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Times to Come
By Bobbi Todd
I open the door an' know instantly that somethin's wrong. Somebody else's been here. The scents
'r unfamiliar, but they're all over the place, more like they've been here for days or even
longer, instead o' just the few hours I've been gone.
I check out the room. Nothin's been moved, but it ain't quite right, either. I move away from
the door, keepin' quiet. Not that I think whoever's waitin' is gonna be surprised, but old
habits are hard ta break.
I bump somethin' with my foot, an' when I pick it up, it turns out ta be a kid's doll. I step
into the kitchen an' there's a glass on the counter that I didn't leave there. In fact, it ain't
even my glass.
The apartment's got two bedrooms, which is way more 'n I need, but it was available when I
needed a place o' my own. I slip down the hall to the first bedroom, the empty one. Only it
ain't empty. I can hear someone breathin'.
I push the door open, slow an' easy. The breathin' don't change. The room was empty when I left,
now its full o' furniture. The breathin's comin' from the bed. I move on into the room, but
there's nobody else here. Just me an' whoever's in the bed. I take another step, an' I'm
startin' ta think I'm in the wrong apartment.
The person in the bed's just a kid. A little girl, about two years old. She rolls over an' opens
I am definitely in the wrong place.
I'm tryin' ta figure out how ta get outta here without scarin' the little doll half ta death
when I hear a footstep behind me. I turn around fast an' see a woman standin' in the door to the
room. Probably the kid's mom. How the flamin' hell did I get in the wrong apartment?
"Logan?" she says, freezin' me in my tracks. I don't know anybody in this building. What is
"Mommy?" the little girl asks from behind me.
"Its all right, Cindy. Go back to sleep sweetheart." She steps past me and tucks the blankets in
around the little girl.
"Mommy, can I have Suzie?"
"Of course, honey." The woman turns ta me an' takes the doll outta my hand. I just stand there,
feelin' like a complete chump. She gives the doll to the kid, an' leans over ta kiss
"Night, Mommy." She sighs an' holds the doll tight. "Night, Daddy."
"Night," I mumble, still tryin' not ta scare her.
The woman takes my hand, an' pulls me outta the kid's room, closing the door behind us. I got no
idea what I'm gonna say to her or how I'm gonna explain bein' in her apartment at three in the
mornin'. I feel like I'm in quicksand up ta my neck, an' sinkin' fast. The feelin' don't go away
when she puts her arms around my neck and kisses me. An' it ain't no sisterly peck, either. With
her body this close ta mine, an' I do mean close!, its hard ta miss the fact that she's
expectin' another addition to the family. I ain't one ta turn down a gal when she's this
friendly, but I just keep gettin' more confused by the moment.
When she finally breaks for air, she looks me right in the eye an' says, "Welcome home,
beloved." She steps back and looks me up an' down. "I didn't expect you back until tomorrow. Are
you hungry? I can fix you a sandwich if you'd like."
"No, thanks, darlin'," is the best I can come up with.
"Come to bed, then. You must be tired." She takes my hand again, an' starts down the hall to the
other bedroom, but this time I gotta resist. She looks back at me, puzzled.
"Are you all right, Logan?"
"I'm fine, darlin'. But I gotta ask, who the flamin' hell are you?"
"Oh, dear," she says, lookin' unhappy an' worried all at once. "Come with me, please." She lets
go o' my hand an' walks past me into the kitchen. She opens the 'fridge an' takes out a beer an'
a bottle o' white wine. She hands me a glass an' the wine.
"Would you pour for me, please? I have a feeling I'm going to need this." She pops the top on
the beer while I'm pourin' the wine for her. She takes the glass an' hands me the beer, then
pulls out a chair and sits down.
"My name is Karen. The little girl is Cynthia. Your daughter. Our daughter. This," she puts her
hand on her swollen belly, "is our son. He's not due for another two months, so don't get
nervous." She pauses to take a sip of the wine, an' I take a chair across from her.
"You and I met when you joined the Project seven years ago, and we started trying to sort out
your memories. I was just a technician, and I started out feeling sorry for you, but as we
identified your true memories and weeded out the implanted ones, I started to see what kind of
a person you were. What kind of strength it had taken you to keep your sanity with all that
garbage in your brain. I guess I started falling in love with you while you were still a
patient." She cleared her throat an' took a swallow of the wine.
"You don't have any reason to believe any of this, of course. I don't have any proof that
couldn't have been faked, but the Professor told me that there was the possibility of a ... a
relapse I guess you could call it. The implanted memories couldn't actually be removed, just
suppressed, while your real memories were supposed to have been strengthened. Do your remember
any of this?"
"No, darlin'. I don't." She just nods, though she looks like she's about ta burst into
"When you were released from the clinic, I thought I would never see you again, and I was
surprised at how much it hurt. But when I got off work that night, you were waiting for me by
the employees entrance.
You asked me if I'd go to dinner with you. You didn't hand me any line about how you didn't know
anybody in town, or how you hated to eat alone. You made it clear that you wanted to go out with
me because you wanted to be with me." She smiles at me across the table. "I didn't hesitate. I
just said yes."
She watches her hands as she plays with the wine glass.
"We went to a nice restaurant, but it wasn't so nice that I'd have felt out of place in my lab
clothes. You insisted on paying for everything, which I thought was terribly old fashioned, but
also terribly nice. You opened doors for me, and held my chair. I felt like royalty. After
dinner, you took me dancing. I wasn't very good, but you were patient with me." She looks up at
me again, an' I can see that I'd be attracted to her. Her eyes tell a lot about her. She's a
good kid, an' she believes she's tellin' the truth. But, dammit, if her story's true, why don't
I remember it?
