Soundstage 47 is buzzing with activity when dad and I enter the building at the end of the workday. We’ve been talking non-stop since I woke up last night, and could have easily kept talking for another week. We have years of catching up to do, but it’s time to move on.
Dad is nothing short of a celebrity. They applaud him as he makes his way through the building. They, like me, have reconciled the fact that he didn’t disappear all those years ago. In the space of a few hours, he has gone from villain to hero. That’s not an easy transition when you’ve heard stories for years depicting someone as the bad guy. But today, he’s the father of time travel.
“You just keep getting better looking with age,” dad says when he sees Greaser.
“That’s just the magic elixir doing its work,” Greaser replies.
“You’re still drinking the bachelor Kool-Aid?” Dad says, picking up on some inside jokes between him and Greaser as if no time has passed.
“‘Til death do I part,” Greaser replies as he and my dad embrace.
I introduce dad to each member of the team. He’s interested in each and every one. He asks them questions about their roles and contributions to the project. You’d never know that just hours ago he was destroying all his work, trying to keep time travel from ever becoming a reality. Despite that, it’s still his passion, and seeing his work come to fruition, despite the circumstances, makes him all the more interested.
With the introductions complete, most of the crew discreetly heads out for the night. As much as he’s a celebrity to them, they also want to respect his space as he talks with the core team.
“We need to get dad back home,” I say. “He knows enough about the future that he can begin changing things. Hopefully, he’ll be able to stop the devastation we’ve seen in the future or will help us be better positioned to deal with it ourselves.”
“Whatever happened to ‘whatever happened, happened?'” Brooklyn asks.
“I’m open to the possibility that I’ve been wrong. And that regardless of what we see in front of us or behind us, we still are in control of the choices we make. Whether that applies just to our lives personally, or time in general, I guess we’ll find out.”
“If he goes back, everything changes,” GoPro says. “This timeline will be completely erased.”
“It will be different, but not erased,” Greaser says. “It’ll change when—or whether—time travel gets invented, which would then impact the work we all do here. But the world at large should see very little impact.”
“Regardless, this isn’t a decision just for me, or Camden to make,” dad says. “Since this will impact everyone here, you all get to have a say. If we don’t all agree, then I don’t go back.”
“What about the rest of the world?” Mackenzie asks. “Won’t going back impact them as well? Don’t they get a say?”
“It will,” dad says, “but they will be none the wiser. In fact, the moment I step through the portal none of you will be. But because you are here now, and understand what’s at stake, you get to decide for the rest of the world.”
Everyone looks around, thinking about the magnitude of decision before us
GoPro is first to speak. “Sounds to me like it’s mostly an upside. We’ve been tasked with saving the human race, and this is the best option we have to do it. So, I say yeah.”
“I think LT should have a chance at growing up with a dad,” Brooklyn says. “The world gets screwed up when he doesn’t, so I say we try it the other way.”
For the first time since being a kid, being referred to as LT doesn’t bother me. I am the proud son of Trevor Hill.
“As much as I’d like having you around, Katherine deserves you more,” Greaser says.
“The way I see it, we’re already doomed in a few years,” Darwin says. “I don’t see how changing the present could make the future any worse.”
Cleaner says, “I’m in.”
Bellinger looks at Allyson, “You too. You get to have a say.”
“I should probably abstain—being an impartial bystander and all—but I’ll go on record as voicing my support.”
“Okay,” Bellinger says. “I’m in too. That makes it unanimous. When do you want to go home?”
“Is there any reason I can’t go now?” Dad asks. “I figure the sooner the better—before something happens that makes it impossible.”
“Trevor, have you seen Katherine?” Greaser wants to know if my dad has reconnected with my mom here in the present.
“I haven’t, and if I can go back to where I belong there won’t be a need to. I see no reason to put her through any more emotional stress. Once I go home, this timeline will be altogether different, and she’ll never have had to live through any of it.”
Greaser nods, understanding. “Have you figured out what you’re going to tell everyone there about why you destroyed the machine and where you went?”
“I’ll start with the truth, and I’ll just have to find a way to convince them. We are going to need the full resources of Studio D on board if we are going to keep the future you guys saw from happening. If we can change the timeline here, then we can change it there as well.”
Greaser steps over to the control station and activates the Continuum. Dad turns to watch the machine come to life, taking it all in. “I never imagined it would be so beautiful,” he says. “Greaser, that is a real work of art.”
“Thanks,” he replies not taking his eyes off his monitors. “Just an FYI, the wormhole is growing increasingly unstable.”
“Which means, what?” I ask.
“It means I don’t think I’ll be able to hold the portal open long. Might only be able to connect to it one or two more times before it collapses completely.”
“Shouldn’t be a problem,” Dad says. “This will be the last time you’ll need to.”
“Fair enough,” Greaser says. “Just tell me when.”
“Give us a minute,” I say to Greaser. I walk over and stand next to dad. “I’m sorry.”
“For what?” Dad asks with a concerned look.
“For doubting you. For hating you for something you didn’t do, and assuming you were someone you weren’t.”
“I forgive you, son. But you need to forgive yourself for the same. You’ve been assuming you are someone that you are aren’t as well. It’s time to be the man that you truly are and were always meant to be. And for what it’s worth, I’m sorry as well. This is why I destroyed the machine, hoping something like this would never happen.”
“I forgive you too. It’s all in the past,” I say with a wink. “In a few minutes, everything will be different. And we’ll both be in control of our futures.”
“I love you,” he tells me, grabbing me and pulling me into an embrace. “You and your mom.”
We are startled by a loud bang at the other end of the building. Three men with guns burst through the door. “Everybody! Down on the floor! Now!” they yell, as gunshots are fired into the ceiling. Bellinger, Darwin, GoPro, Mackenzie, and Brooklyn drop the ground. Cleaner whips out his gun and aims it at one of the men. Seeing two rifles aimed directly at him, he relents, putting both hands in the air and dropping to his knees.
While the men are focused on Cleaner, Greaser turns back to the controls and initiates the portal opening.
“Get away from the machine!” The third man yells at Greaser.
Glancing behind me, I see the open portal to the past. “Go!” I tell dad. “Go, now!”
Dad turns and runs toward the Continuum.
“Shut it down,” the intruder yells at Greaser before pulling the trigger in rapid succession.
Greaser’s back explodes as he is hit three times. Blood pours out of the wounds as his lifeless body falls into the controls. The Continuum loses its connection to the wormhole, and the portal closes seconds before Dad reaches it.
Cleaner jumps up and aims his weapon at the shooter. He pulls the trigger, hitting the man in the chest. He falls to the ground. The first intruder takes aim and fires at Cleaner, hitting him in the left shoulder and dropping him back to the ground.
“Get down! Get down!” The second man yells at dad and me. Dad and I drop to our knees, hands in the air.
For a moment the chaos has turned to silence. The two intruders look frantic, pointing their rifles at us, making sure no one moves. A fourth man bursts through the door behind them, dragging a woman with him. It’s mom!
“Katherine!” Dad yells, recognizing her immediately. He jumps up to help his wife. Two guns are aimed directly at him as he is commanded to get back down. He stands firm, not complying, but not moving forward either.
The man yanks mom across the building, cursing. “What the hell happened?” He yells at the other two. “No one was supposed to get hurt.” He angrily shoves mom to the floor in front of the others. Dad, can’t help himself. He races toward his wife but before he makes gets five steps the fourth man turns and instinctively opens fire. I watch as dad falls face first onto the floor.
“Nooo!” I scream at the top of my lungs.
But I know that just like Greaser, he is killed instantly.