A/N: Hi everyone, here is another update. I hope you’ll enjoy this one. 🙂
Man From the Future
White searing pain lanced behind his eyes. Fred lost his balance and fell from the bed. On reflex, he stuck his arm out to break the fall. Agony shot up his hand to his forearm as he hit the floor. The arm gave out under his weight.
Stunned and hurting, Fred lay curled on the cold floor cradling a sprained wrist. His other hand pressed on his temple, he waited for the headache to subside. Underneath the throbbing pain of his injured arm, a current coursed through it toward the tender spot. He gritted his teeth in anticipation. For several moments, he endured the burning sensation of the accelerated healing in his wrist.
Amid the haze of pain, he felt hands clasp around his shoulders. Gently. he was propped to a sitting position.
“What did you do to me?” he grounded out, glaring at the blind man crouched in front of him. Up close, the Oracle appeared younger than Alfred Roucan. His dull yellow irises made him related to the Roucan siblings – an older brother, even. Fred didn’t want to believe the Oracle. He didn’t want to think Louis capable of kidnapping. His friend’s recent actions to prove Electra was alive was a bit over the top, but kidnapping…
The Oracle stood and stepped out of reach.
Fred gave his wrist a tentative twist. The tenderness had gone and the headache had lessened to bearable pain. Shakily, he pulled himself up on his feet. “I’ve had enough of this. Take me back.”
“You’re not well.” The Oracle turned toward the porthole.
“I’m a doctor. I say I’m well enough to go back.”
“To Earth, maybe. Not in your timeline while in that state,” he said impatiently.
The Oracle’s jaw tensed.
“What’s the date today?”
“The eighteenth of March, year 2168. You can’t go, Fred. Not until you’re fully recovered. Your first time leap left you unconscious for twelve hours. You go back now; you’d be completely useless to anyone for days. Besides,” he let out a breath, “the Messenger’s the only person I know who can travel at specific points in time. And he hasn’t returned yet. You might as well make yourself comfortable and hear me out.”
“How do I know you’re telling me the truth?” Fred narrowed his eyes.
“Reeves, state the Messenger’s current location.”
“I’m sorry, sir,” a baritone voice said from one of the speakers. “The Messenger’s exact location is unknown. His last known location was the hangar prior to his disappearance.”
“Reeves, formally introduce yourself to Dr. Williams.”
“I am Reeves. An artificial intelligence designed to assist Mr. Louis Robert Roucan and, most recently, to pilot his spaceship Silverfoot. A pleasure to meet you, Dr. Williams.”
“Likewise, Reeves,” Fred replied. “Can you lie?”
“Sorry. Please clarify your question.”
“Can you tell untruths?”
“I was not programmed to say lies, sir,” Reeves sounded put out.
“Are you sure he’s a computer?” the question was directed to the Oracle.
“His programming included emotions. Better company than old robots.”
“I am an artificial intelligence, doctor,” Reeves interrupted.
“Please, tell me who is the other person in this sickbay”. Fred kept a close watch on the Oracle.
“He is Mr. Louis Robert Roucan, owner of Roucan Global Enterprise, son of the late Alfred Roucan…”
Fred had misgivings in trusting a manmade creation. An artificial intelligence could still be modified by a programmer. After a moment’s hesitation in risking offence, he finally asked for something to verify the truth. “Reeves, please show his medical records regarding his blindness.”
“I’m sorry, doctor. Mr. Louis’ health records are strictly confidential. Only the family doctor can access those files.”
“Override security,” the Oracle interjected in a resigned tone. “Let’s satisfy the doctor’s curiosity. Show him all my records.”
“Are you sure, Mr. Louis?”
“Override, confirmed. Retrieving data from server. Please view the records on the screen, doctor.”
The screen where Fred’s medical records were displayed was replaced with the Oracle’s. It confirmed how he had lost his vision and refused treatment. By the end of the report, the doctor couldn’t deny what the Oracle said when the facts were staring right at him.
“Still don’t believe me?” the blind man asked, breaking the awkward silence between them. “I can’t give you more proof, Fred. There are details which seem off to you. The only explanation I can give you is, events in your world are different from mine.”
“How different?” Fred asked.
“A lot in some ways. In others, not at all.” The Oracle pursed his lips. He clearly didn’t want to discuss the subject. That piqued the doctor’s interest more to ask why. “Can’t you just believe that I’m Louis and get on with business,” the Oracle pinched the bridge of his nose.
The doctor crossed his arms and sat, waiting.
“Why do you even want to know?”
He studied the frustrated figure in front of him.
“Stop staring at me. I’m blind but my other senses work fine. I can feel people boring holes into my back all the time,” the Oracle ranted.
Fred blinked and shifted his eyes on a spot in his pant leg. He realized someone had changed his clothes. His pants were made of a soft, smooth, white material.
“That’s better,” the Oracle’s said, relieved. “Were you always this distrustful?”
He flicked a glance at the blind man, but didn’t deign to answer. The loss of sight didn’t seem to hamper the Oracle at all. He paced with uncanny confidence of a person who could see. The man didn’t run into the small table beside the bed and the chair he vacated.
“I put up the story on the website,” the Oracle said after a minute of walking back and forth.
“What story?” Fred’s brows knitted together.
“The story in the fan fiction website, Fred. I planted it to make you come back. I needed you in the Mysts.”
“You – wha —” Fred stammered. He ran his fingers through his hair. His head still throbbed and wondered if it would explode any minute with all the unbelievable things he’d been hearing lately. “How did you—”
“Time travel,” the Oracle responded more calmly. “I knew you’d leave. I doubted you’d want to return after losing a friend and almost dying. I could’ve talked to you sooner, but I had to be sure.”
