It won’t be said that the 1970s is capable of breaking me. My first thought was I could just wait things out until Mobian shows up in 1981 for Reagan’s assassination and meet him there. The problem there is I was working off the assumption he betrayed and abandoned me. I knew something was off about him, and my trust issues automatically decided he had decided I was expendable. It’s just weird that he didn’t have much to tell me.
But I didn’t like the thought of being without my family for so long. I know, it’s kind of lame, but I love them. I could be having fun in the 1970s, rigging things in my favor for the future, but instead I hate the idea of not seeing my daughter for six years. I didn’t even work out anything with my girlfriend Medusa to sleep around if I got stranded in this kind of situation. Meryl Streep’s 26 in 1975, and I could be getting a piece of that!
If I’d been anyone else, I’d have had no choice but to spend years learning how to properly sing and making my living as a time-displace lounge singer who gets rich off my extensive collection of future music until the day I can reclaim my life. But I knew I had better options. After a few days spent disco dancing and thinking up a plan, I came to the conclusion I needed to hitch a ride with a time traveler. And the way to do that was to disrupt the timeline. I needed to kill Richard Nixon.
The thought settled into my head and I started planning it out when I heard a ruckus from outside the bathroom stall I was sitting in. Bathrooms are still a place that provide me with inspiration and reflection. Also, a few phone numbers to call if I want a good time. I was even scratching one or two in there with a pocketknife I’d taken off a would-be mugger. I kept it ready while I tugged my panties up, prepared for a fight.
“Come out!” said a British man’s voice.
I kicked the door open and declared, “I’m a lesbian!”
Mobian, the younger version, stood there, looking at me. “What are you doing here, Psycho Gecko?”
“I should ask you the same question. This is the women’s room,” I gestured around to the lack of urinals. Seeing him notice the knife, I closed it up and slipped it into my back pocket.
“It’s 1975!” The younger-looking time traveler said.
“You brought me here,” I told him.
In the stall next to me, someone farted.
Mobian’s face wrinkled up. “Excuse you.”
A voice from the stall called out, “Excuse yourself, titfucker. This is the girls’ room. You piece of shit, you better get out of here before I flush you down the pipes.” Another fart.
I waved Mobian to the door. “Out. I’ll be out in a second.”
“You better not think of escaping,” Mobian said.
I held up my hands. “I’m thinking about washing, you nasty fucker.” Gross, running out without washing my hands. What kind of person does he think I am?
He waited right outside the door for me, with questions. “How did you get here?”
“I told you, you brought me. But an older you.” The club was dark, so I turned to a wall and used my eyes to project an image of the older Mobian onto it like a slideshow.
“Torian,” muttered Mobian like a curse.
“He’s… not me,” the time traveler said.
“He had your timeship,” I said, switching to the interior of the timeship I’d been brought in.
Mobian grumbled to himself before telling me, “He is me, but he isn’t me. He’s… there’s a reason I look different sometimes. It’s not just my physical presence. Each reset changes me, brings different aspects of my personality to the forefront. This man, Torian, is the result of the process going wrong. He is me, but his memories and personality aren’t right. They’re jumbled and twisted around. He opposes everything I stand for, and I hate him for it.”
“And because you’re his past, he can’t kill you or something,” I suggested.
Mobian ran a hand through his hair. “We don’t know. Neither of us knows which is the past self of the other. I don’t remember being the Torian, but he doesn’t seem to remember what I’ve done, who I’ve met. Trades on my name though, bloody annoyance.” He looked at the image, shaking his head, then turned to refocus on me. “You said he brought you here. Why?”
“We were going to disappear Jimmy Hoffa. Something about him having an artifact giving him telepathic powers. Turns out, it’s implanted in his head, and it’s strong enough to make me stop. Then these pair of guys show up with business suits and gas masks on. Hoffa made me sleep, and they were all gone when I woke up.”
“He planned to meet with them?” Mobian asked.
“I don’t think so. He didn’t like telling me what we were doing on all the stops, but it seemed to catch him by surprise, too,” I said.
“All the stops,” Young Mobian repeated. “Tell me about the rest.”
We had to move outside to tell the story, but I knew a place that was open all night where we could find some donuts and coffee. After I finished, Mobian sat back and sipped on his coffee. After calmly setting it down, he leaned forward and said, “And you just went along with it without questions?!”
I shrugged. “Contract killing, you know? Normally, I like to be well-informed, but the nature of the business is you take money and you kill someone.” I leaned forward and set my hand on his. “Hey, it’s not about their life story… just their death story.”
That didn’t reassure young Mobian. “Right, well we better go find what Torian is up to and when. I have an idea when to look.” He stood up and pulled his hand away from mine. “Please don’t touch me.”
“I was trying to be reassuring.”
I told him all about Torian’s concern with Reagan’s assassination, so I didn’t expect a surprise. We showed up in 1981, with Mobian declaring, “Something’s wrong. Out of place.”
“Torian said John Hinckley Jr. had been convinced not to shoot Reagan,” I volunteered. “I’ll gladly shoot him instead. Wouldn’t put much stock in his surviving.”
“No,” Mobian said. “You cannot do that to time.”
“Bullshit, time guy. I let you talk me into sacrificing my sanity to your status quo. I’ve regretted it ever since, and I’m still not the monster who sacrificed so many people to a slow, painful death by disease the way that blob of flesh and senility is going to. Reagan killed millions by his neglect.”
Mobian locked eyes with me. “I’m sorry, I truly am.”
I shrugged and sat down on the shiny floor of his timeship. “Have fun stopping Torian without me.”
