Authors: Bob Blink
, he decided. He’d prefer to be with Karin and the memories the evening would create. He could just as well wait until the following day to act, and by then the information would be far better on which to base his decision.
Jake shuddered and shook his head. He had a headache. As usual, that was his first clue. Slowly he let his gaze shift around the room. As he expected it was Wednesday morning. The calendar showed that Tuesday was the last day he’d “X’d” off with his felt-tip pen. There was a reason that he did that each and every day. Just like there was a reason he made sure to spend the same fifteen minutes resting in the soft leather chair where he worked in his office each morning. It was Wednesday sure enough, although his mind was certain it was Sunday. Wednesday, four days ago! The fact he had memories that told him it was the coming Sunday didn’t change the fact at all. Those extra four days hadn’t happened yet.
He’d back-tracked again. Over the years he’d learned how to do so at will. Anything up to seven days was relatively easy, but always caused him headaches. Anything longer became increasingly difficult with far more severe headaches as a result. He’d never managed to do more than ten days, and he’d been nearly bed-ridden for most of the day that time. Without thinking he reached for the bottle of aspirin he kept handy by the chair against just such an event. He swallowed three of the tablets and considered the situation. Over the years he’d frequently back-tracked for personal reasons and simply to experiment and understand his ability. This wasn’t one of those cases.
Jake had no idea how or why the process worked. The first times it had occurred had been entirely accidental. When he had realized what appeared to be happening, he had experimented. Now he could easily and essentially instantaneously select how far back, within the limits of his ability, he wanted to project his memories. His skill was like that of a professional athlete, that became better and more instinctual as he used it. The trigger was now instantaneous. Where before he’d had to sit back, relax and focus hard on when he wanted to link to and whether his former self would be able to receive what he was sending, now he simply acted. He could somehow sense if his earlier self was physically close enough geographically for the transfer to happen, and by simply willing it, the process was activated. He’d learned if he tried to project back to himself in a different location, more than twenty miles or so from where he was currently, the link didn’t form and he was unable to activate the transfer. He lost the ability to sense himself over the increased distances.
After each such transfer, he found his conscious self back at the earlier time he chosen with the future set of memories. He didn’t have a clue what happened to the future version of himself. Perhaps that version ceased to exist as that time period was about to be relived. What was important was that he knew what the future had been for the next several days, the number of days depending on how far back he had projected. If he did nothing, the future would play out as he recalled it. He knew that for a fact. He’d tried it. On the other hand, he could also make changes. That’s what made the ability interesting, exciting, and useful. What had been, didn’t have to happen the same way this time around.
Jake quickly sorted through his memories of what was going to happen over the next several days. Memories and headaches were all that came with back-tracking. He didn’t physically come back, nor could he bring anything from that day his memories told him he’d been part of just a short time ago. It could have been a dream, but he’d proven conclusively otherwise. It was one reason his bank account was so plush. It was easy to invest wisely when one knew exactly where the market was going ahead of time.
This time the memories weren’t so pleasant. He sorted through the body count from the news reports after the attack. Thirty-three dead and one who would probably die. The dead included twenty-four high school students, fifteen male and nine female. One policeman was dead and another dying. The rest were staff members from the school. He didn’t count the killer himself. In Jake’s mind he wasn’t worth a thought.
He would have to do something about this. Of course, he had already decided that or he wouldn’t have back-tracked.
! He had a lot to get done on the program he was writing, and he now knew the next two days had been very productive. Now that effort wouldn’t happen. Well, he’d just have to make it up after he corrected things. At least having done the work once, he’d be able to recreate it much quicker the second time around.
Jake stood and walked over to the large desk with the multiple monitors. He touched the mouse bringing the system awake as he slipped into the comfortable chair. Automatically he reached under the desk and opened the small refrigerator there, extracting a can of Mountain Dew. The caffeine in the drink would help the throbbing in his head go away, something else he’d learned with time. There would be no need to do a lot of planning. He’d already done that four days from now as he’d watched the story unfold. He knew what he wanted to do and the details of how to go about it. He had an excellent memory, and had spent time developing it just because memories were the only thing he could bring back. Even the weather reports were better from his memories. The Internet would have
for the next few days whereas he’d looked before back-tracking and he
what the weather would be in the places he intended to visit in the coming days.
What he wanted at the moment were a series of maps. He already had worked out just what would be useful, and tapped his future memories to locate the specific locations on the Internet and printed them out. He had maps of the Mark Watkins’ residence and the town in which he lived as well as of the High School and local police stations. The latter were important. He didn’t want a run-in with the law. That was one of his problems. What he planned to do was highly illegal, and he would be hard pressed to explain how he knew what Watkins was planning on doing. In and out was what was important.
It only took a few minutes to print what he needed. Before shutting down the system he logged into his investment account and made a couple of trades based on movements he’d noticed while gathering details on the massacre. He shorted AAPL which was about to tank and bought a number of shares of SLV which were due to climb an unexpected 19.2%. He didn’t get greedy, and he never bought the largest movers for the period of interest. He could have put far more money on the table, it was an entirely safe maneuver after all, but he didn’t want to draw any attention to himself. Low profile was the key. The amounts he invested each time were consistent with his investment history and reasonable for someone with his assets. He also put $100K into a company he knew would be going down, but it would lose only a few percent in the next few weeks. It was the third such losing investment he’d made this year. He felt it wise to have a few “bad” investments on his record along with the good. Nobody was perfect, and he would stand out if his own investment record were nothing but a series of successes.
