Copyright (c) 2015 by Randall R. Peterson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This is a work of fiction. All persons, locations and actions are from the author's imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner.
“Everything you do, changes the future … and the past”
By R. Peterson
Three men drinking draft beer at a table turned and looked as Alan Trent banged open the door of Top-O’-the-Town. They quickly looked away. Trent’s fists were clenched and his eyes swept the room looking for an excuse to fight … there were no takers. The twenty-six year old wasn’t quite the baddest man in the whole damn town of Chicago yet … but he was working on it. A blues band was playing a cover of BB King’s You Upset Me Baby as Trent ran pudgy fingers through his dark wavy hair and then plopped onto a stool at the dark end of the bar.
The bartender placed a Bloody Mary on a brown napkin in front of Trent and slid a bowl filled with unshelled peanuts next to it … he knew better than to ask questions. Trent closed his eyes as he thought about the day that had started out apologetic and then turned ugly. Lorraine had a right to be angry. His paycheck was missing … along with the fifty-six hours since he’d cashed it. He was sorry … and to make that point he’d broken most of the Old Country Roses china set her mother gave her last Christmas.
Trent opened his eyes and reached for the vodka with tomato juice. His hand was shaking and he noticed his knuckles were bleeding. Jack Rottweiler should have known better than to fire him in front of the other dock workers.
------ Erythraean Sea - 1542 BC-------
Moshe climbed to the top of a high hill just as the sun was setting. The Red Sea glimmered below him. Less than a half-day behind, the chariots and armies of Egypt sought to bring back the thousands of escaping slaves. Aaron appeared beside him and stared at the pursuing dust clouds. “Pharaoh has had a change of heart,” he said. “The death of a son, turns tears of grief into the spit of revenge.”
Moshe agreed with his older brother. “Thutmose no longer desires the flesh of our people to build his cities.” He gasped. “It is our blood he wishes to pour upon the desert sands.”
“We are trapped against the water with no ships,” Aaron said. “What will you do?”
“Nothing,” Moshe told him. “Our fate belongs to El HaNe'eman.” He held his wooden staff high in the air and swept his hand over the waters. “Behold the east and the west wind come forth … from the mouth of God.”
Alan Trent had the drink almost to his mouth when a flash of red from the corner of his eye caused him to turn his eyes. A young woman with hair like a sunset and wearing a dress like cat-skin had just strolled from the restroom. He almost dropped the glass moving toward his lips. It’s Emily! But then he realised that was impossible. “Want one for the road, Lydia?” the bartender called as she strolled past buttoning a thick coat. “Thanks, but I’m at my limit,” she laughed. “One more and I’ll start dancing … and you know I don’t like to torture people.”
Trent stared as she walked out the door. He sat the glass down without drinking. A dribble of the tomato juice laced with vodka had spilled on the bar top. Trent idly ran a finger through the puddle creating two halves. A pain erupted in his chest as thoughts of Emily crammed his mind. In a cruel twist of fate, days after her pregnancy had been confirmed, even before they had the chance to get used to the thought that they were to become parents, his wife had been diagnosed with sarcomas breast cancer. Within weeks, the cancer had claimed not one, but two lives. They were going to name his son Erik … or his daughter Chastity. His child would have been almost three now.
------ Erythraean Sea - 1540 BC-------
Ferocious winds blowing in opposite directions opened the Red Sea in a line running north and south. Aaron and others placed Moshe in a tumbril drawn by four zebus. They hurried with thousands of others across the still puddled sea floor littered with slimy stones and flopping fish. The former captive people of Israel were just starting to climb the northern bank when the armies of Thutmose charged after them into the narrow corridor between the walls of water.
Three men whipping a team of beasts pulling a heavily laden wagon cursed Aaron as he moved through the ranks of people trying to make them hurry. “Your brother prays to the God of fools,” they lamented. “He opens a door for our deliverance but neglects to close it to murderers.”
“God has not forgotten us,” Moshe shouted as the cart rumbled onto the far shore. “His mercy extends to all who will obey his word.” He noticed the wheels of the overloaded wagon behind him sinking into the wet sand. “Leave your treasure to the sea,” he urged them. “We journey to a land of milk and honey that is worth more than all the gold of our former masters.”
“What righteous man suffers the sting of bees without payment?” the men with the wagon argued. “Or is it that they who follow God will leave a milk ewer in the street for all to devour?”
And the winds that held back the waters ceased and the armies of Thutmose and those who had forsaken God in favor of Mammon were drowned in a sea of screams amongst the crashing waters.
