“Die mother fuckers!”
I only took a step or two when I felt the impact. Several impacts, in fact. I looked over to see my partner in crime curse loudly as the slide on his gun jammed. He tried to eject the clip, but his free hand had already taken several hits. I lost count of the number of dull thuds I heard, but I knew they were many. I struggled, looking ahead to see brass casings littering the parking lot. I felt the warm, stickiness fill my shirt as I slumped to the ground. As we lay bleeding to death on the concrete, he looked at me with pleading eyes. I recalled the lyrics to an old song: Time is on my side. Yes it is! Then… Nothing.
When I travelled, my world faded for the briefest of moments before I lost consciousness. At first I wasn’t aware of the passing of time, but I came to realize the device was outside of time as we understand it. What seemed to be a few minutes could be days, weeks and in some cases even years. Forward and backwards in time – it made no difference. I’ve seen war. I’ve seen dystopian futures. I’ve been to the past in alternate histories. I’ve come to see myself as a tourist, visiting not a place, but the threads of commonalities binding each world together.
I hope some day I will return to my own world. Sometimes I would even settle for becoming someone who isn’t a criminal.
I had become numb to my many deaths. The first death was the hardest. I was heading out of town after the bizarre event at the empire State Building. My Mustang started lurching and idling hard before it stalled completely. I was able to coast onto an off ramp and into the parking lot of a convince store. At the time I counted myself lucky since the place was just off the freeway and well lit. After calling roadside assistance and being informed it would be a seventy minute wait, I strolled toward the store for a quick snack.
Pulling open the door, I was acutely aware something was amiss. I saw the man with a ski mask swing his shotgun at me. The clerk chose that minute to try to protect his wares by brandishing a .45. The would be robber was flung violently to the side but not before squeezing the trigger. I felt myself fall back through the glass door. The oddest notion went through my mind at that moment: At least I don’t have to wait for the tow truck.
Grim humor aside, the last thing I remembered was the stench of my own bowels and burnt sulfur.
I open my eyes to see a man bound to a chair. His face is swollen and bleeding. I glance down at my clenched fists, they’re starting to swell and are covered with blood. I feel a dull pain emanating from them. I must’ve been working this guy over for quite a while. I’m interrupted by yet another villain,
“Yo man, the cops are here.”
I think to myself, this will likely be another short visit. Chuckling at my own mirth and nearly choking on a piece of gum in my mouth, I reply, “How many cops we talkin’ about?”
“I dunno… There’s like five or six cruisers out there. They can’t get this guy alive, he knows too much. You want I should kill ’em?”
“Naw, I’ll take care of it. Get out there and scope it out. I’ll be along after I finish up here.”
He smiled, fixed the bound man an icy stare and hustled out of sight. I stared at the man I had hit for the briefest of moments before he began to cry out. “Please don’t kill me! I don’t know anything! I’m just an accountant.”
I was feeling the beginning of a headache. He continued pleading, “Please! Joey’s gone now. Please, just let me go. I’ll do anything you want.”
“Shut up!” I hissed.
I pulled a gun from my shoulder holster and pointed it straight up. The man started weeping openly and started praying for forgiveness. I pitied the man, but I had to leave him bound for the police to discover. I had died so many times and faced each death with some measure of fortitude. He didn’t possess the perception of my many and gruesome deaths, he would know only a single death if I didn’t intervene.
I shook my head and fired twice toward the roof. I could smell the stench of urine filling the room. The man had soiled himself. This was nothing new to me, so I holstered the gun and jogged in the same direction Joey had.
I found him outside partially open two-story door. As I suspected, we were in a warehouse. We peered around a dumpster to get a better view. That’s when I saw her yet again. She was the other constant in my traveling. This time, she was on the roof of another warehouse with a sniper rifle. She must’ve seen the recognition in my eyes, because she appeared to cuss and set the rifle down. She waived cheerily and I found myself returning her wave.
“Let me see your gun.” I stated matter-of-factory and extended my hand.
Joey reluctantly handed it over saying, “I don’t like being unarmed with the S.W.A.T. Team rolling up.”
“We’re not gonna make it out of this alive.” I confessed.
I released the clip and pretended to count the bullets. When he peeked around the dumpster again, I shoved my gum into the clip and slammed it home. I pulled back the slide and heard a dull thump as the gum coated bullet was chambered. Dispassionately, I returned the weapon to him.
Calmly, I laid out the plan. When I was finished, we stepped out from behind the dumpster for the final showdown…