It was only that moment I realized, in the general disorientation, I hadn’t actually told them about the death threat.
The intensity level in the room ratcheted up a notch. And it wasn’t because of the alien who’d just joined us. That was a whole other story. But now, all the attention was on me.
Who else was in line to be bumped off?
There was just one problem: I really didn’t want to supply the corpse. I wondered where they stood on cloning.
Jim immediately reacted to my comment. “That’s not going to happen”, he said, as if he had the ability to prevent it. Did he? I have to say, it was nice hearing someone sound so concerned about my welfare for a change.
I told them the story now. How had I not gotten around to it before? I guess I’d been absorbed in letting them prove their own reality. As it was, I could barely resist the urge to poke this Spock guy to see if he was flesh and blood. His face was a mask. No emotion. It made me really uneasy, and all too aware of my own over-abundance of emotion at the moment.
They all listened intently, then Jim asked the others for ideas. How could they stage a murder without an actual body? And if they could, what would they do about me?
I listened with a pounding heart. My blood pressure must be sky high. The doctor went into some technical detail about how to stage the scene, replicate DNA, simulate blood spatters. I swear he was having a high old time, except for that comment about how he’d seen Worsham’s handiwork. That sent a little chill through me.
Mr. Spock had already politely taken my laptop from me, our fingers brushing slightly in the handover, and was examining it, figuring it out. Within a minute or so, he seemed to have gotten the knack of it, and I couldn’t even keep up with whatever he was doing.
They were batting around how to get to Worsham, how and where and when. Heart still pounding, I finally spoke up, interrupting the rapid-fire discussion.
“You don’t have to track him down. I’ve got his private cell number.”
They stared at me.
“This is D.C. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. If I have a good enough reason, I can call him and he’ll show up. But it has to be pretty convincing. And I can’t play that card more than once.” I looked around. “Can you swear I’ll be safe? I know what he’s capable of.”
“That part we’ll handle,” Jim assured me. “But what are we going to do about you? We can’t just leave you hanging.”
I don’t know where it came from, but the sudden certainty of my voice was a shock – to almost all of us – when it blurted out of its own accord.
“You have to take me with you.”
Jim waited a beat before responding, diplomatically. “We… can’t do that, Hanalie,” he said. “It’s against our prime directive. You don’t belong in our time.”
Mr. Ears tossed out the next shock, the deadpan tone only magnifying his words. “With respect, Captain, I believe Hanalie’s suggestion may well be the most logical course.” He went on. “It did not appear relevant until now, but as I was scanning the data shifts in our computer banks, there did appear to be multiple potential futures in which Hanalie Surat does exist in what we would call our own time. There were also reports that indicated the threats on her life were… or will be…realized. If I remember correctly, within a matter of days.”
“You’re saying her future’s already been written?” McCoy asked sharply.
“I am saying that within the anomaly, multiple futures have been generated, some of which indicate that, in essence, what she is suggesting is what has… already happened.”
Did he just say I was already dead? Or living in their future? Or both?
The thought crossed my mind: wouldn’t Bob and I have had fun debating those prospects? Hypothetically speaking, of course.
But Bob wasn’t here.
No one was here but these spacemen.
I somehow felt like the last person on a sinking ship, desperate for that last seat in the lifeboat. It made no sense to feel this way, but I did.
There was a silence in the room. I gathered it was Captain Jim’s call.
I just felt so damned…safe, with them here in the room with me. How could they possibly just go off and leave me to fend for myself, especially with what I now knew about Worsham? Even if they managed to get him arrested, I didn’t really trust that he couldn’t worm his way free. And if he did, I had no doubt he’d find me.
The space alien said I was dead here and alive there, in the future.
I knew what he said was the truth. I can’t explain how, but I knew it. And I knew what had to happen.
I don’t recall that they took an actual vote, but it felt like, in that pregnant pause, the others in the room were weighing in.
I looked from face to face, trying to read my fate in their expressions.
Jim looked from Mr. Spock to Dr. McCoy. Uhura looked up from her tablet, and added her subtle nod to the others’. He took a deep breath, decisive. “Well, then. Happy resurrection, Hanalie. Now, let’s get going.”
And just like that, I hitched my wagon to a starship.