Lydia Brown crossed South Michigan Avenue from East Washington Boulevard and entered McCormick Park. It was a chilly night, she had to walk quickly to stay warm. This was a shortcut to her apartment. The wind blew clouds across the moon and her red dress around her thighs as she passed a dirty bearded man on a park bench wolfing the last of a dripping sandwich from a McDonald’s bag. She had decided to run even before he stood up and grabbed her arm … it was too late. Salty fingers still holding part of a hamburger, clamped around her mouth and stifled her scream. “Where are you off to in such a hurry?” his breath smelled like sour milk as he dragged the kicking woman into a thick clump of Buttonbush. She arched her neck backward as a rusty knife-blade pressed against her throat. Unable to make a sound, barely able to breath, she gaped wide-eyed as he tore open her coat and began to shred her blouse and underwear. “Lord O’ Mighty!” he gasped as her naked breasts shown in the moonlight. “Ain’t you the perky one!”
-------Banks of the Danube north of Constantinople 453 AD-------
The Scourge of God looked up from a heaped platter of steaming meat as the beautiful young Ildico was dragged into his tent. The Gallic princess scratched and bit at her nervous handlers and Attila laughed as he sent them away. “My ferocious bride is more than a match for any man,” he said.
“Then why aren’t you trembling in fear?” The woman with hair like a glowing sunset snarled at him like a wildcat smoked from its den.
“I am no mere man … but a God,” Attila boasted as he tore another huge section from a roasting Yakut carcass.
“Does a god of the steppes tear flesh with his hands like an animal and eat without wine, water or a table,” Ildico sneered as she unhooked the pearl fasteners on her gown.
“If he wishes,” Attila laughed again. He was filled with sport and his wedding night was going to be a pleasure. He shoved a large piece of meat into his mouth just as her clothing dropped. He gasped involuntarily at her beauty. His eyes grew large and his face reddened. He pounded himself in the chest, the throat and the mouth each time with more force and viciousness. His nose was bleeding profusely as he danced in circles still beating about his head and neck. Ildico watched without concern as the conqueror of the world finally collapsed on the furs that covered the tent floor. She was standing over his cold body when a guard rushed in an hour later. “You were right,” Ildico said staring at the Hun. “I am more than a match for any man.”
Lester Creed punched the half-naked woman twice before she stopped struggling. He forced both of her hands above her head and then noticed the half-eaten Big Mac still held tightly in his fingers. Lester was hungry and excited. He shoved the rest of the burger in his mouth. Something was wrong. The barely chewed piece of meat, bun, pickles, cheese and sauce caught halfway down his throat. He stood up and tried to gag and wheeze it out. It would not go up … or down. Creed was turning in circles when Lydia rose to her feet. As a trained nurse, she knew what was wrong with the would-be rapist but she didn’t care. The Heimlich Maneuver was for humans … not filthy animals. Lester Creed collapsed into the bushes as Lydia fastened her torn coat. “My mother was right,” she said as she hurried across the park. “I am more than a match for any man.”
Three minutes later, Lydia spotted a cab cruising Randolph Street. Five dollars took her across the Fahey Bridge to her home turf. The driver, apparently a Turkish immigrant was concerned about her torn dress and bruised face. “Are you okay?” he asked with a heavy accent as he slid back the bullet-proof partition separating the driver’s compartment from the passenger area to accept her money.
“I’m fine,” Lydia said not believing her own words. “I just want to go home!”
The obviously distraught girl’s last words echoed in Mehmet Yusuf Sahin’s mind … only he heard Sadece eve gitmek istiyorum!
He began to cry shortly after he dropped her off at her North Water Street apartment building. It was early but he decided to call it a night. Deep depression engulfed the young immigrant like a fog.
Mehmet Yusuf Sahin showered and then pulled a Djebba over a loose flowing robe. The light blue finely woven fabric was his most prized possession, an heirloom from his father. He took a framed photograph from a trunk and sat on a rickety chair next to the window. Twelve stories up in the air the night-view of New York City was misty but still colorful. His voice was a choking sob. “Zehra, bana güvendi ve ben hayal kırıklığına uğrattın!” (Zehra, you trusted me and I have let you down!) He had made a solemn vow to her in Turkey that in two years … three at most! He would send enough money to bring her to America. It was now six years … there was always someone with their hand out … it was impossible to save and to eat. He opened the window and climbed onto the ledge.
-------North Carolina 1903-------
“You know the whole world thinks you’re crazy,” Wilber told his brother who lay flat on the bottom wing of the flyer.
