Part VII - Chapter 44 – The End and The Beginning

Chapter 44 – The End and The Beginning

Year 2197

A much older Pete arrived into the darkness of the hallway leading to the labs with a young woman in her twenties. The two were dressed in dark clothes to ensure that they would be unseen. Each individual wore a time traveling bracelet but the girl seemed at ease in her arrival. Like she was still in the early stages without the pain or bodily destruction. The years of travels had taken its toll on Pete and while he looked much older, to anyone looking at him, one could not be certain if it was the time jumps that had weathered the man or simply the passing of time.

The woman placed a gentle hand on Pete’s shoulder to help steady him until the pain subsided. When he was able to slowly stand back up, he patted her hand before brushing it away. He studied the area to get his bearings on where the two had landed. He pointed to the right before explaining, “You will find the cubes down there.” She nodded and checked a crude drawing on her arm, to get her bearings in the unfamiliar world. “You will find me down there,” he motioned to the left before continuing. “I have a much overdue meeting,” he muttered.

The girl nodded as though she was aware of Pete’s side mission. She then wished him luck, kissed his cheek, and ran down the hallway towards the cubes. For a moment, Pete stood in the hallway. Shocked by the unexpected kindness but remembered that he had come to take the last bit of Charles’ life and had no time for sentimentality.

Pete cautiously opened the door. The door squeaked which caused Pete to inwardly curse the announcement of his arrival through something so innocuous. Pete stood in front of the door for a moment. There was a staleness in the air and a heat like the mid-day of humid Texas summers. The air seemed to just settle on Pete’s arms instead of allowing him to easily move forward. The hairs on Pete’s arms stood on end as the laboratory seemed to have only become more akin to Hell.

He looked around the room and noticed that someone had taken a blunt object to the computers in the middle of the room. There was a low hum from the single light in the room which slowly swung back and forth as if trying to release itself from the ceiling. As if this one light was ready to join the many others crashed and scattered over the floor but the ceiling was doggedly determined to hold onto it. Pete slowly took a few steps further into the room and began circling the outside of the room. As he neared the prisoner cages, he found that there was a lab coat lying on the floor and a disheveled body laying inside the coat as if it was an oversized blanked rather than a coat. Based on the stench coming from the cages, clearly it was a corpse left to rot inside the cages.

Pete moved on, taking in the room. It looked as though it had been thoroughly destroyed. Not just the computers in the center of the room but the chairs had been cut open with stuffing falling out. Glass from both the lights, the screens, and even from beakers littered the floor. Taking stock of the room, Pete began Maybe I’m too late. Maybe Charles is already dead?

Pete barely had time to register a sigh of disappointment in missing the chance to have one final battle against Charles when a cane came whizzing towards Pete’s head. He had just enough time to move the cane so that it merely grazed his ear. Pete took a step back to better view his attacker.

“You stole my life!” growled the walking corpse in the lab coat. As the figure emerged from the shadows, Pete was able to identify the man as Charles. A withered, pitiful, and truly loathsome being. Pete studied what he thought was a cane and realized that Charles was holding a metal rod, probably a bar removed from the cages. Pete had not yet recovered back to his normal speed due to the recent time travel and the next blow landed on his shoulder. While the lack of experience and strength of the pursuer caused a strike to the shoulder instead of the head, the metal rod still managed to cause Pete a great deal of pain.

“You crushed my science research!” Charles yelled again as he took another blow, this one managed to miss Pete’s chest but still ended up in his stomach. Pete grimaced in pain. “You stole Livi from me!” this time, he only managed to swing at air as Pete was able to quickly take a few steps back despite the pain. “The scientific community tore up my lab and Trace’s lab as I was unable to show my results without the journal or the bracelet. With Trace being dead, no one could substantiate my claims. But before I could load any of the demonstrations onto the computers to show the bit that I had saved on the computer instead of buried in my journal, the imbeciles destroyed all of the computers and the rest of the lab!”

“Fuck you! I have never hated an individual so much in my life!” shouted Charles brought the pipe down for a third blow but Pete caught it before it landed.

“That’s enough of that,” replied Pete. Pete began to stand on shaky legs as the pain was still quite intense. But standing did give Pete the needed leverage to enable him to pull the metal bar out of Charles’ hand. “Now, I am going to give you the beating of a lifetime.”

Charles eyes were widened in fear but after a series of hard blows, the light in his eyes soon left and the life in his body quickly faded. But still, Pete continued to beat the body.

