Author : Michael Ryder
I see fear in your eyes as the door to the gravity chamber shuts tight.
Not fear for yourself. You accepted your assignment long ago.
No, I see fear for me. Fear of what I will become without you.
We cannot hear each other through the chamber’s heavy door. But through the small glass porthole, I can see your brown hair, generous lips and mocha skin. Your beautiful brown eyes holding mine, willing our love to thwart the warp of space and time.
A spasm of grief rips through me, but I force it away from my face. Your last memory of this thread will not be me crumbling before you. I will be strong until you return. If you return.
Your mouth moves. “I love you,” your lips say.
I keep my eyes on you, willing myself to stay focused. “I won’t forget you.”
“You will. But I’ll find you.” You mouth something else, which I don’t understand, not at first. You say it again.
“Make sure you don’t end up an asshole, okay?”
The grin breaks through. “I promise.”
The chamber pulses once, and —
I blink and shake my head, like I’m coming out of a daze. I realize I’m in the gravity chamber’s control room, standing in front of the chamber’s heavy door. A glance at the sensors tells me the chamber was just used. I type the command code into the keypad and step back as the heavy door swings open.
The chamber, as expected, is empty.
I blink away a sudden rush of tears. I feel I’ve lost something.
The emotional upheaval is alarming. When time agents use the gravity chamber to slip out of a thread, they are obligated to leave the thread in the condition they found it. Their motto, like the doctors of old, is “do no harm.”
Unexplained feelings indicate a mission error. Something gone wrong. I would have to report in right away.
The door to the control room opens and an ensign steps in.
“Commander,” he says with a salute.
“A visitor has arrived on the shuttle and requests permission to see you immediately.”
A woman enters the control room. My breath quickens, and not just because she’s stunning.
I’ve never seen this stranger before. Never seen her brown hair, mocha skin, generous lips and beautiful eyes. And yet I know I have seen her before. And will again. And again. And again.
“Leave us, Ensign,” I manage to say.
The door closes. My eyes tear up. I reach out and pull this stranger into my arms.
And I hear you gasp when I whisper your name.