To read Part Three.
I had been too late to stop the Kinachi assassin from firing on JFK's motorcade. My final desperate lunge came up several feet short. There wasn't enough time. I wilted to my knees. Ahead of me lay the discarded shell casing and the prone body of the fourth assassin. He was slumped on his side. Electricity crackled from a jagged gash through it's metallic spinal structure.
Behind its crumpled form stood a pair of familiar leather shoes and brown khakis. My eyes trailed up the pressed, short sleeve button down and to a face I knew very well, my own, the Handler.
Consider the temporal universe as an infinite number of highways running side by side, but never crossing. For the most part the highways are identical. Occassionally one car will be of a differnt color or a traffic jam will clog up several lanes in one, but not the others. My job is to traverse my "highway" backwards and forwards cleaning up roadblocks and fixing flats, so to speak. That's the easy part, travelling backwards and forwards.
The hard part is crossing from highway to highway. Its rarely done, only as a last ditch effort to save a failed mission involving outside influence. Doing so requires a tremendous amount of resources and results in a timestream bereft of a Handler. There is no going back from where you crossed.
The Handler was holding an ion dagger. He still glowed green from his emergency cross-jump. My clone regarded me disdainfully. A hole marred the wall above the window, that history-changing bullet lodged in red brick.
“You failed in your task Handler.” He admonished me.
“I wasn’t fast enough Handler. I’m sorry. Please don’t.” Marilyn lumbered to my side. He put his mammoth hand on my back and gently kept me from standing. I shuddered with his touch. I could feel his breath on my neck.
“You know I must. You have cleaned up an alternate's mess on one occassion in this timeline just as I'm cleaning up your's now. This comes with the job.”
The cheering continued outside. The thirty-fifth President of the United States had been saved, but not by my hand. He was saved at a tremendous cost by one of my many alternates. Or was I his alternate? For so long, time had little meaning. After a century of patrol I had forgotten that a few seconds can take everything away.
"I'm sorry Handler." He regarded me with apologetic eyes, “Marilyn. Maneuver Delta Echo Delta.”
In one quick motion Marilyn snapped the failed Handler’s neck.
In my submitted field notes, I remarked that the Handler before me served his timestream proudly for one hundred and eight years. He was an inspiring leader to his animal agents and during his term of service saved forty seven temporal dignitaries from certain assassination.
It was with great respect that I time-tossed his corpse to Handler Prime for a hero's cremation. The Kinachi bots were sent as well. Oswald's body was arranged to appear as though his death was a suicide. How exactly he cut his throat with a rifle will be left to this era's conspiracy theorists. The Handler before's report regarding the First Lady's uncanny prescience will be of interesting note for our temporal researchers. I included it for review as well.
On a personal note: adjusting to this new timestream will be difficult at first. The nostalgia-wave resulting from an emergency cross-jump can be disorienting, to say the least. In this job, nostalgia is a curious condition.
How does one know that for which we’re nostalgic even really existed?
Marilyn Monroe and I had no time for such philosophical notions as my chronometer began to beep. The display read July 13, 1793, France, Jean-Paul Marat.
“Ah. The French Revolution! Marilyn, how do you feel about a corset?” My gorilla comrade roared approvingly as we leapt into the green glow of our next mission.
Or was it the Beginning?