As she had spoken, she had led Eleazar with the revolver to the town hall, leaving the spilled contents of the bag.
Inside was a bustle of activity which stopped abruptly as they walked through the door.
Navigating the tables, desks, and people, they made their way to a back office, where a middle aged, mustached man eyed the girl sternly.
“Higgins, what is this?” He gestured toward the gun and the bag on her shoulder.
“He isn’t the traveller, sir! He couldn’t recognize the pendant, so he tried to feed me some lies! Just think what could happen if the Society has gotten a hold of the traveller’s device!”
“Why would they even know it exists? The Society are people, nothing more.”
“Well then who would he be? He isn’t the traveller.”
The man sighed. “Not yet, Mabel.”
Both Eleazar and Mabel were shocked by that statement.
Eleazar hadn’t considered that he would sometime in the future start a sect of Insurgents fighting an endless battle against the powerful forces of evil. Forget surprising, that was just cool.
“Huh!” he said, a smirk crossing his face.
“What.” Mabel said at the exact same time, the exact opposite look on her face. She hurriedly lowered the gun. “I am so sorry, El.” She thought that a friendly tone would help him forgive her.
To which he turned around and snatched the bag back. “It’s Eleazar.”
With that settled, the entire town worked together to bring Eleazar up to speed on everything going on.
According to the tome, which turned out to be a copy of a college history textbook, the Society was working to tank the world economy in the next few years,
and the Resistance was in high gear working to stop it.
The rest of the day was spent discussing the stock market crash of 1929, and Eleazar did everything he could to augment the information in the textbook.
The discussion was cut short by a sudden crackling of gunfire.
A quick glance out the window of the town hall revealed muzzle flashes along the treeline, as dark figures descended upon the village.
A fully developed blitzkrieg technique which would have made Adolf Hitler proud, and later did.
The technique worked, and any resistance which may have popped up between them and the town hall was soon smashed.
Outside the windows, an orange glow accompanied the smell of smoke as the rest of the town burned.
Everyone in the hall took up arms and found cover behind desks, walls, cabinets, whatever they could find.
A hushed whisper from the Captain of the hub to Mabel caused her to silently grab Eleazar’s hand and lead him to the basement, where she locked the metal trapdoor behind her.
“You need to leave now, El,” She demanded.
“Eleazar. I need time, my calculations are on the schoolhouse floor...were on the schoolhouse floor. When the schoolhouse was more than a pile of cinders.”
“Well then, El, You had better start reworking them. You cannot die here.”
The statement made Eleazar pause. It was more true than Mabel knew. Since he knew he would form the Resistance in the future, he literally couldn’t die here.
Taking his Glock in his right hand, he determined to save the day bywalking outside and killing each attacker one by one. He held his hand to Mabel, palm open. “Give me the key.”
“Why the he-” the popping of gunfire was replaced by an explosion above. No screaming followed, nor gunfire, just the whisper of flames.
Smoke began to pour through the crack in the trapdoor. Eyes frantically searching the room, Eleazar spotted a cellar entrance which would open to outside the burning building.
Without waiting to ask, he snatched the key from Mabel’s hand and bolted to the door. “Wait here!” he called behind as he turned the rusted lock.
“No! I need to breathe.”
Eleazar took a deep breath of carbon monoxide infused air and burst through the door, revealing an alley, the buildings on either side collapsed, flames rising from the ruins.
Mabel sprinted left, and Eleazar followed. At the end of the alley, she stopped, raised her revolver, and with a loud bang was shot in the thigh.
Eleazar now had only one life he could save, and he knew he would do everything he could to save it.
Standing over Mabel, who lay screaming from the pain, Eleazar fired shot after shot at the gas-masked men who now inhabited the street.
Several instantly raised rifles toward him, only to have a superior shout “Hold!
” They then took cover and watched as Eleazar awkwardly picked up Mabel while shooting in their general direction, and walked off.
They followed him to the treeline, keeping their distance. A Glock 17 holds seventeen rounds, which runs out quick when holding off twenty people.
Another six from Mabel’s revolver, and they were sitting ducks. Eleazar set her behind a tree, drew his knife, and prepared to make a stand. It was short lived.
