Out of Time

Today’s short story is a continuation of a previous post, Ripples. (You might want to read Ripples first!) It’s also a fun twist on the Daily Post prompt: Unseen. Enjoy!

Semaj couldn’t find information on her – no family tree, no school information, no social network information, no pictures, nothing. Neveah Early didn’t exist. Even he was able to find bits and pieces of his own history on line. He didn’t remember the life he found in his research, but somehow it all made sense. He wondered how much Neveah already knew about his past life. Hopefully, not more than he did. He would have to walk into this dinner date cautiously.

He reached the restaurant fifteen minutes early, hoping to scope out the area and see the moment she arrived. She was already standing outside of the restaurant waiting for him. She saw him as he pulled up and smiled. Semaj smiled back but wondered what her game was. Their first meeting was not random. It was planned and deliberate. The fact that she chose the restaurant and was there more than 15 minutes ahead of the suggested time struck him as suspicious.

Dinner was pleasant. To anyone who might have been observing the couple, they appeared to be on their first or second date. Her body language gave the impression that she was interested in him. She leaned in when she spoke to him, her shoulders rounded and pointed toward him, she tilted her head to the right and looked him directly in the eye when speaking and listening to him. Her left hand caressed her exposed neck from time to time. She smiled flirtatiously at him when she wasn’t speaking. She hung on to his every word. He noticed all of this, as well as the direction of the conversation. Where did you go to school? Did you play any sports? What kind of work did you do before coming to Providence? Why the sudden move? Do you enjoy your current line of work? He noticed that she didn’t reveal much about herself and she hadn’t talked about the “ripples” she’d mentioned earlier. She was trying to gauge how much he already knew about his past life. She had no intention of giving him the whole story.

“So, enough small talk,” he said, “Why don’t you tell me about you. Who are you and what is it that you do? You mentioned there was a problem with me being here. You said something about ‘ripples.’ Tell me about that.”

Neveah’s position didn’t change much, but she tilted her head to the left and her expression became less flirtatious.

“Very direct,” she noted with a slight smile. “I’m glad to see that hasn’t changed. I was sent to find you. You may not believe what I’m going to tell you next, but bear with me. You’re out of time. The life you’re living now, is not the timeline you belong to. You and I did use to work together. We were partners at Infinity Events. The event planning business as a cover makes it easier for us to connect with the people we’re looking for without causing major ripples in the timeline. We were on assignment when we lost you. We found you about a month ago and have been watching you since then. We believe the individual we were in pursuit of captured you, wiped your memory and left you here. During the six months that you’ve been here, you’ve come in contact with people that will have a major impact on future events. Your contact and influence over them, has already changed the course of several lives. We have to get you back to the moment you went missing, capture the criminal, and hopefully, that will set some history back on course.”

“I see,” was all he said. He felt like she was leaving out some important details. She leaned back and watched him for a moment.

“Is that all you have to say?”

“For now.”

Neveah nodded, pulled a small photo out of her purse an slid it across the table to Semaj. He picked it up and looked at it. It was a picture of woman. She was sitting on someone’s lap and laughing. The other person in the picture was cut off. Only the hand around her waist and part of the leg she was sitting on were clearly visible.

“She’s beautiful. Friend of yours?”

“No. This is who we are looking for. Have you seen her?”

“I can’t say that I have.” The truth was, he recognized her immediately. “Why are you looking for her? What did she do?”

“She saved a life in our present day that was not supposed to be saved. She’s here, protecting that person.”

“So, what does that have to do with me?”

Neveah didn’t respond right away. She tried to keep her expression blank, but Semaj saw her eyes squint slightly. She knew.

“I don’t know. But if she tries to make contact, we’ll need you to contact us right away. You have my card.”

He nodded. She reached across the table and touched his hand.

“Thank you for meeting me. We’ll be in touch.” She got up to leave before the check came.

“What about the bill,” he asked, not that he minded paying.

She smiled, “It’s taken care of. The restaurant is a part of the Infinity Events network.”

He looked around in surprise, then back to her, but she was already gone. By the time he stepped outside, she was nowhere to be found.

. . . . .

Semaj stepped into his apartment, sat down on the couch and replayed the events of the evening. If they’d been watching him for the last month, they probably had his place bugged. He couldn’t trust anyone. Thankfully, they’d planned for this. He grabbed his tablet, opened his email and sent a group message to his students. The subject line would be enough to alert her. He typed their code word on the subject line: Class canceled.

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