“You remember the date?”
Hatton slid the gun into the holster across his back. It wasn’t the most accessible place, but he didn’t want a butt sticking out and gaining him anymore attention than was necessary. Besides, if it came down to a shooting match he had other options.
“October, christ it’s October.” The controller was pacing, cheap rubber shoes wearing a hole in the floor. “Don’t get it wrong. Jump too early if you have to. Just don’t miss the window.”
“I know the date. It’s hard to forget.”
“You won’t understand. At first. You have to guide yourself.”
“I know what has to be done.”
“If you don’t complete the loop…”
“I’m just saying…”
Hatton dropped the case on the steel bench with more force than he wanted to. Inside the black lacquered case a world of machinery and magic was whirring away, but none of it mattered. He began dialling in the dates.
“How many times? How many times have you seen me jump?”
The controller stopped pacing. “Twice.”
“Exactly. And every time I get a bit closer. I see a bit more.”
“But we’re not close enough.”
Hatton looked at the skin on his hands, the cracks and blisters. Punching a hole through time was not without it’s dangers apparently. But his was a life of pain. When he was a kid, he’d grown up in hell, always pushing to get out of his small town home as fast as possible. When his mother died she told him of his father, the bastard who had raped her. She told him of the box of momentos he’d made her keep. For him.
Hatton picked up the ancient tape recorder and slipped it into a pocket, along with a folder containing everything he’d learnt in his lifetime. The controller just watched.
“I’m not the first, and I won’t be the last. We’ll meet again Tip.”
They shook hands and Hatton vanished.
It was dark when he fell onto the wet grass, the park deserted at this late hour. The air was buzzing with cicadas, mixed with the odour of the black case melting itself into slag. He pulled out the tape recorder and sat on a bench.
“You’re not going to understand this kid. Not now. But you will. You’re going to grow up to be very special. You will meet a man called Tip on Monday March Thirteenth 1989 and he will take you to the Tower, he will become your controller, your most trusted friend.
“Ten yeas from now, a group called the Zeroes are going to unleash a bio-attack before the millennium. You will survive. Other won’t. You have to go back and find out who the Zeroes were. You have to stop the attack before it happens.”
Hatton paused and rubbed at a scab. Three jumps was the limit. His body was coming apart, undone at the very core and he knew another jump would be the end of him. Just one last task.
“We’re a closed loop kid. You become me and I become you. We have to keep the loop closed. If we stop.” Hatton paused. “If we stop, the loop becomes broken and everyone dies. There’s no other way.”
He shut off the recorder and walked to one-ten montgomery. His childhood home. Only he wasn’t born yet. He wasn’t even conceived. Knocking on the door he felt the bile rising but knew, deep down, he’d done this a hundred times before.
As his mother opened the door, he fought to close the loop.
Prompt originally posted by PenutReaper on reddit and received 54 upvotes.