- - - - - - - - -

The pain finally subsided enough that Brisco could better study the world in which he landed and realized that he was in some sort of hallway and not Hard Rock. Brisco stumbled through a nearby open door which appeared to be a dark room. It felt cold and sterile but Brisco managed to light a match to enable him to stumble around the room. He was in some kind of a laboratory. Brisco noticed the shape of a body lying on a table. As he neared the table, Brisco was able to see that it was human figure in the dark but it was not moving. In the poorly lit room, the silhouette was clearly not breathing. The match went out so Brisco lit another match. As he moved the match along the body, Brisco was shocked to see that the man was beaten. In fact, very little of his body was recognizable due to bruises, cuts, and breaks.

“Allow me to introduce you to Chuck,” came Pete’s cold voice in the shadows.

Brisco started and turned towards the voice. He made a pained effort to reach for his gun but caught sight of Pete holding a gun in his direction. Brisco was in too much pain to outdraw the man who was already holding a gun on him.

“Take off the bracelet and slide it across the floor,” he commanded.

Still processing the scene in front of him Brisco didn’t obey but rather accused, “You killed him! That was not part of the plan.”

“It wasn’t part of your plan is what you mean. My plan was always to beat him to death for the experiments he performed on people, his murder of Livi’s mother, and his desire to destroy the past.” Pete gruffly pushed the body off of the table and let it fall without ceremony to the floor. It was clear that the fight had occurred a short while before as rigor mortis had not set in yet. Brisco’s eyes moved to the table where the body had been laying and even thought the room was dimly light, there were blood stains on the table. Brisco looked toward the shadowed figure of Pete and could see that he was breathing heavily, as though still rolling through a plethora of emotions.

“Again, slide your bracelet over to me. I won’t ask you again,” commanded Pete. Brisco heard the hammer click of Pete’s piece and finally registered that his only option was to comply.

As Brisco slowly slid the bracelet across the floor, he asked, “What are you up to Pete?”

“How were your trips to meet Bowler?” asked Pete, changing subject.

“How did you do that, by the way? And why?”

“The how is easy. When I put this bracelet on you, I adjusted the time jumps to the moments that I knew you had visited Bowler.”

“How would you have known that I ever even visited Bowler?”

“Back when I was a deputy for Bowler, I went by to address some clues regarding a local fugitive one night and looked through the window to see an older version of you talking with Bowler. The more that I traveled through time, I was able to discover the necessity of your visits with Bowler. As my timeline progressed, I began to send letters to Bowler and we communicated about the dates and times of your visits so that I could ensure that they occurred.”

Brisco’s bodily pain had subsided but all of this talk of timetravel and time streams was building a migraine which caused him to rub his temples. With eyes closed Brisco asked, “And why did you do this? Why was it necessary?”

“As to why – you were Bowler’s closest friend.”

The response was more surprising than Brisco expected and he felt that he would need to sit for the rest of this conversation and looked for a chair to sit in. He found an old armchair with at least a bit of stuffing left inside and allowed himself to sit. The quick succession of trips had taken its toll on Brisco and he could feel that it was taking him longer to recover. He wiped his nose and spotted blood in his hands. Was this the end? “So, you decided to kill me with the devise this lunatic strapped onto you?” Brisco asked in growing anger before sarcastically stating, “You really are a leader of empathicalism.”

“It is not out of empathy that I sent you to Bowler but out of a knowledge that friends and enemies often have items unsaid that need to be addressed before death. I knew that you needed to be with Bowler at his bedside and that you would be with me during my final moments. It’s the greatest kindness we can give each other and a truly unique gift that the universe rarely imparts on us, that sense of closure that we as human beings long for. And someone as motivated as you spirals into depression and a purposeless existence without it. Your destiny and life is not over yet, while mine is coming to a closure.”

With these words, Pete moved out of the shadows and under the single light in the room. As Brisco studied Pete’s face, Brisco realized that this Pete was no longer a man the same age as Brisco but a much older man. If Brisco had to guess, Pete was at least in his seventies. Pete had a set of half-moon glasses on. On Pete’s wrist was a variety of small metal tools that he was expertly utilizing to adjust Brisco’s bracelet. As soon as Pete finished with one tool, he would take out another one to tweak another aspect of the bracelet.

“What the hell are you talking about?” a shocked Brisco asked.

A wizened smile spread across Pete’s face. “I have a life outside of you, remember? While I sent you on a journey to meet Bowler, I created my own adventures. With the bracelet and my ability to heal from any type of injury, the bracelet would never kill me. So, I could journey all over time and all over the world. I quickly discovered that the most valuable thing that a man could accrue was experiences, not wealth or power like young men think. I traveled everywhere, saw everything, met everyone you would want to meet, and even slept with every woman that I desired. Seeing this world compared to the virtual realities made me realize how it not only destroys imagination and community but also destroys our sense of humanity.

