‘So, explain the science to me again’
This was day one of the interrogation of the woman known to us only as Destiny Sails. I had asked the question, not because I was an idiot in these matters, but because I needed to be able to grasp further what this strange woman was talking about. Bright green eyes that shone almost luminescent looked at me from beneath a veil of curly red hair. It hung wet from perspiration caused by the effort of concentration against the pain inflicted by previous methods of information extraction. This same exertion caused sweat rivulets to trace small rivers across her dirt-smeared breasts - breasts that rose and fell slowly as each breath was considered and controlled. Her dress was blooded and stained with mud, ripped and torn at the hem caused by the long chase that had ended with her incarceration.
‘What part do you want to hear?’ she sighed. I sensed irritability in her voice caused by having to explain a seemingly simple principle to an imbecile.
‘The Telephone bit’ I replied. I knew this was getting to her, but I figured the more she had to repeat herself the more likely it would be that she would make a mistake.
‘If you have a phone by itself it is useless without having another to receive the call’
Her eyes rose in expectation and hope that I had finally got it.
‘Go on’ I said.
‘So even though time travel is freely accessible where I come from’
I interrupted her by checking a part of the many notes I had made.
‘The year 2678’ I said, not as a question but as a reminder of her earlier statement. She raised her eyebrows at me.
‘2499 – nice try’ she added.
I smiled and held out my hand as an invitation.
‘Please continue’ I said.
‘Even though time travel is freely accessible in 2499’ she tilted her head slightly as if to punctuate her annoyance at my interruption ‘we cannot travel to any point in time that has not made the discovery, and most importantly not technologically advanced enough to build a ‘receiver’’.
‘And yet, here you are’ my tone was one of sarcasm as her previous statement was flawed and contradicted her claims.
She answered me with a resolute sigh.
‘And yet, as you say – here I am.’
‘Miss...’ another check of my notes, purely as a destabilising tactic.
‘Destiny Sails – quite a name’ I added.
‘I am quite a person’ came the reply.
‘As far as I know, we have not yet invented a means of time travel’
‘As far as you know – yes, you are right.’
I leaned forward a little, but not too far as to be anywhere near her head, for the attack she had launched on the two guards on her capture was still visible on their much-abused noses.
‘So how did you get here? – If indeed you did travel from another time.’
‘The Hadron Collider’ she said simply.
This was the part I had difficulty with. She knew this and seemed to take great joy in explaining to me something that I no knowledge of.
‘Which is what exactly?’
She smiled. It was not a smile of joy, but was one of hatred and loathing. She looked at me as if she would quite happily end my life there and then.
‘A means of smashing sub-atomic particles together’
‘Why?’ I asked, as I genuinely did not know the answer.
‘Beats me’ she said ‘ but one of the by-products is that it creates a microscopic black hole and effectively wormholes have opened up in which to travel through time and space. It’s very hit or miss as to where you end up – but I usually end up where I need to be.
‘So you are saying that this is not the first time you have travelled in time’
She smiled her uneasy smile.
‘Nor will it be the last. The wormholes all originate from the Collider, so all we have to do it follow the pathways that lead to it and then use them as an expressway to other times – other planets sometimes’
She leaned back a little and stretched her shoulders, causing her breasts to be pushed forward. The dress she wore housed a small external corset around its mid-section. It creaked and complained against the effort it had to make in order to keep in the very things it had been designed to show off.
I would have reasoned this to be a seduction technique from anyone else, but the sound of her bones cracking with the effort of excursion threw any thoughts of erotica from my mind.
‘You are aware that there are other worlds out there?’ she said.
Her last statement was demeaning, and meant as a poke at my intellectual infancy. It required no answer and was not graced with an attempt at one.
Instead, I ended the interview for the day.
I left the room and made my way to my small office on the second floor of the building that housed the interview rooms. On arrival I helped myself to a large measure of Vodka whilst I arranged my notes and typed them up, in order for them to be sent for processing. Having done that I then set about composing a new set of questions for the next day that would encompass all the information that I had now been provided with.
All be it all utter lunacy.
I went home to my bed a few hours later and slept an uneasy sleep, as my dreams we contaminated with images of a fantasy world that the subject of my studies had created within my minds eye.
A polluted world filled with darkness.
Of a sun that had been filtered by years of smoke and grime - pumped into the atmosphere over generations, giving no heat - delivering only radioactive death.
A barren land.
A dead world.
What salvation could there be then for the people of such a world, other than to retreat backwards into their own time, as their future held only despair.
When I woke from this nightmare I vowed then that this would be my last case, as clearly the stories of the insane had started to etch themselves onto my own psyche. Looking back, I can see the irony in the fact that this decision was soon to be made for me.
‘Why here?’ I said as I entered the interview room the next morning.
I dismissed the guard on duty and sat myself at the table, placing a cup of coffee and a packet of cigarettes in front of her.
‘To prevent a tragedy’ she said simply, ‘and no thanks, I don’t smoke’
‘What tragedy?’ I took one of the cigarettes for myself.
‘Something that I feel has to be put right. Something that would steer this world, and many more besides, on a new and happier path’
My limited knowledge of physics was enough to be able to ask the next question with confidence.
‘Wouldn’t this create a paradox? Removing the reason you came here would make the trip meaningless – would it not?’
She looked at me with genuine admiration.
‘I see you have done your homework’
‘And you are evading the question’
‘Yes it would, had it been my original plan to come here. But as I said, it’s very hit or miss where you end up if you step outside the mainstream. This, for me, was just a happy accident.’
I paused for a while as I considered my next question.
