Murder the Past, страница 1
MURDER THE PAST
By Laura Haley-McNeil
Copyright © 2013 Laura Haley-McNeil
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Murder the Past
“You mean, just by pushing this button I can go anywhere in time?” I studied the contraption that looked like the galvanic massage machine my esthetician strapped me into every Friday morning.
Todd paled. “Don’t touch it, Alice!”
He jumped at me. His lab coat sailed behind him like a cape, revealing a t-shirt tight over sculpted pecs. He slapped my hand away from the red knob.
“Ow! You’re brutal.” My hand smarted like a scorpion sting. I pressed it to my lips.
“Don’t touch anything. Not a thing. I have kinks to work out. Don’t add kinks to my kinks.”
“Sorry!” My lips curled, imitating his annoyance. He could be so protective of his inventions.
He sucked in a breath and pushed black framed glasses up his slender nose. “You can’t go just anywhere in this machine.” He gazed at the contraption with cables and coils and cords sticking out and curling around each other. “It only sends you into the past. I haven’t figured out how to go into the future yet.”
“Have you used it?”
His eyes shifted to the right and then down. “Yeah.”
He turned to his workbench and straightened and stacked tools. He moved them to the right side of the bench and then to the left.
The noise drove me crazy. I strode to the bench and slapped my hand over his. "Well, where did you go?”
He flushed deeply. I’d never seen him blush before and I laughed, but my laugh was self-conscious for his sake. I liked the guy. He had his creepy moments, but he was decent.
“Ah, just some place.”
My teeth gritted. “Tell me.”
He turned away. “I’m kind of busy.”
I looked about the warehouse cluttered with his inventions—a gasoline powered computer, a laser vegetable slicer that practically cut off one of my fingers when I tried to use it, a battery operated fireplace.
“You don’t have a job,” I said.
“Yeah, I do.” His grey eyes sparked. He gestured toward the machine. “I’m making this.”
I rolled my eyes. “Has anyone else used it? What about me? Can I use it?”
He shrugged. “I guess.” He looked at me hard. “Where would you go?”
I chewed my lower lip. Where would I go? What happened in my past that I would want to revisit?
My life was a big zero. I wanted to forget everything.
Unless. . .
I lifted the cover and climbed inside.
“Hey, what are you doing?” He dropped his tools with a loud clang and rushed toward me.
I slammed the door shut. He clawed at the Plexiglas. He was going to lift it! I looked desperately around the edge. The lock! I snapped it shut.
He pounded on the glass. “Come on, Alice! Open up! You don’t know what you’re doing.”
“I want to go somewhere.” I looked at the controls. “Tell me how to work this thing.”
He stepped away defiant. “I’m not telling you anything. Now get out before you ruin it.”
I studied the dash. It gave me a headache with all the screens, buttons and dials. “Which one starts it?”
“You have to get out.” He pounded on the glass.
“Stop it, Todd! You’ll break it!” My teeth rattled in my head.
“Only because you’ll make me!”
I shook my head at his logic. As usual, he was being so unreasonable.
Ignoring the pounding, I trailed a finger along the cacophony of screens. The large one brightened. I scrunched into the padded chair and waited.
I touched my finger to the panel. Colorful icons burst across it. I smiled. Now I was getting somewhere.
The pounding stopped. I looked up to see him dash to the workbench and grab something.
A crowbar. I had to work fast. I scanned the icons. A column of the years lined one side of the screen. I slid my finger across 2010. Nothing happened. Then I saw a small green button with a line through it. The power button. I pressed it.
The machine vibrated. Code zipped up the screen. I looked around, frightened at first, and then I smiled.
“No! Don’t push that one--” He raced toward me, crowbar raised.
Smoke billowed around me. His voice faded. The vibrating stopped. I was drifting, floating. My head felt detached and light. I liked that feeling--not having to be responsible for my head that always got me into trouble.
I was nearly asleep when I landed with a thud that jolted through my stomach and flung my arms and legs out to the side. They slapped into the hatch cover.
Sunshine streamed into my face. A car horn sounded behind me. I looked around. I was sitting in my old Honda. In front of me stood Horton Plaza.
I had made it. I was in San Diego. I glanced in the rearview mirror. My hair was long and black. The blue contact lenses made my eyes glitter like sapphires. Did I really look that ridiculous? No wonder he left me.
I wondered if the gun was still in the glove compartment. I reached for it. The honking started again.