Although none of those following him shot, their rifles made formidable clubs.
Eleazar awoke on the bed of a truck, driving away from a distant orange glow. To cover their tracks, the Society had begun to burn the forest. Laying beside him was an unconscious Mabel.
She was pale to the point that she almost glowed in the dark that now surrounded them.
A guard sat behind the cab, and when he noticed Eleazar was awake he knocked on the window, bringing the truck to a halt.
The commanding officer, a tall, thin man wearing a crisp uniform untouched by the carnage which had just occurred stepped out, and with a cheery smile began to speak.
“Good evening! We were afraid you might have been injured in that unfortunate scuffle back there, but you seem fine now.”
Hesitantly, Eleazar left the truck bed. His head was throbbing. “Okay…”
The commanding officer, whose uniform had the name Jenkins embroidered on it, held out his hand to shake Eleazar’s. “It is great to see you.”
“You just murdered an entire village. I’m not shaking your hand.”
“This is war, after all. I must say that I’m surprised to see you mixing with them.”
“Their goal is incredibly small-minded. History demands cataclysms now and again, but we can be there to see that the absolute minimum damage is done that history requires.
But you know that already.”
“No I don’t. And you sound like a cultist: ‘History demands cataclysms.’ What makes someone buy into that?” Eleazar’s face contorted in a mocking version of Jenkins’.
Jenkins friendly demeanor faded, replaced by one of concern. “You must be new to this.”
“I wouldn’t say new.”
“There is only one time traveller. You. You were the one who founded our organization, obviously not yet though.”
“I think we should leave now. You will see our side someday.”
Much to Eleazar’s surprise, they complied. With a wave and a smile from Jenkins, Eleazar was left alone on an empty road.
Confused and angry, Eleazar began making his way down the road, carrying Mabel on his shoulders. As he walked, he spoke to Mabel, trying to make sense of the conversation he had just finished.
Mabel, now unconscious, was the best listener Eleazar could have hoped for.
Eleazar grew more anxious the longer he spoke. First, Mabel was losing a lot of blood and second, Jenkins was making more and more sense.
The knife in the root, the foundation of the Resistance as well as the Society only made sense if one’s future actions were already accounted for by history.
If this was the case, it would be impossible to change history, which means that history could actually “demand cataclysm” by recording its occurrence.
A Society might actually be helpful in order to spare anyone who might not be necessary to complete the disaster.
Mabel’s voice rang in his head with enough clarity that he briefly thought she had awakened. “But if the Society hadn’t orchestrated the disasters, history would not have recorded it.
No one else would have done it, El.”
“You can’t know that. Don’t be stupid.”
Eleazar had come to a farm. It was then he realized that Mabel had passed away somewhere on the road.
In an instant, the anxiousness that had plagued the journey was gone, replaced by a conquering emptiness; outer space inside his body, freezing any feeling which might try to surface.
Barely more than a zombie, Eleazar knocked on the door.
The family that lived there showed him all the hospitality they could, but Eleazar refused to eat, to bathe, to sleep.
All he would do is take the carriage from the barn, already half loaded with saplings for planting as soon as the ground thawed, and leave, carrying Mabel back to the edge of the woods.
It took days for the fire to stop burning. The small carriage provided shelter. He didn’t want to eat, so he had everything he needed to wait it out.
When the fire had mostly died, he entered what remained of the woodland to bury Mabel. Having regained the ability to think, Eleazar’s mind wandered.
Why would I form a sect like the Society? Could I have? Did I actually form the Resistance? Mabel Higgins laid to rest, he planted a sapling to mark her place.
Could I have formed both? Neither? Why did I even come here?
Eleazar let out a delirious laugh. He knew the answer to the last question. Looking through his messenger bag, he found two remaining items: the time travel device and his knife.
Digging a small hole, he buried the knife among the roots, where time would cause it to be absorbed into the tree, exactly where he found it less than a week before.
It was a funny little loop; he had thought he could get some amusement from it. A small, twisted part of his mind appreciated the irony, so he could grudgingly consider this trip a success.