. And I may not get along with him that well, but I think I can at least take a few risks to save the girls we both love.”
I blinked, my heartbeat speeding up.
Chase swallowed. “I know it’s a crazy plan. But it’s all we’ve got.” He forced a smile. “And I can’t just let my spark plug go without a fight.”
Tears welled up in my eyes again and I wrapped my arms around him, squeezing tight while I could. He hugged back, tighter than I’d ever remembered him hugging. Thankfully my flickering held off and didn’t ruin the moment.
When we pulled back, Jonah was beaming at both of us. He swallowed and nodded, quickly swiping the sleeve of his dirty old coat over his eyes. “Man, you kids are amazing.” He exhaled and strode over next to us. “I know how to work the controls. Let me get the watch set to the right place and time. Let’s do this.”
Chase nodded. We got to our feet. I carefully handed the watch to Jonah, and he worked on getting the dials spun into the right positions.
He started to hand it back to me, then hesitated, his fingers tightening around it again for a second. Biting his lip, he reached up and pulled his hat off his head, plunking it down on my head instead.
“We don’t need you in any more trouble than you’re already in.” Jonah gestured vaguely to the hat as he gave me the watch. “There’s a protective lining I sewed into it a while back. Stole a scarf scrap from the society. That should keep your head clear.”
So that was why he never took his hat off. Or… almost never.
I pulled my mouth up into a smile and nodded. “Thanks.” Taking a deep breath, I gripped the watch and looked between Chase and Jonah. “You guys ready?”
“Ready when you are,” Chase confirmed.
Well, I couldn’t say I was nearly as ready as I had been for our other trips. But this was what we needed to do. And I needed to come, to run the warper.
I looked down at the surface of the watch, swallowed hard, and clicked the watch open.
I could definitely see why keeping the scarves on was the preferred way to travel. The ride this time was nowhere near as rough as the past couple of times.
There was still the adrenaline rush and the falling feeling, but… just like Jonah said, my head stayed clear. No thoughts or memories that weren’t mine came crowding in.
And the next thing I knew, we were standing on the lower deck of a ship—a ship that looked a lot like I’d imagined the Titanic. It was so… big. So real and solid feeling. Salt-smelling, damp wind whapped me in the face with a cold that took my breath away. I shivered, reaching a hand up to hold Jonah’s hat in place on my head.
My other hand still gripped the watch, and Chase and Jonah still stood next to me, looking much more shaken from the journey.
Chase took a deep breath, rubbing a hand over his face. Jonah grimaced and looked a little sick. I flickered again and the watch clunked to the deck. It was a smaller flicker this time, so I hoped it was a good sign. But now the nausea from the trip through time was hitting me.
“Okay,” Chase swallowed and bent over, grabbing the watch from the ground. He stuck it back in my pocket. “So now to go find Jane. Down on the lower decks, right?”
I nodded. “Steerage level. That’s the level that fills up with water before the others, though, so we should hurry. I don’t think anyone down there even got the chance at a lifeboat.”
“Let’s head, then.” Jonah grabbed his hat off my head, putting it back down on his own as he started walking down the deck. Chase and I followed at a jog.
A few people in fancy clothes and thick coats stopped in their sashaying along the walk to stare at all of us.
I scanned our surroundings for anything that might help point us in the right direction, trying to keep my attention off all the little historical details and on finding Jane.
Not a great chance we’d just run into her up here. This looked like it was just the second level, but you never know. We just needed to get downstairs.
I spotted a wide doorway up ahead, glimpsed stairs and pointed. “Jonah, right there!”
We all redirected course for the stairwell, moving faster.
Then the ship jolted. A deafening crash sounded through the air as the giant vessel shuddered.
I knew it was coming, but my heart still seemed to stop for a few seconds. The ship went from feeling like a solid structure to feeling like a coffin. I swallowed hard.
Jonah stumbled and caught himself against the wall, cursing. “That didn’t take long.”
A few people around us tripped and fell. Screams came from far away. The quiet hum of the conversation around the deck turned to a panicked buzz.
“I’m guessing things are about to get a lot more crowded out here,” Chase muttered, grabbing my hand and pulling me towards the stairs. “Let’s keep moving.”
The three of us broke into a run, hurrying over and down the stairs. Could I already feel the ground tipping, or was that just my imagination?
I bit down on my lip hard, trying to move as fast as I could and keep up. The light from the wall sconces flickered a little, electricity already starting to fail. We gotta hurry.
A man in a dark, brass buttoned coat and hat pushed past us on the way up, his face set in worry. I faltered for a second.
A crew member. From the lower decks. Maybe he could have seen Jane.