I squinted through the windshield. I sat at an intersection, and the traffic signal was green.
“All right! All right!”
But, I didn’t want to go. This is where I had seen him that day. I waited. The guy behind me climbed from his car.
Come on. Come on. Hurry up. This guy will ruin everything.
And then the Bentley turned the corner and zipped past me.
And she was with him. What was her name? Oh, yeah. Vivian.
The light turned red. I slammed on the accelerator and peeled through the intersection.
I could see everything inside his car. I could see him glancing in the rearview mirror. I could see him see me.
Not like the last time. That day he didn’t see me. That day, he drove right past me. He drove out of my life.
Then she turned around and stared at me. All gorgeous blond hair. All flashing white teeth.
I smiled and waved.
She scowled and looked at him. Her lips peeled back. Those flashing white teeth sawed the air. Good! She was yelling at him. No reason they should start their first day of marriage in connubial bliss.
I stepped on the accelerator and rammed the trunk. The Bentley fishtailed to the side of the road. He gestured out the window at me.
Oh, poor guy, did I make him mad?
I laughed. The crunched trunk twisted around the tires. Shards of paint splintered into the air. His precious toy demolished.
My Honda knocked. Steam rose from my hood. I grinned wildly. It was worth it. This was my second chance. I wouldn’t let it go this time.
Jamming the accelerator, I rammed the trunk again. Their heads hit the roof. His car careened over the curb and slammed into a light pole. Her head struck the windshield.
I grabbed the gun and jumped out of the car.
“Get out,” I yelled.
He kicked the door one, two, three times. It burst into the air and crashed to the ground.
“You buffalo-brained broad.” He struggled through the crunched opening. “I told you to get out of my life.”
Vivian climbed from the other side. She was skinny and wore a halt
Rage tore through my brain like a rocket blast. She got a diamond from all the money Chuck made from his software invention. That money should’ve been my money.
Blood covered Vivian’s forehead and dribbled down her glossy cheek. “You’re insane!”
“Who are you calling insane? You broke up my marriage. You slept with my husband!”
“Yeah, well he isn’t anymore. Didn’t I tell you, Chuck? She’s insane.” She shook her glorious mane and checked her image in the car window. Shock streaked across her face. “Look at what you did to me!”
Cars slowed as they passed us on the street.
I waved the gun at her. “It’s an improvement.”
Chuck shook his head, that I’m-smart-and-you’re-not head shake. “You’re a loon.”
“I don’t care. Nobody cares. You know why? Because we’re in the past.”
“Certifiable,” Vivian yelled. “Are you just going to stand there and let her wave that gun at us?” She scooped a rock from the ground and threw it at him. “Call the cops!”
“Yeah, call them, Chuck.” I leveled the gun at him.
He whitened. “Come on, Alice. You don’t want to do that.”
“I’ve wanted to do this for three years.”
“What is she talking about—three years?” Vivian’s eyes were a muddle of fear, confusion, and why-did-I-marry-this-guy-with-a-crazy-ex.
Chuck stepped toward me. I swallowed and stepped back. He smiled. He had me. He knew I wouldn’t pull the trigger. The gun trembled in my hand. I’d waited all these years, and I wasn’t going to kill him.
My shoulders slumped. For the past three years, all I could think of was getting back at him. And what better way than to kill him? I died the day he walked out that door. And then when I saw them driving passed me in the Bentley, he looked happier than he ever looked when he was with me.
I knew I should’ve done something, but what? I had the gun in my glove compartment. I bought it the day he left. I didn’t know how to shoot the stupid thing. That day, I hated the feel of cold metal in my hand.
Today, I loved the feel of it, now hot, in my hand.
I steadied gun and took aim.
He gave that condescending laugh that always enraged me.
Vivian stopped screaming. She watched, her large blue eyes--hers were naturally blue--tracked my every move.
“Come on, Alice.” He reached out his hand. “Give it here.”
Didn’t I have a speech prepared? As I imagined this moment, didn’t I tell him how worthless he was? I’m sure I did.
I couldn’t think.
Then I saw something. Behind Vivian, a tall column materialized. It was dark, and then turned white. No, it was white on top and dark on the bottom, and it grew arms and legs. And it wore glasses.
“What are you doing here?” I shouted. “How did you get here?”
“You don’t want to know.”