“When you keep trying and making adjustments you’re bound to get lucky,” Orville told him. “You just have to believe!”
“Are you sure about this?” Wilber cautioned.
“You crashed it last time … now it’s my turn.” Orville gritted his teeth in fierce determination.
Wilber started the four-cylinder engine powering two rotating propellers and helped push the flying machine on wooden rails into a brisk twenty mile-an-hour headwind. The flyer slid down the ramps made of two by fours … picking up speed.
Mehmet Yusuf Sahin watched a hawk soar above the New York skyscrapers. He wondered how it would be if man could really fly like a bird. He thought of all the efforts through the last one-hundred years. Some had come close, but the attempts had always sooner or later ended in disaster. “Man was never meant to fly,” The Supreme Court had declared. The United States Government and most of the rest of the world had passed laws against endangering lives trying to do the impossible.
Mehmet noticed a ragged cat walking along the ledge with pigeon parts dangling from its mouth. “Hey Kitty,” he murmured. “You don’t have feathers. How did you get all the way up here?” There was a twenty mile-per-hour breeze blowing as Mehmet stepped off the ledge. As he plummeted toward the street one hundred twenty feet below, he held the Djebba in both outstretched hands and it filled with air like an ancient sail. He felt his descent slow. For an instant he felt like he was gliding not falling. It was a moment of exhilaration.
Mehmet hit the concrete sidewalk hard, but did not die instantly, probably because of the drag from his billowing clothing. His eyes shifted in and out of focus and the world seemed to dissolve and then put itself together again. He heard a sound like a monstrous automobile engine rising above the traffic sounds … moving in the sky above the city. Starlight reflected off a large metallic object moving through the air. “It is possible,” Mehmet gasped as he lay on the sidewalk. “It is possible for man to fly!”
-------North Carolina 1903-------
Wilber watched as the Flyer lifted from the ground, dipped slightly and then began to rise. He was running along the sandy dunes. The machine he and his brother had worked on since they were children rose almost twenty-feet in the air. More than one-hundred twenty feet along the North Carolina coast the flying machine touched down without mis-hap.
“It is possible,” Orville said as his brother shut down the gasoline engine and pulled him from the wing. “It is possible for man to fly!”
The only surgeon on duty at Chicago General Hospital was a third generation Oncologist named Robert Lewis Menninger III. He recognized Mehmet Yusuf Sahin when the ambulance crew rolled him in on a gurney. “Even if he wasn’t broken in a million pieces, we couldn’t save him,” Dr. Menninger told the crew assisting him. “I did exploratory surgery on this man less than a month ago …” He pointed to a not-yet-healed incision in the man’s chest. Scabs which covered the stitches were now mixed with the man’s interior organs. Menninger examined the fractures at first without hope and then with renewed interest. He ordered more light and a surgical magnifier. Dr. Menninger gasped as he observed a tumor on the man’s liver dissolving. “My father was right.” The Doctor stammered. “Cellula Crosta does exist … and it’s working!”
“What are you talking about?” the nurse adjusting the operating table height asked.
“My father spent his entire life working on the theory that an unknown substance inside a common scab could stop cells from dividing out of control,” he said, “the way it stops skin cells from dividing after a cut heals.”
“And this is important … why?” The registered nurse was tired and grumpy.
“Because it’s the cure for cancer,” Doctor Menninger shouted.
For a moment the operating room rippled like heat waves rising from asphalt on a hot day.
-------Chicago 1988 (Across Town)-------
Alan Trent smiled when his wife walked through the door. Even after her first child she was still radiant and beautiful. “Did Chastity cry when you told her mommy and daddy were going out to see Rain Man?”
“Nope, Jessica is very good handling the terrible twos!” Emily laughed. “I can’t believe next week she’ll be three. When I left they were racing a Barbie VW convertible across the kitchen floor to where Ken waited next to a vase of lovely red roses.”
“I’ll bet those flowers looked exactly like the ones I got you for the four-year anniversary of your surgery.” Alan put his arm around her as they left the bar.
“Thank goodness Robert Lewis Menninger Jr. discovered the cure for cancer in 1968,” Emily said. “Or I would have suffered the fate of my mother and her mother before her.”
“I’ve often wondered,” Trent said as he hailed a cab. “I know that history can and does change the future … but can something in the future go back and change history?”
“Don’t be silly,” Emily laughed as a cab pulled to the curb. “We learned about that in Community College Science 401 it’s called retrocausality and everyone but a few nuts thinks it’s impossible!”