By Bixyl Shuftan
It seemed like a simple enough job.
He'd been approached by some mystery figure, saying he was a friend of Moff and a "concerned citizen" who had the means to stop these characters if they were up to no good, but only if he had evidence. And since Melvin Cooper had some experience of being a "liberator of assets," perhaps he could uncover something, "I'll make it well worth your while if you discover something of value. Don't bother getting a second opinion from Moff. To make sure he doesn't get in trouble, he is not in the know."
"Halt! You are not authorized to transit that object!"
Melvin turned, and there was another drone, heading at him. He'd been discovered! He turned tail and ran! The thing fired a taser at him, and missed.
"Alert! Unauthorized personnel, Sector C! Alert! Unauthorized personnel ..."
Melvin ran and ran. It shouldn't be *too* long before he'd be back out of the corporate sector. But he kept hearing a whirring mechanical sound behind him. He turned, and the drone was still after him! Spurred on my adrenaline, he ran even faster. But the machine kept after him.
Then the next thing he heard was a crash of some kind. He turned, and the done was now smashed against the wall. In the middle of the alley was a huge wolf, almost twice his height, and without clothes. A werewolf?
"The boss told me you might need a hand, so I dropped in. What did you find?"
He had to give the vehicle's steering wheel a hard left to keep from running into the wall. It then began rising in the air, and increasing speed fast. He looked over the controls. He noticed two dates on the control panel, and saw two dates, one marked "Destination." It was on October 31, 1899. What did that mean? Glancing again at the speed, it was going past 60, 70, 80 ... and at 88 miles an hour, there was a flash in the air ...
He recalled reading the place was a major community in the Victorian Era. Melvin had somehow ended up in the Steam Age!
He was wondering about his next move. Then he thought he heard a scream. He ran a short distance, then saw two humans, a woman dressed in what looked like a second-hand dress. The other was some man dressed all in black, with a cloak over his back and a dagger in his hand. He had the woman by the wrist, and the dagger pointed at her.
"Please, let me go!"
"You wretch! I'll finish you off here and now!"
Realizing what the man was up to, Melvin forgot about his fear. Instead, he picked up a rock, and threw it at the dark man. It hit him in the head, causing him to let go of the girl, who promptly wrenched her hand free and ran off. The figure then turned to face him, with piercing dark brown eyes, almost as black as his clothes, "I don't know who you are, but that was your last mistake." He then began advancing at Clumsy.
The ex-burglar decided discretion was the better part of valor and quickly headed away. But not knowing this town well, he wasn't sure where to go. While on the move, he thought he saw a few policemen running his way. Deciding to hide, he ducked into a wooded park. After well, inside, he was having second thoughts as the place was dark and spooky. Just the right place for something to ambush ...
His thoughts were interrupted by a sound, he turned, and something pounced him, wrapping him up in dark wings. There was a strong musky scent from it, and the smell of blood. Melvin, almost freaked, then to his surprise the dark figure kissed him. It was then he noticed it's feminine shape and bosom. It was a vampire batgirl of some kind, dark red and black.
"I wasn't sure I could help that woman in time," she told him in a raspy but still female voice, "I smell a good deal of recent fear on you, but you put that aside and helped her. Oh, and if you're wondering, the Ripper is still alive. I simply flew over to a constable I know and told him. Well, after having a pint or two first.
Melvin got very nervous. While he wanted the company of a woman very much, he wasn't so sure about a scary vampire batgirl. She almost seemed to sense his fear, giggling and nuzzling him.as thoughts of bloodsuckers from movies raced though his mind. Then he felt her licking his neck. That was too much, and he fainted.
Eventually he came to. He found himself not on the ground of some spooky wooded park, but sandy ground next to some rusty jeep. He got up and looked around. He was back in the Deathlands.
Had it all been some kind of dream? Melvin sighed. At least in Montecito Bay, he had a soft and clean place to shower and sleep and didn't have to worry about going hungry, or at least not too hungry. Now it was back to catching rats and drinking brackish water.
He looked the jeep over. While rusty, it looked like it had been recently running. He had vague memories of tinkering with a few vehicles he found to see if he could get one running with parts from the others. But it seems something blew, and the car toppled, knocking him out.
He was pondering his next move, when he saw a couple things on the ground. One was a jug of water, about a couple gallons. The other was a small water purifier. There was a wadded paper tucked into a slot on it. Looking at it, these were simple instructions. This could purify unsafe water, salt, germs, even radioactivity.
Melvin wasn't sure how he had come across this purifier. But in the wasteland, it would certainly be very useful. At least he had somehow come out ahead. He recalled where he had set some traps, and began walking to them. Fried rat wasn't the tastiest thing to eat, but at least he wouldn't be hungry.
* * * * *
"We didn't have a choice, Marty. That would be taking a chance with breaking the space-time continuum."
"But to leave him in the middle of a desert?"
"That was where he stowed on the steam machine. We did leave him with a little water, and something that will help with water in his future."
"Yeah, but still ..."
"I took a trip a few years into the future after that. He'll be okay. A few scares along the way, but eventually he'll be back in civilization, eventually."
To be continued