Selene barged through the doorway knocking Mags out of the way.
“Wait!” Was all that Mags could yell before Selene began throwing switches and pressing buttons. As her amazonian companion started the engine all Mags could think of was her own beloved. She was going to be parted from him forever if she didn’t find a way to stop Selene blasting them off into the time jump. She picked up one of the paper ornaments littered around the work stations, gifts she had made for Selene and now the way she was going to thwart her. She brought it behind her back and started refolding it. She kept her eyes on Selene, skin flushed red with anger slamming hands along the controls forcing the antique equipment to groan at the onslaught. Mags sidestepped around the panels to reach the dial controls. She toed open the hatch in the floor and stroked along the folds of the paper in her hand imbuing it with purpose. Releasing it over the fuel gauge it got straight to work. Flipping the hatch closed Mags moved closer to Selene. She could hear her muttering to herself. Mags’ own horror at what had happened made her sympathetic to her frenzy.
But she also knew that Selene wasn’t thinking. She was feeling and reacting on her first impulse and would regret it later. Mags had to stop her. Finally the lights flickered. Selene didn’t seem to notice but Mags made straight for the control panel.
“You haven’t got enough power,” she pointed at the dial. Selene’s head flew up and Mags felt certain the other woman had forgotten she was even there. Selene flew over to her side and she was pushed unceremoniously aside.
“There was loads of fuel earlier.” Selene grabbed her long hair at the roots scrunching her hands in frustration and making a strangled noise. Mags gently put her hands on Selene’s arms.
“We just have to refuel and while we do that you can tell me the plan and how I can help.” She gave a small smile but Selene whirled around her eyes wide.
“I’m going to go back to when that bitch is at her most vulnerable and…” Mags let her hands fall.
“And what, Selene?” She took a step back and pulled her face into what she hoped was a pained expression. She thought about losing her own love and the lock of hair disappearing from her locket as they changed the timeline. It worked because Selene’s breath caught at her friend’s expression.
“I just want…I want…”
“I know. At least I think I know what you want. But I’m worried about how you’re going to go about it.”
Selene let go of her breath and her hair and looked around the room. The walls were covered with pictures. Mostly of Selene in classic catalogue poses in her other life as a model. But there were other photos, artwork made possible by the catalogue pictures. The photographer was the same and displayed altogether Mags could see the similarities where the artist shone through in the catalogue pictures and where the professional came through in the pure art. A series of candid pieces of Selene in their shared home were next to each other. A first anniversary present. Mags wondered what that would be like, sharing that kind of life with someone. She knew it wasn’t what was in store for her future but it didn’t matter. You didn’t choose who you fell in love with. You just hope they’re worthy. And Selene had someone like that. But if they weren’t careful they could both lose.
She let herself sink to the floor. The fuel gauge was making beeping noises that reminded her of a heart monitor. It must have done the same to Selene because she turned it off the joined her on the floor. Mags took her hands and clasped them between both of hers.
“We need to be smart about this. And fix what won’t destroy…everything.” Selene nodded but kept her eyes on the floor. She was deflating. Mags considered for a moment. Sitting taller she shoved Selene’s shoulder.
“Hey, c’mon. Where’d you go?” Selene bit her lip. “Look, what do we have that the Stirling woman doesn’t?” She gestured around them. “A time machine. So we can find something, sometime, on her. Some dirt. And bring it back to the police. We can destroy her before she has the chance to hurt anyone.” Selene was shaking her head.
“We hadn’t seen her for weeks. It looked like she was going to leave us alone. What if that’s exactly what caused her to do this? She’s retaliating against our retaliation?”
“Hmmm, wouldn’t doing differently cause a paradox?”
“Yeah, this plan sucks.”
“And your lack of a plan was so great? Are you forgetting she introduced you to him?” Selene leaned away from mags.
“Of course I remember. But if she doesn’t exist then she also can’t hurt him.”