As the computer went into its shutdown cycle he sighed and pushed himself away from the desk. He’d been looking forward to finishing up the project he’d spent the last months on, but this was far more important. He threw the empty soft drink can in the trash and headed out of the room and headed down the hall toward his room where he packed a couple of bags with items he would need for the trip. Then he headed toward the large garage where he worked on his cars and parts of his plane during spare time.
Jake lived just outside of Sparks on Highway 80. He was a few miles east of where the city petered out, and roughly two miles north of the freeway. His was a large place with a six-car garage. Three vehicles were parked inside. One, a two-year old Chevy 250 Silverado, was his main vehicle. It had a large enough bed that he could carry parts of his plane to and from the airfield when he wanted to work on it. In the far slot was a sporty red BMW 520i that he really liked to drive. The last was a two-year old Toyota Camry which he used for certain tasks. It was his, but the official records and registration indicated otherwise. He took the pair of bags and placed them in the trunk of the sedan.
The garage was a mechanic’s paradise. Tools and work pits were in three of the positions, with a bridge crane on the ceiling over one of the pits and another above one of the positions without a pit. The cranes were motor driven with a cross-drive arrangement in the ceiling and could be moved in any direction to access much of the large interior of the garage. A set of stairs led upward along one wall to the roof-mounted telescope. He'd long had an interest in astronomy, although he'd been too busy of late to spend much time at it. He stepped past two of the auto work positions, then climbed down the stairs into the bottom of the pit that was currently surrounded by parts of an engine. He walked to the far end of the concrete slot and knelt down.
The hidden safe that he accessed could be found with the proper degree of diligence, but it was hidden well enough that Jake didn’t think it was likely anything short of a complete careful search would uncover the hideaway. He had another safe inside in the library which held his “official” collection of firearms. He shot regularly and was a member of a shooting club based out near Pyramid Lake. Those guns were all registered and would not be used for the task ahead of him. He worked through the hidden safe’s combination, then pulled open the heavy door and scanned the interior. He selected the 9mm Sig-Sauer 226 and the commercial suppressor that was sitting next to it. He also grabbed a half dozen loaded magazines. Finally he selected the tiny Colt Mustang in its ankle holster. The Mustang wasn’t much of a gun, even loaded with the 90 grain Hornady Critical Defense loads, but under certain conditions it could make all the difference. It was small enough that it was comfortable to wear on the ankle, and he found it easy to shoot despite its diminutive size.
There were other pistols, and a half dozen rifles and two shotguns, as well as an assortment of knives to choose from. Nothing in the safe was registered to him. He had a permit for the suppressor, or at least one like it. That one was up in his other safe. This one was off the books, but was identical except for the serial number.
“Just the two,” he muttered softly to himself having decided a long gun wouldn’t be needed this time, and let the door swing closed. Then he latched it closed and moved the heavy toolbox back into place to help hide the opening.
He walked to the Toyota, and placed the pistols into the small carrying case in the trunk. Everything else he needed was already in the car, including one of his fake ID kits in the glove box. He climbed in and started the engine, then backed the car out into the open air where he gave it a moment to warm up while he thought through his intended actions. After several minutes, he pressed the remote control for the automatic door to close up the garage, then pressed his foot down on the accelerator, turning away from his house and headed for the freeway that would take him to the airport.
The drive to the airport only took fifteen minutes. His plane, a very nice Cessna Corvalis TTX, was parked at an FBO (Fixed Base Operator) on the eastern edge of the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. He was well known to the staff there, and flew at least once a month. Learning to fly and buying the plane had become a necessity when he’d decided a few years ago to pursue these kinds of matters by himself. He needed to cover large distances, sometimes quickly, and he couldn’t travel commercially with the kinds of weapons he needed to bring along. The private plane had been the obvious solution.
“Local, or a bit further?” Ted asked when Jake walked through the entrance to the small business on his way to the parking area where the planes were kept.
“A bit further today,” Jake admitted. “Thought I’d fly down to Vegas for a couple of days.”
Ted grinned. “I wish I could come with you, but some of us have to work.” Jake’s semi-retired status was well known among the small group that worked at the airfield.
Jake waved as he continued through the small building, carrying the small case that contained the pistol and the single bag with spare clothes and other necessities. He walked onto the blacktop and turned to the right where his Cessna was kept. Once there he used his key to open the storage area, and placed the items inside, the case latching in place to a special pre-fitted restraint he’d built in some time earlier.
After a careful preflight inspection of the aircraft, Jake strapped in and set one of his radios to the clearance delivery frequency.
“Reno clearance delivery Cessna seven three three six November,” Jake broadcast.
“Cessna seven three three six November, clearance delivery,” was the response.
“Cessna seven three three six November requests IFR (Instrument Flight Rules ) clearance to Las Vegas McCarran.”
“Cessna three six November, clearance on request. Advise when ready to copy.”
“Cessna three six November is ready to copy,” Jake said.
“Cessna seven three three six November is cleared as filed to Las Vegas McCarran via left turn after departure to heading zero nine zero, intercept victor one zero five, climb and maintain one two thousand. Expect one seven thousand ten minutes after departure. Squawk 4130, departure frequency one one nine point two.”
Jake wrote the clearance on his knee pad in shorthand, and then pushed the mike button on the side of the stick controller and responded.