“So, I began a revolution hundreds of years ago leading up to this day, today. I knew that today would not be a fight for the pieces of the old world but a war of powers and principalities. It needed coyotes and wolves not dreamers or idealists like you. To prepare for today, I created a network by recruiting scientists, politicians, wealth mongers, and humanitarians to build an underground infrastructure. Its purpose was to destroy the monsters threatening to destroy the world through apathy, bureaucracy, and isolation. Even incorporated Trace (Doc as you knew him), Rachel, James, and Lenore into the network.”

“Sounds like anarchy,” muttered Brisco. After a few moments a shocking thought occurred to Brisco, “You mean to tell me that you created the man who kidnapped you and then murdered him?”

“Hardly,” sneered Pete in response. “He and his narrowminded peers of this time are our antagonists which is why he only knew the story that I created. I had to operate in the dark to ensure that my revolution would not hindered by any future spectator, I created the myth that I was a leader of philosophy, specializing in the belief that empathy creates a better world. In the end, my personal philosophy on politics, society, and such are my own and not part of the legend or revolution needed to take down Charles and the rest of the catastrophic symptoms of a toxic futuristic culture.”

“So, you are the Savior of the future world?”

“I am not a savior,” Pete groaned in disgust and frustration. Pete paused for a moment and looked up above Brisco as though trying to delicately phrase his next statement. Pete opened his mouth to state something but then thought better of it. Pete shifted while rolling his eyes as took a sigh as one might after exasperatingly explaining why the sky is blue to a young child. “I am a preservationist, Brisco. There is still so much more of the universe and multi-verse for humankind to explore. It needs to be forced out of stagnation.”

“Still sounds like a savior…”

“You’re missing the point!” declared Pete, getting angry now. “I am a forest fire. Forcing people out of their primitive dwellings. Some will live and some will die. It’s a decision that you could never make. You have a narrow sense of morality or a moral compass that is stuck on true north. You believe that every life has some aspect of good or that people can be redeemed. That type of thinking will continue to better the world and is why you are going back to your original timeline. You were never meant to be part of the plan to die here today. But I am ready to die as I have lived… fully.”

A silence hung in the air. Brisco leaned back in his chair to process all that Pete stated. It really did sound more like Pete to live by a code outside of the law or what most consider moral. But there were still so many questions left to be answered.

Brisco looked up at Pete as he seemed to have calmed down a bit. He put away the last tool, admired the completed work on the bracelet, and slid it back across the table and motioned for Brisco to put it on. “There is one journey left in the bracelet. It will take you an hour or two left after you left to ensure that you don’t cross time streams. When you arrive it will shut itself off, bury it until a younger version of myself asks for it. This must remain hidden in case a future version of Bly, or persons worse than him, were to cross paths with it. But no one else should have to endure the pain of time travel and with the adjustments that I have made, no one, but me or my bloodline, will.”

Brisco stood and picked up the bracelet from off of the table. There were now blood stains covering this small machine that carried the weight of so much life and death. Brisco made a decision and tossed it back onto the table. “I am not going anywhere until I finally get some answers. There is no way in hell that I can leave and just hope that you will somehow fix the future.”

Pete frowned for a moment and seemed to process Brisco’s demand. Pete took a look at his watch and seemed to make some mental calculations. To Brisco’s surprise, Pete looked up and gave his most mischievous smile before leaning against the skeleton of a desk to study Brisco. After a few moments’ pause he finally replied, “Ask away.”

“How is it that you aren’t trying to hold onto this power of immortality and time travel?”

“Once you pass four hundred years and have experienced all of the great moments throughout history, the world loses its appeal. You collect all of your great moments but you also bury everyone that you have ever met. Initially, you experience all of the beauty and all of the sorrow. But as time progresses, people begin to look like mayflies and mountains begin to look like hills. The “newest” or “coming thing” is often just a different name on things that already exist. There comes a point after collecting experiences where it no longer holds the joys that others experience. At my age, my life has become a river of blood and fire, always on the run, and sleeping with one eye open watching for this son-of-a-bitch and his fucked up world to destroy all that was once beautiful.”

“Even if there is nothing beyond this life?”

“Even if there is nothing after this, or if there is a Heaven, or if the afterlife is an odd island with a man driving a stranded cast about in an unmarked van. Truthfully Brisco, at my age, it might be nice to finally sleep.”

