“You’d better have a good reason for dragging me out of bed at 3 AM,” Jack barked indifferently to the situation room full of his coworkers, bosses, and subordinates.
“Glad you could join us, Agent Reiss.” If Jack had a direct boss, it would have been this man. Jack had a certain set of skills which allowed him to answer to no man, although, he did take suggestions more than orders whenever the situation called for it. “If you had bothered to show up for the briefing, you would know that we’ve had an abduction.”
“Another?” he asked, suddenly concerned.
“That’s right. But we’ve got the edge this time. This psycho doesn’t kill them for twenty-four hours. We’ve established that pattern. He took her only ten hours ago. We can find him.”
“Ten hours? That’s within the window.”
“What are we waiting for?”
“Right. Where did he take her from?”
“A small town, not far from here. We’ve got transportation heading this way to take you there.”
“Aren’t you coming?” Jack asked.
“You still can’t tell the difference? I’m already there, Jack. This is a hologram. Geez, man, wake up! Get your head in the game and get ready. This is going to be a rough one.”
Jack was still getting used to the fancy technologies that the agency used. Transportation, as they called it, was an unmanned bullet car that get him to the edges of the Earth in a matter of hours. He studied the map. Apparently, ‘not far from here’ was the Director’s definition a small town in the rainforest. True, it was at least still on this planet, as not all towns were, for Jack, it was quite a ways away.
The ride took less than an hour. He hated the thing. He always left it feeling disoriented and nauseated.
“Welcome to the rainforest, agent,” the Director said, in the flesh.
“Yea, it’s beautiful. Can we get going?”
“Follow me to the machine.” The Director led him to a newly erected building that resembled a small warehouse made of cloth. Upon entering, a bevy of military personal that had been busing themselves with their tasks stopped and looked at him.
Jack was used to this kind of attention. Outside of the job he could pretend that he was just a normal guy. But in a place where his story was known, there was no getting around the whispers and intrigue. He could sympathize with them. He realized that it isn’t every day you meet a man with a body that isn’t his own. That you see a soul who had become unstuck from the flesh and found a home in a husk that was abandoned by its original owner. Who had consciously stretched through time itself during its search for a place to reside. A man who single handedly abolished crime by use of his gifts.
Jack remembered little of the in-between time. Only that his most vivid memories were of events that happened over a thousand years ago, and to a different face in the mirror. He somehow retained the ability to leap from his new body temporarily and go into the past minds of others. He accomplished this through use of a machine that he assumed he designed once upon a time, but could not be certain.
“They’re all lined up in the other room. Choose wisely, you only have an hour before the window closes,” the Director said, meaning the people that had been present in a restaurant with the girl in the time leading up to the abduction.
Jack touched the first man, then got in the machine. It was a dead end. He got out, tried the next, went back in. Still nothing. A middle aged woman was of no use as well. Next he went into the mind of a teenage girl.
There she was. These two were friends. He could not drive a body using this technique, at least, not without great physical pain and damage to both parties. A lesson he learned the hard way. So, he listened, and he watched.
“I know where she is!” Jack exclaimed weekly as he came back to his self.
“She was meeting a man that she met on the internet. Not far from here. I have an address.”
“Let’s go! There’s still time.”
They rounded up a SWAT team of military and militia and dashed to the suspect’s home. Surrounded, they threw flash grenades in first, then stormed inside. Jack was amongst the first to go in after the smoke had cleared.
“What? This is right,” he sighed as he saw the girl’s body lay on the floor. She was dead, eyes wide in terror, body contorted in pain as it succumbed.
“This shouldn’t have happened for another twelve hours,” the Director said, disbelieving.
“Sir,” a soldier cried, “you should come see this.”
They followed his call into the bedroom. In the air above the dresser was a recorded message. A form lingered there. This was the first time he had left them anything.
After watching the girl’s terrible demise, the back of a head came into frame. It was him. He spoke.
“Thought you had time? Time. How ironic. Never enough time, is there Jack?” he jested. “I’ve got news for you. Chaos always trumps order. So don’t expect any order to my madness. And that is why I’ll win. Better luck next time.”
As he said this, he turned his face to the camera. Jack fell to the floor as he gazed into the eyes that were all too familiar. There, on the display, the man responsible for all the terribleness he had dedicated his life to stopping, he stood. Not only staring into Jack’s soul, but wearing his body!
The man he chased was himself. At least, the man he used to be. The shell he had shrugged to come to the future. He needed to find this man. He had to find himself.