“How much do you want?” he asked. “You’re for sale. What’s your price? A run through the cabins of the Titanic? The holds of the lost Spanish treasure galleons? A rifle through the salvage piles of 2277? You’re a heartless killer for sale. How much?”
I considered rushing him and putting him on his ass, but his vessel had ways to keep me locked inside. It would make no sense for him to trust me and bring me along to help stop whatever was going on if I did that. I smiled at him. “I’ll take the Spanish treasure galleons for pay, sure, but throw in killing Hitler and we have a deal.”
He eyed me for a moment, then nodded. “Fine, in the bunker. A little early won’t hurt. I mean it won’t hurt the timestream. He will hurt plenty, won’t he?” Mobian smiled at his joke. Just keep smiling. We’re all fine now.
With that agreement rather tenuously made, we headed out. Once he left the confines, the glowing orb we had traveled in became a mailbox. I hopped onto a rooftop which revealed we were either in Washington D.C. Or close enough to see some of the famous buildings of that city.
I still had my lone holodisc, useful for a disguise. Just the one projector can create problems if anything gets in the way. I popped it on as best as I could, knowing this was going to be scrutinized a lot more than the Cooper heist. There would be a lot more people around, and my ass wouldn’t spend so much time in a seat.
“It is the day of,” Mobian said. “Hinckley is in the hotel around the corner. Reagan will be here later today.”
“Why’s Hinckley even here if he was talked out of it?” I asked.
Mobian shrugged. “The an aberration is present, the easier it is to detect and the more time you have to stop it.”
“Then why’d he give me so long to hunt the Zodiac?” I asked, hopping down beside the time traveler.
Mobian smiled. “Simple. He didn’t know who Zodiac was.”
“How do you know that?” I asked.
“Because I don’t know who Zodiac was,” he answered, setting off down the street. It took a moment, but it was actually a good answer considering the weird time shenanigans going on here. And then we turned a corner and there was a damn limousine out front.
“This is cutting it kinda close, isn’t it?” I asked.
“Reagan’s inside for a meeting. We have plenty of time for our own,” Mobian answered.
Despite the security measures, we had enough leeway to make our way up to the rooms. It’s a good thing Mobian knew the way with his freakish memory, because we were still a ways off from any internet I could use. We made our way up to the room. Mobian pressed up against the wall and whispered to me, “How do you want to do this?”
I raised a finger to my lips and quietly answered, “I have an idea.” I knocked on the door. “Hey, Mobian, you son of a bitch! Open up!”
After a minute, a voice that wasn’t Torian’s called out, “I think you have the wrong room.”
“I know that wrinkly old asshole’s in there. I’ve waited six years to see him again!”
The door opened quickly, and Torian looked out at me. “What are you doing? Keep it down!”
I pushed my way in and pulled the door closed behind me. “That’s all you have to say after abandoning me?”
“You seem to have gotten by just fine. How did you know I would be here?” he asked. I looked around the crowded hotel room. Jimmy Hoffa sat on the bed near John, the assassin. I noted the absence of the two men with the gas masks. “What happened to your friends with the masks?”
Hoffa smiled. “The old guy made me a better offer.”
“Indeed,” Torian said.
I put my hands on my hips. “Well, it looks like you’ve figured out the situation with Hinckley here, so I guess the only thing left is to take me home, right?”
Torian smiled and nodded. “Yes, I’ll show you out.”
I let him lead the way and reached behind me. He exited and I quickly shut the door behind them, turning and throwing the knife. Hoffa’s head had started to gleam with purple light, but that faded when his hands came to his chest and he felt the pocketknife’s handle protruding.
“Don’t do that,” I said, but he went ahead and pulled it out, causing blood to gush. He fell forward, painting the bed blood red.
Hinckley stared down at him, then up at me. He jumped over and reached for the nightstand next to the bed. I was there in a moment to grab the gun from his hands and pistol whip him upside the head. When I opened the door, I had a fully-loaded .22 LR revolver in my hand and a would-be assassin thrown over my shoulder. Mobian looked up at me from where he leaned on the wall, then pointed down the hallway to where old man Torian was running away faster than I’d have thought he could.
“He,” Mobian gasped. “Sucker. Punched. Cane.”
I pointed back into the room with a thumb. “Well, I took care of Hoffa. And this guy.”
Mobian reached out and leaned on my arm. “Right. Downstairs.”
That’s how we got to be in a crowd that nobody in the Secret Service checked as ol’ Ronnie Reagan walked out of the hotel to get into Chair Force One or whatever they call the primary Presidential ass-mover. The holodisc presented the illusion of an awake Hinckley taking aim and firing. Mobian and I fled with some of the others in the crowd when he got dogpiled by a couple of people. The shots went off, Reagan was rushed away in the limo, and I went with Mobian to where he parked his timeship.
“We still need to pick up Hoffa,” he told me, then stopped dead when Torian stepped out from behind the mailbox. He asked his amnesiac past or future self, “What are you doing here?”
“I’m here because there has been a change in the timestream beyond what we both planned. I would have replaced him, but there would still have been a President Reagan in history,” Torian said. “Can’t you feel it?”
Mobian stood there a moment, then turned and glanced at me. “What did you do?”
I smiled. “You didn’t have a problem when it was millions of people dead from AIDS or that Brady guy getting his brains blown out. But one slight adjustment in aim to the side, and suddenly you’re outraged.”
Mobian put his hands to his head. He turned to look at Torian, then back at me. Torian approached and raised his cane to point at me. “Have you any idea what you’ve done?”
I folded my arms across my chest. “I killed Ronald Reagan. Now, which one of you’s giving me a lift to the new future?”
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