“Exist? What were you going to do? Kill her?” Selene’s silence confirmed it and Mags scoffed in disgust. “Stooping to her level, great plan.”
“Well, what do you suggest?” Selene voice dripped with disgust of her own.
“Well, maybe give me a few minutes,” Mags drawled sarcastically as she pushed herself up and began pacing. She wanted the movement but it didn’t actually help her concentrate. Instead she perched on the edge of a seat and imbued purpose into another paper ornament. As it fluttered in front of her and she lost herself in it’s movements she had the spark of an idea. Jumping up she tore open the fuel gauge hatch and removed the paper tool she had created. Power flowed into the engines again and the lights flared brighter. Selene scrambled off the floor.
“You?! What?!” she screeched. Mags held her hands up in front of her and grinned.
“Be mad at me later. I’ve figured out how to fix everything.”
Unravelling the clues that led them here to this room had taken several days. But this meeting was the reason Stirling had planned her attack. Selene clutched her hands together in front of her mouth as Mags placed the electronic bug inside a paper beetle she had folded and imbued with purpose. She let it loose to jump onto the room service trolley going to Stirling. In their room they waited mostly in silence, Mags folding and refolding a piece of paper.
“Will you stop that?” Selene hissed.
“Yes, once we have anything to listen to!” Eventually they heard a knock on the speaker and a door opening. The server was paid by an unknown woman and after another squeak of wheels the paper rustled as the beetle moved to hide closer to their target. Stirling’s voice came over loud and clear as she complained about there being too many cups for their tea. Mags could see equal confusion on Selene’s face as it became apparent the two women were having a stilted social call. But then the conversation turned. The other woman began describing shapes in the tea. Stirling was seeing a clairvoyant. They looked at each other in shock as their names came up. The clairvoyant was telling Stirling that letting them live the last time they had come close to her operations had been a misstep. One she needed to rectify immediately. The session ended soon after and Stirling left. Mags sat back in her chair
“So we didn’t do anything, yet.” Selene gave a little bark of laughter.
“Don’t you see though. She’s the cause of her own downfall. We would be leaving her alone if she hadn’t come after us and hurt someone I cared about.” Mags laughed as well.
“Wow. Time travel is actually quite funny.”
Suddenly there was a sound of rustling paper from the speaker and the clairvoyants voice came through.
“Could the pair of you please come to my room?” Five minutes later the clairvoyant was offering one of those extra cups to Selene who was glowering at her.
“Not really seeing why I shouldn’t smash it in your face since you just sent Stirling on an attack that puts my boyfriend in a coma.” Mags put a hand on Selene’s arm as the other woman waved her hand dismissively.
“He’ll be fine.” She replied. Mags frowned.
“How exactly do you know? You’re looking an awful like a charlatan to me.”
“Says the friend to a time traveller who can magically charm paper statues to life.” They froze at her statement. The woman leaned forward. “ My powers are real, as real as yours. I hate working for Stirling but she has leverage over me. If I help bring her down I want your promise to get that leverage back. I know which pieces of evidence will bring a conviction plus where and when to find them. Do we have a deal?” Mags and Selene looked at each other and by unspoken agreement rose, moving to the other side of the room.
“Think we can trust her?” Selene whispered.
“Not as far as we can throw her. But we can always keep her leverage for ourselves.” Selene looked down ather friend.
“And do what Stirling does? Tut tut.” Mags shrugged.
“I’m against killing someone. But I have no problem with blackmail.” Selene just pulled a face.
“Sure.” With a nod they both turned back and spoke.
Another Flash Fiction challenge from http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2016/05/13/flash-fiction-challenge-they-fight-crime-2/
The challenge was to go here: http://theyfightcrime.net/ (possibly one of the most brilliant sites I’ve ever seen!) and refresh until a duo came up that you could write about. I got “a time travelling underwear model who’s aboutta open a can of whoop ass” and “a devious paper folder who is in love with the Honey Monster”. Together, they fight crime!!
Featured image from pixabay.com and used under Creative Commons.