Chapter 8: Hector
3.18.2002 Edited by , every Sunday.
The road snaked through the lonely countryside for mile after mile, with the only signs of civilization being the Chevy he'd taken from the costumed guy in Roswell and Bjorn himself. Bjorn considered himself a sign of civilization largely because of the $40 Casio wristwatch he'd purchased a few weeks ago, his time. He was surprising himself with how easily he'd been ably to mentally catalog and sort the various timelines he'd been through in his recent past.
Thinking of signs of civilization and elapsed time caused Bjorn to check his gas gauge. He'd been driving for several hours, and he was sure an old car like this guzzled gas. Surprisingly enough, however, the needle still pointed to "full."
"Damn it!" Bjorn fumed. The gauge must be broken. Now, he had no idea how much longer he could drive. He'd just have to pray he made it to a town in time. Frustrated, he punched the Chevy logo in the center of the steering wheel.
With a sound right out of "Star Trek," an energy beam shot out of the front of the car and incinerated, in order, the first road sign Bjorn had seen since he'd left Roswell, a joshua tree, and a very startled coyote. Bjorn slammed on the brakes, skidding the big car to a stop at the base of the sign, which now read, in the light of the full moon, "Albu."
Bjorn stared at the sign for a long time, startlement over what had just happened battling frustration over the fact that he'd just largely vaporized the only way to tell which way to go in the road that Bjorn had just realized forked right ahead.
His attention was drawn back into the car by a beeping noise, which Bjorn discovered came for a very different dashboard than the one he'd seen moments ago. Gone was the sleek red-and-chrome 1950's look, replaced by futuristic displays showing a wide array of data, from the time, which it told from the year down to the millisecond, a map of the area centered on the car, and, oddly, twin digital photos of the cityscape of what appeared to be Vancouver, his time. One photo was marked "Current," the other, "Control." The entire display was labeled, "Temporal Casualty Monitor."
But more disturbing to Bjorn was the display marked, "Subject 2038, Bjorn Lincoln." It showed Bjorn's current time, location, physical location, and Zodiac sign. "Everything but what I had for breakfast." Bjorn muttered. The display changed to read, "Bacon and eggs, sunny-side up." Bjorn blinked. All in all, this pretty much confirmed his suspicions that he was being tracked through time.
Bjorn looked up and screamed.
Staring through the window at him was a young man, with flaming red hair that stuck out in all directions. He looked maybe sixteen.
“I knew I'd find you here.” The young man said. “We don't have much time.”
“Who are you??” Bjorn demanded, still in the process of restarting his heart.
“My name is Hector.” the young man said. Bjorn noted a surprising amount of scars, many large, all over Hector's face and hands. “And I'm here to help you. I'm from the future, like you.”
“How did you find me out here in the middle of nowhere?” Bjorn asked.
“We couldn't, until you activated the car's computer. We knew you came here, and that McNoHeart's people had followed you.” He opened the door and touched something on the steering wheel, causing the dash to fold up and return to normal. “There, now they can't see you. I can't tell you much without compromising the future, but I can tell you this; take the right-hand fork in the road to Albuquerque.” Hector handed Bjorn a bag. “Inside is $200 in cash from this time period, and some things you'll need later.” Bjorn saw the cash, a small garden spade, a loaded pistol, and a copy of the April 15, 1865 New York Times. “They're after you, so you have to keep moving. Just remember- never EVER take the red and blue pill on a Tuesday. This is very important. And keep the car- you'll need it later. Plus, it's nice. Do you understand all of this?”
Bjorn didn't understand a word of it, but he didn't want to have to sit through it again. “Got it.” he replied.
“Then go.” Hector stood aside as Bjorn started the car and drove off down the left-hand fork in the road.
Bjorn was more confused than ever. There was much, much more to this than he had thought. Why did a little boy want to send him through time? Why was he being tracked and so incompetently harassed?
Why did Hector have such bleak eyes?
Hopefully, he'd start finding answers in Albuquerque.
Hector stood and watched as the Chevy vanished in the distance. “You didn't understand a word.” Hector sighed and rubbed his forehead. “But it was still nice to meet you. I hope you get it right this time, Dad.”
It would be nice to think the young man turned and left, then, happy to have met his younger father, and went back to a happy future, made safe and warm and bright by Bjorn's heroism. Maybe you could imagine a life free of scars and full of normal sixteen-year-old things, like learning to drive and movies.
You certainly don't need to imagine that someone else was watching, someone who followed Hector, someone very frustrated over losing his car and the favor of his boss, someone who comes across Hector alone in the desert, waiting for his pill to kick in. And you certainly don't want to imagine Hector appearing in the future a few pieces at a time, a warning to those who would interfere with the plans of someone and his boss.
No, just imagine that Hector returns home a hero, and lives a happy, normal life.
Maybe he builds model airplanes.