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An Assassin in Time

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Almost a decade into this writing experiment, I might be ending it. I am going to post some of my WIP stories for you.

At any given moment, at any given time, he exists. Today, tomorrow, yesterday he is there, waiting for the opportunity. He is the only time traveler in existence.

He cannot say where he was born, if born he was. For all of his long memory he has been cognoscente of being here or there, at one moment in history or another. His earliest memories are of a time long forgotten by today’s world, disappeared and forgotten in the mists of time. He recalls the pyramids in their youth; of Stonehenge in its infancy. In every era, in every millennium, he was there.

They say the beginning is the proper place to start, but in this case there is no beginning to begin at. So let us begin here, in the present. Perhaps the telling of this story will allow you the reader to come to know, if not to understand. So, to the story.

His name in this age is Robert Williams. A benign enough name for a person perceived as being benign to the rest of the world. Robert is far from benign though; he is an assassin. Deadly, trained in the art of death in innumerable ways, he walks the world observing its peoples. When he sees an injustice, one that affects a large amount of people he acts. Sometimes he acts in the present and eliminates the root of the injustice in the here and now. Other times he travels back to find the point, the root cause whereby the elimination of a single person eliminates multiple harms from the world. Sometimes he travels ahead in order to better see what will occur should he act. There had been times where his non-action in the here and now caused immediate harm but benefits in the future outweighed the immediate harm so he chose to not act.

His case of interest today is of a young man in his early twenties. There is a terroristic plot to eliminate Wall Street in New York City. He has become aware of it and made the decision that he would investigate further. Terrorism is thought to be a relatively recent invention of the peoples of Earth, yet he knew it had its roots in the earliest times. One does not need to create widespread panic and death to terrorize; one needs only to affect a select few to be a terrorist. It is said nothing is new under the sun and after his eons alive, he knew this to be true. At least, in death and such there was nothing new. New manners of death replaced old ones, but still death was death.

Charley Parker was his person of interest. Charley appeared to be a kindly, slightly eccentric fellow who lived in an apartment on the 16th floor at 71 Broadway, and worked for one of the stock brokers who traded on Wall Street. No one took any notice of Charley, but if they had they would not have seen anything to alarm them. He appeared to be completely harmless. His reality was not what they saw, however.

He had been born an only child, small and slender and as such was frequently picked on by larger more athletic boys in school. His parents had died in a car crash when he was in his late teens and he had been left a tidy inheritance. He had loathed his father and barely tolerated his mother so their death affected him not at all. He finished his schooling to become a market analyst as he found power in manipulating those who had manipulated him years before. He yearned for some way to make them pay in a manner beyond simply money; he wanted, desired, thirsted for justice; at least, justice in his eyes. Over the years he had searched for that one thing which would allow him to win while costing these enemies of his more than simply worldly goods. He wanted an eternity of satisfaction. One day, he happened to listen to a reporter giving information on terrorist groups and their outlook on life. It intrigued him. He set out to learn more. After some time he found his niche.

Charley was in fact a Jihadist; one of those terrorists one reads about in the news today. He had converted years before then set his feet upon a path which, to him at least, would lead to everlasting heaven while affording him his taste of revenge. He had decided to destroy this pit of sin, this gleaming Tower of Babel that was Wall Street. He had quietly gathered the knowledge and the tools by which he planned to destroy this false god that was money and greed. He planned to not only use the normal methods associated with terrorists, namely explosives, but he had secretly managed to acquire a biological agent as well. His contacts in the old country had supplied him with it and were overjoyed to find one of the Westerners who felt their way strongly enough to be willing to sacrifice his own life to further their cause. Charley was more than willing in order to be assured a place in Heaven. His time was now.

How Robert came to be aware of this plot is anybody’s guess. He seemed to just be made aware of a place to look, a person to look at. After more years than he cared to remember doing just that he simply accepted the knowledge now, content to act upon it; it mattered not how he knew; the fact was he knew. If one was to wonder, perhaps it was the fact that he existed in multiple times at the same instant. As such, perhaps he was made aware in some future moment then traveled back to another moment to exorcise the demon at this particular crossroads in time.

He had made his way to New York and found Charley’s work place. It was not too difficult following people in New York; the hustle and bustle of the city streets made it virtually impossible to detect someone following you. There were simply far too many people walking about to be able to notice a single person trailing you. Charley lived close to his work so he normally walked to and from daily except in the worst weather; then he took a cab. Either way made for an easy trail for one such as Robert to follow. His years of experience made this child’s play.

