We may have succeeded.
Yesterday evening I stepped off the jet, pooped, and found a cab.
The town awaited me. And so, to my surprise, did Gravy. She waved at me in the street. I'd seen her a week ago. For her, nearly a decade had passed.
Chernobrov's device sent her clear back to 2001, which explains why her nodes don't exist in this new reality. It explains a lot. She found she could do little about the research we were sent to disrupt. Oh, she wrote a few letters to key people, but she'd found little evidence that changed anyone's mind. She had to be subtle when not anonymous. A person with specific knowledge of a top secret project draws the wrong kind of attention.
Even if she could have spoken with the people involved, what would she have said? That something will go horribly awry in 2008? We believe it's a one-in-a-million mutation of the project that loosed the virus on the U.S. and, through Kennedy, LaGuardia, and Newark, the rest of the world.
She has money, at least. She recalled a few key stock trends from the era. As time passed, of course, her mere fluttering about had an effect on events. And like me, she sees bewildering creases in reality, images seen through shreds in the fabric of time. One morning the local had a different name, different management. She asked about the change of owners and met with a blank stare.
That evening, the old place had returned.
She didn't call it "the local," of course. She's gone American.
It's over now. I cannot provide the details. It would incriminate all of us. The access codes worked. We've accomplished what we intended.
We've gone our separate ways, aware that memories keep sliding between different realities, the last week seeming a dream during the first moments of wakening. I post from this seedy internet cafe, here out on the dark highway, writing while my memory remains intact.
A middle-aged woman in too much make-up and a plastic hat wishes me a happy new year. Outside I see darkness through snow-splattered glass.
The future, we believe, has been saved. At least for the present, the crisis has passed.
For all of our faults, humanity has so much potential. Welcome 2008, this new 2008, with but flickering remnants of the disaster that visited this year the last time I experienced it.
Happy new year.
Humanity may not be much, but we're the best we have.