Another urgent thought and pressing thought came to mind, “I assume that I am not going to be allowed to see anything or meet anyone from this time?”

Pete slowly nodded his head no and let his hand rest on his gun to ensure that Brisco would not cause trouble with that response.

“Well, can you at least pass on a message from Doc? He wanted to send his family his love and tell them how he died?”

Pete smiled. “I not only passed on Doctor Trace’s love upon his death but also orchestrated Trace to meet his husband in the first place. Mind you, from afar but it was easy as they were both recruited to be part of the revolution.”

“Wait! You could have gone back to save his life, you selfish bastard! You have all of this time to travel about setting up your plan. For that matter, why didn’t you save Whip, or Aaron, or Soc-” at the mention of Socrates, Brisco’s voice cracked. He felt like grief had sucker punched him and so Brisco hunched over, trying to bury the tears back in. He would not cry in front of Pete but it was hard. Socrates may have died hundreds of years ago to the world Brisco was standing in but it was only a few hours for Brisco.

Pete held up his hand to pause any further protests from Brisco. “We don’t have time to discuss paradox theories or even fixed points in time across multi-verses. We could start going into rabbit holes like, ‘Could I have gone back to save your father from John Bly and his gang in the first place? Or could I have helped you pick Yale instead of Harvard for law school?’ All I can say is that he needed to discover time travel to enable us to rescue James in the past and to set the world on fire in the future.”

Brisco’s stomach was in knots. There seemed like there should be a loophole, something to be able to save his friends but the idea of a paradox did make sense. At least Brisco couldn’t think of an argument so that must mean it made sense, right? Brisco began to tug at different strings in his mind and with each scenario, the paradox could not be avoided. And all of this interconnectivity was mentally exhausting. Brisco was sure that he must be forgetting something, which spurred another question.

“How is it that you retain all of your memories – I can’t imagine that you can hold onto hundreds years of memories?”

“Part of my gift of immortality is cellular regeneration which enables me to train my brain to utilize more of its storage capacity. Part of cellular regeneration is enabling neural pathways to continue to make connections beyond what the normal brain can sustain which enabled me to hold onto all of my experiences.”

Suddenly, a loud alarm began to sound and lights on the walls that had been dark suddenly began to flash bright white. The noise and lights were disorienting and Brisco had to take a step back to get his bearings.

“It looks like our time is almost up,” Pete yelled over the blaring noise while motioning for Brisco to pick up the bracelet. “You should leave before I explode the system.”

“How?” Brisco asked as he picked up the bracelet and strapped it to his wrist.

“I can give you a lesson in mechanical engineering, missing the window of opportunity that I have worked towards for hundreds of years, and potentially miss my death window, or you could go home. The short answer, I’m going to be in two places at once which will cause a temporary rip in space and time.”

Brisco looked once more at his bracelet unsure whether he should leave or stay. While he didn’t understand all of what Pete responded with, at least he got some answers. But Pete? Really?

Pete moved around the table and shook Brisco’s hand, “You could find Ellie and spend your life making love to a bar maid who will actually make you happy. You could go back to Hollywood. Hell, you could be a spy and work with Michael Weston again in coming wars. Just be sure to live!”

“Why are you doing this? Why are you choosing to die for this cause? It sounds like you could have died without saving anyone else’s life.”

“Brisco, it’s the same motivation that I have always had, self-presentation. And more than that, my Auntie always told me to ‘control your return to the soil.’ And that’s what I’m doing. It is important to me to die at the moment and time of my choosing. I choose here. I choose now.” Pete attempted to let go of Brisco’s hand but Brisco held on.

“Last question - does this closure mean that we are friends or enemies?”

Pete smiled and replied, “It means that we were always both.”

Suddenly, an explosion broke through the wall revealing a group of people led by a beautiful woman in her 20’s. The mob were wearing all black and full-face masks as they stormed through from the other side. The force of the explosion almost knocked the two men over.

“That’s my cue for my war to begin. It’s been an adventure Brisco. While I won’t see you again, I’m sure you’ll be having mojitos soon with a younger me soon,” Pete said with a sly smile and a wink.

Before Brisco could reply, Pete turned Brisco’s hand over and pressed a large button on Brisco’s wrist. Suddenly, there was a blinding light around him. Brisco watched as Pete’s face melted away before shutting his eyes. Just as before, the light surrounded him, the floor beneath him seemed to disappear below him causing him to fall, and the pain began shooting through his limbs. Brisco shouted in pain and then suddenly it was over. No more light, no more searing pain, and no more falling.

The adventure of time travel was over and the next adventure was ready to begin.

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