Robert arrived outside of Charley’s place apartment early one morning. It was quite foggy down low to the city streets, but not so complete that it ventured up to the tops of the buildings in the downtown area. Charley rarely ventured outside of his apartment Robert had discovered, so he dawdled downstairs at the paper vendor selecting a newspaper before making a decision to act. Robert entered the building and made his way upstairs to stand the apartment. He knocked on Charley’s door and waited for the answer.

Inside, Charley froze. No one ever came to his apartment. Ever. He had no friends at all and none of his co-workers even knew where he lived. With trepidation he walked over to the door. Easing open the peep hole he looked out into the hallway. He saw an eye looking back at him from close range.

“Open the door, Charley. I have news from your handlers. I’d rather not discuss this from the hall so be a good boy and open the door.”

Charley was stunned enough to comply without questioning the stranger. Flipping shut the peephole he unlocked the door and allowed the man in. Shutting the door, he then followed the man into the apartment and watched as he settled into the sofa. Crossing his legs, the man addressed Charley.

“Charley, I must confess; I lied. I do not represent your handlers nor do I represent anyone else. I am here for one reason and one reason only: to try and dissuade you from your chosen course of action. Tell me, why are you determined to destroy Wall Street?”

For the second time in as many minutes, Charley was stunned speechless. Fumbling with his words, he stammered “Wh-what do you mean, destroy W-wall S-s-street? Are you crazy or something?”

The man chuckled softly, the sound emanating from somewhere deep inside the man. But to Charley the sound was as far removed from humor as anything he had ever heard in his life. “Charley, Charley. Let us agree to not circumvent the truth, hmmm? I know you are planning this, and I know how you are planning to do it. I am simply asking you, for your sake, to not go through with it.”

Charley’s mind was whirling. How did this man know about his plan? No, no way. He was bluffing, had to be. But if he was bluffing, how did he know about Wall Street in the first place? Swallowing hard against the lump in his throat, he looked into the man’s eyes. What he saw there stopped his heart in mid-beat. To say they were lifeless was an understatement. Flat, no reflection to be seen, black as sin, and totally devoid of anything resembling a human emotion, they scared Charley far more than he had ever been in his life. “Death. I see death in his eyes.” Charley thought to himself. Now he had to decide what to do. Should he play along and tell the man what he wanted to know, or could he bullshit him enough to get the hell out of here alive. Looking into those cold eyes once more, he realized there was no chance of life beyond the next few moments if he chose the latter option.

“Alright, okay, I was planning to blow up Wall Street. I hate those money loving bastards! All they do is cause harm to everyone with their greed and their bullshit. If they were out of the picture, things might be better, so I decided to get rid of them. Now, if I decide not to, will you leave me alone?”

The man closed his eyes for a minute, seemingly falling asleep right in front of him. Charley was stunned: had he actually fallen asleep? Was there a chance he could slip out while this man was asleep?

Suddenly, the eyes popped open once again and bored directly into Charley’s. For a half a breath, both parties were silent, and then the man spoke. The voice sounded as if it came from the deepest well on earth. “Charley, as much as I would like to, I do not believe you would keep that promise. And so, I offer you this: a chance to end your life on your terms, or I end it on mine. Now, decide.” With that, the man stood up and glided across the room at Charley. Stumbling, Charley backed up around the furniture in the room before tripping and falling backwards through the plate glass window. While falling towards the street, he realized he had allowed the man to end his life his way and just before he struck the sidewalk he let out a scream. The scream never seemed to end as Charley fell. Too afraid to look down at his fate he kept his eyes looking up at the man watching from the shattered window.

The scream allowed those below to move out of the way and not be landed upon by a dead man.

Robert looked out the shattered window, watching the man plummet to his death until he disappeared into the fog as it hung between the buildings. There was no joy to be found here, only satisfaction that this particular incident would end here and now; no bomb would destroy Wall Street today or any day in the near future. Sighing, he turned and left the apartment, turning left and making his way towards the stairwell. No one saw him enter the apartment, now no one saw him leave.

Two weeks later….

Robert turned on the radio (he detested the television) and tuned into a talk radio show. Settling in to his seat on the train, he closed his eyes and listened carefully to the announcer. He was describing an attack on a school in California where a lone man armed with assault weapons and multiple handguns had walked into the office and opened fire at the principal and the staff. Seven were dead and there were nearly two hundred hostages being held in the school’s café-gym-atorium by the gunman. Thus far there were no demands and the media was doing its usual job of scare tactics and incorrect information. Some were saying the gunman was a former student; others said he was a released pedophile taking vengeance on the school where his former victim had attended as a child.