“Hey!” I reached over and grabbed at his coat sleeve. My hand seemed to slip right through, but the man still stopped, turning towards us. Chase stopped next to me, looking confused.
“I’m sorry, miss. I’m in a hurry and…”
“Just… just really quickly, okay?” I gave him a pleading, nervous smile. “Have you maybe seen a lady with long, kind of curly blonde hair? On the lower decks?”
The man frowned. “There are a lot of people on this boat, miss. If you’ll excuse me, I…”
“No but she’s like… really pregnant and wearing a white, nightgown-y sort of thing.” My voice rose in pitch, getting more desperate. “And she’s…”
“How about a fellow with a silver scarf?” Jonah interrupted. “Really shiny looking thing. And he’s got a pocketwatch too. He’s with her.”
At that, the man stopped. “I… I think I’ve actually seen a couple of men with silver scarves, down below in steerage.”
I was surprised for a few seconds, then I remembered. Demetrius had been on this ship too, when he had saved Jane in the first place. And we’d probably just missed him, as well.
Man, I was never getting used to time travel.
“And there are… a few women with blonde hair,” the crew member continued. “They might have been pregnant; I don’t…” he shook his head. “They were further aft, I think. Look there.” And with that, he hurried off.
I blew out a sigh of relief. “Well, that’s one lead. Better than just having to scour the whole ship, right?”
Jonah looked a little confused. “Aft?”
“The back of the ship. We’ve got a ways to go.” Chase started down the stairs again. He looked over at me as we hurried down another flight of stairs. “How are you feeling?”
I shrugged a little, my muscles tense. I let out a tiny, nervous laugh. “Panicked. But also kind of excited. Because, you know, this is the actual Lusitania and we’re rescuing someone, and…”
“No, I mean with the whole disappearing-from-existence thing.”
“Oh.” I swallowed and shrugged again. “Actually, I haven’t been feeling it quite as much since we got here.”
He nodded, relaxing a little. “That’s good.”
“Let’s hope it means whatever we’re doing has us on the right track,” Jonah remarked. “Now let’s get to that ‘aft’ and find Jane.”
We tried to keep the pace at a near run the whole time, but it definitely got a little harder. People were starting to catch on to the fact that something wasn’t right and were rushing out of their cabins and up to the deck. In other words, rushing against us, in the direction we didn’t want to go.
They probably thought we were crazy in more ways than just our weird clothes. Who runs to the steerage section when a ship is sinking?
Finally, we hit the steerage level and got off the stairs. Our pace from before doubled in speed as we ran down the deck, towards the stern of the ship, even though we still had to fight the crowds.
I actually flickered once and went right through someone, which would probably qualify as one of the creepiest experiences I’ve ever had in my life.
“What rooms should we be looking for?” Jonah asked after a stretch of running and elbowing through the crowds of panicked people. “Should we be busting into bedrooms, looking in the halls, in the closets… where would she be?”
“Just look… everywhere you can.” My words came out in gasps. Running on a rapidly tilting deck wasn’t making this any easier. I stopped for a few seconds, catching my breath and looking around. We were probably close enough to what the sailor would qualify as aft.
We had a lot of work to do.
I swallowed hard, putting one hand back in my pocket to squeeze the watch, and gestured towards one of the halls. “Let’s start there.”
Never mind the way it was pouring out people like a faucet. It made me feel a little sick, just seeing all these people around us and knowing that they were almost all just a few minutes away from dying. I just wished I could hold up the watch and tell them what it was. Give them a way out and a way to get back home and back to their families.
How had Demetrius ever done this for a job? Never saving anyone—only observing and taking notes. This was horrible.
Chase was the tallest of us, so he took the front position to shoulder through.
I swallowed hard and held onto the edge of his coat as I followed after.
Jonah just pulled his gun from his belt and let everyone freak out and get out of his way.
At least one good thing about everyone panicking and leaving their rooms really quickly was that almost all the doors were left wide open. But, more bad news was that Jane wasn’t in any of them. Not on that hallway, anyway.
And by this time, the hallway was starting to look more and more tilted. I slipped and skidded a little as we reached the end of the hall, bumping into a few people.
Chase pulled me back up again and Jonah jerked his head in the direction of the next hall.
“How much time do we have left?” Chase asked, his voice tense. “You know the time of the sinking, right?’
I winced, “Yeah. Well… generally. Let me see…” I looked up on the walls for any clocks as we pushed forward. There was one mounted on the wall a ways down the hallway, and I squinted, trying to make out the position of the hands.
The little hand was closest to the one. And I just about had a fit about never being able to read any clocks ever again, but then I looked closer.
This one said one-seventeen.
I got a sudden feeling that I knew the exact sinking time of the Lusitania. I swallowed hard.
