We found our way back out of the subterranean bunker, exiting once again from underneath Blucifer. Mom’s arm is wrapped in a sling, and Darwin and I are helping Allyson hop along, keeping her off her sprained ankle. By the time we reach the vehicles, we are ready to collapse.
Lucky for us Mayze stopped his vehicles just short of the EMP barrier. The first vehicle we come to starts right up.
We piled in and head back to base camp.
All our comms are down so even if Bellinger found an opportunity to tap into our secure channel, we’d be unable to communicate with her. We have no idea what the situation is like back home, so I circle wide going back to base, staying out of view of anyone who might be peering through the portal. We actually have no idea if the portal is even still open, but if it is, we don’t want to be seen coming. The last thing we need is to walk in to find Mayze’s men ready and waiting for us. If we can get the element of surprise, we might be able to turn the tables on them.
Reaching the studio, I park just out of view of anyone looking through the portal, and we all climb out of the vehicle. I planned to leave Mom and Allyson in the car until we determined it was safe, but they aren’t having any of that. It’s all of us or none of us.
We were able to grab a few weapons off the remains of Mayze’s team. There were a few survivors, but we left them behind. They’ll be dead soon enough. As for ammunition, we don’t have much, most of which having been expended during the firefight. But hopefully, the guns will speak for themselves when we cross through.
On the count of three, we step in front of where we assume the open portal is. I take the lead and step forward. One step, then two, then three. I should have crossed the threshold of the Continuum by now and be back in the present, but I’m not.
I take another two steps, but I’m still in the future.
My heart races. If the portal is closed, we have no way home. I take another step forward, another and another. Panicked now I step again, and suddenly I’m home. I quickly step out of the way to make room for the others behind me. Within seconds we are all inside Soundstage 41.
I look around and see a few familiar faces, working at their stations. One of the scientists turns our way and is startled to see us.
“Hey!” He yells, “They’re back!”
The rest of the crew turn to look, and suddenly we are surrounded. We are quickly ushered to a med bay where we are helped out of our suits and helmets, and our wounds are treated.
Bellinger appears, with a smile on her face. “I was beginning to wonder if you were going to bother to come back.”
“What happened to Mayze’s team?” I ask her. “He must have left some guys behind.”
“He took most of them with him. We were listening in on their comms, and as soon as they figured Mayze was dead, the few that remained took off. We assumed the explosion killed everyone. That was the last straw for them.”
“You thought we were dead?”
She shrugs. “I’ve learned not to underestimate you. We were prepping to launch a search and rescue operation, but… here you are.”
“All of us except GoPro,” I say.
“What are you talking about?”
“GoPro didn’t make it,” I say with a deep sigh. He sacrificed himself to save the rest of the team.”
She looks confused. “I don’t understand. GoPro is here. He’s been prepping the search and rescue team.”
I look at the others, just to make sure I’m not crazy.
“GoPro was with us,” Allyson confirms. “We are only alive because of him.”
“What did I do?” A voice says from the doorway behind us.
I turn and see GoPro standing at the entrance. “I don’t…” I jump up and run over to embrace him. “How? How are you alive? You were with us in the future. You were with all of us.”
“I didn’t want to go, remember? You told me to stay behind with Bellinger. You were kinda pissed about it, though.”
An hour later we are still struggling to understand. The only thing we can figure is that, somehow, while we were gone, the timeline changed. It appears that it is possible to go back in time and change things after all.
This also might explain why KJ’s tank ran out of oxygen when it did, why Brooklyn wasn’t as bad off as we thought she was, and why Mayze seemed unaffected by his recent bullet wound when I saw him in the future.
We’re not sure what caused the changes to take place, why only those of us who went to the future remember things the other way, or even how the timeline was changed. What we do know is that my theory of whatever happened, happened, doesn’t actually happen. Which, of course, changes everything.