Immortal Love Series
World Castle Publishing
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locations, organizations, or person, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
World Castle Publishing
Copyright © Amy Richie 2011
Library of Congress Catalogue Number 2011937354
World Castle Publishing October 22, 2011
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in articles and reviews.
Cover Art: Karen Fuller
Editor: Beth Price
For my aunt - Kerry Sailor. She believed that I could be a writer even when I didn’t believe it myself.
God send me an angel to heal my broken heart; make his embrace strong so I won’t fall apart.” - A. R.
The narrow hallway was deserted. Motion censored lights flickered on as I made my way slowly down to the end of the hall. I tried not to think that this may be the last time I would walk down these familiar paths.
I tried not to think about what this day would bring. All my training, all my lessons brought me here; to this day.
I had left my cell impeccably neat and organized. It always was, but today I made extra sure before I left for the lab. One thing David was sure to notice was that I had left my rag doll lying on the pillow. Normally I kept it hidden away so Neleh wouldn’t take it. Dolls were for children and I was no child.
Leaving the doll in plain site was a farewell gesture for David. He would understand. I knew that the likelihood of my returning was not good. But I wasn’t afraid; I knew what had to be done. I wanted David to understand that after I was gone.
I also left all my weak human emotions there on my pillow. Today was not a day for fear or doubt or worry. Even if the pain was as intense as David promised, no one would see me flinch. My face was set in a mask of determination by the time I reached the door at the end of the hall.
I pushed it open and the dim lights of the hall disappeared. A dull yellow light hung in the middle of a white ceiling. I pressed the button for the elevator and the doors opened right away. Odd. Why was the elevator down here?
It didn’t intrigue me enough to hesitate as I stepped into the elevator car. I watched my reflection as we moved up. The woman in the reflection was the picture of perfection. Silver pants just below the knees, silver tee shirt molded to her chest and tight stomach. The muscles on her arms stretched the fabric of the shirt. Her pale brown hair was tied back in a braid that lay just in the middle of her back.
Only the reflection’s eyes were not perfect. I saw the fear flash in the hazel orbs before she could hide it. I tightened my jaw and puffed out my chest. Today was not a day for fear.
The elevator jolted to a stop and opened to reveal a brightly lit corridor. After a few steps and a maze of similar corridors, I reached the door to the lab. I pressed my finger in the detector and felt the tiny prick. A flash of red lights came on and the door opened. I quickly ducked inside before it slammed shut again.
The room was almost completely empty. I was six minutes early. I glanced up at the clock. The others would be here soon. I crossed the expansive floor to sit on the only furniture in the large room. The couch was white and not very soft. I sat down and crossed my leg. I was slightly surprised that David was not there yet.
The seconds on the large clock ticked by at an alarming pace. I kept my head turned to the door but my eyes flickered often back to the clock. Four minutes late.
Something was off. David would never be late, never. Four minutes eighteen seconds. Forty two more seconds and I was calling Neleh. Something was off.
Thirty six more seconds went by before the door finally opened. “You ready?” David asked calmly.
Too calmly. His eyes darted towards me, then away just as quickly. The muscle in his jaw twitched rapidly.
I uncrossed my legs and stood up slowly. “You’re late.”
He was immediately on the defense. “By like four minutes.”
Four minutes and fifty-four seconds,” I corrected. I kept my voice even.
He rolled his eyes and watched as I took deliberate steps towards him. Our gazes locked as I passed by. I sauntered to the door of the decam room. I crossed my arms and leaned against the door frame, watching David. “I almost called Neleh,” I informed him, “to see what was keeping you.”
Gerrr,” he made a grumbling noise. “You’re too jumpy.”
I arched my eyebrow.
Who was jumpy?
We stared at each other intensely.
Finally, he exhaled loudly through his nose. “Are you ready yet,” he snapped, “or do you want to wait a few more weeks?”
I was taken aback by his tone. David’s patience was legendary. Something was definitely wrong here. “Listen,” he closed the distance between us in a flash, “I’m just worried. I have to wonder if this is the right thing to do.” His words were hurried and then faltered and hesitant. It came out in a string of words that I had a hard time understanding. “You can’t change the past without altering the future. What if we are wrong? What if this is a mistake? It’s so much to risk.”
The intensity in his eyes was making me uncomfortable. Altering the future? Wasn’t that the point? It didn’t matter to me that David was getting cold feet; I knew what had to be done. I was confident in my ability to do the job. No worries. “I am ready David.”
Eva,” he said tightly, “just be careful. Please.”
He was worried about me?
The door opened, Sols and Max walked in. “You ready boss?” Sols asked loudly.
David didn’t take his eyes away from my face. After a final moment of awkward emotion, David sighed. He lowered his eyes. I saw his teeth worrying his bottom lip, but when he looked up again he was all business. “Alright,” he turned to include the two men, “You already know the process, but we’ll go over it again, so there’s no mistake.”
I let myself relax against the door. David’s words left my heart feeling funny, as if a cool wind had just blown across it.
Neleh’s words came back to me. When she had told me about David’s betrayal I had brushed it aside. No way would David betray her. But now I wasn’t so sure. He had shown more emotion today than ever before. What had gotten into him? Was he scared? Or was it guilt? Could it be remorse? Was it possible that David had changed his mind? Why would he do that?
The questions fired in my brain, but the answers were elusive. I just needed to be careful, like David had said. He had meant it differently, but all the same — I would take his advice.
Eva, are you with us?” David demanded.
I looked up, unguarded, and our eyes met. Something unspoken passed between us. He knew that I knew.
Of course,” I replied calmly.
Alright. Let’s go through the steps. First you will go through decam, so you won’t be taking any sickness back with you. Then you’ll get directly into Orbex. From there, the machine will take you within a few miles of the colony. You will be expected to finish your mission within the first twenty four hours. Then you’ll be able to return here and back through decam on the other side. And that’s it. You’ll have quite a nice story.”
I didn’t miss the way his words stumbled out over the last part of his dramatic speech. The truth was, David didn’t know what kind of future we would be returning to, or if we would have one to return to at all.
Do you think it will hurt?” Sols asked the question but I leaned closer to hear the answer.
It shouldn’t,” David said, unconvincingly.
In other words, you don’t know,” Max concluded.
I have never gone back in time but there is nothing to suggest that it will hurt overly much.”
That wasn’t very comforting. Max’s face tightened but he just nodded.
Now, you’ll be in the decam, uh, decontamination room for just over four hours. You will need to remove all your clothing before you enter the room.” I didn’t flinch this time when he told us.
Once the decontamination is complete, the door will open and you can enter the changing chamber. Here, you can put on the clothes that we have provided. They will be different from what you are used to wearing, but it is important for you to fit in where you land.” David’s eyes swung over to glare at me. I glared back.
After you’re dressed,” he continued, “you will be able to board Orbex. Once there, Max and Sols will pilot you back to the year 1284. Complete your mission and get back here.”
Sols and Max exchanged a look. “Above all else, don’t talk to anyone unless it is unavoidable. And never tell anyone that you are from the future or any details about the future. We must be very careful to protect the past as much as possible.”
We all nodded. We had heard this all before.
Anything you change in the past will alter the future,” David continued. It had become his catch phrase these past few weeks. “Just be careful.” It might have been my imagination but his eyes seemed to linger on me.
Well,” David clapped his hands together and looked at the clock, “three minutes to decam. Get ready, here we go.” He went to begin pushing numbers on the keypad to the decam room, providing us with a little privacy.