• 18- A matter of seconds

    It turned to be a head to head battle between Marcus and Hellmet Pitsbulk.
    At last the two met again, enemies as always.
    As for the victory the one to gather first the other half of the key was incontestably the winner. Compared to Hellmet Pitsbulk Marcus was slightly disadvantaged because of his feeble health condition weakened by his age and his lack of fighting experience.
    The President had an irrefutable strategy. He smirked and came to Fritz Davis, grabbed him by his arms lifting him from the ground. He glanced at Marcus:
    - I want you to give me the key.
    A few minutes passed before everyone realized what just happened.
    Eyes closed Marcus sighed wearily:
    - That’s why I should have never accepted you as my apprentice. You are to be blamed for your methods, such dealings are none worth of a man who calls himself President.
    He came in front of his interlocutor arms opened:
    - Please be reasonable do not make me lose my temper.
    - I’m not impressed. Once again give me the missing half of the key otherwise…
    - Otherwise my butt, what are you going to do? Don’t you think you have already caused so much pain and sorrow? Doesn’t this guy deserve your mercy?
    He laid a conciliatory hand over the President’s wrist forcing him to let go of Fritz whom he addressed:
    - Step out of the battle.
    - What- what the hell? Why?
    - This fight has already begun long ago even before Hellmet became President at the time he was nothing more than my student and began meanwhile to show an interest in nuclear energy business. I know better than anyone else how to deal with such a power thirsty person.
    - Wait! Theodora exclaimed. If so why have you implicitly let him become President by disappearing during so many years?
    - Because… I’m an idiot, a silly selfish idiot.
    - Marcus, answer me honestly!
    - I’m so honest right now Dora.
    His throat tightened. His eyesight blurred.
    He pulled Fritz’s weapon off the ground and pointed it at Hellmet Pitsbulk:
    - Step back Dora you could get hurt.
    He looked up glancing at the President:
    - It may sounds too late telling you to restrain your thirst of power but this time you have crossed the border.
    Hellmet Pitsbulk smirked:
    - Don’t be hasty. If I die now you will not be able to defuse the bomb on time. Even the key complete I’m the only being to know the deactivation code.
    Here now listen to me. Let’s see of us two who is the smarter. Take back that weapon if you want the world to be saved. 
    Victorious Hellmet Pitsbulk held out an old watch and added:
    - Be careful, either I can move time forward or backward or even stop it
    Fritz frowned:
    - What does it mean? Can you control time?
    - Are you surprised? I skimmed through previous researches about time travelling and pulled it further to make real the theory. If you follow thoroughly my conditions you will be able to come back to the real world of 2050 and should I mention every of you. Because I can make sure that any time paradox will not happen again. Let me show you.
    He turned the minute hand right to left to three hours ago and held it on.
    - Now the ball is in your side, do what you think you are supposed to but do not regret it if you make the wrong choices.
    Fritz gritted his teeth and was willing to attack to take revenge but Marcus interfered in between to stop him right away.
    - I did say step back.
    - What the hell? Why?
    Marcus sighed as an answer and looked up glaring at Hellmet Pitsbulk:
    - What you have said there! It applies to you as well. It feels like this adventure was a matter of choices from the start.
    - Wait Marcus it is most likely a trap! Theodora exclaimed.
    Marcus took calmly the watch away from the President’s hands:
    - Time, life, death are things you can’t play around with Hellmet.
    Responding in agreement the watch sparkled emitting a thread of light that flew through the air to the outside fast as a shooting star.

    Black and red, black and green and blue and black and blue and white.
    Small bump, cough, heartbeat.
    Was it the paradise?
    Not yet
    The purgatory or the underworld.
    Rubble, dust, mist, silence.
    The world itself was crumbling from the underworld to the top of the sky.
    Aftermath the disaster everything was covered in dust due to the strength of the explosion.
    Silence. Void. Death everywhere.
    No more supplies.
    Exhausted people
    No hope because no future.
    Unable to run any farther, out of breath.
    No matter if armed to the teeth policemen were at your heels, if a nuclear bomb had blew up, if you had never thought before about your last dying will, what would you do if you were going to die within five minutes?
    Yet a few meters left.
    Gasping for the last drop of water falling down the bottle.
    Running for hours aimlessly.
    Out of breath Shinichiro turned around. He had shook off his pursuers but was nonetheless safe in the darkness.
    A cable sizzled: he startled. If he had not lost trace of his parents he would have never gone through much trouble but now he was alone.
    He had not wished for it to happen nor his parents would leave him alone willingly.
    He did not know why he was pursued by those scary men wearing black coats and heavy weapons but one thing was sure he had to run whatever the reason was.
    They thought he had the antidote. What antidote?
    He took a shortcut by a side street. Where to go?