"When you took me home, you were a perfect gentleman. I couldn't decide whether I should be
flattered or insulted. The next day you were gone, and I decided that you'd felt obligated to
me. Just because I never let a patient come up alone. I didn't know you'd been restored to
active service at the Project." She was watching me closely. "No bells, huh?"
"Not a one, darlin'." She sighs.
"Well, you turned up again, about two weeks later. I tried to be cool, but when I saw you,
leaning on your bike, with your hat pulled down to shade your eyes, my heart leaped into my
throat, and when you asked me out again, there wasn't any way I could say no." She smiles at
the memory. Wish I shared it. "Anyhow, we sort of dated like that for a couple of years. I got
used to you disappearing for weeks at a time, though I admit it wasn't easy.
When Cindy was born, you told the Project that you had enough seniority that you could pick your
own assignments, and that if they didn't like it, they could stick it." She smiles at me again.
"You've mostly stuck with training since then."
As she continued to speak, I realized I was hearin' a faint creakin' sound. It takes me a
minute ta place it as the sound of a rope bein' stretched.
"Darlin', " I interrupt, "this buildin' doesn't have a flag pole, does it?"
"No," she answers, instantly wary. "Why?"
"I think we're about ta have company."
Every window in the place explodes, an' Karen runs toward her daughter's room. I wouldn't have
thought she could move so fast. I head to the livin' room, an' the two guys that came in
through those windows.
"Cripes!" one of 'em says. "He ain't supposed ta be here!"
Just ain't your day, is it, bub? I guess you'd prefer ta dance with a defenseless woman an' a
baby girl, huh?" I take him out with a single punch. His pal takes one look at me, an' dives
back out the window. Its only five floors up. He might make it. I hear a shriek from the
I get to the hall, an' there's a body on the floor. A particularly messy body. I'll apologize
to the creep in the living room later. The door to the kid's room is open. Karen's just inside.
There's a guy standin' by the window an' he's got the baby.
"Lady, if you'll just come quietly, nothin' bad'll happen to your little girl," he says. Karen
just looks at him. He hasn't noticed me yet.
"Mommy?" Cindy says, but she doesn't sound as scared as you'd expect.
"Its all right, baby." Karen moves slowly forward.
"Lady, I'm telling you, my boss just said ta bring you. He didn't say nothin' about bringin'
you alive. Now behave yourself or I will kill you." Karen ignores him. I'm glad she isn't
lookin' at me like that. He's startin' ta get jumpy.
"Hey, Fred! Dave! Mike! Where are you guys?"
"They ain't comin', bub."
"Aw, crap!" he says, seein' me for the first time. Karen lunges toward him, an' he shoots her.
She goes down, spinnin' from the force of the bullet.
"Mommeeee!" Cindy screams, twisting around in the guys hold. Tiny claws pop outta the baby
girl's hands, an' she rakes him across the face with them. The guy screams an' drops her. She
scrambles toward me an' I scoop her up an' shove her through the door while the guy starts
firing blindly. Before I can take him out, I see Karen, stayin' close to the floor, swing her
legs around in a powerful kick, knockin' his feet out from under him. He falls backwards through
the smashed window, and screams all the way to the alley below.
"That the last of 'em?" Karen asks me, as she props herself up on the floor.
"Daddy?" the little girl says from the doorway as I check her mom's injury. "This guy's leakin'
all over Mommy's carpet." Karen smiles up at me as I let go of her arm. The bullet went clean
through. Didn't even hit a major blood vessel.
"Little soap an' water otta take care of it, little darlin'," I say to her.
"Cold water," she replies. "I told you she was yours," Karen whispers. The little doll comes in
an' snuggles up ta me. I take one o' her tiny hands in mine an' turn it over. There's no
evidence of the claws I saw. I pick her up an' help her mother to her feet.
"I thought you were a technician."
"Are you kidding?" Karen says. "You think I'd hang around with you for seven years and not pick
up a few dirty tricks? You've spent a lot of time training me. You started training Cindy as
soon as she could walk. You wanted us to be able to take care of ourselves when you couldn't be
I help her to the kitchen, so I can look at her arm in better light. She takes the baby from me,
bouncing her on her knee. All of a sudden I feel dizzy.
"Logan? What's wrong?"
The front door slams open. I try ta turn toward it, an' fall on my face. Karen kneels beside me,
the kid shoved behind her. She's starin' at the door. I lift my head, tryin' hard ta focus.
Damned if the guy standin' there don't look just like me!
"Logan?" she looks at him, then down at me. The last thing I remember is the confusion on her
I wake up in the kitchen of my apartment. There's no evidence of a fight. No bodies, no glass,
not even the smell of blood. An' there's no evidence of Karen or Cindy, either. Not even their
scents. I check out the entire apartment. Cindy's room is empty. No furniture, no toys, nothin'.
I go back to the kitchen an' get a beer from the refrigerator. I pop the top an' stare out the
livin' room window at the city. I've never felt so alone in my life.
"Sir," the young man said from his position at the console.
"What is it, Mr. Davis?"
"Um, I'm showing a temporal anomaly on my screens, sir."
"Somewhere in the city, sir. Upper north side. Hey! Its gone!"
"Must have been an equipment malfunction. Report it to the technicians at the end of the
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