“I think we’ve got six minutes.”
Jonah let out a quiet curse. “Let’s try and move a bit faster, then.”
We moved down this hall at a better rate, Chase and I taking one side and Jonah taking the other as we peered into the tiny cabins. Empty, messy, or filled with crying children and worried mothers. I winced and apologized to anyone I interrupted. My stomach knotted.
“Hey!” yelled Jonah from across the hall. “I think I got something!” He rattled the doorknob of one cabin. “It’s locked.”
Chase and I ran over to him.
“How complicated are the locks on this ship?” Chase muttered. “Maybe we could…”
We both flinched back as Jonah shot off the lock at the door jamb. The door cracked open, swinging sideways. A few screams sounded through the halls at the noise, but Jonah wasn’t bothered. He just grinned as he stuck his gun back in his belt. “That’s the way to open a door when you’re short on time.” He kicked the door the rest of the way open.
Tied and gagged with sheets and lying on one of the beds was Jane. She still wore her nightgown from before. Her long hair was tangled and her face was red. Her blue eyes widened as she saw us. She tried to speak around the gag to tell us something. It just came out as a bunch of muffled, panicked gibberish.
I felt like I could just fall over from relief. She was alive. We’d gotten to her in time, and we still had the watch.
Mission just about accomplished.
Jane was going to be okay. I wasn’t going to disappear. Now we just had to go back to Demetrius’s time and get him out.
Chase put up his hands in a peaceful gesture as he came in. “It’s okay.” He dropped down next to her, bracing himself against the tilt of the floor, and pulled the gag out of her mouth before going to work on getting the ties off her hands.
Jane gasped for air once the gag was out and tried to push away from Chase. “Please, I’m not… I don’t want…”
“Hey, it’s okay,” Chase repeated. “We’re here to help you get out of here.”
I rushed over to help get the other sheets off from Jane’s feet. A nervous laugh bubbled up as I grinned up at her. “Well, you’re probably gonna be the first person to survive the sinking of the Lusitania twice.”
Jane stared at us in confusion. She opened her mouth like she was going to say something, then just shut it again.
“Best not to try and figure it all out now,” Jonah advised, coming over closer and bracing himself on the wall. “You’ve had a pretty dang confusing day, I’m guessing.”
Another explosion noise rocked the ship and the whole vessel groaned. I lost my balance and tumbled against the wall.
The rushing of water was now audible.
Only a few minutes before we’re under.
I fumbled out the pocketwatch and tossed it to Jonah. “Can you get that set to bring us… back to the future?” This really wasn’t the time, but I had to swallow back a bit of a hysterical laugh.
Chase shot me a look.
I spread my hands. “That’s where we’re going, isn’t it?”
“Working on it,” Jonah muttered through clenched teeth. He held onto the wall with one hand and worked the dials with another.
The ship groaned again and the lights flickered. Water started to trickle in through the doorway.
“There! That should put us right back in the Metrotel.” Jonah tossed the watch back to me and I barely caught it.
I swallowed hard. “Alright, everyone together so we can make this as easy as possible.” Jonah and I were the furthest apart, so we worked to crawl our way back towards Chase and Jane.
Jane looked between all of us, her face pale and her expression still confused. “Are you with that horrible society?” She still kept as backed away as she could without falling over, her hands protectively over her pregnant belly.
“No, ma’am,” Chase responded. “We’re with your husband.”
The look on Jane’s face was worth this whole, wacky trip. She slumped with relief in her position against the wall, still looking amazed.
Chase grabbed my hand and pulled me over, just as Jonah moved the last stretch. He nodded. “Go for it.”
I tightened my grip on the watch and hit the button to flip it open. A flash of light enveloped the whole room and we were all sucked away. Thoughts and memories and the tumbling, sick feeling of falling through the timestream hit me from all sides at once.
And then it all stopped as suddenly as it had begun. The floor underneath us was solid and flat again.
We all just about collapsed in a heap on each other.
I gasped for breath, almost falling against Chase as I tried to sort out my own thoughts from all the fake memories of eighteen hundreds era England and Jonah’s space cowboy exploits. I shook my head and blinked hard a few times.
We did it. We got Jane back safe.
And then I looked up.
We weren’t at the Metrotel. We were in a white chamber with a glass door. A cell. And I could see Hudson watching us from the door. He nodded once as his gaze met mine, and then flicked over to Jane.
My stomach dropped to my toes.
They’d made the warpers, of course they could redirect them.
And now we’d brought Jane right back to their doorstep.
I actually only have one more part written here. -nervous laughter- A crazy climax is coming up. Barely staying ahead of myself here. xD
Hope you guys enjoyed! Come back next week for the showdown!