Robert did not care which story was true, nor if both were wrong. He saw in this situation an opportunity to either do something or not. Allowing his mind to calm, he went into the deep trance which allowed him to time travel. Seeking the future, he focused on the school and the town, and then sought out the families of those already deceased. Manipulating time and space, he visited alternative futures to determine if those who passed would be missed, or if their death amounted to simply a ripple on a pond soon to disappear. He searched across multiple scenarios for a time before determining this was one of those unfortunate occurrences where people just died and were not missed.

Opening his eyes Robert saw the train was approaching his stop. As he stood, he made his way to the exit. While waiting for the door to open he felt a brush against his arm. It was a light brush, nothing really. But a tingle ran up his arm and gathered in his chest. Robert sharpened his focus to determine what the tingle was telling him. Casually turning his head to the left, he strained to look out of the corner of his eye at who was standing there.

What he saw was a man dressed in a tailored suit of the highest quality and with a cashmere trench coat thrown casually over his arm. There stood the origin of the tingle he mused. Robert took note of the man. Roughly six foot tall, trim, and looking as if he hadn’t a care in the world stood a man Robert had never seen but felt he should know. The man had an arrogant air about him, one that infused his very essence with a superiority over his fellow man. The man turned his head slightly, taking stock of Robert as Robert did the same for him. With a smirk, the man exited the train as it came to a stop, never looking back as he made his way through the station.

Robert followed, not with intent but because he was going the same way, towards the line of taxis waiting at the curb. He saw the man get into a stretch limousine, Rolls Royce of course and watched as it moved away. He took note of the license number, filing it away for future consideration.

He was disturbed enough to forget his mission. He headed back home and settled in for the evening. A quiet meal, a good book and he was off to sleep. His dreams that night were not his normal dreams. He spent a less than restful night before waking up the next morning, in a different realm.

He awoke, or became aware if you will, in an ancient time; one far removed from anything he had previously been to. He was in an area which would in later times come to be called Egypt. It was a lush landscape around him, the air heavy with fragrance from the flowers surrounding him. He looked down at himself and saw he was clothed simply, in sandals and a robe of rough-spun wool. His hair was longer, reaching his shoulders. He had a long beard as well, one that covered his chin and almost reached his mid-chest. Now he was here; what to do?

Coming to a decision, he began striding in a direction which was somewhat downhill. He did not know why he chose this direction; perhaps the fates were directing him this way towards someone or thing. He pushed the limbs and fronds away as he silently eased his way forward towards this unknown destination.

After a time, he arrived at a large clearing, some mile or so in diameter. Here he paused to take stock of what he saw. Far below lay a city teeming with people. Apparently the person he sought was within the walls of this city. But before he could begin walking again, something off to his right caught his eye. Turning in that direction, he stood incredulously looking at what lay below.

It took a moment for him to realize that he was looking at the Great Sphinx. Not the Sphinx of thousands of years later but one where the face and body were intact and shone like newly faced stone. It was magnificent. Gleaming in the bright sun, with people moving along and beside it, he realized it was fresh and new, just completed. There were people walking and running between its outstretched legs, playing as if this were a park to enjoy.

Looking closer, he saw what appeared to be a family moving beneath the monstrous lion-like head. The father, if father he be, was pointing at the monument and speaking to two boys who paid no attention to him. They were running here and there, their mother attempting to corral them for their father to speak with. The boys paid the parents no mind and continued running about. As Robert looked closely at the family, something seemed familiar to him. Something he felt he was supposed to know, to feel. It lay as if on the tip of his tongue; there, but unrecognized. Suddenly, he knew.

With stunned amazement he recognized himself; not as he currently was but as he was as a child. He had forgotten he was ever a child, so long had he lived. Looking at his younger self, he looked to be perhaps nine or ten and he was chasing after someone. That someone now he recognized as his brother. His brother? He had even forgotten he even had a brother. Looking closely, he saw that his brother was several years older than he, mid-teens he would guess. Handsome, trim and fit he realized that his brother was the man he was pursuing and was in fact the individual he had decided needed to die in order to remove the death and suffering caused throughout the ages going forward.

He would have to kill his brother.

Usually he would simply eliminate one or the other parent in a case such as this at some earlier timeframe, thus negating the existence of the person altogether; but to kill his father or mother? As his brother was older than he, to kill one of his parents, thus eliminating his brother would then negate his very being. He was in a quandary with this paradox and for the first time in his existence, he was at a loss. He did not know if he was capable of that. One alternative was to kill his brother here and now, but could he look his brother in the eye and kill him in cold blood, his brother never knowing or understanding why? Was he to play Cain to his brother’s Abel? Watching the two of them playing there, chasing one another in the ancient game of tag he was unnerved for the first and only time in his long life. Could he do this?