“Sure of what?” Fred said curtly. He couldn’t help feeling used – manipulated. Everything had been planned from the beginning.
“My…” The doctor closed his mouth and worked his jaw instead.
“The story wasn’t as accurate as I wanted.”
“Did you even realize the risk you put your family when you wrote it?” he interrupted.
“Your family owns a company responsible for feeding thousands of lives.”
“It was a risk I had to take!” The Oracle snapped. “Just listen to what I have to say and, please, stop interrupting me,” he said in a carefully controlled tone. When Fred didn’t object, he continued: “You and my sister didn’t talk much about each other. You both were secretive. I know you cared; the way you rushed to her side when she got sick. I had more success in gauging your emotions through James. He was the sole person I’d let in after you left and my sister’s supposed death. James told me how her disappearance affected you. So I wrote it hoping you still loved her.”
“You made me look like a sappy love-struck idiot at the end,” Fred grumbled.
Loved. The mere idea was far from what he felt when he flew to the Mysts. He wanted to protect their secrets – to protect a friend. The doctor shook his head. “What if I hadn’t returned?”
The Oracle shrugged. “What matters is you’re here now. Wondering about what if’s won’t do us any good.”
“Ah. Instead you chose to change history.” Fred glared at the blind man.
“I haven’t changed anything yet.”
“Yet?” The doctor sprung to his feet. Pain shot through his skull at the moment. He shook it off. “You’re not supposed to play with events beyond your control. You’re not a god.”
“I’m not playing.” The Oracle scowled. “There are no gods, Fred. If they existed, they wouldn’t have let the world suffer. People prayed. Not one of those blasted deities listened!” Eyes flashing, he stalked toward the doctor. “I vowed if I had a way to prevent it from happening, I would.” The steely determination on his face didn’t leave.
“You sound like your father.”
“Arrogant as hell.”
“Good. Now that you believe who I am, do you trust me?”
Fred let his gaze wander to the view the porthole offered. The spaceships which zipped past were a more welcome sight than those dull yellow eyes directed at him. “Let’s just say you have my attention.”
“I don’t know where to start.” The Oracle let out a breath.
“Start whenever you’re ready. I can wait. Isn’t that what a captive audience is meant for?” The doctor’s companion visibly flinched at the remark.
“Alright. It has something to do with the virus in Libya. It especially involves you and my sister.” The Oracle inhaled deeply. “One of you will die and the other will destroy the world.” The soft spoken words bore an ominous taint in the air. Fred’s gaze swiveled toward him.
The blind man had aged in the span of one sentence. The corners of his mouth drooped. His shoulders slumped at the weight of such knowledge. The doctor couldn’t look away at the sight which reminded him of a younger Louis during a hospital visit.
“Is it her? Is she,” Fred swallowed, “going to die?”
“You tried to save everyone. But the plague…” The Oracle stood close beside him. His sightless eyes held a faraway look in them. “Her death was the last straw.” He rested a hand on Fred’s shoulder.
For an instant, Fred was sucked into a different time and place. He saw himself cradling Cheska in his arms. Sickness ravaged her body. She looked like a living skeleton in her loose clothes. Dried blood spotted her cracked lips. More stained her nose and hollow cheeks. She was at the last stage. Cheska was dying. His heart stuttered as dark red liquid oozed at the corner of her eye. She reached for the other Fred’s face, but then her arm fell half-way. Life had fled from her eyes. The Fred who held Cheska placed his palm over her chest and acted a s a human defibrillator to her heart.
Moments passed, she didn’t respond. Cheska was dead.
Reverently, he closed her eyes. Sparks of electricity erupted around them, branching outwards. He let out a scream and the world went white.
Fred jerked back from the blind man’s touch. His chest hurt like it had been stabbed. He glared at the Oracle and discovered his vision had blurred. The doctor swiped at his eyes with the back of his hand. It came off wet with tears. This angered him more. Soon, electricity enveloped his torso, snapping and crackling ominously. It was fortunate the Oracle had let him go.
“What is it? What’s going in?” The Oracle seemed genuinely bewildered that the accusation died in Fred’s lips. The electrical current disappeared once the anger lifted.
The doctor shared the vision he’d seen. All the while, he watched as a mixture of emotions flitted beneath the blind man’s mask of calm.
“Was that the future?” Fred asked.
The older version of Louis was more reserved and chose to answer carefully. “It was an old memory.”
“Then it’s possible that it could be my future?”
“Will you help me change it, if I said yes?”
Fred had a feeling the Oracle was hiding something from him. The doctor didn’t want to upset him further though. “What do I have to do?”
“You have to die.”
“Excuse me?” Fred brows shot up. He couldn’t have heard it right. No one needed to die. When the Oracle repeated the answer, Fred was speechless for a moment. “There has to be another way. It doesn’t even make sense. Why would I go berserk just because of her?”
“I told you it wasn’t just her you tried to save,” the Oracle said, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Since you saw through my memories, take my hand and I’ll show you.” He offered his palm to Fred.
The doctor backed away.
The Oracle took a step forward while Fred did the opposite.
“Why are you being so bloody difficult?” The Oracle lengthened his stride, his arm outstretched. The hand connected with Fred’s chest. Instantly, memories flooded the doctor’s mind.
Fred staggered as he was released from the past.
He knew what he needed to do.
He had to die.
Copyright © 2014-2016 Cecilia Beatriz. All rights reserved.
A/N: Am at a loss for words. Got a little too engrossed with the scene where Cheska died. Remember one of the previous chapters when Louis saw a different version of the future?
Which future do you think will happen? Hmm…
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