Today’s Friday Flash Fics rides the coat-tails of another one I wrote a while back, Gently Down the ‘Stream. We once again have a time-traveler arriving who’s there to do a good deed, but this time it’s the someone from the “now” of the last piece, heading into the a then. The photo reminded me of a particular piece of history I found fascinating when I was younger, so it became that, and after a few days of pondering, I leaned into it.
Well, at least Ty knew he was on target.
He couldn’t see the target, but he was definitely on it.
Now he just needed to move. Like, even a little would be good?
Instead, he clung to his umbrella and barely managed to stay upright. And most of that was by keeping his weight on the umbrella in question.
Which wasn’t even an umbrella.
Agent Grant said the downstream was harder than upstream, he reminded himself. But holy flying crap, there’s harder and there’s harder.
Which made him think of Agent Grant again, in a different way, and he choked off a small laugh before he ended up falling over on the ancient sidewalk and collapsed. Or took a deep breath.
This smog sure was something.
So was Grant. He rolled his eyes at himself. Okay, apparently time-travel made him horny? Or regressed him to teenage mentality?
He recited the alphabet to himself, trying to recover his mental balance, and purposefully not allowing himself to think about a particular pair of hands or a particular gaze coming from a particularly handsome face and…
Wow. Time travel. It does a libido good.
The weakness and the wobbles finally started to fade, and Ty straightened. He took a second to make sure his top-hat was on straight—I am wearing a freaking top-hat!—and then peered around him. There was some sort of light source to the left. If he strained his ears, he could hear noises from all around him, half-swallowed by the smog.
He caught the sound of accents, too. Definitely British.
This was London. December 1952. And hopefully still December 5th. If it was the 5th, he could save three people. If he missed the 5th and it was already the 6th or 7th? It might only be two.
He needed to find out.
Another reminder of Agent Grant had him smiling. The way he frowned at laptops and iPhones and iPads like they were somehow cute and retro, which they were, from Grant’s point of view, but he’d gotten used to the “slow and clunky” technology. And he’d arrived with something that looked like an iPhone and could act like an iPhone but definitely wasn’t. He’d had tech to help him connect immediately to wireless networks and figure out if he was on target to save someone’s life.
Which, hey, bully for him. It had worked. Ty lived and breathed beyond the day where some horrible people had decided he should die just for existing.
After that came the offer. I’ve saved your life in order to change the future. We can only reach back so far beyond the point of our own birth. Saving you, here, means we can go further back. We have targets in the 1950’s. You can reach those. We can train you.
How could he say no?
Ty reached the light source. A street lamp barely fighting the Great Smog. Once he was there, he opened his umbrella, and waited, holding it up in the air.
They didn’t have iPhones in the 1950’s, so they’d had to be all the more creative with some technology he could bring back that wouldn’t stand out. They also didn’t have handy wireless networks to synch to or sat-nav, which meant no GPS, no internet, and a lot less options to help Ty figure out where the hell he was.
They did, however, have maps and historical records, and access to technology that went all the way back up the chain. So he had an interesting pocket watch, and an umbrella currently sending out low-grade sounds through the fog to bounce off all the buildings nearby and cross-reference with those maps, stored in the database in the handle, which, if there was a good enough match, would tell him…
His pocket watch vibrated, and he flipped it open. The glass lit with a map and a dot.
He was only a few blocks off from where he was supposed to be.
“Okay,” he said, turning his head to look in a direction that was, apparently, the way he needed to go. He took a deep breath, trusting the filters that had been implanted to deal with the smog, and started walking toward the empty building that would be his safe-house.
He also needed to find a newspaper. If it was the 5th, he had a very early appointment in the morning to save a nurse’s life.
Bells started chiming, and Ty finally let himself laugh.
He was supposed to be dead. He wasn’t even born yet. He was in freaking England.
Life was awesome, really, when you thought about it.