‘What was your ‘original plan’ – if you had not intended to be here? where were you headed?’
She ran her shackled hands though her hair, pushing it away and revealing the many scars that traced thin lines across her face.
Not scars from battle, but from self inflicted wounds – as if tribal in nature. These were highlighted by the colour of her skin.
To say it was black would suggest some sort of ancestral link to African or Afro-Caribbean roots - but no.
It was jet black.
So dark that, had it not been for the thin white lines of her scarring, you would find it hard to differentiate between the varying contours of her features.
She was not unattractive, quite the contrary - in a perverse kind of way she could be considered ‘nightmarishly’ beautiful.
But far from Human.
‘I gather information’ she said.
‘What type of information?’
‘Information of an historical nature. Information that has been lost due to wars carried out by you and your kind’
‘My kind? – Humans you mean’ the latter was meant as a statement rather than a question. She looked at me with apparent amusement in her overly large green eyes.
‘You are far from Human’ she said.
I arched my eyebrow to show intrigue at her last statement.
‘Then what am I? – Or we, what are we?’
‘An abomination – a joke to be shared amongst historians and a gauge of how far we have progressed’
I looked at her for a few seconds, trying to take in what she had just suggested.
‘Are you saying that YOU are Human?’
She smiled again.
‘I must seem so alien to you, as you seem so ape-like to me’
‘Insults?’ I asked.
This was met with silence, which continued from us both for an uncomfortable two minutes. I decided to address a previous thread that she had spoken about instead of this outlandish notion that she was what we were to become.
‘So your main purpose for travelling is the gathering of information?’
‘This could constitute the actions of a spy’
‘If you like’
I gestured towards the recording apparatus that sat on the table between us.
‘You are aware that this interview is being recorded?’ I asked.
She leaned forward and spoke directly into the microphone.
‘Yes’ she breathed, and with that she lent back into her seat and smiled once more.
‘And that this confession is enough to have you shot as such’
‘You can try’ she said, and laughed at her own private joke.
I raised my eyebrows in surprise at her mirth.
‘You find the prospect of your own death amusing?’
The expression on her face suddenly, and unnervingly turned to that of savage anger.
‘I find the death of you and your kind very amusing’ she spat, and just as suddenly as it came, her expression changed to that of relaxed resolution.
‘You won’t find it as funny of course – but I guess it’s all relative’
I ended the interview and went outside the cell in order to confer with my peers, and to clear my head.
‘So I am guessing she is insane then?’ said one of the doctors who had made time to watch the interview.
‘Nutty as a fruitcake’ I replied with a smile.
‘No cure?’ said another.
‘I have spent the past two days questioning her, and even after she had endured a day at the hands of the ‘examiners’ – she still holds on to this notion of being a time travelling historian’
‘But look at her – I mean...’
I looked at the doctor.
‘A freak of nature – no more than that. We have been experimenting with genetics for some time. This is just proof that someone else has been playing around in the same gene pool’
There was silence from all of us, until broken by the doctor.
‘This is what your report will say then?’
I rounded on my audience – angry at their ignorance.
‘What would you have me say? Alien or time traveller – I will let you choose shall I? Either one will get my position taken from me, along with my life no doubt. She’s a disfigurement, the subject of some experimental in-breeding program, resulting in delusion and insanity for this poor unfortunate soul – nothing more. Tomorrow she will be taken from here and destroyed, along with any foolish fantasy that she has chosen to spin’
It was at this time that the turn of events resulting in the situation that I find myself in now, namely, in front of you – happened.
For at the time of this conversation with my fellow doctors we received a visit from Head Quarters.
If fact we had ‘The Visit’ from Head Quarters.
The sound of several pairs of heavy boots echoing throughout the complex heralded his arrival. And as he walked around the corner, surrounded by his entourage of heavily armed guards, something happened that made the very air around us slow down and grow stale. All motion seemed to be hampered as if the moment had been covered in thick treacle. I turned to look at the prisoner through some inner fear that this was her doing, and to my horror I saw that she was standing, smiling and unbound by the shackles that had held her firmly to her chair only moments before. I called to the guards to protect their charge but the air around me seemed unable to carry my words, and so I ran, in order to warn him. As if waking from a dream, everything chose that moment to speed back up and I heard voices call together in unison.
As heels snapped together in salute, hands were raised to attention and everyone, except me, cried out as one man.
And there she was - standing right by his side.
She looked directly at me with those large green eyes.
Laughing at my inability to protect my leader, and at my impotence in controlling the inevitable. She linked her arm through his as he stared down at her with horror and loathing in his hard, grey eyes.
‘Hi Hitler’ she smiled – and with that she was gone, taking the Führer with her. She had warned me – and I, in my arrogance, had passed this off as madness.
His sudden absence from leadership threw the Reich into disarray, leaving the doors open for our enemies to strike us down from a victory that was all but ours. I really don’t know what happened, or where she took him, but I am sure that he ended up in the same situation she had been in, and answering to crimes that only she and her people know about.
I am guessing by the looks on your faces that you, as the victors of this war, are not her people, and I can see that you find my explanation of his disappearance as incredulous as her explanation was to me as to whence she came. I cannot be sure that her world is as dark and foreboding as my imagination had painted, or if it is a paradise created by her actions within our time. All I can say is, that her main claim seemed to be that she was more human than I. If this is the case, and we are all to become the aberration that sat before me in the interrogation room on that strange and unsettling spring day in 1945 – then I for one do not fear for our future, for I know that we will all pay for the crimes of our past, as I will pay for mine today.