“Come on, Alice. You don’t want to do this.” Todd walked toward me. He was different somehow. He stood straight, his hair was combed. His t-shirt looked super-hot.
“You want to bet?” I spread my legs and planted my feet into the ground. “I’ve been dreaming about this for three years.”
Chuck looked over his shoulder at Vivian. She shook her head and lifted her shoulders.
“No, you don’t. You kill them, you’ll change everything.” Todd stood between Chuck and me.
But I could still see Chuck.
“I want to change everything.”
“Think about what will happen,” Todd said in a voice that was cool, husky, and started to make sense. I squinted my eyes and tried to press the logic out of my head.
“What do you want to change?” Chuck asked.
“Everything,” I said. “I want you and that fat slob--”
Vivian looked down at herself. Her expertly waxed brows slammed together above her eyes. “Who are you calling fat, fatso?”
“—to be rotting in the ground three years from now. That will be the happiest day of my life.” I squealed and waved the gun.
Chuck and Vivian ducked. Todd reached for the gun. I pulled it away from him. “This is my day,” I said.
Lights flashed down the road. I looked over my shoulder. The police! I took too long. Now they would ruin everything.
“Put the gun down, ma’am,” came the mechanical voice over the megaphone.
“No! These two low-lifes are going to die.”
“Don’t let her do it!” Vivian screamed and jumped up and down. “Do something! Do something!”
Todd reached for my arm. I sidestepped him, took aim and fired.
Chuck’s head exploded. He slammed against the munched car door and fell. His body twitched. I whipped the gun at Vivian. She dropped to the ground.
So did I.
She crawled along the ground screaming and crying. Two black rivers streamed down her cheeks.
I squeezed the trigger. Her body lifted. Arched. Collapsed.
I sprang to my feet. “I did it!”
A barrage of bullets whipped passed me. Todd rushed at me and tackled me. I hit the ground with a thud.
“Get off me.” I pushed at him. “What is your problem?”
He stared down at me. “You want to die?”
He looked up. “Now!” he shouted.
Grabbing my arm, he jerked me to my feet.
“That didn’t feel very good, Todd. You’re being way too rough.”
He glared at me. “Will you shut up?”
“And rude.” I glared back. Never had I seen Todd be a take-charge guy. I liked it.
Bullets whizzed past us. That killed the your-my-hero mood.
I looked up. Five police cars faced us. Doors crashed open, the police ran behind their cars, twenty thousand gun barrels pointed at me.
“Put the gun down and your hands up,” a skinny cop shouted. Dark, curly hair poked out from beneath his hat.
Oh, no, now I’d done it. I lived my fantasy, and now I was going to be arrested.
“They’re going to arrest us,” I whispered to Todd.
“Kill is more like it. And it isn’t us. It’s you.”
He grabbed my shoulders and shook me. “Now do exactly as I say. Do you understand?”
I glared at him. “Yes!”
Squeezing my arm, he dragged me toward the Honda.
“Stop or we shoot!” the cop shouted.
“Did you hear what he said?” I yelled at Todd.
He whipped open the car door and shoved me inside.
“Get down,” he yelled, and then slid into the driver’s seat.
My head hit the floor. Grabbing the dash, I scrambled upright and glared up at him. “Todd, this is my car. I think I should--.”
“Will you shut up?”
I’d never seen him look so mad. Still, there were limits to his being so impatient with me. I was just living out my fantasy. What was his problem?
“You’re not a nice person when you’re angry,” I said.
Glass shattered around us. I dropped to the floor.
He pumped the accelerator and turned the ignition. The car jerked, then sputtered. My heart pounded. I looked up at him. He pumped the accelerator again. The car rocked. It shifted left. Right. The police had shot the tires. I clasped my hands.
“Start the car!” I shouted.
He looked down at me annoyed. “What do you think I’m trying to do?”
I softened my tone. “We might die, Todd.”
The engine rumbled to life. I pushed a sigh of relief from my lungs. Slowly, the car inched forward. The flat tires flopped with each rotation. Then faster. And faster.
Smoke seeped from beneath the dash. I c
We weren’t moving.
The smoke thickened. I whipped my hand around me trying to clear the air. I couldn’t see Todd. My head felt funny, like it was full of cotton. I was falling, falling backwards. I braced myself. Soon I would hit the seat.
But I didn’t. I just kept falling.
And I couldn’t stop thinking. Did I hate so much I would kill?