“Saving the world,” Coltrane said. “Weren’t you listening?”
I stood up and paced for a moment.
“Let’s examine the evidence. One: I’m here now, so someone must have done something to prevent my death.” I gestured toward the car wreck. The fire department had arrived and were extracting the muscle car’s front end from the trunk of the Oldsmobile. “Two: Corrine – this Corrine – is traveling with us now, so she didn’t do it in this time.” I ran my hands through my hair, “Oh God, time is a problem isn’t it?”
Coltrane waggled his hip flask at me and I declined.
“Two continued: So a different Corrine…”
“They’re one in the same,” Coltrane interrupted.
Corrine and I said “What?” at the same time. She held out her hand. I took it and sat next to her. It was Coltrane’s turn to pace.
“Remember the no paradox thing? There is only one of each of us.”
I jumped up. “Then who was squished?”
“You were.”
I reached for him and Corrine put her hand on my arm.
“Let me,” she said. My little fireball. She kicked him in the shins with her sexy high heel.
“Hey!” He climbed up the bleachers to get away from her.
“I told you I’d beat you.”
“Okay okay, Captain. Geeze.”
Coltrane sat out of range and Corrine and I stood looking up at him. A police officer walked in our direction, calling out. Coltrane pulled out his pocket watch and pushed the gem. The police officer stopped and looked around. Scratching his head, he went back to the scene.
“The Corrine you saw at the crash is this Corrine, who in 2015 goes to the New Year’s Eve party where she is given an accolade by Professor Almstedt for her contribution to the astrophysics. The same Corrine who later becomes a captain in the UN Defense Research department. The same Corrine who recruited me from 1977. The same Corrine who goes back in time to save you, evidently.”
“So I couldn’t see myself just now because I don’t have temporal stasis doodad,” Corrine said, chewing her lip.
“Even if you did, you couldn’t see yourself. It’s one of the rules. You can, however, possess yourself.”
“Temporal possession,” we said together.
“It’s not perfect and as the song says, ‘you’re only coming through in waves.'”
At our blank look, he said “Comfortably Numb? Pink Floyd? Come on guys, I’m not that out of fashion.”
“So what if I possess myself and pull Henry out of the way of the car?”
I thought that was an excellent idea.
Coltrane shook his head.
“Temporal possession was developed in 2034, and it’s harder to possess yourself the further back in time you go. Well, not harder but shorter – the waves are choppier.”
“But the Captain was just here,” I said.
“Yes, possessing a Corrine from 2015 – not the Corrine from 2000. I’m not saying it’s not possible – but how would you tell the Captain from the future to go back to the Corrine from 2000 and have her save you when she was just in Corrine of 2015?”
“Ugh,” I said. Coltrane tossed me the mostly empty flask. I finished it off.
“What if we stop the muscle car?” Corrine asked. “We could use your watch. Maybe prevent the driver from coming in the park at all.”
I took up the thread, “We could park the van in front of the Oldsmobile, so he’d hit that instead.”
“No way are you damaging my time machine. It’s the only one we have.”
“What else can we do?” Corrine asked, and started walking back toward the van. Coltrane and I rushed to catch up with her.
“We could give him a flat tire. If we had a gun, we could shoot it.”
“If we had a gun, we could shoot the driver,” Corrine added. “Do you have a gun, Coltrane?”
He gave her a disgusted look and unlocked the van. We climbed in.
Coltrane went immediately to the bar and refilled his flask, taking a healthy pull directly from the bottle.
“Hey, pass that on,” I said.
He gave me the bottle.
Coltrane then pulled a revolver from under the bar and handed it to me.
Corrine said, “I wanted the gun.”
I shushed her.
“I’ll take us back to right when we landed. But it’s tricky. You can’t kill the guy driving – the temporal stasis field doesn’t go that far. You’d have to be in the car with him. But, we might be able to get close enough when he first enters the park to shoot his tire.”