They were all seated in a living room with an L-shape couch with black walls. The blinds and curtains are pulled shut, the television is off, and the light is dimmed. He had given them all whatever he had in the fridge; a collection of different cans of beers that he explained to them that he wouldn’t get around to drinking. They sat on the couch and stared at each other for a moment while they sipped cold beer listening to the house settle.
“So, you’re the author of,” Amara held out her hands. “Our story?”
“No,” Patrick shook his head. “I finished my story and you guys never meet me.”
“That means that there’s another one of you,” Perdita said. “That’s writing this story.”
“It’s the most egotistical thing,” Patrick said. “To put yourself in your book.”
“I agree,” Liam said.
They drank the rest of their beers and continued to stare at one another. There was absolutely nothing that they could talk about and the questions they had he knew he couldn’t answer because they weren’t the people he wrote about.
“I’m really sorry,” he said. “For whatever my part is in this.”
“You don’t have a part in this,” Amara said. “This is chance.”
“You’re probably right,” he said. “You can go back in time?”
“Yeah,” Perdita said sitting down her drink.
“Like Back to the Future?” Patrick asked.
“Not really,” Perdita looked at Liam. “Someone didn’t want to.”
“That’s a shame,” he said rubbing his beard.
“You’re wanting something,” Amara asked.
“The power to go back in time and change things?” He raised his eyebrow. “Fuck yeah I fucking would.”
“But you won’t,” Perdita said. “Because of what is out there.”
“It’ll come for me,” Patrick replied. “Whatever it is I know it’ll get me.”
“What would you change,” Amara asked. “If you could.”
“I would go back in time,” he sat down his drink. “Load my grandfather’s gun, and blow my grandmother away before I was in her hands.”
“That’s pretty rough,” Liam said. “She couldn’t have done anything that bad.”
“Then you don’t know bad,” Patrick said.
“We’ve seen some pretty bad things,” Perdita said.
“You need to leave,” Patrick stood up. “I don’t like this. I don’t like that you’re real.”
They thanked him for the beer, and because he wanted to, he watched them leave. He even waved and smiled at him although he didn’t like them. When they were gone, he looked over at his bird feeders, looked to the sky, and then back to his house.
“No,” he said. “Not worth losing.”
They came to a place where they were upon a hill with no trees. Below them was a cluster of houses around a small narrow road that cut through the land and disappeared into the horizon running East to West. From where they were they could see that there were people, normal looking people, moving between the buildings with shopping bags, cell phones, and children at their sides.
“This place looks safe,” Perdita said. “Let’s find a place and set up shop.”
“What does that mean,” Liam asked. “Set up shop?”
“We’ve got to stop Perdita Prime,” she said. “We’ve got to stop them all.”
“I still don’t know how you’re planning to do that,” Amara asked.
“There’s got to be more to this than what we’re seeing,” she said.
“I don’t think we’re meant to see any more than we are,” Liam said.
“We’re going to try,” Perdita said.
They walked down to the town, bought a car from a very confused woman of three for one million dollars, drove to the city where Perdita had done her research in all the other realities. They found a four-story building made of wood and glass with an expansive garden out back. There was an orchard of oranges on the side that was heavy with fruit.
There they met a woman in her sixties with a woven basket with a few oranges. Her once black hair was peppered and there were laugh lines around her mouth. When they stepped out of the car she smiled, dropped the basket, and ran to them and hugged each of them as tight as she could.
“It’s good to see all of you again,” she sighed.
“Again,” Liam repeated.
“It doesn’t matter,” she said looking between them. “This feels so good to see my friends again.”
“We’re happy to meet you,” Perdita said
“Are you here to rest and do research?” The woman asked.
“Yes,” Perdita replied.
“You’ve got a different light in you,” Amara said.
“That I do,” the woman smiled. “I’m different.”
“Who are you,” Liam asked. “You’re not one of her.”
“No,” the woman smiled. “I’m not. I’m Autumn.”
The name didn’t touch any of them or mean anything. They introduced themselves even though she reassured them that they didn’t need to. She then welcomed them into her house, and they found it was furnished with basic but comfortable furniture. There were sandwiches on the table already made and each of them realized it was sandwiches that they all had liked. They all drank fresh orange juice and sat at the kitchen counter.
“Is there any research equipment?” Perdita asked.
“All of it is here,” Autumn nodded peeling an orange. “Just as you left it.”
“I don’t understand,” Perdita said.
“You’re not going to,” Autumn said. “It was you and not you but you.”
She led them upstairs and showed them the research facility. Amara grunted unsure of what she was looking at but Perdita and Liam understood that there were machines that had not been in existence yet. They gleamed chrome and new and sophisticated and exactly what they needed. As Liam and Perdita started to step in the room, Autumn stepped between them and put her hand on their chests.
“You’re going to sleep,” she said. “And don’t try to argue.”
The look on her face told them that they wouldn’t be able to argue with Autumn if they wanted to. They followed her up the stairs to a wide room with large windows and wooden blinds. They had been pulled halfway closed allowing golden light to come through and create lines on the worn wooden floor.
There were four queen beds placed around the room with a desk each. There were trunks in front of each bed that were open with a change of clothes for each of them. Except for one bed that the trunk was closed.
“Don’t worry about that,” Autumn said.
They each peeled off their clothes and climbed into the beds where they drifted off to sleep and dreamed absolutely nothing for forty-eight hours. Meanwhile, Autumn tended her garden and collected the oranges, washed clothes, and bought food for when everyone woke up.
The most important thing she did was maintaining the stealth shields that were installed for this reality that none of those that she didn’t want to find her, would find her. There were four strange creatures with tentacles, fangs, and acid dripping from mandibles that did manage to break through, but they had not been alive if she and they did not move as fast as she.
When Perdita woke, she showered, changed into clothes that looked like she had picked them out or herself and walked downstairs to find Autumn in a bathrobe cooking breakfast. There were stacks of pancakes, bacon, sausage, and eggs.
“I know how hungry you get when you keep jumping,” she said. “And you need to unplug.”
Perdita, unsure of who this woman was, reached back and pulled the plug from her skull. She gritted her teeth and gripped the table as all the memories came rushing back. There was more and more than she started putting together while Autumn sat down a glass of milk.
“Do you think you know what you need to do,” Autumn said.
“Make the silver bullet,’ Perdita said picking up her glass.
“A bullet that travels through time and space,” Autumn nodded. “That’s what she said.”