    Drops of sunlight sparkled through the roof.
    The ground was cold and hard. The work machines were silent.
    Was the factory abandoned?
    Nokira blinked, eyes wide open and pulled himself off the ground. He swept dust from his clothes and looked around. It was exactly the abandoned factory of his memories where he had taken refuge in the past to escape the political police.
    Time travelling was a strange experience he wished to never have again. It brought back some memories better to never recall. His hand reached for the small flask hanging at the tiny golden chain laced around his neck: never take it off or lose it, never let it fall his mother told him by the time they were not separated yet. He wondered about why the clear liquid inside was so precious, why a regime would go through storms and wars to obtain it.
    As a result there were times he had to hide it like when he was off to work at the presidential palace. He took good care not to be caught by surprise especially when he was undressing in the changing room.
    He played with the devil. For his secret to remain well kept his life was constantly endangered. A climate of denunciation reigned among the employees. One word too many, one suspicious act and you could get fired then arrested right away.
    Luckily he found a ready to function motorbike in the storehouse when thoroughly exploring the place to find supplies. A motorbike had nothing to do in the back room of a factory, its bright red colour was not discreet but at least it could allow him to move around the city easily looking for his comrades.

    As he was expecting he ended up pursued. Nokira took a side street targeted by a squad of policemen willing to shake them off fast. The city was a whole mess so he guessed a battle had been held a little while before: most likely the Lonesome were now heading to the nuclear power station or even had already intruded in.
    He could see it from afar, made of concrete and overwhelming, dominating in size the city.
    When he reached his destination he noticed the Jeep parked nearby. Indeed the Lonesome fighters were already there. But him was always late, for some reason.
    He sighed heavily and looked desperately at the antidote hanging at the chain around his neck. He didn’t even know how to use it and why it was such a precious liquid.
    “The time will come you’ll find out a good use of it” his mother said while handling it to his care.
    But he was clueless it was a mere flask containing a mere clear liquid, nothing neither so special nor supernatural about that item.
    Like it was responding to his thoughts the liquid began sparkling.
    “- What- what’s going on?”
    Now the antidote was shining more vibrantly eagerly waiting for him to react accordingly.
    Intrigued Nokira let it guide him to the car. It was only then he figured out why his mother was so worried about losing the artefact because it appeared to be related to a special ability he had to identify almost acting on its own.

    All of a sudden the air sparkled. The entire nuclear power plant vibrated.
    Everyone thought at first it was an earthquake. But the stoned look on Fritz Davis’ face was enough to understand it was not.
    - Fritz do you know something about what is happening? Ashley inquired.
    - I have heard once about that artefact regimes would declare wars to obtain. It is stronger and faster than any of my experimental time devices. Moreover…
    He turned to look at Hellmet Pitsbulk:
    - … People like him are eager and wishful about it because it gives the power of travelling through time to the person blessed with fate luck to be its owner.
    Until now it remained only as a legend but well… what is happening, it is responding to its master.
    Again he shot glance at the President and smirked:
    - That means, do not try to cancel or stop the process the thing in your hand is only a mere toy compared to it. It will only result in shortening your lifespan by playing around with the flow of time. In other words let things happen normally as they already should have in the past. Don’t be childish give us the defusing code so that the Shovel of Death will be defused and that person I mentioned before could fix the mess your thirst of power has caused to mankind.
    - It won’t be enough. It is just the beginning. Sure the world will be saved but only for a short time lapse because it is only one isolated event. In the time of history it is nothing more than a second.
    - What if a second could change the flow of history?
    Asked a calm, conciliate voice.
    - One word. One act. Everything is a matter of choices. Time waits for no one.

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