Cerberus, p.1
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       Cerberus, p.1

           J.P. Yager
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Cerberus


  No one would ever say Brandon Halverson was someone who understood time. Sure, he could tell what the big and little hands meant but for some reason he always seemed to be the guy swimming against it, aggravatingly late to all things scheduled. If he wasn’t one of the greatest programmers at Next Gen Software, he would have been canned long ago. Most likely being late the canning. We’ll get to what this has to do with anything later on. We must not rush.

  A caveat: we don’t know a whole lot about the people we rip through time and bring them to our future. Had I known what was going to happen with Mr. Halverson, I never would have allowed him to arrive. Or I would have killed him when he appeared. You see our computer just locks on to an energy signal outside the threshold of time paradoxes and then we get them unconscious on the receiver pad moments later. We’ll skip the science and tech jargon of how it’s possible.

  Now there’s still that nagging question I should have asked to begin. Why was he chosen? I see it now of course. This is all I’ve pieced together since this fool ruined everything.

  In order for someone to be brought to the future, you have to die. Well, it’s like, you would have died. Technically you don’t, but because you did and time went on afterwards, there is no danger to the space time continuum. Well, until you pop back up in our future and then…well let’s not discuss that.

  Brandon, the worst human being (I should lay off and just focus on what occurred), was a half hour from his would-be demise. I was able to rewind and watch this later to make sense of what he did before his arrival and use this information to try to stop him.

  If he knew anything about time and how to manage it he wouldn’t be late for his lunch with his fiancée Caroline.

  She was finishing up a Caesar salad (ranch on the side) and gave Brandon a terrible look as he approached. His head dropped lower between his shoulder blades. He knew he was late. And that he was in for it.

  “I’m so sorry but…”

  “Time got away from you, I know.” She seemed pretty upset. Her forward was all lines and creases and her eyes couldn’t find his.

  He still sat across from her. “We’ve finished with the world’s first true artificial intelligence. I named her C.J. She spoke her first words to me!”

  Caroline didn’t seem impressed. Women are the best at being angry even when other things surpass emotion at that moment. She merely shrugged one shoulder.

  Brandon recognized this and changed gear, “When do you have to go back to work?”

  A waiter came around with the check with her card hanging out. She signed the merchant copy and looked up at him. “Now.”

  Caroline got up while Brandon followed suite. He walked behind her until they were both outside.

  “Can we talk real fast at least?” He pleaded.

  She turned and though upset, answered. “Make it real quick then.”

  “I love you.” He said simply.

  This brought a smile across her face. It was such a simple statement that could cut through must things. She suppressed curvature of her mouth as best as she could, which wasn’t well. “I’m still mad. You have to make it up to me later. Back massage, hand massage, feet message, the works Brandon.”

  Well that sounded horrible, but he was in no position to negotiate. “Alright. You got me over a barrel. I’ll do it.”

  She began walking again and called a cab. She turned before she got in and kissed him. “I love you too.” She put a small container in his hand. It was no larger than a box for a ring. “Congrats on the new technology. You’ll be famous.”

  When he looked down at the little box she had given him, she closed the door and waved. Had she known he was about to die, she probably would have held him close. But that’s not the way the universe works. No order, just chaos, just happenstance.

  Brandon opened his gift and laughed to himself.

  It was a watch.

  Fast forward approximately sixteen minutes; Brandon was driving back to work. The traffic was terrible, bumper-to-bumper, bad enough where he was able to keep toying with his new watch trying to make it work. He weaved around cars and buses when there was enough movement, honking his horn when appropriate and making surprisingly good time returning to his work considering.

  Just as he crossed the I Street Bridge the alarm on the watch began blaring. The ring was something that watches simply didn’t make. It was agonizingly distracting.

  He looked down just long enough to miss his fatal mistake. He had drifted across the median and into the other lane.

  His gut reaction was to spin the wheel away which was what the opposing driver did. Unfortunately the other guy was in a big diesel truck and smashed Brandon’s Prius into oblivion. His car was crushed against the side of the bridge before the bridge railing broke off and the Prius went over into the rushing river.

  Now of course Brandon was zipped out of there right before. I bring it up since he never said thank you. We did save his life after all. And it was a good capture with no questions since it was assumed any blood or trace of Brandon was washed into the Sacramento River. No weird mysteries about his death loomed which sometimes do occur.

 

  Brandon popped out of thin air on the extraction pad.

  It was I who was the one to greet him. I am much taller than humans of his time, lithe in shape, and dressed in the tightest of the clothing.

  I helped him to his feet and wiped off some of his sweat with a towel I had brought along. We learned a long time ago to always have a towel for… occurrences.

  Brandon was taking the time transfer well. I’ve been told it was like everything in your body in sudden intense pain, and then it was over. Like a… flu shot.

  “Where am I?” He looked around, baffled.

  I could understand his confusion. In one second he was about to die and now he was in a large white room with odd lights spinning around. It was dreadfully lacking in decoration, I’ll admit.

  “Sector 17-B, Department of Historical Studies and Time Analysis.” I told him. It was the truth though no one ever knew what I was talking about. It’s just polite to answer.

  “My car…” He got up and found himself a little wobbly.

  “Was destroyed good sir.” I waved to my assistant. “Get me some water.”

  The young man was looking down at his watch. “Is this the afterlife?”

  “Everyone always says that.” I mused. “I never understand why. Archaic religions are so funny. No you’re not dead. You’re just in another time. Welcome to the 41st Century!”

  He looked at me with a shocked expression. “You can’t be serious. I’m supposed to make it up with Caroline tonight.”

  “She died twenty centuries ago Master Halverson. That would be most difficult to see her.” When I saw that he was taking things hard, I knew where he needed to go. “Come with me. You need explanations.”

  The Welcome Room was perfect for the times when time travelers were having difficulty in adjusting to their new era.

  I sat him down and began the video. On the projector screen a type of powerpoint presentation began.

  “Hello. Welcome to the year 4088.” The text scrolled with no frilly animations. “A lot has probably changed from your own time. If you are from the old west, well, partner, you won’t find any saloons here. If you were from Mesopotamia, well, you can’t understand a thing I’m saying anyway.” The speaker onscreen laughed at the joke. “So you are probably wondering why you’re here. That’s a good question. Well, mankind has come a long way, but in the millions of wars we’ve performed, we’ve lost much of our history. So we developed a safe system to extract those that died without chang
ing the present to fill in those blank spots we have. Consider yourself lucky. You could still be dead. Enjoy the future!”

  The video automatically stopped.

  “So, did that clear anything up?” I asked him.

  Brandon just looked at me like I was insane. His time really began to fascinate me more than the others and he kept proving hard to read. His era must have been one of great mistrust to not believe your own eyes.

  “You brought me to the future to work for you?” He asked.

  “No of course not. You will not be paid. Think it more like indentured servitude. You have to pay back the debt it cost to save your life.”

  “What does that cost?”

  “The rest of your life.” I told him darkly.

  “Wait… what?”

  “You are a time warden, a capsule of information we need to fill in the blanks. It’s important we know where mankind has been.” I cleared my throat. “You are like a dusty old tome we uncovered and own.”

  When I felt his heat rate begin to escalate, I predicted the threat of violence. I made a motion with my hand and electric shackles came out of the floor and bound his arms together.

  “Get adjusted. You will understand your place soon primitive human.”

  I called the guards and they took him away.

  I always wished for a repeat of one of the first we extracted. This Roman gladiator who had been thrown from his horse off a cliff popped up. He killed two of our scientists before we subdued him. And so we beefed up the
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